In Natchez, some tourists prefer road less traveled

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Not all tourists take the guided tours &045; some, like Gary and Kay Scofield of Livingston, Texas, choose to stray off the beaten path.

At a time when most other tourists were still wending their way through the antebellum houses on the Spring Pilgrimage tour, the retired couple were strolling through Memorial Park.

&uot;That’s the best time to go&uot; walking through town, Scofield said, referring to the quietest time of day

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&045; in this case, early on a Sunday afternoon.

Since they had parked their motor home at Port Gibson’s Grand Gulf State Park &045; just &uot;up the road,&uot; to these cross-country travelers &045; the couple decided to drive down to Natchez.

&uot;We had heard from other people how beautiful the town is,&uot; Gary Scofield said, adding that those people were right.

In their limited time frame, the Scofields were only taking brief walking and driving tours around town, after seeing the film &uot;The Natchez Story&uot; at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center earlier Sunday.

They especially loved the antebellum and Victorian houses &045; &uot;they’ve been kept in such good shape,&uot; Gary Scofield said &045; and the spring foliage.

Maybe that’s not surprising, considering the fact that the Scofields lived and worked for years on an estate on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, a job that included landscaping 12 acres.

&uot;We had azaleas up there, but they didn’t do as well as down here,&uot; Gary Scofield said.

Natchez was just one stop on what has become the Scofields’ nationwide tour. Since they retired one year ago, they have been traveling nonstop in their motor home.

&uot;This is our spring-winter tour of the Sunbelt,&uot; Gary Scofield said. &uot;We’ll end up spending the summer in Alaska.&uot;

What is surprising, perhaps, is that a couple who spent 31 years traveling from coast to coast with the military &045; Gary Scofield was a Navy pilot &045; would still want to travel. But they said they enjoy being able to go at their own pace instead of Uncle Sam’s.

&uot;You get to see what a wonderful country we have, and you get to enjoy it,&uot; Gary Scofield said.