Instead of going to Texas as my previous post suggested, I’ve figured out how I’m going to spend my time off without spending it all chugging along on the interstate and refueling every 400 miles, but still reaching my intended destinations (Hattiesburg – to visit Gunner; Atlanta – to visit family for Thanksgiving).
The Natchez Trace is a scenic route beginning in Nashville (conveniently) and ending in the southwestern corner of Mississippi in a little town called Natchez. It winds through Civil War battlefields and other historical stops such as Elvis Presley’s birthplace and where Meriwether Lewis is buried. Since Gunner moved to Mississippi two years ago, it’s been a drive I’ve been meaning to explore.
I’ll leave Tuesday morning and bumble along the Trace until early afternoon, stopping occasionally along the way.
Surprisingly, Wikipedia has provided me with the most succinct and helpful information regarding what sites can be found along the Trace. I’m planning on staying in Tupelo one night and in Jackson or Vicksburg the following night, while spending a few hours taking in each city. I’ll then meander around Natchez on Thursday morning/afternoon and arrive in Hattiesburg on Thursday night.
Although completing the Natchez Trace takes me a few hours out of my way, I’ll loop back around to Hattiesburg on Thursday evening once Gunner is done with his scholastic obligations. I’ll hang out in Hattiesburg for about a week, spending some much-needed time with Gunner that isn’t at the rendezvous point in Birmingham.
Finding adventure IN Hattiesburg will be a challenge I haven’t worked out yet; I’ve been there numerous times and while I love it because Gunner is there, I often want to poke my eyes out when Gunner goes to work and I’m left alone, as there isn’t much to quench the adventurous spirit.
and finally…the Amtrak experience
I have family in Atlanta, and I was planning on driving from Hattiesburg to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, and then back to Hattiesburg– a drive I’ve done before, and it isn’t bad, but it’s 6 hours each way and I was looking for another option. So, what’s an American girl to do when airplanes are too expensive and a car ride just seems boring?
Hattiesburg, also known as the Hub City, is home of an Amtrak station. I wouldn’t have known this if Gunner and I hadn’t gotten lost downtown the last time I was there and discovered the train station. Since learning this factoid, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can utilize this odd “American train” mode of transportation to my advantage.
Of course, Nashville does not have an Amtrak station (why would it?), and the Memphis Amtrak station only services lines headed to New Orleans, not Hattiesburg (why would the train go to Hattiesburg?), so I’ve been perplexed on how to make my romanticized dream of riding a train in the American South a reality, especially since it didn’t seem like “convenience” was a trait Amtrak was interested in having.
So, when struggling with how to infuse adventure into the Hattiesburg-Atlanta-Hattiesburg loop, I discovered with joy that Amtrak actually has a train that goes that route! Of course, it takes 9 hours each way, and the train is probably 40 years old… but it’s a train! In the United States!
I’ve ridden trains before. In Italy. In England. In Australia. But…in the US?! THAT will be an adventure. I’ll just need to make sure my phone is fully charged and I have a few good books in my arsenal. Deep South, I’m ready for you.