We entered the state of Mississippi the first time from Alabama. Our destination was Tupelo, the birthplace of the King, the one and only King of Rock 'n' Roll, that is. Memphis in the state of Tennessee is better known as being the home of Elvis Presley, but Tupelo was where he was actually born of poor parents, and lived his formative years in a two room house (more like a shack) on the outskirts of Tupelo.

Tupelo is a small town and we didn't have any trouble finding it, or the location of the house where Elvis was born. I expected to see a lot of tourists there but surprisingly, there were not that many people around, maybe because it was a week day, and Tupelo's location is not exactly at any important junction in the state. Anyhow, I'm glad I went there at that time as we could walk around the grounds at a leisurely pace and take lots of pictures.

The town itself is typical of a small southern town in the USA. We mainly explored the downtown area and even the city center didn't look too busy. I think most people come here only to see the house where Elvis was born, and as mentioned earlier, Graceland in Memphis is the better known place for his fans.

From Tupleo we headed towards the state of Tennessee. A separate blog about Tennessee to be written later.

From Tennessee we came back to Mississipi the second time to travel to another small town called Port Gibson. We passed the Mississippi state capital of Jackson and continued our journey, part of which was driving through the Natchez Trace Parkway, a very long stretch of road which never seemed to end. The Natchez Trace is a historical path used first by American Indians, and later by early European and American explorers. We stopped a couple of times at some interesting sites with historical significance.

We finally left the trail at the exit to Port Gibson. This place was even smaller than Tupelo, but I found it quite interesting as I had grown to love small towns when I lived in France. I believe the town's population is less than 2,000. There are a number of historical buildings there as the vicinity around Port Gibson was the site of several battles during the American Civil War. We also visited the Windsor Ruins outside the town. I heard from somebody that these ruins have appeared in several Hollywood films.

Our next destination was Natchez which I had read about in books, and seen in movies in my younger days. We took Route 61, and reached the city in the late afternoon. Went straight to the banks of the mighty Mississippi river and parked the car near the Grand Hotel which looked very grand indeed, but also looked pricey! I wanted to see a riverboat, and I did see one docked at a pier but it was only for customers who went there for gambling. Well, I should have expected that because the movies I had seen of Mississippi riverboats all had casinos on them.

We found a reasonably priced hotel nearby called appropriately 'Travel Inn.' Had dinner at a Wendy's restaurant not too far away from the hotel.

The next morning we went on a tour of the huge historic homes which Natchez is famous for. There are so many of these architecturally stunning structures in the city that we couldn't possibly see all of them. To me they looked more like mansions and were very well preserved. I don't know who the present owners are, but in the past they were built by cotton plantation owners. Downtown Natchez is also very attractive and needless to say, we took many photos.

On our return trip back home we passed through Mississippi again (for the third time) hoping to spend the night at Biloxi, near the beaches. However, all the hotels were full and we had to settle for a Super 8 Motel in Moss Point which was about 22 miles (or 35 kilometers) away from Biloxi.

I should mention about the Visitor Welcome Centers that are located on the highways as you enter each state in America. You can usually find these Centers (there are signs giving you directions) just about a mile or kilometer after you cross each state line. The staff at these places are always pleased to give you information about their state, and provide you with maps and brochures. You can use their clean restrooms/toilets, and free coffee is available too. The gentleman at the Mississippi Visitors Center even made coffee for me. I always make it a point to stop at these Centers to sign the Visitors Book, and help myself to the free coffee! At the Florida Welcome Center you can even get free orange juice or grapefruit juice... AWESOME!