Now that I’ve been back home in NC for a bit, 2022 is chugging along quite nicely. The weather has been a bit chilly for this Cajun girl, but it is winter after all! The coldness has been a great catalyst for me to stay inside and catch up on a few indoor chores, like picking up my Christmas decorations! It’s also given me a little time to fill y’all in on the Mississippi stops during my time down south for the holidays.
The trip to my parents’ house takes more than a dozen hours by vehicle, so I pit-stopped at my Aunt Ruth and Paran Wayne’s house in rural MS to break it up. They live out in the sticks, but the sticks are beautiful and quiet and make a perfect retirement home for them. Hurricanes and the cost of living in Louisiana have prompted many bayou country natives to head east and resettle in Mississippi. In fact, the extensive Cajun network in their area makes getting Louisiana seafood almost as easy to get there in MS as it to get back home. Upon my arrival to their house on my way to Louisiana, I was greeted with delicious boiled crabs and shrimp 😊
On the stop on my return trip to NC, we decided to take a little excursion about an hour away to Laurel, MS. Laurel is a quaint little southern town located in what’s referred to as the Pine Belt of MS. It was established around 1882 as a timber town, and has since gained notoriety as the focus of an HGTV fixer-upper show called Hometown. The stars of the show, Ben and Erin Napier, have renovated over 50 homes in the town of approx. 6700 households.
After visiting the couple’s store, the Laurel Mercantile, we dodged the massive amount of construction happening in the downtown area to stroll the streets and marvel at how easy it will be to get around once all the upgrades are done. We ended up at the Bird Dog Café (one of the buildings renovated by the Napiers) for a reprieve from the cold and a scrumptious lunch. I must’ve been really hungry because I had already devoured the Chef Elliot’s Salad by the time I thought to snap a pic of it!
Back out on the streets after lunch, the historic homes brochure we picked up guided us on a walking tour that took us to majestic homes built around the turn of the 20th century. Most were of Colonial and Renaissance Revival styles and were massive. We ended our walking tour with a stop at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, named after the son of one of Laurel’s founding families. The museum’s collection ranges from Native American baskets, to English silver wares, to Japanese woodblock prints, to contemporary African American art. It even has a working library!
I really enjoyed the Laurel town excursion, but my favorite part of my MS layovers was hanging out and visiting around the ever-present fire at Paran & Aunt Ruth’s home. I’m already looking forward to my next stop there, hopefully in the spring. I took the appearance of an eagle-shaped cloud on my drive out of MS as a sign that I’m welcome to return 😊