We flew into Jackson, Mississippi on Southwest (they had the cheapest fares) and drove down the Natchez Trace to Natchez. We had been on the Trace Parkway before around Nashville and it was as beautiful as we had remembered. Two lane road (no shoulder) with a 50 mph speed limit. Most of the time we felt like we were the only ones on the road -- just us, nature and the wildlife (hawks, vultures, wild turkey and road kill). No billboards. No facilities (restaurants, gas stations).
The Trace was probably a series of hunters' paths that slowly came to form a trail from the Mississippi over the low hills into the valley of the Tennessee. By 1733 the French knew the land well enough to map it and showed an Indian trail running from Natchez to the northeast. By 1785 Ohio River Valley farmers searching for markets had begun floating their crops and products down the rivers to Natchez or New Orleans. Because they sold their flatboats for lumber, returning home meant either riding or walking. The trail from Natchez was the most direct. Started in the late 1930's, the modern Natchez Trace Parkway parallels the old trace. It was named an All-American Road in 1995.
We stopped several times along the Trace. This is the view from the top of Mangum Mound one of several Indian mounds found along the Trace.
This is the view across the Mississippi River into Vidalia (no relationship to the marvelous onions), Louisiana from our hotel room (Country Inn and Suites by Carlson).
The *steamboat* is a casino and has no engine.
The Road Scholar group met briefly for introductions and then we were off to Monmouth Plantation for dinner. Monmouth is on 26 landscaped acres and is listed as a National Historic Landmark Circa 1818. We didn't take any pictures because it was dark, but it was eye popping. The food on this trip was out of this world. Here it was hors d'oeuvres before dinner along with two mint juleps (yes, two). Dinner included salad, fresh baked bread, catfish with a crawfish etoufee over greens, chocolate mousse. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), we ate like this everyday. Thus ended day one. Day two tomorrow!