Natchez Trace Parkway Pt. 5: Tishomingo to David Crockett SP

On Wednesday, we only put about 65 miles behind us, but there was plenty to see. Tishomingo State Park was my favorite of all the parks we stayed at. The only real downfall was that our site was so far away from the bathroom/shower area, but only because one was closed for renovations. But, the bathroom that was open was great. It was heated well, which was good because this was the first night that reached into the 30s, and the showers and overall quality of this bathroom was the nicest along our stops. Tishomingo would be a great place to bring a group of people camping. Among other things I’m sure I missed, was a pool, a suspension bridge, volleyball court, lots of hiking trails, and cabins. It was one of those parks you could spend days at and not get bored. DSC00706.JPG

When we initially arrived, there were a few birds hanging out at the lake, which was directly behind us. I noticed right away something odd. There was a Canadian Goose, a Chinese Goose (aka Swan Goose) and a domesticated white duck, all hanging out with each other. Now I’m no bird expert, but I didn’t think these breeds hung out with each other. These three stuck together all evening, until I couldn’t see them anymore. I was compelled to keep taking pictures of them, just because it was something I felt was a rare sight.

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I also spotted a heron, but they’re much shier than geese, so this one took off before I could change my camera to a sport mode/faster shutter speed and capture it taking off.

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In the morning when I woke, a fog had laid itself over the calm water of the lake. The scenery was wonderful and I was surprise with a whole gaggle of geese wandering the lake. The Chinese Goose and the duck were also included in this gang.

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I observed later, when they had come up on land to eat, that it seemed the Chinese Goose was the leader. He/she would honk a few times, and the others would get to eating. It almost seemed as if the Chinese Goose was keeping watch while the others ate, which is interesting because, after doing  a little research, it seems to me this kind of goose is actually domesticated, much like the white duck. I’m guessing he/she must have been abandoned and luckily got picked up by this gaggle, and amazingly rose the ranks.

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I spotted the heron again, but he/she was on the far side of the lake. Luckily I had my bigger lens on me and switched it up quickly. I love the silhouette I got from this shot.

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Once the fog burned off, we took a hike around the lake. The colors here were slightly past prime, but still beautiful.

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There’s something romantic about a suspension bridge like the one at Tishomingo. The bridge somehow is warm and inviting, and yet invokes recollections of childhood innocence lost over years. It reminds me of coming of age movies, the kind you can relate to in some way, whether it be from loves lost, or lessons learned.

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Our first stop of the day, and most disastrous, or embarrassing anyways, was at Cave Spring. It was a small cave that was believed to have once been used by Native Americans as a watering hole.

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The embarrassing part was when I walked down to get a better look at the cave. I was walking down holding the pups, trying to gracefully walk down the path, but with the dogs pulling, and slippery leaves below me, it was more of a half-stumble-but-never-fall walk and was not so graceful. As fortunate as it was that I didn’t fall down the stairs, it was an unfortunate event that the end cap to the dog’s poo bag did fall off without my knowledge and his newly inserted bag roll unfurled down the stairs. I didn’t realize this until Dylan noticed and alerted me. I looked back and saw a bright blue streak of plastic behind me. To add insult to injury, there was a man at the top of the cave, watching every move. Thanks for the heads up, buddy! I stupidly gathered up the bags as best I could and marched back to the car. Dylan found the cap near the entrance and we headed out.

Our next stop was much less embarrassing and actually quite enlightening. We stopped off at the Freedom Hills Overlook. It was a great spot to take a great shot of my dog Arthur. Isn’t he handsome?

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When we first reached the top of the overlook area, which is Alabama’s highest peak at 800 feet, we were a bit underwhelmed. The view wasn’t all the great, mainly because the trees had grown up past our view.

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But as we were standing there, trying to get a couple of shots, we heard a voice behind us. A man called out to us and said, “The view is actually better up here.” So we hiked up through some brush and up a slight hill to what was actually probably the highest peak. The man introduced himself as Dan, a recent transplant to the Muscle Shoals area from Nashville. He was a wandering musician that decided to make his home in Muscle Shoals. We got on the topic of music almost instantly. We talked about great artists that visited this area to record, like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, and The Black Keys. The sound that was created in this small town was unlike anything that had ever been played before and it was the start to popularizing that deep down, dirty bluesy southern sound we all can recognize He mentioned a documentary about Muscle Shoals, so I made a note to jot it down so I could see it when I got home. (It was a great documentary by the way – I didn’t realize that if it wasn’t for Muscle Shoals and Fame Studio, Aretha Franklin probably wouldn’t have existed. I recommend it).muscleshoals

We also started to talk about Canadian bands like The Band (almost completely Canadian anyway), and Gordon Lightfoot. Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh come on. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald??” But think about this. How many times have you listened to an artist on the radio and thought, “there are so many better songs on that album”. Apparently this is the case with Mr. Lightfoot and many of his songs on popular albums never got the recognition they deserved but encompassed the scale of his talents to a much higher degree. He recommended listening to an entire album while smoking pot (he was definitely of the hippy variety), and although I may try it out listing a full album, I’ll abstain from the pot smoking.  Thanks mister hippie man.

We thanked him for the advice, said our goodbyes, and headed on our way to our last stop for the day, which was the John Coffee Memorial Bridge. It’s the Parkway’s longest bridge and crosses the Tennessee River.

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We stayed the night at the David Crockett State Park in Lawerenceburg, Tennessee, which was off the trail about seven or eight miles, but easy to navigate to. Although it was my first time in Tennessee, there was something so reminiscent and connected about Tennessee that I loved, not to mention all the beautiful scenery. It felt like a place I’d want to keep coming back to.

But until then. More of Tennessee and the end of the Trace on the next post…

Natchez Trace Parkway pt. 3: The Actual Natchez Trace Parkway

We began our journey on day three of our vacation, better known as Monday.

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Sorry for the blurriness. It was taken in a moving car (no I wasn’t driving).

As we started our trip, we decided to hit up one of the first stops, to get us going. It was titled “Old Trace”, and explained what the Natchez Trace Parkway was. The Natchez Trace Parkway doesn’t follow the actual Trace exactly, so there are portions of the drive you can get out and see where the original is/was. History says the deep crevices you find among the Trace were created by all the people who traversed this path over many years. It was walked on so much it created it’s own cavernous path.

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A frequent stop along the entire Trace were old mounds created by Native Americans. These Emerald Mounds were slightly different than just burial grounds, as they were used as sacred ground for ceremonies as well as burials. DSC00507.JPG

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As we were contemplating the sheer work involved in creating these mounds, and the ceremonies that took place hundreds of years ago, my dog decided to desecrate the area by using it as his own personal bathroom. We did what we could to rectify the situation, picked it up, said a prayer of forgiveness and went on our way.

Another stop for the day was Mount Locust. It was an old inn used to house people as they made their way through the Trace. The history is rich here and I can only imagine the array of people who came through this inn, stayed the night to rest, and told stories over the fire place. Who knows what great adventures these people experienced, exploring new lands, people and animals and experiencing the harshness of nature without any of our conveniences of today.

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The Sunken Trace was our next stop and it is one of the most visited and photographed exhibits on the Trace. It’s a live example of the path that thousands of people took, to seek out new opportunities and a new life in an unexplored world.

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The old town of Rocky Springs was our next stop. The town no longer exists, as a combination of Civil War, bad crops and yellow fever eventually wiped out the town. Before this though, it was a thriving town with over 2000 residents. According to the Parks Services, the town included three merchants, four physicians, four teachers, three clergy and 13 artisans, all while being surrounded by farmers. All that’s left now is remnants of the Trace and a church.

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I started walking the path up to the church when an older man started making conversation with me. Normally this would make me very uncomfortable, as I’m an introvert that likes to be left alone, but he was harmless, and started talking about the area and his life. His name was James and he had lived in Jackson most of his life, which was nearby. He came here to go walking and play on the piano inside the church. He said he didn’t believe some of the information the books had on Rocky Springs, that he’d grown up in this area most of his life, and there was no way you could grow cotton here (there was an artist’s painting of Rocky Springs where they were growing fields of cotton.) He had his opinions on this and I let him speak. He could definitely be correct.

I really wanted to head up to the church but he had stopped me at the bottom of the hill, and I didn’t want to be rude and wander off, so I slowly edged toward the hill and he got the idea that I wanted to see the church, so he walked with me to the church and opened the door and showed me inside. I would never have even thought to try to open it, as most old buildings are cordoned off.

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James volunteered to take my picture for me in front of the church
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James playing the piano for the church

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James reminded me to not be so afraid to talk to people. A lot of people are lonely and have stories to tell, and will tell them to anyone who will listen.

We made a few more stops on the way but the last major stop we made was the Cypress Swamp. Cypress trees and the swamps they inhabit are a subject the hubs and I are both fascinated by. They’re beautiful, haunting, mysterious and romantic, all at once. To me, they’re the epitome of Deep South Romanticism.

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We made our way to the next campsite, Holmes County State Park, in the dark unfortunately. It was a creepy setting to say the least and the hubs and I only stayed there long enough to eat, sleep, shower and head out the next morning. I don’t know if you believe in ghosts but I’ve had experiences in my life that would lead to believe there could be a possibility of them among us. This campground was just another tack on the wall. It was a small campground. Besides us, there were only two camper trailers there, but both were tired looking, covered in leaves and green mold, like they’d been there for some time. There was no one around to check us in (we paid online so we already had reservations), so we set up our trailer for the night. When I went into the bathroom, it sounded as if there was someone outside, maybe sweeping up the floors outside the bathroom doors. When I opened the bathroom door, there was no one there. This happened almost every time I went there. For my husband, the story gets even weirder. When he went into the bathroom, the toilet flushed itself. Full on flush, not draining, like there’s a leaky gasket, but full on flush.

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Possible haunted bathroom?

Either way, we slept we left.

Onto the next day’s adventures.

A walk in the National Park

I decided to try a new park in Mississippi. I’d been to the Tuxachanie Trail, which is nice but it doesn’t loop back, and I attempted the Black-something or other trail (I don’t even remember because it was so overgrown I couldn’t even attempt it). This one was called Big Foot Horse Trail. I understand the Horse part of it, as it’s a trail for both horse and human, but the Big Foot part interests me, especially since it’s part of a National Park. Maybe it’s an Area 51 type deal for Big Foot and they either though sticking Horse in front of it would fool anyone, or the just got lazy? Who knows. I can tell you though that I didn’t see any Big Foot on my hike. 

My original plan was to do the full 11-mile loop. I didn’t have much going on that day so I figured I’d torture myself in the Mississippi humidity. It was already reaching a heat index of 100 by 10:30 that morning. But alas, I only made it 5 miles. Let me back up. I think I’d planned on taking the 11-mile loop but the problem was, that when I arrived to the park, there were no maps (again), none on their website, and none on the one paragraph pamphlet I had, so the only thing I had to go on, was the excerpt from the pamphlet stating there were four different trails, to include a 5-mile and 11-mile loop. Once I found the path, which was slightly hidden, and split between the drive way so I’m still not really sure which trail I was on. All they had for indicators were colored arrows, but I had no idea what the colored arrows meant so, really, who knows. Either way, I was able to snatch some pics.

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Anyway, I think I was on the long path. I’d remembered to bring sun block and bug spray so the hike was good in that aspect. I was around 2.5 miles in when I almost ran into a spider web that ran from tree to tree across the path. I was so grateful that I saw it and didn’t smack into it. I continued to hike along, rounded a curve, and ran into a giant puddle/lake. I looked ahead of it but it looked like swamp. Well dang. So that ended my hike.IMG_2558 I decided to head back as I had no idea if the rest of the trail was going to look just as bad. As my brain would have it, I’d already forgotten about the spider web, so I walked my face right into it’s sticky, nasty, creepiness. The first reasonable thing I did was scream out loud, take my sunglasses of and frantically wipe away the spider strings. I shook with heeby jeebies for about a minute, then looked up to where I’d run into, and that’s when I saw her. A big spider, just slightly smaller than my hand. Two thoughts ran through my mind: 1- thank God she’s there, that means she isn’t on me, and 2- Holy crap, she could have been on me….

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I finished my hike without anymore run-ins with spiders or other creatures, but proceeded to shower the minute I got back to the room. 

This weekend otherwise has been quite uneventful. I’m just counting down the days til I get to go home to Texas. I can’t wait. 

 

An introvert’s idea of a fun Friday

I’m not someone who can hang out with a ton of people for a long period of time. I consider myself to be introverted. Blame it on me being an only child, blame it on me moving enough to not stay in contact with any of them these days, or blame it on nothing. I enjoy my alone time. I don’t mean that I have to be alone all the time, but lately with classes, I’m around people all the time and it starts to grate on me. I was suggested by someone to coordinate this hike with a group of people. I ignored the suggestion and went on the 7-mile hike in the woods by myself.

 

It was lovely and energizing. What extroverts need to understand is I do things by myself, not because I don’t want to socialize with people (although that is sometimes the case), or because I’m feeling depressed or anything like that. Sometimes I just want to be by myself. I enjoy exploring alone sometimes. Just me and the trees and frogs and my thoughts.

 

Hope you enjoy my solitary pics. I’m sure I’ll be back there before my departure from this area of the country.

 

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treetops pond pinecone path forest floor footbridge flowers caanopy bridge meAn introvert's idea of a fun Friday