Down to the Crossroads
Beside the Mississippi
Starting the Trace
Vicksburg & More
Elvis Has Left the City
Little of note happened on the last day of the trip and of the year but
I've included a page for day nine
just for the sake of completeness. After breakfast at the Loveless Cafe
and a stroll through Bicentennial Park, I found the interstate and set the
This was one of those rare trips where I got to feed all of my addictions
a little. There were scenic roads, lots of history, some blues, some rock
& roll, a car museum, cool accommodations, worthy diners, and interesting taverns.
What else is there? OK, I could have done with about another 20 degrees
on the thermometer but that's about it.
Before reaching the northern end of the Parkway, I drove a bit of the old
Trace, looked over the history concentrated where Grinder's Stand once
stood, and admired the Parkway's biggest waterfall.
Lots of Elvis, lots of cars, a little Parkway, and a marvelous night for a
I took a peek at the capital then got in about a hundred miles of the
In Vicksburg I looked over the battlefield and the recovered ironclad
Cairo. I did get in a few more miles on the Trace after visits to
the Windsor ruins and the town of Port Gibson.
Mammy wasn't cooking and Jerry Lee's brother-in-law was soloing at the
drive-through so I missed out on two of my big goals for the day. But I
did get inside a 146 year old construction project and get started on the
Natchez, like just about every other city in the hemisphere, is pretty
much shut down on Christmas Day but that's where staying over a bar pays
On down Sixty-One to Natchez and a room with a view. On the way, I stopped by B.B.'s
and Kermit's birthplaces and the spot where "the Southern crosses
I spent Friday afternoon getting to within about a hundred miles of this
trip's official starting point in Memphis. Rain was falling almost to
Bowling Green. Even there it wasn't exactly dry but it had stopped raining when I
stopped at the National Corvette Museum to check out the
Lost Highway exhibit. Saturday started
with more expressway and a brief stop in Memphis to pay my respects to
Furry Lewis. Then it was US-61 to Clarksdale and way too much of that was
divided four lane. I'm now at the Shack Up Inn after stopping in at the
Delta Blues Museum and the Ground Zero Blues Club.
Prelude 2 (December 2, 2006)
The Kaintucks had no Broadway honky tonks, Beale Street nightclubs, or
Mississippi Delta juke joints to distract them as they hurried south.
Things have changed. When I looked at the all expressway route to Natchez
and realized that it skirted tantalizingly close to both Nashville and
Memphis I knew it would be painful but I resigned myself to just waving.
I've been there and done that and, even though I fully intend to do it
again, I figured I could tolerate skipping these two music meccas just
this once in the interest of time. But it was a different story when I saw
my proposed path actually veered away from the Mississippi River and
missed Clarksdale, MS, by an insulting forty miles. How could any blues
loving two lane driving juke joint junkie even consider traveling from
Memphis to Natchez on anything other than US-61. I felt ashamed. I did a
little calculating, promised myself I'd leave earlier and/or drive later,
and made plans to pick up the
"Blues Highway" in Memphis. I'm now looking
forward to both the going and the coming with equal anticipation.
Prelude 1 (November 20, 2006)
Like any sensible mid-winter trip, a Christmas break drive should occur
only in regions to the south of home. Range is limited by time which is
just a bit more than a week. I considered several candidates before
settling on the Natchez
Trace Parkway. I know that late December is not the ideal time to
cruise the Trace but, even though temperatures can get pretty low, trip
killers like sleet and snow can almost be completely ruled out.
Just like the Kaintucks of the early nineteenth century, I'll take the
fast way to Natchez and a slower way home. The Kaintucks' "fast
way" was on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers which might carry them
from Cincinnati to Natchez in a matter of days. Mine is over wide paved
expressways that will require about fourteen hours of driving. My return
route will be similar to theirs but, while most of the Kaintucks would
have walked the Trace and waded or swam the streams, I'll be propelled by
an internal combustion engine over paved roads that bridge those streams
with barely a bump. But the most important difference of all may be that
I'll have a heater.