I'm kind of a pushover. I love almost any good road I'm driving on. The Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route in western Montana is a fantastic road, the Road through Smoky Mountain National Park is a great road, but the Natchez Trace Parkway is really a great road. I don't think I say that because I'm smitten. I think it's the truth. Tinsley will back me up on it. She keeps finding reasons to love it too.
Maybe it's just that the kids were behaving exceptionally well (see Tips forRoadtripping with Kids tip #1 Start 'em Early and Often). They're either totally beaten down and resigned to the fact thet they're going to spend 50% of their lives in the back seat, or they like it. These days, it seems like they like it.
The first 50 - 100 miles are a little windy, but after that, it's nothing but gentle curves, gradual inclines, nice road surface, ZERO LITTER... This would make a fantastic bike ride.
We worked up some stuff for Tom to study before we left because we're pulling him from school to do this. One of the things is a two page map spread of the road and the Mississippi river. I added a bunch of text about the river -- how it works, what grows in and around it, why shrimp in New Orleans are jumbo and consequently, what an oxymoron is (I'll post that stuff soon). Tinsley laid out the page and made my words fit. At the Mississippi Arts Center, she picked up a copy of Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi. Within the first three pages, he verified all of the things that I had written and she acted so amazed. I guess she thinks I have an active imagination.
Anyway, here's a good tip: If you're driving the Trace (or exploring anywhere in Mississippi River country, buy and read Twain's book before you go (during the trip is OK, but not quite as good). Twain is such a wonderful describer of things and people that it really helps to make the trip fun and interesting for parents and kids alike.
Here's another tip: keep a running tab of animals that you see. We saw tons of turkeys (literally). Which maybe isn't such a surprise. But we also saw a lot of other animals too. Guess which is the strangest animal we saw.
Here's a hint: we saw it in Alabama.
OK, here's another hint: It's not native to Alabama.
C'mon, don't give up, it's native to some other continent and it begins with a "C"
Guess what it is.
Nope, guess again.
OK, I'll tell you. It was a camel.
We saw a camel in Alabama.
So when we saw the Zebra, it was a little less surprising. The Zebra may have been more surprising, had we seen it first, but after seeing a camel in Alabama, how could you b e surprised by a striped horse?
We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi after visiting Elvis's birthplace and driving by the Tupelo National Battlefield (which is right next to the side of the highway and can be photographed from the car at a stop sign. Probably not worth too much effort, but Tupelo is a great little city, the Hilton Garden Inn is a wonderful place to stay, and the Starbuck's in Tupelo was great (this was where I bought the great country cd).