Moderators topgun2 Posted October 23, 2016 Moderators Share Posted October 23, 2016 Since I left Twist off at the Mother Ship for a bit of TLC on my way home from out West this summer, it was time to reunite and retrace a trip that my wife and I last took some 30 years ago. We arrived at the plant on Friday afternoon, October 7th at about 2:30pm not even thinking about the normal plant working hours (7am to 3pm). I simply can't say enough about both Justin and Dusten. They were just about the last people there and simply didn't hesitate to make sure that all was well prior to waving goodbye (at just about 5pm!). All the folks at Oliver have always impressed me but these guys went well above the call of duty. They even thought ahead and already had the fridge cooling down for us! After a quick trip to say hello to Anita (yes, she was still there on a late Friday afternoon) and a stocking trip to WalMart we were off the Fall Hollow to see about our reserved camping spot. Unfortunately, they were very busy - (it was Octoberfest weekend in Hohenwald) - and eventually they informed me that even though they remembered speaking with me on the phone, they had no reservation for me. While not too happy with this once again I quickly realized the beauty of the Oliver. With a little water (which Fall Hollow provided) we could camp anywhere - and, we did. The added benefit was that instead of paying Fall Hollow $35 for the night, my cost was $0. On Saturday morning, at the suggestion of Anita, we avoided Route 20 due to the traffic caused by the numerous garage sales of Octoberfest and took Claude Carroll Road off Route 412 to Route 20 (note that the normal entrance to the Natchez Trace was closed to South bound traffic due to bridge construction). Then we took a left on Route 20 a short way to the Natchez Trace and the Meriwether Lewis Monument site at mile post 385.9. Because we were relatively early there were few people there and were able to speak extensively with both of the Park Rangers on duty. We learned ten times more about Meriwether Lewis than we knew before - these two really knew their stuff. Then we were off towards The Parkway Visitor's Center, Tupelo and The Campground At Barnes Crossing. This Good Sam campground was very nice, but, if you are there on a weekend make sure to phone ahead for reservations (if you stay here, be sure to ask about the Clydesdale over in the horse pen) . Just before you get to the Parkway's Visitor's Center (assuming that you are headed south) be sure to look for the Confederate Grave Sites at mile post 269.4 That night at the suggestion of one of the Park Rangers, we drove about 2 miles from the campground to the Blue Canoe tavern. If you are VERY hungry and like burgers, try the "Smash burger". Also the sweet potato fries are excellent. On Sunday morning after church (just down the road from the Blue Canoe for Catholics) there was an IHOP for breakfast. Also note that there are all types of "chain" eateries and a mall, etc. along this short stretch of road. Then it was back on the Trace. Since the Trace was originally a trail developed by the Native Americans, it is not surprising that there are several "Mounds" to visit along the way. Bynum Mound and Village site at mile post 232.4, Pharr Mounds at mile post 286.7 and Emerald Mound at mile post 10.0 are samples. If you can only stop at one of these, make it Emerald Mound. An early stop for the evening found us at mile post 193.1 and the Jeff Busby Campground. Of the two Park Service campgrounds we stayed at, this was by far the nicest. Reasonably clean restrooms are available along with a few spigots from which you can fill your fresh water tank. There is a nice fairly short trail to hike to one of the highest points in Mississippi (603 feet). The next morning we are off to mile post 180.7 and the log cabin village of French Camp. These cabins were constructed in the 40s - the 1840's that is. At mile post 122 you will find the Tupelo-Baldcypress Swamp. Even though this swamp showed the effects of the Eastern drought, there was still water in it. Other than a fairly sizable snake skin that we saw beside the trail, there were no noticeable signs of alligators. We decided to stay at the Rocky Springs campground at mile post 54.8 for the night. Campgrounds run by the Park Service on the Trace are free. This is a good thing since they have not been maintained very well. It is advertised that these campgrounds do not have electric, water, or sewer - there are toilet facilities, but, if you look carefully near the restrooms you will find a water spigot from which you can fill your fresh water tank and then proceed to a site. As a general comment: we found that the entire Trace was in need of care. Certainly the road itself is in very good shape, however, some of the exhibits were in need of help and there was not a single trail or exhibit that was free of litter or in need of maintenance (note the bottom of the information sign for Emerald Mound above). Unfortunately, this seems to be the general state of many of our National Parks. After a nice peaceful night we drove just down the Trace to the "Sunken Trace" at mile post 41.5. A short five minute walk takes you to a short section of the original Trace that is deeply eroded. Just can't imagine hiking this back in the day without Gore-Tex rain gear, Deet, lack of an Oliver, snakes, unfriendly Indians, bandits, etc. Wanting to take a stroll around downtown Natchez, we headed to Natchez State Park for an early check-in - about 8 miles outside of the town of Natchez. This is a very nice State Park located on a fairly sizable lake. All the sites have water and electric and are on concrete pads. The restrooms/shower houses are clean, air conditioned and have plenty of hot water. It was also pleasant to have a quick lunch down by the lake prior to heading into town. All of this and a quiet night for $13 - there is some benefit for being of age. We finally found the Natchez Visitors Center - note that it is a few miles off the Natchez Trace and fairly difficult to find - be sure to ask for directions or do your research first! This is a very nice facility with very helpful people. They will be sure to help guide you towards those things that might interest you. We just wanted to take a walk around downtown and see what has happened in the past 30 years. While there are certainly some bright spots and it appears that the locals have tried to "spiff" things up, it still could use a bunch of work. However, given the nice day, we had fun strolling the pre-planned walking tour, reading the signs describing the various buildings and just generally being tourists. Even though it was a bit early 4:45pm on our way out of town we stopped at The Pig Out Inn BBQ. This is not so much of an Inn as it is a hole in the wall. The menu is fairly limited, but, if pulled pork BBQ and a beer is what you desire then make plans to stop here no matter the time of day. If you are a light eater, you might want to share that sandwich - you can always get another one. The next morning it was off to New Orleans. But, I'll write up that part later. I've only highlighted some of the places we stopped - there are many more. A fairly good quick quide is "Camping Road Trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway" by Anna Sibal and Julian Fenn. Just Google it. Bill 5 2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist" Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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