We entered the nationally treasured parkway at its northern terminus, the very last mile marker, just outside Nashville. A ribbon of pavement that snakes its way through a rolling landscape to follow an ancient footpath first used by Native Americans then Mississippi River boatmen returning north and Andrew Jackson's regiments. There were small roadside sections of preserved original footpath that we gladly made time to walk upon, following in the footsteps of this country's ancestors. We visited a slowly disappearing example of a tobacco farm and the hollow remains of a ferry crossing, the Gordon House. We found a more somber reminder of our history further along as we paused at the burial site of Meriweather Lewis, who had died along the Trace as he journeyed to Washington, D.C. to deliver his expedition journals. History and the ghosts of history hung thick around us as state lines came and went, Alabama and then Mississippi.
At the main visitor center for the Trace, near the halfway mark, we enjoyed more history and some brochures to aid in planning a future trip. The kids found the National Park Service stamp station to add another reminder to their growing collection within their NPS passport. Alongside the center was a side street leading into Tupelo and the birthplace of the king himself, Elvis Presley. There were statues and plaques but also a peculiar air about the place. Perhaps it speaks of the age of things but Elvis has seemed to become more historic for the older generations than the young. As the memory of things fades so does that piece of music history, the old shack in the heart of Mississippi that birthed a music legend.
Abandoning the Natchez Trace and Tupelo for a more expedient highway heading west, we gained momentum toward Jackson. The clock allowed us to gain Vicksburg by the time the sun bid ado and sleep began calling. I had hoped to gather more miles on Sunday but a slower pace and historic sites are not easily passed. The trip, our cameras, and the children's education are all the richer for it. I may have added hours to the next day's route but I had also added plenty to discuss during those hours. Besides, who can resist sleeping in a hotel guarded by cannons and overlooking a Civil War battlefield?