Come along on a Twain-inspired, period-written journey on the mighty Mississippi River.By the dawn’s early light, we moor our mighty steamboat at the foot of the original sand-and-clay levee. The flat-bottom ship absorbs the ebbing current, and the muddy water’s siren song echoes off the hull of the American Queen, and then off the banks of the Mississippi River — just as it has since the first boats of the same frame and form made their way down the crooked canal. And just as then, the river can lull you into a false sense of security. Many men have challenged her
Life on the Mississippi, 1883
For there, in the middle of a grand plantation avenue, looking like they were delicately painted by the long bristles of time, stand two ladies in hoop dresses and speaking such proper English that their mere words command as much attention as their attire. I nudge my wife and daughters and encourage them to ready themselves in great haste, lest this mirage of a bygone era fades into history before we have the chance to experience it for ourselves.
I gather my girls and escort them down the grand staircase — a beautiful replica of what my ancestors may have descended more than 130 years ago. Then we walk the gangplank to the shore and step back in time to an era that predates even our ?antique vessel. By and by, the yesterday-sights and sounds and smells of New Orleans seem as though they were forever ago, as we are now walking down a quarter-mile alley of 300-year-old oak trees that have withstood acts of God and man and have yet another 300 years of life left in them. The sprawling lawn of the aptly named Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, La., hugs us from all sides, and after a 15-minute stroll through the past — and even after we step over the threshold of the antebellum mansion — we have but scratched the surface of a boat ride through time: a ride in which the “getting there” is as much a part of the holiday as the being here.