The atlas has these pink dots along all the “scenic” routes in America. Like Pacman, we are trying to follow those as often as we can, to free campsites, naturally.
Voila the Natchez Trace Parkway. The government paved this road following an old Native American Trail running from southern Mississippi, through Alabama, up to Nashville.
There are three free campgrounds along the Pakway, and we stayed at Meriwether Lewis. It was quiet and clean with flushing toilets and hiking trails. There were lots of other campers, RVers, and vanners like us. Loads of Canadians. I couldn’t believe the place was free. I was very impressed by the National Park Service.
The first morning, we made breakfast outside, prepared dinner in the thermal cooker, and went for a long walk on the trails around the park. The forest was full of oak trees that hadn’t put out their leaves yet, but everything purple was in bloom, as well as these beautiful trees that we learned were flowering dogwoods.
The park features the burial place of Lewis, of the explorers Lewis and Clark. Displays explain his progress toward US settler expansion, and his mysterious death.
The Natchez Trace Parkway also addresses, though awkwardly and indirectly apologetic in the style of the general US government, the tragic genocide of the Trail of Tears. We found out the more literal translation of the Cherokee term is “the trail where they cried”. Several different removal routes cross the Parkway, and you can walk them.
On the second day we had a marvelous sunny bike ride down the hilly Parkway. There’s not much traffic as there is, but there was a detour around a five-mile long section of the road because of construction on a bridge. With the road to ourselves, we rode to some nearby falls.
After the 12-mile return trip, some of which included waking our bikes, our legs were exhausted. I hope to get in better shape on this trip, because our Canadian camp neighbor said he’d ridden 50 miles that same afternoon. No wonder Lance Armstrong did steroids; these cyclists have some kind of superpowers. And there were loads of them all along the Parkway.
The last evening, we discovered the toilet tank wasn’t filling. After disassembling all the pipes, Edd realized the pipe had a safety shutoff which had stopped water from flowing when our water pump had been turned off. But by then, it was too late to put it all back together. The wrong-sized pipes had been shoved on against their will by a previous owner, and the valves were threaded.
That meant we couldn’t turn the water pump back on until we bought new pipes and valves. Our first kind of serious problem, and we couldn’t fix it until we got to Nashville, where we were to visit my friend Shannon and her fiance, Chris.
We drove the remainder of the Parkway until it ended just before Nashville. I was a little sad to get off it and onto the ring roads around the capitol, full of speeding trucks and billboards.
We got to Shannon’s place, and went out for pizza and Jenny’s Ice cream. We waited in the queue whiched had eked out onto the street, but that Bramble Berry ice cream was worth it.
We stopped at the park in the middle of town-packed with people that Sunday-that has a replica of the Parthenon. Some guy took our picture in which you kinda get the idea of the scale.
Chris drove us downtown and we heard electric guitars pouring out from the bars all around us. People were pouring out too. What a Sunday. We, on the other hand, chilled out at the apartment and did laundry at a 24hr laundromat that night.
We spent the next morning buying toilet things, and started driving east towards the Appalachian Mountains. 24 hours in the city and we already missed the country.