We arrived, and landed in Natchez, Mississippi around 1AM.
It was a more-or-less typical start for us: a power walk of 15 laps, or more than 2 miles. Breakfast in the main dining room. Shower and dress and return to the Grand Saloon for our Disembarkation Session, which I’m not looking forward to.
The day was sunny! – and varied between needing a jacket and not. We had some time prior to our excursion for the day, so we wandered up to the gift shop up on the levy. The owner has been up there for about 18 months, and is feeling good about the future. Tourism is basically becoming the driver for revitalization of this part of town, and she’s in a good spot – if it continues. She had a good selection of products, in my opinion.
At 10:30, we returned with our tickets in hand for our Southern Hospitality with Regina Charboneau excursion. She is a famous chef (cookbooks, TV shows, and serial entrepreneur, who returned to Natchez and bought one of the Antebellum homes, originally built in 1805 and expanded at least a couple times. She welcomed our bus with open arms, greeting each one of us. The only rules – no rules. We could go anywhere and see anything in the house – including a Picasso. She had prepared some drinks – known as libations instead of cocktails, since we were imbibing before lunch! And a few appetizer and desert dishes that were pretty good. She provided each of us with the recipes on CD, and sold a number of copies of her new cook book – at only $39.95. Uh, no thank you, darling. Biscuits are an important part of Southern cooking, and she showed us how to make them properly, in her opinion, and I’m inclined to agree with her. I look forward to trying this recipe!
The excursion bus returned to the boat around 1, so we had 30 minutes to put some of our goodies away and climb the levy, again, to the hop-on/hop-off tour bus. We had no pre-ordained plan, so we decided to get off at stop #5, Stanton Hall; then walk to #6, the rum distillery run by one of Regina’s sons, and an associated restaurant next door for appetizers and rum punch.
Stanton Hall was a wow. The original owner had prior homes in Natchez, was ill, but wanted one final splash before dying, so he built and furnished Stanton Hall, in addition to his almost 400 acres cotton plantation, etc. He died 9 months after moving into Stanton Hall. Over time, the Civil War disrupted the life of the household – losing the plantation land as “the spoils of war” and most likely their slaves, so there were income issues and manpower issues for taking care of the household. The home was sold a couple times, and was eventually purchased by a woman’s club (backed by their husbands). They rented rooms, ran fund raisers, etc., to keep it going all these years, since. At this point, some of the “family” furniture and decorations are making their way back to the home for exhibition. It really is remarkable.
From there, we walked a few blocks to bus stop #6, and received a standing tour of the rum distillery by Regina’s son – inclusive of a very small sample. Whew! Then we wend next door to the restaurant for an appetizer and some rum punch. The gift shop for the restaurant and distillery was on the second floor and the ladies came back down with a couple of items.
Rather than wait for the bus, we decided that we had little more than a mile walk back to the boat, and the neighborhoods were pretty good, and it was light, so we walked. No regrets.
Dinner was good. Barry tried the oysters, and in addition to our entrees, we ordered one entree that was a little different, as an appetizer to pass around the table. All was good. We finished well in advance of the show.
The show was a Christmas preview show, starring the house players and band and our Cruise Director hamming it up and having fun.
All-in-all, a good day – totaling almost 14,000 steps.