End of the Road

Heading into our last two nights of camping for this trip, we hoped that the campground we chose would be decent.  A bit of solitude, a firepit – we don’t ask for much.  Meriwether Lewis National Monument in Hohenwald, TN delivered in a big way.  This 25-site campground is a gem.20150401_172802Nestled into the rolling hills of Little Swan Creek along the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Park offers camping (rustic, although there are flush toilets), and hiking in a gorgeous setting.  Campsites are staggered along the edge of a ridge, so each offers a private view.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.20150331_151529After a harrowing day on the road – we must have gone through seven narrow construction zones – we quickly set up, snapped a leash on Jezzy, and headed for a trail to shake off the effects of a tense trip.  (A little explanation here – it was my day to drive.  Between truck traffic, construction zones, and unexpected craters that bounced us around mercilessly, it was hideous.  John was grinding his teeth, and I actually got cramps in my hand, so tight was my grip on the wheel.)  After 200 miles or so, I gladly surrendered the driver’s seat, and became a very docile passenger.

The Natchez Trace is an old route, used for hundreds of years by Native Americans, traders, and armies.  The Old Trace is still visible, the many feet traveling before us have trampled a permanent path through the forest.20150331_164300 20150331_165235The Natchez Trace Parkway follows the general route of the Old Trace, and is a National Park, stretching for 444 miles from Nashville to Natchez.

Our campground is located at the burial site of Meriwether Lewis, part of the famous exploration team Lewis and Clark.  I was astonished to learn that he died when he was only 35 years old.  Lewis was on his way to Washington DC, when he stopped for the night at Grinder House, one of many spots along the Trace where one could spend the night and get a meal.  Sadly, the reason for his journey was that the US Government had refused to reimburse him for many of his expenses on his historic journey,  Without these funds, he was bankrupt.  So, armed with his receipts and documentation, he was headed to DC to plead his case.  He stopped, had dinner, went to sleep, and was dead the next morning.  The exact cause was never determined.20150331_16491520150331_165138This is a beautiful spot – one to which we would happily return.20150331_170233One of the reasons we selected this area for our final campsite of our winter trip was that we had arranged to tour the Oliver Travel Trailer factory.  From time to time, we entertain ourselves with thoughts of trading up to a slightly larger trailer – one that would offer a few more comforts.  We had heard of the Oliver, and thought it might be a good fit for us.  We had a great tour.  But, while the Oliver is impressive, and has features that we loved, we don’t think it’s The One.  We’ve decided to try to boost the comfort level of the Fireball a bit.  It’s time to try to enlist the woodworking skills and ingenuity of my brother-in-law Jerry!

Heading home, we always try to stay in Evansville with John’s brother for a few days.  Our route took us along the Natchez Trace Parkway for the first 20 miles or so.  It’s a gorgeous roadway, although it was one of those overcast days that flatten photographs, and suck the color out of everything.  You’ll have to take my word for the beauty. 20150402_093350Those little specks on the ground are cows.

We stopped to check out Jackson Falls.  20150402_09342320150402_09492120150402_095216I’m pretty sure these are Shagbark Hickory trees – aptly named.  20150402_10025820150402_100138It was really hard to get a decent exposure!

Ahhhh, Evansville.  Such a wonderful stop for us – we get to spend time with Don and John, and lounge in the luxury of their beautiful home.  Best sheets ever!  Spring has already sprung there – flowers everywhere, green grass, leaves on trees.  Don was ready to plant his tomatoes for the year already.  On one of our walks, Jezzy tried to investigate this squirrel more closely.20150402_163449 If that squirrel hadn’t blinked, I swear that we would still be there.  It must have been two minutes of the Big Staredown.

All good things must end, and we’re home.  As I sit here, I can see the Fireball in the driveway, begging me to come out and clean.  We’ve got lots of work and some minor repairs to do before we can hit the road again.  The house and yard need attention as well.  The 2014/2015 Winter Escape has ended.

 

34 thoughts on “End of the Road

  1. Nice to be home after so long on the road, I imagine. But if you are like me, you are soon itching for the next adventure! Meriwether Lewis’ story is so odd – so sad that nobody ever investigated it further.

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    • It is sad. All his hard work sure didn’t help him out in the end, did it?

      Mixed feelings about being home. We had one nice day, now it’s rainy and cold. I’m itching to get outside and work in the yard. Happy that we’ll be rolling again soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a journey! I hope someday you’ll compile all these into a book titled, “Travels with Jezzy.” You may have already checked this out, but the librarian in me jumped at the chance to find out what happened to Meriwether Lewis. And wow! It’s a mystery!

    Per Wikipedia: “According to a lost October 18, 1809 letter to Thomas Jefferson, Lewis stopped at an inn on the Natchez Trace called Grinder’s Stand, about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Nashville on October 10, 1809. After dinner, he retired to his one-room cabin. In the predawn hours of October 11, the innkeeper’s wife (Priscilla Griner) heard gunshots. Servants found Lewis badly injured from multiple gunshot wounds, one each to the head and gut. He bled out on his buffalo hide robe and died shortly after sunrise. The Nashville Democratic Clarion published the account, which newspapers across the country repeated and embellished. The Nashville newspaper also reported that Lewis’s throat was cut.[23] Money Lewis had borrowed from Major Gilbert Russell at Fort Pickering to complete the journey was missing.

    While Lewis’s friend Thomas Jefferson and some modern historians have generally accepted Lewis’s death as a suicide, debate continues, as discussed below. No one reported seeing Lewis shoot himself. Three inconsistent somewhat contemporary accounts are attributed to Mrs. Griner, who left no written account or testimony–some thus believe her testimony was fabricated, while others point to it as proof of suicide.[24] Mrs. Griner claimed Lewis acted strangely the night before his death: standing and pacing during dinner and talking to himself in the way one would speak to a lawyer, with face flushed as if it had come on him in a fit. She continued to hear him talking to himself after he retired, and then at some point in the night, she heard multiple gunshots, a scuffle, and someone calling for help. She claimed to be able to see Lewis through the slit in the door crawling back to his room. However, she never explained why she never investigated further at the time, but only the next morning sent her children to look for Lewis’s servants. Another account claimed the servants found Lewis in the cabin, wounded and bloody, with part of his skull gone, but he lived for several hours. In the last account attributed to Mrs. Griner, three men followed Lewis up the Natchez Trace, and he pulled his pistols and challenged them to a duel. In that account, Mrs. Griner said that she heard voices and gunfire in Lewis’s cabin about 1 a.m. She found the cabin empty and a large amount of gunpowder on the floor. Thus, in this account, Lewis’s body was found outside the cabin.”

    Guess they couldn’t put all that on the placard! Enjoy your rest and we’ll see you soon (bringing you a bottle of our recent home brew. . .)

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    • Thanks for doing all my homework for me, Jennifer. We just never got around to checking for more info, as odd as that seems. Crazy that the plaque leads you to think that he died of natural causes. Gunshot never occurred to either of us.

      Don’t hold your breath for a book. Sounds too much like w-o-r-k to me!

      Home brew? Can’t wait to tip a glass with you and Chuck. Of course, he was the first person we thought of when we suggested organizing a bike ride to the brewery that’s near the BRR.

      See you soon. We pp

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  3. Welcome home! You’ve had such an adventurous winter with plenty of ups and downs, I’ll bet home will feel good for a while, yet you’ll miss the great times from this past winter. I’m sure they you’ve learned a lot, as I have from reading about your adventures. Can’t wait until I’m able to pack up and leave Michigan winters behind, but I’m sure that I’ll be back every year for our springs, there’s no place better than here to watch the arrival of spring, and you’ve made it just in time.

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    • We are hoping for a bit of sanity for a few weeks, but doubtful that we will find it.

      What happened to yesterday’s wonderful weather? Woke up today with every intention of getting some yard work done, but it felt like winter. Feel like a sissy for whining.

      Hope you won’t mind some company for a walk in the next couple of weeks. I’m anxious to see all the great sights you’ve been visiting, and I know I’ll never see them solo!

      Don’t work too hard. Hope you’ve got your apartment all back together after the most recent flood.

      Take care, Jerry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Old Man Winter must be paying you back for having skipped this past winter. ;)

        Anytime on a weekend that you’re ready for a walk, let me know. I may or may not be working on a Saturday though. Things are almost back to normal here, just a few things left to cross off my to do list.

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  4. Always hate to see a closing to your travel antics..you bring such fun to your posts, despite a few curve balls. Happy Spring…and hopes you’ll be back on the road before you know it. I know this gig of ours is really going to test our hitch itch, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do…for the moment anyway!

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    • Thanks, Carla. Sometimes it seems like John, Jezzy, and I are very 3 Stoogish in our travels. A dose of Normal wouldn’t be a bad thing, at all.

      How long are you going to be in IL? An intense travel itch at the end of a long, working summer, can’t be such a bad thing….

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 6:28 PM, campshaws wrote:

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    • Thanks, Ingrid. We did have a great trip. The highlight (for me) was Whitewater Draw – thanks to you. When you write something, I pay attention.

      We’ve got short trips in mind for the summer. We are going to head out again at the end of this month for TN, NC, WV, OH and camp until late May. Probably won’t plan anything big until September. Got any good ideas?

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 5:17 PM, campshaws wrote:

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  5. Great to see this post, a good campground and now safely home again. After some of your (mis)adventures it was very nice to read of a nice campground and lovely walks along the Natchez. First thought about Meriwether Lewis’ early death-I suppose that Washington did not/has not reimbursed his heirs for said travel receipts. Second thought-look how much he accomplished at such a young age. Too much thought on that could cause depression in the rest of us. Third thought-maybe he died of food poisoning? What kind of comfy mods do you have in mind? Looking forward to seeing you both in a couple weeks at the BRR. Ray will most likely have to shovel so our T@DA can be awoken from its winter slumber. It is snowing as I write this. Sigh

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    • Ellalou, all I could think about was that there must have been Tea Party control of the US checkbook at the time! Who could refuse to pay Meriwether Lewis? Such a sad ending to a spectacular life. The first thing I thought about was poison, too. John speculated that he probably just had heart failure. I’m intrigued enough to check the library to see what’s been written.

      See you soon. It is so WRONG that you should have to use a shovel to get your camper out for a trip in late April.

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 4:37 PM, campshaws wrote:

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  6. Congratulations on another winter in the warmth! Glad you made it home safe.

    Could not imagine you traveling to Hohenwald without a tour at the factory. Several friends have recently ordered their trailers.
    Come back to TN when you can….lots of hiking and biking.

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    • I can see why Oliver has a great reputation. We met a guy who was just taking delivery of his 19′ Oliver that day, and he was beaming from stem to stern. What fun that would be. Watching him with the Oliver staff was like barging into somebody’s family reunion. Smiles all around.

      We are headed back to E. Tennessee in early May for a T@B/T@DA rally. Not sure if we’re going east or west from there. We’ve loved the areas we’ve visited so far – you are fortunate to live in such a beautiful location.

      Do you have any trips planned for the next few months?

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 2:40 PM, campshaws wrote:

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  7. Yes, I agree with Ken H. “All’s well that ends well.” The first chance I get I’m going back to 12/24/14 and read Campshaws……. On the Road from the beginning of this most recent trip. It’s been quite a journey for you and your readers!
    Welcome Home, Campshaws! See you soon at the BRR!

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    • Thanks, Susan. I’d like to go back and read beginning to end, as well. When we’re in the dumps for a week, that’s all I can think about. Finishing on a high note makes me forget all the crap!

      Hope we get a chance to hang out and swap stories with you and Bob at the BRR. See you soon.

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 12:19 PM, campshaws wrote:

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  8. Yes Toto, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home ! Glad you made it back home safe and sound. I’ve enjoyed your narratives and sharing in your adventures. We got back from our winter excursion just over 5 weeks ago as we just enjoyed Florida. I’m still editing videos from our trip and with each one I think of the record breaking snow and ice storms our neighbors had here at home while we were away and of all the downed trees and limbs as well as power outages. It’s nice to reminise looking at the videos, enjoying the bright blue skies and pristine white sandy beaches, along with tee shirts and flip-flop weather. Winter trips Rule :-) Looking forward to seeing you at the BRR.

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    • There’s no place like home, at least for awhile, anyway.

      We were happy to escape this winter – although there sure wasn’t as much snow this year as last, the bitter cold made it seem endless for those who had to hang around.

      The blog is our memory book. When we’re drooling on ourselves 10 years from now in a nursing home, we’ll be able to go back and read about the fun we used to have!

      See you and Yoly soon!

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 12:05 PM, campshaws wrote:

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      • Bittersweet. I’m glad the last part of your trip was so peaceful and beautiful.

        A long time ago I watched a Ken Burns special on PBS about Lewis and Merriweather. He said that Merriweather suffered from serious depression that got progressively worse, and that when he stopped that night, he put a bullet through his head.

        I like the Natchez version better.

        I noticed for the first time that Jezzie has a white heart shaped area on her chest. Fitting. :)

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      • Have to admit that I am woefully undereducated about Lewis and Clark, except for the basics. I’m interested enough to head to the library to see what I can find out.

        Never really thought about Jezzy’s white patch being heart-shaped, but you’re right – it is. How suitable. Is Sunny a bit more comfortable being back in familiar surroundings? Hope his life is a bit easier now that he’s an only child again, and back at home.

        Thanks for checking in, Sharon. Hope all your spring projects are coming along. Hard to turn the switch back to Home from Casita, isn’t it?

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  9. Welcome home. Hope you have a restful, but productive time now. I’ve so enjoyed your travelogue. You make history and geography come alive.

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    • Thanks, Alison. It is such a privilege to be able to visit new spots, and explore. Being home is so weird…..where are all the leaves? Why is everything so brown? ;-)

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 11:09 AM, campshaws wrote:

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      • Judy, The green is coming. I have lots of minor bulbs blooming already. Snowdrops for about 4 weeks, crocus, frittilaria, Jerusalem Star, Lenten Rose all are open. The grass is starting to green up, lilac leaves are a few days from popping, daffodils close to the house are ready to open up. Eunymous are turning green where they looked dead. I’ve been watching them all carefully as I do my walking around the house. Today, I walked the Grand Ravines North Park near GVSU. It’s still mostly brown, but there are definitely shoots starting to poke through the leaves. It’s coming. Weren’t you supposed to be bringing it back with you? LOL

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      • Arrrgh, Alison – we dragged it up north of Evansville as far as we could, but it crapped out before we hit Michigan. Our daffodils haven’t even poked the green part above the ground yet. Trees….nope! Still good to be home.

        Makes me happy to know that you’re getting out and about. Got a busy week this week, but let’s go for a walk next week, ok? Maybe Aman Park?

        On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 7:17 PM, campshaws wrote:

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      • I’d love that, Judy. I haven’t been at Aman Park in years. I’m scoping out different parks for snowshoeing next year. The Grand Ravines, North and South near GVSU look good. North is woodsy, partly paved, has a few hills down to the river, but South is meadows and mostly flat. Both allow dogs. North requires leashes. A guy with a dog at South said that there are plans to have a fenced dog park there. I’m hoping eventually there will be trails between the two segments. On Friday, I walked the Georgetown park off Fillmore between 36th and 40th. It’s really pretty but a little muddy near the river. Some paths are paved there. Dogs are allowed on leash there also. Let me know when you’re free. I’m getting very excited for Mark and Lori to have their baby. Today is there due date. Can’t wait to love and hug and spoil baby Hotchkin.

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    • Some of the stretches of the Trace must be pretty boring to ride – we cycled a stretch of it a couple of years ago on the very southern end.

      Thanks for hanging with us on the road, Jochen. Love knowing that you paved the way years ago.

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 11:04 AM, campshaws wrote:

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    • All of the sudden, it feels pretty crazy not to be able to touch the kitchen from the bed! Who are these people who live in this gigantic (really, it’s pretty small….) house, anyway.

      Liz, one of the highlights of our trip was meeting you, and the two other T@Bbers we stumbled across. Finding kindred spirits on the road is reassuring.

      On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 11:02 AM, campshaws wrote:

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