As we sat around the table in New Orleans, we talked about Aunt Sara’s bike ride up The Natchez Trace. We hadn’t really known or considered what it was. We started to hear a lot of good things about the drive and we were pretty sure that the north eastern part of our trip was about to be scrapped, so we decided to check it out.
Mississipi was stunning. In so many ways untouched by time. We found many little backroad towns with long ago forgotten buildings just waiting for someone to find. Plantation homes in the middle of nowhere. Kind people everywhere. And the discovery of so many unlikely foods at the grocery store. Cinnamon sugar butter, y’all. Grits. And we made campfire ribs.
The Natchez Trace is a national park. It was probably the first substantial trade route in the US. It was important for Native Americans as well as settlers, trappers and traders in later years. The trace was so well traveled that the footpath is still visible throughout the park. It was also used to relocate the Cherokee Indians from their land as part of the Trail of Tears.
The parkway is 444 miles from north to south (or south to north in our case) running from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. We camped in state parks (Natchez State Park and Tishomingo State Park) along the route. We took a nice side trip to the civil war battlefield in Vicksburg, and to an important civil rights stop for us at Ole Miss in Oxford. And we saw Aunt Sara on her ride!
We were scrambling to find an affordable place to stay in Nashville and opted for the suburb of Brentwood. Still we were ten minutes from downtown and all the action. We caught lunch in a dead bar in broad daylight. As our luck would have it we were the only patrons so the talent played to our every whim. Which apparently was not country music. He was pretty great. Against my better judgement we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame (the Dylan/ Cash exhibit was amazing) and added the Hatch Show Print tour. Hatch was hands down my favorite thing I’ve ever seen. Almost better than Mississippi. It is a terribly old letterpress operation that has produced show posters for all the greats in Nashville and so many more. So cool.
We are leaving for the Great Smoky Mountains which we think will lead us to Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway, possibly Shenandoah and then Washington D.C. where we will settle in for a bit. The weather is getting cooler and I expect that we will test our fortitude in the pop up trailer as the nights get colder. We were spoiled by all that warm weather in the deep south. Until next week…