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Old 03-13-2013, 01:07 PM
1 posts, read 1,765 times
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I'm a blues fan and my wife and I are doing a road trip between Memphis and New Orleans this summer via the Sunflower Blues Festival in Clarksdale. This will be our first ever trip to the USA from the UK. We're planning to stay in Oxford, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Greenwood, Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez on the way down. Although we will be visiting places such as Minot, Glendora, Merigold, Shaw, Holly Ridge and Leland as well.

My one concern really is that I have read online that some areas are dangerous, and as holidaymakers we won't have any idea whether we are going into bad areas or not. Can you give me some advice please about the places above? Thanks.
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:17 PM
Location: NE Mississippi
18,906 posts, read 11,211,526 times
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I, for one, do not consider any of the places you mentioned as bad areas. I've been to all of them and have never been afraid to get out of the car and talk to people. Your greatest ally is your lack of fear and acceptance of those around you. Use your 'funny sounding' accent to your best advantage. People will love it that you have come to visit.

That rule does not apply in large cities. There are parts of Chicago that scare me, a Vietnam vet, witless.

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We did, and we stayed in a genuine cotton bin that had been converted into a motel room. They also have refurbished shotgun houses (so named because you could open the front and back doors and fire a shotgun through the house).

Be sure to go through the Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and the various blues cafe's should all be visited. Buy some music, talk to people and have a good time.
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:16 PM
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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I don't know about dangerous, but be warned that you will be traveling through the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest areas in the USA. There is a reason why Blues music originated there. Any time you are surrounded by people who are much poorer than you are there is the risk that they may want what you have more than you want it. In general you should be prudent about where you park, lock your doors, and don't keep valuables on your person or in your car. But that's good advice for traveling anywhere.

Unless you have a very good ear you will have difficulty communicating with many of the people you meet. There's "English" and then there's the extreme English dialect spoken by the generally undereducated residents of the area. During the Festival, however, there will be people from all over the country and from other countries so you'll fit in just fine.

Most of the "towns" you listed are small hamlets. I'd never heard of Minot, but I believe I located a "populated place" with that name near MS State Penitentiary (prison) at Parchman.

Oxford is a richer town in the hills east of the Delta and is home of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Lots of doctor and lawyer alumni.

Vicksburg is at the southern tip of the Delta in the loess bluff area. It overlooks the Mississippi River, is home to a large Civil War battlefield and National Military Park. It's worth the trip if you have any interest in military history.

Natchez is a very old (by US standards) town with many antebellum homes and is also in a hilly area.

Greenwood's main claim to fame is that it's where I was born several decades ago

The Mississippi Delta is a completely flat (completely and totally and unrelentingly flat) historic flood plain with rich farming soil and poor residents. In August it will be overwhelmingly hot and oppressively humid. You will think you are drinking the air instead of breathing.

Make sure you drive across the Mississippi River at least once, preferably at Natchez. It's about 1/2 mile wide at Greenville and Vicksburg and about 5/8 mile wide at Natchez. Its power is stunning.

If you currently live in an urban area I suggest traveling the Delta on at least one clear night to see the stars. People who live surrounded by city lights have NO IDEA what the sky truly looks like at night. Find a remote crossroads, then get out of your car, look around to and imagine the genesis of the story about Johnson selling his soul to the Devil (Note: the "official" crossroads is Hwy 61 and Hwy 49 at Clarksdale, but folklore puts the crossroads at many other locations).

Possibly also of interest to you would be to visit Memphis, TN. It's where the traveling bluesmen first went to get out of the Delta poverty and is the home of many historic Blues houses and BBQ restaurants.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:35 PM
Location: Lincoln, NE
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you will die from heat stroke
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:56 PM
Location: Saint Paul, MN
280 posts, read 429,839 times
Reputation: 250
Originally Posted by cloudcrash619 View Post
you will die from heat stroke
LMAO! They are worried about personal security I believe... but yes, when you are in Mississippi / New Orleans area it is hot in August and also very humid so stay hydrated!

You will meet great friendly folks everywhere you go! Down south you will get the true blues culture, but anywhere you go will have poverty. As for crime in the US...they aren't after folks like you unless there scammers.

Watch your wallets in New Orleans in tight places, but if you stay on the French Quarter, and only travel Bourbon in daylight as a general rule you will be perfectly safe. It's when people get too drunk and rowdy that safety becomes an issue.

Nothing to be scared of!
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:09 AM
Location: MS
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Highway 61 from Memphis heading south has numerous Blues Trail markers - The Mississippi Blues Trail - Home

Hot and humid has been covered. If you take jwkilgore's advice and see the stars, you will not be out of your car for long. Summers in the delta are known for mosquitoes. Overwhelming, swarming, suck out all of your blood mosquitoes. Insect repellent will be your friend.

Since you are flying into Memphis, at least stop by Sun Studios, Graceland, the Gibson Guitar Factory and Museum.

When you get to New Orleans, not only will you have blues but also jazz, zydeco and cajun music to listen to. My favorite is Dwayne Dopsie - Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers Part 2 - YouTube The audio is horrible in this video but I chose it because this was approximately 11am so the party started early with the running of the bulls (no bulls were used, just women on roller skates) and I make a rare internet appearance in the video.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:40 AM
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
44 posts, read 94,246 times
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When you drive from Memphis to Oxford, you might consider going by way of Highway 78, through Holly Springs. See Graceland Too, a rather unusual site, and if you wish you can arrange to get a number from the Chamber of Commerce for someone to give you a tour of Montrose, a large antebellum home that serves as the home to the Garden Club. The Walter Place, where Gen. Grant lived for six months, is sometimes open for tours. His military headquarters, Airliwood, is not open but interesting for a drive-by. You can eat at J.B.s on the Square or Annie's, just south of the Square. Also, if you care anything at all for art, the Kate Freeman Clark Art Museum can be opened on request. I think they have five William Merritt Chase paintings (he was her teacher) as well as roughly a thousand of her paintings. Only about a hundred are on display. Some are quite good, but she never sold one. They had an fund-raiser a few years ago and sold one for $23,000, and it was a rather mediocre painting.

Oxford is written up in all the guide books. There are lots of good restaurants. Try the City Grocery for fancy or Ajax Diner for a great, cheap plate lunch.

In Greenwood you might want to try Lusco's.

In Leland, try to have dinner at Lillo's Restaurant, a friendly, Italian restaurant.

You will pass through Rolling Fork on your way to Vicksburg. This is the birthplace of Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) and Fielding Wright. There is a somewhat recently restored plantation home, Mont Helena, that was built on top of an Indian Mound. Of course it is said to be cursed.

Continuing on 20 miles towards Vicksburg you will pass through the crossroads of Onward. There is a store and a plaque here and little else. This is near the spot where Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot the tied up bear and created the Teddy Bear craze. They used to have a big stuffed bear (immitation) that would dance if you put a quarter or fifty cents in a slot. They used to make a decent burger and fries here.

As for safety, I don't think you need to worry about personal safety, but property crime is a problem. Keep any valuables in the trunk of your car.
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:18 PM
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You won't die of heat stroke. You will drown in your own sweat. If you're not familiar with MS humidity bring twice as many changes of clothing as you think you need. Most of the places you mention are small and even larger towns like Greenwood don't have very nice laundromats. There is also a lot of variety in gas station quality and availability of things you might assume 'every' convenience store stocks.

In Greenwood there is no scarcity of good eats and a renovated shopping area downtown. Turnrow Books (with coffee shop & art gallery above), Delta Bistro, Crystal Grill, Alluvian Hotel, and Museum of the MS Delta (formerly Cottonlandia) are all well-known spots to visit & relax, but sometimes the best fun comes from stopping in some little store along a 'blue road'. And the person who said you may have trouble understanding the dialect isn't fooling. I would pretty much feel safe going anywhere in the delta, even at night. There are definitely 'bad parts' of towns, but the gang violence problems stay confined to those who choose to fight that war or seek drugs. Most thefts are break-ins rather than confrontations - except in Jackson. Keep your car locked though.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:34 PM
Location: The South
159 posts, read 236,200 times
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If it is anywhere as great as Chunky rythim and blues was you are going to have a great time, and yes it will be hot and sticky that time of year so make sure you drink plenty of fluids when you are not throwing back beer and plan ahead with everything before you come.Hang out in the shade as much as possible or bring a big umbrella and make your own shade. and as far as saftey just be a smart traveler, sounds like you do travel so apply those to when you come here and everything should be fine!!!
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:17 PM
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From the places you've list, the only place I would worry about is Clarksdale.
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