Natchez Trace – Part 1

Natchez Trace - me

I’m doing a comprehensive review of what all I saw and where I stayed while on the Natchez Trace Parkway on MaliasMiles.com, but I’ll do some recaps here on the blog with different pictures and more personal insights and stories.

October 27, 2014 –  I took off from Fall Creek Falls State Park and entered the Parkway from the Nashville side, drove 50 miles down it to my first campground stop at Fall Hollow Campground.

Fall Hollow - me

After getting set up here for a few days, I went back and explored all the attractions in the 400 Mileposts range.  The road is pristine and a wonderful drive with nothing to distract from the amazing scenery.  Gotta love parkways – no power lines, no billboards, no commercial truckers, 50 mph speed limit tops – all great incentive to just slow down and enjoy the scenery along every mile of the way.

markers

I love how the major attractions are marked like this from the road and very easy to see, and unless marked otherwise, there is plenty of room for RVs to get through or park.  This is looking back at the road from the Tennessee Valley Divide (Milepost 423).  When Tennessee joined the Union in 1796, this watershed was the boundary between the United States to the north and the Chickasaw Nation to the south.

Arch bridge 1

This is the Highway 96 Double Arched Bridge at Birdsong Hollow, our nation’s first double arch bridge.  This is all you can see from the major viewpoint along the Trace that you come to before crossing it if you’re headed south.

arch bridge view

There is a way to see a completely different view, though.  You can walk out onto the bridge and see the views from its 155′ height.  Even with the guardrail, I got a bit dizzy and just felt like I was going to imminently fall over.  Even this picture doesn’t do justice to how far down everything looks from there since I cropped it to get the detail of this beautiful house and land.

Arch bridge 2

I took the Highway 96 exit to get to this level and view of the bridge.  It really is quite breathtaking even from here.

Kismet

This is the pull-off where I parked to walk across that field to get that view.  When I was walking back, I thought how cool that I still always get a bit of a thrill when I see my rolling home in such beautiful surroundings, knowing it’s just waiting to take me to other beautiful places and adventures.

Bridge underpass

I think even the bridges you pass under are pretty.  This was taken from my motorhome windshield and I laughed when I saw it because I think the picture makes it look like I’m not going to clear the bridge.  But of course I did my research and knew height restrictions for the Trace is 14′, so I knew I was safe.

Old Trace

I really love how they have preserved so much of the original route and these kind of paths are accessible all along the way.  Only foot traffic is allowed on some sections.  This one is in the Meriwether National Monument area.

Old Trace - car

There are some sections you can drive a car on, but it’s pretty narrow, as you can see.  This one is right behind the Tobacco Barn and goes for two miles before you get back to the Trace.

Although I’ve heard this is a top destination in the fall for leaf peeping purposes, it’s not peak color at this point so maybe that’s why there’s been so little traffic so far, but I’m still surprised by that.

But I was happy to get a couple of shots of other motorhomes going down the Trace:

Kristina 1

This one turned out to be a couple and another solo woman RVer I knew from RV groups on Facebook, but I didn’t know this was them at this point.

Kristina 2

But once we figured out who and where we were by Facebook posts, we were able to meet up where they were camping at Meriwether Campground.  Sharing campfires and swapping travel tales with other adventurous spirits is always such fun!  Hi, Kristina, Dan, Kyra!  I’m hoping our paths cross again down the road.

green_divider2

I often get comments from people (both women and men) who say they could never travel alone – that they would be too afraid or it would be too boring without someone to share it with.  Kyra and I talked about both being solo fulltimers and how that’s really our preference.  Kristina and Dan sometimes had differing viewpoints about fulltiming, but both seem equally happy with that decision now.

I’ve often said the funnest thing to me about RVing is the totally cool people you meet on the road and who become your temporary neighbors.  So I really enjoy my time with friends, new and old, but that still doesn’t mean I feel like I have to be around people all of the time or that I have any problem doing things on my own and by myself. That’s why I think RVing solo is really the best of all worlds – you have alone time when you need it (and some people like me need more of it than others), but it doesn’t take any effort at all to meet and make friends in the RV world online or just walking around campgrounds and striking up conversations with others.

When I shared this with Facebook friends, it was fun to read the responses from other friends who I had either just met online or had the opportunity to hug in person.  One said he thought you meet nice people while camping because we know we have something in common right off.  I said I thought that was true and both obviously love the outdoors and adventure and are not afraid to try new things.  Those are important qualities to have in common, I think, and explains a lot to me anyway about why RVers have so much fun together.

Another friend shared that: “I was so lucky my family motorhomed all over the country during summers when I was growing up and we met the nicest people. I kept penpals for years and sometimes would get to meet up with them again when our families’ paths crossed.”

We bantered back and forth about my laughing at “penpals” – because doesn’t that kind of communication seem so long ago now?  I guess Facebook friends and email buddies have replaced that – or if you’re really close – text. Don’t know why but that tickled me.  But we agreed that it’s so cool that we can be so “in touch” with others so readily, yet it is at the cost of other things… the excitement of a letter in the mail… But one advantage of the way it is now is getting to see and “hear” so much of what folks are doing, so easily in real time.

And then I have friends that won’t get on Facebook for anything – for whatever reason – usually having to do with losing privacy and control over who sees what, but I’m one who does enjoy the benefits and just don’t post anything anywhere internet related that I figure won’t be totally public anyway, no matter what privacy settings you use.

green_divider2

Walks I took and sights I saw are on website, but here are some different viewpoints:

Baker Bluff Overlook - from JacksonFalls

When I first stopped at the Jackson Falls pull-off, I didn’t have time to go down to the falls, but this viewpoint shows sometimes the paths less taken (this one to Baker Bluff Overlook) are worthy of a look-see, too!

Jackson Falls 1

But of course, the main attraction is Jackson Falls, and it is certainly worthy of the 900′ trek down and up to see this beauty.

Jackson Falls - me

This turned out to be one of my favorite little hikes in this area.  When I first got there, I had the whole place to myself and enjoyed the peace and quiet only broken by the harmonious sounds of the water and chirping birds.  I sat here and set up my tripod and timer on camera to take this shot of me contemplating the waterfall.  I used settings to get a long exposure to get silky water effect, and it wasn’t until I downloaded to computer that I saw that I had actually been hugged by sunbeams the whole time!  Love it!

One of my more technically minded friend explained it as lens flair, but I go with my other friend who said it looked very spiritual.  All I know is that I am blessed and this is proof.  Angel3