Wednesday, November 28, 2007 -- Trace State Park near Tupelo, MS
The State Parks in the Southeast, based on our experience, are just tremendous, especially at this time of the year. The campsites have been upgraded and are big rig friendly. The RV parking pads are usually level, paved, and free off branches and other obstructions that give campers headaches, not to mention scratches in the paint job. The sites are in the woods, well separated, and very clean. There's a camp host that lives on site to assure some basic rules are followed. This time of the year there are very few campers and we often have the place to ourselves. The experience has been similar in Georgia, Alabama, and now Mississippi.
We found another gem with Trace State Park. We selected a site that's actually on it's own peninsula that juts out into the lake so we have water on three sides (Duh, Thom, that's the definition of a peninsula!). It's very secluded and quiet. Wildlife abound... deer are all over (we actually saw about a dozen just driving in to our site), herons, ducks, and much more. Another bonus: this time of the year the cool weather puts cold-blooded animals into a stupor or dormancy, including all the nasty snakes that live in the south. We hike around without worrying that a big black mamba will attack and carry Dar off when I'm not looking -- they always go for the cute ones I've heard. Combine all that with some remaining autumn color and bright blue skies like we have today, and it's just the best!
I've always wanted to drive the Natchez Trace and was able to do so yesterday on our drive down from Alabama. Actually, the Trace is the theme of our adventure for the next few days while we travel about half of it's 444 mile length. The plan is to do a little over 200 miles in three easy daily segments as we work our way south to Jackson or possibly all the way to Natchez. All along the way there are historic sites, battlefields, and other natural wonders like Elvis' birthplace, to stop and learn.
The modern Natchez Trace is a National Parkway administered by the National Parks Service. It's a long skinny national park, really, stretching from Natchez Mississippi at the southern end to Nashville at the northern end. It parallels an historic natural trail that was used by animals and early peoples as they sought easy pathways through this naturally rugged terrain. Portions of the original trace exist along the way and you can walk these primeval trails just as early Indians did thousands of years ago. The road itself is a very smooth two-lane asphalt roadway with grass shoulders. There's a 50mph speed limit and no commercial traffic is allowed, so no trucks to deal with. The road is consistently and gently winding -- there are no sharp curves or steep hills. During the week the traffic is so light, the sun so warm, the road so hypnotic, that it'd be easy to fall asleep if it weren't for your co-pilot. I'd highly recommend it to anyone. You can learn more about it at the National Parks Service website.