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French Camp May 18, 2012

Posted by marzwaggener in Mississippi.

I started walking the Natchez Trace on Monday the 14th. I stopped at the Jeff Busby campground to camp for the night – there were even bathrooms!

My tent on the campground

The next morning I just relaxed in my tent, knowing it might be a while before I had access to bathrooms again. I was laying in my tent, writing a letter, when I heard a familiar voice call out “Marz? Is that you?” I sat up, surprised, and through the tent window saw Carole McReynolds Davis, whom I met at the 175th Starkville birthday party, coming towards my tent! I climbed out to give her a big hug. I couldn’t believe she found me on the campground!

My “Mississippi Mama”

She explained that she wanted to interview me for an upcoming article in the Starkville Daily News. Not only was she writing an article about me, she contacted her friend Walt Grayson and set up an interview for me to be on his WLBT segment “Look Around Mississippi.” She asked me some questions, jotting down notes in a yellow notepad, then she and her husband drove me up to the top of the campground, the highest point on the Natchez Trace.

Carole with her husband and soulmate, Dr. Frank Davis

We decided to drive down the Trace a little bit to the next little town, French Camp, so it would be easier for me to meet with Walt on Thursday (my cellphone didn’t get reception so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to contact him). Carole and Frank told me the story of French Camp Academy – it’s a Christian school for children from broken homes. It was established in 1885 and many of the businesses in the small town are a part of the school. French Camp has a “Historic District” of old homes and log cabins – the gift shop, cafe, and a museum are all in restored log cabins from the 1800’s. It’s an amazing place to visit and the people there are caring and friendly.

Ordering lunch from Sonny, who runs the Council House Cafe

We toured the Historic District, then I unloaded my gear from the car and camped in the lawn for the night.

The next day I toured around French Camp a little more. There’s a bakery that makes the most delicious bread I have ever eaten. I stopped by and met the baker, Kevin O’Brien, and he gave me some information on bread and Sorghum molasses, both which are made in town.

Kevin slicing the bread baked fresh that morning

Sorghum cane is crushed in this cane mill and the juice is collected in a barrel. Horses or mules are used to power the press.

This is where the juice is cooked into molasses.

Touring the Historic District:
Inside one of the restored homes

Some small cabins in the Historic District, currently used for storage

The museum

A hand-sewn wedding dress from the late 1800’s

Early American Walking Wheel – from 1729-1759 – all original parts.

I love old typewriters!

There is a pottery studio in the old post office in the Historic District – Lisa Doty teaches a pottery class here, and many of the finished pieces are sold in the gift shop.

After my tour, I returned to the Council House. I mentioned to the employees there that I really wanted a shower before being filmed the next day, and Robin generously offered to bring me to her house to use the shower. How it is I failed to get a picture of her, I don’t know. She lived only a tenth of a mile down the road, and after showering I returned to the Historic District and set up my tent near the Council House Cafe again.

In the evening I heard the sound of children’s laughter, and went outside to find children playing after the church service.
Robin was there, and invited me in for supper. I chatted a bit with the folks there, and when I mentioned that Walt Grayson was coming, they immediately recognized the name – and started humming the theme song for his show! I began to feel a bit nervous about being filmed for TV – a lot of people might be watching! I returned to my tent for the night to try to get a good night’s sleep before the big day.


1. Geographic Designer - May 18, 2012

Great post! And Mississippi is a great state. I just finished designing a poster for Mississippi. Check it out: http://50statesdesignproject.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/39-mrs-mississippi/

2. Timothy Waggener - May 19, 2012

What an adventure. You know, this whole thing was a pretty good idea after all! I’m glad things are turning out so well for you. Stay safe! :-)

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