Natchez Trace Parkway, MS – A Scenic Drive with No Trucks Allowed!

Natchez Trace Parkway

Welcome back to Natchez Trace

Driving along Natchez Trace Parkway, MS

The Trace is perfect for a leisurely drive

Cycling on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

We took a spin on the bikes

Cycling on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Wildflowers lined the road

Motorcycle road tour on on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

A motorcycle group enjoys a morning ride

Bicycle ride to an Indian Mound on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

We take a side road to visit an Indian Mound

Riding my bike on an Indian Mound on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Riding down the side of the Indian Mound

Farms along Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

A barn in the distance

Farms along Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

This split-rail fence had no joinery - the rails were simply

laid on top of each other

Farms along Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Cows in the distance

Wildflowers on on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Bursts of color everywhere

Wildflowers on on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi Wildflowers on on Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

A lone tulip celebrates the


Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

March 20-21, 2009 - We reluctantly tore ourselves away from the sparkling waters

and soft sands of the Emerald Coast and made our way north.

We could have stayed on that beach forever, but we had two problems in the trailer

that needed attention.  From day one our stove had acted up: if you cooked

something for a long time, eventually the burner knob wouldn't turn and you couldn't

adjust the flame.  This meant that it was just about impossible to shift a pot from a

rolling boil to a gentle simmer.

Also, the sliding pocket

door that separated the

main room from the

bedroom had fallen off its

track.  Neither of these

repairs was something

that Mark wanted to

tackle, especially

since the trailer was

still under warranty.

So we decided to

make a trip to the

NuWa factory in

Chanute, Kansas,

where the experts


This change of plans

meant we would

retrace our steps

from last year,

traveling up through Alabama and Mississippi through Arkansas to the

southeast corner of Kansas.  Poking around on the map we were happy

to see that this put the free campground at Rocky Springs on the

Natchez Trace right in our path.

The Natchez Trace is paradise for anyone that likes the simple pleasure

of going for a drive.   It's a place to meander and ponder rather than a

route to get you somewhere.  There aren't a lot of dazzling sights, but

there are endless miles of peaceful scenery with minimal traffic, clean

pavement and sweeping turns.  It is ideal for bikes, motorcycles and cars that aren't in a hurry.

We rolled out our bikes and took a leisurely ride out and back along 15

miles of the Trace south of the campground.  The air was fresh and clear,

flowers sprinkled the edges of the road with vibrant colors, and we

murmured to each other for the umpteen-millionth time, "What a great life!"

The Trace is layered in history, from prehistoric peoples to more

recent Indian cultures to the early settlers to modern America.  The

ancestors of the Natchez Indian tribe lived along the route, and

evidence of their unusual customs has been found in their ancient

burial mounds.  One Indian mound in particular had caught my

attention last year, and we took the little side route off the

Trace to see it once again.

There is not much to see but a small grassy hill topped with

informational plaques.  However, their tales took my breath

away.  Apparently the ancients had a radically different view

of the sanctity of human life than we do today.  When a noble

man died, his slaves were strangled and buried with him.  Far

more shocking, when a parent died, sometimes the surviving

parent killed their children as a sign of respect and grief.

It is easy from our viewpoint at this time in history to dismiss those

customs as barbaric, cruel, and unfair.  However, in their society it

was somehow right and good and proper.  Where our society would

have screamed "Murder!," theirs might have been nodding solemnly,

saying, "Yes, that was the right thing to do."

This was all very heady stuff, stamped out in a few brief

sentences on rusting metal National Park Service plaques placed

around the mound.  The violent acts of the early peoples were

hard to fathom in such a bucolic setting.  In the distance, the

cows were munching the grass, a barn stood quietly against the

treeline, and a split rail fence snaked its way across the meadow.

All around us the spring flowers were

bursting with color.  Yellows, pinks

and pale blues filled the fields.

If you looked really closely, some of

the tiniest little blooms were the most

elaborate, but as a group they

formed a carpet of color.

Back at the campground, right outside the bathrooms, a

single tulip was opening up and greeting the day.  How could

that bulb have possibly gotten there?  There wasn't another tulip for miles around.  It seemed yet

another mystery in this very mysterious place.

We said goodbye to the people we'd met at the campground, a young woman riding her bike

down the Trace for Spring Break and an older grey bearded guy on a motorcycle going the other

way.  A little more north off the Trace for us, and we would soon find ourselves in the Ozarks.