Journal of 100 Miles

Celebrating the communities and culture along the 100 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Tennessee.

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Happy Trails – Journal of 100 Miles Vol. 4

Our latest journey off the Natchez Trace took place, and in what better fashion, on horseback!  We explore a picturesque area of Fly, TN and a stone’s throw from the Natchez Trace riding trail that actually covers a total of 25 miles for a good day’s ride. Our 90 minute ride was enough to see some pretty land and hear amusing stories.  Read  Happy Trails in Southern Exposure Magazine.

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It’s the Mule’s time to shine.  Known as the Mule Capital of the World, Columbia, TN sees thousands of onlookers and participants in their signature event each spring.  They can be called such things as a hinny or  john or mollie, but in the end, they are all bred to become one in the same – the Mule.

Kicking off the event was the Wagon Train starting from Leiper’s Fork and following the Old Tennessee Trail down to Columbia.

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Bonnie Blue Farm

A warm Natchez breeze gently rustles the leaves, as a field of goats grace the landscape below.  Stoically poised amongst the peaceful flock lies Mya, one of three Great Pyrenees who watches over Bonnie Blue Farm.  Amongst her, are Nubian and Saanens, goats and kids, frolicking full of delight in a field warmed and nourished by the summer sun. All of this peace is entrusted to the wise beyond her two years, Mya.  There is something heartwarming about this sweet farm scene, as well as the couple who owns and runs it.

Jim and Gayle Tanner are the proud owners of Bonnie Blue Farm (, located in Waynesboro, Tennessee.  As you make your way through the establishment, the grassy green scenery is scattered with rustic wood buildings built by the couple.  A combination of hard work and knowledge helped established the farm three years ago, and most recently the fruits of their labor has yielded a 28 foot deep underground cheese-aging cave, that boasts 1,000 square feet, currently the only one in Tennessee.  The goats provide the milk and then the Tanners begin the age-old process of making cheese.  The cave is used to allow the cheese to cure, build, and ripen the flavor and texture that goat cheese is highly regarded for.

Although the farm is relatively new, Gayle has been in the cheese making industry since the early 1970’s and studied at the renowned Culinary Institute of Nappa Valley, California.  Goat cheese is healthier and more easily digestible, making it a tasty choice, and a health savvy alternative to dairy based cheeses.  The Tanners sell the farmstead cheese at local farmers’ markets as well as directly from the farm.  When asking Jim why it is important or even necessary to buy locally produced cheese, Jim says, “You know where it comes from, when buying cheese in stores you don’t always know that.  A lot of times it comes from a long ways away and it’s not fresh.”

After enjoying a piece of Bonnie Blue’s goat cheese, you too will see the difference in freshness and smile as kids play in the sunny field while Mya tirelessly looks on.  There is something simple and romantic about the relationship between land, animal, and person, all of which is explored and utilized right near you and me. Who knows, you might even see Mya catching an afternoon nap under the cool shade of a tree.

June 2009

By Rebecca Marquis

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Jackson Falls

The natural marvels of the earth never cease to amaze me every time I get up close and personal with one.  Jackson Falls was just that.  An impromptu trip down the Trace this week had us stopping at the Baker Bluff Overlook to take in an incredible view of the Duck River, rolling hills and old barns.  The vast rain we’ve had over the past week has made everything lush and green, leaving the land a little drowned and the river overflowing.  We followed the trail marker indicating Jackson Falls 1/3 of a mile.  A fairly easy trail up and over a hill, which, come to find out, would lead to the next rest stop at Jackson Falls. Who needed a map to tell us that, we like adventure.   The added jaunt made a great hike for some scenery of old trees, wildflowers and vista views.

Coming upon the Jackson Falls stop, we noticed a great rest area with a covered space, picnic tables and a grill creating a perfectly peaceful scene and getaway spot, and making it a great place to go with family, a good book, your camera or to simply to find some tranquility.  A 900 foot steep, paved trail led us down to the falls.  It was breathtaking, and catching the falls after a long rain, as we learned, was the perfect time to see it.  The water was vast and flowing hard, an absolutely beautiful site. We passed an older couple making their way back up who said to us, “It’s been years since we’ve seen that much water here!”  Water was cascading down tiers of rock surrounded by bluffs, the smell of the air moist with oxygen, and just as the sight was taking our breath away, the greenery fed it right back to us.
Who says you need to travel far to take a vacation, find some peace and enjoy beauty – it’s right in our backyard.

May 2009