It is only 120 miles from Tupelo< MS to Meriwether Lewis Campground and Monument along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. We drove the 2 1/2 hours straight almost without stopping. We traveled along 3 states, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee before arriving. We decided as we passed interesting pull outs where we would return after getting a good spot at the campground.
The one place we did stop was Cave Spring as it was so close to Tupelo that returning the 100 or so miles did not make good ‘diesel’ sense. This was one of those limestone geologic areas that over time water dissolving the rock, creating rooms or corridors, and then those roofs collapse forming these caves. The Indians used to find water here, but the water is not safe to drink and the caves are very dangerous, though beautiful.
We had our light lunch of crackers & smoked oysters for Tom, and crackers and cheese for me. On our way north we crossed over the very very wide Tennessee River on a high two lane bridge. I must admit the Nick Russell phobia of driving on bridges sort of entered my mind as I saw how far across we had to go. This is much wider than the Mississippi and there were no big enclosed super structures protecting us from going over the edge if we had a blow out or some kind of accident. (Note to readers: I have just finished 2 very scary mystery books so my imagination leans toward the dark side).
As we crossed into Tennessee I thought it only appropriate to switch to Country-Western music.
We passed some very happy cows in lush wildflower covered pasture.
We found this nice spot and called it a day. The evening was spent reading. We have a little internet, very little phone service, but with full water, propane, and diesel tanks, and empty gray and black water tanks we are happy here for 3 days.
Next morning we got up – I lie because it was not exactly morning; we did not even get out of bed until almost 10. Tom served me my morning coffee and biscotti in bed and he read the Fresno Bee on line and all the blogs, Facebook and emails. We finally got on the road by about 12:30. We packed crackers and water for the road and set out exploring. We went first to the Meriwether Lewis Memorial and Grave Site. He was shot twice at Grinder Station on the Trace in 1809 and mystery still surrounds his death. It was ruled suicide, but that has later come under much suspicion. We think it was the proprietor of Grinders Station that did it. Remember I am quite the sleuth when it comes to figuring ‘Who Done It?’ because I am reading lots of mystery books and almost always have it figured out before the last page.
The Monument is a half staff because his was a life half lived.
The rebuilt Grinders Station is about 230 yards from the monument.
There are many places to pull into to learn about life for people who traveled the Natchez Trace. These were our favorites from Tupelo to Meriwether Lewis.
The beautiful campground, Jack’s Branch, along a babbling brook, with lots of barbeques, picnic tables and wild turkeys at play was our suggestion for the Annual Clayton Reunion that always takes place in Fresno in June. Would someone in our family please win the lottery?
We next took the Old Trace Drive, a 2 mile, no RV’s, high profile vehicles only dirt road. There were lots of downed trees here, too.
There was one station, Sheboss Place, that was run by the Widow Cranfield, the wife of her second husband, a Cherokee Indian who spoke little English. Indians were allowed to operate stands. When anyone asked him a question, he would only point to his wife and say, “She Boss”. Tom has been considering this response thoughtfully. I like it!
We loved the Napier Mine location, mostly because of our cousin Katie Napier. Her husband, Scott’s, family came over from Scotland and settled in Tennessee and Kentucky. Katie reports the sign is undoubtedly new as she has one in her garage that Scott and his dad snitched years ago. That’s OK Katie – statues of limitations. you know. We walked around that site.
We took a long walk at the Metal Ford. This is where the Trace was forded across a shallow creek on a rock bottom that the travelers thought looked like metal.
We were sitting right where this picture above was taken when I noticed a tick crawling up Tom’s leg. He brushed it off, and all the rest day and evening I kept thinking there was something crawling on me. (Too many mysteries). We heard only 2 nights ago while in Tupelo that tick related diseases in Mississippi and Tennessee had gone up 540% since last year because of the mild winter.
Our next walk was down to the Phosphate Mine. There were lots of pieces of beautiful gray-blue state covering the walkway that had broken off from the ledges above. Also we were taken with the beautiful tiny flowers that grew next to the path. Notice the cream colored flower grows on top of the leaf – very unusual.
We drove along another 2 1/2 mile stretch of Original Trace by the Tobacco Farm. We opened the sun roof, and windows to ‘drink’ in the heavy aroma of blooming Honeysuckle. and other sweet smelling bushes. We couldn’t take deep enough breaths, it was so heavenly.
It was not planned but we walked, then drove, then walked again. Tom thinks we need pedometers. We took a long steep walk down to the Gordon House Ferry Crossing. Again, the Honeysuckle was intoxicating.
We had one last stop on our way back to camp, a display of farming along the Trace. This was one of my favorite pictures of the day, fields of mustard, farm and silo in the distance.
We were pooped when we got home, but there is always more to see tomorrow as we are On The Road Again, HOPEFULLY Caching Again, soon.