Day 7: December 29, 2006
Elvis Has Left the City
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Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway A backtracking I did go. I thought I got an early enough start but I'd be proven wrong or, more accurately, I'd make myself wrong. First stop was at Bynum Mounds. These were burial mounds and artifacts discovered here have helped in understanding the area's prehistory. Then it was off to Witch Dance where legend says that witches danced and the soil became lifeless wherever their feet touched it. There are some bare spots around here but I have the feeling that most are due to lots of touches from lots of normal feet and not from a single touch from a magical one. Not all of them of course. But the others I attribute to your normal everyday UFO landing. It's common knowledge that those make soil incapable of supporting life. Witches got blamed for a lot of stuff before UFOs came along.

I saw evidence of grass fires at several places along the road and at Witch Dance it was widespread. Whether an accident or intentional, I don't know.

Natchez Trace Parkway When I first saw this rafter (Look that up in your Funk & Wagnall.) it formed a single file parade across the corner of an open field. By the time I got turned around, they were relaxing at the edge of the woods and just talking among themselves.

Elvis' Birthplace, Tupelo, MS Elvis' Birthplace, Tupelo, MS Elvis' Birthplace, Tupelo, MS Elvis' Birthplace, Tupelo, MS Elvis' Birthplace, Tupelo, MS I did my backtracking first because I didn't want to wait around for things to open in Tupelo. But it's much later now and time to hit some of the city's most important places. Topping the list, of course, is Elvis' birthplace. The museum is closed for refurbishing but the house (all 450 square feet of it) and the chapel are open. Just about everything in the chapel has a name tag attached that identifies the giver. That front pew is from "The Colonel".

Outside I was a little surprised to find this young panhandler although he wasn't at all aggressive about it. I put a buck into his outstretched hand and wished him luck.

Johnny's Bar-B-Q, Tupelo, MS Johnny's Bar-B-Q, Tupelo, MS Johnny's Bar-B-Q, Tupelo, MS I'm sure that any Elvis fans who saw where I had dinner last night were screaming, "Why would anyone in Tupelo go to a drive-in not called Johnnie's?" I didn't know that the King used to enjoy RC Colas at Johnnie's and that the place was still going strong. Reportedly, Elvis ate cheeseburgers here but, since the sign has a big "Bar-B-Q" on it, I ordered a pulled-pork sandwich for breakfast. It was close to noon back in Cincinnati.

Automobile Museum, Tupelo, MS Automobile Museum, Tupelo, MS Automobile Museum, Tupelo, MS Automobile Museum, Tupelo, MS Automobile Museum, Tupelo, MS Automobile Museum, Tupelo, MS As if to assure I would not make it to the end of the Parkway today, I decided to take in the Tupelo Automobile Museum. I don't regret the time spent a bit but sure would have regretted missing this place. I don't know how many cars are here but it's a lot and they cover a wide range. The oldest is an 1896 Benz and they have a Curved Dash Olds, too. Other pictures show a Tucker (yellow!), a three wheeled Morgan, and a '59 Caddy dressed up for Christmas. I'm pretty sure that GM did not manufacture a four door convertible so I imagine that this car has had a hard top surgically removed and that there is no folding soft top under that vinyl cover.

The name, year, and original price of each car is displayed on a pedestal and pressing a button on a speaker box triggers a short audio giving more details. Nice touch.

Tupelo, MS Tupelo, MS I recall thinking, when I stopped for pictures of the Lee County Courthouse, that it was probably rarely photographed because of all the Elvis sites around. Not to fear. It's site #7 on an Elvis Presley Driving Tour: "where Elvis performed his first live radio show hosted by Mississippi Slim and WELO".

That statue in the courthouse lawn was erected by the Tupelo Woman's Christian Temperance Union to mark Mississippi's moving ahead of the game and instituting statewide prohibition in 1908. It was also the first state to ratify the 18th amendment and the last to repeal prohibition - in 1966!

Tupelo Visitor Center, Natchez Trace Parkway Tupelo Visitor Center, Natchez Trace Parkway Tupelo Visitor Center, Natchez Trace Parkway Parkway Headquarters is near its middle at the Tupelo Visitor Center. Displays and a short video provide a good introduction to the Trace and the Parkway and there is a nicely stocked bookstore for further study. Friendly and knowledgeable rangers staff the center.

Unknown Confederate Soldiers, Natchez Trace Parkway Unknown Confederate Soldiers, Natchez Trace Parkway The "UNKNOWN CONFEDERATE SOLDIER" tombstone is on a short trail just a couple of miles north of the Tupelo Visitor Center. There are thirteen of them and not only are their names unknown, the circumstances of their deaths are also lost.

Natchez Trace Parkway Bear Creek Mound must be right on the Mississippi-Alabama line. In her guide book, Bachleda places it in Alabama but an "Entering Alabama" sign, visible from the pull off, is just to the east of it.

Natchez Trace Parkway Natchez Trace Parkway Alabama is the Kansas of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Kansas contained just thirteen of Route 66's original 2448 miles and Alabama contains less than eleven miles of the Parkway. It seems that all of those miles might be visible from the 800 foot vantage point of the Freedom Hills Overlook. That's tall for these parts.

The Long Players The Long Players I turned off sightseeing mode with about sixty miles of Parkway still in front of me. I was once again caught by sunset and I really wanted to be in Nashville tonight. Shortly before leaving on this trip, I had heard an NPR story about a group of Nashville musicians called the Long Players. The only name I recognized was Gary Tallent, of E Street Band fame, but the concept sounded pretty neat. Every once in awhile, they would get together and perform an entire album. Each song would feature a different vocalist and the instrumental line up wasn't cast in stone, either. With a little poking around, I learned that their next performance would be Van Morrison's Moondance and it was scheduled for the 29th. Believing I would be in or near Nashville by then, I reserved a ticket. So I switched the GPS from "shorter" to "faster" and headed to Nashville. I got a motel room south of the city where it would be convenient for both the night's show and a return to the Parkway.

The Long Players did not disappoint. This is the ultimate cover band. Consider that all the musicians, even though I don't recognize the names, are in a class with Tallent and they're doing music they love and that influenced them. They're doing this because they want to. Money from each concert goes to some charity. The only band members that I managed to get even a vaguely recognizable picture of are Bill Lloyd (The closest thing they have to a front man.) and guitarist Steve Allen. I also have shots of some of the singers but can't remember names. I expect Lloyd to eventually post the lineup here, as he has with previous performances. Maybe I'll put some other pictures up then. They're doing Abbey Road on February 15th. I don't imagine I'll be able to get back to town but anyone that can, should.

ADDENDUM: Nov 30, 2011 - The Long Players did not do Abbey Road in February nor do I believe they planned to. I now believe that what I saw was a poster for the Beatles tribute band Abbey Road and a poster for The Long Players hanging together. The Long Players did eventually perform Abby Road but it was nearly two years later on October 25, 2008.

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