Jackson, Mississippi
February 23, 2023- February 27, 2023


Traci's 50-state half marathon goal provided us with another sightseeing opportunity. This time we would be doing some exploring in the state of Mississippi.

Things I Really Enjoyed

Things I Would Do Differently

We flew on an 8:10 PM American Airlines flight from Reagan Washington National Airport nonstop to Jackson-Medgar International Airport in Jackson, Mississippi. The flight took a little over 2 hours but seemed much longer probably because of the cold cabin. Even though face masks are no longer required on flights, I've learned to keep one handy because they do a nice job of keeping my face warm.

Upon landing, we picked up our rental car for the weekend - a burgundy Nissan Sentra. We made a quick stop at Walmart before checking in to the Residence Inn Jackson Airport/Pearl for the night. We would be moving to a downtown hotel the next day.

We took our time getting started the next day. Traci had to answer emails and join conference calls for work. We had a late check-out so by 2 PM, we were on our way to do some sightseeing. Our first stop was the former home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers. The Evers' were leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, Medgar was assassinated in his driveway by a gunman. Today the Evers house is a national monument. I had tried to reserve a tour of the home before coming to Mississippi but the tours were given on Wednesdays only at the time. Given our visit was on a weekend, we were not able to tour the house. Nonetheless, we were able to see the house from the outside and peer through the windows. There are plaques posted outside the house explaining the significance of the site and the events of June 12, 1963. The home is in a residential neighborhood so I guess the neighbors are used to curious tourists like us walking around the property and peeking through windows.

Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument



We spent less than 30 minutes at the Evers monument. That was all the sightseeing I had planned for that day. I had learned (supposedly reminded - short memory I guess) only a few days earlier that this Mississippi trip was a meet-up for one of Traci's national running clubs. Knowing that, I went light on the itinerary so as not to interfere with the running club events. On the way to downtown Jackson to attend the runners' expo, we did a quick drive-through of the Jackson State University. It had been in the news recently for its famous football coach, former NFL star Deion Sanders, who had recently left to take a coaching position at a school in Colorado.

We were in Jackson so that Traci could run the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon (13.1). It would be state number 26 in her goal to run a half marathon in all 50 states. This Mississippi Blues running event was not like others we've attended in the past. Normally the runners' expo is in a convention center or some other building but this expo took place outdoors in a small field across from the state capitol building. Additionally, there were hardly any vendors there which is contrary to the other expos we have attended. The other thing that set Mississippi Blues Marathon apart from others is that the races took place on a Saturday morning - not Sunday.

We were blessed with nice weather that weekend. It was not the cold February weather that we normally have at home in Virginia. Instead, it seemed more like springtime with pollen covering the cars. I even saw someone mowing their lawn.

Traci was able to pick up her race packet rather quickly. We were happy to see some of our running club friends. We would spend more time with them later. Several of them had to hurry to the hotel to set up for the evening meet-and-greet.

We checked into the hotel where we would be staying for the next two nights - Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson Fondren Medical District. I had some concerns going into trip. Jackson, Mississippi had been in the news recently due to their lack of clean drinking water. This was caused by aging pipes and storm destruction. The other concern was safety. I had read that the city has a high violent crime rate. One article I read advised not to go out at night in Jackson and to avoid staying at hotels in downtown Jackson. Traci and I would put all this to the test during our visit to the city.

Despite the warning about staying at a hotel in downtown Jackson, that is exactly what we did for two nights. The running club had chosen the hotel as the base for its activities. It was a bit shocking when Traci and I arrived and saw a security guard standing in front of the hotel wearing a bulletproof vest! Fortunately, there were no problems during our stay other than the hotel ran out of washclothes. I don't know if this was a result of the influx of runners that weekend that caused the situation. Other than that, we enjoyed our stay. The hotel is located in the Fondren section of the city where there are many shops and restaurants available within walking distance. As the name Homewood Suites implies, our room was a suite. The hotel staff was really friendly. I enjoyed the free breakfast. I am a breakfast man so the offerings of pancakes, waffles, and french toast among others was a real treat for me.

Traci and I attended the meet-and-greet hosted by her running club. It is a national club which meant people traveled from all parts of the country to participate in the weekend running events. There around 40 - 50 of us. It was good to reconnect with friends we hadn't seen in a while. We had not seen some of them since before the Coronavirus Pandemic. A representative from the Visit Jackson tourist board was there to welcome the group to the city. Traci and I had an opportunity to chat with him at the end of the meet-and-greet. He recommended three restaurants for us to try - all of which were located in downtown Jackson. I thought back to that alarming article I read that advised to avoid downtown Jackson at night but I figured a representative for Jackson tourism is not going to send tourist to a dangerous section of the city - and so began a rather weird evening for Traci and me.

After the meet-and-greet, Traci and I got in our rental car and fired up the Waze app to direct us to Johnny T's, one of the restaurants recommended by the tourism representative. Waze took us on the most heavily potholed streets we saw all day. In my mind, Jackson easily wins the prize for the most potholed city I have ever visited. In some cases, someone was nice enough place cones in some of the worst holes. I came across one hole that was borderline sinkhole. I had to back up and drive on the other side of the street. I think we would have gotten stuck if I drove our rental car into it. I felt like I was driving on an obstacle course.

It was a little after 6 PM when we turned onto the street where Johnny T's is located. It this time of the year (late February) it was already dark. The city seemed deserted. I could see parked police cars in the distance with their lights flashing. I commented to Traci, "Something must have happened up there".

As Waze gave us the final instructions for finding Johnny T's, we realized the police cars with flashing lights were parked in front of the restaurant. Yikes! Again, I remembered the article warning about the dangers of Jackson at night. At that point, Traci and I decided to abandon the idea of dining at Johnny T's. Instead, we entered the address for the next restaurant recommendation (The Iron Horse Grill) into Waze and drove off to find it. We were dumb-founded as we encountered a similar scene in front of the Iron Horse Grill. There was a police car with flashing lights parked in front of this restaurant also! The Iron Horse seemed to be a much bigger restaurant than Johnny T's. It's relatively large parking lot was almost full. I saw people entering and exiting the restuarant as if nothing happened. Since we were hungry, we decided to take a chance. The police in front of the restaurant greeted us welcomed us to the Iron Horse and wished us pleasant dining. I just love that southern hospitality. Finally, I asked the police what happened that caused them to have their lights flashing. They replied that nothing happened. They keep their lights on to indicate the restaurant has security. At that moment, Traci and I realized that this was probably the same reason for the police cars at Johnny T's - Doh!

We had a very nice dining experience at the Iron Horse. They serve delicious down-home/bbq. A model train travels on tracks suspended from the ceiling. There was a very talented blues guitarists playing to backing tracks as I enjoyed my plate of ribs. Spend any time in Jackson and you will probably hear the blues. I found it interesting the the local classic R&B radio station that plays the same music you would hear on just about any classic R&B station around the country distinguished itself by infusing the blues in the lineup.

Dinner at the Iron Horse Grill


A model train travels overhead


a blues performance during dinner


During our drive back to the hotel, I noticed parked police cars with flashing lights occasionally. I said to myself, "That must be a good restaurant."

The next day was race day. As usual, Traci had to be up early for the 7:30 AM start time. Unlike the race in Alabama two weeks prior, our hotel was not quite in walking distance to the race start. Sonja, one of Traci's running friends, was nice enough to invite Traci to ride to the starting line with her so that I would not have to wake up at o'dark thirty. Furthermore, I would be able to enjoy the free breakfast at our hotel.(Thanks, Sonja!)

listening to the blues while waiting for Traci


My job on race day is to take a picture of Traci on the course and to meet her at the finish line. It sounds easy but it always causes me a little stress. I need to familiarize myself with course, find convenient parking, and calculate the best spot to catch Traci running by based on her pace. It is the convenient parking thing that stresses me the most. Depending the number of runners and other factors, some streets might be closed off and parking might be limited. Add that to the fact that I am in an unfamiliar city and you have the potential for me failing to do my job as a spectator. Fortunately, I was able to move around Jackson relatively easy the morning of the race because only about a block or two near the Capitol building where the race started and ended was shutdown. Cones were placed on the streets throughout the rest of the city to delineate a temporary running lane and there were police officers directing traffic through busy intersections. I was lucky enough to find free parking across the street from the start/finish line. I was able to get pictures of Traci as she approached the finish line. The Mississippi Blues Half Marathon was a fun race at which to be a spectator. There were some terrific blues bands performing near the finish. Also, there was a vendor who served delicious cups of free jambalya. As for the race, Traci described it as hot and hilly. She really earned her medal that day.

Traci at Mile 13 of the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon


For those who still had energy after the running events, Traci's running club had arranged to meet at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum at 2 PM. Traci still had energy after she got cleaned up so we joined the group. Although we met as a group, everyone explored the exhibits at their own pace.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is connected to the Mississippi History Museum by a corridor. Our ticket gave us admission to both. Traci and I started at the Mississippi History Museum. I thought it was very well done. You walk through in chronological order from the prehistoric native American days to modern time. Each major period of the state's history begins with a short film. After the film you can explore the exhibits and diaromas to do a deep-dive into something that interests you or you can just browse your way to the next major period of the states's history. We learned about the native Americans, the arrival of the Europeans, slavery, the great flood, civil rights, etc... I really enjoyed the section where you can listen to the music of famous Mississipians.

Mississippi History Museum






We spent a little over 2 hours in the history museum before moving on to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. By contrast, I found this museum to be overwhelming. There were pictures of major people in the civil rights struggle with panels decribing their role. These were all over the place and it was difficult to figure out where to begin and where to end. Although there were films in some sections, I did not see any evidence of overview films like we saw in the history museum. I don't think we did the civil rights museum justice because it was almost closing time and we were already burned out from reading information in the history museum. I was almost relieved when I heard the announcement that the museums would soon be closing for the day.

For dinner that evening, Traci and I chose Drago's Seafood Restaurant. We both enjoyed our meals there.

We checked out of the Homewood Suites after breakfast Sunday morning. We would be moving to a hotel near the airport later that day since our flight home would leave at 6 AM Monday. On the agenda for today was the Mississippi petrified forest located in Flora. It was about a 45 minute drive Jackson which gave us an opportunity for interesting stuff we made a stop at a rest stop presented the remains of a Native American Indian. Although I had heard of Indian mounds located all across the country, I had never actually visited. Therefore, we use the opportunity to explore this. It is called Pocahontas mount we really had to use imagination to see it has anything more than just a hill. Thankfully very small museum inside of the rest stop building that explains the mound and Indians that lived in the area. It is estimated that the mound was constructed sometime between AD 750 and 1600. There is a path that allows you to walk most of the way around. There are panels along the way explaining Life during the time period of the olden days. Traci and I used the opportunity to stretch our legs and to learn a little bit about native Mississippians.

Pocahontas Mound

artist's interpretation of the mound appearance between AD 750 and 1600


Pocahontas Mound today


Eventually, we made our way to the Mississippi petrified forest. We have already visited petrified forest in Arizona and watching 10 states. There is a path that leads you through the woods where you will spot numbers indicating the location of petrified wood. We were given a pamphlet that explains the petrified wood at each of the numbered locations.It is believed that millions of years ago driftwood settled in this region Mississippi and became petrified. By petrified, I mean turn to stone. We walked along the path and tapped on some other petrified logs to verify they had indeed turn to stone. I'll admit that this visit to the Mississippi petrified forest was not the highlight of the weekend. The petrified forest in Arizona is hands down the best ever seen. Mississippi petrified forest, the thrill diminished quickly after the first two logs. After that, everything looked and felt the same. Nonetheless, Traci and I walked around and tired and enjoyed being in nature. One of the things that really stands out the location of the petrified forest is the singing of all the birds.

Mississippi Petrified Forest




We would spend on final night in Mississippi Fairfield hotel in Thai Mississippi. It is located close to the airport and would be convenient for us to catch 6 AM flight back home. We were not having the best of luck with hotels in Mississippi. The Homewood suites in Jackson had Ronaldo washcloth Donosti. This Fairfield Inn Pearl had a broken elevator. The hotel did their best to deal with this unexpected situation by putting as many guests as they could the first and second floor. Fortunately the hotel only has three floors. Traci and I were given 206 on the second floor. This was not a problem since we only had carry on luggage for the weekend.

After a nice meal at the Pizza shack, we spent a quiet evening at the Fairfield till it was time to wake up in the middle of the night to get to the airport for our 6 AM flight. We had a nice weekend in Mississippi. Main Page...


Magnet Purchased on this Trip: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...
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