I Went Down to the Crossroads …

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We rolled into Memphis, tired from our busy three days in Alabama. Perfect timing, because we had two days of weather to deal with … first, the winter storm that dropped down from the northwest followed immediately by Hurricane Zeta. By the time they reached us, both storms were just a lot of rain. We enjoyed some down time reading and playing board games, but could only do so much of that, so we spent half a day investigating the Mississippi Delta and the Blues Trail.

The Mississippi Blues Trail officially starts in Memphis and heads south along Old Highway 61, but we had gotten a jump on things by stopping at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame on our way out of that state. It’s amazing how many musical artists come from the state of Alabama! They cross all genres of music but are especially prevalent in the blues and country music. I don’t know how many times we stopped at an exhibit and said, “I didn’t know he/she was from Alabama!” Here’s one of our newer favorites … Paul Janeway, the lead singer of St. Paul & the Broken Bones. (If you have not heard them yet, this is your cue to find them on Spotify.)

Once we were actually on the Blues Trail, we made our first stop a small museum called “Gateway to the Blues.” We’ve been to a few music museums now and always learn something new. These two museums (Alabama and Gateway) were particularly well-done.

(I’m saying “hurry up, I’m getting soaked! LOL)
We ate at the Blue & White Restaurant, where every blues man to ever travel through the Delta has supposedly eaten, and the fried chicken is supposed to be superb. We found the fried chicken to be quite … average.

The Blues Trail had less to offer than we expected. There were a few roadside markers where famous blues men were born, but they weren’t well-located or cared for. Some required getting out of the car and walking through tall, wet grass to read them. The most interesting part of our exploration was driving through tiny delta towns that were all but abandoned. Even the town of Clarkesdale, which is supposed to be the Heart of Delta blues with multiple active juke joints (one is co-owned by Morgan Freeman), had lots of boarded up windows and empty storefronts. With COVID still such a presence, we didn’t bother to find out if there was any music happening. Someday we’ll return and take in a bunch of blues.

Typical juke joint … nothing to look at, just great music inside.
The Crossroads … where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent.

The other amazing thing about this part of the country is the cotton fields. Huge cotton fields!! Most of them had been harvested already, but I’d love to see what the delta looks like in full bloom from the air, it must look like snow. Cotton, we learned, is a perennial plant, but farmers will shred their fields every year and plant new seed in an effort to fight the boll weevil. We also read about cotton production, and it is an amazingly detailed process to take it from the field to a bolt of fabric.

Cotton …
Baled cotton …
And James Cotton!

I forgot to mention in the last blog post that Tessa met her “sister from another litter” at the campground in Alabama. Zoe and her dad were camped across from us, and everyone in the campground thought Tessa was Zoe and vice versa. We tried to get a good picture of the two of them together, but they were both too wiggly! Zoe’s a little darker, but they are the same size, build and even have the same white spot on their chests. Zoe is two and Tessa is now 2-1/2.

After Alabama, we started heading toward Texas. We spent a couple of nights at a lovely state park campground in Jackson, Mississippi. We had stayed here two years ago and loved it. It’s very picturesque with lots of photo opportunities and paths to walk. If you’re traveling through this area, LeFleur’s Bluff State Park is worth a stop.

See y’all in Texas!

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