Wheelz in Laurel, Mississippi

Laurel, Mississippi was a sleepy little town ten years ago. Smack dab in the old south, it’s blue skies and live oaks were admired by friends and neighbors calling it home…then a thing called “Home Town” happened.

The flagship show of HGTV chronicles the adventures in rehab-land of locals Ben and Erin Napier. It’s such a hit that even a couple of Kentuckians, namely my husband and I, come to see the sights.

Streets of Laurel, MS

Our first stop in Laurel is the The Sweet Something’s Bakery. I don’t know about you, but a bakery beckons me come every time I see it’s words on a sign. Finding that we could stay in a loft above it was an added bonus. Right on Central Street, or what’s left of it, (under major construction) the smell of cinnamon rolls hits you in the face as you enter. Soaring ceilings and creaky floors complete the picture of a centuries old building. Seeing Erin Napier’s touch in each of the four suites that have been styled starts our “Home Town” experience.

Lauren Rogers Museum

Strolling down the streets of Laurel we find the Lauren Rogers Museum. A local treasure, I’ve heard it referred to by Erin Napier on the show and we are anxious to see it. Manicured ground cover and pieces of sculpture flank the entrance with the filtered sunlight on our shoulders. It’s brisk (high 40s) thanks to a cold snap but the warmth of the foyer draws us in like a moth to light. Through a large wooden door lies the vestibule filled with schoolchildren on a field trip. The docent has been at it for a few minutes so we decide to piggyback on the tour. The kids have a bingo card to guide them through the rooms of the museum. I’m sure they’ll call BINGO just any time now.

Rich, dark wood surrounds us as we stroll. Everything from Native American baskets to fine art wake our senses to cultures we haven’t seen before.

Cork floors helped us be stealthy when joining the already in progress tour.
Dubfue, 1870 “Knitting Reveries”

Not sure I knew that knitting was a “feminine action” but am now glad of the refresher class I took a couple weeks ago at my local yarn purveyor in Paducah, KY, Tuscan Rose. I may need add “rustic woman” to my resume.

We moved towards the lower level of the museum and crossed under a beautiful glass piece overhead. Dale Chihuly is a familiar glass artist to me. He designed the registration ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, a place I called home for 20 years.

To my delight, a new installation was waiting for us down in the basement…

I’ve played my share of air guitar and actually took lessons for a time, but nothing prepared me for the assault on my senses from the Medieval to Metal display. I would agree that guitars can be art, especially these. You’re welcome.

The aforementioned Air Guitar

I not only dove into the physical display, but was stimulated mentally with more guitar facts than my post-chemo brain could handle.

Playing air guitar usually came with flattering one of the many greats with an imitation. Provided was a display of some strummers, pickers, and head bangers to choose from for my next set.

As I hurriedly texted my vinyl loving friend shots of the classic LPs wall, my youth flashed before me through the album covers. Jr. high dances and rides on the bus to sporting events shouted “remember me?”.

I thanked cardboard Ben and Erin for the tour on my way out. Exploring their little town a bit more was on the schedule. Stops at Ben’s Scotsman General Store and Erin’s creation the Laurel Mercantile rounded out the day.

Whether it’s eating at the Bird Dog Cafe or strolling the tree lined streets that seem like home, a day trip to Laurel, Mississippi was time well spent.

I’ll practice up my air guitar for next time.

Until then…

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