Our first overnight stop was in Victoria, Texas. There we enjoyed a nice quiet happy hour with just the 3 of us relaxing on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Stella was totally exhausted and slept soundly with her head buried in the grass while we just enjoyed the quiet. With all the traveling we do, she still remains anxious and nervous whenever we’re traveling down the road. Our next overnight stops took us to Vinton, Louisiana followed by Vidalia, Louisiana. From our site in Vidalia we could look across the Mississippi River to the state of Mississippi. After a short hike along the bank of the river we headed into Natchez, Mississippi for some dinner and a bit of touring. We settled on a local grill down on the waterfront in an area called “Under the Hill” where there was a lot of history. This was the area where gamblers, drunks and ladies of the evening hung around back when the river boats were running 24 hours a day. The next morning we began our drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. It was used by Native Americans, settlers and outlaws, and it played an important role in American history. On that first day the parkway was as beautiful as described and so was the weather. We stopped at many scenic spots and learned a lot about the early history of one of the oldest land routes in America. In some sections we could actually see and walk on some of the original Trace.
That afternoon we left the parkway for a stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. There we spent a couple of hours planning our next few days on the road and then headed out for a few hours of fun at a casino and some dinner. The best news was that I won $250 on a $1 bet so we immediately left the casino and enjoyed a great seafood dinner, all on the casino's dollar. Best of all, we still had about a hundred bucks left over at the end of the night for good luck. It was a very nice night indeed. The following day we headed off to learn about and tour the Vicksburg National Battlefield. I’d have to say that other than Gettysburg, this historic site is now at the top of my list of most impressive Civil War battlefields. I especially enjoyed seeing the restored Ironclad Gunship USS Cairo that was raised from the Yazoo River in 1969. It’s the only ship of its kind in existence.
The next morning we returned to the Natchez Trace Parkway and continued our stops at many of the scenic and historic spots along the way. We enjoyed more views of the original Trace, a great stop with a walk through a Cypress Swamp and several other spots that held historic significance. Along the Trace we made overnight stops in Shannon, Mississippi, and in Tuscumbia, Alabama.
Unfortunately, shortly after we arrived in Tuscumbia we noticed cloud formations in the sky that looked more like ocean waves than clouds. Then the campground owner stopped by with a warning of the weather to come. We started with some safety measures such as disconnecting the car in case we needed to leave in a hurry. Once the wind really started picking up we brought the slide outs in to protect the vinyl coverings and we brought the hydraulic jacks up to allow the RV to set completely on the ground. Then we sat back and watched the show. There was so much wind, rain, thunder and lightning but the scariest part was the threat of a tornado. We were lucky that we didn’t get one and we didn’t get any of the hail that came down in nearby towns either. We learned that the forecast for the next few days was pretty much going to be same over the entire area so we made the decision to get an early start the next morning and head straight to Nashville instead of completing the final 120 miles of the Trace. We’ll just have to return another time.
Our decision to move along quickly kept us ahead of the storms and allowed us to arrive at our campsite in Nashville safe and sound. Next began the remaining 1,103 mile trip to our campground in Bellingham, Massachusetts with stops in Max Meadows, Virginia; Falling Waters, West Virginia; and Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania along the way.
On Wednesday, May 4th we arrived in Bellingham, Massachusetts right on schedule. The 12 day trip home was actually very smooth and without any mishaps. In fact, although we dodged some rough weather from the day we left Texas, we didn’t have to use our windshield wipers until the last day. Shortly after we arrived in Bellingham, my sister showed up at our campsite to greet us and we then followed her back to her house for a home cooked meal. It was nice to be back “home”.