Alabama

Day 2 on the Trace

On our second day on the Trace we set foot into the two states I had yet to visit – Alabama and Mississippi.  This was something I had thought about doing for some time now – especially when I was down to just a handful of states.

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Shortly after passing into Alabama we stopped at Rock Spring.  This has a short walk past several beaver mounds on the river.  It was such a peaceful area.

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Our first stop in Mississippi was at Bear Creek Mound.  This was the first of several mound sites along the Trace we would stop at.  The pictures do not do justice to the effort that must have gone into their construction.  The piles of dirt were carried by hand – the wheel and beasts of burden were not available in this area at the time they were built.  Imagine the effort to organize the people to work for this abstract goal.

For lunch this day we went to the town of Baldwin.  Again limited choices while on the Trace.  This restaurant had two items on the menu – fried chicken and hamburger steak.  Salad was an item on another day.  As an omnivore it is easy for me but in these small towns if you have any restrictions there could be a problem.

For the evening we stopped in the town of Kosciuska.  Basically they had two motels – it has been a long time since I had a room for the evening that cost less than $70.  Not much choice for food either.

Driving the Natchez Trace

Our first night of the journey we stopped just south of Louisville, Kentucky.  One of the problems stopping outside of towns is the lack of dining options.  In this case the “best” option was the Waffle House.  My first time at one of these fine establishments and if I have my way it will be my last time - at least for dinner.

Driving through Nashville, Tennessee to enter the Natchez Trace had us driving down the street (West End) I used to take to get to work when I lived in Nashville.  Some of it looked the same, some different.  The different is probably more to be expected – we lived there 42 years ago!  The entrance to the Trace is in the town of Pasquo.  I should have realized it at this point but I did not – the signage for the entrance is not that prominent.  In the future I would use Google Maps to make sure I know what the entrance will look like.

I had made a list of the 20 sites recommended by our tour book.  There are certainly a large number of marked sites but if one were to stop at all of them it would take much longer.  The first of the sites on my list was at mile 438 – the double arch bridge.  We really did not get the view in the tour books – I am not sure where the road to the view was.  Being a creature of habit by 11:30 I was looking for a place for lunch.  It was obvious that all services would require leaving the Trace.  We ate lunch is a really small town called Leipers Fork at a restaurant called Country Boy.  It was very obvious that many in this small restaurant were regulars.  It was also obvious we were in the South because sweet tea was available.

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After lunch we made stops at Gordon House and ferry site, Jackson Falls, and the Meriwether Lewis memorial.  It is really remarkable to me that Lewis and Clark led a group of men on this great trek to the Pacific Ocean in 1804-1806.  Going into a great unknown like that seems to me to require a really special person.  Reading about the life of Lewis after this is kind of sad even to what may have been his eventual suicide in 1809.

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On trips like this I like to stop before it gets dark.  So we decided to spend the evening in Florence, Alabama.  This town is actually a distance from the Trace but it did get me into Alabama for the evening.

Completing visits to all 50 states

I just accomplished one of the travel goals I have had for a while – visit all 50 states.  Between December 18 and 24 of 2017 I finally visited the last two – Alabama and Mississippi.  We traveled the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville Tennessee to Natchez Misssissippi.  This 444 mile route also takes one through the north-west corner of Alabama.  At the time of year we did this trip it was definitely the off season.  The traffic was very light and most often we were the only person at each of the stops.

I think this goal to visit all 50 states was set when I started traveling to other countries.  I read or heard someone criticize travelers for visiting foreign countries without visiting their own country.  When I thought about the states I had visited already at that point it was quite a few.  This was helped by the fact that I had lived in 6 states.  Then I was able to visit a lot of other states by road tripping to one of the professional meetings I attended semi regularly.  They were held at that time on college campuses throughout the country.

One of the things that surprised me on this trip was that my cars GPS points of interest feature was in error at times.  The second day of the trip we were going to stay in Florence Alabama.  The GPS listed a Marriott but there was no hotel at the location.  Fortunately there were other hotels a couple of miles away.  Another time it was getting time for lunch so we looked at the GPS and it said a place was available in Port Gibson Mississippi.  The restaurant was closed and when we looked for other recommendations the second one was nonexistent and even the grocery store we decided to get food at was not there.  Nowadays of course you could choose to look up these things on your phone but in some of the areas we were in cell phone service was nonexistent.