Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Rivers’ category

Fishing Esopus Creek

Thursday, June 27, 2019

We drove upstream where our friend in the hardware store told us to go and fished for several hours. Kelly went to a big hole where a feeder stream enters. I went up the feeder stream.

The feeder stream begs for a dry fly, and I tried several with no effect. This was a beautiful stream I could have fished all morning, but we had no cell service, so we were unable to communicate. Should anything happen, there would be no help, so I decided to go back. Climbing up the rocky bank with lots of vegetation, it was a prime spot for snakes and I chose my steps carefully. My last one was not good. I slipped on a slanted boulder, fell hard backward, smashing my rod on a rock and tumbled head over heel back down the bank. All I could think of was to keep my head up. Finally stopping, sprawled out on what I thought was a snake-infested bank, I assessed the damage. Just a few bruises and a smashed reel. Luckily, I didn’t break anything – myself or the rod. I limped back to the big pool.

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Kelly hadn’t caught anything, so I went up to another big pool ahead. An hour of fishing different things produced nothing. Defeated again, we headed back to camp. We were tired. We have been fishing every day for a week with little luck, but more than that, we were not accustomed to 9 hours of exercise every day. Lunch and a nap helped ….. some.

When we got going again, I noticed a bug on the window screen. Kelly said it was a mayfly. There was another on the door. OK, new strategy. We rummaged through our fly boxes, pulling out mayfly patterns. I opted for dry fly while Kelly chose a nymph. Walking upstream to a big pool, a fish struck on the first cast, but missed the fly in fast water. A second hit the second cast and missed, and I was suddenly energized. There would be one more hit and miss before I got a wind knot in my line. Kelly had been a couple hundred yards downstream, but was now walking up. He had caught three brown trout and lost a nice one. Things were looking up. By 5:00 and no more hits, I was tired and headed back to camp. 

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After a shower I felt better. We fixed a salad, rice and Cordon Blue from Omaha Steaks. It was excellent. 

Fishing Esopus Creek

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tags: Phoenicia Hardware Store, Phoenicia, NY, Esopus Creek. 

It was a clear, beautiful morning at our campsite on Esopus Creek. We could see no hatch or fish rising, so we decided to go to the hardware store in Phoenicia which also sells trout flies. A lady at the counter said good morning and went on mumbling to herself – something about her brother not being there this morning. We found the fly counter, and it was a good selection. Once again, we bought flies, this time stonefly imitations. We hadn’t seen a stonefly, but that is what is supposed to be hatching at this time of year. the nice lady helped us, and told us a couple of places to fish. She works as a bartender also. You have to be versatile to get by in Phoenicia. Kelly asked where we could get a coffee, and she said Brio’s. 

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Once in Brio’s Pizzeria, we decided breakfast might be a good idea. Kelly asked the nice waitress which of two selections would be best. She said, “Well, that’s hard, but judging from your southern accent, you would like the eggs with sausage gravy biscuits.” I chose the breakfast burrito. Both were good.

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Esopus Creek is a beautiful stream with clear, rushing waters. We fished it hard for a couple of hours in front of camp. We had a couple of flashes, but nothing else. Surely this stream is fished a lot throughout its length. We were tired and hot when we quit. 

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After a rest and lunch, we went back out with the same result. This is such a pleasant spot, it’s fun just to sit in the shade of big trees and watch as others try their luck. People have different techniques. We could only guess what they were using. A few small fish were caught. If fish are there, they are well-educated.

Grueling Moving Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

With rain last night, stream conditions weren’t going to get any better, so we decided to move on a day early. Once we got on a main road, we would call Sleep Hollow Campground and see if we could get an extra day. We packed up, hooked up and headed out. With no cell service, we used the truck GPS to set the course for Phoenicia, New York. As we headed up the gravel road, I took a left turn. Kelly said we had come in from straight ahead, so I pulled over. It’s hard to turn a trailer around on a gravel, mountain road, but we probably could have done it in this spot. I was on the GPS route, and after some discussion, we opted to stay on it. Wrong decision! It was a long, curvy route up and over a mountain for 45 minutes until we finally found a narrow paved road. It was a pretty drive, but not what we were looking for, and we were low on fuel. Surely there would be a gas station somewhere. Wrong again.

By the time we got to the pretty town of Mifflinburg, the route took us right through downtown on a narrow, busy street. I wasn’t sure I could get the trailer through, but there were tractor trailers coming the other way – right through downtown! there were no gas stations still! We were headed toward I80, so there had to be something ahead, but there wasn’t. We got on the interstate figuring we would find a station at the next stop, but the interstate was blocked! It was shut down with two trucks with flashing lights blocking both lanes. We had to get off and go right back through town.

In a circuitous route, we finally found a crowded Sheetz station. There were only two diesel pumps and at one of them, a big truck was camped out with no nozzle in its tank. A passenger was walking his pit bull. Kelly went up and asked him to move, which he reluctantly did. I circled around the busy lot to get a straight shot to the tank while Kelly stood in the lane. 

Finally, we found our way back to I80 and it was open. Later we heard on the news there was a bomb threat. Could that have been the reason it was closed? We traveled east on 80 to I84 and then I87 past New York. These roads are in terrible condition! Ruts and jarring holes bounced the trailer around. Hitting a big bump and hole on a bridge, there was a loud bang. I thought we had broken a stabilizing bar, but we never found a problem. With heavy traffic and jarring bumps, it was a long, all-day drive to get about 300 miles. Geez! Kelly called Sleepy Hollow campground, but no one answered, so he left a message. A few hours later a man called back, saying he had a place. 

It was 6:00 when we finally checked into the 100-site campground beside Esopus Creek. Wyatt checked us in. We had requested a stream-side site, and he had on for us 😊. Then he guided us into the site. At the end of a hard day, I was very happy for the help. Wyatt was a UPS driver, and he runs a great campground. For such a big campground, it is very pretty and well-maintained. The year-round campers maintain their trailers and sites nicely. 

All the days tensions subsided as we sat beside beautiful Esopus Creek outside Phoenicia, NY. This supplies Ashokan Reservoir, which is the water supply for New York.

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Fisherman’s Paradise and Fishing Creek

Monday, June 24, 2019

We had passed an overlook several times, so this time we stopped to get some pictures of this beautiful area

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We knew Fishing Creek was muddy, but that was our best choice, at least of the streams we knew about. We stopped at a convenience store for some coffee. As Kelly was getting in the truck, a fit, middle-aged guy walked in front, and Kelly asked, “Where’s the best place to go fishing around here?” With a quick smile, he asked, “Trout fishing?” “Yeah”, Kelly said. “Fisherman’s Paradise. Two presidents have fished there. You’re just 20 minutes away. Just put it in your phone for directions. It’s a spring creek.” We thanked him and searched Fisherman’s Paradise to quickly find directions. A spring creek wouldn’t be muddy.

As we drove south on I80, we thought, sure, it’s a pay-to-fish place. With the luck we have had, that was fine with us. As we arrived along a large crystal-clear spring creek, a sign greeted us. It is a state-run facility as a model for sustainable trout fishing. There were a few fishermen as we crept up the road admiring the beautiful stream. The road ended in a big parking lot and a large building. Now fishermen steadily walked up and downstream with a purpose. We have never seen so many, totally-geared up trout fishermen. They all looked like guides with the best waders, fishing shirts, vests, rods, nets, hats and sunglasses. I should have gotten some pictures, but my purpose was fishing. I walked around reading signs discussing the history of this place, once a private, pay-to-fish place, lined with fishermen. As the water quality deteriorated, the state bought it and gradually restored it. Using barbless hooks, no fish can be kept. 

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I noticed Kelly had been talking to a man, so I walked over and met George. He was very familiar with this stream, coming every year. He said he tries to come during the sulfur or midge hatch. Unfortunately, it is between hatches now. He had a license tag that read, ANGLER surrounded with a Trout Unlimited frame. He is from Connecticut, and was working on a project for UConn. At first I thought it was Yukon, and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. Coming in on the middle of the conversation, I didn’t want to make him retrace everything. What I did get was that he didn’t catch anything this morning. He targeted several fish that he saw, but couldn’t move them using a #20 fly. That is tiny! He said the fish didn’t even look up, so I asked why he didn’t try something under water. He just smiled. One, it’s not as much fun, and two, spring creeks have heavy grasses in them. If you go under water, you are going to get caught in them. If George hadn’t caught fish, what chance did we have? Surely there was some answer to attract these rainbows and browns. 

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George said if we liked wading, we should go downstream a mile to a bridge. We thanked him and headed down, passing fishermen along the way using a variety of techniques. None were catching fish, at least that we saw. For several hours we tried our best with no luck. After a hour of trying a few dry flies, I tied a dropper nymph, knowing that would do the trick. That means tying a small underwater fly to a large dry fly. That way you can see a strike and control the depth of the nymph. Nada, nothing, so I moved the nymph deeper. Nada. Wrong nymph? between hatches? Wrong time of day? We didn’t see anyone else having any luck either. By lunchtime, we were hungry, tired and frustrated, but this sure is a beautiful stream, like a large version of Mossy Creek at home. 

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OK, let’s go back to Fishing Creek and try that. We picked up a hamburger at McDonalds in Coburn and drove to Fishing Creek. It was still muddy, but we fished it hard for a couple of hours in a couple of places with no luck…..again. Well, we weren’t skunked. I caught one small, beautiful Brook Trout. 

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The fly shop said Poe Creek had fish in the upper section above the bridge, and Kelly was determined to catch some. I opted to take some pictures as I followed along. It is such a beautiful stream, it was fun to relax and enjoy the views. I’ve never been on an ugly trout stream. They may vary greatly in size, shape and surroundings, but they are always pretty. 

Raccoon, I think

Raccoon, I think

Poe Creek

Poe Creek

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By the time we got back to camp it was 6:30, and we were tired. We built a fire, fixed a drink and discussed the trials and tribulations of another frustrating day. Still, we felt lucky to be able to do this. Thank you Martha and Rhonda!

Fishing Poe Creek and Penns Creek

Sunday, June 23,2019

We were excited to fish Poe Creek this morning, where David said we could keep 5 fish. Trout for dinner – yum! We figured we would fish half of it in the morning and the other half after lunch. On the lower part of the stream, it turned out to be deeper than it looked from the road, and a little difficult to walk. I walked downstream 300 yards and fished up while Kelly fished up from the truck. One hour later and four fly changes, we had no hits. OK, change the strategy, fish together with one fishing a dry fly and the other wet. No hits #!&*. There were a lot of bugs of all varieties on the stream. Were we fishing the wrong things? 

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A full morning produced nothing. We fished the top section below the dam, but again, nothing. We disagreed about the cause, but my guess is there aren’t many fish left in there. They last stocked in May, and the water isn’t very cold. In Virginia they say all the stocked fish are caught in the first 24 hours. You figure one person can keep 5 fish and say 10 people fish it every day, it won’t take long to fish it out. We did get a few hits from small fish, so some may be reproducing.

OK, let’s run some errands and fish Penns Creek below Coburn. I know it’s the middle of the day, a terrible time to trout fish in the summer, but what else are we going to do. Two spring creeks come into Penns Creek at Coburn, which keeps the water cold, making it fishable all year. We drove along Pine Creek, a beautiful, fairly big spring-fed creek. You can’t fish it as it is all private property. Maybe if you stayed at a lodge, you could fish it. Maybe you could pay a landowner to fish, but we went back to Penns, picked a spot and fished for 2 or 3 hours. A little less muddy than yesterday, we could not really see where we were walking. It’s shallow, so you could easily walk across its 30-yard width, but we had to feel our way around the rocks. Using the flies we bought from Tess, we had no hits. Then we randomly changed flies a number of times. There was a small hatch of small, tan flies, but nothing was hitting the surface. I tried a couple of things that looked similar with no affect. If the water was more clear, we could see how it would be pleasant to wade around on a summer day trying to catch a big trout. Tired and defeated, we felt like the two guys we passed yesterday. 

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This is beautiful Amish country sans tourists. With pristine farms and cute, little towns, it makes pretty driving wherever you go.

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Pretty muddy Penns Creek

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Poe Creek

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Poe Valley State Park with a great beach

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Poe Valley State Park with a beautiful lake fed by Poe Creek.

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Despite our frustrations fishing, it was a good day in beautiful country.

Scouting Penns Creek and Fishing Creek

Saturday, June 22, 2019

As we packed up at Bumblebee RV Park, Andy came by to say hello with his dog, Charlie. We chatted for a while. This is a nice campground with very nice owners. Since Lisa and Andy work remotely, their WIFI system is great. They have owner’s WIFI, camper’s WIFI and full-timer WIFI, so there is plenty of capacity for everyone. With an excellent shower house, good water and electricity, we are going to miss these conveniences. 

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We drove 4 hours northeast, mostly on 220. Again, it was a beautiful, uncrowded highway through the mountains. We didn’t trust our phone GPS as we turned onto a gravel road 11 miles from Poe Paddy State Park, especially when a sign pointed to Poe Valley State Park. Were we going to the wrong place? Creeping along, we finally came to Poe Valley State Park and a paved road. There were lots of houses and cabins and a lake with a big swimming area. It was cool here in the mountains, about 72 degrees, a great escape from the summer city heat. We were sure we were in the wrong place when we saw a sign for Poe Paddy State Park 3.5 miles ahead. 

Then the narrow road turned back to gravel and followed a gorgeous trout stream – Poe Creek. Finally we arrived at Poe Paddy State Park, happy we weren’t in the wrong place. There was no office, so we stopped and found an information board with a map of the park and campground. We had reserved site #146 for four nights, since we had three streams to fish in this area, and the campground is on one of them – Penns Creek. The sites are huge in this nice park but here are no showers, power or water hookups.

After setting up, we drove to the end of a road and walked along an old railroad bed. This was a logging camp years ago, the train being used to haul lumber. Now it is a beautiful bike/hiking trail along Penns Creek. The river was muddy and flowing pretty fast. Seems to be our trademark when fishing – camped right on the river, but too muddy to fish.

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We have a printer in the Airstream that we use to print fishing licenses on the internet, but there was just one problem – no WIFI and no cell service. With our cell booster, we got one bar of service, but it was not enough to get on the internet. As we started to drive out of the parking lot, a warden drove up. I rolled down the window and asked if they sold fishing licenses at the Poe Valley Park office. No, he said as he got out of his brown truck and came up to the window. “You have to go to Milheim hardware store over the mountain”. Of course we know nothing about where we were. He could quickly see we were going to get lost, so he pulled out a map showing us where to go. He also told us they stock “the heck out of Poe Creek”. Then he showed us where Fishing Creek was and where to fish it. Turns out he is a school teacher, teaching physical education and history, and works as a warden part time. He was a fit guy with a big, easy smile. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and a tool belt with a pistol, flashlight and other gear. I asked if we were in a rough neighborhood, and he just laughed. Why he took so much time with us, I don’t know, but he said, “Look, I’m headed home in that direction. I have to make a quick stop to check people at the boat launch, but you can follow me”. What lucky people we were to find a guy like this! His name is David Martin. Pennsylvania is lucky to have a guy like this.

After a quick stop at the boat launch, David brought us a copy of the rules and regulations with a list of all the trout streams – Geez! Then he takes a right on a gravel road going up the mountain. It’s a narrow road with a fair amount of traffic. You have to hug the edge to pass other cars and trucks. Tom stopped to pick up a big chain someone lost in the middle of the road. As he was picking it up, he looked back and yelled, “SLOWDOWN!” I hadn’t even noticed the car behind me that had obviously skidded to a stop. It was Saturday and everyone was out. At the bottom of the mountain we turned right to follow Penns Creek into Coburn, where he stopped at The Feathered Hook Fly Shop. They didn’t sell licenses, but a nice young man inside brought us two printed maps of the roads, towns and streams on it. Milheim was only 2 miles down the road.

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Seeing we were in good shape now, David said he was going home to take his wife out to dinner. We thanked him profusely and went into the fly shop. This is quite a fly shop with everything in it. The wall is lined with fishing boots in every size! I looked around while Kelly talked to Tess. She said the trout can see better than you think in cloudy water, but the time to fish is late in the evening. Apparently there is a hatch at that time. Memories flashed back to the Columbia River with our guide, Rod, out of Castlegar, BC, when there was a huge mayfly hatch from 6:00 until dark. He had said there was no real sense in going out until then, since the fish waited to gorge on big mayflies. 

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Tess is quite the fisherwoman, having fished her way across the United States recently. We told here we had fished our way across Canada in 2013, so we traded favorite trout streams. Her favorite is Penns Creek. She told us what to use, so we bought $40 worth of flies. With the hundreds of flies we have, why do we never have the right ones? We could tell she knows what she is talking about and later decided to see if she could guide us, but she was booked up. Too bad. It would have been fun and educational to fish with her.

Using the map they had printed for us, we headed over to see what Fishing Creek looked like, and maybe get in a little fishing. The trouble was the map listed route numbers, but the road signs were in street names. We found Fishing Creek in Lamar, but couldn’t find the right way to the area Tom had told us to fish. We stopped to ask a gentleman sitting with his wife in the shade of their garage. He told us which way to go, but we still couldn’t find it. We were embarrassed when we passed by him three more times. I was ready to give it all up, and I was ready for a drink when Kelly talked to a young man at a gas station. With fresh directions, we finally got on the right track. 

As we headed up Fishing Creek, once again it was muddy. We passed two seasoned fishermen walking up the road. They looked tired and grumpy, but I slowed down and asked how they did. One said, “We’d have done better at the water treatment plant. At least we’d have caught something brown!” That’s what I needed, a good laugh. I guess there are brown trout in this stream. 

After cruising the stream a while, we headed back home. It was 6:00 and we were tired, but the decision for tomorrow was easy. Everything was muddy except Poe Creek near our camp, and Tom said it was well-stocked.

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Fishing The Savage River

Friday, June 21, 2019

We know fishing the northeast is technical, meaning you have to match the hatch, and the fly has to be presented without drag. There are lots of hatches, so depending not only on the time of the year, but sometimes even the time of day, the hatch will change. These are things we are not good at, but I recon we are going to have to learn. We brought hundreds of flies, but we never seem to have the right things, and end up buying more.

On our way down the mountain on a narrow road, we came up on a truck stopped in front of a tree that had fallen across the road. Walking down to the truck, we met Tom, who had a strap tied to the tree. He had chopped the remaining trunk where it had broken with a hatchet. Then he tried to pull the end across the road, but the trunk was now locked behind another old tree stump. After standing, looking at the tree for a while, Kelly suggested getting a bottle jack to lift it over the stump. I never would have come up with that one, but I do have two bottle jacks. We had to lift it, then put RV leveling blocks under it so we could move the jack closer to the stump. Finally we got it above the stump and Tom was able to drag it. Suddenly, as we celebrated our victory, I saw the power line shaking over my truck. The other end of the tree was on the power line, and I envisioned the line dropping onto my truck. While it wasn’t  broken line yet, it might be soon. I jumped into the truck and quickly backed up as Tom slowly dragged the tree. A telephone pole folded my side mirror forward. Luckily, it folds that way and didn’t break. Tom was grateful for the help and gave us some tips on where to fish.

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First we fished the tailwaters below Savage River Reservoir. Kelly fished at the bridge and down, while I fished up toward the dam. We changed flies frequently. It is always more fun to fish dry flies on top of the water, where you can see the fish strike. I had two hits and two misses. The river is moving fast where I fished, so it is hard to maintain a perfect drift, but I had enough to warrant better action. Who knows? Well somebody knows. Is it the wrong fly, the wrong time of day or the wrong presentation. I think the fish are probably there, but they have seen LOTS of fishermen, flies and presentations. I saw one fish come up, inspect my dry fly and then disappear. 

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This part of the river is slippery with big rocks, making it hard for a 72-year old to walk the stream. It was a bad idea to walk and fish at the same time. By 12:30 I was tired, frustrated and hungry, so I climbed the steep bank and walked back to the truck. After a phone call, Kelly came up. He hadn’t had any luck either.

We went down to the Savage River Fly Shop and talked with the very nice owner, Tom, who was free with information on what to do and how to do it. We bought 8 small sulfur flies that he told us to fish without casting. Any drag on the fly would tip off the fish, so he recommended dabbing – holding the rod out over the stream while dangling the fly in the water around and under big boulders. We dropped downstream a ways and tried the suggested technique. Nada, nothing, zilch. Wrong time of day for dabbing? We dropped downstream and tried it again with no luck.

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Then we drove up to a beautiful, little feeder stream, Middle Fork, and Kelly fished. I followed and took pictures. He had several decent rolls at his small Royal Coachman. It’s just the way it works. Then a big one hit. Kelly only felt it for 10 seconds before he got loose. That one would keep him awake that night. He kept seeing the flash of red or orange on his belly. He had one more nice strike before we got to private property and had to quit. 

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The Savage River

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Unlike our four-month expedition in 2013, the sun was shining. We drove through beautiful country, north on I81, west on 33, then north on 220. We have driven 220 on many sections and is one gorgeous road. 

We reached our destination, Bumblebee RV Park just outside Accident, Maryland. The new owner, Lisa, met us and showed us around. It’s a nice, little campground with good restroom/shower facilities and very nice owners.

We quickly went on reconnaissance for fishing the Savage River above and below the Savage River Reservoir. We watched several people fishing a large bridge pool without any luck, then headed on to the Savage River Fly Shop. The owner, Mike, met us, and was very nice about telling us the lay of the land and what to do. He has 3 very nice cabins for rent right on the river and his small shop has a little of everything one might need to fish the area. We almost had a trip-ending accident in Accident. Kelly was helping me unhook the trailer spring bar. There was too much pressure on it, and when it sprung, the release bar barely missed his valuables.

We decided to fish above the reservoir, where native brook trout live. There are several tributaries around the reservoir ranging greatly in both length and size. We fished Poplar Lick for a couple of hours with several strikes, and Kelly caught a small one. Maybe tomorrow we will try below the tailwater section.

We then returned to the campground and, over cocktails and dinner, began our recollections and comparisons of today and our Canada trip six years ago.

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.

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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.