Natchez Trace Parkway (Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee)


After almost a week in Alabama and Louisiana–including a day in Lafayette, Louisiana, and a night spent on a houseboat Airbnb on the Vermillion River, none of which I seem not to have photographed–a we rounded off our amazing 2016 Southern Road Trip with a two day drive up the Natchez Trace Parkway, starting in Jackson Mississippi, spending the night in Tupelo (birthplace of Elvis Presley), crossing through a corner of Alabama, and finishing up only 30 minutes from Nashville. 

What was so neat about driving through 400 miles of this pristine strip of parkland was how drastically the landscape changed from start to finish. I’d love to spend more time on the Parkway one day and go all the way to its end in Natchez, Mississippi.

 [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]

Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana

Among the beautiful preserved plantation homes you can visit in the greater New Orleans area, Whitney Plantation stands out. You don’t go there to marvel at the lavish lives of the slave holding white upper class. You don’t go to enjoy period architecture. You go to learn about the brutalities of slavery in the only plantation museum in Louisiana that focuses on the lives of the people enslaved, not the slave-holders.

“In 2014, the Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262 year history as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery.

Through museum exhibits, memorial artwork and restored buildings and hundreds of first-person slave narratives, visitors to Whitney will gain a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people.” (via the website)

I’ll include some videos at the end of this post to help you understand just how unique this is, but I will say that after two hours in the 90+ degree Louisiana sun learning about the horrors of slavery, I felt like I could have gone on another tour. Our guide was bold and unafraid to make strong statements about the realities of America’s first few hundred years. It was an incredibly powerful experience, and I would urge you to visit if you ever get the chance. You will not walk out the same. This place is not only a museum, but a memorial to the what we have done. In Germany, there are memorials to the Holocaust all over. But in the US, we don’t have memorials to slavery. Instead we have monuments to the people who fought to keep African Americans enslaved. The Whitney Plantation is doing something about this.

I can’t embed it, but I highly recommend this video about the Whitney Plantation from the New Yorker. You can also learn more about the museum from NPRNational GeographicThe AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana

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There are six separate sites outside New Orleans that make up Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The one we went to had a great boardwalk through the swamp. There was almost no none there, and we spotted a cute baby gator sunning himself on the path. It was hot and steamy, but well worth the heat to enjoy the gorgeous swamp.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]

Honey Island Swamp Tour in Slidell, Louisiana


New Orleans itself was ok. Beautiful in its own way, but not one of my favorite places so far. However, the areas outside the city that we explored were spectacular. We had a blast taking a swamp tour in Slidell. We went with Dr. Wagner’s Original Honey Island Swamp Tours, and the guide was great. We saw alligators and a cajun village and actually learned a lot. The swamp itself was spectacular. Louisiana nature was so unlike anywhere else I’ve been.


 [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]

New Orleans, Louisiana

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After a day in the sun and swamp on Dauphin Island, Alabama, we drove into New Orleans, where we would spend three rainy days exploring the city. We did get out of the French Quarter a number of times, but as cool as it was, NOLA didn’t really inspire me to go out of my way to take pictures.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]

Dauphin Island on the Alabama Gulf Coast

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Dauphin Island was a great surprise on our roadtrip through the South last year. We had considered going to Gulf Shores or another beach along the Gulf Coast; I’d never been to the Gulf Coast, and it was on the way. But neither of us really like your standard day-at-the-beach beach. A co-worker instead recommended we spend the day on Dauphin Island (pronounced “dolphin” island by a lot of people I talked to about it.

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I would definitely go back again, given the chance. One part of the island had a beach-vacation community vibe, with houses on stilts and people riding bikes to and from the marina along sleepy streets. But then there was also the stunning Audubon Sanctuary, where we wandered through gorgeous swampy nature along boardwalks until the forest dissolved into a beautiful white sand beach. There were only a few other people within sight on the beach. We waded in for a bit until our poor pale skin started to overheat and we needed to retreat to the shade (where it was still ridiculously hot and mugggy, I should add).

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There is also a civil-war era fort and a nature center on the island, although we didn’t have the time to go in either. We also didn’t spot any alligators, sadly, even though there are supposed to be a fair number living in the Sanctuary.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]

Exploring Historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama

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Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham was one of the most unique places I’ve been in the US. Built in the 1880’s, the blast furnaces produced pig iron for 90 years before being shut down. The site was given historic designation in the 1980’s, and today a nice visitor center has some exhibits on its fascinating history worth checking out before you water around some minimally marked off paths that basically give you free reign to wander and climb in and out of different areas. Certain more dangerous areas are marked off, but mostly you are left to use your own common sense as you wander through tunnels, peer into furnaces, and climb up access stairs. It’s a surreal experience, and it’s all free! My photos didn’t turn out too well due to the bright noon sun, but the place is a photographer’s dream.

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more photos of my 2016 roadtrip through the South, click here.]