Oh just the thought of it: jump into the Mustang convertible and hit the road. That was the basic idea when, on March 13, Bill and I escaped Delaware ahead of a forecasted snowstorm. We headed southwest in the general direction of New Orleans. Since that Sunday was the time change to Daylight Savings, we didn't leave home until 11:00. But that's OK, Bill said. We're not on a schedule.
When we started thinking about a place to spend the night, we were in southwest Virginia. After spotting a sign for Claytor Lake Inn, we thought we found a lakefront inn. Well, no, but it was near the wonderfully unpopulated Claytor Lake State Park. I just happened to catch the early evening in a video.
On day two, we drove through Tennessee in cold drizzle and ended the day in Nashville. Honestly, I really wasn't looking to do any of the tourist bar scene, but how could you spend a night in Nashville and not listen to live music? Fortunately there was a shuttle service to downtown and we rocked along with the rest of the tourists on Broadway in bar after bar. It was a concentrated explosion of sound coming from every open doorway. We were done by 9:00!
Advice for traveling business men: women shuttle drivers really don't like your come-ons. Just be quiet and give a good tip.
Day three put us onto our first major destination: the Natchez Trace Parkway. It's part of the National Park System, 444 miles of two lane, 50 mile per hour beauty. No commercial traffic, no billboards, just forest, rivers, farms and lots of history.
We spent two whole days traveling the entire way, stopping at crossroads for lunch in tiny towns with southern hospitality and friendly jabs at each other's accents. One night was spent in Tupelo, MS, a very cool small town with a thriving foodie culture. While driving through Jackson, MS at a pit stop (the rural-ness of the Trace remains even going through cities), we happened upon the Mississippi Crafts Center, a world class gallery. Who knew?
It felt like being in another time, a luxury of slow travel, stopping by whim. The end of the Trace is in Natchez, MS. If ever there was a city that I thought I could live in, Natchez would be it. Steeped in history, vibrant downtown culture, preserved buildings, it feels like a place alive. At the visitor center, I saw an old map of the Mississippi River, with the land plots on either side of all the cotton plantations before the Civil War. We toured one of the more interesting antebellum mansions called Longwood. It was designed as an octagonal multi-storied home for the Nutt family, whose fortune was from cotton. Begun in 1860, work was halted in 1861 when the carpenters from the North went home. Through lost fortunes and folly, the house was never completed and is now on the National Register for Historic Places.
All this in the first five days of our On The Road Adventure! Bill and I love to talk to people; it must be from our years as retailers, so this trip was just as much about the culture of America as it was about getting away from a snowstorm.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
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