Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Cities’ category

Natchez Trace – Mount Locust

“Of the 50 or so primitive hostelries established before 1820 along the Trace, only Mount Locust remains. It is one of the oldest buildings in Mississippi, dating to 1780. In 1956 it was restored to its form as a frontier hime of the 1820’s, which was the peak era of the Trace’s foot and horse travel. The old framework of the house is sassafras and was found to be in almost perfect condition where the other woods had succumbed to the years of southern Mississippi’s moist heat. The interior trim and walls are poplar, the exterior siding, cypres.”  From Guide to The Natchez Trace Parkway by F. Lynne Bachleda.

It is a gorgeous setting for a farm and “stand” (tavern or hostelry). You can walk the trace behind the house, and there are family and slave graveyards. The original brickwork remains in walkways and chimneys. The bricks were made on the site.

I should have walked the Mt. Locust Scenic Trail, which is described at pristine and stunning in Bachleda’s book, but I didn’t read about until later.

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Houses of Natchez

I spent the afternoon driving, but mostly walking around Natchez. One neighborhood along the cliff overlooking the Mississippi was most impressive. It’s only a guess, but I suspect the city codes for historic homes might stop some people from buying. Next door to some incredibly beautiful homes are once-beautiful homes that are in disrepair. There are also intermixed modest homes that are often quite pretty. Blocks away, I found a modest neighborhood that looked like Elvis’ birthplace. Rhett was right. This is a very cool town, rich in heritage and history, and I didn’t even get started on the cuisine. Next time 😊

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Loved my campsite at Natchez State Park.

Natchez Trace Emerald Mound

Like the Grand Village, this is a sacred and impressive site of the Mississipians beginning about 1300. Mound building was practiced for thousands of years. It was a place of ceremonies, trade among nations all the way to Indiana, and games. Here they placed stickball with only their hands. They still return every year for ceremonies.

Note: if you click a picture, you can then scroll through them as slowly or quickly as you want.

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Driving back up the Trace from Natchez, I wanted to see Mount Locust, one of the hostelries along the Trace. It is the only one that remains. The framework of the house is sassafras, and was found to be in almost perfect condition. The interior trim and walls were poplar; the exterior siding cypress. From “Guide to The Natchez Trace” by F. Lynne Bachleda. Unfortunately it was not open. I visited some other sites along the way, a beautiful cemetery on the Trace, the remains of Elisabeth Female Academy (1818-1845) and Loess Bluff, an ancient wind-blown cliff.

I went back to Natchez, visiting St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Natchez National Cemetery that my tour guide recommended. Walking along the boardwalk, there are three impressive homes standing above the Mississippi.

Natchez, Mississippi

My friend, Rhett Riplinger, told me Natchez is a great and interesting town, so I spent a couple of days exploring. Still I left a lot undone. I walked around downtown and along the riverwalk. Then I saw a little horse and carriage with a man standing beside it in front of the old train station. I hustled over just in time. Within a couple of minutes I realized this guy was going to be a classic, and I started the recording app on my phone. He grew up here, adding a lot of color commentary, but he knew his history…..although some may have been embellished.

There was the ‘Hanging Tree” at the court house and old jail, where paranormal stories abound. There are Clan stories. Bowie’s Tavern has an old bar where Kit Carson inscribed his name. Sam Bowie, born in Kentucky, grew up across the river, gaining fame in the “Sandbar Fight” in the middle of the Mississippi River. He was shot twice and stabbed three times, once in the sternum with a sword cane. With the sword sticking out of his chest, he grabbed his opponent’s shirt, killing him with his large sheath knife.

The Natchez Indians had settled this site on a high bluff above the “Father of Waters” for 1,000 years before the Europeans came. Probably the “Mississipians” had been there long before. When De Soto came in 1540 with 600-700 armored and mounted soldiers, the Natchez “Sun God”, Quigualtam, had heard how he had treated Indians along his journey. De Soto sent emissaries several times asking for treasures and surrender. On his last attempt, he said he was the father of the Sun and was more powerful than the chief. Quigualtam told him to prove it by drying up the river. When that didn’t happen, the Natchez chased and raided De Soto all the way to the Gulf.

The Mississippi originates in Lake Itasca in Minnesota, traveling 2300 miles to the Gulf, which makes it the third largest watershed in the world. It carries a half million pounds of sediment every day. Over the eons, it is responsible for making what is now south central United States. From “Guide to The Natchez Trace Parkway” by F. Lynne Bachleda. It remains a relatively untamed river.

Samuel Clemens spent a lot of time in Natchez. My tour guide told the story of Clemens being invited to the 1st Presbyterian Church. Before the service, he noticed the Slave Gallery upstairs. He tried to go up there to join them, but couldn’t find the way up. It was said that was one of the inspirations for “Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn”, where the kids fake their death on the river and view their funeral from the rafters. Later he was asked what he thought of heaven and hell. He said he didn’t want to comment because he had friends in both places.

Natchez was a rich town before the Civil War, with river transportation, lumber and cotton being the primary businesses. After the war, times were different. A lot of the shipping business went to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The transition from slavery and today didn’t always go easily. I visited the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. You could spend the rest of your life reading all the books in that museum. I was their only visitor that afternoon, and was given a guided tour that lasted three and a half hours. I was thankful, but exhausted. History is rich here. We discussed recent issues we have had in Charlottesville, or what I call “Statue City”. They said it could have easily happened in Natchez. Diving back to camp, I couldn’t help but think of how terribly the Native Americans fared. Yet we hear little of it today.

Natchez State Park was a great place for me to stay. It was quiet with a good staff and good facilities.

Natchez Trace – Grand Village of The Natchez Indians

I didn’t tour the plantations and mansions, but there are lots of beautiful ones. I opted to tour the Grand Village of the Natchez. There is a nice information center. I listened to a person of Natchez decent telling his history to the lady at the desk. I wished I had recorded it. He was telling about his family’s land, going back to early European times and how the tribe wouldn’t accept him now. He thought the new casino might have something to do with it.

The Grand Village is impressive. It reminded me of sites in Mexico, though no buildings remain. You could imagine large numbers of Indians in ceremonies and games. It’s an impressive site. “The Natchez Indians inhabited what is now southwest Mississippi ca. AD 700-1730, with the culture at its zenith in the mid-1500s. Between 1682 and 1729 the Grand Village was their main ceremonial center, according to historical and archaeological evidence. French explorers, priests, and journalists described the ceremonial mounds built by the Natchez on the banks of St. Catherine Creek, and archaeological investigations produced additional evidence that the site was the place that the French called “the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.” from http://www.mdah.ms.gov/new/visit/grand-village-of-natchez-indians/

Stickball

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The origins of Lacrosse is often attributed to the Algonquins, but the Indians of the southeast played stickball for more than 1000 years.

“Among the Indian nations of the Southeast (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Natchez, Seminole), there were two basic ball games which were played. These games had both social and ceremonial meaning.

Stickball was played with two sticks per player. The ball sticks, made from hickory or pecan, were about two feet long and were bent at one end to form a racket. The balls were made from deerskin which was stuffed with deer or squirrel hair. Players would catch the ball between the nettings of their sticks and then throw it. They were not allowed to strike or catch the ball with their hands. The players, however, could tackle, block, or use any reasonable method to interfere with the other team’s movement of the ball.

Points were scored when a player hit the opposing team’s goal post with the ball. Among the Cherokee, a team had to be the first to score 12 points in order to win. The Creek, however, required 20 points in order to win.

The field for the game might be as long as 500 yards or as short as 100 yards. The object of the game was to get the ball between two goal posts or to strike one of the poles with the ball.

Stickball was often used to settle issues between Choctaw communities. This approach to settling internal issues reduced the possibility of civil war. In these instances, the goal posts might be located within each opposing team’s village which meant that the goal posts would be several miles apart.

Among the Choctaw, the players were not allowed to wear moccasins or any clothing other than a breechclout. On the night prior to a game, there would be a dance in which the players would dance in their ballplay outfits and rattle their ballsticks together.

Among some of the tribes, players would not eat rabbit prior to a game as it was felt that this might cause them to become frightened and confused. They also avoided eating frogs because this would make them susceptible to broken bones. Players would generally fast before the game.

The number of players varied greatly. Sometimes there were games with as few as nine players per side, while other times there were games with several hundred players on the field. A game might last several days. Play was rough and it was not uncommon for the players to suffer severe bruises and even broken bones.

The Southeastern nations also have a single pole ball game which is played in ritual context. Like stickball, the single pole game is played with sticks and a small ball. In this game there is a single pole, about 25 feet high, with a wooden effigy of a fish at the top. Seven points are scored when a player manages to strike the fish with the ball. Striking the pole scores two points.

This game has been played for more than 1,000 years. The game is often played in association with the Busk (or Green Corn Ceremony). The game, which is played on sacred ground, brings a sense of balance and harmony by bringing the secular and sacred together.” From: https://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/949

 

 

Rain! Petoskey, Michigan

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We woke up to HEAVY rains, thunder and lightning. Like a small hurricane, the winds blew hard. I was worried a tree or big limb would fall on the Airstream. It was predicted to last all day, so we read most of the morning. By noon it let up, so we drove into Petosky and went to the library. Certainly one of the nicest libraries I have been in, the nice lady at the desk told us it is more quiet on the second floor. With comfortable tables, chairs and lounge chairs, we picked a good spot to catch up on the blog. 45 minutes later I was done. We headed across the street to an old church that now served as Crooked Tree Arts Center and checked out all the work, most of which was for sale. 

By then the sun had come out and it was warming up, so we decided to go to Bear River Valley Recreation Area, where the river had been turned into a 1.5 mile white water section. You’d better know what you are doing to run this one. Of course it was rocking from that torrential rain last night. By the time we had walked up the trail for a while, we started peeling layers off. From the 49 degree start of the day, it got up to 75 and sunny.

On our way back to Petoskey State Park, we stopped to look at the incredibly pretty houses overlooking the bay. I hadn’t walked very far when a gentleman, out for his walk, asked me how I was doing. The next thing you know we were walking together, talking about Petoskey. He said he has been coming here for 76 years, his parents bringing the family from the time he was born. He went on to jobs bringing distressed companies back to life, living in many places including Florida and 8 years in Hawaii. He said this is the best place he has very been, and I believe it as it is gorgeous. He told me we should buy a cottage here. Then he gave me recommendations of where to eat and places to go, among them Pictured Rocks and Harbor Springs. We said goodbye. A couple he knew came up the other side of the street, and he went over to talk to them. He must be the mayor of Petoskey. 

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I resumed taking pictures of the lovely homes, but didn’t make it down to Bay Street where the biggest houses are. Martha had made it down and around two blocks before we met again. We decided to go to Petoskey Brewing Company for dinner. A good burger and fries complemented the porters we ordered. A group of 10 guys were seated next to us. I couldn’t help but listen in as one guy told the story of deer hunting when a wolf killed a deer right in front of his deer stand. After all that rain, it turned out to be a pretty good day. 

Nature & Me RV

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October 2, 2018

Our appointment at Nature & Men RV was at 3:00. We went to the grocery store and got a few things, one being a new lighter for the gas stove. I was looking through a whole display of them, mainly looking for one that was refillable. Martha walked up and said, “Why wouldn’t you get the Ohio State one?” I couldn’t believe here in Michigan was an Ohio State lighter. I had settled on a Michigan State one as a souvenir for our trip, but since we had been at Ohio State for five years, it was an easy choice. 

Then off to Backcountry North on Rt 31. Martha wanted to trade her gloves that she bought downtown. It’s a dangerous store. With kayaking, hiking and camping gear and a very nice and helpful staff, I enjoyed cruising around while Martha found gloves and a sweater. I bought some kayak gloves and a light neoprene shirt for kayaking in this weather…..if I get to do it. I should have bought pants, but had already spent too much.

We had lunch, checked out of the campground and went to Nature & Me RV, arriving about 1:30 for our 3:00 appt. I checked in with Joe, telling him we didn’t expect to be seen until 3:00 and would just hang out. Maybe I could catch up on the blog on their WIFI. After cruising the parts and accessory section and looking at all the Vespa scooters, I went out to the truck to get my computer. I was surprised to see Alan already working on the hitch. I asked if he minded my watching. He didn’t. I always like to watch, so I can learn what is done in case it happens again. He was very nice explaining things, and it was obvious he had done a lot of these things. I told him I was glad He was doing the job, as I could see it was going to be very secure as he tightened the bolts with his air wrench. He replaced both bolts on the affected side and the other side for good measure. 

I went in to pay the modest bill and enjoyed talking with Joe, who grew up here. He asked where we hiked. He likes to float the Boardman. In the same way I complain about my home, Charlottesville’s growth, he said he and his friends walked or biked everywhere, never feeling threatened. Traverse City has steady growth, with steadily increasing traffic. “You should see it in the summertime”, he said. I could be friends with Joe. He loves his town and all the great outdoor things to do and likes his job. He is going to visit the Airstream factory in Jackson City for the first time soon. I told him he would really enjoy that. He was still apologetic about not being able to see us yesterday. “Hey, we never would have taken that great hike at Brown Bridge”, I said. I thanked him very much. Lucky us!

 

We were on our way at 3:00, heading up 31, east around the bay, then north. On the map it looked like you would see water on both sides, but we rarely got a glimpse. Still, it is very pretty land, farms and little towns. We drove through the cute, little town of Petosky to Petosky State Park. We found a spot near the beach and set up, then built a fire in the Solo Stove. I really like this thing. You can snuggle right up to it to stay warm without the smoke driving you away, and it burns hot. Martha cooked some Brats, acorn squash and veggies over the fire. Then we walked over to the beach to watch the sun set. We put everything away except the Solo Stove as the rains were supposed to come in the night.

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Hike Brown Bridge Quiet Area

Monday, October 1, 2018

After being on the road for 7 days, it was time to do laundry, so we went to Eastfield Laundry on 8th Street. With good machines, a nice attendant and WIFI, it made our job easy. We had a Reese hitch bolt come out and needed to get that fixed as well. Having replaced it twice myself, I was ready to drill through the box frame and put a bolt in one side, a lock washer and nut on the other, but Martha wanted to take to an Airstream place we saw driving in. I called Airstream of Northern Michigan. A salesman named Greg put me through to Joe, the service manager. Thinking I just needed the right bolt or slightly bigger bolt, he said to come at 2:00. 

We finished up with the laundry, put it away, had some lunch, hooked up and checked out. The Airstream place is called Nature & Me R.V. Greg directed me to service where I met Joe Hooch. We went out to check out the problem, and he called Alan to take a look. These are tapped screws that go in one side of the boxed frame, and Alan said it didn’t work too well. Now they put a brass rivet nut into the hole, acting like a rivet when you tighten the bolt. He noted that the second bolt on that bracket was also stripping, which I knew. Really you should remove both brackets and put in rivet nuts and new bolts. They were busy with winterizing, other jobs and a couple of other travelers like us, so we agreed to come back tomorrow. Joe was very apologetic, but I fully understood. I could see they were very busy. 

We checked back into Traverse City State Park where the staff was really into decorating for Halloween. Arms, hands and legs hung on signs and tried to come out of the ground. Ghosts hung from a fence, and a huge spider scared me in the bathroom. Martha found a hike called Brown Bridge Quiet Area along the Boardman River. It was good to get out and get some exercise. We parked at area #1 and read the sign. Must be getting old, but we couldn’t read the tiny symbols on the little signs. Oh well, you couldn’t get lost in a place like this. Following a ridge line, we headed east toward #2 through the woods. We could barely see the river winding below us. It is an old lakebed that has been drained. Our plan was to walk to a loop to the river at the far end of the lake, turn around and come back for 4.2mi, getting back for cocktail hour

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Those little blue triangles have numbers in them

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When we finally reached the river, I was so happy to see this beautiful river and take some pictures, we took a wrong turn and crossed the river over a bridge. There were side trails in a lot of places, especially along the river where people fish or just walk along it. Then that little sign was so small and hard to read. We didn’t realize what we had done until we got to marker #6. Finally I took a picture of the map with my phone and expanded it so we could see the tiny numbers. Well it wouldn’t be that much further, and it was much prettier following the river. It would be a great float through here although a bit chilly today. I wondered at the map whether there was another bridge at the other end of the old lake. By the time we had walked 8 miles and crossed the dam, we arrived at the bridgeless Boardman. I certainly wasn’t walking back, but Martha was hesitant to walk across. It was supposed to start raining any time and the sky looked like it. The river is shallow at that point, 2-3ft, and not running too hard, but it was a cool, cloudy 50 degrees, and I had on blue jeans, cotton socks and hiking shoes. We held hands and walked across, up the hill to the road and back to the truck. We shed the wet shoes and socks. Martha’s hiking pants dried quickly, but jeans won’t dry for a very long time. Fortunately it was only a 20-minute drive back to the campground. A hot shower felt good.

Off to Michigan

Monday, September 24

We managed to get loaded before the rains came.  Driving was a bit tense all day, partly due to the rain, and we were in it all day. We finally arrived at Deer Creek State Park southwest of Columbus. It is a nice, modern park on a pretty lake. The paved campsite was so level, we didn’t have to unhook the trailer – perfect!

We took a walk around the campground in the drizzling rain to get the blood flowing a bit. We took showers in the morning and got on the road about 8:30. West on I70, north on I75 to 469 to 40 through Sturgis, and checking into Holland State Park by 4:00. 

We hiked up and around Mt. Pisgah once we got settled. There were nice views of sailboats on Lake Macatawa as the sun set. A big storm was heading across Lake Michigan with tornado warnings for Holland. Fortunately they never came, and the rains passed quickly. It did bring a cold front, so it was chilly in the morning and only got up to 60° during the day.

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Holland is a nice town on Lake Macatawa. First stop was the very nice and large farmer’s Market where we found some nice quiches and meat pies, some bread, a quash, some apples and of course a blueberry donut. We enjoyed driving through neighborhoods, then parked downtown to poke around the shops. After a few nice stores, we carried quite a few bags. In the cooking store the sales lady recommended lunch at Cranes, just up the street. We split a chicken salad sandwich and a piece of apple crisp. 

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After wandering around downtown a bit more, we heading back to the Airstream and a little relaxation before dinner. At 7:00 we went to Tunnel Park beach to watch the sun set. Winds blew off Lake Michigan making it quite chilly, but it was a good one.

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Tomorrow we will head north to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.

Savannah Trolly Tour

May 14, 2018

As we were driving out, a Barred owl flew across the road and landed in a tree. We managed to get a few pictures before it took off again. 

Taking the OldTown Trolly tour of the historic district of Savannah, we agreed to stay on the tour if we had a good guide. We stayed on, because Lilly Belle was great – the perfect tour guide. It was interesting to see the lovely old houses and many parks and squares. There was the bench where Forest Gump sat while saying “Life is like a box of chocolates”. We passed the Six Pence Pub where Julia Roberts saw her husband with another woman in “Something to Talk About”. Lots of other movies have been filmed here.

On our second trip around, we got off at Brighter Day Natural Foods Market for lunch and some groceries. Then we visited the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. An entertaining man gave a nice history of the church, and what a gorgeous church it is. We had to have ice cream at Leupold’s, voted one of the best ice creams in the world and in business since 1919. We could not disagree! Then we went into the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. A man gave a short history of the church and how it was built. It is quite beautiful.

We stopped at Bonaventure Cemetery, listed as one of the top 10 things to do in Savannah. It was very pretty with big, old trees and sitting on a bluff along the Wilmington River. We found Noble Jones’ grave, who was on the first ship to the settlement. He built Wormsloe Plantation.