NatchezTrace

Day 3 on the Trace

Our first stop on our last day on the Trace was Cyprus Swamp.  It was a quiet and pretty solitary walk since not many others seemed to be on the Trace at this time.  You really got a feel for how narrow the Trace was at this location.  You could see how they left remnants for the people to view but the areas around it were valuable farm land and had been turned to that use.

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One of the sites we wanted to visit were the Windsor ruins so we got off at the Port Gibson exit.  However, the way to the ruins was not clearly marked.  We did try to stop for lunch in Port Gibson but could not find a restaurant in the city.  We did find a small grocery store where we got some things to eat so all was not lost.  We did try to get to the Windsor ruins later in the day by another rout but it turns out after almost 15 miles the road was under construction and closed.

We made a stop at Mount Locust where they had a building that had served as a road house when the Trace was active.  In this day of interstate freeways it is hard to imagine that making 20 miles in a day was typical.

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Finally arriving in Natchez we had completed our 444 mile journey.  Natchez has preserved a lot of their historic buildings.  Along the Mississippi it has a pretty location.

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Our journey home was leisurely – at least until we were 20 miles South of Champaign Illinois.  Then we came into snow and it continued the rest of the way into Chicago.  For almost 2 years now I have had a small SUV with 4-wheel drive.  It does a good job in the snow.  Saw a number of cars that had gone off the road.  For the 23 years before this SUV I had sports cars.  In the snow they were downright dangerous.  That is what made me turn to the SUV.  I could not take the anxiety of driving in the snow in those cars.

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.