Oliver | Luxury Fiberglass Travel Trailers, Campers & RVs › Forums › OLIVER CAMPING › Submit Your Story › Hohenwald, Natchez Trace, Natchez, and New Orleans
- October 23, 2016 at 12:17 pm #40891
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.
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"October 23, 2016 at 12:55 pm #40894
Did you happen to notice if they had any bacon on the menu at The Pig Out Inn BBQ?
BuzzyOctober 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm #40897
Nope – no bacon!
Pig Out Inn Barbeque · Menu
116 S Canal St, Natchez, MS 39120
Any sandwich, 2 sides & a drink, w/ beef
Fresh greens w/ veggies & your choice of meat
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"
2 users thanked author for this post.October 29, 2016 at 10:38 am #41114
On to New Orleans (part deux):
After a nice evening at Natchez State Park we were up fairly early and on the road for the drive (about 6 hours) down to New Orleans. With the exception of the last 15 miles or so while driving within the New Orleans city limits, the drive was reasonably pleasant. Given that it is just about the closest campground to the French Quarter we had made reservations at the Jude Travel Park (7400 Chef Menteur Hwy) with a Good Sam rate of $30 per night. The neighborhood is not the best and when I drove up to the gate I was thinking that this just might not be such a good idea. However, there was a hot tub, a pool and the showers were clean and best of all Marla (the owner) was extremely nice and just full of knowledge about the town, places to eat, things to see and do, etc. The campground even offers a private shuttle service (for $5 per person one way) to the French Quarter and back. This is about half the price of a taxi and a few dollars less than parking. Site number 28 is just about the best in that there are trees for shade.
After setting up camp we decided to try out Marla’s shuttle service to the French Quarter. Not much has changed in the 30 years since we were last here. Still crowded with the same “interesting” aromas – definitely a party place. But the architecture is still interesting as is the history and food and drink.
The next morning we drove over to the City Park where we found “The Morning Coffee Stand” near the Art Museum (be sure to ask for directions before you go or set your GPS for N29degrees 59minutes07.5 by W 090degrees05minutes41.6) and had our fill of beignets. Without the tourists and noise of Café du Monde in the French Quarter we enjoyed our coffee and obligatory beignets in a much nicer and more peaceful setting. We then headed to the National World War II museum(at 945 Magazine Street). Parking here in the blocks surrounding the Museum is designated as “premium”, but, if you park a block and a half away the price is somewhat cheaper. We were told that the museum could take anywhere from 1/2 day to two days to see, so, even though we had stopped for coffee we were still there early. This is also a good idea to avoid some of the crowds that seem to gather from about 10am on. The admission price of $17 (senior and veteran price) seemed a bit high, but, was well worth it. After getting our tickets and having a short wait for our “train” was had the treat of seeing a Medal of Honor winner!
This is one heck of a museum! Certainly it could take all of two days to see, read, hear and look at all of the things on display. However, knowing that we were on a bit of a schedule, we left the museum at around 3pm, headed over to the St. Charles Street Car line and headed to the Garden District.
The one way fare is $.40 (senior rate) and exact change is required or you can purchase a pass for $3.00 and ride public transportation for the entire day. Once down in the Garden District we took out the self guided walking tout that Marla had given us and started walking. Anne Rice’s house, Payton Manning’s place, Nicholas Cage, the lead singer for Nine Inch Nails (everyone knows him don’t they?) and the place where Jefferson Davis died plus a bunch more are all there.
Back on the streetcar to the museum, a bite to eat, get the truck and head back to Jude Travel Park for the night. On our final day we once again headed to the French Quarter and drove to a parking lot just outside the Quarter that Marla recommended. No problems getting there or parking – (they accept credit cards via a machine) – a walk on the Moon walk and Riverside walk and then from one end of the Quarter to the other. A late lunch at the Napoleon House ( reasonable menu at reasonable prices) and then back to walking. Once we were “dog tired”
we headed back to camp.
The next morning we took our time packing up for the trip home. Being either a hard one day (12 hours) or an easy two days, we decided to take the two days of mostly Interstate driving to get to Western North Carolina. Unfortunately, at about the half way point of the drive we picked a campground at random called “Lakeside RV Park” in Opelika, Alabama. This was perhaps the worse RV park I’ve ever stay at. Certainly should have looked around a bit more before handing over my $40! Do not even think about using the shower house or restrooms!
Good weather, great food and drink, history, architecture, a great Oliver, what more could one want for a final trip of the season?
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"October 29, 2016 at 11:00 am #41117
Enjoyed the fine trip report and photos!!!!!! Really like the photos of the historic buildings, and river boat too!
LE2 TundraOctober 29, 2016 at 6:44 pm #41124
Looks like a great trip including the pictures, I guess it has been about 30 years since we have been to New Orleans.
Horace & Dianne
2016 Toyota Tundra Crewmax 4x4 Limited
2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II - Hull # 93October 31, 2016 at 8:47 am #41171
That was a great trip report and fine pictures!
Hey, in your Ollie pic I was admiring the wood blocks under your jacks. I do not remember seeing a thread where you describe them. My jack pads need replacement and the ones you have look fine. Any chance of a close up pic?
BuzzyOctober 31, 2016 at 12:48 pm #41178
Anything that I can do to help the Master!
These were made from some scrap 6×6. Cut the length at approximately 11 inches – enough to clear the onboard jacks on level ground – and sand lightly. Take a piece of scrap rope (I used plastic/nylon rope because it does not absorb water) at about 9 inches, heated the ends to stop fraying and added a bit or heat shrink tape for good measure. Then using an electric wire staple attach it to one side, bunch it up a little so that you have enough room to side your hand under it and then attach the other side. Finally, give it a couple of coats of exterior polyurethane and you are the pride of the neighborhood. Certainly a good, simple winter project.
(I also posted this over under Mods to make it easier to find in the future)
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"
1 user thanked author for this post.January 15, 2017 at 10:34 am #43322
They say Meriweather Lewis was shot in the Tavern. I checked my anatomy book and couldn’t find the tavern ANY where.January 15, 2017 at 10:57 am #43324
I think that the confusion may the result of where he was shot in the small two room building that is now located near his monument just off the Trace – it is the first log building pictures above. The lady that was the owner/operator of the “inn” would let guests such as Mr. Lewis stay in the one room while the other room served as an eating/drinking room – and where she slept while guests were there. In talking to the rangers on site, there is still some debate on which room and whether or not the shot was self inflicted.
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"January 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm #43365
C’mon Bill, you missed Canoe12’s point completely!!!
Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4January 16, 2017 at 7:49 am #43373
Steve and Canoe12,
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"January 16, 2017 at 8:55 am #43375
Great trip report. We may have to follow your footsteps next time that way.
Sorry about the anatomy pun. We have ‘strolled’ the Tavern on a couple of occasions, and think that might be the only place where we had heard about any ‘self-inflicted’.
Happy Trails to you- was that Roy Rogers or Gene Autry??January 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm #43387
Pun? What pun?
Trigger or Butter Milk?
2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"April 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm #51721
In conversation lately, a few people have asked me about the Trace. And, a few posts about Meriweather Lewis CG. We’ve not driven the entire trace, so I thought I’d bring back your great report, topgun.
Btw, is the road open to Meriweather Lewis CG now? We enjoy Fall hollow and the owners for great food and hospitality, but Meriweather Lewis is a great place to check the trailer out in an unserviced site. And, free.
2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4
2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
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