Friday, October 16, 2020

The Mississippi Blues Trail - Part 1

The other day Eric and I were discussing options for a day ride.  I really like having a goal whether it's a destination, location, viewpoint, whatever.  It just so happens I have an official State of Mississippi map on my desk and it identifies a number of activities, places, things, etc. that can be done in Mississippi.  One of those things is the Mississippi Blues Trail.

The Mississippi Blues Trail (Wiki) was created by the Mississippi Blues Commission in 2006 to place interpretive markers at the most notable historical sites related to the birth, growth, and influence of the blues throughout (and in some cases beyond) the state of Mississippi. Within the state the trail extends from the Gulf Coast north along several highways to (among other points) Natchez, Vicksburg, Jackson, Leland, Greenwood, Clarksdale, Tunica, Grenada, Oxford, Columbus, and Meridian. The largest concentration of markers is in the Mississippi Delta, but other regions of the state are also commemorated. Several out-of-state markers have also been erected where blues with Mississippi roots has had significance, such as Chicago.

Well that sounds like a great challenge.  There are over 200 sites with interpretive markers.  We took a look at the web page MSBluesTrail and Eric sorted out a loop route that would get us eight markers and lunch!  Hopefully, we can continue our hunt and eventually collect all the markers.

On Thursday morning we readied the scooters, donned our gear and headed out to collect Blues markers.  There were two markers in Tupelo so our first stop was at the Tupelo Visitor's Center where we scored the marker Shake Rag.

Each marker has a front and back.  The link I provide for each marker will give you the information on both sides of the marker.  Easier than to try and read this tiny print in the photo, lol! 

Our next stop was Elvis Presley Birthplace (surprised?)  It was so pleasant to stop there on a Thursday morning in the fall.  I think we saw four other people.  Usually it is pretty busy with peeps.  We easily located the Elvis Presley Marker.   Elvis Sings the Blues

In addition to the Mississippi Blue Trail there is also a Mississippi Country Music Trail and since we were right there we snapped a photo.  Elvis Sings Country

Couldn't pass the opportunity to put my arm around Elvis at 13 💃😉

And a photo of the entrance.

That was it for Tupelo.  Our next stop was the Pontotoc town square.  Eric had made a route that took us on very small, rural roads.  Mostly two laners, some one laners and some questionable, lol.  Very fun.  Beautiful, sunny day with temps in the mid-seventies and virtually no traffic.  Lots of time to gawk at things and just have fun on the scooters.

Upon our arrival in Pontotoc we quickly located the town square that is directly across from the Town Hall.

The Town Square is lovely and these quirky swings were placed in several spots around the Square.

A nod to the poor treatment of the Chickasaws.

Another nod to the Confederate history.

And here is the Pontotoc County Blues marker.  Baby Face Leroy Foster

There are also two very nice Veteran's Memorials, one on each side of the Square.

That concluded our tour of Pontotoc and by now our tummies were growling.  We decided to eat lunch in Oxford which was our next stop.  Again we took the road less traveled and thoroughly enjoyed riding though tunnels of trees, across verdant farmland, crossing creeks and wetlands.  Consequently our ride to Oxford took a bit longer than if we had taken the fast, large highway.  

Two markers are located in Oxford.  The first marker was at the town square which is a VERY busy place.  Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi and certainly has that college town vibe going on.  We quickly found Oxford Blues, parked a bit illegally, and snapped the photo!  Listen to R. L. Burnside.

Parked at the Oxford Town Square 

The weather had been gorgeous until we reached Oxford and dark clouds were closing in threatening rain.  We had ridden some areas where the road was wet and were prepared with rain gear but decided to wait and see.

Now, it was time for food.  There is an eatery in Oxford called Big Bad Breakfast that has been recommended to us by friends and we thought today might be a good opportunity to check it out.  We arrived shortly before 1:00 pm and just barely got in before they closed for the day!  Gack!  So glad they let us in.  I have to say that the staff was meticulous in adhering to a safe and pleasant dining experience.  Masks were required to enter (after using hand sanitizer outside) and could only be removed once seated.  If you needed to use the restroom - put the mask on.  When it's time to leave - put the mask on.  Of course all the staff were also masked.

Because they were getting ready to close there was only one other table with patrons so we basically had the place to ourselves.  Yay!!!!!  Sorry, I forgot to take food photos.  Eric had a BLT and I had French Toast with Bacon.  BACON!!!!!  Their BACON is to DIE for!!!!  Nom, nom, nom!!!  Next time I'll just order BACON!!!

We still had one more marker to find in Oxford and it was somewhere on the University of Mississippi campus.  Eric had done a great job scouting and took us directly to the main entrance and up Sorority Row to the marker location where we illegally parked again, lol.   Documenting the Blues  Listen to some B. B. King - The Thrill is Gone

The campus is huge and so beautiful.  We managed to cruise through a large part of it.  Too bad all the museums and centers are closed.  Stupid, effin' COVID!!!!!

It was at the edge of the campus where I had an issue....this was my post on Facebook after our ride.

I guess today was not my day to die. At a four way stop sign intersection (with stop signs on each corner) I almost got nailed while riding my scooter. The car across the intersection from me either didn't see me or didn't care. They turned left in front of me (it was my turn to go). Instinct kicked in and I abruptly swerved to the right and back again only to be missed by inches. I truly thought I was going to get hit. My heart was racing and my breath was ragged. GACK!!!! That's the closest I've come to being run over. (Well, except for the guy who ran me over from behind but that's a different story). All's well that ends well. I am home safe and sound and so very thankful. My angels were on their toes today! That and work on those skills. You never know when you might need to make an abrupt move and keep control! Ride on 🙂

As you can imagine I was pretty shook up but there wasn't anyplace to pull over.  Eric had cleared the intersection before me and I had to wait my turn.  Anyway, I re-connected with Eric and we continued our adventure.  I was very happy to get out of town and traffic and back on to those lovely country lanes.  And the further east we went the weather improved again to sunshine, no rain gear required on this trip! Water Valley was the location for the next marker Casey Jones.     Furry Lewis singing about Casey Jones and Johnny Cash singing about Casey Jones Johnny Cash.

The Casey Jones marker is at the Water Valley Casey Jones Railroad Museum which of course was closed because - you know - effin' COVID!

All locked up - they have a pristine caboose.

And a pristine boxcar!

Next marker location was in Bruce at the town square.  This was the building directly across from the square.  This is a lumber town and has a huge mill a few blocks away that is still producing vast quantities of lumber.

Calhoun County Blues  Listen to Leo "Bud" Welch

On one side of the square is a Veteran's Memorial.

Who knew Bruce was the home of Bigfoot?

Time for our last marker location in Houston (yeah, I know, we go to Houston a lot, hahahaha).  

Bukka White  (Booker "Bukka" White).  You can hear him here Fixin to Die

The Bukka White marker was located at the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum.  Guess what?  It wasn't closed, lol.  Actually, the docent was outside and came over to us and offered to give us a tour and told us there was an extensive Blues exhibit inside.  Dang, it was late in the afternoon and we simply didn't have time.  So now we have another reason to re-visit Houston ;-)

Just a few miles down the road from Houston is an entrance to the Natchez Trace so of course that's where we went!  We made a pit stop at Witch Dance and were delighted to find the restrooms open.  They have been closed for months because of - effin' COVID!

From there is was a mere 30 miles north on the Trace to home.  We arrived at our neighborhood just after 5:00 pm and since it was still light I decided to get a picture for the Iron Butt Photo Tag game I play on Facebook.  I was tickled to get the tag - a giant spider.

And to get a photo for the new tag which is a large non-commercial Halloween display!

But for the "issue" in Oxford, we had a grand day of adventuring, riding the roads less traveled and hunting down Mississippi Blues Trail markers.  The scooters performed flawlessly even hitting a high speed of 60 mph, woohoo!  Most of our day was spent between 40 and 45 mph and we logged about 185 miles for the day.  I'm getting about 81.5 miles per gallon. 

Since there are so many Blues Trail markers we'll probably have more rides that center on that topic which gives us incentive to get out there and explore.  Eric does a fabulous job of routing and navigating.  Now, we just need the weather to cooperate 😉.

Thanks for following along.  Hope to have another adventure soon and maybe some interesting news.......

Cletha & Eric


  1. Did you know.....We have a Mississippi Blues Trail Location here in Rochester, NY? Just sayin'....


    2. No, I didn't know that. Maybe a good excuse to go for an extended ride next year! Thanks :-)