As I have previously stated we spent four days traveling the Natchez Trace, It was a leisurely trip stopping to sightsee when ever we chose, reveling in the green of the grass and the pines. Our world back in Colorado would be brown with occasional white thrown in when it snowed. The temperatures were cool but continually warming as we headed south.
On New Years Eve, we moved off the Trace a few miles to a campground called Davis Lake in the Tombigbee National Forrest. It was a beautiful campground with sights right on the lake. All the sites had full hookups although we only chose to take advantage of the electric as the Nutshell is still winterized. Cost for this campground is $20.00 per night and you would thing that the usual half price fee would apply because it is a national forest campground.
Not so, the discounted fee was $13.00 per night still a bargain for full hookups, showers, coin laundry facilities and lake access. We rang in the New year with a glass of wine and a couple of DVD’s we had brought along. In the morning there was a mist hanging over the lake that invited exploration with the camera. After a welcome hot shower and breakfast we returned to the Parkway and continued south.
The first day of the new year was spent on the Trace from Davis Lake we traveled to the second of three free campgrounds , Rocky Springs. The sites there are all paved and there are flush toilets and water available. This campground was in need of some road repairs that would bring it up to the quality of the other two free campgrounds.
I can imagine that these sites could be in high demand in peak travel season but we didn’t encounter much traffic on the Trace at the beginning of January. We did see several touring solo bicyclists on the Trace and one that we passed just before turning into Rocky Springs camped across from us on the upper side of the loop. Later that night I thought of our fellow traveler as a storm moved in and we were treated to a spectacular light show courtesy of mother nature. We stopped to chat with him in the morning as we were pulling out. He was on his way to Key West and then sometime in the spring would travel north to Maine. He informed us that he participated in fund-raising rides for different causes. His traveling companion was a small dog about the size of Max who rode in a carrier on the handlebars.
On January 2nd, I was watching the weather apps closely as there was a line of thunderstorms that was making its way toward Natchez. We stopped in the Busby Campground but it was really to early to stop for the day. It was another beautiful place to stay and totally free. Of course the only amenities were water and flush toilets but the price is right. Our next stop of the day was a Bald Cypress swamp. I can imagine that later in the year this would be a haven for mosquitoes but in January we were spared any bites. A board walk and trail over and through the swamp are a really great way to take in this ecosystem . A muggy pre storm hush hung in the air and I knew that we should dally to long. They were alerting us to a tornado watch in our line of travel and we weren’t quite sure where to ride this one out. I did not want to be out on the road in unfamiliar territory during a tornado.
I found Natchez State Park slightly to the east of the Trace and we headed Freddy in that direction. We took a quick tour of the park to see what our prospects were. Loop B was more secluded but Loop A had a cinder block bathhouse we could shelter in case of a tornado. We headed down the ranger station to secure a site. The ranger there was a jew with the typical southern accent. He asked us if we were seniors and gave us the senior discount. There was no entrance fee unlike our state parks in Colorado so for $13.91 we got a water and electric site directly across from the bathhouse. The people who were in that site had till 2 pm to vacate so we drove around the park until it was time to take over. The storm moved in just after we did. We could hear the tornado warning sirens going off.
A local who was camping across from us while his house was being remodeled, lit out of there with his Corvette. He had a barn to stash it in. Dave, I and Max headed for the Bathhouse and watched from inside the door as the rain hammered the Nutshell. The storm passed as they always do, lucky for us with no damage. The people across the way came back to report downed trees and branches that they had to drive around. The sun came out, we got an excellent nights sleep. and the next morning after a refreshing shower we headed into Natchez to find breakfast and point ourselves toward Holly Beach, LA and our first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico.