Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019 - Texas & Natchez Trace Parkway

We left Carmel, Indiana around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, 2019 headed for our first stopover in Forrest City, Arkansas.  A year ago we had found a small campground of the interstate next to a small restaurant.  When we arrived we were told the campground was no longer open.  A restaurant employee took us out side and showed us a place were we could stay for the night.  There was a fifth wheel parked.  This was our first stay in a parking lot.  Susan didn’t like this arrangement.  In the morning we headed out early as we had an 11-12 hour drive to Palmetto State Park, just outside San Antonio, Texas. We found our favorite burger place, Whataburger. 

 We had pre-registered, knowing we would arrive after the park office closed.  We called ahead and they told us to stop by in the morning.  Saturday morning we got up early and headed for New Braunfels, Texas and the Guadalupe River for some fly-fishing.  I spent 2-1/2 hours in the river without so much as a hit.  Life of a fly-fisherman I guess.  It was very windy making it very hard to get a decent cast, and the river was flowing at a pretty good rate.  Susan and Sarah sat along the bank watching me and the white ducks floating down the river.

Guadalupe River, New Braunfils

 At 1:30 p.m we drove into New Braunfels to meet one of my college baseball teammates for lunch along with the wife of another teammate who passed away years ago.  We ate at Willies Ice House and got a chance to catch up on old times.  We were joined by our friend’s new husband, so we stayed a little longer before heading back to Palmetto State Park.

Willies Ice House

We enjoyed our staqy at Palmetto State Park, outside San Antonio

On Sunday Morning  (Saint Patrick’s Day) we headed for San Antonio, TX to Susan’s older sister’s house.  We were going to a favorite Mexican restaurant to meet Susan’s nephew and wife.  It was another great time to catch up on Susan’s side of the family.  After lunch we headed back to Susan’s sisters house to get the truck and camper and head back to the campground.

San Marcos River

Picnic Building - Palmetto State Park

Spanish Moss

Sunset and around the fire pit

On Monday morning we headed to Galveston Island State Park.  We decided to go the back way down through Freeport and Surf Side Beach to the Blue Water Highway, which followed the Gulf Coast and across a toll bridge onto Galveston Island.  This was so much better than taking I-10 and I-45 in morning rush hour bumper to bumper traffic.  We arrived around noon.  We had the best weather that we had in 5 years.  The temperatures were in the high 40’s – low 50’s during the night, and the low 60’s – low 70’s during the day.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the four days we were there.  Susan’s twin sister Sally came over that evening with her new boxer puppy.



Full moon setting

On Tuesday, we filled our firepit propane tank, dropped it off back at the campsite and headed down the seawall drive to the historic Galvez Hotel.  I needed to get on line to make my NCAA Basketball Picks.  After taking care of business we made a few stops to shop and have lunch at Beno’s Cajun Seafood Restaurant, one of our favorite places.  We headed back to the state park and drove in to the bayside.  We took Sarah and hiked to the observation tower for a little bird watching.  We also hiked across several boardwalks connecting several areas of land out in the bay.  We headed back to our campsite and took Sarah for a long walk.

On Wednesday morning we got up and headed down to the beach for a beautiful sunrise.  

We drove back along the sea wall into Galveston so Susan could do a little shopping.  We arrived back at the campground to have lunch and then headed to the beach with our chairs and books.  It was in the low 60’s and windy, but just sitting and enjoying the sound of the waves was enough to keep us warm.  Four motorized para gliders flew overhead and along the beach.  The all waved as they flew past.  We grilled chick fajitas for dinner and sat in front of the fire pit.

Thursday was supposed to be girls day with Susan and her twin Sally.  Susan ended up accompanying Sally to the hospital for a bunch of tests.  They didn’t get back to the campground until 6:30 p.m.  Sarah and I walked 3-4 miles on the beach and occupied ourselves for the day.  I packed the trailer up and spent an hour taking photographs around the campground.  At 7:30 p.m. we all went to Nick’s Beach & Bar Grill for dinner.

Friday morning we were up at 6 a.m. Packed up the camper and hooked up the trailer and headed out around 7:30 a.m.  We took the free ferry across to Bolivar Peninsula and drove along the coast before heading up thru Beaumont, TX taking back roads up through Texas and Louisiana.  It is so much more relaxing driving off the interstate.  We crossed the Mississippi River into Natchez, MS.  First stop was the visitors center where we picked up maps and other brochures.  We took a drive around Natchez, viewing a number of Antebellum Homes.  We then headed up the Natchez Trace Parkway to the Natchez State Park where we camped for the night.  Susan made pizza and I cooked them on the grill.  The campground was beautiful.  We had a great site and the restrooms/showers were just steps away.

Twin bridges across the Mississippi River from Louisiana to Natchez, MS

On Saturday, we got up early and continued driving along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The parkway runs from Natchez, MS, to just Southwest of Nashville, TN.  It is approximately 444 miles in length.  We had planned to drive the entire length, but with all of the stops we realized we would never make it to our next campground.  We stopped at Emerald Mound.  Emerald Mound is the second largest Mississippian Period ceremonial mound in the United States, surpassed only by Monk’s Mound near Cahokia, IL.  Two secondary Mounds sit atop the primary mound.

One of two smaller mounds on top of the main ceremonial mound

Our next stop was the Mount Locust Inn and Plantation.  We walked the grounds and inside the house.  The grounds were beautiful.

We took the split off of the Parkway onto Hwy. 61, known as the “Blues Highway” and head for Vicksburg Military Park.  This battle started in October of 1862.  It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, lasting into the late spring of 1863.  We spent a couple of hours, stopping first at the Visitors Center and then taking the driving tour through the park.  

Illinois Memorial

General Grant's Headquarters, only original building in the park

Wisconsin Memorial

Statue of General Grant

We got back on the Parkway for another 30 miles before heading North to our next campground, Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee, approximately an hour East of Memphis.  We had another great site overlooking the lake.  Susan made a large salad for dinner and we relaxed for an hour before turning in.

Sunday Morning we head an hour and twenty minutes South to Shiloh National Military Park.  We visited the visitors center and bookstore and took the driving tour through the battlefield.  We had made numerous plans to visit Shiloh over the years but rain always forced us to cancel our plans.  This detour was we worth it.  We would have liked to spend more time there and to visit the second part of the battle in Corinth, MS.  The North victory at Shiloh took control along the Tennessee River and the victory at Corinth took control of a large rail road hub, thus severing rail supply routes South and East.

Indiana Memorial

It started to rain as we left and started for home.  We had rain off and on for the trip home and had to drive I-65 from Nashville to Indianapolis.  This interstate is one of our least favorites.  Since we got off to a late start for home, back roads were off the table.  We arrived home around 6:15 p.m., unloaded the camper, unpacked, and prepared for the work week.  This was a fun trip that took us to Texas and back, covering 3,065 miles.