We really enjoyed driving the Natchez Trace and learning its history. One of our final stops before Natchez was at Mount Locust, one of the original “stands” or inns run for the travelers, who used it for access to the north, especially for the Kaintucks or boatmen. After the paddle steamers provided alternate and cheaper transport, Mount Locust became a fully-fledged inn and plantation with about 50 slaves.
Upon arrival in Natchez we headed for the River View Campground, on the banks of the Mississippi but on the Louisiana side. (http://www.riverviewrvpark.com/ – The website does not do justice.) It proved to be a great choice, as we were able to get a campsite with shade and a clear view of the river so we could watch the barge tows and other river traffic, plus it had a great laundromat! Once settled in, we decided to celebrate Easter Sunday and headed to Natchez Under the Hill, an area of ill-repute in early times, but now the location of restaurants and a casino. We declined the latter but enjoyed a great meal with river views at the Magnolia Grill. In the old days, the police would stop you before you went down to Natchez under the Hill to be sure that you had a knife or gun and would issue you one if you were lacking. The Army Corps of Engineers rerouted the river and most of the area was washed away. That which remains is very nice, but said to lack the “spirit” of the old docking area.
We really liked Natchez. Founded in 1716, its history was evident everywhere. We took a carriage ride with a horse called Champ and a real character who knew all the gossip in Natchez and who kept us entertained. A display of a hundred or so mid 1800 photographs of a number of inhabitants, both white and free blacks, was fascinating, as was a visit to the William Johnson House. William Johnson was a freed black slave who made a name for himself as a businessman and plantation owner and kept a detailed diary for over 20 years. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Johnson_(barber) ) A great barbecue lunch and a visit to the African American Museum completed our day.
When we awoke the next morning, the Queen of the Mississippi (http://www.americancruiselines.com/small-riverboat-cruise-ships/Queen-of-the-Mississippi) paddle steamer had tied up next to our campground. We of course walked down to inspect, but the day was a bit dismal so we moved on. Our stay in Natchez would not have been complete without a visit to the grocery store and as my peeler had disappeared we headed for Wal-Mart. As we were checking out, a gentleman in a chef’s outfit, with American Cruise Line on his pocket, started unloading trays of mushrooms and shrimps and gluten free items for a passenger in need of a gluten free diet. So, yes, their cuisine is locally sourced, just not exactly where you might expect. The trip sounded like fun, maybe one day. Naturally, Denise started up a conversation that ranged from the gluten free cuisine through all of the challenges of keeping 150 passengers happy.
As a final note, we tend to avoid Wal-Mart like the plague, for political reasons. That said, the stores are lovely and very RV friendly. It is easy to see why so many RV owners patronize them.