Have you ever gotten busy in a jacuzzi? Scored in a burbling whirlpool tub?

dupree house brenda and charles dixon

I may not have gotten lucky at Mamie’s Cottage, but I encountered Brenda and Charles Dixon’s jacuzzi tub at my 444-mile walk’s critical juncture. Seventy-five miles meat-grindered my feet. A couple of my toes were purple-verging-on-black. Joints screeched. Tendons wailed.

My body almost convinced
my mind it couldn’t go on.

Charles gave us a tour of Mamie’s Cottage, but I never left the bathroom. Once he showed me the jacuzzi tub, I let Dad and Alice learn about the rest of the place. Gas logs in the fireplace. A fridge stocked with provisions. Furniture that supported Dad’s weight. And of course, the inner workings of the television.

dupree house brenda and charles dixon

As soon as the door clicked shut, I opened the floodgates and plopped my abused limbs into hot water. I’m surprised I didn’t burn up the motor, alternating sore feet, cramped knees, stiff ankles and creaky hips in front of the jets.

Given the volume of
my moans and sighs,
Alice probably wondered
who was in there with me.

brenda and charles dixon

I’m glad I dragged myself to the Dupree House for breakfast, though. Brenda makes slurp-worthy fare, and Charles gives an entertaining tour of their plantation home just steps from the Natchez Trace. It’s fitting that Mamie’s Cottage sits alongside it.

It wasn’t always so.

Doctor Dupree, the original owner of Dupree House, decided to adopt a child and share his wealth with someone in need. His four children welcomed a sister, a girl named Mamie. When her adopted father died, she and her mother moved to a tiny cottage in town. Miss Mamie lived there until she died at age 90.

Her cottage was threatened with demolition in the 1990s, but Charles and Brenda rescued it. They paid to have it dismantled piece-by-piece and moved to the grounds of the Dupree House, uniting a daughter’s home with her father’s once again.

Sometimes, we make memories
by forging connections with the past.

Mamie’s Cottage is five miles from Raymond, Mississippi and twenty miles from Jackson. If you’re cycling, a short path leads from the Natchez Trace to the main gate. To take advantage of Brenda and Charles’s hospitality (and jacuzzi), click HERE to reserve through Natchez Trace Travel.

Have you ever found
the right place
at the right time?

h on the blog for website 2

The Huffington Post calls it “one literary ride you don’t want to miss!” What are you waiting for? Read Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace. Be inspired to Make a Memory of your very own.

Click to read a sample of Not Without My Father

Buy now at these outlets:

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People might be surprised to learn America’s richest city in 1800 wasn’t New York, Boston or even Philadelphia. My own Charleston couldn’t claim the crown, either.

Natchez, Mississippi beat
everyone to the money.

Situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, Natchez is chock-full of mansions.

dunleith natchez trace

from usgulfcoaststatesgeotourism.com

Some pristine. Some not. Its culture blends Cajun with Old South, uptown with frontier. On its restored riverfront, visitors can time travel while they nosh of fried pickles. They can gamble and imagine the boatmen, just over there. Dismantling their wooden barges. Stuffing their pockets with cash. Walking past ostentation with HOME on their brains.

Mansions couldn’t hold them.
Society failed to entice.

They craved open spaces, beyond porches and piazzas. At the rim of plantation lines. In swamps and forests, dirt and sky.

longwood natchez trace

from terragalleria.com

The boatmen looked at the riches of Natchez, and they embraced the American Dream. They didn’t know what to call it. Yet. But they knew if they worked harder, walked further, made it home……..it would one day be within their grasp.


There’s no better time to visit Natchez than during Pilgrimage. Spring and Fall. Mark your calendars. If you’re the spontaneous sort, Spring Pilgrimage runs from 7 March to 7 April 2015. Fall 2015 Pilgrimage dates have yet to be announced, but it usually runs from late September to early October. Click HERE to learn more about Pilgrimage.

No Make a Memory visit to the Trace
is complete without my books!

Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the NatchezTo Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether LewisGet your copies of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis and Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by heading to my



“This is JUST LIKE the Blair Witch Project!”

I didn’t need to hear that. At 6am. As I forced my forty-five-year-old limbs over the sheer rock cliff that is Breakneck Ridge. While wearing a headlamp. And following three women, one of whom makes her living by cutting up Barbies into dismembered jewelry that is coveted all over the planet.

flags first tierBut Kristen lit the way ahead of me. If you read Not Without My Father, you’ll learn that Kristen is Cooper’s mom. And she’s sort of like my little sister.

We met on a Charleston stage. She set her sights on New York. And she moved. Met her husband. She grew. And made Cooper.

sunrise breakneck ridgeAnd I’m so proud of the person she’s become. Not that what I think matters. I’m just glad to know her. To call her my friend. To follow her into the dark up a rocky incline and experience a crisp sunrise.

I’ll never think of hiking in the dark without conjuring Breakneck Ridge. And headlamps. And sheer cliffs.

Ingredients for making memories.

upriver breakneck ridge