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Random thoughts and pictures from our travels in a LazyDaze motorhome.

Monday, October 25, 2010
















Saturday, October 23, 2010

Near Home


There are a lot of interesting barns dying slowly across the countryside. This one is in central Missouri.


This barn used native lumber. You can tell by all the knots and the exterior contour and roughness of the wood. Its owner must want the barn to last a little longer, with a decent sheet metal roof. If the roof is good, most barns can hang on.


This barn is in Iowa and stands alone. I grabbed the picture as we drove by in the rig. It was somewhat more appealing from the end view. There are many barns to capture, but riding in a big rig makes it difficult to get a good shot. Stopping is usually not at option.

We are home now after a great trip of exploring. We will hit the road again in a couple of months!

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Moving Along


We crossed the Mississippi River southwest of Memphis into Arkansas after leaving Rosedale. These are the styles of of bridges I remember crossing into Illinois as a kid in the back of a 1950 Ford. Farmers were working in the flat fields along the river after recently harvesting cotton. They really till the ground here with totally bare soil ready for planting. I only saw one field where no-till was being used. I was also surprised to see a few cornfields! 


We reached the Old Davidsonville SP in northeast Arkansas by 3 PM. The park is near the Black River and the location of an abandoned early 1800s town of Davidsonville. There is a small lake here as well, and that is what you see.


As you progress out of the river plain, you see LOTS of trees.


We were heading to the Current River in southern Missouri, which is a National Scenic River. This campground is called Pulltite, because horses and mules had a tight pull out of the river bottom to the nearby ridge tops in the 1800s. The NPS was graciously in allowing us to stay overnight for no charge. There were only a couple more campers around the distant bend.


The restroom/shower facility with automatic night lights that trip due to movement. That concrete pad is the camper host location.


This is a very popular float river. Carla came here as a kid and floated part of the river. She does not remember this campsite however. The river is relatively fast moving with clear and cool water. A rocky bottom helps. Much of the flow is supplied by underground springs.


This is a view upstream. The load/unloading ramp is to the immediate right. Three canoes came around that dark bend in the distance before nightfall. So, fall is a great time to spend on the river as well. We definitely need to come back and  float this river.


Carla in her Keens, WITHOUT socks. Back at ya, Carissa…

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Great River Road


We left the the Rocky Springs Campground and begun our trip north on the Great River Road in far western Mississippi. Here are two large bales of cotton. All bales which we saw sitting in the field have covers on them. I don’t know how much these weight, but a standard bale of cotton after processing weighs 500 pounds, is 54-55 inches long, 20-21 inches deep, and an average bulge width of 33 inches. Now you have party conversation facts.


Another barn, maybe for milk cows?


This was a stretch shot for the little Canon. The Mississippi River levee is behind this house within a mile. This house is definitely on a hill.


We decided to stop at the Great River Road SP at Rosedale, MS. We were the only campers in this 70 unit campground. You can see the shower/restroom facilities are on stilts. We are within a quarter mile of the river. The barges sounded like trains coming down the river with the throaty diesels. Not loud, but noticeable if you listened. The campground needed some TLC.


Here is a view of the mighty Mississippi from an observation tower at the park. It also needed some TLC, trying to get by the raccoon droppings.


Here is one NOW! He jumped into the trash container. We noticed a few parks have removed all trash containers, forcing you to use a dumpster. I think this park should do the same. Trash was strewn about at a couple sites, most likely due to raccoons and lazy humans not doing their job.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Trace, Fourth Day


This the Colonel James Drane house at French Camp, Mile Marker 180.7, which he began construction in 1846. Originally, Louis LeFleur established a stand here on the trace in 1812. A school opened in 1822, which is still in operation. If you look closely you will see a breezeway through the middle of the house once you walk up the steps. This is called a dogtrot, it can be closed during inclement weather. Check out modern plans here... 


A fairly substantial house in the 1840s!


Along the trace there are areas of standing water, especially in Mississippi. Here you will see Water Tupelo and Bald Cypress trees growing together.


You can see how high the water level is normally. But it has been dry across much of the south. Bald Cypress has those knobby support structures as seen on the right tree.




This area used to be a river, until it shifted course. Now mother nature is gradually drying it out, flooding it with more soil occasionally. Eventually hardwoods will take over.


Are these the Bees Knees?


A view driving down the trace, the whole 440 miles is mowed along the roadway.


This is the Ross Barnett Reservoir on the northeast side of Jackson, MS.


We reached the final campground on the trace, at Rocky Springs, which is about 20 miles southeast of Vicksburg. On the inside cover of our Rand McNally was a mention of this fruit stand on the south side of Vicksburg. So, we stopped at The Tomato Place. I had an awesome blackberry/banana fruit smoothie and a great hamburger with home fries. Carla had a medicore BLT. We also picked up a few tomatoes and a jar of peach jam. If you wanted some sugar cane to chew on, they had that too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Trace, Day Three


This is the Tombigbee Waterway. Quite an accomplishment of moving earth, connecting the Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers.


Looking downstream to a lock system.


This is Carla’s picture of a field of cotton.


Close up. An amazing plant really.


We stopped at a location of a Choctaw village that described their living in summer and winter houses. Of course, they used what was around them, including black walnut. I suggested that Carla use black walnut for her hair, since we have plenty at home. It was too bad that the various Native American tribes were in many instances enemies of each other. The French, Spanish, and British used this animosity to further their agendas, ultimately weakening the tribes to the point that the European Invasion could not be stopped. The European outcome would have been the same, but it probably would have taken much longer and at a higher cost if the tribes had banded together.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Trace, Day Two


After leaving the first overnight campsite, we stopped at this shady area along a nice gurgling stream. A twenty minute walk along the stream pointed out the various types of trees that grew in this small stream ecosystem along with the various kinds of plants. It is amazing how a short distance away from a roadway can take you to entirely different surroundings.


The Tennessee River was a huge natural barrier for people moving along the trace. At that time, the river was estimated to be about 500 yards wide, and relatively fast. So getting across in one piece was difficult. Here, it is much wider due to flow control of the river. Of course, the Chickasaw Indians ran the ferry crossing once it was established, charging 50 cents per person. A dollar if you rode a horse.


High and dry on this side…


A stream begins here, flowing out of the layered rock.


After reaching the second campsite, we hurried north about 50 miles to the Shiloh National Battlefield. As you enter the park, nearing the visitor center, you come upon this amazing memorial statue. It is by far the largest and most elegant in the entire park, and it is from IOWA!!! The states of the upper midwest supplied many young men to the Union Armies. It is estimated that 35-50 percent of available men fought in the Civil War from this area. You will see many monuments to Iowa at Vicksburg, and at Gettysburg, but I do believe this monument is the most impressive.


This is at the base on the west side.


This darling is on the other side, hidden in the full monument picture above due to the strong sunlight. She is holding a quill in her hand, with beautiful cursive writing on the monument above and to the left of her outreached arm. Our youngest daughter, Carissa, who is an art major, is wondering why her breast is exposed. So, I posed that question back to her as a research assignment. I failed to locate more information about the monument while there, so that is my personal research assignment.


A few cannon for feeling…


Another IOWA monument to her Infantry. Why do you suppose Iowans fought in the Army of the Tennessee?


Engraving on the above monument…


Grant had this river at his backside during the battle. So, he could not just up and out maneuver the Confederates. But, he did have a couple of gun boats sitting here providing bombardment cover.


The tour of Shiloh was a bit fast, since it was late in the day. But, on the way back to the rig, we came across this place. Would you buy a vehicle from this guy? To give him credit, he did have a nice selection of used vehicles…

Friday, October 15, 2010

Natchez Trace Parkway


I guess I have a thing about barns. They are disappearing so rapidly. All the ground on either side of this one was recently cleared, leaving her to wonder if she was next. All the barns in this part of  the country have that covered overhang over the opening in the loft. I believe most were used to dry tobacco, and are all open in the inside, ie., there are no floors. This one was along the highway going from the Cedars of Lebanon SP to Murfreesboro, TN. The park itself was nothing spectacular, just a nice place to stop with peace and quiet. Carla and I have decided that everybody south of the Mason-Dixon line MUST have a fire at night. People bring in half a pickup truck load of wood to burn. At Harrison Bay SP, I swore we were surrounded by the Confederate Army with so much smoke.


The next day we entered the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is about 20 miles southwest of Nashville. The actual trace did indeed go into Nashville.


We stopped shortly to admire the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, which extends over a highway and a beautiful valley. A nice person took this picture of us.


A pic looking eastward from the bridge…


A little dark on this picture, but Carla likes split rail fences. It is dry here, and the trees do not have that luster.


A better pic for color. Who is that Yahoo in the picture?


A little trail into the woods. The trace parkway tries to follow the actual old trace itself, but in many areas it can not. But, you can easily see where the old trace is located in the woods. You have to remember that in 1800, this WAS the southwest U.S, but most of it belonged to the Indians. The U.S. convinced the Chickasaw and Choctaw through treaties to allow the trace through their lands. The Natives were smart though, they operated ALL the stands (concessions, river ferries, food stops, etc.) along the entire route. During the war of 1812, Andrew Jackson was supposedly charged $75000 to move his army across the Tennessee River by ferry, which was run by the Chickasaw. Standard charge was 50 cents per person, a dollar if you rode a horse.


Another barn…


This is way she walks in front of me…


A plot of tobacco to show the masses how it was done. To generate a unit of tobacco for sale, it took 250 hours of work. For the same unit in wheat, 6 hours.


There are three free campgrounds along the length of the trace. The first is at the death and gravesite of Meriwether Lewis, located at Grinder’s Stand. There is some quandary on how he died, of which you can read in the hyperlink.


The Trace was a very important byway in the early history of the country. A relatively fast way to get from the important port of New Orleans to the Ohio via Nashville surrounded by wilderness, the Chickasaw and Choctaw.


Two large oaks immediately east of the original trace at Grinder’s Stand.


A supposed replica of Grinder’s Stand, probably within 50 feet of the original location. A wonderful thing to see after spending several weeks on the trace, slogging through crap of all kinds and getting eaten alive by bugs.