Take some time for a holiday tour

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meet me in the parking lot of Natchez Regional Medical Center.

You can get out of your car, or stay inside if you’d prefer. But pause for a minute and look up at the five-story hospital.

If you were to walk through the front doors, wind your way through the busy hallways and find the CEO’s office, you’d likely find Scott Phillips.

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You know the name by now, even though he’s only been here a short time.

Phillips, brought in from out of town to resurrect our nearly dying hospital, appears to be doing just that.

He’s righted a leaning ship and called in the tugboat needed to lead NRMC to a new hospital owner.

And though he has no permanent home in Natchez, Phillips has been a good addition to our town — good enough to be stop No. 1 on our tour today.

Now, exit the hospital parking lot in the front and find your way to U.S. 61 South. Make sure you are going South, until you come to the red light at Highland Boulevard. Take a right.

Soon, you’ll pass Natchez Metals on the left. This local business added to its name this year. It is now Natchez Metals and Recycling. The private business offers the only recycling available in our town.

They can handle your cans, paper and plastic. The recycling site was the end result of a county-wide push for a greener Natchez.

Now, take a right onto Lower Woodville Road and ride it out until it crosses John R. Junkin and becomes Homochitto Street.

Drive slowly here and enjoy.

It’s a smooth ride, and that’s news in Natchez. For years now Homochitto — and a collection of other downtown streets — has been filled with potholes and bumps.

State money funded the re-pavement of several downtown streets this year, and we are all enjoying the easy ride.

But don’t focus solely on the road, take note of the beautiful antebellum house on your right — Twin Oaks.

This bed and breakfast is owned by Regina Charboneau, who, earlier this year, was instrumental in giving Natchez a cool new title — Biscuit Capital of the World.

As you continue on Homochitto Street, take note of the gas prices listed on the sign at the Chevron station. Regular gas is below $2. Who’d have thought it?

Go straight at the red light, onto Orleans Street. Take a left onto South Pearl Street, which soon curves into Briel Avenue. Look out into the field on your left. Look closely. You might just see a cougar.

This location was home to the first sighting of the now infamous Natchez cougar. Two ladies reported seeing the animal, and this big cat has provided a wonderful distraction from the woes of the world.

When Briel dead ends with Canal Street, take a left. Turn right when you see the large white columns above the Visitor Reception Center. Pull into the little turn around, park out of the way of buses and get out of your car.

Walk into the grass until you have a clear view of the top of the Mississippi River Bridge and the sky above it.

Then close your eyes and picture dozens of colorful hot-air balloons flying right over the bridge with beautiful blue skies all around.

If you were an early bird on the Sunday of balloon race, you probably saw exactly this sight.

If you had a camera, the moment is captured forever. It’ll be easy to pull out the photo and be thankful you live in the Miss-Lou.

If you don’t have the photo, just go for a drive. Look out your window and be thankful for the people and things that make our community great.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.