Guess What Day It Is: Week 10
I am exploring the Natchez Trace – also known as the “Old Natchez Trace” – it traces the route established by foraging bison and later Native Americans, European settlers, itinerant preachers, slave traders, explorers and soldiers as a route to important trading ports in Mississippi and Louisiana. Explorer Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark died on the Trace and is buried on the parkway near Hohenwald, TN. Traveled on foot, on horseback and by wagon, in its heyday the trade route was dotted with trading posts – some of which still exist today. After the arrival of the steamboat goods could be more quickly transported on the Mississippi, and the Trace no longer played a pivotal role as a trade route. I think now it serves as a living history lesson. The day begins with take-out breakfast – southern biscuits – from the world famous Loveless Café, 150 yards east of the beginning of the Natchez Trace Parkway – or the terminus if we were heading north from Natchez – which we will do when Daytripping does this tour. The terrain is hilly undulating with nooks and crannies in the hills and wide open vistas and lots of curves. But, it is beautiful. I am passing massive mansions, enormous estates, impressive Tennessee Walking Horse farms, tobacco barns and tiny towns. Spend even a few hours driving the Trace, as I did, and you will understand why it is called the top scenic drive in the country. It is especially stunning today with the hardwood forests lining the roadway exploding in fall color. After crossing the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge I leave the parkway to check out historic downtown Franklin, TN – full of old charms, historic homes, an award-wining historic Main Street and Civil War history – I know Daytrippers will want to spend time shopping and dining here. As I complete my circle returning to Nashville I follow Hwy 96 through Leipers Fork – when you have been touring as long as I have you get accustomed to a certain level of small-town charm so I think I know small-town charm but today I met Leiper’s Fork – the most charming tiny town there ever was.
Tonight, I have reservations for Cheekwood Botanical Gardens Holiday Lights, over 1 million of them, paired alongside the stunning works of Dale Chihuly at night. My tour itineraries have been tip-toeing around Cheekwood Estate and Gardens for years – adding it to a tour – only to remove it in favor of something more “important” or more in keeping with the theme of the tour. Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate. Once the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, I am told this extraordinary 1930s Georgian mansion is one of the finest examples of an American Country Place Era estate. Tonight, I walked a mile long pathway of twinkling lights, through boxwood gardens, along a wooded stream, past fountains and stone grottos, from one stunning Chihuly art piece to the next, winding my way to the historic mansion. I skipped the indoor tour this time– but did stop for a moment to listen to the carolers performing on the veranda. I am sorry I missed the art gallery and home but look forward to seeing it, as well as the gardens by daylight, when Daytripping returns to Nashville. I did take time to meet the resident reindeer – Dolly and Jolly! Did you know they really do go “click, click, click” – it’s the small tendons in their feet moving over bones! It has been a long day and though I have seen it many times, I still couldn’t resist driving through the lights display at Opryland before calling it a day. Full speed ahead into the Christmas season…
Missing you, stay safe
Travelers join Daytripping Destinations from all over the country. For flexibility, all our tours depart from major airport locations with the first night accommodations at a convenient airport hotel.
They are a class act.