Saturday, May 19. 2018
We left Nashville pretty early and started the drive south. We didn’t have breakfast in the city because we were going to stop at Loveless Café. It’s a place our friend Mitch recommended to us that’s about a 30 minute drive out of downtown. Now, Mitch didn’t tell us anything about it other than we had to go and that I’d love it. He was right, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Loveless isn’t just a restaurant they have a few little shops with things from local artists and a boutique. They even have a little county market where you can buy the Loveless jams, bbq sauces, and a bunch of kitchen stuff. You can even get bbq to-go at the country store!
We had about an hour wait for a table so we wandered around looking at all the shops and I got another coffee cup (sorry mom), and some bbq sauce to take home with me. Once we had our table our server immediately brought us out a plate of hot biscuits and their three jams. The biscuits were amazing, and they make around 10,000 every day. Yes, ten-thousand biscuits every day! Rachel got their southern omelet, which she said was very good. I got the half order of the Loveless country ham with hashbrown casserole, two eggs, and red-eye gravy; it was phenomenal! I couldn’t finish all of my food because I had too many biscuits, if “too many biscuits” is even a thing.
We hit the road again, and stopped in Jackson, TN because I was a billboard for something that looked like it might be cool, and because we needed gas. We stopped at Casey Jones Village, there were a few shops, a restaurant, and a museum. Neither of us had any idea who Casey Jones was or why he was important, but we learned. Turns out he was a train engineer in the very late 1800s. He was killed in a train wreck in 1900, and managed to save all of his passengers on the train. After finishing with the museum, we went to Kroger’s and got food for camping, and fueled up the car.
We drove another hour or so to Memphis, and crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas. Once we were in Arkansas it was about 20 minutes to the KOA where we were camping. Rachel had never been camping, and the campground was a little nicer than she was expecting. So nice that she said it wasn’t even camping. We got the tent up just in time for it to start raining a little, but luckily it didn’t last too long. I built a fire and we cooked hotdogs over the fire for dinner.
I didn’t really sleep well that night. Part of it was that it was horribly hot and humid. The biggest part was probably the lack of a locked door. I’ll share a room in a hostel in a major city with seven strangers and that’s fine, but a tent in a campground freaks me out. Yea, I know, it makes no sense. I’m just used to when we’d go family camping with a bunch of extended family and we had about a third of the campground, so there were people I knew around.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
I was up early, like I usually am. I went up to the office of the campground, and got more firewood and a cup of coffee. Back at the campsite I got a fire going, and started making breakfast in the cast-iron pan over the fire. Breakfast really wasn’t anything special, but it was filling. We had our breakfast, got ready for the day and headed further into Arkansas.
We drove a little less than an hour to Village Creek State Park to do some hiking. We stopped at the park office and got our map and went to the trailhead. We hiked the Old Military Road Trail, which was originally part of the Memphis to Little Rock Road. A portion of the trail also served as part of the Trial of Tears in the first half of the 1800s. The start of the trail has several signs talking about the history of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Cherokee, and Seminole tribes that were forced to move from their home to what is now Oklahoma.
The trail was mostly through the woods so it was shaded, which we were grateful for considering it was 90 with a heat index of 99. Along the trail we saw a box turtle, well I saw a box turtle, and pointed it out to Rachel. Rachel stopped me because she though she heard something. I heard it too, it sounded like voices way off in the distance. I figured it was other people on the trail, or people at the beach since we weren’t too far from the lake. As we kept walking we came to another sign talking about the history of the road that once ran through there. When we were reading the sign, we heard the noise again, and it was louder. We realized that the noise was actually singing, but it was in a language we didn’t recognize, but it sounded like a Native American language. We followed the trail, and the beautiful, haunting singing got louder until we got to a group of people. A couple of women were singing, and a handful of people had stopped along the trail to listen to them.
We kept going along the trail, and the banks on either side kept getting taller and taller. Clearly, they had been eroded by years of water flowing through here. There were trees whose roots were just clinging to the earth that was left. The trail was beautiful with how green everything was. Eventually, the banks on the sides of the trail got shorter as we got closer to a stream with a hanging bridge. We walked across the bridge and watched the fish in the stream below before backtracking to finish the trail loop. The lower loop of the Military Road Trail didn’t have the banks that the upper part of the loop did so we could see out into the woods. The lower loop did have a lot of cobwebs, and a lot of spiders. Now, neither of us really like spiders, but I have fewer issues with them being out in the wild compared to when they’re in my house.
We finished the hike in total was a little over two miles and we finished in about two hours. I don’t think I’ve sweat so much in my life, but the hike was worth it. We sat in the car and ate our sandwiches and rehydrated. On the way out of the park we stopped at the office again to change in to different clothes, fill our water bottles, and get some ice cream.
We stopped at Parkin Archeological State Park on our way back to the campground since it was on the way. It was actually really cool. They had a little museum, which was a great retreat from the boiling heat. There was a short movie that gave the history of the site. The site had originally been settled by Native Americans who had redirected the river to create a moat around their village. The village was visited in 1541 by Hernando de Soto on his expedition of the area. We walked the path around what used to be the village of Casqui and you can still see the platform mound built by the Native Americans that survived the site being a saw mill in the early to mid 1900s. There’s even an indentation in the earth where the moat once was.
On the last of the drive back to the KOA it started to rain really heavily… and sideways. I pulled over on the shoulder and put my hazard lights on. I got a look at the radar on my phone. The storm looked pretty decent, but it was small. There was a little bit of tiny hail at this point, but we need to get back to the campsite to make sure everything was secured and to get things we wanted to stay dry out of the tent. I kept driving slowly. The road was newly paved and wasn’t finished being painted so I was dodging the traffic cones and barrels that had been blown around in the wind. Rachel thought we were going to die, I thought we were perfectly fine. We were perfectly fine.
The storm had passed before we even got back to the campground, but it looked like there was more weather coming so we got what we wanted to stay dry out of the tent and sat on the café until it passed. We had dinner and decided to call it a night. I was woken up by thunder at around one in the morning. It was raining pretty heavily again. I checked the forecast on my phone and it looked like it was going to storm for the rest of the night. Water had gotten into the tent, and at that point there’s no fixing that. I woke Rachel up and we decided to make a mad dash to the car. We ended up sleeping in the car, which was fine.
Until next time, safe travels. Please follow my blog via email so you don’t miss a thing.