Picnic on the Natchez Trace Parkway
I have never intentionally been on the Natchez Trace Parkway. I got lost on the Natchez Trace ONCE. I was jogging down in Franklin somewhere near Grasslands one winter day, and instead of driving back on Hillsboro, I decided to try the general directions that my running mate pointed me to. I got deeper and deeper on roads I have never been on, near noon with no shadows to guide me. I saw a sign saying Natchez Trace, and I thought I would take Natchez Trace all the way to Vanderbilt University, near my home. You see, there is a Natchez Trace street near downtown Nashville, which has nothing to do with the Natchez Trace Parkway - the 440 mile road going from Nashville down to the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi. At the time I did not know these roads were different because they have the same name. An hour later, low on gas, I called my running mate to see if she had any idea where I was. Luckily, I was still in TN, near a gas station, and she told me how to get home. Then there is this summer when Matt decided he wanted to ride on the Trace. Good for him. For those who remember me about 18 years ago, when I was on a rails-to-trails with a borrowed mountain bike, know that I wish Matt well, and I will not be heading out with him. So, he comes back and tells me that there are nice picnic places all up and down this road, and we should make a picnic dinner one cool summer evening. I started to have flash back of bad biking, bad camping, and bad driving directions. As it turns out, the Natchez Trace Parkway has some very lovely scenic overlooks, and lovely picnic areas along the way. There are maps at the beginning of the Trace which shows what kind of stops are at each mile marker. It is handy knowing where I am going with a map.
Before we left, we went to the
Wine Shoppe at Green Hills
2109 Abbott Martin Rd
615-297-5220 and got this bottle of Paringa Sparking Shiraz. It was less than $12, chilled in the cooler on the way there, and the cork popped like a fine bubbly. It is a nice summer wine to sip, and has the right amount of fruit and freshness. That wine shop seems to actually know what they are doing, and they made a great recommendation.
Because this was a last minute decision to picnic, I did not prepare any food. We stopped by
1705 21st Ave S
to pick up a "bread basket" that has a couple of slices of various breads of the day, chicken salad, and a mozzarella-tomato salad. We brought with those Provence goodies, some 1-yr aged Manchego that is so flavorful, and currently one of my favorites with bread or straight up. The chicken salad went great with the whole grain dried cranberry bread, YummO! We did good!Back to the logistics. We went on our way to find a nice picnic place, and we stopped to take pictures of the view. The only other people I saw were a young couple at an overlook and some young guy reading at a rest stop. I am sure the young couple were a bit annoyed that I was there taking pictures of the view because it was obvious they wanted some privacy to continue to makeout. We finally get to a nice picnic place, and there was one other car, with no bike rack, in the lot, but no driver. There was a trailhead at that lot, so I guess the driver went hiking. There were about 5 cars that drove by during the hour or so we were there relaxing and picnicking.
It was so quiet, and do I dare use the cliche, deafeningly quiet? Having lived in L.A., Boston and Phila. where this is a constant hum of man-made noise, this quiet thing was freaking me out. I started imagining that some mass murderer took the driver of the other car into the woods and did horrible things to the driver, like things you would hear of in campfire tales. As the natural light dimmed, I swear there were Blair Witches out through the trees. As each car drove by, I was wondering what the intentions of each driver was. When it was time to go, I packed up our stuff. As I stepped into our car, there still was no sign of the other car people, and nightfall was coming quickly. I wonder where the driver went to, and if they made it back to the car to go home.