We left the Mighty Mississippi and traveled east toward the Natchez Trace. The Natchez Trace is part of the National Park Service and follows old trails left by animals, Indians, and settlers before the steamboat made traveling from the Gulf to parts northward safer and easier. It is a beautiful parkway where you can explore trails, learn history, or just enjoy a great drive on an gently meandering road.
We stayed near Fall Hallow, TN where the fall colors were really showing off. In total, we drove from Nashville, TN to Tupelo, MS. Here are a few shots of the Trace in fall color.
It was fun to see others enjoying the day. What a perfect day for a drive in the buggy!
There was much thought put into this parkway. It follows the original trail pretty closely. At many points along the way, you can stop and walk the Old (unpaved) Trace or even drive portions that have been preserved in a more natural state. This is the beginning of a trail near the Meriwether Lewis National Monument.
Lewis' mysterious death here left many questions. This monument which looks like it is broken off at the top represents a life cut short. It has been interesting to go to so many places traveled by Lewis and Clark from here to the west coast. We have determined to learn more about this adventurous duo.
The monument stands in a graveyard with others. We saw a few Pope headstones as we walked the grounds. (Pope is Susan's maiden name) We wonder if there is any connection.
The trace was thoughtfully planned and beautifully executed. Even the bridges have a grace and elegance you don't see on ordinary drives.
Besides just driving the Trace, we stopped and did a few hikes along the way.
Many of the walks lead to waterfalls. Hikes to waterfalls almost always mean elevation changes. Though the climbs were not as steep or as long as those in the northwest, they still quickened our heart rates and left our faces flush with the healthy exertion.
Other walks were a bit more tame. Still, a bit of agility was required.
The treasures at the end of each hike were always worth the effort.
There were a few bits of modern America on our journeys. Cotton and soybean fields ready for harvest peeked in and out of our view as we traveled the Trace.
We also found great food along the way.
The Loveless Cafe is a Nashville institution and we feasted on awesome homemade biscuits and fried chicken. Oh, so good!
With all the beauty along the trace, there also came a few trials.
First, is the Great Ladybug Plague of 2014. We were warned it could happen in Memphis and we felt blessed to have avoided that infestation. That feeling didn't last long. As we pulled into the campsite in central Tennessee, we saw ladybugs swarm our rig and hoped to keep them at bay during our stay. That didn't really work out.
They got in everywhere! Here is a pic of our ceiling the first evening. This was a fairly common scene for many days.
We heard that a vacuum was the best solution for getting rid of hordes of mosquitoes, moths, and other flying pests so we thought we'd try that method. It was quite effective, but almost all our ladybugs died - dozens and dozens of them. While we are not really bug-lovers, we both know the benefits of ladybug in the garden (and they are really cute) so we tried other methods of ridding ourselves of these hitchhikers.
Trey came up with the most effective method for ceiling bug removal. You make a loose fist so that there is a small opening at the top. You then take a butter knife (or paint scraper or any flat surface) and gently scrape the bugs from the ceiling into your fist. Ladybugs are quite willing to move where you want them to go and will stay in a semi closed fist until you can make it to the door to release them. We were both happy with this method and used it for several more days. Yes, days.
It has been a week and we still remove a couple dozen of these little critters each day, but it is getting easier. Susan found that if we keep the trailer pretty dark (no interior lights) and the door open, the lady bugs would fly to the screen door and wait for us to shoo them out. All we have to do is open the door and gently flick them outside about once every hour. There are six on the screen door waiting for freedom right now.
This is our third infestation since hitting the road (we've already dealt with ants and moths) and it is by far the least irritating. While we both want them gone, we are thankful that they are not snakes or rats - we've heard horror stories.
Our other trial came in the form of a window leak during a rainstorm. The window by Susan's desk leaked at the top and saturated the (NEW) carpet for about a 3 square foot area. This was directly under the newly built desk. The window was easily repaired, but drying the carpet was a more difficult matter. First, it was humid. No, I mean really humid. nothing was going to dry on it's own. Second, the desk had a solid floor above the carpet, so that carpet would stay wet unless we disassembled the desk and gave it a little dehydration help. Many screws and grumbles later, the desk floor was lifted about six inches - enough to let a fan and forced air heater circulate warm dry air underneath. It took a little over two days to dry all the carpet. After about three days, we put it all back together. We are thankful Scott build such a sturdy desk and that he used (a lot of ) screws rather than glue. It make a difficult task a bit easier!
So while we easily endured rain and leaks, and plagues of bugs, we were also blessed with the incredible beauty of creation as we traveled on the Natchez Trace. Life is good because we see God's goodness more clearly each day.