Today we decided to visit two places in Birmingham, Alabama. The first was Rickwood Field. This is proven to be the oldest ball park (baseball) in America and it opened in 1910. Many baseball stars have played here over the years (including Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson) and while it is no longer the home of the Birmingham Barons (they moved to a newer, larger stadium some time ago), it is still in use regularly for local leagues, high schools, colleges, charity matches etc. The interesting thing about this park (aside from the fact it is indeed the oldest park) is that the Friends of Rickwood have worked hard to keep this ball park looking as it did in the 1940’s. Where possible the original artifacts are still there, including the wooden flooring in the dug outs and the entrance way etc. I believe they told us that it is the only (or one of very few) that still has real grass. Having never seen a baseball park before this was a really interesting trip for us and Vernon, the man who worked there and patiently answered all our questions, was super helpful and rightly proud of all the work they do here. If you are in the area, this is definitely worth a visit (and im sure a small donation would be much appreciated too!). 😀
The second stop of the day was Sloss Furnaces which is a national historic landmark. Basically, these furnaces are the start of Birmingham!
Pig Iron production began in 1882 and continued for almost 90 years when environmental pressures mounted and it finally closed.
Today we visited Tupelo and the tiny house which was the birth place of Elvis Presley. Back when he was born this was a tiny village really but it’s a pretty large place now although you can still get the country feel around the house. Elvis’ father, grandfather and uncle built this house although Elvis only lived here until he was 3 when his father was arrested for cheque fraud and they lost the house. It was really the only place that was actually theirs until many years later as they moved around a lot after here. The Tupelo house is what’s known as a shotgun house which means the rooms follow on from each other, you have to walk through one room to get to the next. It’s a pretty common type of house at this time but this was just a two room house. The first room being a lounge and bedroom and the other a kitchen diner. There was a little film that gave you an idea of Elvis’ life here (they stayed in Tupleo until he was 13 so it covers up to then) as well as stories from people who knew the family etc. You can visit the chapel Elvis went to and where he started singing (it has been moved a couple of streets and is now next to the house) and they have a presentation there to give you an idea of what a service was like. Loud is the answer. It was lovely here too, really gave you a feeling of what life had been like for the Presley family. You can even go into town and see the shop (still running) where Elvis got his first guitar, although stories seem to differ on whether it was his mum or dad that took him for it. He wanted a gun or a bike but his mum said both were too dangerous so he ended up with a guitar lol.
After lunch (including an amazing watermelon water!) and a wander round town we had to get back on the road again heading in the direction of Birmingham, Alabama (cue more singing!). We found a hotel just outside the city, nothing special but we have a couple of things nearby planned for tomorrow. Tomorrow is Rickwood and Shloss.
Today we did some more exploring around Natchez. It really does have some beautiful historical buildings interspersed by less impressive structures. Natchez felt like a real town of opposites, some wonderfully well preserved antebellum properties often right next door to a place that was literally falling apart.
We decided to walk along a couple of the trails advertised, starting with the nature trail. Yeah, don’t bother, there is more nature in our postage stamp of a garden. Although this trail ran along the Mississippi river there were trees on that side so you couldn’t see the river, just trees and the other side was a huge concrete wall. Worst nature walk ever lol although there were plenty of mozzies so maybe that’s what they were referring to lol. After lunch we went to the huge local cemetery and had a drive and walk around there, it was 100 acres, so huge and very quirky in layout with different areas (in no particular place or order lol) for different religions.
After that some cake and tea (or in Glens case coffee) was called for. Luckily Glen had done his research and found the Steampunkmobile in Natchez town, which was a really cool coffee shop, small old building with a porch outside with rocking chairs that were currently hosting two men and their guitar, that sold any kind of coffee you can think of made in a beautiful big copper coffee maker thingy (that’s the technical term) and served some proper tea for me 🙂 With a homemade large banana and pecan muffin (which was super beautiful made using local pecans), it really was just what the doctor ordered since it was raining off and on today.
In the evening we went to try our first ever tamales at Fat Mamas Tamales (see pic, very orange lol) which I was really excited about. Unfortunately they were a bit spicy for me and Glen wasn’t impressed either. Ah well, can’t win em all. Last night in Natchez tonight. Tomorrow we are off to Clarksdale to ‘meet’ Morgan Freeman. Xxxx
Started the day in New Orleans by visiting the French Market first thing where we found our souvenirs of the holiday, a painting and two small prints of a play on voodoo dolls. Kinda freaky but fun, just what we like.
Then we packed up our kit bags (I wish, I have far too many clothes for that!) and headed to LAY Rural Life Museum just outside BatonRouge. It had a selection of genuine old buildings transported to the site of an earlier plantation, from early settlers buildings to slave quarters to overseers houses and more. So fascinating and such a beautiful spot, we could have stayed there all day. But we had to head in again to our accommodation for the night.
So off we went to Breaux Bridge where we stayed at the Bayou Cabins on the Bayou Teche (a bayou is a slow moving river). The cabins were previous slave/worker buildings on a plantation and the Bayou had risen so much through the recent rains that the balcony was literally over the water. We sat out having a drink with our next door neighbours although we pretty much needed an interpreter. We went to a local fruit shop for dinner which sounds odd but I had a huge platter of crawfish with two baked potatoes and a corn on the cob plunked on there lol. It tasted amazing tho I had to beg off the usual Cajun seasoning, I’m a wimp. Glen had the first po boy sandwich of the holiday with shrimp. I had to have a banana daquiru too, as you do. Amazing day, great night until the neighbours started fighting after we had gone in lol, we earwigged a bit, oohhh drama. The people round here are so friendly! Swamp tour tomorrow.
A day trip to Pompeii, was always on the agenda and as we looked for a parking spot, a local stopped and made a space for us outside a restaurant, he asked if we were visiting Pompeii and he said when we return, if we eat at his place and we like the food we get the parking free, if we don’t like the food, we don’t pay anything at all!!
Needless to say the food was absolutely gorgeous, we watched his mum cook our meal in such a small kitchen, it was great and we paid without question.
Deep within Spincourt Forest near the village of Loisin, lies Camp Marguerre. Established in 1915, Camp Marguerre was an German experimental site, it was here that the use of concrete was to became increasingly important in terms of fortifications as the war went on. Captain Marguerre, after whom the camp was named, was a Berlin engineer, he and his men were sent to the area to set up a camp to test the use of concrete in war fortifications. By 1918 the camp was abandoned and the locals then set about removing the fixtures, fittings and furniture including the windows. WW2 saw the use of the camp by the French Resistance, which is rather ironic.