Friday, March 28, 2008

Natchez Trace - Part 2

I have completed my trek along the Natchez Trace Parkway, traveling from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. The Trace is full of interesting stops where drivers and bicyclists can turn in and see beautiful sights or learn a bit of history. I want to share my favorites with you.

Mount Locust is the only remaining inn of approximately fifty that served travelers on the Old Trace. Mount Locust is at milepost 15.5 on the Trace or just a few minutes from the beginning of the parkway by car. The inn was a one day walk from Natchez in the Trace’s heyday. Thank goodness for automobiles!
The Park Ranger at Mount Locust is a descendant of the inn’s operators and was born in the house.

This was my first visit to a ghost town. Rocky Springs, a thriving community first settled in the 1790’s, grew to over 2500 people at its peak. The yellow fever epidemic, boll weevils, and the demise of the spring that gave the town its name caused the town to dwindle to nothing. Now all that remains is a church overlooking what was once a thriving town, but is now a walking trail. Two safes, minus their doors, stand among the trees. Everything else is gone.

Meriwether Lewis, senior commander of the Lewis and Clark expedition, died on the Trace on the night of October 11, 1809. The circumstances surrounding his death are a real historical mystery. He either committed suicide or was murdered. I was told by one park ranger that his expedition journals, which Meriwether Lewis had in his possession, were never recovered.

This tragic event occurred at Grinder’s Stand, an inn where he stopped for the night as he traveled to Washington, D.C. A replica of Grinder’s Stand is at this stop along with a memorial and burial site of this great explorer.

This beautiful waterfall named after Andrew Jackson is near the end of the Parkway. We hiked down the path 900 feet to see the falls. The water cascades down to a clear pool before disappearing around a bend. Then we had to hike the 900 feet back up to our car. Not so easy, but definitely worth the time and effort.

There are so many great sights along the Trace that I could fill several blogs with the information. But I will stop here and encourage you to see for yourself when you get the chance.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Natchez Trace Parkway

Peter Parker’s spidey-sense tingles when Spider-Man is needed nearby. I think a storyteller’s writer-sense tingles when a story is present. When I enter the Natchez Trace Parkway, I feel the stories of the people who traveled the road two centuries before hanging in the air.

I wanted to take the same journey in the comfort of my automobile. I started in Natchez, Mississippi and am making my way up the 444 mile two-lane highway that the National Park Service maintains as a tribute to this important road in our nation’s history.

Trace is French for animal track. A park ranger at the Trace Headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi told me that four major groups used the Trace.

Animals first carved out the trail that became the Natchez Trace. Two theories are: the animals were following the sources of water OR they were traveling to salt licks in the Nashville area.

Native American Indians used the same trail. The Trace winds through land that was part of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations.

Kaintucks traveled the Trace from 1785-1830. Kaintucks were men who floated down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to take goods to Natchez and New Orleans. Their boats were dismantled and sold for lumber and these men used the Natchez Trace to walk to Nashville and on to their homes.

Postriders used the trace from 1800-1825. The U.S. Government met with the Choctaw and Chickasaw leaders to gain permission to use the Trace as a national postal road to transport mail between Nashville and Natchez.

By 1830, people could travel up the Mississippi River by steamboat and the Natchez Trace was no longer used on a regular basis.

As I continue my trek along the Trace: more stories and perhaps a photo or two later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Write Attitude

As Flu Fest slowly crawls to a close in the Parker household, the number of words/pages added to my Work In Progress this week = Zero.

In lieu of a weekly blog, I want to share one of my favorite websites. For writers and dreamers of all sorts, please click here to visit Write Attitude. Enjoy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Dr. Seuss Week

This week children all over the U.S. are celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss with the National Education Association’s “Read Across America”. School libraries and bookstores are hosting special events to honor one of my favorite authors.

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) had ambitions to become a college professor. During his time at Dartmouth College, Ted Geisel was editor-in-chief of the humor magazine, a job he lost for breaking school rules. He continued to contribute illustrations under the name Seuss, his middle name and his mother’s maiden name.

Despite Ted Geisel’s successful career as a cartoonist, with his work appearing in The Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Vanity Fair magazines, his start as a children’s book author and illustrator was not easy. His first published book that he both wrote and illustrated, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times!

Some of my favorite Dr. Seuss memories:

*Hearing The Lorax read in place of the class president’s address when I graduated from the Tulane University School of Social Work.
*Seeing the musical, Seussical, at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans and constantly whispering comments to my husband during the show like, “I love that book!” OR “That one is my favorite.”
*Visiting the “Oh, Seuss! Off to Great Places” traveling exhibit featured at the Louisiana Children’s Museum’s reopening in 2006. (I wanted to take the entire exhibit home with me. It was fantastic!).

For more fun info on Dr. Seuss, click here. And yes, I did try the games.

Do you have any special memories associated with Dr. Seuss or any of your favorite books?