Tracing tracks!

We enjoy tracing through history down the Natchez Trace.   This 444-mile parkway follows a Native American footpath from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississipi.  It’s our third time down this road and we look forward to discover more jewels.

On the Trace for our third time.

Why do we take this route? It’s slower than the main highways 55MPH/90KPH with no commercial traffic. The well paved road is beautiful and we really like the views along the way.

We love the maps that the National Park Service provided at the stops along the way.  The map is almost as tall as me!

Double Arch Bridge

The Birdsong Hollow and Double Arch Bridge is located on the Natchez Trace Parkway at milepost 438.

The bridge was completed in 1994, the double arch bridge that spans Birdsong Hollow received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995 for its innovative design that rises 155 feet above the valley. The bridge carries Trace travelers 1,648 feet across the valley and Tennessee Highway 96.

A view we captured mid-bridge.  We can certainly see why this family is building a new mansion in the valley below.

The bridge can be viewed from two locations we only viewef from just north of the bridge. There is a parking area with a view of the bridge and the valley below. Just south of the bridge is an exit ramp that takes you down to Tennessee Highway 96.

Kathy and I take a moment to enjoy the view and beautiful fall colors.  We love the adventure together!
Walking and playing in the leaves remind us of our childhood.

Meriwether Lewis

Our next stop was at the Meriwether Lewis Campground. 

Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark

Our rig and campsite at Meriwether Lewis campground.  It’s all dry camping but water is available.

There are three campgrounds along this trace and we get to enjoy every one of them on this adventure.

Dispersed Camping is the term given to camping on public land other than in designated campsites. This type of camping is most common on national forest and Bureau of Land Management land.

All camping must take place within designated campgrounds. The Natchez Trace Parkway does not allow dispersed camping. Those who are biking the Parkway may be interested in the bicycle-onlyand equestrian-only campgrounds along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Grinder House

In the Grinder House, the ruins of which are still discernible 230 yards south of this spot, his life of romantic endeavor and lasting achievement came tragically and mysteriously to its close on the night of October 11, 1809. 

We continued down the trace with all it’s beauty.
Most stops along the trace permit us to park our RVs and cars in the parking lots and explore the many historical points.

Piney Grove Campground

Because of repairs to the Natchez Trace Roadway we had to take a slight detour and headed to Piney Grove Campground to spend the night. Just north and west of the Trace we had a great two evening stay. We had the opportunity to do some biking and hiking through the campground.

The Sunken Trace

Back on the trace again we stopped at a couple really interesting places including a section of the original Trace which has sunken down below the ground level.

Sunken Trace – Preserved here is a portion of the deeply eroded or “sunken” Old Trace. Hardships of journeying on the Old Trace included heat, mosquitoes, poor food, hard beds (if any), disease, swollen rivers, and sucking swamps.  We walked this sunken trail and let our imagination carry us back to the early 1800’s when people walking 500 miles had to put up with these discomforts and where a broken leg or arm could spell death for the lone traveler.

Jeff Busby Park

This is one of the three free parks in Natchez Trace Parkway. It was very busy when we arrived here and almost all of the sites were filled. So we double parked with our friends.

Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway

We proceeded back to the Natchez Trace after a construction detour and stayed outside the national park.  The bridge crossing took us across the Tennessee-Tombigbee.

Tupelo Bald cypress Swamp

A short drive and we get to see this beauty! Water tupelo and bald cypress trees can live in deep water for long periods. After taking root in summer when the swamp is nearly dry,  seedlings can stay alive  when the water is deep enough to kill other plants.

This trail leads through an abandoned river channel. As the channel fills with silt and vegetation, black willow, sycamore, red maple, and other trees will gradually replace the baldcypress. 
The change will take several hundred years.

French Camp

This was our second time visiting the french camp historical village.  It appears maintenance has been rolled back as there were needed unattended repairs. Construction of the Colonel James Drane house began in 1846 using a water powered saw. The foundation and framing are secured with wooden pegs and the ceiling with squared nails. Moved to this location in 1981, the house is now owned and operated by the French Camp Academy. You are invited to visit the Drane House. The information station is in the 1840 Huffman Log Cabin. A sorghum mill adjacent to the cabin operates during the fall sorghum season. The Colonel James Drane home which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Louis LeFleur first traded with the Choctaw Indians at a bluff now part of Jackson, Mississippi. About 1812, he established his stand 900 feet to the northeast on the Natchez Trace. Because of the storekeeper’s nationality the area was often called “French Camp”, a name retained by the present village. LeFleur married a Choctaw woman. Their famous son who changed his name to Greenwood Leflore, became a Choctaw chief and a Mississippi State Senator. For him are named the city of Greenwood and the county of Leflore.

A stone memorial marks a stage of the Natchez Trace at French Camp. The first highway opened through the lower south by the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 between the American government and the Choctaw Indians. The surrounding country became a part of the state of Mississippi. Here Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee and Kentucky commands rested on their way to join him in his coast campaign in the War of 1812, during which second struggle for American Independence, Mississippi took a heroic part. Presented to the town of French Camp by the Mississippi Daughters of the American Revolution, November 10, 1915.

Rocky Springs Campground

The Town of Rocky Springs near the end of the trace is evidence of a once thriving community.

First settled in the late 1790s, the town grew from a watering place along the Natchez Trace, and took its name from the source of that water – the rocky springs. In 1860, a total of 2,616 people lived in this area covering about 25 square miles. The population of the town proper included three merchants, four physicians, four teachers, three clergy and 13 artisans; while the surrounding farming community included 54 planters, 28 overseers and over 2,000 slaves who nurtured the crop that made the town possible – cotton. Civil War, Yellow Fever, destructive crop insects and poor land management brought an end to this once prosperous rural community.

Next time we head West….

On the road again

It’s really quite amazing how time flies but then in some ways how it drags on. With the anticipation of the opening of the Canada USA borders we dream of the adventures ahead. So here we are back blogging our adventures.

Many times were asked are we excited for our trip ahead and when we reflect on the trip we see it as individual steps. And each day that passes we have great experiences and the ability for us to go and visit others, our friends and family before we go on to the next adventure.

So we’ve tried to capture below our first set of adventures as we launch into the 2021 adventure.

Well today started out as an awesome day. Our hosts for the past week Keaton, Maddie, Wanda and Justin not only entertained us but ensure that our RV look presentable as we hit the road. Keaton pressure washed our RV and cleaned our car.

No Keaton wasn’t just blowing off some steam he was giving our RV Harvey a great washdown.
Even our car Lilly got a bath, thank you Keaton.
Keaton made light work of this!

All good things must come to an end and we left Blenheim Ontario and headed to Windsor for an evening of boondocking with Boondockers Welcome. We were fortunate enough to stay on a host property about 15 minutes from the bridge to the USA.

Windsor, Ontario

It’s always great to visit the city but our stopover in Windsor was particularly great. We’re treated to an amazing dinner and visit with her friends Elizabeth, Luis, Claudia and Adamo. They spoiled us with dinner and a gift at LoneStar restaurant only. It was only a short 5 minute drive from where we had our rig parked!

Friends Elizabeth and “I need you to hold this” Luis!
Adamo and Claudia, across the road friends and neighbours
We had a great time visiting over dinner and dreaming of adventures we all are planning for the season ahead.

3:30 am departure

With the alarm set and ringing at 3:00, that is 3:00 a.m. we put up from a great sleep we’re having got dressed and got ready for the day.

Our first challenge was to move Harvey out of its parking spot and connect Lily to our towing bar. We’ve done this many times but we still take great care and connecting the car and the RV together. We have to do this on the street because the space that we’re in is a little tight for that. We then do a complete check of all the compartments to ensure they’re locked and a check of the lights and signal lights. With everything okay we head out towards the Ambassador Bridge and our transit to the United States of America.

Nothing out of the ordinary occurred along a route and we arrived after about a 15 minute drive. There was one single car in front of us that took about 2 minutes to clear customs and then it was our turn.

An Unusual Custom

The best way to describe our interaction with the border control officer is to recount the dialogue with him.

BCO: shut it off
Kathy passes our Nexus cards to the officer
BCO: you are Kathy where's Paul
Kathy leans back Paul leans forward from the passenger's seat
BCO: where you going
Kathy: Arizona
BCO: why
Kathy: vacation
BCO: what do you work at?
Kathy: we're retired
BCO: you can't go on vacation from doing nothing, you're going on a trip
BCO: when you returning
Kathy: April
BCO: how much money do you have?
Kathy: we have xxxx
BCO: Combined?
Kathy: we have xxxx Canadian
BCO: unlock the side door
Paul gets up, unlocks the door and foolishly opens it
Paul closes the door and stands bewildered as the BCO opens it and enters
BCO: sit down!
BCO flashlight in hand opens one covered shines a light in, opens fridge looks at the contents and looks in the freezer.
BCO: do you have anyone else's belongings in this vehicle.
Kathy: no
BCO exits the vehicle returns to his booth and hands Kathy our Nexus cards.
BCO: bye
BCO quickly slides his mirrored window closed
Kathy starts the rig and drives off!

Welcome back

The positive side of all of this was we were welcomed with signs saying “welcome back” and “free tolls”. They’re crossing took a maximum of 10 minutes and we were on our way to a new adventure that was ahead of us. No lineups no hassles and not even a question about vaccinations or proof thereof. The adventure continues The Best Is yet to come!

She’s such a great driver and has driven out rig across the USA four times and this will be the fifth.