The Natches Trace Parkway

road with trees

So, chronologically and geographically speaking (and blatantly disregarding the Horse Country photograph), the last time I posted I was about to leave Memphis for Nashville, via a detour on the Natches Trace Parkway. (Achieved by heading down via Mississippi into Alabama on US-78 to Birmingham and then up on the Natches Trace Parkway to Nashville).

According to the US National Park Service, the Natchez Trace Parkway is “a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history.  Used by American Indians, ‘Kaintucks,’ settlers, and future presidents, the Old Trace played an important role in American history.” The scenery is definitely beautiful there, and I think you get a good feeling for the layout of the land – far better than on one of the big interstates. I’ve found that I prefer to spend my time driving on the smaller country roads and investigating small villages to spending time in the tourity bits of the big cities – the same thing happened to me last year when touring the West Coast, but this growing preference of mine is only recently becoming a conscious thing, rather than a day-by-day decision on how to spend my holidays.

I only wish there were more places where one could draw off the road and stop to investigate – parking by the roadside is not really the thing to do, so there’s all this lovely landscape you drive through and that just asks for being recorded in a photograph, but you can’t do it, since you can’t stop … .

So, have a so-so photo of the Tennessee River, and the bridge I crossed to get over it:

bridge over the Tennessee

Along the Natches Trace lies the Meriwether Lewis State Park in Tennessee, where you can find the grave of Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clarke Expedition fame. I visited Fort Clatsop in Oregon last spring, where the expedition spent the winter of 1805/06, after they had reached the Pacific, and now here I was at the place where Captain Lewis died in 1809, on his way to Washington, DC, on the Natches Trace.

Meriwether Lewis' gravsite

And I’ll leave you with a photo of the typical view that greets one when driving down one of the side roads of the Natches Trace – I am really grateful for the invention of GPS’ on days like this – I think I would be much less sanguine about just randomly taking side roads without having one in the car – even if you randomly follow your inclination for 30 minutes down little roads, the GPS will lead you back to where you plan on going without much ado. It’s definitely made travelling all on one’s own and being spontaneous easy.

Tennessee woodlands




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