Old Diary, Travel

Feels like Spring / Day one of the Natchez Trace

It’s feeling more like Spring!  As we move Southward the grass is greening, the evergreens, especially the cedars are losing their winter brown cast and are starting to green up.  We even saw some flowering dogwoods, and a Tulip tree

Our overnight stop in Franklin was nice and clean and after several nights of poor sleep I popped a couple Tylenol PM’s hoping to assure a decent night’s sleep.  By Monday morning I was in a better mood to drive!

Today was an interesting mixture of activities.2015031610030502 2015031610031303I love talking with people and today was a good example.  I don’t always share these little conversations, sometimes I like to keep them to myself, but today we stopped at the Welcome Center in Collinwood TN.Collinwood TN It’s a little place, operated by the county with local volunteers.   As I walked in the door there was an older (than me) gent sitting in a rocking chair, a sweet retired woman sitting behind the counter and a rather more nimble retiree carrying his dulcimer into the back room to practice.  I started up a conversation with the two in one room and Peggy started talking with the dulcimer player.

It turns out they have a group of 20 some musicians who play in the Welcome Center regularly, at nursing homes, and around the local area.  They play a variety of instruments including dulcimers (played by hand), hammered dulcimers (played with little mallets, and a couple guitars.  I’m not certain that they have or do not have a fiddle player or two as well.

While Peggy was gathering that info I talked with Martin and Jewel in the other room.  I inquired how Martin happened to be in Tennesee, and his two word response clued me in to an interesting conversation in the waiting:  “A Woman.” It seems that Martin lived in Minnesota for 85 years.  For the last twenty two years he’s been wintering in Tennessee at his friend’s farm, and he summered in Minnesota on his own 160 acre dairy farm — which he had sold off so that he didn’t have to make twice a day milkings in his old age.

It turns out his ‘Woman’ passed last August and he’s alone, and trying to make friends.  He’s German,  we talked about the ethnic makeup of his hometown,  about how many Lutheran churches there are in Hutchinson, how the services used to be performed in German but when the new pastor came to town his grasp of the language left something to be desired and services switched over to English.  We talked about all sorts of things and when we left we left as friends.

THIS is what I love about being free to travel the country.  The chance to meet new people who, because you are from ‘outside’, are willing to be open about their situation, their history, their loves and losses — you’re a safe conversation and because so many of these people are older and have outlived many of their friends they are also eager to talk.

I have missed this in Los Fresnos — we have been there for a while but when you hang out in one place for a while you become part of the furniture and it’s not so easy to get people to open up — at least not for me.

The trees (in general) have not yet leafed out.  There are the few exceptions and only some of the flowering trees have given out their Spring bouquets.

The Tennessee River

The Tennessee River


One of the Tombigbee River Lock & Dam sites

The Corps of Engineers have had a lot to do with the beauty in some of these parts. River projects have changed the Tennesee River, and have provided a waterway to the gulf via the Ten-Tom River project.  As we traveled through rolling hills, and through verdant valleys it’s hard to imagine what this world had been like during the days of the pioneers.  The Natchez Trace was the commercial route for farmers as far from the Gulf as Ohio to get their products to market and it’s hard to believe the volume of travel, the length of time many of these shipments took to transport from farm to market.  2015031611414812 2015031611555513

As is often the case we got hungry during the day.  Tupelo was a good stopping point and we opted for a quick stop at the NEON PIG Cafe.2015031612213918 This is a topnotch joint ina hole-in-the-wall resto.  It’s both resto and meat market.  They are a local grown, farm to market establishment that believes in Nose-to-Tail utilization of the animal.  They have been voted the best burger in MS and I can see why.  They rough grind their burgers from the trimmings from their steaks and serve two kinds of burgers:  the BASH and the SMASH. One has fresh and smoked beef with a little bacon added.  The other has all fresh brisket with a little bacon added.2015031612355219  We both ordered the speical of the day, which wasn’t actually a ‘burger’ — but it had some of both meat blends fried up and served on tortillas with coleslaw, pickled onions, and dill pickle slices.  It is absolutely Da Bomb!  It is NOT a low cal plate.  And, no there are no plates — you are served on a piece of butcher paper — and you have to get your own drink from the cooler and pick out your own bag of chips off the rack.  But it’s definitely worth the time to stop at what doesn’t even look like a resto from the outside.  It’s not much of a resto — there are only about 20 seats, including half a dozen at the grill counter.  But — it’s a really nice meal — lots of workingmen lunches and lots of attitude from the staff.  If you’re in Tupelo, stop.

Ok — that’s about it for now.  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.



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