Meriwether Lewis – Natchez Trace Parkway

Beautiful campground, and completely free!

We did a 180 degree shift from the parking lot Graceland campground, to a first come first serve, no services, no fees, deeply wooded campground along the Natchez Trace Parkway. It was rated five stars and I concur for a very pretty and peaceful overnight stay. Also, can’t beat free.

That’s a whole lot of bike-able miles!

We didn’t know much ahead of time about the Natchez Trace Parkway, besides the fact that it is a four hundred or so mile stretch of road, running from southern Mississippi to Nashville, and popular with bikies. Richard was not aiming for riding huge chunks of it, so this was more of a fact finding mission.

Richard riding the Natchez Trace Parkway

I let him out about eighteen miles south of the campground with instructions not to get lost, and to meet me in the campground. This was quite a daring proposition for us, considering we did not have reservations. But we had read that the place hardly ever fills up, and it was a Sunday.

He found me!

This whole area of Tennessee is very lush and densely forested with a wide variety of deciduous trees. The campground is in deep shade, which was nice, given the heat. I found at least a half dozen sites open when I got there, and chose one that seemed pretty level, and set apart from others. I chose a back in site and did all the unhitching all by my little self. Richard rolled in just as I was shooting a video to show how pretty the view was. He got in his pretty little self right on cue.

This is where Meriwether Lewis met his untimely end.

We had time to do a little hike to the Meriwether Lewis monument. I confess that it didn’t initially click in my head who Meriwether Lewis was. I knew I’d heard the name, but when you remove the “& Clark” part, it takes a minute to realize this was the “Lewis &” piece. We did some reading and discovered that his death is still a source of great debate among historians. He was shot in the chest and head, which was the cause of his death, but there are some who say it was self inflicted. Others claim either a random or sudden act of violence, or a conspiracy among people he knew.

Tribute to a life cut short

In any case, it was a life cut short, three years after having achieved an unparalleled task. He and his party were chiefly responsible for mapping the great, wild west, thus laying the groundwork for settlement and exploration. It seems at least plausible that returning to the hum drum banality and safety of normal life might have led him into despair. Like post vacation depression, but magnified many times.

Another Blue Apron recreation

We had a tasty dinner of Crispy Curry Chicken with Zucchini and Nectarine Rice, and then watched “Love Me Tender.” We only have one more Elvis movie downloaded, so we will have to make do with “Strange New Worlds” for a while.

View through the windows

As we settled in for the night, we again got to enjoy a southern light show. The first act was in the form of magical, fairy-like fireflies, blinking on and off all over the campground. I will never get tired of watching those. Soon, they were joined by lightning flashes above the trees. They did not seem to mind the competition and kept flitting around, even as the rain became heavy.

This was the pitch black dead of night, all lit up by a bunch of unrestrained electricity.

All night long the sky flashed. There wasn’t much thunder besides low rumblings, but the lightning was nonstop. I tried to get it on video but it doesn’t come across. I spent a long time watching the entire forest floor get lit up, bright as day, just for a second, and then disappear into blackness. Eventually, sleep overcame me, but it is hard to fall asleep when things like this are happening right outside your camper. Again, I must state, for the record, how glad I am not to be in a tent.

Pretty scenery along the Old Trace Trail

The next day we were going to stay and do some hiking. I was ok with that idea, but the trails were just not getting me excited. They’re very pretty, but I wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I became more interested in getting a jump start on the next leg of the trip. To that end, I found a state park campground roughly half way and it was well rated. We made the call to pack it up and roll out. Richard again got to ride a stretch of the parkway, this time about twenty miles starting from the campground and meeting me up the road.

Bakers Bluff Overlook

Rain threatened, but did not fall on him. I found a spot at a waterfall overlook and stayed current on the blog. He arrived just as I was placing pictures and wrapping up. We tried, and failed, to find the viewpoint for Jackson Falls, and instead just made lunch for the road and headed on out.

Another stop on our way eastward checked off!

Total miles from Graceland: 179.3 18.2 mpg, 5 hours 16 min. Site 16. No reservations, all free. No dump. Minimal cell service. Water spigots and trash cans around. No hookups.

4 thoughts on “Meriwether Lewis – Natchez Trace Parkway

  1. Hi Alissa and Richard, I’ve been to TN several times and never tire of the lush, green beauty except when it gets cold and foggy. Then, I pack it in. So glad you got to see it during a warmer time of year. Dee

  2. I watched the Elvis movie Acapulco soooo many times as a youngun’. I know all the words to the songs. Great trip so far. Has Richard ever done Ragbrai??

    1. Acapulco was not on our list of downloads. We’ll have to add it then. Richard has not done Ragbrai but he has done some crazy stuff. There’s a thing called Super Tour, all over the highest peaks of the Sierras for a couple weeks.

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