Thursday, April 30, 2009

Natchez Trace - A Glimpse 4/20/09

Camera? Check. Map? Check. Water? Check. We both were excited to start our trek on the Natchez Trace. We were keeping our fingers crossed so that no one would stop us because of the size of our truck.. If they did we were going to play dumb.

Imagine driving on a two lane road, maximum speed 50 mph, where no commercial vehicles were allowed. No billboards to distract you.

Just you, the road, the beautiful scenic view, and a wild turkey or two. Southerners call them chuck-a-lucks.

First thing I noticed was the quietness - we drove with our windows down and the radio off. We could hear the birds singing as we passed trees.

Our first stop on the Trace was at the 5.1 mile post - the Elizabeth Female Academy. It was founded in 1818 and was the first school for women to be chartered by the state of Mississippi. This was all that was left of the school.

Another stop was at the Mount Locust Inn and Plantation, which is one of the oldest structures still standing in an area known for historic homes. Mt. Locust's first owner was John Blommart in 1780. Blommart lost a rebellion against the Spanish, causing him to be jailed and thus forfeiting his fortune and Mt. Locust. William Ferguson and his wife Paulina bought the farm in 1784 and operated it until William's death in 1801. Paulina married James Chamberlain, an overseer for the farm, a short time later, and they continued to build the farm. Mt. Locust was home to five generations of Chamberlains, with the last leaving in 1944.

We only drove about 20 miles onto the Trace to get a taste of it. Nobody stopped us; heck we hardly passed anyone on the road! Tomorrow we would be pulling the trailer behind us and heading on our way.

We left the Trace and hunted around for a place to eat lunch. We decided on trying a place "Under the Hill", an area under the bluff right on the river, notorious back in the day for gambling, drinking, and wild women (sounds right up my alley!) But it's now respectable - although there is a gambling boat anchored there called, "The Isle of Capri" that was calling to me. Jim didn't seem to hear it, though. We ate at a decent establishment called the Magnolia Grill. I ate a delicious "Shrimp Po' Boy".

Very, very tasty. I think Jim had a plain old hamburger. Me - gotta have a feel for the area, ya know?

After lunch I had this bright idea to drive around the Natchez City Cemetery. I love old cemeteries, and this one was no different. It had many old graves, many from the Civil War. I loved the old wrought iron fences around the graves.

The cemetery was great - only problem was - it was not built for a big truck like ours to be driving around. There were a couple of places that were so tight that I didn't think we'd make the turn without taking something out. We had to pull our mirrors in a couple of times. Then we pulled into a dead end (no pun intended) and Jim had to back up. It was a little tense for awhile. I gave a big sigh of relief when we finally drove out of there!

One thing I noticed on the road driving to the cemetery was the "Speed Hump" sign. I thought this was hysterical. Doesn't it usually say, "Speed BUMP?" "Speed Hump". Is that southern talk for a "quickie?"

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