Sometimes its better to drive west in order to go east; you'll find beautiful weather, new sights, and new adventures.
Making our way back from New Orleans to Nashville, the sky turned gray and then black. Then the black clouds started swirling. Black swirling skies are a bad sign in the southeast, usually meaning tornadoes. Rather than drive northeast on the Natchez Trace, and along the storm path, we drove west over the Mississippi River into Louisiana, headed north into Arkansas, jumped back over the river into Mississippi, and then straight north to Memphis.
This turned out to be fast, scenic, a new adventure, and an eye-opening drive (but that's a different blog topic altogether). We’d never driven through Mississippi before, just a short drive along the gulf coast after Katrina. The road we took, mostly state Highway 1 North along the river was a two lane road in great shape. There was very little traffic, mostly semis, but it wasn’t congested at all.
The scenery was beautiful, driving up through the rich farmlands of the Mississippi River floodplain. The crops were mostly corn, but a few of the fields had golden wheat growing which was beautiful in the sunlight. The rain from the night before left standing water in many of the fields, which made lessons for Tom about floodplains and farming more relevant.
We didn't want to abandon the Trace
While we really enjoyed the Natchez Trace Parkway, and were actually sad to get off of it in favor or “regular” roads, this rural route provided a pathway to Memphis which helped to wrap up a few loose ends of our educational journey with the kids. Because our destination was New Orleans, the Mississippi River played a big part in how we framed some lessons for Tom. But the Natchez Trace doesn’t follow the river, it begins there. And it exists because of the river. Driving along the river allowed us to a see the farmlands we’d talked about and the shape of the river, and its floodplain. It also allowed us to follow Elvis from his home in Tupelo (which we visited on the Trace) to his home in Memphis and Sun Recoding studio, where Johnny Cash and Elvis recorded.