Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why we keep an ice chest at the ready

WHEN? Wednesday · August 28

WHERE? Florence, Mississippi · find us on the map

While traveling through Mississippi last May, we went an hour out of our way to shop at Wilson's Meat Market in Crystal Springs.

Cooper's Country Meat Packers
3330 Highway 49 South, Florence, Mississippi

Fortunately, today's stop at Cooper’s Country Meat Packers was along our route from Jackson, Mississippi back to Lower Alabama, and was well worth it. We purchased a delicious pound of Country Pleasin' smoked sausage, the brand we used to purchase at Kroger when we lived in Jackson for many years. If you're unfamiliar with Cooper's and find yourself traveling close to Florence, we really recommend a visit. When headed south from Jackson on Highway 49, it's just past Jerry's Fish House (the big igloo) on the left (east) side of the highway. Their market offers our favorite smoked sausage and much more.

Look for the big pig

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Maiden Voyage of New Boat

WHEN? Thursday · August 14

WHERE? Fairhope, Alabama · find us on the map

estuary: A semi-enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries are often associated with high rates of biological productivity.

Our first visit to Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was last February, while geocaching with Dave and Barb. Now Wendell volunteers at its Interpretive Center one morning a week.

Weeks Bay Reserve's new pontoon boat · AKA your tax dollars at work

All aboard!
Now settle into a comfee seat and enjoy the ride.

We've been looking forward to the fledgling voyage of the new Weeks Bay pontoon boat. After several days of rain, the weather on the day of the trip could not have been better. The group on the boat was comprised of Weeks Bay staff and volunteers, along with a few other lucky people who knew someone connected in some way with the Reserve [raising hand].

This voyage was in both Weeks Bay and along the Fish River. While on the ride, a collection net for plankton specimens was put out, and all the passengers got to look at them through microscopes and recognize some of the types. One type I recognized was animal plankton that looked somewhat like crabs with two big eyes. We also learned that so much of the earth’s surface is covered with water that the ocean’s phytoplankters (plant plankton) produce 70-85% of the planet’s oxygen – much more than that produced by rain forests.

Perhaps our collection of photos will help you feel like you were along for the ride:

Maiden Voyage of Weeks Bay Reserve's New Boat
on flickr

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sentimental Journey

WHEN? Thursday · July 31 through Sunday · August 3

WHERE? Alabama and Mississippi · find us on the map

WHY? To visit with family, particularly its newest member

We've taken sentimental journeys on a number of occasions. Once, when on one such journey, I learned that I had been born in the back of a service station. Mind you, I was an adult at the time. First I'd heard of it.

It seems my father worked at the service station and he and my mother lived in the back of the place. The gas station was torn down long ago, and the post office makes no deliveries to my birthplace address.

Our most recent sentimental journey took place when we took a trip to see our first great grandchild. Maggie was not very aware of who I was, but I was very aware of similarities that took place a little over 20 years ago. Back then, we were amazed at what good parents our first grandchild's parents were, and history has repeated itself with that grandchild and her husband being great parents for Maggie.

Our trip was pleasant and free of heavy traffic. We got on Highway 45 in Mobile, then switched to Highway 78 at Tupelo, Mississippi for the remainder of the drive into Olive Branch. We went through lots of rural countryside and many small towns.

  • Wendell's trivia: Vinegar Bend, Alabama is the home of Wilmer David Mizell, a major league pitcher who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburg Pirates, and the New York Mets. While playing in the major leagues, he became known as Vinegar Bend Mizell. He also went on to serve three terms as a U.S. congressman from North Carolina between 1969 and 1975.
  • Typical rural sights: Tree farms, chicken farms, fields of soybeans, corn, hay bales, pastures of grazing livestock, even friends stopped at an intersection visiting with each other from their cars. Some areas were covered with thick forests, and we saw kudzu sculptures several times along the way where the plant was taking over everything in sight.

    Photo credit: flickr member rkeithstewart

  • We drove across the Tallahachie Bridge (over the Tallahachie River). Remember? That's what Billy Joe MacAllister jumped from, according to the song.
  • Since Quitman is known for its peaches, we couldn't resist stopping at Mathis Peaches & Produce to purchase a bunch.

    Quitman peaches

  • Mississippi industries: Mossy Oak and Duke Pecan Company in West Point; a large large RV Center in Aberdeen; United Furniture Industries and Dykes Industries in Okolona. It seems like it was the Tupelo area where we saw Hunter Douglas and Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. By far, the biggest industry we drove by was the new Toyota plant near Tupelo in Union County.
  • Besides being the largest city we drove past, Tupelo has at least two sights they were advertising on billboards for tourists: The birthplace of Elvis Presley and an Antique Car Museum.
  • Two good restaurants served as lunch stops for us:
    Westside Bar-B-Que in New Albany going up, and
    Olive Garden Italian restaurant in Meridian coming back.

Another recent sentimental blog post:

A Special Sentimental Letter