April 23, 2013

Natchez Trace Parkway

We enjoyed our mellow time at Allen Acres in Louisiana so much we decided it was time to spend more time out of cities and in the beautiful American countryside.   While planning Brian learned about the Natchez Trace Parkway, a National Parkway, that ran 444 miles from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN.  The original Natchez Trace was a foot path used for travelers in the 1800s.  Mostly shipmen who took goods down the Mississippi River by boat and then walked back up north along the Trace.

Most parts of the Trace were remote and rural so lodging would be very limited.  We made a spontaneous, risky decision and decided to start camping.  Fortunately, Walmart carries an enormous amount of camping supplies.  And, fortunately, Walmart is everywhere (more so down here in the south, or so it seems).  I can't say I'm a big fan of Walmart, but I am impressed that we could get outfitted with everything we wanted in one trip to one store.  We spent roughly $500 and started camping that same day.  

We loved camping in Mississippi.  I was really, really impressed with their state parks: low cost, clean, bathrooms, etc.  We are not avid campers, but we loved exploring the Natchez Trace Parkway this way.  The drive up the Trace took us 7 days; we went slow, stopped frequently and learned about the history in the area.  The weather was beautiful, the drive was relaxing and educational.

Warning: this post has a ton of awesome photos.  :)  

We jerry-rigged a roof bag to accomodate the camping supplies.
First stop, we were still in LA, near Alexandria
Love this girl!
Natchez, MS
Natchez State Park
Emerald Mound 

One of our favorite stops along the Trace was Mount Locust.  The house and history were interesting  the ranger was a dynamic teacher, and it was beautiful.  The kids enjoyed working on and receiving their junior ranger badges.

P.S. All the rangers we have met at the national parks have been amazing, sweet, intelligent people who love their job.  When I work again I want to be a national park ranger.

One night we camped in a state park that was located in the middle of Jackson, MS.  It felt amazingly rural for being in the middle of an urban metropolis.

LeFleurs Bluff in Jackson, MS

Cypress Swamp

Near French Camp

A section of the original Natchez Trace.

For $20 we picked up a youth tent for Isabella that we set up right next to ours.  I was amazed that she stayed in it all night long.  She loves having a little tiny space all her own.  (Her brothers can only go in as invited.)  It made a huge difference in her happiness/pleasantness and bedtime became much easier.
She can stay up late and read or write.  A privilege she's never had since she always has to share a space with her brothers.
Happy camper!
Sunrise at Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi
This site came with a "pet" goose.  A kind, yet very persistant animal who happened to appear within seconds of us pulling out any food at any moment.
Morning cuddles are my favorite
The Tennessee countryside.  I fell in love with the beautiful, green hills.
Natchez Parkway Bridge was our last stop before Nashville.
Isabella had been entertaining herself with my lipstick in the car.
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