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Road Trip Across America – Vegas to Mississippi


Back a number of years ago, I had just received some rather devastating news from a business partner and so decided I needed to leave Vegas for a while to clear my head and work out “what next”.

I packed up my beloved car and headed off on what became a three-month, 8,000 mile road trip all over the USA.

At the time I was writing emails to close family and friends, and was thinking that I would like to share that journey here on my Luxurious Nomad site – so, here are the letters and photos I shared…

Leaving Las Vegas today…

Hi Everyone!

Well, I ‘thought’ I’d sent you an update already, however didn’t realize it was sitting in my outbox because I forgot to compress the file size of the images (meaning the email was too big for the server at the hotel).

Soooooooo, after some polite discussions between me and my Outlook (because the big email decided to stay stuck in the outbox & Outlook wouldn’t let me delete it – or send anything else!) I’m now back on track…

Well, from Vegas I headed South East through Arizona and New Mexico.

I’ve driven through here before, but the scenery always amazes me…

…and that dark semi-circular thing is actually a cave… There are huge caverns everywhere throughout NM.

…then on to Texas…

Cadillac Ranch

Have you heard of Cadillac Ranch in Texas?

According to Wikipedia, it was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs; the tailfins) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

When I was arriving, a couple and their entourage were just leaving, having had their wedding photos taken there!

Although as fate would have it, I managed to be able to get there at just the right time when there was no one else at the cars, within 10minutes, they were swarming with two bus-loads and several car-loads of people.

Oh, and Happy Father’s Day for yesterday!!! (in case you can’t make it out, that’s what it says on the back of the truck – and there were sooooooooooooo many painted vehicles on the road over the weekend – “XYZ or Bust” “2013 Grad & Proud!” “XYZ Bound!”

Wishing God-speed and protection to all our grads…

I stayed overnight in Vernon, TX – and figured you can’t be in Texas and not have a steak for dinner!

On the recommendation of the inn-keeper, I went to the Three Hearts Steakhouse. Built in 1929 this place was the epitome of a run-down yet incredibly charming restaurant with good old-fashioned service and food that was mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………….!

Rib-eye steak, garlic mash, fresh steamed vegetables and a beer (OK, so you know I’m a red wine kinda gal, but I would have felt right funny ordering wine in this place – Dos Equis for me!)- it was soooooooooo good! Perhaps the best steak I’ve ever had.

…and it seems my accent is a big hit – there’s no shortage of Texan cowboys wanting to stop and chat a while!

…& you know you’re in Texas when there are lone stars on the wall! LOL!

It took seemingly forever to get through Dallas/Fort Worth. There was literally 50miles of roadworks… At one point the going was so slow, the guy on a motorbike beside me lit up a cigarette! There are detours and closed roads and more detours and closed lanes… I think the city planner had the not-so-bright idea to redo every single main road at the same time…


From Texas, I high-tailed it to Louisiana & then on to Mississippi…

…& look at all those TREES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Being in Las Vegas for so long, I forgot how much I love the color GREEN!

No more desert, no more plains, no more prairies………. & the air smells sooooooooooooo good here…

…& my baby car reached 100,000 miles on this trip! I love her so much! She’s purring away…

I think everyone’s met her, but in case not, here’s a photo – she’s a 1998 XK8 Jaguar Convertible – and she was one step away from the wrecking yard when I adopted her and brought her back to life…  She has since become my best friend.

…and speaking of my car, when I arrived in Natchez, Mississippi last night, she was like an over-run cemetery for bugs so this morning I went on a hunt for a car-wash…

You would think this would be a simple exercise…

I asked my phone to find me the nearest carwash and apparently there are only 2 within 40miles of here. So, I proceeded to the nearest, only to find it was closed, with a hand-written sign on the window saying “you disrespected me and my property and………” OK – forget that one!!!

The next was back in Mississippi about 10 miles away but I thought I’d make an adventure out of it… It was just that! Check out the photo!!!

I don’t know if you can make it out, but there are body parts, dead oil drums, mud, you name it… But I figured, what the heck – and you know, it was one of the best car washes ever! A team of good ole Miss boys working their hearts out – and when they were done, she gleamed.

I’ve no idea how the phone found them, there wasn’t even a sign or anything… but I’m glad it did.

So, once Baby Car was presentable again, we headed to the Visitor Center to get the low down and then started to check out historic Natchez.

The old railway station has been converted into condominiums… Somehow that just doesn’t seem right…

Oh, and for some reason, here in Mississippi my cleavage seems to be incredibly interesting!!! Almost every male with whom I have interacted has been staring at it!!! Seriously staring! I mean, I love my girls, but I’m pretty certain I’m not the only female to have them!

While speaking with one guy, I actually closed the shirt I was wearing over my singlet top and he sighed!!! LOL!


…& from downtown Natchez I toured the first of the antebellum homes I intend to visit while I’m here – Rosalie
Mansion (and as with many historical buildings, no photos inside were permitted).

In 1716 the French built a fort on the bluffs of Natchez. It was named Rosalie in honor of the Duchess of Ponchartrain. In 1820 Peter Little, a native of Pennsylvania, purchased a portion of that land on which to build his home. He decided to keep the name Rosalie in honor of the fort and its settlers. He also purchased large areas of land in Louisiana.

Peter Little arrived in Natchez in 1798 when he was only 17 years old. His family background is impressive. His grandfather, Colonel Peter Little, was a physician to George Washington and a pallbearer at his funeral. Another close relative represented Maryland in the United States Congress. However, why Peter came to Natchez at such an early age is a mystery.

He frequently used the ferryboat at Natchez under the Hill to cross the Mississippi River to check on his Louisiana property. He developed a strong friendship with the ferryboat owner, Jacob Lowe, and his family. In 1806 an outbreak of yellow fever quickly took Jacob’s life. Soon his wife contracted this dread disease. Knowing her death was near, concern for her daughter, Eliza, consumed her. She sent for Peter Little and pleaded with him to take care of Eliza. He promised her he would.

Peter did what he thought best for defenseless Eliza: he married her. At the time Peter was 25, Eliza 14, so the marriage was in name only. Peter immediately sent her to school in Baltimore. Even though they were separated by many miles, a deep love blossomed and grew between them. We do not know how long Eliza remained in Baltimore. However we do know she came home a very educated, sophisticated young lady.

Construction on Rosalie was completed in 1823. Peter and Eliza moved into their new home. Even though they never had children of their own, the sound of children filled their home for many years. Back in 1816 Eliza helped found the Natchez Children’s Home; many of those children found a loving home at Rosalie. They also raised Peter’s niece after his sister’s death. By all accounts, Peter and Eliza remained deeply devoted to each other throughout their 45 year marriage. Eliza Little died in 1853 of yellow fever. Three years later Peter died without a valid will, forcing an auction of the estate.

In 1857 Mr. And Mrs. Andrew Wilson acquired the house. The Wilson’s had never had any children of their own and, like the Littles, they took orphaned children into their home. They became especially close to one of the girls, Fannie McMurtry. To the Wilsons she was their true daughter. Fannie married Capt. Stephen Rumble in the parlors of Rosalie on August 2, 1866. Rosalie became their home for the rest of their lives. All 6 of their children were born at Rosalie. In 1938 Miss Annie, daughter of Stephen and Fannie McMurtry, sold Rosalie to the Mississippi State Society DAR. Miss Rebecca and Miss Annie continued to live at Rosalie and give daily tours. In 1958 after 101 years of life at Rosalie for the Wilson/Rumble families, Miss Annie, the last of the descendants, passed away.

Perhaps the piece of the history of Rosalie Mansion I best liked, was the story of Annie, who lived her entire life at Rosalie – as a young girl she fell in love with a much older gentleman.  Her father wasn’t impressed so sent the man away.

When Annie was 60 years old, the gentleman (whose wife had passed away some time before) found out that Annie was still single (having never gotten over her true love).

They were reunited and were married.

There was only one other person on the tour with me and when I gushed over the piano, the tour guide asked if I could play – “not well enough for a recital” I responded, laughingly.  Anyway, he talked me into it and I played the antique Chickering baby grand that was a gift to the house by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

Talk about magical!!!  WOW!

Well, that’s it for this installment…

It’s wine-o-clock here…  LOL!  Actually, I’m having the best time – I go exploring during the day, come back to the hotel (that has everything I need – high-speed w-fi, fridge, microwave, ironing board, & guest laundry) around 3pm or 4pm-ish and then get to work until later in the evening.

Hi again!

Have you ever heard of a Bowie Knife?

Today I decided to have some local Mississippi blackened catfish for lunch at the Magnolia Grill and learned some of the history of the Bowie Knife.  It’s quite an interesting story…

Back on Sept 18th or 19th in 1827, James Bowie was a member of two parties of 6 men each who went with Dr Thomas Maddox and Mr Samuel Wells (Bowie was in his party) to a sandbar across the river from Natchez to fight a duel.

This photo is essentially looking at near where the duel was fought on the other side of the river – and apparently they chose the sandbar as it wasn’t solid land and therefore not subject to regular law enforcement.  A novel idea..!  LOL!

One guy fired – the other guy fired – both missed so they thought they’d call it a day and go home – however General Cuney with Watts’ party had a problem with Colonel Crain, Maddox’s second (and if you’re new to duels, the second is the guy who gets the dueler’s pistol or whatever ready for him) – Cuney drew his pistol, aimed at Crain, but he wasn’t fast enough and Crain shot and killed him.

Well, boys will be boys so this now turned into a free-for-all…

James Bowie lunged at Crain, Bowie holding his knife in one hand and his pistol in the other.  Colonel Crain threw his now empty pistol at Bowie who staggered back against a stump at which point Colonel Wright, Sheriff of Rapides in Louisiana, shot Bowie in the hip.

Bowie returned fire and seriously wounded the Sheriff upon which the Sheriff revealed a sword from his cane and rushed at Bowie.

James Bowie then plunged his 10 and ¾ inch blade into the Sheriff’s belly.  “The bastard’s killed me,” exclaimed the Sheriff and he promptly died.

At that point everyone decided they’d had enough, so they picked up the dead and wounded and went home.

This was the beginning of the legend of the Bowie Knife – which was actually designed by James’ brother Rezin.

James Bowie was born in 1796, living most of his early life in Louisiana – then later moved to what was Mexican territory (now Texas) when he married a Mexican woman and became joint commander of the Alamo where he died on March 6th, 1836 along with William Travis, Davy Crockett and the rest of the troops stationed there.


These photos were taken out the front of the Magnolia Grill…

…and that thing that looks like a multi-story building on the left is actually a riverboat!

From there I drove around for a while with the roof off the car simply seeing where the roads would take me…  It rained last night and everything was damp and humid, but the breeze made it quite delightful!

I came across this rather unique specimen…  LOL!

…& found a long winding dirt track that went along the water where I found a lot of these… & it actually felt like you were a lot further and deeper south than simply Natchez…

This is actually a photo of the track – yes, there is a track through there!  …and there were signs earlier confirming this is the property of the City of Natchez so I figured I wasn’t trespassing, evening though it did look a little dicey…

When a pickup not dissimilar from the one in the photo decided to follow me – and wouldn’t pass me even when I stopped – I decided it was time to leave…

As I found out later, back in the 1800’s, Natchez was divided into two classes. The town on the bluff which was orderly and respectful, where life and property were safe… and then there was Natchez Under-the-Hill, the lower part of town along the busy river bank. Home to every vice imaginable, it had a rough and tumble time during the busy years of flatboats and steamboats – and much of it is still ‘interesting’ today!

…and every street has home after home with a heritage sign on it…  …and unfortunately a lot also have for sale signs…

From there I toured through beautiful Stanton Hall

In 1858, Frederick Stanton built the home of his dreams for his family on his new property – an entire city block of Natchez, Mississippi.  The city block cost about $1,550.  The house cost over $83,000 before it was even furnished.  Carrera Marble, mahogany doors 2 1/2 inches thick, candeliers from France, and Italian statuary appointed the interior.  Huge Corinthian columns and granite steps adorned the facade.

Stanton came to America with his brothers in 1815.  He made a fortune as a cotton broker, then as owner of more than 16,000 acres of cotton plantations.  Unfortunately, he lived only one month after his dream home was finished.

After that, it was more exploring through Natchez…

The mighty Mississippi River…

From there, Auburn Mansion was next on my list…

This was the first place where I was allowed to take photos inside…

Built in 1812 by Lyman Harding for his wife Abigail, Auburn originally stood on 344 acres.  In 1817, Mississippi became the twentieth state and Lyman Harding was elected its first Attorney General.

Abigail died in less than a year and shortly after the birth of their son, Winthrop.

The newspaper of the time published this about her:  “In the death of this lady her husband has suffered an irreparable loss, and society is bereft of one of its brightest ornaments; to nature she was much indebted for the elegance of her person, but more for the goodness of her heart.”

Approximately five years later, Harding remarried a woman named Elizabeth but he died soon after, leaving no will.  Fourteen-year-old Winthrop was sent to be raised by family in Massachusetts.

…and here’s where the story takes a conniving turn…  Under law of the time, Elizabeth was entitled to use the estate, but couldn’t sell Auburn, unless she remarried, when it would become the property of her husband.  Of course, once Winthrop turned twenty-one, the property would be his.

Less than two weeks before Winthrop’s twenty-first birthday, Elizabeth remarried – and only one week before Winthrop’s birthday, Elizabeth’s new husband sold Auburn.

Winthrop never received a penny…

Move forward to the 1930s and Auburn was vacant – totally empty and used as a playground for local children.  This was the case for almost 40 years!!!

In the early 1970s, the property was saved by the ladies of the Natchez Cooperative Club, the Town and Country Garden Club, and the Auburn Garden Club.

In the far corner of the photo above, you’ll see a piano…  Yet again I was SO privileged to be the only person on the tour and given the opportunity to play the 1891 Steinway grand piano…

This separate building out the back was the kitchen on the lower floor and the quarters for the 26 servants on the upper floor.

…and the arched ceilings were also a great leap forward in residential building of the time – thanks to the ingenuity of architect and builder, Levi Weeks.

This free-standing spiral staircase is separately considered to be a national treasure…

Well, that’s about it for today…

Even though I’m being ever so productive by exploring during the day and working in the evening, I’ll probably stay ‘home’ tomorrow and get a heap of work done – so you may not get an update for a couple of days.

…oh, and you know that rather inconvenient habit I have of waking up in the middle of the night having remembered some detail – often totally meaningless to anyone else?

Well, last night I woke around 3am remembering the Chickering piano I played wasn’t the one donated by the DAR – the DAR donated the Baltimore piano in the men’s parlor.  My Chickering was used by the Wilson family.

…and a piece of trivia about Vernon (the place in Texas I mentioned) – Roy Orbison was born there.

OK, that’s it for now…

Sending love and smiles as always…

[Tuesday night]

Tonight a thunderstorm rolled through and I got out of bed, put on a t-shirt that comes down to my knees and went and stood out in the rain…  It was soooooooooooo delightful and refreshing!  Living in Vegas, I miss rain!!!

OK, so if anyone saw me, they would have thought I was crazy – hmmmmm, well, maybe they’d be right, but I loved it!!!

But, hey – sometimes the crazy people do some extraordinary things – as a piece of trivia…

Did you know the first guy to measure the great Pyramids of Egypt did so while wearing a TUTU?!  Seriously!!!

The Egyptian government wouldn’t allow anyone near them, however in Egypt they have laws that let crazy people do all sorts of things that supposedly sane people cannot.  Anyway, Sir William Petrie actually wore a tutu while measuring the pyramids…


[Wednesday night]

You know, when I started on this journey, I brought with me a journal in which to write out what I want for my new life.

…but try as I might, I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to sit down and write my new life goals…  I even sat down by the Mississippi in a gorgeous spot and took out my journal… and looked at it…  and looked at the blank page… and closed it…  and opened it again… and looked at it…  and closed it and walked back to my car.

Tonight I watched the last of a PBS documentary I’ve been watching on the Rockefeller Family and as it ended, I thought, what I really need to write is my personal manifesto”…

So that’s the task upon which I’m embarking…

The word manifesto traces its roots to the Latin manifestum, which means clear or conspicuous.  A manifesto is defined as a declaration of one’s beliefs, opinions, motives, and intentions. It is simply a document that an organization or person writes that declares what is important to them.

Sooooooooooooooo, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you…

My Manifesto (with the ‘declaration’ copied from the Declaration of Independence – I thought that was kinda fitting…  LOL!)


Today I was back out exploring again…

…and everyone is SO friendly!  Even as I was driving through the back of Auburn Mansion Estate with the roof off, (used to be part of the estate, now a park and a golf course) guys on the green waved hello and/or tipped their hat…  I love it when men tip their hat to a lady…

…and as my wonderful assistant Sharla put it, it’s wonderful when you are in an area where gentlemen act like gentlemen and treat you like a lady – not because they have to – just because it’s the way they live!

OK, enough of my soap box…

Here’s the latest of my exploring…

Unfinished Longwood Mansion

Longwood is the largest octagonal home in the United States and the exterior of the home was built in only 18months.

When you enter the estate, it’s my idea of heaven…………..  Old trees that climb ever upward…  Moss hanging from the branches…  Birds singing…

…you drive past a small lake on your way to the main home…

While the outside of this impressive home is incredible, what I found even more incredible was what you experience when you walk inside…

Work on the house was halted in 1861 at the start of the American Civil War. Dr. Nutt (the owner) in 1864, leaving the work incomplete. Of the thirty-two rooms planned for the house, the only rooms that were ever completed were the nine rooms on the basement floor.

…it’s easy to imagine what Dr Haller Nutt envisaged for the property, before the onset of war stopped construction…

The family moved into the basement, the only moderately finished part of the house, and after Nutt’s death of pneumonia in 1864, his wife continued to live there, in the basement, for approximately 30 years until her death.

There are rooms that still contain the workers tools…

…and this is looking up through several stories toward the dome…

Longwood was an engineering marvel for its time, complete with interior skylights that were to be internally lit from mirrors in the upper dome.  Window boxes were built over the openings that shine light down to the lower floors…

…and some more trivia… 

In 2010, Longwood was used in the HBO series True Blood for the external shots of the fictional Jackson, Mississippi mansion of Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi and Louisiana.

Oh, and speaking of movie sets, remember Stanton Hall?  I learned that’s where they shot the interior scenes from Patrick Swayze’s minni-series, “North & South”.

…even the spider’s webs were cool!

…and back in to Natchez…  This delightful friend is named Max and he’s 15 years old…  He toured me through the township of Natchez.

This home is Myrtle Terrace, built in 1844 and owned by Captain Thomas Leathers.  Leathers was a riverboat captain and both owned and captained the steamboat, Natchez, considered the fastest there was…

That is until Captain John Cannon of the steamboat, Robert E Lee, had enough of the taunts and the two challenged each other to a race commencing June 30, 1870 at 5 PM in New Orleans and would end in St. Louis, Missouri.

[from jayssouth.com website]  Immediately newspapers around the world picked up on it. Articles appeared telling why the Robert E. Lee couldn’t possibly defeat the Natchez or the other way around! In Europe, gamblers were already placing bets, some quite large. In the US, the effect was the same.

Natchez was loaded with northbound passengers and cargo, however board the Robert E. Lee, there were only a very few passengers, all of them going to Cairo, Illinois. The Robert E. Lee had only one scheduled stop along its way, Cairo! All its furniture had been removed and put in storage. There were no chandeliers, lighting fixtures or anything of weight, unless it was a necessary part of the steamboat.

It was basically a floating hull with a steam power plant! Captain Cannon knew that in order to stay ahead of the newer, faster Natchez and its boastful captain, he would have to lighten his load and minimize his stops.

Posted along the river’s shoreline were timekeepers, who made notes of who was in the lead at various points along the river, then they would take that information to the nearest telegraph office and send it to the newspapers.

The Robert E. Lee was holding the lead as it was the first of the two steamboats to reach Baton Rouge at 8:25 p.m. The Natchez was running 6 minutes behind the Lee. Captain Leathers was furious. He ordered his firemen to throw more pine and pine resin into the furnaces. This appeared to have been working; the Natchez began to close in on the Lee.

However, the Natchez was holding to its regular schedule, which meant that it had to dock at points along the route to drop off passengers and cargo, though these were done in record times. On the other hand, the Robert E. Lee’s passengers were all headed to Cairo, Illinois, a point south of St. Louis, near the end of the race, so there would be no stops for the Lee during most of the race!

(((somehow I think Leathers didn’t read the rule book! – but then again, here comes some significant cheating!!!  Maybe there wasn’t a rule book…)))

As the Robert E. Lee approached Vicksburg, the powerful Natchez was in second place and closing the gap! At this point, Captain Cannon of the Lee executed an unusual maneuver. Sitting in the middle of the river was the steamship Frank Pargaud. The Lee pulled up alongside the Pargaud and the two steamboats lashed off to each other. The Pargaud steamed northward alongside the Lee in order to prevent Lee from losing time. In a matter of minutes, the crews loaded more fuel onto the Lee!

Sometime after midnight, fog began to settle in. Captain Leathers considered the safety of his passengers and freight and tied up along the bank to wait until sunup. Captain Leathers assumed Captain Cannon would do the same.

However, Captain Cannon had no passengers left on his boat, no cargo, only crew!

His crew was as determined as he was to win this race. With crewmen using fathom lines to test the water depths, the Lee continued a slow voyage in the pre-dawn darkness for about an hour, then the fog lifted. Before them lay the calm, wide-open Mississippi River. Captain Cannon ordered full steam. The crew of the Lee would not see the Natchez again until after the race!

In St. Louis, the banks of the Mississippi were crowded with spectators hoping to see who the victor was going to be, when at approximately 10 a.m. on July 4, 1870, a steamboat appeared blowing white clouds into the air and the cheer went up, “It’s the Robert E. Lee!” It had made the trip in 3 days and eighteen hours.

The crew was welcomed to Saint Louis by ringing church bells, cannon shots, locomotive whistles and thousands of cheers! Upon docking, the steamboat was rushed by so many admirers that for a few moments it appeared that the boat may be sunk by the weight of the fans!

Six hours and thirty-six minutes later, Captain Leathers, his crew and the Natchez arrived in Saint Louis to a very similar reception.

Capt Leathers lived until 1896 when he was run over and killed by a bicycle (seriously!).

I’ll still be in Natchez for another couple of days getting a head start on a heap of work before I take to the road again…

…and tonight, polishing off another of the last of my signature Meritage that I brought with me…


Hi there

OK, just a quick update since I’ll be back on the road again soon…



Today was so very productive and I even managed to record and produce the first of our informational videos!  Yes, I did bring a full recording studio with me!  …and no, I’m not joking!  LOL!


…my only challenge is that “high-speed wifi” here is, hmmmm, well……  Let’s just say it will do a great job of staying connected all night long to upload the video file…  LOL!  But hey, at least I have connectivity that I don’t have to pay extra for.  AT&T would charge me a fortune – but again, it’s wonderful to know I have that as a backup if I need it.

Will spend another day ‘home’ tomorrow working and repacking up my Baby for our next road-trip… continuing through Mississippi…


Even I am amazed at how much I was able to bring with me – and it’s all packed up by ‘function’ – a bag for camping & tools – a bag for office etc – a bag for kitchen – a bag for laundry (oh, speaking of that, I need to remember to do the washing here tomorrow in the guest laundry!) – a bag that has everything glorious from the bathroom (all my hair goop, scented candle (yes, seriously!), face masks, perfume etc etc etc…) – a bag for shoes (and yes, I did bring several pair of stilettoes (after all, I will also be attending meetings once I get to VA etc)… and a bag that’s kinda my overnight bag so I can leave the entire car packed when I’m staying somewhere for just one night and it has just the bare essentials…

Oh, and not to mention 3 handbags (a girl has to color-coordinate), a tent, sleeping bag, air-mattress, suitcase full of clothes for EVERY eventuality from camping to formal, several bottles of wine, all the protein bars that were in the kitchen before I left (no need leaving them behind), my assortment of vitamins and minerals and OTC drugs that all keep me going, and a partridge in a pear tree named Augustus…  OK, so I added in Augustus to see if you were paying attention, but the rest is all present and accounted for…

Dunleith Mansion

Saturday evening, my last night in my beloved Natchez, I felt the need to get dressed up a little, so I put on some stilettoes, and went out to have dinner at DUNLEITH MANSION.

Dunleith Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi:

This is my dinner location – well, almost…  This is the main building that was rebuilt in 1856 after the first house burned to the ground when it was hit by lightning.  The restaurant is next to the house in the original carriage house & stables built in the 1790s.

As appetizer, I enjoyed Mirliton Stuffed Oysters on the Half-Shell, and main meal was Sautéed Maple-Leaf Duck Breast with Black Mission Fig Compote served with Walnut Wild Rice and Sautéed Baby Spinach – and it was not only delicious!!!, it was actually less than half the price I expected…

Alas, there was just me for dinner – actually, when I arrived, even though I made the reservation for ONE, they said they couldn’t remember the last time someone dined alone there so they initially left the table set for two, certain it was a mistake…  Alas…

…so, now you see a second place setting – and now you don’t.

HOWEVER!!!  Upon my readying to leave, the two women at the table near me started chatting…  Short version:  not only will Rebecca and Alana-Leigh most likely now be my life-long friends – we were having so much fun, we were the last ones to leave the entire place!  LOL!

We discussed history, philosophy, the interaction between Maslow and faith, law, manners, changing generational norms and soooooo much more – oh, and men, of course.  LOL!

On the way home I had the roof off the car and was delighted to be accompanied by the glorious SUPERMOON.  Did you see it???

This full moon is not only the closest and largest full moon of the year, it also presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth for all of 2013. The moon will not be so close again until August, 2014.

Blissful night’s sleep then back on the road again…

Windsor Ruins

My next stop was the WINDSOR RUINS…  You meander along a curving dirt road (that has no cell coverage) for ages…

…and then you come across this…

Despite surviving the Civil War, Windsor burned, during a house party on February 17, 1890, after a guest left a lighted cigar on the upper balcony – and now only the thirty feet high Corinthian columns of Windsor remain as a reminder of a grand existence.

A Mississippi treasure, built in 1859-61. The original owner, Smith Daniell, only lived in the large mansion for a few weeks before he died. The Windsor plantation once covered over 2,600 acres. It is said that from a roof observatory, Mark Twain used to stand and muse while overlooking the Mississippi River in the distance, and compared Windsor to a college instead of a residence, due to its size.

From the elaborate furnishings, to the wrought iron staircase, the four story home was designed to reflect the height of Southern life at the time. It was built for $175,000 (not a small sum at the time), which included the building cost and its furnishings. Tanks in the attic supplied water for the interior baths.

The mansion contained twenty-five rooms with twenty-five fireplaces, with a basement containing a school room, dairy, and supply rooms. From the roof observatory, signal equipment was used to signal Confederate troops of Yankee advances.

A Yankee soldier was shot in the front doorway of the home. Given that the mansion was used as a Union hospital and observation post during the Civil War, this is the most likely reasons that it was spared from being burned by the Union troops at the time.

Windsor Ruins has appeared in several feature films, including Raintree County (1957), which included Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Cliff, Lee Marvin, Eva Marie Saint, and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McKoy, of Star Trek fame). More recently, the columns appeared in the movie, Ghosts of Mississippi.

From there it was some more exploring of other old buildings in the area calling in to Bethel Church along the way.

Next it was off to Port Gibson and Vicksburg.  Many of the town’s historic buildings survived the Civil War because Grant proclaimed the city to be “too beautiful to burn.”

…there were also so many churches, I think they outnumbered any other single type of building!  …and not only that, the parking lots and adjoining streets next to each on I drove past were full to overflowing.

I smiled to see a young man, probably about 14 years of age, dressed in a full suit and bopping along the sidewalk most likely on his way home after service as only a few hundred yards further down the road, the congregation was still streaming out of the church.

There were also other interesting places such as this:

It may not look like much now, but, founded in 1900, the ‘Foots’ (African-American Rabbit Foot Minstrels who played a major role in spreading the blues) were headquartered in Port Gibson during the first half of the century.


They have smooth jazz playing from speakers in the light-poles in the street…  A nice touch…

…and that is where I will leave off for this post…

Next installment kicks off with an amazing Coca Cola history lesson as I continue my journey across America (and back again!)

Until then…

~ Bella

Appalachian resort

Appalachian Resort

The Appalachian Resort up in the mountains of New Jersey has been my ‘home sweet home’ for several months.

Appalachian resort

Only about two hour’s drive (actually, a little less) from New York City, about two and a half hours from Philadelphia, and with two hot tubs, a heated pool, gym, cafe, bar, games room, underground parking and more, this luxury four-season resort has been my piece of heaven!

Appalachian resort

Appalachian Resort Four-Season Luxury

During winter, the ski slopes are literally in your back yard…

Appalachian resort

Appalachian resort

Next door is Mountain Creek Resort’s Red Tail Lodge where you can find even more places to eat, drink, rent equipment and be merry!

red tail lodge

Then, as the weather turns to spring, the area becomes known for hiking and biking – with the Appalachian Trail only a few miles up the road.

appalachian 2016 Spring Classic Pro GRT Course

Come summer, and the whole area turns water park!

Fall is back to hiking and biking, and the cycle is complete.

Only 10 minutes away is the picture-postcard beauty of Warwick, just over the border into New York state.

warwick new york

I have loved my time here!


skytop lodge

Step back in time… Skytop Lodge, Pennsylvania USA

skytop lodge
This photo thanks to Skytop Lodge

On the way to this lovely gem known as Skytop Lodge, one travels through a state park aptly named, “Promised Land”.


Part luxury lodge, part adventure playground and part pure heaven, Skytop’s history dates back to 1925 where John Stubbs, Frederic Smith, Earl Mayne and Sam Packer envisioned a grand resort on the peak of a high plateau in the Poconos.

skytop lodge

Built from stones and woods found on the property, the main building was completed in only three years.

skytop lodge

In 1930 a dam was completed and the lake was enlarged to its present size.

skytop lodge

Later, cottages were built and the 2,000-acre Goose Pond area was acquired to create a 5,500 Pocono Mountains playground with hiking, skiing, swimming, and new adventures, surrounded by places of quiet beauty and restful charm.

skytop lodge

skytop lodge

After driving through the grounds, I pulled up to the main entrance where a delightful valet, Mr Robert, greeted me.

skytop lodge

As I stepped through the main door, it felt literally as though I was stepping through a time-portal doorway.

skytop lodge

Before curling up with a glass of red wine (of course!), I meandered through the halls of this beautiful building…

skytop lodge

skytop lodge

skytop lodge

A member of Historic Hotels of America, Skytop Lodge is a wonderful location to stay, play, relax and unwind – or do as I did and simply while away an afternoon over a glass or two of wine, soaking in the ambiance of the Tap Room…  Bliss!

For more information, here is their website: http://www.skytop.com/ ~ and tell them I said, ‘hello!’


Have you stayed at Skytop Lodge?  Let me know so we can share your experiences with the Tribe!

By Leigh St John, aka Luxurious Nomad

Ye Auld Shebeen Irish Pub

ye auld shebeen irish pubIn Ireland, a ‘shebeen’ was a late-night speakeasy, often of ill-repute ~ however this glorious gem in Whippany, New Jersey is anything but!

When I’m in the area, this is one of my all-time favorite places to live the laptop-lifestyle ~ curl up, work, drink, chat… (apart from taking your life in your own hands as you navigate the nearby highway 10 to 287 intersection – eeeeeegads, that’s a nightmare!)

This Irish Pub is about as authentic as you can get on this side of the pond, with over 90% of the materials used to create the pub coming from old Irish salvage in Ireland and being shipped to New Jersey, USA.

auld shebeen irish pub

First constructed in Belfast, Ireland, the Auld Shebeen was then dismantled, packed up, relocated to America and reconstructed where she now stands.

The wood paneling and fireplace in part of the dining room are made of solid oak from the library of an old mansion in central Belfast.

In the main bar area, you find an 18th century Póitin still, which was rescued from an old seminary college in Maynooth, County Kildare.


auld shebeen irish pub…and in case you’re wondering, “póitin” was the Irish term for moonshine, made from  cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes.

Want another interesting fact?

The Irish word for a hangover is póit – I guess, too much póitin and you get a póit!

Makes sense.

…and no, the slightly blurry images were as a result of low-light, not too much póitin – at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  🙂

P1000338 auld shebeen irish pub auld shebeen irish pub

You can find the Auld Shebeen Irish Pub at 1401 Rt 10 E · Whippany, New Jersey 07981 USA

By Leigh St John, aka the Luxurious Nomad

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[bctt tweet=”A glorious Irish Shebeen, right in our own backyard.  Where, you may ask?”]