2015 Tennessee the Long Way travel blog

Today's route

Pile of leaves and pine needles from the Fit grille

Shoe tree along US 72

John Coffee Memorial Bridge caries the Parkway across the Tennessee River

Another view of the bridge from Colbert's Ferry site

Crossing the Tennessee River

With the sun out the ride along the Trace was colorful

We got held up for a while for tree cutters

Meriwether Lewis Memorial

57 miles left on our 444-mile trip up the Natchez Trace Parkway

One of several water falls along the Trace

Leaves stripped from a lot of the trees

The final bridge on the Natchez Trace Parkway at its terminus near...


Today was our last on the Natchez Trace Parkway covering the last 124 miles. The day didn’t start our too well though. Last night when we drove into Sheffield for pizza we could smell something burning. I stopped and looked under the hood to see if I could see anything. Nothing visible. I looked at the front of the car and noticed a lot of leaves and pine needles sticking out of the grill. I reached in and pulled out a bucket full of stuff and as I removed the junk I could feel the air flow again to the radiator. It was dark and couldn’t see if I got everything. This morning I tired again and removed another pile and there is still some in there. I’m going to have to take it to a car wash and pressure wash the grill and engine compartment.

We got on the road and as soon as we crossed the highway we heard a scraping noise. We stopped to check out what might be the problem and it turns out it’s the folding stairs. They had not retracted as they should when you close the door and put the coach in gear. We’ve been having problems throughout the trip, but it’s been that they don’t go down when the should. I pulled of the highway to see if I could get them to retract so we could go on. No luck. I had to get out the tools and crawl under Winnie to remove the steps and them get into the gear box to disconnect one of the actuator arms so the steps could be folded and secured. Fortunately I had all of the tools I needed, but it was king of drizzling the entire time. By the time I got every thing secured, I was dirty and wet. So much for taking a shower this morning.

By the time we hit the Trace this morning the drizzle had stopped and the sun came out. This made for a pleasant drive to Nashville across the northwest corner of Alabama and into the Appalachian foothills of south central Tennessee. The fall colors were bright, but starting to fade. I had planned a bunch of stops along the Parkway, but had to change plans because of the mechanical difficulties.

We did stop at Colbert’s Stand. Stands were inns that were established along the Natchez Trace where the “Kaintucks” could stay on their way home. Colbert’s Stand was operated by George Colbert, half-Scot and half-Chickasaw chief. He also operated a ferry across the Tennessee River between 1800 and 1819. An interesting story is that he once charged Andrew Jackson $75,000 to ferry his Tennessee army across the river. The river was only about a quarter mile wide when Colbert ran his ferry service not the nearly mile-wide river that exist now because of its impoundment.

The next stop was at the gravesite of Meriwether Lewis. He was selected by Thomas Jefferson to lead the exploration of the lands of the Louisiana Purchase along with Clark. The famed Lewis and Clark Expedition was in search of a water passage across the country to the Pacific. They left St. Louis in 1804 and spent nearly 2.5 years in their fruitless search for a continuous water passage. The expedition did succeed in accumulating massive amounts of data and observations on geography, culture, and biology. After returning home, Jefferson appointed him Governor of the Louisiana Territory. As governor of the territory, he was dependent on Washington, DC for paying the administrative bills of governing. Washington refused to pay some which left Lewis personally responsible for the bills. Lewis decided to goto Washington to plead his case. Part of his route took him along the Natchez Trace. While staying at Grinder’s Stand, he died of gunshot wounds. Most historians believe that he committed suicide, but some later accounts suggest he was murdered. Lewis was buried at Grinder’s Stand. It wasn’t until 1848 that the State of Tennessee erected the monument that stands there now. A simple erect, broken shaft reaches above the stone base, symbolizing a life cut short. The memorial includes several inscriptions, one in Latin. "Immaturus obi; sed tu felicior annos vive meos: Bona Republica! vive tuos." "I died before my time, but thou O great and good Republic, live out my years while you live out your own."

We crossed the final bridge of the Natchez Trace Parkway late this afternoon just in time to get entangled in the Nashville rush hour traffic. We pulled into the Nashville KOA just about dark. It's pretty crowded as it is just down the street from Opryland and is convenient to most attractions in the Nashville area. We'll be here for the next 5 days attending the 87th Infantry Division Legacy Association Annual Reunion and Educational Forum and the Grand Ole Opry. I'll probably have some pictures of the reunion activities and sights around Nashville. Stay tuned.

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