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Posts Tagged ‘Vicksburg’

Welcome to Mississippi

Photo courtesy P. Rickrode

So, we’re coming up on two years now since we made the big cross-country move and relocated to Mississippi. Innkeeping has been rewarding and challenging and . . . a real learning experience that will forever change the way I stay at hotels, motels, and/or B & B’s in the future. (more…)

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The Baer-Williams House was the scene of a very lovely afternoon garden wedding a couple of weeks ago. Bride and groom wanted to keep things low-key and stress-free. We were expecting about 30 guests for a 4:00 ceremony on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. (more…)

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table set for dinnerLast Sunday was one of the most challenging days we’ve had here at Casa Baer. We’ve been very, very busy, which is a good thing. Saturday night we had a full house; someone in every room. That means fourteen for breakfast Sunday morning. The table was set, the casserole was ready to pop in the oven, the coffee was ready to perk. Everything set for the perfect morning at the inn. (more…)

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chili-cook-off-sign

Last Saturday I attended the Chili For Children chili cook-off at the Lady Luck Casino here in Vicksburg. It was a charity event to raise money for Vicksburg’s children’s home.  (more…)

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anshe-cemetery-sign

A few days ago my husband and I decided to take a little stroll in the Temple Anshe Chesed Cemetery. I know, not your typical mid-week, daytime, activity, but we’ve driven by this landmark many, many times and never taken the time to stop in and look around. (more…)

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As you all know by now, about a year ago my husband and I moved to beautiful Vicksburg, Mississippi. This little hamlet is steeped in history. One of the most defining battles near the end of the War Between the States, occurred on the very ground I walk every single day.

Vicksburg waterfront

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Being an innkeeper has opened my eyes to a lot of things that I never really noticed before. For instance, quite a few people travel in groups, be they family situations or just long-time friends who like to vacation together. I think that’s neat. I don’t remember my family ever traveling with any other family or friends, other than mom, dad, me and my older brother. I guess on occasion we’d include an aunt or uncle and cousins, but usually it was just the four of us.

family trip

But, it’s fairly often that we get couples traveling together through Vicksburg.

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It’s a new year and here in Vicksburg, it still has the new year smell. I’ve been settling in here in Mississippi and loving every minute of it. Well, maybe not every single minute, we did have the hot snap in December (80 degrees at Christmas?), but for the most part, LOVING it! (The irony of that is that where I used to live in California, they had snow on Christmas day for the first time in like 12 years. Go figure.)

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Anyway, they definitely do things different here in the south. For instance, when I went to get my new driver’s license, they handed it to me right then and there. No waiting weeks for it to arrive in the mail, hoping it didn’t get lost or stolen. No written or driving test. Nothing. Just, “here you go.” I didn’t even have to wait in line at the DMV. (And – bonus – it’s right across the street so I could walk over.)

Same thing with the car registration; I walked in, handed them some basic paperwork and BAM, they handed me a bright shiny new license plate. On the spot. No waiting. No mailing. Again, I walked right up to the window. No taking a number, no standing in line, no internet appointment necessary.

I know – weird. All my California folks will know exactly what I’m talking about.

And here’s a strange thing – daily operations here cease on holidays and Sundays. No signs posted in the windows, no ads announcing holiday hours, just lights out and locked doors. That took some getting used to. If you want to go out to eat on Sunday, you have about one choice – Cracker Barrel. (Or the casinos – need I say more.) I think that’s kind of cool though. A lot of guests here at the inn don’t get it, but I’m getting used to it. Sundays are church and family days.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

I also find myself saying things here that I never imagined I’d ever say in California. Here’s a short list:

1 – There’s an alligator in the backyard. (No, this hasn’t happened but it’s entirely possible and even very probable with the river already above flood stage. Stay tuned.)

2 – We have to get ready for Mardi Gras. (That’s right, even though we’re 2 1/2 hours away from New Orleans, Mardi Gras’s a big deal here.)

3 – Are you taking the Trace? (Referring to the Natchez Trace highway. It’s basically “the back road.” Not sure why it’s called a Trace, but it is and I like saying it. For more information visit here: http://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm)

4 – It’s time to polish the silver again. (Really? Polish silver? Yup. About every 3 months that stuff has to be shined up.)

5- I’m in the parlor. (The parlor? How cool does that sound? Who even has a parlor these days?)

6 – This ballroom is hard to heat. (I have a freaking ballroom!!)

7 – You want to see my outhouse? (See this post https://jansenschmidt.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-peek-at-my-rare-2-story-4-hole-outhouse/ for more details in case you missed it earlier.)

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

How about you readers, ever find yourself saying things that sounded foreign at one time, but now seem natural? Ever been on the Natchez Trace? Ever polished silver? Inquiring minds want to know.

Word of the Day: Uraeus

Fun fact about me: I want to host a ball. Seriously, I want to have a ball in my ballroom.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2016. Photos courtesy Google Imgaes.

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Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

A lot of people have been asking, especially the locals and our guests: “Why Mississippi?”

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Well, here’s how it happened. My husband and I have always wanted to expand our stock contracting business. We raised bucking bulls for the PBR and the rodeo circuit. In California we didn’t have enough land to raise even one bull and even if we could afford more land, which we couldn’t, we couldn’t afford the feed or the water. That meant that in order to broaden our business, we had to look elsewhere.

For several years, we’ve wanted to move to North Carolina, where one of our partners in the bull business lives. After we decided it was time to “try again,” we went to North Carolina and looked for ranches. But, nothing met our fancy and on the way there my husband told me that I needed to think about what I wanted to do for work so we could check out the job market at the same time.

You see, I’d already decided that 30 years in the legal profession, slaving as a paralegal, most of the time for a family law attorney, was enough. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, was ever happy, including the boss. And in family law, nobody ever wins. It’s a lose, lose, especially for the kids. I had had it.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

So, as I sat there on the plane wracking my brain for possible new careers, I decided that I wanted to do something where people were happy and not expecting miracles from me. I did not want to be chained to a desk. I had worked one summer at a B & B in California and I rather enjoyed it. I’ve always loved entertaining and setting a pretty table with sparkling dishes; crystal, silver, china. I mentioned that to my husband and that’s when we decided that maybe we could do both in North Carolina; buy a ranch, raise cattle, and take in overnight guests.

Well, one thing led to another and we came to the conclusion that running a bed and breakfast was probably going to be the best solution for us since we both needed a place to live and we both needed a job. We’d kill two birds with one stone so to speak.

However, North Carolina didn’t have any inventory that was affordable, so we ditched the idea of North Carolina and explored other venues. Mississippi had the most inventory in our price range and because my husband is a history major and a huge fanatic about the Civil War, we decided that Vicksburg might be a good place for us.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Turns out, it was. We’ve not had any regrets about our decision and while we miss our horses and bulls and ranching lifestyle, we’ve adapted very well to being innkeepers. We’ve met some amazing people, made some incredible new friends and opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

So folks, there you have it. That’s why Mississippi. We wanted to expand our ranch and be stock contractors so we bought a bed and breakfast in Vicksburg. Go figure.

Never limit yourself people. Think outside the box. Be open to possibilities and possibilities will fall into your lap. I promise.

The change is exactly what I needed. Watch this short funny video and you’ll know exactly why I had to get out of the legal profession. Enjoy.

Can you relate to this video? Have you ever turned your life completely upside down and loved it? Ever started out down one road, ended up on an unexpected road and found a pot of gold? Does change scare you? I’m dying to know so let me have it.

Word of the Day: Tramontane

Fun fact about me: I’ve never been a big fan of being politically correct.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, December 2015. Video courtesy YouTube. Images courtesy Google Images.

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Most of you know about outhouses. Some of you have probably even used one at one point in your life. I’m not talking about the port-a-potty johns at the county fair either, I’m talking about the real life wooden structures with a bench seat inside.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I’m sure you’re familiar with how these contraptions work; you dig a hole and place your little house over the hole. When said hole is full, you dig another one someplace else, move the house and throw dirt over the almost full former sewage hole. That is why outhouses were portable.

Well folks, the lady who designed my house (Leona Baer), had a different idea for her privvies. You see, she did not want her elite socialite friends and distinguished guests to have to trapise out into the elements to use the outhouse. Oh no, that would be a disgrace. She insisted that her privvies be attached to the house and under a covered walkway (aka porch). And, of course, there had to be a mens and a ladies facility. No co-ed for Ms. Leona Baer. No sirree.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Women's side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Women’s side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Men's side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Men’s side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Notice that the ladies side is much bigger than the mens? That’s because ladies wore hoop skirts and needed more room to negotiate around and get everything settled into place. Imagine trying to use the facilities shown above wearing this:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Now, having your outhouse attached to your house is certainly convenient, but it created a huge problem: what to do when the holes got full. Well, obviously, you clean them out. Say what? Shovel s$%@? I know. Right? Who is God’s name wants that job? But, shovel s$%@ someone did. You see, Leona had workers dig a pit, a cistern if you will, and covered it with a permanent structure that sat very close to the house (not completely attached) but connected by an extension of the porch. She really created a very primative septic system, minus the leach lines.

Here’s a picture of the downstairs portion of this structure. This shot is taken from the farthest end of the porch where the men’s privy was (the door on the left) looking back toward the back door of the house on the first floor.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

But, wait, there’s more.

If you will remember, the title of this blog mentioned a 2-story, 4-hole outhouse. Two stories? Yes, my friends – two stories. One hole on the ground level and one hole above it on the second story. Here’s how my second story porch looks. The privvies are through that little doorway at the end of the porch.

Upstairs porch and walkway to privy. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Upstairs porch and walkway to privy. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Notice the white lattice work at the end of the porch? Well, that would be the enclosure. You can see the 2 doorways at the very end of the hallway.

2nd story outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

2nd story outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Here’s what it looks like from afar. The privvies are enclosed by that white lattice on both floors.

Baer House Inn 2-story outhouse. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Baer House Inn 2-story outhouse. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

How do these things work you ask? Well, on level one of the house, a person walks in about 2 feet and encounters the hole. On the second level, a person walks in about 4 feet before encountering the hole. Now, mind you, there is a wall directly behind the hole on the ground level so nothing falls down upon you from above, but you can hear everything directly behind your head that falls from above. I know . . . how pleasant.

Why two stories? Well, thank you for asking. You see, Ms. Baer felt that her family should not mix and mingle with her esteemed guests, so much so that the children and servants were relegated to the second floor. But not just during parties or social events. Oh no. No, no, no. Children had to remain upstairs ALL THE TIME. They were never allowed downstairs. They even have their own set of outside stairs in the event they needed to leave the house. They were not allowed to enter or exit the home through the first floor. There had to have been a lot of this going on:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Not being allowed downstairs created a problem when little Sarah, or little Samuel had to use the facilities. So, Leona fixed the problem by creating their very own privvies on the second floor. The added bonus? If Leona needed to use the bathroom during the middle of the night, she did not have to go all the way downstairs and outside, she simply walked along the upstairs porch to her own private penthouse privy.

Now this structure, that is original to the home, is still standing and part of our house. Of course we don’t use it, but it’s here for everyone to see and admire. The downstairs portion has been repurposed into a very nice, very modern bathroom as part of room number 8, but the original outside doors are still in place. The privy doors are on the left in this picture and the door into room number 8 is on the right.

Room 8, Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Room 8, Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

 

Room 8 bathroom (former 1st floor outhouse). Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Room 8 bathroom (former 1st floor outhouse). Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

So tell me dear readers, have you ever seen a 2-story outhouse? Would you have wanted to have the job of cleaning out the poop cistern? Somebody had to do it. Yuck.

Word of the Day: Odurate

Fun fact about me: My uncle had a cabin in upstate Minnesota with no indoor plumbing and we had to use the outhouse whenever we visited. Good times.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, November 2015. Original photos by P. Rickrode. Stock photos courtesy Google Images.

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