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Natchez Trace and Tishomingo State Park (Part I):


November 29, 2010:              [Odometer 241293 - 242449]             I am writing this Monday evening but it will probably not get posted until sometime later this week. We are currently camped in the Tishomingo State Park (in Mississippi) and will be here through Wednesday because the weather is supposed to turn very ugly tonight and tomorrow with high winds and heavy rains. There is absolutely no point in continuing our trip down the Natchez Trace in the pouring rain when we will not want to get out of the car to see anything. In this state park (which is beautiful and I hope to get pictures of on Wednesday) we have absolutely no Internet signal and only spotty phone signal. That is, sometimes the signal is very weak and sometimes it is not there at all. Therefore, I am writing this while it is fresh in my mind, but will not be able to post it until later. However, it's a good way to spend the rainy season. We were originally only going to stay tonight and Tuesday night but decided to add Wednesday also so we would have one nice day to hike some of the trails and see some of the fabulous rock formations we have gotten a glimpse of through the raindrops. The only negative is that the temperature is going to drop into the 20's the next few nights. There is not as much insulation on the connection hose because I had to take the fiberglass off when we disconnected at Dickson. Therefore, I think I will just disconnect the water hookup and trust the heat in the camper to keep the inside plumbing safe.



We left Dickson, Tennessee this morning following route 46 to Route 100 to the Natchez Trace and officially entered the top of the trace a few minutes before 11:00 am Central Time. The scenery and historic sites along the trace are fabulous. I can only include a few photos on the blog or it will get too huge, but for every picture we post, there are a hundred more views equally spectacular. It took us two hours to travel the first 30 miles and we really only made any time after it started to rain. This was the perfect time of year to travel this route. The fall landscape is beautiful and there are almost no cars or people. We saw maybe six cars going in the same direction we were over the space of 150 miles, which we let pass us, and maybe one or two per mile going the other way. Speed limits are from 40-50 mph which is just right for me hauling the trailer.



To me, one of the prettiest things the federal government has done along this route is the use of split rail fences. It serves its intended purpose as well as chain link fence would have but serves to blend in with the natural beauty along the trace.



This was the first truly significant bridge we came to shortly after we started down the Trace. It is known as the Tennessee Route 96 Double Arch Bridge and, from what Julie read, is an award-winning bridge. Yes, Ardy, I drove across it! There are many bridges over ravines and water sort of leveling off the drive, but the original foot travelers had to go down and back up all these steep ravines.



These signs are posted at either end of the bridge. This is the one on the South end of the bridge. It tells a story of desperate people using the bridge for purposes other than transportation. I decided it has too serious a message to include on my "Signs of the Times" page, which is intended more for humorous signage.



Julie took this picture for posterity as we were walking back from the scenic lookout of the bridge. For those of you who know JoJo, you know that she never used to walk on a leash without pulling until she half choked herself. She will still do that if you let her have the whole leash or if the scents are just too much to resist, but I have been working with her and she occaswionally heels very well (at least the walking part) on a short leash. It does not really show in the photo, but there is no tension on the leash at all. I'll worry about the sit-when-we-stop part after she has this walking part down pat.



Much of the Natchez Trace follows various streams as the early peoples using this route would want to be near water. This was one small step-falls at a location known as "English Camp" that I found very attractive. So did the people who run the park as can be judged by the fact there is a pull-off here and a picnic table down near the water.



We saw seven deer today, two groups of three and a lone buck. When we came on these three, two were on the East side of the road and one on the West. They were kind enough to pose for us and the one on the West side even joined the other two so we could get a group shot. We also saw two turkeys close to the road today and a myriad of hawks.



We stopped for lunch at the Water Valley Overlook. There was no one else around and we were a long way from the road, so we let the dogs run free. They had a great time running and sniffing and found deer tracks and signs where some animal had been digging. I speculated it might have been a skunk digging for grubs, but I have no idea if I am right or wrong on that count.



This is the Tennessee River and the bridge over it, but we are now in Alabama. The Natchez Trace cuts off just a very small corner of Alabama South of Tennessee before it enters Mississippi. Yes, Ardy, I drove across this bridge also!



Tennessee River looking East from parking area on North end of Bridge.



In addition to the beautiful scenery and wildlife, there are many stopping points along the Trace with historical information. We are planning to spend about 4-5 days of traveling to see the entire 444 mile length of the Trace on our way South, but we will never get to see everything we want to see, so we are planning to travel North on the trace in the Spring when we head back to Tennessee.

November 30, 2010               I guess the dogs were tired of being cooped up, despite how much they got to run free yesterday. This morning, as soon as I opened the door, they were out and gone. I had to walk over a quarter mile down the beach to find them and they came back covered in what look like burdock. Unlike the burdock we have at home, which are round, these are more football shaped. We spent a couple of hours taking them out of the dogs' hair.


When it stopped raining, we did a little exploring through the park. It is really spectacular. For those of you who have wondered, yes, I am enjoying my retirement, especially days like these seeing nature in all of it's glory. This is what our traveling is all about. I am also glad I can share it with friends and family through this blog.



Looking across Haynes Lake you can see our camper all by its lonesome in lot #4. This time of year, there are very few people using the park facilities.

There were a number of ducks, snow geese, and Canada Geese on the lake, but they were too far away to get any good pictures with my little camera.

We also saw four more deer, two of whom were very small, as we traveled through the park.



Old Settler's Cabin.



A different view of the bridge next to the settler's cabin looking back toward a second bridge over the small dam which created the CCC Pond behind it. A lot of the work in the park was part of the CCC projects.



Julie wants to go see some rock outcroppings tomorrow that are only accessible by crossing this "Swinging Bridge" (semi-side view in the next photo).



No, Ardyce, I did not cross it (although I did step out about five feet onto it) and neither Julie or I will cross it tomorrow. There are limits to what either of us will do to see some nice rocks. We will hike some other areas and see some other rocks.


December 1, 2010:                A new page on the calendar brought bright sunshine but significantly colder weather. It dropped to 30 degrees last night and was only supposed to get to about 45 degrees this morning, but we went hiking anyway. We awoke this morning to the sound of song birds and Canada Geese.


We had a little problem with water at the slide out, but we had left the slide closed because we knew we were going to get heavy rain, so it was not too bad. A worse problem seems to be condensation. This trailer is not insulated for cold weather. Even though the furnace does a good job of keeping us warm, I am finding the metal trim all around the ceiling acts like cold water pipes in the basement when it is muggy. The outside air is so cold at night, a lot of moisture condenses against the trim on the warm inside of the trailer. We can think of no way to fix it but to get away from these cold nights. We may have to cut this trip through the Trace short and head for warmer climates quicker.



We started our hike by climbing these stone steps. At one point in the middle, the ground was eroded under the steps and one had fallen over the edge while the rest were loose. It's a good thing we found another way around because Julie swore she was not going back down the steps.



We did find some of those rock outcroppings Julie was looking for. Some even had little natural caves that the dogs wanted to explore so badly.






Humans aren't the only ones scared of bridges. JoJo was terrified, but the brave little puppy made it all the way across on her own. Taz, being younger and only afraid of people, went across with no problems.





After all those bridges, it was time for a rest break.

After our little walk in the woods, we retraced our path along the Natchez Trace looking for an Internet signal. We had no luck but stopped at the Bear Creek Mound for some pictures.






Having no luck getting an Internet signal on our hot spot, we decided to head for McDonald's (in Red Bay, Alabama) so we could use their WiFi to download our mail. On our way to McDonald's, we discovered McKinney's RV Center and decided to stop there and check about the seal slide. They are going to repair it for us Friday morning so we will stay over another night in the State Park. The only bad part is the need to be there at 7 AM. That means getting up early enough to get ready to travel, go dump the waste tanks, and get to Red Bay. However, it is worth it to get this problem resolved.


When we got back to the trailer, many geese were out on the lake. The ducks flew off before I took this picture.


A pair of snow geese, a female and an immature or transitional (not sure which) male.


December 2, 2010:                We woke this morning to the sound of the geese. As long as we are spending another day, we decided to do some "sight sniffing" (doggy language) down the trace toward Tupelo.


(Continued in Part II, coming soon).