Finally, after much anticipation, we left David Crockett State Park near Lawrenceburg, Tennessee on Thursday, July 31st, and began a leisurely drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway (the “Parkway”) – beginning at milepost 364.5. The maximum speed limit on the Parkway is 50 miles per hour, which Dick particularly liked – since Dick was driving our 40-foot motor home (“MH”) and towing our Subaru outback.
When planning this tour, a great book to buy in hard copy is Guide to the Natchez Trace Parkway by F. Lynne Bachleda, which I ordered from Amazon and which was recommended by our friend Peggy. The first mistake we made was not reading the book more thoroughly to know what was along the route. The book starts at Natchez, Mississippi and ends at milepost 444.0, with a short drive to Nashville, Tennessee. If/when we do this drive again, we will definitely start at Natchez and go north.
Our friend Janice was not sure the Parkway drive would hold the interest of our 13-year-old grandson Logan, and she was right, as always. We quickly realized that the book would give the history of an area at a particular milepost but, quite often, would tell you what had been there and was no longer there. It was also difficult to read the book and take in our surroundings with 3 of us in the MH. There were also areas that were not RV accessible. One day, I would like Dick and I to drive the Parkway (possibly in our vehicle) and hit the highlights. I particularly want to visit Natchez-under-the-Hill and Vicksburg National Military Park (which is at milepost 38.0). I say all this to, hopefully, help others considering this drive – especially with kids. Now, back to our drive!
Around milepost 352.9, we detoured off the Parkway and stopped at the Wayne County Welcome Center in Collinwood, Tennessee – a stop we would have never made if not on the Parkway. The volunteers in the Welcome Center were very friendly and had complimentary homemade goodies for their visitors – and lots of exhibits for viewing. A very relaxing stop!
Back on the Parkway, we drove a few more miles and took a lunch break at Cypress Creek (milepost 343.5) – with some neat photo opportunities.
Shortly after getting back on the Parkway, we realized this was not what we had expected on our trip with Logan. I checked our book and saw that Shiloh National Military Park (“Shiloh”) was at milepost 320. When we asked Logan what he wanted to see and do on this trip, he said he wanted to visit an old cemetery – although, after seeing one, he said he had seen enough for this trip. Perfect!
According to our book, Pickwick Landing State Park (“Pickwick”) was not too far from Shiloh, so we called ahead and made a reservation for 2 nights. It was quite interesting because we left Tennessee, entered Alabama, then Mississippi and, finally, re-entered Tennessee before reaching Pickwick, which is near Kounce.
Pickwick must be a little known Tennessee state park located on the Tennessee River. The sites had lots of trees, but were not very level – which presented a challenge since our jacks would not extend for us to level the MH. It was a great workout going uphill and downhill from the front to the back of the MH for the next 2 days! Another great park to visit when in the area – Pickwick Landing.
The good news is that Tennessee state parks have a 25% senior discount, and they have no entrance fees (which is similar in Arkansas, as well). I wish Texas would take the hint, as we paid less for 2 nights than for 1 night in a Texas state park. We had no sewer connections, but we had water and a 50-amp electric connection.
After getting set up, we went a few miles into Kounce for a few groceries and looking for a Red Box. NOT! We did find a "video store" and checked out a couple movies (DVDs, but not Blue Ray) for a movie night – the next 2 movies in the Bourne series. By the way, Logan has found a new favorite action hero – Jason Bourne!
Once back at the park, Logan gathered firewood left at another campsite, he and Dick lit a campfire and Logan roasted marshmallows.
The next day (Friday, August 1st), we headed over to Shiloh and, after parking, went to the Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center, viewed artifact exhibits from the Shiloh battlefield and watched the award-winning interpretive film, Shiloh: Fiery Trial. The film was 45 minutes long, but worth every minute, and brought to life this battle as we never learned in our history books.
Here are a few basic facts! The Battle of Shiloh took place on April 6 and 7, 1862, and involved about 65,000 Union and 44,000 Confederate troops, resulting in nearly 24,000 killed, wounded and missing. Horrific!
An interesting fact is that: “In Shiloh’s bloody aftermath, the dead of both armies were hastily buried across the battlefield. The U.S. dead were later re-interred in Shiloh National Cemetery (1866-1868), and the mass graves of Confederate dead preserved through the creation of Shiloh National Military Park in 1894.” If I ever learned such details in any history class, I have certainly forgotten them in the 45 or so years since graduation from high school!
After leaving the Visitor Center, we walked through the Shiloh National Cemetery, which overlooks the Tennessee River.
We then took the driving tour through the battlefield, stopping and walking around various points of interest, taking pictures and soaking in the history. We were particularly impressed with the Confederate Monument (probably in part because we are from the South), which commemorates where Confederate troops encircled and captured nearly 2,100 Union defenders of the Hornet’s Nest – all of which is explained in detail on the tour.
At one point on the driving tour, we stopped by the Shiloh Church, which was the Methodist church from which the battle got its name.
I could go on and on about this tour, but I do not want to lose all of our visitors. Check out http://www.nps.gov/shil/planyourvisit/index.htm to plan a trip or for more information, and see more photos of our visit in the photo album below.
What a somber visit for all of us, but part of our history - and thank you to our friend Janice for suggesting that we check it out!
At this point, we asked Logan if he would like to bypass the Parkway and make a trip to the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and the beach. He thought this was a great idea so, after returning to the MH, we began making plans for the next few days – and that will be a story for another day.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have enjoyed traveling with us! See ya!