Friday, December 25, 2009

Natchez Trace option

As we near our departure date for the Southwest, I'm continuing to look at travel routes and potential overnight spots, focusing on Walmarts and Flying J's along Route 81 toward Knoxville. One of the great guides that helping me look at options further south is Marianne Edward's "RV Boondocking in Southern Texas." She has advice about getting south out of the Nashville area and suggests taking the 444 mile Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville to Natchez. I have the feeling that we will be sick of interstates and trailer trucks by the time we get to Nashville. We can thaw out, take it easier, and see a historic part of our country.

Here's what Wikipedia says about the Trace:
The Natchez Trace, a 440-mile-long path extending from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, linked the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippirivers. It was a traditional Native American trail and was later also used by early European explorers as both a trade and transit route in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Today, the trail has been commemorated by the 444-mile-long Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the approximate path of the trace.[1] The trail itself has a long and rich history, filled with brave explorers, dastardly outlaws and daring settlers. Parts of the original trail are still accessible.

Edward's has some good ideas on stopping points at free campgrounds -- we'll likely stop near the north end at Meriwether Lewis near the north end at mile marker 385.9 and perhaps then at Rocky Springs near the south end. We may take an extra day and do a little exploring before heading over to the Texas coast.

I'd love to have you comment below sharing any advice or recommendations you might have about driving the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I bought and installed new support rod for propane tanks and after a lot of drilling, was able to paint the parts yesterday -- and install and test everything today before the snow hit. Things are buttoned up, the 'stream is winterized and parked until mid-January, and we're starting to plan the route and stops for our trip to Texas. With a wood fire going and snow falling, it's nice to think of warm desert camping.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back Home

Yesterday, we said our goodbyes and hitched up the Airstream, taking our time to make sure things were done correctly. I found that the threaded bar holding the two propane tanks in place was snapped -- another good thing to fix before heading SW. I was able to tie it down for the trip home and will now deal with rusted nuts and cold metal.

The traffic on a Tuesday after Thanksgiving was light and the roads were dry -- although we were worrying some about the Vermont forecast of snow showers. The route out of Merrimac is quite winding and relatively narrow, and after a five-mile detour around an accident, we were heading Northwest toward I-93. No other travel trailers heading north on December 1st although we saw a few rigs headed in the opposite direction.

Pulling the Airstream, we have to plan our coffee stops a little more -- remembering places where there is adequate parking and turn-around room. We made our normal pit stops and after an uneventful trip (always nice), we were headed through Montpelier, wondering about the state of our driveway. It has a tough turn entrance, is steep, and is usually icy from frozen ground water. Well, we found it relatively dry and had no trouble getting up it, backing the Airstream into its resting space (where it will sit until we dig it out in mid-January), and unpacking.

It was a nice trip -- a turkey trot, a wonderful Thanksgiving, lots of family time, and a great birthday celebration for a dear friend. We debugged a few more Airstream problems and had good traveling up and back. A nice last shakedown before snow hits.