Natchez Trace

I’m slowly getting the blog caught up, but I still don’t have all of the pictures posted.  Keep checking back.  I’ll get there evenutally.

Monday morning we parted company with Mary Ann and Brad.  I’m not exactly sure where they went, but they were talking about taking the freeway to Nashville and then driving down the Natchez Trace into Mississippi.  They had driven part of the trace from Natchez northeast, and wanted to complete the drive.

We drove east of Memphis through Tennessee countryside and some pretty little towns.  The AAA tour book alerted me to the Shiloh battlefield.  I have a memory of a tear-jerker movie with James Stewart, “Shennendoah” I think, where Shiloh played a big part in the movie.  It wasn’t too far off the highway we were on so we took a side trip.  It is a huge area with all of the batteries’ and battalions’ and units’ positions marked with signs.  There is a national cemetery, many large granite monuments, lots of mowed grass and trees and signage and cannons.  It’s hard to imagine that thousands of soldiers died in that area in two days of fighting, but it was one of the battles that the Union needed to win.  Civil war buffs love places like this, love reenacting how the soldiers moved, fought and died.  We just don’t know enough about it to get that interested, but we could certainly appreciate it.

National Cemetery at Shiloh

The Natchez Trace is a parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN.  It originated when people would take boatloads of supplies from the Nashville area down the rivers to Natchez and the Mississippi River.  They couldn’t get back up the rivers they came down so they walked, following Indian trails, primarily.  The route they took became the Natchez Trace, and the present-day Trace follows that old foot road.  The Parkway is beautiful, a 2-lane, smooth asphalt road that primarily runs along the top of a ridge, following the old Trace.  There are places where you can drive the original road or walk small portions of it.  Historic sites are marked with signage and there is a map that notes significant spots along the route.

The Natchez Trace Today

The Original Natchez Trace

Not too many miles after we got onto the parkway was the Merriweather Lewis historic site.  Lewis is THE Lewis of Lewis & Clark.  Being from North Dakota, and also having canoed a portion of the Missouri River that Lewis & Clark followed, we couldn’t miss a stop at the site where Lewis died and was buried.

Merriweather Lewis's Grave

Our most interesting part of the trip on the Trace came when Jim, who had been driving, announced that he should have gotten gas before we got on the Trace.  There are no gas stations on the Trace, no towns, except nearby, and few exits off the Trace.  So at the almost last minute, we exited the Trace and Jim searched the GPS for the nearest gas station — which wasn’t where the GPS said it should be.  Luckily, we encountered a man doing some logging and he told Jim how to find the nearest station and said he would be following along behind and if we needed, he would pick Jim up and give him a ride.  But we made it to the gas station with a gallon to spare.  For those of you who know Jim well, you will not find his last-minute gas station search surprising.  Jim is well known for running out of gas or taking it as close as he can.  And a gallon to Jim is a lot of gas!

But the adventure wasn’t over and now we had to find our way back to an entrance back onto the Trace.  We were unsuccessful in the first attempt, but Jim figured out how to get the GPS to help us out and we found our way back quickly.  The good part about all of this is, we saw an interesting part of Tennessee that we might not have otherwise seen.

All of our way up the Trace, we were watching for Mary Ann and Brad coming down the Trace.  I’m not sure if we missed them or if they decided to take a different trip, but we didn’t see them.

A friend of mine emailed (thanks, Jeanne) and told me about the bridge at the north end of the Trace.  It was designed by the same group that designed the new 35W bridge in Minneapolis.  We didn’t stop to take pictures, but as we drove across it, we at least had in mind what was underneath us.  Here’s a picture of it:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/144460855.

The end of the Trace is just south of Nashville.  We weren’t quite sure what we wanted to do as we came into Nashville.  It was about 6 p.m.  So I went through the AAA book and we decided we would drive by the Grand Ole Opry and then continue on to Bowling Green and plan to see the Corvette assembly line in the morning.  Best-laid plans.

So we saw the backside of the Grand Ole Opry because it is just opening now after the floods they had five months ago.  I find it hard to believe, given the location of the Grand Ole Opry, that it flooded.  It must have been an unbelievable amount of water.

Once back on the freeway and on the way to Bowling Green, I called the number in the AAA book to get information on the assembly plant tour.  And wouldn’t you know it, they started a 10-day break that day.  There would be no watching Corvettes being built.  But we continued on to Bowling Green anyway.

So add visit the Corvette assembly plant to the list of blues fest, the Shack Up Inn and Pasquale’s Tamales that we missed on this trip.

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2 Responses to “Natchez Trace”

  1. Louise Says:

    Sounds like you are having a good time! I have been to Graceland also and I am with Jim it is more fun to watch the visitors than see Graceland itself. See you when you return to Minnesota.

  2. Jeanne Says:

    Hmmm….Michael says he never noticed the Merriweather Lewis site along the Trace. I’m guessing that’s because he’s always on a motorcycle, and never following the posted speed limit.

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