Friday, April 6, 2012

April 3, Rayne to Natchez

We left Rayne, LA April 1, and headed to Natchez, MS.  We were expecting a short driving day, but were NOT expecting the mechanical troubles we had!  Just as we got into the city of Natchez, there was a loud BANG, we lost oil pressure, power steering and brakes…we coasted up a hill to a light, and David, God Bless him, horsed the motorhome into a small street where we were able to get safely off the road. 

He diagnosed it as a broken serpentine belt – I called Good Sam Emergency Road Service, told them we needed a tow…they called back and said that Curtis Wrecking Service would come get us and tow us to Riverside Campground (where we were heading anyway!) and since it was a Sunday, they would send a mechanic out the next day.  So, by 3 we were in a lovely pull through spot in a gorgeous campground right along the Mississippi River! 
First thing Monday morning I called them and they had a mechanic there by 8 am.  He agreed that it was the serpentine belt, asked if we had a diagram of how it goes on, and left to find a belt.  Since we had noticed that our ‘coach’ batteries were very low (they would hardly bring in the slide anymore – were at least 7 years old) we asked him to pick us up two new batteries.  By 10 am he was done, belt on, new batteries installed…all for $403.62.  We were extremely happy with their service, from the towing to the fixing!  The batteries should be good for at least 5 years, and the serpentine belt for another 100,000 miles :) 
We immediately went to the Natchez reception welcome center, looked into a bus tour (none running on Monday), watched a movie on the town and its history, picked up some maps and headed to the corner of Canal and State streets, where we got a carriage tour of the downtown area, including Natchez under the hill.  Our driver was Jack and the horse was Jake, and Jack had much to tell and show us.  We saw some very old buildings, heard about William Johnston who was born to a black slave and a plantation owner, and who was freed when he was 8 – he became a wealthy man who himself owned a cotton plantation and slaves.  There were years and years of diaries and journals that he kept, from a ‘former slave’, which is a unique perspective.  We toured the museum which is run by the National Park Service.
While we were in Natchez we started touring some of the places on the south end of the Trace.  Actually, River View Campground, where we were staying in Vidalia, LA was noted at 0.0 milepost.  We first visited Historic Jefferson College which opened Jan 7, 1811.  At MP 8.7 we found the Old Trace Exhibit Shelter, where you can see the sunken quality of the trace where thousands upon thousands of feet walked, both 2 legged and 4.  We drove up to milepost 10.3, Emerald Mound, which covers almost 8 acres and is superseded only by Monk’s mound at Cahokia IL site.  Very impressive!  Then at MP 12.4, Loess Bluff it is possible to see the layers of silt deposits left by the Mississippi flooding through the years. 

Of course while in Natchez, we ate at several historic restaurants, the Euola Hotel puts on an OK lunch buffet, and we had a terrific lunch one day at Little Dagoes…yep, that really is the name of the restaurant!  We came home with enough leftovers from there for two more meals!  Since we are not at the rally we have a little better handle on David’s blood sugar, thank goodness! 
We had a very nice Social hour (which stretched to 2) with some fellow Escapees, Phil and Cindy Devonshire – who are from Wyalusing, PA.  We look forward to seeing them down the road, possibly at Cumberland MD end of July.  Love meeting new people and sharing tales!

April 4 we drove from Vidalia LA to Natchez State Park, a driving day of 18 miles :) but we are now officially on the trace!  After setting up we immediately took off for Grand Gulf State Park to tour the Port Gibson area where much of the fighting was done to protect Vicksburg.  We spent about 2 hours touring the grounds and museum ($2 fee per person for seniors).  Lots of history some restored buildings and lots of artifacts, canons, etc.  They have a nice campground, but it is full for the past 3 months and will continue to be full for a couple more.  Apparently there is a lot of work at the nuclear power station there since the 2011 flood, and it is full of workers.

We came back home to a wonderful dinner that I had started in the crockpot, roast beef, carrots, potatoes and onions in an onion gravy! 

This last picture is a 'weasel' measurers yarn, there is 12 inches between each 'handle' - it gives a little ping each time it goes around, and after so many go around, there is a LOUD POP - thus the term 'Pop goes the Weasel'...we had never seen this type of machine, and needless to say we did not know the 'rest of the story' :)

This is a wonderful journey - David, thanks for the memories darling!

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