Page 1

DeSoto 5

6 DeSoto

DeSoto 7

8 DeSoto

October CONTENTS 2019 • VOLUME 16 • NO.10


44 52


The Greener Pastures of West Point, Mississippi

Louisiana’s Northshore Outdoor Adventures

The Watauga: A River Reborn

departments 16 Living Well Domestic Violence

40 On the Road Again Beaufort, South Carolina

20 Notables John Anderson

42 Greater Goods 68 Homegrown Scotsman Co. Flannel Shirts

24 Exploring Art Story Sticks

72 Southern Gentleman Off-Roading Basics

28 Exploring Books Ghostly Tales

74 Southern Harmony Caroline Jones

30 Southern Roots Color of Leaves

78 In Good Spirits Ghost Chaser

32 Table Talk Café Klaser 36 Exploring Destinations Burke County, NC


80 Exploring Events 82 Reflections A Theft and An Apology



DeSoto 9

10 DeSoto

editor’s note | OCTOBER

October Adventures October is my favorite month. If you live in the South you know that’s the time of year when we get a respite from hot, humid weather. The sky is vivid blue, breezes are refreshing, and trees are starting to show their fall colors. It’s a great time of year to be outdoors, so this month we’re focusing on three places where you can enjoy nature and have an adventure or two. Our cover story features two premier outdoor destinations in West Point, Mississippi. Amy Conry Davis, who lives in West Point when she’s not traveling, takes us to Old Waverly Golf Club, a golfing institution for more than 30 years, and Prairie Wildlife, a fullservice hunting lodge. It’s always uplifting to see nature’s balance restored, and writer Tom Adkinson tells us about a river in Tennessee that was an environmental mess because of pollution. Today, the Watauga River has been “reborn” through clean-up and conservation efforts and is a popular spot for fishing and outdoor recreation. Many people head across Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans without paying much attention to the Northshore and historic Mandeville. Louisiana writer Deborah Burst takes us on a journey through the area that features great hiking and biking trails as well as pristine wildlife preserves.

OCTOBER 2019 • Vol. 16 No.10


We hope this month’s features and departments will inspire you to enjoy the great outdoors, whether you are golfing, fishing, hiking, biking, birdwatching, off-roading, or just sitting around a campfire telling your favorite ghost stories. Happy reading,

CONTRIBUTORS Tom Adkinson Robin Gallaher Branch Deborah Burst Cheré Coen Amy Conry Davis Mary Ann DeSantis Jackie Sheckler Finch Jason Frye Verna Gates Karen Ott Mayer Karon Warren Pam Windsor PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 SUBSCRIBE:

on the cover

Cover photo courtesy of Prairie Wildlife, a full-service hunting lodge in West Point, Mississippi. The lodge offers everything from high-end clothing to gun fitting, and even trained bird dogs.

©2019 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein t o b e re p ro d u c e d i n a n y m a n n e r. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties interested in advertising should email or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at

DeSoto 11

12 DeSoto

DeSoto 13

14 DeSoto

DeSoto 15

16 DeSoto

DeSoto 17


Domestic Violence Leaves a Trail of Tears

By Robin Gallaher Branch | Photography courtesy of

October is Domestic Violence Month, but the House of Grace strives to help victims – both males and females – throughout the year. Melissa Dabar remembers first the choke hold and then how her ex-husband pounded her head on a cement floor until her skull cracked. “He bragged that he thought he’d killed me,” she recalls. Dabar, 49, a registered nurse and now an attorney in Hernando, Mississippi, has shared her story frequently at domestic violence awareness meetings. “I’m a survivor and not a victim,” she says. Part of her recovery was finding a safe place to hide. She and her daughters stayed at House of Grace, a shelter in Southaven. Because her ex-husband stalked her various places of employments, she needed a place where he could not find her. 18 DeSoto

“One of the rules at House of Grace is no cell phones because they can be tracked,” she says. With the quiet time, Dabar studied for the bar exam to become a lawyer. She passed in 2009. House of Grace started in 1998. One of its founders, Lorine Cady, 82, explains that the insistence of the Lord led her to investigate ways to open a shelter first for women and later for women and their children. Dabar and Cady praise DeSoto county’s law enforcement and social agencies for prompt, thorough, kind, and knowledgeable service to the abused.

“House of Grace is a Christ-centered home for battered women and their children,” Cady says. “We have a Christ-like attitude of kindness toward them.” The unidentified house has multiple bedrooms and baths and a large kitchen/dining area. “The fire department says I can house 16,” Cady says. “When we have an overflow, we put them in a hotel.” A hotel presents logistical problems; it’s not as safe, and House staff must provide daily three meals and two snacks. Domestic violence is not limited to women. Since 1998 three men have sought shelter, and they, too, were sent to a hotel. Cady thinks the small number of men is because “Southern men do not like to admit that they have been abused.” Cady defines battering by what she’s seen and stories she’s heard: “It’s when you’re struck, hit, choked, locked in a closet without food or water, or run over by a car.” The House also receives elderly who are abused. Licensing requirements stipulate that the elderly be mobile (even with a walker) and able to independently perform functions of daily living. Elder abuse often entails isolation, starvation, and thievery of assets like Social Security checks. “There is much of it in the area,” Cady adds. Referrals to the shelter often look disheveled when they arrive. They are either extremely talkative or silent. They usually have to leave their homes suddenly with just the clothes they are wearing. Domestic violence often begins with belittling and criticizing the victim. Other characteristics include jealousy, withholding affection, isolation, demanding the victim change, and controlling the relationship. Abusers are often moody and rarely happy. They yell, scream and throw things in private but are often quite likeable in public settings. “He acts like a good neighbor and may go to church,” Cady adds. Dabar discovered in group sessions that most of the women had been abused throughout their lives. “It seems to be a generational thing with families,” she says. Yet upon reflection, she realized she and her mother had experienced abuse. “My father belittled us; he said we were worthless because we were women. I asked my mother why she didn’t leave; she said she had no education and couldn’t get out,” Dabar says.

Dabar uses that example in her practice. “It’s hard to get a woman to realize she’s battered and is worth more. If she does not realize that, she will go from abuser to abuser.” Too often, a woman returns to her batterer because, as Cady explains, the man promises to change or that he’s straightened out her life. He brings her flowers, takes her to dinner, and is nice for a while. “We call that the honeymoon period,” Cady says. “Then he gets bored, nervous, and angry. The criticism resumes; the blow up and battering are coming.” Meanwhile, the children see it. “The effects are lasting. Some live in fear all their lives,” Cady says. Cady finds that battering occurs with both the married and those living with a partner. But the ones who are most frequently battered are those with a partner. Why is that? “There’s no commitment,” she answers.

Robin Gallaher Branch, a Fulbright scholar, writes for many publications and teaches adjunct classes at Christian Brothers University in Memphis,Tennessee

Attorney Melissa Dabar

DeSoto 19

20 DeSoto

DeSoto 21

notables | JOHN ANDERSON

“Looking through his eyes, walking in his shoes is how I found him.” -- John Anderson

22 DeSoto

Finding Our Place in Nature: A Conversation with John Anderson Story and photography by Cheré Coen

A son discovers the poignant philosophy of his long-gone father in the winds of nature. Mississippi artist Walter Inglis Anderson spent hours — sometimes days — immersed in nature, capturing its unique and vibrant beauty in his art. What he found on his many trips to Horn Island off the coast of Ocean Springs, Mississippi not only provided fodder for his art, but also established a spirituality that transformed his life. It’s a relationship to nature that humans should discover today in order to help heal what ails the planet, says his son, John Anderson.

“He (Walter Anderson) wasn’t looking at nature,” Anderson explains. “He was looking from nature. Human beings are part of nature as opposed to being apart from nature. That thinking requires a 180-degree change in perception.” When visitors arrive at the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs, one of the eclectic artist’s quotes greets them in the foyer: “In order to realize the beauty of humanity, we must realize our relationship to nature.” DeSoto 23

In Walter Anderson’s “Little Room,” his art studio that was moved intact to the museum from his residence, the walls are covered in artwork, including Father Mississippi looking down at those who visit. “Father Mississippi is looking from nature and not at it,” John says. “That was his (Walter’s) prescription for realizing the beauty of nature.” Walter Anderson and his brothers moved to the Ocean Springs area at the turn of the 20th century where his parents purchased a tract of land in the hopes of starting an artist community. Walter became a visual artist while his brothers, most notably Peter, took up pottery, creating Shearwater Pottery. Ocean Springs is now known as an artist community, with more than 300 artists working there today. “Walter and his three brothers were to make art every day, that was part of their education,” says Anthony DiFatta, Walter Anderson Museum director of education. “Walter Anderson and his brothers — and I give credit to his mother — made this community.” Walter attended art school and worked in the family business, eventually marrying Agnes Grinstead and starting a family, the youngest child being John. Walter never desired fame, DiFatta says, but would leave his family behind communing with nature in pursuit of his art. “His whole theme in art is he wanted to be out in nature,” DiFatta explained. Anderson took off for China once, surpassing the reception to his Brooklyn art show. He canoed down the Mississippi and Ohio rivers twice. He rode his bicycle throughout the U.S. But he’s most famous for his repeated trips by boat to Horn Island, where he spent days and weeks as a hermit studying the island and creating his art. “Adam in a hat is the best description of daddy,” John says. “He was in the garden of Eden, heaven on earth. People have been to Nirvana, but few have spent 20 years there.” Because of Walter’s erratic lifestyle, including a stint in a mental hospital, John Anderson grew up with an absent father. John recalls family events when his father would watch his mother with love, but she would avoid meeting his gaze. When Walter died in 1965 and his mother called to tell him the news, John heard the pain in her voice.

24 DeSoto

“That telephone call, when he died, was transformative,” he says. It was then that Agnes Grinstead Anderson told her son that Walter Anderson was a shaman “for exploring the unknown.” After their conversation, John went in search of who his father was and discovered his philosophy about nature. “Looking through his eyes, walking in his shoes is how I found him,” he says. “My mother loved to describe him as celebrating life. This man lived every minute.” John Anderson may be traveling the same path. The Mississippi resident has served as a naval officer, a psychologist, marine biologist, and park ranger. He recalls his childhood fondly, growing up at Shearwater and learning life through nature. “We kept track of the years as we saw painted buntings,” he shares with a smile. “We would set up chairs in a semicircle and watch the night-blooming cereus.” His upbringing, although many times sans a father, resonates with another of Walter Anderson’s famous quotes: “To know that every moment you make is related to the movements of the pine trees in the wood…the orbit of the stars or the spiral movement of the sun itself.” Like father, like son, for John Anderson truly believes that connecting with nature will set us free. “When we become one with nature, we become more beautiful,” he says.

Cheré Coen has deep Mississippi and New Orleans roots, but the food and travel writer now lives in Cajun Country. She is the author of Southern-based novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

DeSoto 25

exploring art | STORY STICKS

‘The Bad Child’ stick talks about a naughty youngster.

26 DeSoto

Mike Johnson works on a story stick in his ScatCat Studio.

Taking a Hike with Art By Jackie Sheckler Finch | Photography courtesy of Mike and Lynn Johnson

Combining designs and words, a former school teacher creates walking sticks with a storyline carved into them. When Mike Johnson was a little boy in Walnut Grove, Mississippi, he loved to watch his dad sit with friends and whittle. The men would talk about whatever crossed their minds as curly loops of wood fluttered to the ground. Seeing their skilled hands skimming knives along sticks and smelling the fresh cut scent of wood shavings was fascinating. “But they weren’t making anything,” Johnson says. “They were just whittling.” Of course, back then Johnson was deemed too young to handle a knife and join that whittling crew. It wasn’t until he grew up and became a school teacher in the mid 1970s that Johnson started his own woodworking. Johnson, though, was not just whittling for the sake of

shaving slivers of wood. He was carving butterflies and other jewelry items that led to his talent for making unique “story sticks.” The craftsmanship and artistry of Johnson’s story sticks have earned him membership in the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi. “The way I got started was my oldest sister asked me to carve some small wooden pieces for jewelry,” he says. “I tried butterflies but my first ones were very crude and didn’t look very good.” Johnson kept at it and began adding designs to his carvings. In 1990, he decided to combine designs and words to create his unusual story sticks – walking sticks with a storyline carved into them. DeSoto 27

Mike Johnson puts finishing touches on a story stick.

The story stick ‘Desires Versus Woodpeckers’ was inspired by an Aldous Huxley quote.

“The first story stick I did honored my grandfather James Johnson who fought in the Civil War,” Johnson says. “His widow had very extensive battle records starting in 1861 so I used those to carve a complete account of his military service.” Adding images of the U.S. and Confederate flags to represent both armies, Johnson then carved a three-dimensional head of a Confederate soldier to the top of the stick. “That stick won’t be sold to anybody,” he says. “That one is for family.” When he retired in 1995 after 32 years as a high school math teacher and basketball coach, Johnson began devoting more time to his carving. His wife Lynn, also a retired teacher and a reading specialist, helps maintain his ScatCat Art studio and website. A favorite family memory prompted a story stick featuring a red-headed woodpecker poking his head out of his safe hidey hole. “As little kids, we were scared of thunderstorms,” Johnson recalls. “We’d go running to our mother who would hug us close and recite a poem by Elizabeth Roberts called ‘The Woodpecker.’ That would always calm us down.” On the story stick, Johnson carved the words of the poem and the figure of a woodpecker snuggling in his hole “when the streams of rain pour out of the sky, and the sparkles of lightning go flashing by, and the big big wheels of thunder roll.” That stick was sold to a friend in California who persuaded Johnson to part with it. “I wanted somebody to have it who would appreciate it as much as I did,” he explains.

Creating story sticks is so time consuming that Johnson estimates he completes only three or four a year. “You have to be careful and pay attention because if you’re distracted you might cut off a piece of wood that you didn’t mean to,” he says. “Once you take something off, you can’t put it back on so I’ve had to put some things in the fireplace when they didn’t turn out like I wanted them to.” Some of his story sticks are commissioned by people who have a definite story in mind. Other folks just sit with the carver until a story line evolves. And some already-completed story sticks are waiting in Johnson’s studio to catch the eye of new owners. Most of his sticks are fashioned from saplings he harvests on his property. Some folks actually use the sticks for walking, Johnson says, while others keep them for decorative purposes. The one-of-a-kind sticks on his website range in price from $250 to $375. A stick he recently completed for a Native American in Louisiana featured arrowheads and feathers and words from the Trail of Tears: “We Choctaws choose not to live by the laws the white man has made for us, rather to live the best we can in our own way.” For a story stick he carved for some people in Scotland, Johnson chose to include words from a song that bluesman Jimmy Reed wrote called “Boll Weevil.” “It goes ‘Down in Mississippi where cotton grow tall …boll weevil wear overalls’,” Johnson says. “I didn’t know but, back in the day, boll weevil was the code word for a land owner. An interesting bit of history.”

28 DeSoto

(Not) El Dorado is a take on Edgar Allen Poe’s poem ‘Gaily bedight the pseudo knight…’

An avid reader, Johnson says he sometimes picks up ideas for sticks from something he has read. “I just made a stick with a quote I found that I really liked from science fiction writer Aldous Huxley: ‘The lives of people like you and me are one long argument. Desires on one side, woodpeckers on the other’.” Asked if he has carved any story sticks for his wife, Johnson laughs. “All the sticks are hers. She always says they are so good. I might not be too proud of them and don’t consider myself an artist but she is proud of them. That’s good enough for me.” An award-winning journalist, Jackie Sheckler Finch loves to take to the road to see what lies beyond the next bend.

DeSoto 29


Creeping Dread By Mary Ann DeSantis Book Cover provided by Adventure Publications; author photo provided by Angelica Duke

“Ghostly Tales of Mississippi” Published by Adventure Publications, 2018 $9.95

Sitting around a fall campfire naturally leads to storytelling, and the scarier, the better. “Ghostly Tales of Mississippi” will provide you with some new stories, but just don’t read it alone. Mississippi has long been regarded as one of the nation’s most haunted states, and Tupelo native Jeff Duke has captured stories reflecting that reputation in his first book, “Ghostly Tales of Mississippi.” The collection of 14 short stories is a tour around the Magnolia state from places where you expect ghosts – like Natchez and Vicksburg – to more unlikely locations, including a mall theatre in Tupelo and a medical library in Jackson. The book is a very quick read at less than 100 pages, making it perfect for a few bedtime stories leading up to Halloween. Duke knew he wanted to be a writer since the third grade. His grandparents told him stories that piqued his 30 DeSoto

interest, and he’d write every chance he got. After seeing the movie “Star Wars,” he even wrote a story he called, ‘the further adventures of Luke and Hans.’ “I wanted more so I wrote my own,” he says with a laugh. “When I was a kid, we had to make our own entertainment and I was perfectly happy to make up stuff.” He remembers Tupelo being the kind of small town where kids rode their bikes to Walmart and the local mall was the social media of the 1980s. “Looking back, I couldn’t ask for a better place to grow up,” he says. He discovered books by authors Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, often reading while in detention for doing the

Author Jeff Duke

“things kids do.” His favorite King book is “Night Shift,” a collection of short stories. He re-reads “One for the Road” from that book every few years because he considers it the perfect horror story. “Good horror stories get readers to care about or get attached to the character,” he explains. “The story also has an element of ‘creeping dread,’ those smaller things that culminate in absolute horror.” Most of the stories in “Ghostly Tales of Mississippi” are based on legends he heard growing up. He researched others – like the Eola Hotel in Natchez – and gave them his own twist. Several are written in first person, and readers will wonder if Duke actually had paranormal experiences himself. “I’m really comfortable writing in first person,” he says. “I’ve often had people ask if those events really happened to me but, no, it’s a literary device… except for the story about the Longwood House.” In that story mid-way through the book, a boy accompanies his father on a “boring” architectural tour when he sees several ghosts, which certainly enlivened the day. Duke was on a school tour with eighth graders when he saw a ghost, but surprisingly the Longwood chapter is not written in first person. But it’s not surprising so many young people love “Ghostly Tales.” He’s proud that friends have told him their children used the book for school book reports. “I had to keep the book simple and fairly tame because it was aimed at children,” he explains.

Duke understands the kinds of ghost stories kids like because he was reading books by folklorist Kathryn Tucker Windham as far back as elementary school. Her highly successful Jeffrey series of books began in 1969 with “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey,” and subsequent books covered mysterious and supernatural happenings in several Southern states, including Mississippi. “I read those books over and over,” remembers Duke. “My elementary school librarian would bring me her personal copies to read.” After high school graduation in 1990, Duke describes his college years as “basically a tour of Mississippi’s higher learning institutions.” He went to Mississippi State University where he studied creative writing with short story writer and professor Price Caldwell and then to Ole Miss, where he studied under novelist Barry Hannah. “He [Hannah] was a wild guy and very interesting,” Duke says. “His classes were more like writing workshops, where he’d read his book and we’d critique him; then, we’d read ours and he’d critique us.” While in Oxford, Duke met author Larry Brown, who completely changed some of the things Duke wrote. “He is among my top five favorites…I’ll read his stuff sometimes and think, ‘what am I doing’,” says Duke. The author eventually returned to Mississippi State, where he earned his degree in 2000. He worked in Information Technology, including a stint with Apple during the time the company launched FaceTime. Duke was one of the faces who talked to people when the app started. Today, he and his wife, Angelica, reside in Austin, Texas, where he works with the State of Texas and pursues writing in his spare time. “I needed a break from writing,” he says. “When something isn’t fun, you need to take a break.” Now rejuvenated and settled in Austin, he is ready to start his next collection of short stories. Instead of the horror genre, though, it will be Southern-style “grit-lit.” A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Mary Ann DeSantis serves as the managing editor of DeSoto Magazine.

DeSoto 31

southern roots | TRUE COLORS

The True Color of Leaves By Verna Gates | Photography courtesy of

Contrary to popular belief, the fall reveals the true color of leaves.

“What color are these leaves?” is my favorite trick question in the summertime. Without fail, the answer is green. I shake my head, “no.” We charmingly say the leaves are turning colors in the fall. The truth is, the color is returning. Remember spring? In that delightful season, we see the soft greens that are almost yellow peeking out on tender leaves. Within days the chartreuse gives way to darker and darker greens as the leaves mature. By the time the air conditioning is on full blast, the greens are rich and intense. What changed? The tree went into full food production.  32 DeSoto

What you are seeing is chlorophyll. This food-making catalyst absorbs the blue and some of the red in light in the electromagnetic spectrum, reflecting green into our eyes.   Growing children and trees It takes a lot of effort to raise a human child to six-feet tall, but trees miraculously grow to 100 feet just by transforming light, water and air. A sapling comes equipped with the ability to make its own dinner and soon grows into the sky. Human parents should be jealous. 

Chlorophyll serves as the tree’s chef and dinner table. This photosynthetic pigment traps the sun’s light energy, which mixes with carbon dioxide and water to make the sugars that feed plants. This photosynthesis (photo means light while synthesis means process) feeds the tree, shrub, flower or tomato plant. The by-product, oxygen, gives us the air we need for our lungs. The tree supports the growth of chlorophyll by supplying water to the leaf stem, which spreads out along the leaf. Chlorophyll will naturally fade during the summer so the hungry tree will pump in water to support its food manufacturing component, plumping the green stuff back up. During a summer draught, you may see fall colors emerge. That means the tree is too thirsty to keep up food production.  Changes they are a-comin’ As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, the tree begins its dormancy process. Except for the evergreens (such as pines, firs, cypresses, and spruces), trees shut down for the winter and live off of the glucose stored in the roots. It’s as if the roots were canning food all summer long, storing up a full pantry to feed the tree through the winter.  The once fluid leaves will now sputter on less water coming up from the roots in the fall. The tree no longer needs to produce food and is dumping its chlorophyll. You can see the green start to recede from the leaves. Early in the fall, you see green still dappled in the leaves. Once full dormancy is reached, the chlorophyll fully retreats, revealing the vibrant colors that existed all along.  Other chemicals tint the colors you now see. Yellow comes from xanthophylls, a carotenoid (think carrot) that you can also see in the yellow yolks of eggs. To get a bit technical, xanthophylls contains oxygen while the orange colors are made with hydrocarbons. The orange colors are carotenoids as well, but like our carrots, contain the hydrocarbons, which are the basis of carbohydrates. Reds and purples contain anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that color red wine, eggplant, blueberries and cherries. Anthocyanins produce the antioxidants that give these foods a healthy boost.  

Find out for yourself If you want to see these colors in the summertime, a simple experiment will bring out the colors. Take a green leaf, pound it into a coffee filter to release the chlorophyll. Place the leaf in a cup and pour a half inch of alcohol on top. Stick the coffee filter in so that the bottom is in the cup and the top hangs out of the cup. Check back to see the green pulling away from the leaf, giving you a preview of fall.  Trees are magnificently more complex than their beautiful green, red, golden, purple and orange leaves. They live on a slim band of bark that transfers water up and glucose sugars from photosynthesis down to the roots. Scientists speculate that trees may be able to communicate through their root systems to share resources and may even be able to keep a mother tree alive by sharing water. They certainly are the chameleons of the plant world.  By the way, your yard needs the chemical compounds found in these leaves. They are the best fertilizer available and freely given. As one famed Alabama gardener, Bill Finch, once said, “If you take one leaf out of your yard, you will get the bad soil you deserve.”  Step outside to see the true color of tree leaves as the chlorophyll recedes, leaving the real tints behind. And enjoy the leaves on the trees and in your flower beds!

Verna Gates teaches botany at schools, libraries, gardens and through speaking engagements. She founded an outdoor education non-profit that serves thousands, Fresh Air Family.

DeSoto 33

table talk | CAFÉ KLASER

Chocolate Meringue & Co conut Meringue Little Red River

eak with fried green Billy’s Stuffed Sttan beans and onion gles

DeSoto magazine Publisher Adam Mitchell on Café Klaser’s patio overlooking the Little Red River

34 DeSoto

Catfish and Hushpuppies

Serving up Kindness on the River

By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Café Klaser

Tourists and locals alike have discovered that Café Klaser is a culinary gem right on Arkansas’ Little Red River. With summer travel to the beach or a lake only a memory by now, thoughts turn to holidays and school years. But what if the best time to visit that favorite locale is actually during the off-season when the lines disappear and the menu changes? Café Klaser in Heber Springs, Arkansas, remains a popular dining spot for many seasonal tourists who enjoy the rustic setting on the Little Red River. Owner and founder William Klaser, or Billy to many, built a strong culinary career before ending up in Heber Springs. Originally from McGee, Arkansas, his early days centered on sports and his family’s business.

“At 19, I was injured and began helping my parents in their business,” he says. During that time, he read about a culinary apprenticeship program in Florida. “I spoke to the chef at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, and started in June 1982,” he says. He stayed several years until his return to Arkansas where he became the executive chef at the Little Rock Country Club for three years. He circled back towards home, accepting a position at the Lake Village Country Club and eventually also running the Walnut Lake Country Club kitchen. DeSoto 35

“It was a lot because they were 30-to-40 miles apart,” he remembers. During this time, he was camping in the Heber Springs area and began nurturing a dream to move to the area, which he did in1998. He opened his first location in town. “By 1999, I started building the restaurant on the river,” Klaser says. “We were trying to do it as we could and began by pouring the pad. It was mainly me doing it.” Café Klaser opened in 2001 and continues to welcome guests nearly two decades later, seating approximately 250 guests with nearly half on the outdoor deck. Although located in a dry county, Klaser secured a liquor license in 2004. “This is a very wet dry county,” he says with a laugh. His menu changes every couple of years and the restaurant offers weekly and nightly specials. Open year round, the restaurant keeps menu favorites but adds a twist like a soup bar during the colder months. No matter the season, Klaser offers homemade bread, making 100 loaves a day during the busy times. His son, Billy Jr., and daughter, Ellie, also help along with another chef. Café Klaser is perhaps best known for Klaser’s signature stuffed steak, a five-ounce filet stuffed with rice and crawfish cream sauce. “That’s one of our best sellers,” says Klaser. Klaser’s son, Billy Jr., followed his father’s footsteps to Florida and brought home some new ideas. “My son spent time in St. Augustine at a gourmet pizzeria. When he came home, we added pizzas to the menu.” Generally, Klaser describes the menu as eclectic with a little bit of something for everyone. “We have fried foods, pastas and salads.” Café Klaser welcomes groups, especially during the holiday season, as the space includes two private meeting rooms. Café Klaser also caters private events outside the restaurant. They are closed on Thanksgiving Day to allow employees to be with their families. Perhaps the only thing equally important to Klaser as serving good food to his guests is his commitment to the larger community. He is involved with the Wounded Warrior Project but humbly defers the attention for his work, preferring to contribute quietly. Local business owners Beau and Renee Saunders know the restaurant well. “We eat there most every night during the summer because we are so busy,” says Renee. The Saunders own Lobo Landing Marina in the mountain township of Heber. Her husband, a fishing guide and veteran, personally know about Billy’s kindness as she explains. “We hardly ever see Billy when we’re there, but if he knows we have a group of veterans with us, he makes a point to come out and talk. Even if we didn’t know Billy, we’d still go because the food is excellent and so is the service.” In fact, when the couple lived in Searcy, Arkansas prior to purchasing the marina four years ago, they drove to Heber Springs just to eat at Café Klaser. The fried oysters are her favorite menu item. “They have an all-you-can-eat buffet on Thursday nights with catfish and oysters. My favorite dessert is the pecan pie bread pudding!” She agrees that when the tourists leave, fall is an ideal time for a visit. “Trout fishing is great in November. We like to go to Klaser’s also to just relax and have a drink. I even had my class reunion there.” Renee says she thinks so many people love the spot because of the setting and environment. “It’s the kind of place you can go into with a suit and tie or a bathing suit and shorts. They are just super kind.” Café Klaser 414 Wilburn Rd, Heber Springs, Arkansas Karen Ott Mayer, a freelance copywriter and editor for 20 years, writes from her farm located in Como, Mississippi.

36 DeSoto

DeSoto 37

exploring destinations | BROWN MOUNTAIN, N.C.

Linville Gorge

38 DeSoto

Wiseman’s View

“Did You See That?” By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Burke County Tourism

North Carolina’s Brown Mountain Lights have been a source of intrigue for more than a century. Mystery surrounds North Carolina’s Brown Mountain located in Burke County. For more than 100 years, an unexplained phenomenon called the Brown Mountain Lights has mystified locals, visitors, and scientists with orb-like illuminations that occur at irregular intervals. When talking with locals who have grown up with the legends and stories, their responses can be rather nonchalant. “It’s just always happened,” they say about the lights in the night sky. The legend grew even more when songwriter Scotty Wiseman wrote “The Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights” in the 1950s and Tommy Faile of Valdese, North Carolina, later recorded the song.

Theories abound as to the origin of the lights because capturing a solid image of the lights has been a challenge. In the early 1990s, however, a local photographer and private pilot Charles Braswell managed to change that reality. “I couldn’t find any pictures so I decided to start studying the area,” he says. Highly experienced at taking nighttime and trail photos, Braswell made more than 30 trips to the mountain, setting up at dusk and sometimes staying all night. “I first spent a lot of time figuring out what was normal up there. As a pilot, I could discern plane lights as well as other lights,” he continues. It was about his 38th trip DeSoto 39

when he caught something unusual. “I started videotaping and photographing the lights.” The result was one of the best images available today. In the recent past, the Burke County Tourism Development Authority held the Brown Mountain Lights Symposium in 2011, and the response was overwhelming. “We sold 125 seats at the Morgantown City Hall and the event was attended by more than a dozen media who were granted standing room only space,” says Ed Phillips, director of tourism for Burke County. Speakers included experts from the scientific and paranormal communities. Media spread the information worldwide and placed Morgantown, North Carolina, at the epicenter of the story. In 2012, Phillips and his team held a second symposium focused on eyewitness accounts and those witnesses who were deemed highly credible. Titled “What Does Our Government Really Know?”, the symposium brought in retired U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers who had spent their careers around Brown Mountain and the Linville Gorge. Military exercises or other evidence of scientific exploration were basically off limits for discussion. So, what exactly do observers see on the Mountain? “Some people report streaking lights that move straight up out of the ground and disappear into the night. Others report seeing glowing orbs about 4-to-5 feet in diameter that hover and move through the forest as if they have some level of intelligence,” says Phillips. One of North Carolina’s earliest paranormal renegades and national expert, Joshua P. Warren, founded “Haunted Asheville Ghost Tours.” He has spent more than 15 years camping in the area with scientists and instruments and believes the lights are a plasma similar to ball lightning that forms due to special geologic and atmospheric conditions. Warren believes one of the amazing things about Brown Mountain is the variety of phenomena people report. He likens it to a miniature Bermuda Triangle. “In addition to the lights, we have stories of ghosts, UFOs, aliens, time slips, and weird creatures in the area. I feel places on earth that naturally conduct high amounts of electrical energy are “portals.” So even though the lights themselves are probably similar to ball lightning, the amount of energy at Brown Mountain produces a phantasmagoria of strange side effects. It’s a place where we might find interdimensional ripples.” Braswell notes another interesting fact about the Brown Mountain Lights phenomenon. “You meet the most interesting people up here and I like to visit and hear their stories.”

40 DeSoto

Warren believes a little mystery can connect even strangers. “The unknown is a blank slate upon which each person can project his or her ideas and fantasies. No one can claim unknown territory, so it’s an exciting stimulus for the imagination.” In a world filled with instant information and answers, maybe the real attraction is simply found in the ability to revel in the unknown while gazing skyward.

Where to See the Lights Tourism director Ed Phillips suggests two different vantage points that afford the best opportunity to view the lights. Brown Mountain Overlook – Located 22 miles north of Morganton on NC Highway 181. A large parking area has a direct view of Brown Mountain 2.5 miles away. Wiseman’s View – Located on Old NC highway 105 near Linville Falls. This overlook requires a short walk down a paved path to rock pulpits that overlook the 1,500-foot deep Linville Gorge (where the lights are also seen.) Here, one can see into the Linville Gorge and also five miles across to Brown Mountain which is perfectly framed between Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountains. To learn more about the Brown Mountain Lights, and other spooky tales and history of Western North Carolina, consider investigating Joshua P. Warren’s “Haunted Asheville Ghost Tours.”

Karen Ott Mayer, a freelance copywriter and editor for 20 years, writes from her farm located in Como, Mississippi.

DeSoto 41

, t r o f u Beoauth Carolina

on the road again | BEAUFORT, SC


8:30 Grab your morning coffee and breakfast at Common Ground Coffee House and Market Café, where the view of the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is a beautiful way to start your day. Enjoy homemade biscuits, fresh muffins or scones, and delicious quiches. The tomato pie is a signature dish. 9:30 Head over to the Pat Conroy Literary Center, which honors the city’s native son who wrote many bestselling books about the Low Country. Sit in Pat’s favorite chair in the replica of his office while you wait for the Pat Conroy Van Tour through Beaufort to begin. The tour visits all the landmarks the author made famous, including his high school and home. 11:00 Have some fun at the Kazoobie Kazoo Factory and Museum, with an hour-long tour that includes kazoo demonstrations, a factory walk-through tour, and an opportunity to make your own kazoo to take home. 12:15 You’re in the heart of Low Country and that calls for a generous bowl of Shrimp ‘n’ Grits from Blackstone’s Café, a popular eatery with locals and tourists alike. Other house specialties include the smoked salmon plate, hamburger patty melt or the kick-it-up-a-notch Cajun Shrimp ‘n’ Grits. Desserts include a quintessential Southern pecan pie. 1:30 Walk off some of that lunch with a stroll around the Historic Point, where you’ll see many of the antebellum homes that made Beaufort famous as one of the South’s most picturesque towns. Guided walking tours are available from Spirit of Old Beaufort, Janet’s Walking Tours, or Beaufort Tours, LLC (all start at the Marina). 2:30 Beaufort has been the backdrop for many films, including “Forrest Gump,” “The Great Santini,” “The Big Chill,” “GI Jane,” “Platoon,” and “Forces of Nature” – to name just a few. Beaufort Movie Tours is a great way for film buffs to spend an afternoon. Short on time? Head over to the Visitors Center, located on Craven Street in the Old Arsenal where you can see all the movie posters from movies filmed in Beaufort. 3:30 Drive over to the Penn Center, which was founded in 1862, on Saint Helena Island to educate freed slaves who wanted to “catch da learning.” The Penn Center is one of the most significant African-American historical and cultural institutions in existence today and shares the rich cultural wisdom of the Gullah-Geechee people who are a distinctive part of Low Country history. 5:00 Relax a bit on a carriage ride with Southern Rose or Sea Island Carriages before dinner or sit a spell on one of the outdoor swings at the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park where you can watch boats come in for the evening. 5:30 Make your way over to the Saltus River Grill on the waterfront for cocktails and a delightful dinner. The sushi and vegan offerings are plentiful. Seafood lovers will want to try the flounder or the tuna roll. Considered to be one of the most romantic restaurants in Beaufort, Saltus has breathtaking views of the Broad River. If your visit to Beaufort includes an overnight stay, consider the exquisite and historic Beaufort Inn with its many luxurious cottages.

42 DeSoto

To plan your visit:


25th Annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival October 4-5, 2019 Sponsored by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Shrimper’s Association, this two-day festival includes a celebration of wild-caught Shrimp, local food and Low County fun. The 4th Annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival Nov. 1- 3, 2019 The annual festival is an immersive weekend of panel discussions, readings, book signings, performances, film screenings, tours, and social gatherings in celebration of the writing and teaching life of Pat Conroy. Beaufort Homes for the Holidays Nov. 23-24, 2019 The 18th annual Tour of Homes will feature a walking tour of seven incredible homes in the historic Bay Street area, all professionally decorated for the holidays. Experience “A Southern Christmas” hospitality tour to put you in the mood for the holiday season. This is a rare opportunity to tour homes dating back to the 1800s. Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) February 18-23, 2020 Already nearly 30 countries have submitted films for the 14th annual film festival and the deadline is still weeks away (Oct 31). BIFF has been named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine.

DeSoto 43

greater goods | PUMPKIN PALOOZA

Pumpkin Palooza












1. Etta B pottery, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 2. T-towels, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 3. T-shirt, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 4. Door hangers, Against the Grain Mercantile, 880 US-64 Marion, AR 5. Pillow, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 6. Pumpkin patch sign, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 7. Pumpkin initial door hangers, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 8. Hand towels, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 9. Large wooden pumpkins with stand, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 10. Picture frame, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 11. Happy blocks, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 12. Door hanger, Paisley Pinapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS

44 DeSoto


greater goods | SWEATER WEATHER

Sweater Weather












1. Large selection of sweaters, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 2 Sweater, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 3. Soft turtleneck sweater with fringe, Upstairs Closet, 136 Norfleet Drive, Senatobia, MS 4. Clara Sunwoo pale pink sweater, Upstairs Closet, 136 Norfleet Drive, Senatobia, MS 5. Sweater, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 6. Zebra stripe sweater, Iris Boutique, 3336 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 7. Cozy sweaters, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 8. Off-the-shoulder sweater, Against the Grain Mercantile, 880 US-64 Marion, AR 9. Sweater, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 10. Sweaters and fall decor, Crossroads Vendor Market, 8804 Caroma Street Ste. 140, Olive Branch, MS 11. Striped sweater, Center Stage Fashions, 324 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS DeSoto 45

44 46 DeSoto

Flocking to

Greener Pastures

By Amy Conry Davis Photography courtesy of Old Waverly Golf Club and Prairie Wildlife

West Point, Mississippi, offers award-winning outdoor recreation at the Old Waverly Golf Club and Prairie Wildlife. Prarie Wildlife shoot

DeSoto 47

Fishing in front of Bryan Lodge.

Coffee on the Front Porch

48 DeSoto

The small town of West Point, Mississippi, might not be the first destination that comes to mind for a weekend getaway, but plenty of hunters and golfers would likely disagree. Tucked away on rural back roads, in a community of roughly 13,000 people, two destinations are drawing visitors from around the world: Old Waverly Golf Club and Prairie Wildlife. The first is a world-class golf resort. The latter, a “conservation-driven” hunting estate. Both grew from enterprising ideas of members of the Bryan family, a name that has been in the area since the late 1800s. From farmland to first-rate recreation, both destinations making their mark on Mississippi, and its visitors, year after year. Old Waverly has been a West Point institution for the past 31 years. It was founded in 1988 by George Bryan and named (with a different spelling) after nearby historic Waverley Mansion. Bryan, who had a passion for golf, partnered with a group of local businessmen to turn 360 acres into a recreational destination that would rival any like it in the area. With the talented guidance of designers Jerry Pate and Bob Cupp, the property was artfully crafted into a spectacular 18-hole course, clubhouse, lake, and luxurious mix of condos, cottages, and villas. Over the last decades, it has managed to maintain and exceed expectations, which for a small-town operation is no simple feat. Amateur and professional tournaments have been played on its greens and accolades like “Best Golf Resort, Southeast” (Golf Digest) continue to bolster its reputation. Rosemary Prisock, director of membership and marketing, explains the significance of such accomplishments in an industry as competitive as the sporting world.       “We’ve hosted three national championships in our 30 years and that’s really unheard of. In the golf world, we’re still kind of a baby. There are a lot of clubs that have been around for over 100 years. It’s a very big deal,” says Prisock. In keeping with ever-changing times, Old Waverly continues to improve and innovate. The evidence of this is their recent collaboration with Toxey Haas, owner and CEO of another local institution, Mossy Oak. In 2016, the Mossy Oak Golf Club opened up across the street from Old Waverly. This time, Gil Hanse, the creative force behind Brazil’s 2016 Olympic Course, was at the helm of DeSoto 49

Kathys Hill Pavillion

Skeet Shooting

50 DeSoto

the design. While Old Waverly is a classic, more traditional course, Mossy Oak went with “nature’s golf.” This links-style design follows natural contours in the terrain and incorporates habitat preservation into the layout. Though the clubs are two different entities in their own right, the partnership is a complementary one and creates a perfect pairing for a golf outing. “It makes it kind of fun for the people who come here to play golf. They can play Mossy Oak one day and Old Waverly the next and get two totally different courses...golfers really appreciate that,” says Prisock. While Mossy Oak is completely open to the public, Old Waverly is semiprivate and does require a membership. However, “Stay and Play” packages are available at either club and can be tailored to fit a variety of needs. Green fees vary according to weekday or weekend usage but, including carts, a round of golf at Old Waverly runs about $200.  In addition to the upscale lodging (cottage rooms start around $200 a night), guests have complete access to other on-site amenities such as the pool, fitness center, dining facilities, and tennis court.

HUNTING AT PRAIRIE WILDLIFE A few short miles down the road,

Prairie Wildlife is busy building a name for itself in the state and across the country. As a full-service hunting lodge, they offer everything from high-end clothing to gun fitting, even trained bird dogs. It’s only been on the scene for nine years but is already gaining popularity as a premier hunting destination. Started by Jimmy Bryan (George’s first cousin), this multi-functional facility comprises 6,300 acres of land, a main lodge, a restaurant, and various accommodations. Custom packages run the gamut but a half day unlimited hunt, with a meal, is $650 and a full day unlimited bird hunt with lodging and meals is $1350 per person. Wildlife abounds on the property but the focus is wing shooting, especially quail. Guided hunts are led on foot, by horse, or wagon, and varied shooting venues make for an interesting and challenging experience. It’s also home to the state’s only sanctioned helice-shooting course so guests can hone their target skills, day or night. Bennie Atkinson, who’s worked as Estate DeSoto 51

USGA Photo #18 veiw from clubhouse

Manager for three years, admits how valuable a treasure it is for a town such as West Point. “I’ve hunted all over the place, even guided hunts, but I never even knew this was here. It’s the best-kept secret in the world,” says Atkinson. The main impetus for creating this estate was, and remains, conservation. Working in close partnership with biologists from Mississippi State University, Prairie Wildlife’s aim is to restore the land back to how it looked two hundred years ago. Through research, data collection, controlled burning, and steady hard work, they’re painstakingly accomplishing their goal of a more natural and balanced environment. “Everything we’re doing is to try and bring back the quail. Everybody’ve got grass, the quail will come back, but you’ve got to have brood habitat, nesting cover...and somewhere to rear the chicks. It’s pretty’s got to be just perfect for the quail to be here,” says Atkinson. While its conservation efforts alone are praise-worthy, Prairie Wildlife also recently garnered recognition for its service 52 DeSoto

and quality with a unique distinction. In 2018, they were granted an official endorsement from Orvis. This prestigious designation has only been given to 28 wing shooting lodges in North America and requires an arduous, invite-only vetting process. “They send somebody down; they go through every aspect of what you do. Basically, from the time you pick them up from the airport to the time you drop them off...they vet everything,” says Atkinson. While hunting and shooting are the mainstay, it doesn’t end there. Prairie Wildlife is working to offer something for everyone who visits, regardless of age or interests. Their facilities can be rented for weddings, private parties, corporate meetings and retreats. Public events and tournaments are held throughout the year and, in an effort to support the growing trend in female hunters and gun enthusiasts, many are oriented towards women. Day camps for school-aged children are offered in summer months as well as a customized experience for young hunters. Non-hunters even have a place to participate

with options such as the Land Rover driving experience, horseback riding, and fishing. Prairie Wildlife also works in partnership with Old Waverly and Mossy Oak making it possible to enjoy all three in one visit to West Point.

Amy Conry Davis works as a content creator, photographer, and writer. She lives in an Airstream but calls West Point, Mississippi, “home� between travels. Her website is

DeSoto 53

The Watauga A RIVER REBORN By Tom Adkinson Photo credits: Rafting photos are by High Mountain Expeditions; All others photos are by Tom Adkinson

52 54 DeSoto

Once a polluted mess, the Watauga River has been reborn into a recreational paradise for fishing, whitewater rafting, and boating.

DeSoto 55

Guide and fisherman

Brown Trout

56 DeSoto

For a river that once was dead – as in dead-as-a-doornail dead – the Watauga River in Upper East Tennessee is a lively place these days. Trout fishermen adore it. Families scream with delight on intermediatelevel whitewater rafting trips. Scientists speak glowingly of it, with one saying the Watauga’s revival is “one of Tennessee’s greatest environmental success stories.” The Watauga is a beautiful, medium-sized Appalachian River. Tennessee can thank North Carolina for sending the river west off of Grandfather Mountain and into the Volunteer State. Two Tennessee Valley Authority hydroelectric dams interrupt its flow, and the second of those dams – the Wilbur Dam – helps create the fun for rafters and trout fishermen. Just upriver from Elizabethton, Tennessee, the Wilbur Dam’s main purpose is to generate electricity, but it also creates conditions for abundant outdoor recreation. The dam is east of Johnson City and south of Bristol. When TVA sends water coursing through the dam’s turbines, about 5.5 miles of whitewater are the result. Furthermore, the water coming off the bottom of Wilbur Lake is cold, which makes trout happy for more miles farther downstream. The Watauga flows about 17 twisting miles below Wilbur Dam until it reaches Boone Lake.


Looking at the Watauga now, it’s difficult to imagine it once was a polluted mess. In one sense, the river was a casualty of World War II, far from the fighting front. A nylon plant and a rayon plant built in the 1920s and 1930s became important to the war effort, and pollution from the plants killed everything – the fish, the insects the fish ate, certainly the desire to wade, swim or boat on the river. David McKinney, now chief of biological diversity and environmental services for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), was with the Tennessee Department of Health and Environment’s Division of Water Pollution Control in the 1980s. He paints a grim picture of what the rayon and nylon plants did to the river. “Long before (serious) pollution controls, the river was devoid of all life,” McKinney says matter-of-factly. The cleanup effort proved to be a DeSoto 57

58 DeSoto

watershed moment (pun intended). Instead of the prevailing theory of simply reducing the volume of pollutants in a river, the idea of ozone infusion and aeration to neutralize pollutants’ toxicity was suggested. It worked – and it set a precedent the federal Environmental Protection Agency adopted. “When the toxicity was removed, the river immediately began to recover. The benthic community (life at the river bottom) took off. Once there were insects, the trout thrived,” he says. “I remember when the first fish were put out. A year later, we electroshocked with no expectation of success. Not only had the trout survived, they had thrived,” McKinney says.


Seeing flotillas of yellow rafts below Wilbur Dam tells you it’s whitewater rafting season, and that keeps Matt Leonard, river manager for High Mountain Expeditions in nearby Banner Elk, North Carolina, busy. His trips utilize from six to 20 rafts for a 5.5-mile run down the river. Leonard describes the Watauga as “a great intermediate introductory river” with lots of variety. It starts in a deep mountain gorge and proceeds into more open, pastoral land. “It offers mostly Class I and Class II rapids, but there’s a solid Class III rapid called the Anaconda about 1.5 miles into the trip,” Leonard says, noting that he takes rafters as young as age 3. Each raft has a guide and carries from four to eight people. One-person inflatable kayaks are an option for Watauga fun. You can meet Leonard at the High Mountain Expeditions office in Banner Elk and let him drive you 45 minutes to the river, or you can meet at the river if you’re already in Tennessee. Every rafting trip starts with a shore lunch just above Wilbur Dam. About three hours later, after the opportunity to exit your raft and leap into the river off an overhanging rock, your trip ends on Broad Street in downtown Elizabethton. High Mountain Expeditions and two other river outfitters stay busy from Memorial Day through Labor Day with daily trips. Leonard, who has been a river guide for 18 years, also offers Saturday trips in September before autumn’s chill discourages clients.

DeSoto 59


Jason Reep is on the river even more than Leonard because Reep runs East Tennessee Fly Fishing, a guide service chasing brown trout that reproduce naturally in the Watauga and the roughly 40,000 keeper-sized rainbows that TWRA stocks annually. Unlike Leonard’s clients who want to get wet, Reep’s clients stay dry in a classic drift boat with a paint job resembling a brook trout. Reep, one of the first three or four guides on the Watauga back in the early 1990s, reports he’s on the river about 150 days a year “There are perhaps 30 full-time guides now, and about a thousand on weekends,” he says with a wink. They all work the Watauga and the South Holston River, which is only about 45 minutes away. Fishermen – and fisherwomen – come from all over. “The Watauga has become a destination river for trout anglers in the South. I even hear about people who go out West and rave about the scenery there but like the fishing better on the Watauga,” says Bart Carter, regional fisheries coordinator for TWRA. Reep particularly enjoys telling about one client from England. 60 DeSoto

“He couldn’t believe that just anybody could buy a license and go fish on a river,” Reep says, noting how lucky Americans are to have accessible outdoor recreation. A popular half-day trip Reep offers covers about five miles, starting at Hunter Bridge in Elizabethton and ending at Lovers Lane. Along the way, the Doe River flows into the Watauga, but it doesn’t appreciably change the stream’s size. A bit farther downstream, TWRA maintains a 2.6-mile “Quality Trout Zone” with a possession limit of two fish 14 inches or longer caught on artificial lures. The Watauga is fishable all year, although Reep says volume drops after Thanksgiving, only to revive as warm spring days come along. As a trout guide, Reep knows his aquatic insects, and he looks ahead to a particular event each spring. “There’s usually a big caddis fly hatch around Mother’s Day. You can barely open your mouth without eating a caddis fly then,” he says.


Multiple motel/hotel choices are available in Elizabethton and Johnson City, but thoroughly enjoying the Watauga means staying near the water. Here are two popular destinations.

Jumping rock

Bee Cliff Cabins is a collection of 14 furnished cabins (the largest has four bedrooms), and the river is in guests’ backyard. Watauga River Lodge is geared toward fishermen and faces the Watauga’s “Quality Trout Zone.” The main cabin has three one-bedroom suites with separate entrances; Tom’s Cabin is a one-bedroom stand-alone structure; and the nearby Range Cabin, built in 1861, has two bedrooms.

Tom Adkinson, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, begins his outdoor adventures from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. His recent book is “100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die.”

DeSoto 61

Outdoor Adventures ON

Louisiana’s Northshore Story and Photography by Deborah Burst

60 62 DeSoto

Hiking, biking, and birdwatching are just a few of the outdoor activities available on Louisiana’s exotic-looking Northshore.

Mandeville Lakefront harbor & Fontainbleau cabins

DeSoto 63

Tammany Trace view of Bayou Lacombe

Fontainbleau Park oak row

64 DeSoto

Just 30 miles north of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain, the tree-topped skyline stands in stark contrast to its southshore neighbor. Nicknamed the Northshore, its wildlife flourishes inside thick strands of oaks, pines, and cypress. Louisiana’s own tropical paradise, home to melodies of exotic birds and echoes of hawks hunting their prey. It’s an endless wonderland of thrilling swamps and coffee-colored bayous veiled by dark shadows and marbled pools of light. In the city of Mandeville’s historic district, what locals call the lakefront, 19thcentury homes and opulent mansions line a storied landscape. Known for its ozone water and the sweet smell of pines, steamship service once ran between New Orleans and Mandeville. People still flock to the soothing vistas, some spread blankets and enjoy the serenity while others jog along the seawall or stroll the curvaceous walkway winding through a canopy of ancient oaks. Ready the camera for sailboats streaming in and out the harbor or take a break on park benches. Families enjoy swing sets and mini playgrounds, along with the fishing pier jutting out across the lake. A favorite for locals and visitors is the Tammany Trace Hiking and Biking Trail, a 31-mile asphalt trail and wildlife conservation corridor linking parks, wetlands, forested greenways, and historic neighborhoods. Walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and in-line skaters enjoy a colorful stage of nature’s wonders. Tune in to the concert of cicadas and inhale the buttonbush blooms. Or spy the creatures of the woods with early morning sightings of deer, often a doe and her fawn, rabbits nibbling on grass and egrets eyeing their next meal congregating along the waterways. The Trace draws a host of people in and out of the parish, state and even the country. From 2011 to 2013 nearly 300,000 visit the Tammany Trace, a hallmark for both the parish and the state. “The Tammany Trace is first and foremost, innovative. As the only Rails–toTrails conversion in Louisiana, this lush amenity immediately sets our Parish apart,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish president. “At the same time, the Tammany Trace brings us all together. It connects our communities, and gives locals and tourists alike, a unique and scenic perspective on our community. We are grateful for every visitor who makes their way to us because DeSoto 65

Northlake Nature Center pavillon

66 DeSoto

of our nationally recognized Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, the Tammany Trace.”


Heading east in Mandeville, the Northlake Nature Center boasts 400 acres of marked trails across four ecosystems. An inviting and soothing journey, wander deep inside swamps, marshlands, ancient pines, and hardwood forests. The nonprofit Nature Center offers guided nature tours, biking and hiking. A moonlight tour lets visitors listen to the echoes of the night. Families and their canines are welcome, and children will delight in the many turtles swimming to the bridge greeting visitors. Every turn brings a new adventure, marigolds crawling across the forest floor and waterfowl descending the evening skies roosting in the treetops. Photographers enjoy its mystical presence in a teeming thicket of trees dipping their branches into dark-stained waters. Perhaps the most commanding is the cypress trees, adorned with a menagerie of moss and known for their beauty and resilience. They stay strong against fierce storms with swollen trunks and knobby knees anchored in the water’s muddied banks. Rue McNeil, executive director of the Northlake Nature Center, coordinates the annual Great Louisiana BirdFest, which highlights the best birding locations in St. Tammany Parish. Among her fondest memories are working with both Boy Scout and Girl Scout volunteers, and then, the first moonlight hike and marshmallow melt. “It was an awesome sight watching the flashlights glowing in the dark in a trail of hikers,” she remembers. Nearby is Fontainebleau State Park, a favorite with families, campers, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. Once a sugar plantation, the owner, Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, christened his estate, Fontainebleau, based on a forest near Paris. Crumbling remains of the sugar mill offer evidence of the park’s history. A long pier joins an inviting beach on Lake Pontchartrain with a pavilion over the water, and nearby is a sandy stretch of cypress trees, a perfect stage for stunning sunsets. Known for its abundant wildlife, Fontainebleau is the perfect place to spot deer grazing under the oaks in the early evening. The visitor center offers ranger DeSoto 67

Northlake Nature Center sign

Big Branch Refuge fog sunrise

talks highlighting the park’s history, primitive woodworking demonstrations, and tours through the park’s nature trails. Cabins, camping sites, and boat rentals are also available. Further east is the small town of Lacombe and home to the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Preserve. Witness the early morning wail of geese and the shrieking battle cry of pileated woodpeckers among the marshlands, grass beds, piney woods, and hardwood hammocks. Rent a kayak or canoe paddling down Cane Bayou and watch the egrets playing tag along the treetops in route to a secret hideaway. Many visitors seek Lake Road for shoreline fishing along with crabbing and crawfishing. Photographers often stage their cameras in hopes of an epic portrait, a piney ridge 68 DeSoto

silhouetted against an orange sky or the sun dipping inside a pool of the lake’s blue water.


Near the state line in Slidell is the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, a living library of nearly 36,000 acres of forests, swamps, and bayous. Thick with massive alligators and a jungle of wildlife, some are elusive while others are a bit more curious. Each trip inside this engaging forest reveals a precious lesson, and many enjoy a front-row seat aboard the swamp tour boats. Guides host a two-hour long nature tour deep inside Pearl River’s protected sanctuary. Be on the lookout for

Honey Island Swamp Gator

snakes slithering across tree limbs or a blue heron sliding a fish down its skinny neck. Alligators can be found sunning their hides on the banks of the bayou or lurking inside the murky waters patiently waiting for a crunchy turtle, tasty duck, or a treat from the tour boats. Step inside nature’s paradise, a powerful but tranquil kingdom. From Old Mandeville’s historic hamlet to the exotic wilds of the Honey Island Swamp, the Northshore is a delightful escape for families, solo travelers or hardcore trailblazers. It’s home to legions of birds and intoxicating scents of wildflowers, and signature sunsets with scorching ribbons of clouds in a fiery canvas of pastel colors. Adventures abound on the northern shores of Lake Pontchartrain, hiking the woods, paddling the waters, or just watching nature’s nonstop lineup.

Author and award-winning writer/photographer, Deborah lives in Mandeville and frequents these trails often. Her nature writing and photographs can be found in her books, Spirits of the Bayou and The Magical World of Trees.

DeSoto 69

homegrown | FLANNEL SHIRTS

70 DeSoto

Fit for Everyone By Karon Warren | Photography courtesy of Brooke Davis

Laurel Mercantile Co. offers a functional and fashionable flannel shirt for the fall. When the partners of Laurel Mercantile Co. in Laurel decided to add a flannel shirt to their merchandise offerings, they did so with a singular purpose: to fill a hole in the market with a high-quality product. That means they didn’t just go through the motions to find a shirt and put it out for sale. Instead, they had several considerations to address as they moved through the process – from idea to completed product available for sale. “We were looking to develop nice, durable workwear that could be worn in the workshop or in the backyard on

Saturday or at a meeting somewhere,” says Jim Rasberry, one of the six partners who owns Laurel Mercantile Co. “We design and manufacture products we want and we use, and we feel there’s a hole in the market.” The remaining partners are Rasberry’s wife, Mallorie, Josh and Emily Nowell, and Ben and Erin Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town” show. “We worked together on the design,” Rasberry says. “Everybody loves a good-feeling shirt, and we want to provide products you can count on.” DeSoto 71

He says the women weighed in on the style, colors, and weight of the fabric, while the men focused on the function of the shirt. “We wanted it to serve a purpose, but we also wanted something that fit well, a little tapered, that had free range with movement,” Rasberry says. “It wears well whether you’re lounging around or working.” So, in the fall of 2016, Laurel Mercantile Co. launched the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel Button-Down shirt, both in store and online. Available for $74 each, the shirt was branded under Scotsman Co., the store’s flagship brand of Ben’s handmade reclaimed furniture, which now also features American-made heirloom areas, durable home goods, and, of course, workwear. Made of 100-percent cotton flannel, the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel is available in seven different color patterns, all with long sleeve and a button-down collar. For those looking to expand their wardrobe beyond the initial pattern offerings, the group gathers each spring to choose new designs for the fall, so you can expect another set of choices every autumn. There are no separate men’s and women’s sizes, nor are there any children’s sizes. Instead, all shirts are available in a full range of regular and Big & Tall sizes, from small to a 3XLT (Big & Tall). Those Big & Tall sizes were inspired by Ben, who is 6-feet-6-inches tall. “We wanted a shirt that bigger guys can find a good consistent fit,” Rasberry says. Specifically, he says they didn’t want a shirt where when you raise your arms in the air, you could feel the shirt rise up from where it was tucked into your pants. The group partnered with a shirt manufacturing company in El Paso, Texas, to create the flannels. Their chosen company has been making shirts since 1964, Rasberry states. “One of the difference-makers is quality,” he says. “Other competitors outsource to other countries. We made a commitment to quality, to buying a shirt that lasts. They fit good, and they feel good. The fit and finish makes that shirt second to none.”

72 DeSoto

Of course, in the process of developing that high-quality shirt with a purpose, the partners saw another evolution at Laurel Mercantile Co. and Scotsman Co. “Our flannels are what made Scotsman Co. a lifestyle brand,” Napier says. “Before designing these shirts, the focus was solely on woodworking. We wanted to design a quality shirt that was made in American that could double as a date night shirt or a work shirt.” And people are taking notice. Not only is the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel a perennial top seller, but Hollywood also has taken notice. In the 2019 remake of “Pet Sematary,” actor John Lithgow is seen sporting one of the shirts. “We all wear the shirts on and off camera [for ‘HGTV Home Town’],” Rasberry says. “I don’t know if they saw it [the show] or not, but we got an email from the movie’s wardrobe department saying they wanted to have it.” Although he didn’t name names, Rasberry also acknowledges that several other high-profile folks have ordered their own shirts, from other HGTV and Discovery Network (which owns “Home Town”) colleagues to some well-known music folks. Given the feedback the partners have received on the Scotsman Co. Traditional Flannel, it appears they may find favor with consumers across the board. “We have great reviews that show the quality is consistent, and the fit is great,” Rasberry says. “A lot of customers appreciate the pen holder inside the pocket flap. It’s a confirmation of the goals we set out to accomplish.”

Karon Warren is a freelance writer based in Ellijay. Georgia. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon also writes for as well as her blog,

DeSoto 73

southern gentleman | OFF-ROADING

Burden’s Creek ATV Park

Beginners’ Guide to Off-Roading By Jason Frye | Photography courtesy of Burden’s Creek ATV Park and Adventure Offroad Park

Off-roading offers many options for those looking to travel off the beaten path. Some of my earliest automotive memories are riding around the West Virginia hills near Peach Creek in Aunt Sheila and Uncle David’s Jeep Wrangler or taking a six-wheeled amphibious dune buggy monstrosity that my grandfather owned straight off a wide footpath and into the Guyandotte River. Where I grew up, off-roading was a thing folks did in hunting season, berry picking season, hunting scouting season, and whenever they pleased. Off-roading is not unique to Mountaineers. The South is full of off-roaders who want see the world from a perspective they just can’t get from the asphalt. So, what’s makes off-roading so popular? A lot of things. First, off-roading is roughly divided into two camps: 4x4s (Jeeps, Broncos, 4Runners, trucks and the like) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles like ATVs, motorcycles, side-by-sides and such). I say “roughly” because there’s a lot of room on the spectrum and you’ll find off-road riding areas catering to either group, but with trails and sections devoted to just one group. 74 DeSoto

Then, there is the kind of off-roading. Are we riding on the beach? Daytona’s racing history is tied to speeding cars on the hard-packed sand and that’s very different from driving in the fluffy sand at the south end of Carolina Beach near North Carolina’s Fort Fisher Recreation Area. And that’s much different from rock crawling, where drivers take their vehicles up impossibly steep, craggy and boulder-strewn routes. That, in turn, is much different from muddin’ – racing side by side, against a clock, or for distance through a mud- and submerged obstacle-filled trench. However, the way many of us picture “off-roading” is driving along rugged mountain and forest roads. Each kind of terrain presents its own problems and challenges and, as the man in a 4x4 shop in Wilmington told me, “makes it difficult to build a ‘good-for-everything’ off-road ride.” There’s much discussion over the most desirable elements a 4x4 should possess. Is it wheelbase (the distance between axles) or locking differentials (the ability to force the

Trail 71 Adventure Offroad park

wheels to turn at the same rate, helping you get out of mud, snow and sand)? Would you rather have these tires or that lift kit? This suspension system versus that one. And on and on. But there’s a consensus – or near enough – that says one of the most critical things to pay attention to is your vehicle’s weight. Since weight and weight distribution will impact how well you can handle sand, mud, scree and stones, and could help you coax a little more power out of your engine, it’s a big deal. Given all that discussion, what’s a great beginner off-road vehicle? A Jeep Wrangler. It’s light, has a wheelbase short enough for narrow turns but long enough for most hill climbs; there are plenty of aftermarket parts and accessories to customize one quickly and on-budget; loads of shops and garages that do specialty work; and there’s no shortage of fellow Jeep-lovers who will send (unsolicited) advice your way. The needed accessories, additions, and gears are task specific. After all, you don’t need a snorkel (an extension of your motor’s air intake that’s positioned well above your expected high-water mark) if all you do is ride on the sand, and you don’t need the same giant jack you would for rock crawling if all you do is muddin’. What you do need is a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, seatbelt cutter and window breaker, a warm change of clothes, extra fuel and a cache of food and water. You’ll also want some tough off-road tires, a lift kit (to raise your vehicle and give you a higher ground clearance) and off-road-suited suspension to help smooth out your ride. Other things – a winch, tow straps, jacks, portable air compressors, light bars, roof rack – make offroading that much easier. Several websites serve as indexes of off-road trails, providing maps, descriptions, photos and difficulty ratings. Visit,,, and to see what’s near you. But if all of that sounds intimidating and expensive (it can be both), maybe something like an ATV, side-by-side or golf cart may be more your speed. ATVs are cheaper than a

fully-kitted 4x4 and are familiar to many of us; side-by-sides, which are becoming the ride of choice for hunters, are rugged off-road and farm use vehicles with roll cages, windshields and cargo space; and gas-powered golf carts with off-road tires and higher ground clearance. Across the South, shops like Big Muddy Outdoors in Olive Branch, Mississippi, sell, upfit and outfit golf carts and more. That leaves me with one final question for you: where will I see you riding this weekend?


The South has thousands of miles of off-road trails. Here are a few of our favorites: Mississippi Burden’s Creek ATV Park, Mt. Olive. 600 acres of creeks, mud pits and trails to explore on your ATV, dirtbike, side by side or 4x4. Red Creek Off Road, Perkinson. Mud, gators, lodes, cabins and camping. Drive almost anything with wheels here. Rock’s Bottom Offroad Park, Forest. 550 acres with 30 miles of trails through swamps and mud. Tennessee Adventure Offroad Park, South Pittsburg. Open weekends. This spot has a motocross track, steep and technical hill climbs, rock gardens and on-site camping facilities. Alabama Hawk Pride Mountain Offroad, Tuscumbia. 1,000 acres with novice-friendly trails, mud bogs, rock crawling gardens and a motocross track. Plus camping and RV hookups. Louisiana Catahoula Recreation Club, Sicily Island. Make a reservation for this 320-acre off road area with 10 miles of trails that include hill climbs and a sand dragway. Jason Frye writes about food, travel, and Southern culture form his home base in Wilmington, North Carolina.

DeSoto 75

southern harmony | CAROLINE JONES

76 DeSoto

Becoming a

Gulf Coast Girl By Pam Windsor | Photography courtesy of Tyler Lord

Her love of opera and all-things-music led singer-songwriter Caroline Jones to unexpectedly find a niche in country music. Caroline Jones’ dedication to her craft shines through every time she takes the stage. In recent years she’s toured with Zac Brown, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffet, the Eagles and Vince Gill, mesmerizing crowds with her powerful voice and ability to play multiple instruments. The talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist began wanting to learn to play additional instruments after spending time in some of the recording studios in Nashville.  “I was blown away by the musicianship and the prowess of the studio musicians there,” she recalls. “I got really into production and that inspired me to pick up more instruments because I was hearing parts I wanted to play.”

At the time, she was doing a lot of solo acoustic shows and felt if she played more instruments, it would broaden her appeal. “So, I picked up banjo and slide guitar, and put piano and harmonica in my show to make it more interesting and diverse. And ever since, I’ve been really in love with the pursuit of instrumental acumen and musicianship.” Jones has been pursuing her love of all-things-music for a long time. She was just nine years old, growing up in Connecticut, when she began singing and studying opera. She’d already found herself jotting down words and phrases and one day discovered the value in merging them together.   DeSoto 77

CAROLINE JONES TO PERFORM AT BENEFIT CONCERT IN MEMPHIS The 2019 Night Life for Methodist Hospice event will feature singer-songwriter Caroline Jones for an up-close and personal concert event experience on Nov. 7 at Minglewood Hall in Memphis. Tickets are $100, general admission; $2,500 for a premium table for 10 people. Proceeds from the annual event benefit Methodist Hospice to help provide care to patients in need of quality and compassionate end-of-life care, regardless of their ability to pay. For information, call (901)516-0500 or see the website at 78 DeSoto

“I realized I could put all of these stories and words to music,” she recalls. “And I never wanted to do anything else after that. So, I was writing songs and going to performing arts schools in New York.” Her introduction to country music came later, when her then-manager invited her to Nashville for the first time. “I went down to Nashville and just fell in love with country music, which I hadn’t grown up listening to or been familiar with. It was kind of the missing piece of my style and my artistry musically speaking. I fell in love with Hank Williams, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Vince Gill.” Jones worked non-stop on writing songs, crafting her own style, and building an independent music career. She began touring schools and colleges and met her current manager and co-producer Ric Wake. (Wake produced Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and others.) Last year they put out an album called “Bare Feet” and this month will release her new EP. “Chasin’ Me” has six songs including the title track that came out in April, followed by a second song called “Gulf Coast Girl” released in July.” “Gulf Coast Girl” is a fun, upbeat song that has special meaning because it was written by Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally, who are friends and strong supporters of Jones. Those two, along with Kenny Chesney and Lukas Nelson, are all featured on the song as the “The Pelicanaires.” Buffett first met Jones at a benefit show in Tallahassee after Hurricane Irma tore through Florida. He’d heard positive things about her, but says he was taken aback when he watched her open the show. He was impressed with her stage presence and the way she interacted with the audience. “McAnally and I were interested in working with her and wanted to come up with a ‘feel good’ song that would do the same on the beaches and lakes thousands of miles away from the beach I grew up on,” says Buffett. Jones, who now calls Florida home, thoroughly enjoyed shooting the video. Scenes were filmed in Mobile, Apalachicola, Destin, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Biloxi, Galveston, and New Orleans, but her part was shot along the sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. In the video she’s shown walking barefoot, driving a convertible down the coast, and strumming a guitar on the pier. “I had the best time!” she says. “That part of the world is so special. The beaches are gorgeous and the people are so nice.” Although Jones has been working as a professional musician for more than a decade, she’s seen her career take on new momentum since she began opening shows for Zac Brown, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney and others. She’s grateful to Brown who was the first to invite her to join him on tour.  “It was a big honor and a huge step for my career. I mean, I really owe my career thus far to Zac and Jimmy and Kenny for taking me under their wings, supporting me, mentoring me, and introducing me to their fan bases.” She’s excited about her new “Chasin Me’ EP which will be released on October 18. It will give her a chance to share new music with those who know her and introduce her to others who may not be familiar with her yet. It’s the just latest step in a lifelong journey to keep making music and doing what she loves.  “I really just want to be a great musician, songwriter, producer, and performer,” she says. “I’m so blessed to get to do it on a bigger and bigger scale.”

Pam Windsor is a Nashville-based freelance journalist who writes about food, travel, music, culture, and extraordinary people.

DeSoto 79

in good spirits | GHOST CHASER

Mixologist Ashley Vezina

80 DeSoto

Chasing ghosts at the Myrtles Plantation Story and Photography by Cheré Coen

October is the best time to chase ghosts at the Myrtles Plantation and to try the specialty cocktail in their honor. It was the apex of summer and mixologist Ashley Vezina was busy creating refreshing craft cocktails at the Myrtles Plantation’s Restaurant 1796. With temperatures in St. Francisville, Louisiana, reaching toward the high 90s, most visitors were choosing the coconut and blueberry-flavored Azalea drink or the spicy Smoky Magnolia with its Mezcal, crushed pineapple, Triple Sec and simple syrup accented with fresh mint and jalapenos. But Vezina’s thoughts were already turning to fall, the busiest time of year for the full-service bedand-breakfast inn. That’s because the Myrtles is known for its ghost inhabitants — about 10 different spirits haunt the Louisiana plantation, according to General Manager Morgan Moss. The plantation has been labeled “America’s Most Haunted House,” which makes October the busiest month for the inn that also offers house tours. Moss estimates that more than a thousand visitors arrive each weekend in October, the month that ends in All Hallow’s Eve, in the hopes of seeing one of the ghosts, viewing the blood still lingering on the staircase or catching one of the children reported to routinely roam the property. Naturally, those visitors will be in search of other spirits — the alcoholic kind — and Vezina is there to help. The Michigan native created “A Ghost Chaser” cocktail to keep visitors in the mood, a creamy combination of Godiva Chocolate and Bayou Rum’s Satsuma liqueurs with Rumchata and Half and Half, the rim lined with caramel syrup that drips down the glass, adding to that ghostly feeling. A blood red drizzle of Luxado cherry juice on top adds an ominous feel. Vezina started working at Restaurant 1796 when it opened in February. The Myrtles’ old restaurant burned in 2017 and the new incarnation with a nod to the plantation’s origin features a roaring 10-foot hearth that’s perfect for a chilly

fall visit. The restaurant’s bar overlooks the patio and fountain and on fall evenings the bar’s Dutch doors open to let in the cool night air. Visitors may also choose to take their spirits outside in case a ghost happens by. As for Vezina, she’s seen the “shadow man” appear in the window of the main house, heard knocking on the wall opposite the bar when no one was there. One night she swore there were kids playing on the grounds outside but a peek found the place empty. Is the Mrytles the most haunted place in America? You be the judge. A Ghost Chaser

1 ounce Godiva Chocolate Liqueur 1/2 ounce Rumchata 1 1/2 ounce Bayou Rum’s Satsuma Rum Liqueur 1 ounce Half and Half Caramel syrup Luxardo cherry juice to drizzle Directions: Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker and mix. Pour the caramel syrup on to a plate and dip a coupe cocktail glass upside down in the syrup to line the rim of the glass, letting the caramel drip down the sides when the glass is right side up. Pour the mixture from the shaker into the glass and drizzle the top with the Luxardo cherry juice on top. Cheré Coen has deep Mississippi and New Orleans roots but the food and travel writer now lives in Cajun Country. She is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country” and Southern-based novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

DeSoto 81

exploring events | OCTOBER

Natchez Fall Pilgrimage Through October 14 Natchez, MS As the trees change colors they create a stunning backdrop for the historic Natchez architecture and garden tours. Explore some of the most well-known estates and learn about their history. For more information visit or call 800-647-6742. ARTS in the Alley October 1 - 31 Olive Branch Old Towne Main Street Olive Branch, MS Visit this free outdoor art gallery, located next the Chamber of Commerce. Paintings by local artists are rotated periodically. Sponsored by Olive Branch Arts Council. For more information visit or call 901-619-0261. Carrollton Pilgrimage & Pioneer Day Festival October 4 - 5 Carrollton, MS 9:00am - 5:00pm Tours of historic home, churches and places of interest. Arts & crafts, food vendors, music, children’s entertainment and more. For more information visit Trash & Treasures along the Tenn-Tom Waterway October 4 - 5 County Wide 50+ miles of yard sales. For more information call 662-423-0051. Bukka White Blues Festival October 4 - 5 Non-stop blues on the banks of the Tenn Tom Waterway. Blues festival with Ribs On The River BBQ Contest, Bob Tartar exotic Animal show, Gator Bait Kayak Race, kids activites, arts & crafts, great food and fun! For more information visit Cedar Hill Haunted Farm October 4 - November 2 Cedar Hill Farm Hernando, MS Let Cedar Hill Farm entertain and scare you! Attractions include Flashlight Corn Maize & Hayride, Trail of Terror and Sensturbia. Trail of Terror and Sensturbia not recommended to anyone under the age of 10. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit halloween. or call 662-429-2540. 42nd Annual Olive Branch Octoberfest October 5 Olive Branch City Park Olive Branch, MS 9:00am-4:00pm This festival offers residents and visitors alike an abundance of crafts, games, food and more. For more information call 662-893-5219 or visit

82 DeSoto

Hernando’s Annual Play Day in the Park October 5 Conger Park Hernando, MS 9:00am-1:00pm Games, activities, music and food – A FREE day of play for the whole community! For more information call 662-429-2688 or visit Repticon Reptile Show October 5 - 6 Landers Center Southaven, MS Repticon is a reptile event featuring vendors offering reptile pets, supplies, feeders, cages and merchandise as well as live animal seminars and frequent free raffles for coveted prizes. Exciting, educational, family-oriented fun for everyone! Admission $10 adults, $5 children 5-12 yrs. and free under age 5. To purchase online tickets or for more information visit or call 863-268-4273. King Biscuit Blues Festival October 9 -12 Helena, AR Featuring Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton, Mr. Sipp, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and many more! For more information visit or call 870-572-5223. Lauren Daigle October 10 Landers Center Southaven, MS 7:00pm Lauren Ashley Daigle is an American contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter. Tickets can be purchased in person at the LANDERS Center Box Office, online through, or through the Ticketmaster mobile app. DeSoto Arts Council presents A Blues Jubilee October 11 One Memphis Street Hernando, MS 6:00pm - 11:30pm An evening of blues, barbecues and art. For more information visit or call 662-404-2465. Pink Palace Crafts Fair October 11 - 13 Audubon Park Memphis, TN The Pink Palace Crafts Fair is back bigger and better than ever for its 47th year. The public is invited to come shop, play and explore. In addition to over 100 of the world’s best craftsmen and artists, this year’s Crafts Fair will feature lots of fun activities for kids including the Kid’s Activities Tent, Craftsman Demonstration Tent, Petting Zoo and the ever-popular choo-choo train. For more information visit Front Porch Jubilee October 12 Clifton Gin Hernando, MS A fundraiser to benefit The Friends of the Von Theatre. Tickets $5. for more information visit

Horn Lake Food Truck Festival October 12 Latimer Lakes Park Horn Lake, MS 11:00am-2:00pm Join in the fun with craft vendors, live music and of course many food trucks. Sponsored by Belhaven University DeSoto. For additional information visit or call 662-393-9897. Hernando Water Tower 10K Race October 12 Hernando Courthouse Square Hernando, MS 8:00am Running enthusiasts from the Mid-South and beyond are invited to “Mississippi’s Front Porch” to participate in Hernando’s ninth annual “Water Tower 10K” road race which will highlight the city’s historic districts as well as one of its most-beloved local landmarks. Proceeds from the race will benefit Hernando Excel By 5’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library. After-race party activities include live music by popular “home-grown” musicians, great door prizes, food and beverages provided by local vendors. For additional information or registration, call 662-429-9092 or visit Creative Aging’s Senior Arts Series October 16 Theatre Memphis Memphis, TN 1:30pm $5 tickets at Tennessee Shakespeare presents Romeo & Juliet. Limited wheelchair seating is available; to reserve a wheelchair space call 901-272-3434. Cocktails, Canapes’ & Cats! October 17 Theatre Memphis Memphis, TN 6:00pm Cocktails and 7:30pm Cats. Tickets $125. Includes open bar, hors d’oeuvres and performance. For tickets visit or call 901-272-3434. Heritage Pioneer Days in Frenchman’s Bend October 17-19 Union County Heritage Museum New Albany, MS Storytelling festival, hands-on history, family event. For more information visit or call 662-538-0014. 27th Annual Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival October 17 - 19 Clarksdale, MS Sponsored by Coahoma Community College. Events include the unveiling of a Mississippi Writers Trail Marker for great American playwright, Tennessee Williams. For a complete, regularly updated schedule of events and Delta Lawn Party tickets please visit

Hernando Rotary Club’s Hernando Brewfest October 18 Jim Seay’s Courtyard. 315 Losher Street, Suite 100. Hernando, MS Sample local craft beers, food from local restaurants and enjoy live music while supporting charities. Visit for more information. DeSoto Family Theatre presents “High School Musical” October 18-27 Landers Family Theatre Southaven, MS A popular high school athlete and an academically gifted girl get roles in the school musical and develop a friendship that threatens East High’s social order. For more information visit 34th Annual Great Mississippi River Balloon Race October 18 - 20 Rosalie Mansion Natchez, MS In addition to history, spectacular views of the Mississippi River, hot-air balloons, and live music, the festival includes a balloon glow, fireworks display, arts and crafts fair, carnival rides, and a bier-garten featuring regional craft beers. For more information visit or call 601-442-2500. 24th Annual Walls Fall Festival October 19 Minor Memorial United Methodist Church Walls, MS 8:00am- 4:00pm Free admission! In addition to vendor and craft booths, there will be children’s inflatables and games, live musical entertainment, silent auction and various community exhibits. For more information call 662-781-1333 or visit Peppa Pig Live! October 22 Orpheum Theatre Memphis, TN Peppa Pig Live! is here with the ALL-NEW action-packed live show featuring your favorite characters as life size puppets and costume characters in her new live show, Peppa Pig’s Adventure! For more information visit or call 901-525-3000. House of Grace hosts The Purse Project Luncheon October 24 The Red Barn Reception Hall Hernando, MS 11:30am - 2:00pm Benefiting the House of Grace, a domestic violence shelter for women and their children. Event includes a luncheon, fashion show, and auction. Reservations are $40.00 per person. For more information visit The Avett Brothers October 24 Landers Center Southaven, MS 7:30pm Tickets can be purchased in person at the LANDERS Center Box Office, online through, or through the Ticketmaster mobile app. DeSoto 83

reflections | A THEFT AND AN APOLOGY

Tom Adkinson’s stolen canoe

A theft and an apology Story and Photography by Tom Adkinson

I thought I was getting panhandled in my own driveway. Instead, I met a man who dredged up a bad memory and wanted to right a wrong from a decade earlier. He was waiting on me when I pulled in to my suburban home. He asked whether we could talk, and I wondered what kind of con awaited me. “Not really,” I replied fairly abruptly and with no small feeling of discomfort. “What’s the topic?” “I stole your canoe some years ago. Do you remember that?” the visitor said. Yes, I remembered. It was a darn good canoe, and it had stayed at the top of my driveway for almost 20 years. Until it disappeared, I never thought about someone’s stealing it. Not in my neighborhood. “I’ve come to apologize,” the man said and extended his hand. “I want to make amends.” He said he was trying to lead what he called a spiritual life now, and part of that process was finding people he had hurt and apologizing in person. I guessed he was about 30, which meant he was about 20 when he took my canoe. He said he did it for drugs. “I see you’ve gotten another canoe,” he said, pointing to the lesser-quality replacement I’d bought. He didn’t comment about how it was chained to a basketball goal. I couldn’t afford to replace exactly what he’d taken. The canoe he stole was a top-of-the-line model designed for guides. “I’ll pay you for the one I took,” he blurted out, explaining he had grown up on a street nearby and stole wherever he could. I recognized his street: nice neighborhood, 84 DeSoto

nice houses, probably nice parents. He told me about his apology journey for taking power tools, kids’ bicycles, and anything he could grab. “It took me a long time to reach the bottom and realize I was taking more than people’s possessions. I know I hurt them in other ways, too. I’ll pay you for your canoe,” he said again. He had a nice truck, and he probably had the money. He said his father had died recently and that he had inherited his father’s small business. I asked how much money he had gotten for my canoe. He said he traded it for a little marijuana, probably not $50 worth. I’ve long since stopped looking for my canoe whenever I’m on a river or I see a canoe on someone’s car. Still, I wonder where it is. I wonder whether whoever has it realizes it’s worth more than a lousy $50. On a note of irony, the man in my driveway said that he’d become a kayaker and really enjoyed being on the water. For some reason, I concluded I didn’t want his money. Then, an idea bubbled up. “I don’t want anything from you,” I said, “but send $500 to the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association. That way, something good can come from this.” Weeks later, I got a surprise in my mailbox. It was a letter saying a $500 contribution had been made in my name to an organization that knows how much a canoe really is worth. Writer Tom Adkinson, while rooted in Nashville, Tennessee, has floated streams around the country in his canoe. His new book is “100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die.”

There’s more adventure on the road less traveled.

2019 4Runner TRD Off Road


Our goal is to provide all customers from Memphis and north Mississippi the best in new Toyota models, quality used vehicles, exceptional auto repair and car service, and high-end OEM car parts. Because we are the only locally owned car dealership in Memphis, our mission is to always treat our customers and community with the care and respect that they deserve. When you are ready to purchase a new vehicle or have your own serviced, look no further than Chuck Hutton Toyota, a family-owned dealership committed to our community.



Profile for DeSoto Magazine | Exploring the South

DeSoto Magazine October 2019  

With cooler weather right around the corner DeSoto heads outdoors for all kinds of adventures.

DeSoto Magazine October 2019  

With cooler weather right around the corner DeSoto heads outdoors for all kinds of adventures.