We began our adventure in Natchez, the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace. Our first stop along the Trace was Mount Locust Inn and Plantation, a home that dates back to 1780. Mount Locust was home to generations of the Chamberlain family with the last leaving in 1944. As the growing number of travelers along the Natchez Trace increased many turned their homes into a “stand” which was nothing more than a crude inn. Weary travelers would pay up to 25 cents for much needed food and accommodations.
Our next stop was to actually hike the original Trace before stopping at Rocky Springs, a National Park campground where we stayed two nights. From there we took the car and did some exploring above and below the campground. The Trace leads you through 444 miles and traverses 3 states and 10,000 years of history. It was a pathway for the local Indians (Natchez, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations), settlers heading west, explorers, military, slaves and Kaintucks (people who boated their cattle and goods down the Mississippi River).
On our other day we took a day trip to Vicksburg National Military Park, the site of a decisive battle of the Civil War that waged from March 29 to July 4, 1863 which gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.
Our next stop along the Trace was Jeff Busby National Park at mile marker 190. Along the way we stopped at Cypress Swamp where we hiked about a mile through water tupelo and a bald cypress swamp. There we met Greg, a gentleman who was biking a 160 mile portion of the Trace. We exchanged niceties and possible stops and lo and behold, we met up at our next stop! We set up camp at Jeff Busby and as the sun was setting, here pedals up our new friend, Greg. He set up his tent next to our rig and he sat by our fire that night and we shared a glass of wine. The next morning he joined us inside the RV for a hot cup of coffee before he set out on the next leg of his trip. This is one of the reasons we love RV’ing so much is all the nice people we meet and become friends with.
The next day we did some car exploring to include backtracking to mile marker 181 to the historic village of French Camp. It was founded in 1810 when the LeFlore family opened a tavern and an inn. Today French Camp is known for the French Camp Academy, a school for troubled children in grades K-12. The Academy has restored and maintained many of the historic buildings, they run a bakery, a restaurant and a bed and breakfast. We highly recommend the restaurant, amazing food!
After two nights at that campground and 8 days of dry camping we traveled a whole 66 miles to Tupelo, Mississippi and stayed at a full hook-up campground. Our primary purpose was to visit the birthplace of Elvis Presley and visit the Tupelo Auto Museum. Elvis was born in 1935 in a small 2-room house his father had built. Something we learned was that Elvis was a twin but his brother, Jessie, was still born. The house stands on the exact spot where it was built in 1934 and has been restored/refurbished to how it looked in the 1930’s. The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park now consists of the house, a museum, the original church the Presley family attended (relocated), a “Walk of Life” and 3 sculptures of Elvis scattered throughout the park.
We were very fortunate to visit the Tupelo Auto Museum before it closes in a few days. Jerry Spain and his wife, Jane had accumulated over 185 cars that they displayed for all to enjoy. Jerry passed away 13 years ago and now his wife wants others to enjoy the cars so all of them are being auctioned off and all proceeds will go towards funding innovative programs in the local schools. We had the pleasure of chatting with Jane for over an hour and she loved our story about Kaia and her Austin J-40 and teardrop trailer.
On our last night in Tupelo we wanted to get some local food and enjoy some music and did we ever score a home run on that part! We ate at the Blue Canoe, which bills itself as serving “mood food”. Their food was amazing and we enjoyed Keith Paluso who was on Season 15 of The Voice. He was the dubbed the singing park ranger on the show and he is talented beyond belief.
We have now traversed over half the Trace and we will “show” you the rest in the next journal….enjoy!