Friday, April 23, 2010

Musical Road Trip -- Texas, Chattanooga and more

Hey Road Trip --

I love your books and I just came across your site today. So I thought – why not write and maybe get some help with our big drive?

This summer my husband and I are planning a 3 – 4 month trip to the states to reconnect with roots music and our spiritual heritages. We hope to hit New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and then back up north to Ontario in Canada.

Our only definite destinations are Texas in July to record a CD and Chattanooga in August to perform. What would you suggest as the best places to go and explore? We live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and had planned to motor down through Montana on the way to New Mexico.

Any off the beaten path places would be greatly appreciated. We’re thinking the Natchez Trace sounds cool!

Thank you.

Jane E


Hello Jane --

Thank you for writing in to Road Trip USA -- I hope I can help you plan a great trip & tour .

Chattanooga (and nearby Lookout Mountain) is a real Road Trip mecca, and Montana and New Mexico are also great places to travel -- all these places are ideal for any kind of quest, spiritual or otherwise. If you could manage a swing slightly west from your proposed route to include the Native American lands of the "Four Corners" region (especially the Hopi plateaus of Arizona, and the ancient cliff palaces of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley), you will have a memorable adventure, for sure!

And just off Route 66, west of Albuquerque, is another amazing place: Acoma Pueblo, also known as "Sky City." (Visit the ancient mesa-top community, not the freeway-fronting casino complex!)

Further east on your tour, the Natchez Trace has a great history, and is interesting in many other ways - the current road was built during the last "Great Depression" as a public works project, but it tracks the much-older footpath and passes by some fantastic settings (giant Pre-Columbian mounds like Emerald Mound, and antebellum mansions in Natchez itself and all over Mississippi.)

For a pplace to stay, try the Shack Up in Clarksdale MS -- with your musical interests, I'm sure you'll like that!

The nearby college town of Oxford gives a great contrast with the sweltering, suffering Delta Blues world, for sure.

Plus there is a lot of "Civil Rights" era history to be experienced, especially in the town of Jackson Mississippi (where the two main roads have been renamed for Medgar Evers and James Meredith), and Selma and Montgomery Alabama are also worth a look, if you are in the region. (Montgomery has many claims to fame, not least its connections to Martin Luther King Jr., and the late great songwriter Hank Williams, too!).

There are many great towns and place to enjoy all along your way -- and I suspect your musical connections will lead you to many of them. If you haven't heard of it, I also would like to suggest you check out one great little institution in sleepy St Francisville Louisiana: the Magnolia Cafe, which has served as a combo cafe-and-live music club for many great years. (I think it is still in business, but their website seems to have been taken over by someone in Austin TX, another cool place to linger...)

If you get there -- or find other great places in your travels -- please let me know what you think!

Hope this helps inspire your travel planning.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA



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