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Natchez is basically divided into two sections. The upper section contains some of the most beautiful antebellum homes in the South. It turns out, during the Civil War, Natchez saw the tide was turning, and decided to surrender to the North before they attacked and destroyed their houses.
Anyway, I'm getting distracted. Natchez is up on a hill overlooking the river. However, there is one street that leads "under the hill," which is why the area retains the same name. On this street is a bar called, "The Under the Hill Bar." Sure, the name isn't original, but the bar looks like it came straight out of the old west. There's the official boarded-up planks outside, woodwork everywhere, and the bar itself is over 100 years old.
What makes it the coolest bar on the Mississippi? It just looks so authentic; it's like a movie set. In fact, we promptly went in to order some local drinks -- myself having a Dixie Beer and Margherita having a "Buttery Nipple." She was a bit embarrassed to order such a drink and just nodded, "Yes," when the bartender suggested it.
After becoming sufficiently dizzy in the middle of the day, the next logical thing to do was to go out into the hot Louisiana heat to properly accompany our dizzy feeling.
We headed out west over the Missy-Lou Bridge into Vacherie, Mississippi, to go to Frogmore Plantation. Although the story would be much more interesting, I regrettably must report that Frogmore Plantation doesn't plant frogs, but they plant cotton. In fact, they're one of the biggest growers of cotton in our country.
Mrs. Tanner, one of the owners of Frogmore Plantation, has taken some of the original plantation buildings, and after years of exhaustive research, has restored the original plantation into a historical tourist destination. The original cotton gin, slave quarters and other buildings are on the premises. You can even pick your own cotton bolls and take home some cottonseeds to grow your own cotton.
The tour took about three hours and was done very well, interchanging films, demonstrations and lectures so you don't get bored at all on this one.
After the historical portion, they take you to the modern section of the plant, where they gin cotton with the modern equipment. That was pretty redundant; so let's just jump to the part where I answer the question about "what is ginning?" It simply is taking the seeds out of the cotton and cleaning it up. It's actually a derivative of the word "Cotton Engine" and not a reference to a "Cotton Gin and Tonic," which is not tasty or functional.
Anyway, after we've had our share of cotton we jumped into the bus and headed back to the ship for lunch.
For the rest of the afternoon, we alternated between going for laps around the boat and playing board games inside. That night, we rested on the top deck looking at the stars. If you live in a fairly sized city, go out to the river to look at the stars. Without any city lights around, it's incredible. The first thought that came to me was your average science fiction movie, where you see the stars, galaxies and shooting stars. But of course here, it's all there before you. That is, until they turn a light on in the boat, and it all disappears for a moment.
Daily Itinerary of Our Cruise
Day 1 - Oak Alley Plantation
Day 2 - Baton Rouge
Day 3 - Natchez
Day 4 - Vicksburg
Day 5 - Helena