Natchez Trace

Between the two of us, my husband and I are on the Natchez Trace Parkway between Cherokee, Alabama, and Tupelo, bad-milk-0012Mississippi, about three or four times a week. It’s a pretty drive — peaceful, really, as long as you watch out for deer who think they can make it across the road before you do and tourists who drive at 35 miles an hour because they Don’t Want To Miss A Thing — but it can get boring. So whenever there’s roadwork or a washout or something that results in a detour on our regular route, we’re excited to see something new. (I know, I know — we should get out more.) This past December, rains washed out a drainage culvert and drivers now have to detour off the parkway near Pratts, Mississippi — a short drive through beautiful farmland and houses ranging from the big and stately to the small and not-so-much. My husband and I especially were delighted to find the detour takes us past this store/market/gas station that literally is the only place to stop and refuel car and body for miles around. It’s a spacious building on a concrete floor, with shelves of mechandise in the middle, a kitchen on the side and tables up front. Think Mississippi’s 2009 version of an old-fashioned general store, with a distinct lean toward maleness. You can get a Coke (you know that’s Southernspeak for any cold carbonated drink), a freshly sliced bologna sandwich, groceries, beer, dog food and even presents such as Civil War figurines in case you’re headed to Mama-and-them’s for Christmas and you forgot to do your shopping. The store must be a community gathering spot because it’s bustling with guys who’ve been hunting and four-wheeling every time we’ve stopped in, and there’s usually somebody in the kitchen with some wonderful-smelling barbecue that makes me wish I could eat messy food and drive at the same time. We love it, and we’ve decided that when the road work is done and we can get back on the Parkway, we’re sticking with this detour. I just hope the milk situation resolves itself soon!