Day 4, Hello, Vicksburg!

For those willing to put the effort into a family driving trip, there will be rewards. Today was one of those spectacular days. We covered Birmingham and Tuscalossa, Alabama, and Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi. Despite a fair amount of driving, we had one great family experience after another.

But first, some comic relief. Tonight, we gave our pet pig Rosie a bath here at the hotel. This short video may well be the first time you’ve seen a miniature pot-bellied pig getting scrubbed up.

Now, back to our trip. We started the day at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which was a powerful experience at a wonderful museum. Our family has been focused on the Civil War in recent months, so it was interesting to try to explain to our children how it was that almost a full hundred years after the end of the Civil War, black Americans were still fighting for some semblance of equality. And while we were there, we coincided with three buses full of young school kids from Birmingham, and not one was Caucasian, which caused our kids to ask, “So, are the schools here integrated?”

We then hit the road west, and peeled off the highway into Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama. We stopped at the Jemison home, where Robert Jemison Van Der Graaff (inventor of the Van Der Graaff generator) grew up, then went on to explore the campus. It’s a wonder anyone can find their way around the town, since every other street is called “Paul Bryant Drive” or some variant thereof.

During lunch, we were tempted to play the “catch a live lobster and we’ll cook it for you” game (only in Alabama!). Then, as we continued west, we stopped briefly in Jackson, the capital of the state. When we lived in South Carolina, we thought of Mississippi often. South Carolina, over and over again, ranked #49 in the U.S. (in jobs, education, income), with Mississippi keeping SC from being rock bottom. I often thought South Carolina’s state motto should be, “At least we’re not Mississippi.”

We stopped at the state Capitol, and our pig got out to check out the grounds. She seems to be very anti-government (or at least, objects to the Mississippi state government), and made a strong statement by leaving her mark here. Perhaps she objects to all of the pork getting tossed around these days.

During the day’s drive, Elizabeth was reading a guide book (Off the Beaten Path in Mississippi), and the author talked about the impact his pet dog had on his travel experience. He said people were so drawn to his dog, and then immediately were warm and open to him. Well, he should try traveling with a pig for his next book!

While we’re on the topic of driving, we have found our rhythm while on the road. I usually do the driving, while the kids focus on their home-schooling. Elizabeth will occasionally get some company in the front seat (see right), and otherwise works with the kids on school topics. And I’ve gotten pretty good at multi-plexing between driving and teaching algebra.

We arrived for the night in Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. We don’t know if we’ll stay one night or two, but are excited to check out this town tomorrow. Best of all, the temperature here is finally starting to feel spring-like, and we love the feel of a warm sun and temperature above 50 degrees.

One Response to “Day 4, Hello, Vicksburg!”

  1. Helen Morey Gallo Says:

    OK so first of all you do know you are all quite mad, yes? But in the most wonderful and inspiring sort of way so keep it up!

    Second, in honor of Rosie’s combination bath/poop extravaganza, I located a site I hope you have not yet already found: PORKOPOLIS. I quote:

    “ is a collection of arts, literature, philosophy and other varied considerations of the pig. In the irreducible complexity of what we call nature, pigs are one of the most iconic and paradoxical animals ever to have developed a relationship with man. Some form of pig has been visibly present in the vast majority of human societies. The pig is a grand character in much of human’s cultural history.”

    Third, please tell E I hope she is mending and look forward to catching up when you finish this latest jaunt!

    XO, Helen

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