SEC Football at Ole Miss in Oxford

We had just returned home from our fall football road trip when three days later we evacuated for Hurricane Matthew. This post has been on hold ever since.

If you follow SEC college football you know that our favorite team, the Georgia Bulldogs, are not having a good year. That’s all I have to say about that.

I have to say that except for the game on September 24, we had a great time in Oxford during the weekend of the Georgia – Ole Miss football game. The people of Oxford were gracious, the Ole Miss fans friendly, and the atmosphere in town on Friday and as we wandered through the Grove on Saturday before the game was like no college football game I’ve ever attended.

Our home for the weekend was John W. Kyle State Park on Sardis Lake, about a 30 minute drive from downtown Oxford. All through the campground were RV’s displaying their team colors. We didn’t spend much time in the campground but I was able to get a sunset picture over the lake on the first night.

Sunset over Sardis Lake
Sunset over Sardis Lake

Friends of ours were staying in Oxford within walking distance of downtown and the stadium. We met them Friday afternoon to browse the shops around the courthouse square and have a fabulous lunch at City Grocery. As we were enjoying our meal we noticed not one but four James Beard Awards on the wall! The food, service, and company were all excellent.

City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
City Grocery on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
Two of the Four James Beard Awards at City Grocery
Two of the Four James Beard Awards at City Grocery

Kickoff was set for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday so we left the campground early in hopes of beating the traffic. We planned it perfectly and met our friends in time to eat a quick breakfast before heading to the Grove.

The Grove is a large area in the middle of the University of Mississippi campus. On game days it is transformed to a sea of tailgate tents lined up side by side with fans from both teams walking elbow to elbow on the pathways between the tents.

Tailgating Tents as far as the eye could see
Tailgating Tents as far as the eye could see
A few Georgia fans were tailgating in the Grove
Fans from both teams were tailgating side by side
The Ole Miss band marched by before the game
The Ole Miss band marched by before the game
Georgia and Ole Miss Fans getting ready for the game
Georgia and Ole Miss Fans in the Grove before the game

Did I mention it was HOT the whole time we were there? The temperature was in the upper nineties on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.

If your favorite college football team ever plays against Ole Miss in Oxford, get some tickets and go! It’s a one of a kind experience. And hopefully, your team will do better against them than my team did. And I hope I never hear the Ole Miss Hotty Toddy cheer ever again!

Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Category 2 Hurricane Matthew passed offshore close to our coastal Georgia home in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 8, 2016. We were safely evacuated in middle Georgia and we returned home to find our house in good shape with no damage. We were among the lucky ones. Many houses had some damage, mostly roof damage and flooding. Some residents had to move out of their homes so repairs can be made. Many other homes, like ours, were spared. Everyone we know was safe.

Many thanks go out to the volunteers who gave their time and/or money to help out those who needed it the most after the storm. There are many volunteer stories throughout the areas affected by Hurricane Matthew but these are a few that I personally know about in our area.

  • A huge thank to our neighbors who rode out the storm and immediately  started clearing the roads as soon as the storm had passed.
  • Friends who evacuated to a motel in a small Georgia town and waited out the storm by volunteering in one of the shelters housing fellow evacuees.
  • The owner of a moving company in Atlanta who brought some of his moving trucks and crews to help people move out when they were unable to remain in their home while repairs are being made.
  • A couple who drove down from Indiana to help people move out while repairs are made to their home.
  • Volunteers from churches and organizations such as the YMCA who helped clean up yard debris for those who were unable to do it themselves.

 

Roof from a neighbor's deck landed across the street from our house
Roof from a neighbor’s deck landed across the street from our house
Big trees were blocking roads in our neighborhood
Big trees were blocking roads in our neighborhood
A power pole snapped
A power pole snapped
Another blocked driveway
Another blocked driveway
Neighbors walkway to dock landed in the marsh
Neighbors walkway to dock landed in the marsh
Several docks had damage
Several docks had damage
A lot of big trees had to be cut up
A lot of big trees had to be cut up
A familiar site in the neighborhood
A familiar sight in the neighborhood
Downed power line in a neighbor's yard
Downed power line in a neighbor’s yard
A downed tree damaged a driveway
A downed tree damaged a driveway
Cranes were brought in to lift the giant trees
Cranes were brought in to lift the giant trees
What's left of one of the giant trees
What’s left of one of the giant trees

Its been more than two weeks since the storm and there is still a lot of work to be done. The sound of chainsaws and nail guns will be around for a while and it may be weeks before the debris can be cleared from the sides of the roads. Blue tarps on roofs is a common sight while the homeowners wait their turn for their new roof.

Lakefront Campground, Award Winning Barbeque, Scenic Drives, and Delta History

Our next destination was Mississippi River State Park in Marianna, Arkansas, about 150 miles north of Lake Chicot. When we stayed here two years ago we traveled on Arkansas highways between the two state parks. Since we had never traveled on the Mississippi side of the Mississippi River we took the long way and drove through Mississippi on Highway 61 (also known as the Blues Trail). Almost every town we drove through had some kind of Blues museum and signs pointing to historical sites.

We  returned to Arkansas by crossing the bridge into Helena. With only about 20 miles to our destination, on Highway 1 in the middle of a construction zone, we ran right into a powerful thunderstorm. The rain was coming down so hard Henry could hardly see and the wind was rocking us as we slowly made our way north. The shoulder on our side of the narrow two lane road was lined with safety cones so there was nowhere to pull over to wait out the storm. At one point the rain was blowing sideways. We inched along until we finally came to a place wide enough to stop. Once the storm passed we continued to the state park and had good weather the rest of the day.

Beech Point Campground in Mississippi River State Park is located on a peninsula in Bear Creek Lake. Almost every campsite has a great view of the lake.

Early morning on Bear Creek Lake
Early morning on Bear Creek Lake
Bear Creek Lake
Bear Creek Lake
Our campsite was a great place to watch the herons, egrets
Our campsite was a great place to watch the herons, egrets, and turtles in the lake
Great Blue Heron with two turtles
Great Blue Heron with two turtles

On our first morning we drove into the town of Marianna to pick up some of the delicious barbeque we had discovered two years ago. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner serves up James Beard Award winning pulled pork with a vinegary, sweet BBQ sauce and coleslaw. That’s it.  He opens early in the morning and is usually sold out by 11:00 am. As we glanced through his guest book we saw names from Europe and Tokyo as well as closer places like Memphis. You can read about our first visit here.

Jone's Bar-B-Q Diner
Jone’s Bar-B-Q Diner
Jone's Bar-B-Q Diner
Jone’s Bar-B-Q Diner

A drive on the gravel section of the Arkansas Great River Road (also known locally as the Low Road) took us through the St. Francis National Forest beside the Mississippi River. We took a short side trip through an ancient pecan grove to the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi Rivers. The area is undeveloped now but a parking area and overlook are planned for this beautiful, peaceful spot.

Henry and Blondie under the willow beside the St. Francis River
Henry and Blondie under the willows beside the St. Francis River
Confluence of St. Francis and Mississippi River
Confluence of St. Francis and Mississippi River
Beth and Blondie beside the mighty Mississippi
Beth and Blondie beside the mighty Mississippi

Another day we drove south on a gravel portion of Crowley’s Ridge Parkway (the High Road) to Helena for a visit to the Delta Cultural Center. Interesting displays tell about the history of the 27 county region of the Arkansas Delta. Blues music originated in the Delta in Mississippi and Arkansas and one room was dedicated to Arkansas musicians who contributed to the Blues.

Delta Cultural Center
Delta Cultural Center

We planned our trip to watch a live broadcast of the longest running blues radio show in the United States. The Peabody Award winning “King Biscuit Time” radio show has been on the air since 1941. The disc jockey Sonny Payne has been broadcasting the daily show since 1951. We heard him broadcast show number 17,583. Every one of the shows started with him announcing “Pass the Biscuits!”.

Sonny Payne broadcasting the King Biscuit Time Radio Show
Sonny Payne broadcasting the King Biscuit Time Radio Show
King Biscuit Time Radio Show broadcast booth
King Biscuit Time Radio Show broadcast booth

The old train depot houses more exhibits about the region.

Delta Cultural Center Depot
Delta Cultural Center Depot
Old Man River Display at The Depot
Old Man River Display at The Depot

While we were in Arkansas we traveled on several scenic byways. In addition to the Great River Road and Crowley’s Ridge Parkway we also drove on the Levee Road, The Trail of Tears, the Civil War Heritage Trail, and in Mississippi were on the Blues Trail.

A return to the Mississippi Delta

Two years ago we traveled through the Mississippi Delta area of Arkansas and fell in love with the area. So naturally when we began planning our trip to Oxford we decided to cross the Mississippi River into Arkansas and return to two of the places we enjoyed back then. When we told our friends we were going to Mississippi by way of Arkansas they looked at us like we were crazy.

Our first stop in Arkansas was Lake Chicot State Park. I posted about our first visit  here.  After a long day driving through part of Alabama and all across the state of Mississippi, we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas and arrived at the campground hot and tired.

Lake Chicot State Park Site 7
Lake Chicot State Park Site 7

We got set up in time to watch a beautiful sunset over Lake Chicot.

Sunset over Lake Chicot
Sunset over Lake Chicot

The lake was beautiful in the early mornings.

Morning on the fishing dock
Morning on the fishing dock

Lake Chicot is the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest natural oxbow lake in the United States. It is a popular fishing destination and many varieties of birds can be seen here.

Egret on the fishing dock
Egret on the fishing dock
Cypress trees at Lake Chico
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot
Cypress trees at Lake Chicot

On our first visit here we had our first taste of delicious Mississippi Delta hot tamales so of course getting some more was on the top of our to do list. One day we took a drive back across the Mississippi River to Greenville, Mississippi to pick up three dozen hot tamales to go from Doe’s Eat Place. We were in heaven as we ate some of those spicy tamales for dinner. The rest are in our freezer to take home. I posted about our first visit to Doe’s Eat Place here.

Doe's Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi
Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi
Three dozen Mississippi Delta hot tamales
Three dozen Mississippi Delta hot tamales

One day we took a self guided driving tour along the levee which runs along the Mississippi River to protect the area from flooding. A gravel road runs on top of the levee and the scenery changes from borrow pits to farms to woods as you go along.

Egrets flocked to the trees beside the borrow pits
Egrets flocked to the trees beside the borrow pits
Borrow Pit beside the levee
Borrow Pit beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee
Cattle with Cattle Egrets beside the levee

Cotton is the number one crop in this part of the Mississippi Delta and we passed many fields on both sides of the river. Soybeans and sorghum are also big crops in the area.

Fields of cotton as far as the eye can see
Fields of cotton as far as the eye can see
Cotton is the number one crop in the Mississippi Delta
Cotton is the number one crop in the Mississippi Delta
Cotton Bolls
Cotton Bolls

Next up: A return to another favorite Arkansas State Park in the Mississippi Delta with some scenic drives, a museum, and award winning barbecue.

First stop on our Fall Football Road Trip

After enjoying a relaxing summer at home, we are once again on a fall road trip to watch the Georgia Bulldogs play an away football game. This year we are on our way to Oxford, Mississippi to see the Dawgs play the Ole Miss Rebels. But in true Wandering Dawgs fashion, we are not taking a direct route to get there.

We started the trip in Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, a few miles south of Birmingham. This is Alabama’s largest state park and it has something for everyone – mountain bike trails, golf course, lake with a beach, hiking trails, a scenic drive, a beautiful campground and more.

Wandering Dawgs in Oak Mountain State Park Site A28
Wandering Dawgs in Oak Mountain State Park Site A28

Every day Blondie and I walked on the trails around our campground loop.

Early Morning at Tranquility Lake
Early Morning at Tranquility Lake
Moccasin Nature Trail behind our campsite
Moccasin Nature Trail behind our campsite
Early morning walk in the woods
Early morning walk in the woods
Spotted this Heron on our last morning
Spotted this Heron on our last morning

One day we drove to the dead end of Peavine Falls Road on Double Oak Mountain. As we wound our way up the narrow road I was reminded of some of the drives we have made in the Great Smoky Mountains.

This sign was at the parking lot at the dead end at the top of the road
This sign was at the parking lot at the dead end at the top of the road
We had a picnic at the Peavine Falls Overlook
We had a picnic at the Peavine Falls Overlook
View from Peavine Falls Road Overlook
View from Peavine Falls Road Overlook

We enjoyed our stay and were even able to do a little shopping in nearby Pelham and Birmingham before continuing our journey west to our next destination.