Original endpoint of the Natchez Trace
The end of the Natchez Trace, which begins in Nashville

Start at the End . . .

There are places where you can feel the past staring at you: The Natchez Trace in Mississippi, The Parthenon in Nashville, Greenbo Lake in Kentucky, The Serpent Mound Memorial in Southern Ohio, The National Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson in Dayton, The Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, the farms in Western New York State, Fallingwater in Farmington, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Greenville and Hartwell Lake in South Carolina, the antebellum King Edward Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi, and the constellations of the zodiac. All these places stare at you with an offer you can’t refuse.

For my Father and I, this road trip began at the end of The Natchez Trace which itself begins in Nashville. We are both heading towards new beginnings so starting here at the end of The Trace in Natchez, Mississippi was poetic.

My Great Fortune

It was an emotional journey through the past, present, and future that came at Dad in waves…not with the destructive force of a tsunami but like sea foam washing over his tender heart. For my part, it was pure joy. I don’t know if it’s delusional, great fortune…or what…but my memories were all good. They came flooding back when we arrived in Kentucky to see dozens of old friends, and in Pennsylvania where I spent my childhood trout-fishing in the Allegheny National Forest, and in Western New York, my birthplace where 300 of our family members gathered for a reunion.

The Tale Of Two Grifters And A Feral Hog

Since we traveled primarily national parkways, back roads, and state highways we were usually without GPS, mobile phones, talk radio, and NPR. In other words we had no idea what was going on in the world outside my pickup truck. It wasn’t long before we didn’t know for sure what day it was. Some nights we caught a little CNN while drifting off to sleep and thus waking up as uninformed as the day before. But one night while drifting off I thought I heard a strange tale about two grifters and a feral hog. Sitting at breakfast the next morning I asked my Father if he heard it too. He gave me a puzzled look then returned to the vastly more important business of biscuits and gravy. One thing I learned about Dad on this trip is that he really loves biscuits and gravy. As for the grifters and the feral hog—maybe it was just a dream. We shall see.

Everything is Different When You Return

On a road trip, all the world’s problems get solved with bogus insight. This trip was different for some reason – less bogus, more insight. And more agreement. Maybe we are both becoming mellow at long last…

There are times when there is nothing you can do to overcome the effects of emotional shock. Soldiers experience that in war, young boys when they meet girls from Rigel 7, and lovers when they are no longer. I can’t help thinking about road trips. They’re the solution to all the world’s problems. At least for awhile. No matter what happens on a road trip, everything is different when you return.

The Tao Of Road Trips

Some forms of travel demand meticulous preparation (flying). But for road trips meticulous is the death-knell of adventure. There are only a few rules: flying on the ground is wrong…when you come to a back-road take it, and…the end can be a good place to start. The essence of road trips is adventure.

I’ll always remember the adventures with my Father on The Lost Trip, especially the ones inside my pickup where we solved all the world’s problems.

Dad picking up trash on The Natchez Trace
Returning from a walk on the Old Trace I caught Dad picking up litter on the Parkway.
Spanish Moss - Historic Home Natchez Trace
The mysterious tragic beauty of the Old South
Crowd looking up at Athena
At the Parthenon in Nashville…our buildings are taller but we still look up to the Ancient Greeks
Fishin' on Greenbo Lake
Greenbo Lake, KY…a lovely calm place to fish away the day
Dad Walking through Draco at Serpent Mound
Walking among the stars in the constellation Draco at Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio…Dad was exploring the cosmos with elán – I didn’t even try to keep up with him
The B2 Bomber
The B2 Bomber…none of us understand its awesome power (at the National Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio)
Valkyrie
Conceived in the 50s, built and flown in the 60s at Mach 3 for aeronautical research, no plane is as beautiful as Valkyrie, even today, 60 years later
East Forest School
East Forest School in Marienville, Pennsylvania, Population 800, to where we rode the bus in the early 60s from our home in The Forest…it houses grades 1-12…looks as good as the day it opened…and its mid-century design is still ultra-fine
Oil Well off Watson Road
Oil wells work alongside trout streams in the Allegheny National Forest
Watson Road
Back roads were made to be taken
Farm on Jennings Road - Western New York
This is what passes for drought in Western New York State…farmers we met insisted they were in the worst drought in modern memory but the whole area was lush to our lyin’ eyes
Old Barn Near Collins
Old Barn near Collins Center, NY
Fallingwater - Front
Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece “Fallingwater” in Farmington, PA…built into a waterfall on the side of a mountain in the deep forest it was a home for 25 years starting in 1934 before the owners donated it as a museum…millions have been spent maintaining it and millions have visited it since it was opened to the public in the ’60s
Fallingwater from the Birds-eye view
View of Fallingwater from Bird’s Eye…the cantilevers look like they’re leaning but it’s an optical illusion…everything is level
Dad and Diane at Fallingwater Information Center
The Information Center at Fallingwater is also a masterpiece of design
The Blue Ridge Mountains Near Fancy Gap Virginia
Typical view from the Blue Ridge Parkway…we took this National Parkway from Fancy Gap, VA to Asheville, NC
Blue Ridge Mountains closer to Ashville
The Blue Ridge Mountains, endless beauty
Dad and Diane in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Dad and Diane and two locals shooting the Blue Ridge Mountains…we met up with Marie & Diane at the family reunion in New York and caravan’d all the way to Diane’s place on Lake Hartwell, SC
St. Anthony of Padua School
St Anthony of Padua School in Greenville, South Carolina conceived and seen to completion by my Aunt Sister Catherine, Franciscan extraordinaire
Waterfall in Greenville
A waterfall in downtown Greenville, SC
View from Diane's backyard
Hartwell Lake in South Carolina…from my sister Diane’s backyard…a perfect place to recharge for the final leg of our journey

King Edward Hotel Lobby

The Lost Trip began randomly in the Old South near Natchez so it was fitting to end randomly in nearby Jackson at the King Edward Hotel which traces its origins to 1861. A jewel for any weary traveler but for us it was heaven. And yes we could feel the memories staring at us.

August 3 – 19, 2016

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