Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Mississippi

State 22:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state is

Mississippi

Mississippi became the 20th state on December 10, 1817. The capital is Jackson.

Our travels have taken us through Mississippi on two interstates and numerous state roads. Driving along the state roads we passed by the Jim Henson museum in his birthplace of Leland, B.B. King’s birthplace in Itta Bena, Tennessee Williams birthplace in Columbus, and many historic places along the Blues Trail,

Our wandering has taken us to Vicksburg twice. Both times we camped at the Ameristar Casino RV Park across the street from the Mississippi River. We enjoyed touring Vicksburg National Military Park and seeing the views of the Mississippi River.

The mighty Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Mississippi
The mighty Mississippi River in Vicksburg, Mississippi
Barge on the Mississippi River in Vicksburg
Barge on the Mississippi River in Vicksburg

Another one of our trips took us along I-10 through Mississippi. Buccaneer State Park was a great overnight stop. You can read more about our stay at A night on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Walking along the beach in Waveland, Mississippi
Walking along the beach in Waveland, Mississippi
Majestic oaks in the campground
Majestic oaks in Buccaneer State Park

While staying in a  campground across the Mississippi River in Arkansas we made a day trip to Greenville, Mississippi for some Tamales at Doe’s Eat Place. They were so delicious we made a return trip a couple of years later. More about the tamales at BBQ, Pie and Tamales.

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

We traveled to Oxford in the fall of 2016 for a football weekend at Ole Miss. Friday afternoon downtown and tailgating at the Grove were fun, the game not so much. I posted about our stay here.

Tailgating Tents as far as the eye could see
Tailgaters in The Grove before a football game
Sunset over Sardis Lake
Sunset over Sardis Lake

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota

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.

Lake Chicot State Park, Arkansas

We continued exploring the Mississippi Delta at Lake Chicot State Park in Lake Village, Arkansas. Traveling south on Highway 165, a section of the Great River Road, we passed fields of cotton on both sides of the road.

The largest natural lake in Arkansas, Lake Chicot is also the largest natural oxbow lake in the United States. Our campsite was surrounded by wild pecan trees with a nice view of the lake. Our first day there, we drove across the mighty Mississipi River to Greenville, Mississippi to bring home 3 dozen delicious hot tamales.

Located in the Mississippi Flyway, the park is a great place for bird watching. In addition to egrets, herons and ducks, we were surprised to see a huge flock of White Peliicans on the lake.

We took a self guided driving tour along the Mississippi River levee. Most of the 20 mile tour was right on top of the levee. On one side of the levee were borrow pits with cypress trees, lily pads and many birds. On the other side was farmland.

We camped at Lake Chicot State Park in site 7 on October 21-22, 2014. For my review of this campground click here.

Barbeque, pie, and tamales in the Mississippi Delta – Part 3

Hot Tamales in Greenville, Mississippi

After feasting on country cooking for lunch and James Beard Award winning barbeque for dinner with coconut pecan pie for desert on Monday, hot tamales were in our future for Tuesday.

We broke camp in Marianna, Arkansas and pulled the fifth wheel about 130 miles south to Lake Village, Arkansas where we set up camp at Lake Chicot State Park before getting back in the truck to drive across the Mississippi River into Greenville, Mississippi. Our destination was Doe’s Eat Place, another restaurant featured in Alton Brown’s “Feasting on Asphalt the River Run.”

Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, MS
Doe’s Eat Place, Greenville, MS

We were greeted by one of the employees as we entered the front room which was once was a honky tonk.  She told us a little about the restaurant and invited us to look around. After placing our order of 3 dozen hot tamales to go, we wandered through the 3 dining rooms. The lunch rush was over and the employees were busy getting ready for the dinner crowd. We were the only customers. A large gas range is the focal point in the main dining room. Photos and other memorabilia covered the walls.

Doe’s Eat Place has a very interesting history that goes all the way back to 1903 when Doe’s father moved to Greenville and opened a grocery store where the the restaurant is today. The building has been a grocery store, honky tonk, and now a restaurant.

In addition to tamales, Doe’s is famous for their Porterhouse Steaks. Doe’s won the James Beard American Classics Award in 2007 and their food has been recognized by publications such as Southern Living, Men’s Journal, and Bon Appetit.

The 3 dozen tamales to go are served in a large food container about the size of a 2 pound coffee can. The tamales are hand wrapped and tied into bundles of 3. The beef tamales are cooked in a delicious sauce that has just the right amount of heat. We enjoyed some for dinner and brought the rest back in our freezer.

Tamales are hand wrapped and tied in bundles of three
Tamales are hand wrapped and tied in bundles of three

Before our visit to the Mississippi Delta, we have probably never eaten in a James Beard Award winning restaurant. Now, in 2 days, we have enjoyed food from 2 award winners!

Doe’s Eat Place, 502 Nelson St., Greenville, Mississippi, owners Charles Signa, Jr and Doe Signa, III (grandsons of the original Doe).

We stayed at Lake Chicot State Park in Lake Village, Arkansas when we visited Doe’s Eat Place.

 

 

Barbeque, pie, and tamales in the Mississippi Delta – Part 2

Homemade Pie

Inspired by the book and tv series “Feasting on Asphalt The River Run” by one of my favorite Food Network Stars Alton Brown (who just happens to live in Georgia) we decided to spend a few days in the Mississippi Delta on our way home from Little Rock. The book and tv series chronicle the journey he and his crew took on motorcycles on the Great River Road from the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana to the headwaters at Itasca State Park, Minnesota.

Pie was on our mind as we set out on a day trip to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. Coconut pecan pie to be exact.

Ray's Dairy Maid in Barton, Arkansas was featured on "Feasting on Asphalt"
Ray’s Dairy Maid in Barton, Arkansas was featured on “Feasting on Asphalt”

Our goal was to visit two places featured in “Feasting on Asphalt”: the Delta Cultural Center (it was closed) and to try a  piece of coconut pecan pie at Ray’s Dairy Maid. Just thinking about a pie with coconut AND pecans made my mouth water.

We were probably the only non-locals stopping here for lunch. As we glanced around the small dining room trying to find an empty table, a couple sitting at a large table invited us to sit with them.

They were a delightful couple from Helena. He is a retired banker and his wife Dolly is a hairdresser. She still does hair at the salon she has owned for over 50 years. They had just left the nursing home where she goes every Monday to fix hair for the residents there. They were regulars at the restaurant and seemed to know everyone.

Photo of Alton Brown at Ray's Dairy Maid
Photo of Alton Brown at Ray’s Dairy Maid

Ray’s Dairy Maid serves hand made hamburgers, plate lunches, and is famous for it’s homemade pies. We didn’t get to meet the owner Deane Cavette (also known as Nana Deane) who was out of town.

Every weekday they offer a different plate lunch special. Monday was meatloaf with 2 sides. Sounded great but I went for the country fried steak with fried okra. Good old home cooking at it’s best. Add good conversation to the good food and it was a lunch to remember.

Dolly pointed out a meringue pie with the meringue piled several inches high. It looked delicious but we had been thinking about the coconut pecan pie too long to try anything else. After getting directions on how to get back on the road to the campground we got two pieces to go and were on our way.

We had the pie for desert that night after our unbelievably delicious dinner of pulled pork from Jones Bar-B-Q Diner. The pie was even better than I imagined and was worth going out of the way for. Pecan pie is my favorite pie in the world and the addition of the coconut just put it over the top. It was a perfect way to end the day.

I can’t remember a time when I’ve had two such delicious and memorable meals in one day.

Ray’s Dairy Maid, Hwy. 49, Barton, Arkansas is owned by Deane Cavette.

We were camped at Mississippi River State Park near Marianna when we ate at Ray’s Dairy Maid.