Map of Our Natchez Trace Bike Trip

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SUMMARY - Thanks for joining us on our blog and following our bicycling adventure.  As of now, this blog has had 872 visits during our 6 week trip.  There were 825 hits from the U.S., 40 from Canada, 6 from the United Kingdom and 1 from Singapore.  A special thanks to the Proctor's (Kendrick & Michelle) and the Ligon's (Mike & Karen) and their friend, Jim, who helped us when we needed it the most.  We traveled 2153.7 miles on this trip and pedaled for a total of 198.81 hours which averages to 10.83 mi/hr.  We covered an average of 50.1 miles per day, but there was one day that we did not travel at all due to weather.  Without that day our average was 51.28 miles per day.  Our bike, trailer and all gear weighed 184 lbs., including our body weight we were a total 510 lbs. rolling down the road!  Our max. speed was 47.5 mi/hr and our highest mileage day was 75.9 miles.  If you would like to be included in an e-mail notice for any future adventure blogs of ours, just e-mail us at:  stewyx2@ctcis.net  and we will let you know the web address of our next travel blog.
     Misc. expenses - $495.96   All food (dining out & groceries) - $1147.10   Lodging (camping & motels) - $1494.34   Spending 6 weeks on a bicycle adventure with my best friend - Priceless!

Friday, October 15, 2010

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Mayor of Higginsville, Bill Kolas, in the Homecoming Parade

Dennis & Geri before and after photos (see above)
 Day 43 - With such a short distance to pedal to get home, we took our time leaving the motel and I got caught up adding photos and videos to our blog.  I was several days behind with no Internet available for my computer.  We finally got on the road at 10:30 AM.  What a beautiful day it was!  The temperature was perfect and the wind was very light.  It was amazingly warm for the middle of October.  We had an uneventful trip to Higginsville with just one stop during the 32 mile ride at Alma, MO. for lunch.  We made good time and arrived back home before 2:00 PM after averaging 11.6 mi/hr.  As soon as we pulled up in front of the house we heard a marching band playing, so we pedaled a few blocks without unloading anything and discovered that the high school Homecoming Parade was just starting.  How appropriate to arrive home to a Homecoming Parade!  Now, it's time to get to work unpacking and cleaning up everything from 6 weeks of traveling.  If anyone is still reading this and is interested, a complete summary of the statistics from our big adventure will be posted by tomorrow afternoon.  That will be the final post to our blog.  If you enjoyed following our blog and would like to be informed of a future blog of one of our adventures, just e-mail us at:  stewyx2@ctcis.net  and we will let you know when we go wandering again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Barge on the Missouri River beside our campsite at Huntsdale, MO.

Looking up at the bluffs along the Katy Trail north of Huntsdale, MO.

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videoDay 42 - Do you know how hard it is to get out of a nice warm sleeping bag and start packing up camp in the cold so you can pedal a bike for nearly 60 miles?  No, of course, you don't!  You have sense enough to sleep in a heated house and drive a car!!  Anyway, we stayed in bed late and didn't get traveling until 10:15 AM.  The morning lighting was great on the bluffs along the Missouri River as we pedaled north.  We stopped for a very late breakfast in Rocheport, MO.  I ordered the Paul Bunyan pancake.  It was one foot in diameter and one and a half inches thick!  Geri and I ate the whole thing!!  The wind was from the NW in the morning, but most of the time we were protected by trees along the Trail.  Gradually throughout the day, the wind changed directions from the SW.  When we reached Boonville, MO. and left the Katy Trail, it started to really affect our progress, but we decided to try to make it to Marshall, MO. and get a motel room instead of camp at Arrow Rock again.  We pedaled nonstop to Marshall and it was a rough 35 miles.  Besides the wind, it seemed that we climbed most of the time to get there.  Fortunately, when we reached Hwy 65 we had to turn north and we got a very helpful wind aided push for 6 miles to the motel.  We didn't break 60 miles today, but we got close.  Our average speed was only an even 10 mi/hr today.  That provides some evidence of the hard travel we had.  We will not be setting an alarm in the morning!  It's just a short 32 miles to Higginsville!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our wet tent at Bluffton, MO.

 

Our campsite at Huntsdale, MO.
  Day 41 - Just when we were nearly asleep it started to rain, so we had to jump up and get the rainfly on the tent in a hurry. It rained a lot during the night, so we woke to a tent so wet that we just packed it away without taking the time to let it dry. It felt like it weighed twice as much, but we were able to get on the trail by 8:45 AM. We pedaled to Mokane, MO. and stopped for a late breakfast before continuing onto Jefferson City where we took a very long break, so I could catch up on our blog. We didn't have any phone signal last night, so I was behind blogging and the Katy Trail has no WiFi hotspots, so the addition of photos will have to wait. Soon after 3:00 PM we were traveling northwest into a rather strong wind. Most of the time we had a good windbreak from the trees, but when we were pedaling in the open, the wind hurt are speed 2-3 mi/hr. It was a long 30 miles to Huntsdale, MO., where we got a campsite at a commercial campground. We arrived just before sunset, so we were able to set up the tent in the day light but we had to cook dinner in the dark. We covered over 60 miles again today which makes 4 days in a row of 60+ mile days. We were pretty tired, but we have a great campsite right beside the Missouri River. We passed the 2000 mile mark on this trip today and we are only 85 miles from home. We are in good enough shape now to pedal over 80 miles in a day, but not if we have unfavorable winds. If we have helpful winds, we could actually be home tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back on the Katy Trail!!!
Fall on the Katy Trail
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videoDay 40 - We woke up fairly refreshed after such a hard day yesterday and we were pedaling west toward Union, MO. by 8:45 AM. It was cold enough this morning that I had to start traveling with a jacket on. That is only the 3rd morning I have had to do that on the entire trip. There are a fair amount of warm clothes that I brought along for this trip and I haven't even touched them yet! At Union, MO., we stopped for a grocery store breakfast and we crossed the route that we took on the way to Mississippi, so we have completed a huge circle. All we have to do now is retrace our route back home. The highway between Union and Washington, MO. was very busy, but there was an excellent wide shoulder. We still had some long grades to climb and on one downhill section we hit 45.5 mi/hr. After we crossed the Missouri River at Washington, it was just a few miles to the Katy Trail. It was a great feeling to be safely back on the Katy with no traffic. The sounds of internal combustion engines was replaced with the crunch of gravel and the rustle of leaves beneath our bike tires. We were disappointed that the fall colors were not in full swing like we expected. The trees are really late changing this year, but there were a lot of fallen leaves on the trail. The unpaved surface of the Katy Trail does hurt are speed a bit, but we still managed to average 10.6 mi/hr for the day. One of the most exciting moments on the Katy Trail was when an owl swooped out of the woods beside us and flew between us just one foot above our heads. A few minutes later I had to swerve to miss a large black snake that covered 3/4 the width of the trail. Thunderstorm clouds started building in the afternoon, but they looked like they were going to stay north of us, however, later we were caught in a heavy shower for 15 minutes and we sought refuge under a tree, which was still holding on to most of its leaves just for us! We didn't get too wet and the rain motivated us to pedal harder to reach camp before there was a repeat performance. The rain never returned, however, so when we passed a bar and grill north of Hermann, MO. we stopped for dinner. We were not very excited to have to cook tonight after covering over 60 miles today. It was 10 miles west from Hermann to the same self-service campground we stayed at on the way out. We reached the campground a little after sunset and we were the only people in the entire camp,however, we thought it was a little unfair that we had to deal with mosquitoes in the middle of October. We had to hose off the bike and our gear before we could unpack. We were covered with a bit of mud from the rain. We had to set up camp in the dark, but we were both feeling much better than last night. We are even thinking about trying to make it back home from here in 2 days instead of 3. That is not a thought we would have even considered last night!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Our campsite at Robertsville State Park
 Day 39 - It was a long, rough day of pedaling for us. With all of the goals of this adventure satisfied, we are anxious to get home, but our planned high mileage day beat us up with a seemingly endless series of long steep hills in the afternoon. When it was all over we had covered 70 miles, our 2nd highest mileage day on the trip, but we only averaged a little over 10 mi/hr because of the hills. Our day started out fine with a motel breakfast and an 8:45 AM start in the cool morning air. We traveled on Hwy 61 all the way to Festus, MO. We did have some challenging climbs on this part of the route, so we were ready for a long rest in Festus. It was lunchtime, so we stuffed ourselves for one hour at an all-you-can eat buffet before heading west on Hwy A. I was expecting this county road to be narrow and hilly, but it was wide, smooth and had a fantastic shoulder over a car width in places. There were many rockcuts so the grades were much easier than expected. After 10 miles we began heading NW on Hwy BB. This was our favorite part of the entire day, except for lunch! We pedaled through a colorful valley next to Belews Creek. The easy grades of the symmetrical hills allowed for fast travel. We were sorry when it ended because once we started pedaling NW on Hwy NN, it was an entirely different road. The hills were very steep and long. Any downhill sections were over very quickly, but we did hit our fastest speed of the entire trip at 47.5 mi/hr. We only missed our record speed by just a half mi/hr! This difficult section of the route lasted over 10 miles and Geri was near her physical limit, but fortunately we reached a much friendlier Hwy O that got us to Robertsville State Park 15 minutes before sunset. We have been to this state park before during our previous pursuit of Missouri State Parks, but we did not camp here at that time. We nearly had the campground to ourselves. We were not very hungry after stuffing ourselves so much at lunch and our exceedingly high physical effort today, so we just ate snacks for dinner and rehydrated. We look forward to getting on the Katy Trail tomorrow and leaving the hills behind for a while as we enjoy the peak fall colors along the Missouri River.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Day 38 - It was so warm last night that I had to sleep on top of my sleeping bag half the night, but the morning temperature was very pleasant.  We had our usual slow pack up and got on the road at 9:15 AM.  All the hills we had to climb to get to the campground yesterday were now steep gravity friendly screamers and we exited Trail of Tears State Park in short order.  We are now traveling in a pretty hilly area of Missouri, but Hwy 177 did a good job missing any big grades.  We stopped for a big breakfast just before reaching Hwy 61.  I had originally planned to be on Hwy 61 for only a short while, then take a series of country roads to weave our way to Sainte Genevieve, MO., but when we started pedaling NW on Hwy 61 we decided to continue traveling on it.  The traffic volume was low and it had a fair 3 foot wide shoulder.  It was also a more direct route to our goal for the night and it saved us about 10 miles.  We traveled NW on Hwy 61 with moderate rolling hill terrain and nothing of any special interest until the road leveled off a few miles SE of Sainte Genevieve and we pedaled on the western edge of the Mississippi River floodplain.  There were rock cliffs to our left and the flat, wide floodplain to our right.  We reached a nice motel on the western edge of Sainte Genevieve at 5:15 PM after covering over 60 miles and averaging over 11 mi/hr.  We settled into the comfort of what will probably be our last motel stay on this trip, unless the weather changes drastically.  The long range forecast is for continued amazingly good October weather, however, so we could be home by Friday!


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The Mississippi River floodplain SE of Sainte Genevieve, MO.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Our 48th and final Missouri State Park by bicycle!!!
 
Geri looking east from an overlook near our campsite
 
Our campsite at Trail of Tears State Park

Day 37 - We slept well in our expensive motel room, but we did not find that it was any better than most of the less expensive lodging we usually stay at, in fact, we were quite disappointed at their free breakfast.  We have had restaurant quality and variety free breakfasts at many of the motels we have stayed at on this trip for almost half the price that we paid here. We relaxed until 10:00 AM when the Verizon store called to tell us that our replacement phone had arrived. We packed up quickly, picked up our new phone and headed east through Cape Girardeau on Hwy 146 to Hwy 177 where we turned north. Hwy 177 took us right past Cape Girardeau's Mississippi Riverfront. It was less than 20 miles north from here to reach Trail of Tears State Park. We stopped at the Visitor's Center first and we were enthusiastically welcomed by two of the Park's staff. It was almost as if they knew this was our 48th Missouri State Park and the end of our quest to visit them all from Higginsville by bicycle. We might be the first couple from Higginsville to do this! We spent a long time in the very educational Visitor's Center and learned much more about the horrible Trail of Tears. Our opinion of President Andrew Jackson took a huge nosedive as we learned that he violated a Federal Supreme Court decision and still sided with Georgia State government to have the entire Indian population in several states moved to Oklahoma. The huge loss of life of men, women and children from this forced march west during a horrible winter is unforgivable. Geri and I want to start a grassroots effort to get Andrew Jackson removed from our $20 currency! From the Visitor's Center, we pedaled our loaded bike to the Mississippi River on the east side of the Park before climbing the steep series of hills to reach the nonelectric campground. We unloaded our gear and detached the trailer at our campsite before pedaling to the best overlook we have seen in all the Missouri State Parks. It was a very fitting conclusion to our multiyear goal of visiting all the state parks in Missouri by bicycle and it happened on my 62nd birthday! It was a great birthday present for me and a very satisfying end to this "bucket list" project. We returned to our campsite and cooked a huge spaghetti dinner that we easily consumed. It is amazingly warm for being this deep into October and the weather continues to be great. I can't remember how long it has been since we have seen a cloud in the sky! It was a low mileage day with us covering just a little over 25 miles and our average speed was under 10 mi/hr with all the touring in Trail of Tears State Park and having to climb a lot of seriously steep hills. Our mileage will take a big jump tomorrow as we try to make it to Sainte Genevieve, MO. nearly 70 miles away.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

The most interesting thing we saw all day!
Day 36 - We had a high mileage day planned, so we woke up earlier than usual.  We had a great motel breakfast and got on the road well before 9:00 AM.  We still had a north wind, but it was not nearly as strong as yesterday and we were able to make very good time on the level roads out of Charleston, MO.  Since entering Missouri yesterday, we had not had to climb a single hill, except when we had to pedal over the Mississippi River levee, then it was flat again.  It was not until we reached Benton, MO. that we began to experience hills again and it was all of a sudden.  It was almost like reaching the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado, except the hills were not quite as large.  We enjoyed several miles of roller coaster hills and at one point just before Chaffee, MO. there was a long downhill section on a road that had quite a few sharp curves close together.  A car had just caught up with us, but it was unable to stay with us through this section of curves.  We pulled away from the car like we had a motor on the bike.  I wish we could have gotten a video of that fun ride, but we sure were not going to pedal back up that hill to do it!  We stopped at a grocery store in Chaffee and I looked for our new Smart phone to call Kent Raider, an old running buddy of mine, who had left a message on the phone that he might be traveling near us and he wanted to know exactly where we would be.  I was surprised to find that our phone was not in the pouch we always kept it in.  We made a quick search and had to come to the heartbreaking conclusion that we had removed the phone at a quick rest stop in Benton, MO. 15 miles ago and it must not have been returned to its usual traveling compartment.  Just as we made this grim discovery, Jerry Harmon drove up beside us to inquire about our trip.  Individuals often walk up to us and ask us how far we have traveled.  Of course, Jerry happened to catch us at the moment of our despair at losing our fancy new phone.  He immediately volunteered to drive me back to Benton to see if it had been turned in at the store we had stopped at.  I did not want to inconvenience Jerry, but he insisted, so Geri relaxed at the grocery store with our bike and I rode with Jerry to hunt for our lost phone.  Unfortunately, I came up empty handed.  Our phone had not been turned in and as Jerry drove me back to Chaffee, I kept my eyes glued to the side of the road we had just pedaled on without seeing the phone.  Jerry would not accept any money from me for the gas he used on my search and he seemed more upset for me than I was, although I was pretty disgusted at our carelessness.  With no other options available to us, we continued on our journey, but with the large city of Cape Girardeau only 15 miles away, I figured we might be able to get to a Verizon store there before they closed and see if they could help us out, since we did have insurance on the phone.  I took my frustration out on pedaling hard; REALLY hard.  We covered 15 miles to Cape Girardeau in less than an hour.  This helped to raise our average for the 49 miles we covered today to an even 12 mi/hr.  We were at a Verizon store before 4:00 PM.  We were able to arrange for a new phone to be delivered to this store sometime tomorrow.  We do have to pay an insurance deductible for the loss of the phone, but that sure beats having to pay for the full retail price.  Of course, our plans to reach Trail of Tears State Park today were extinguished, because we needed to be near the Verizon store tomorrow to pick up our new replacement phone when it arrives.  There was a very nice motel located just 100 yards away, so we splurged $90+ for lodging for the night.  Interestingly, I am not the type of person that gets the insurance that is often offered on electronic equipment you can purchase nowadays.  Just after we purchased our new phone and I was reviewing the sales receipt at home, I found the $6/month charge included for insurance coverage.  I was going to call to have it removed, but I was so busy getting ready for this trip that I didn't get around to it, so I figured I would delete the coverage when we returned home.  Maybe I better keep the coverage!  Our drama with the phone situation consumed most of our afternoon, but we did have a good ride during the morning, however, there was nothing especially interesting to photograph, except for one home in Chaffee, MO. that was really decorated for Halloween.  It wasn't that many years ago that the only holiday most people did outdoor decorations for was Christmas, but now, it seems many people adorn their homes for many seasonal holidays.  Perhaps the sudden mushroom growth of the rental storage unit businesses everywhere has encouraged people to collect the huge arsenal of decor necessary to participate in so many home decorating opportunities.  Anyway, Geri and I were comfortably in our expensive motel room before 4:30 PM and we plan to enjoy the luxury of how some couples spend the night when they are traveling!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Waiting for the Hickman-Dorena Ferry back to Missouri

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Geri looking at the fallen Slippery Elm former state champion
 Day 35 - The morning was warmer, so after a big motel breakfast we were on the road, just a little after 9:00 AM, but we made a Wal-mart stop and were not really traveling until 10:00 AM again.  It was much warmer today, but it was still comfortable weather for biking.  We headed NW out of Union City, TN. on Hwy 5 and into the same NW wind we had yesterday.  I don't understand how we can still be having a NW wind with the temperatures rising back into the 80's.  We pedaled in 3 states again today.  We left Tennessee early in the day and entered Kentucky.  When we reached Hickman, KY. we caught the Hickman-Dorena Riverboat Ferry to get across the Mississippi River and back into Missouri.  We met Vernon Bess who was on the ferry with 5 of his 6 daughters.  We enjoyed talking to Vernon for a long time.  When it was our turn to pay our ferry ticket, we discovered that Vernon had already paid our fare!  Thanks Vernon!!  The ferry put us just a few miles from Big Oak Tree State Park, our 47th Missouri state park by bicycle.  We were disappointed with this park, however, because we expected to see some really big trees, but there was a lot of tree damage from wind and probably ice storms.  Many of the state champion trees that were located here have fallen.  Honestly, the large oak tree we see along the Katy Trail south of Rocheport, MO. is much more impressive than any tree we saw in this state park.  I majored in zoology in college, not botany, but the forest in Big Oak Tree State Park did not look very healthy to me.  Most trees were missing many limbs and there were a lot of standing large dead trees.  This state park was a day use only park, so we had to head north on Hwy 102 to find lodging for the night.  This highway ended at the ferry, so we practical owned the road as we traveled.  We only saw 3 vehicles in 10 miles!  We reached a motel in Charleston, MO. by 6:00 PM.  Even though we covered a little less than 50 miles today, we were a little worn out pedaling into the wind all day and getting used to the warmer temperatures again.  This might be our last night of luxury for a while.  We will start to have campgrounds available again as we travel to the next state park and eventually return to the Katy Trail for the final push back home.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A much more enjoyable road to travel on

Dennis showing off his fine "roadkill" hat
 Day 34 - It was another cold morning, so we watched a movie on cable TV and then enjoyed a great motel breakfast before getting on the road at 10:00 AM.  From Huntingdon we headed NW on Hwy 22, which turned out to have an excellent smooth, 10 foot wide shoulder and was a designated bike route.  We found it ironic that Hwy 22 was a 4-lane highway, but it had far less traffic than 2-lane Hwy 70 did yesterday.  We had to fight a moderately strong NW wind all day and, since we are pedaling in that direction now, it greatly reduced our efficiency.  We only averaged a little over 10 mi/hr today.  We can't complain, however, since we have had clear, blue skies for over a week without a hint of any rain and the 7 day forecast is for the same weather pattern to continue.  The temperatures are great for traveling by bike, after the morning chill, and we don't even sweat or, if we do, the humidity is so low we don't even notice it.  Although we enjoyed the great shoulders of Hwy 22, it was a rather dull day of pedaling.  Geri didn't even get attacked by any roadside bears today!  It's pretty bad when the highlight of the day was seeing an interesting triple geodome home and finding a nearly new "roadkill" hat that I really liked.  We reached Union City, TN. before 6:00 PM after pedaling over 55 miles and checked into a really nice motel.  Normally, we would be camping to save money, but we have not passed a campground since leaving the Natchez Trace.  That will change soon after we get back in Missouri.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Roadside dangers!!!
videoDay 33 - The alarm woke us up at 7:00 AM, but we were not anxious to start traveling with temperatures in the 30's.  We relaxed watching TV and finally got on the road at 10:00 AM.  With the opportunity for so many roadside attractions behind us now, we had a high mileage day planned.  We still had to deal with a north wind, but since we were heading west now, it was not head on and we made good time averaging 11.6 mi/hr today.  The only things that slowed us down was Geri getting attacked by a roadside bear and a front flat tire.  Geri said she caused the flat because she had just thought how great it was that we had not had a flat tire in quite a while.  The sharp, metal beer can fragment that I found embedded in the tire, however, did not look like a superstition to me!  Anyone who knows me very well knows that I am very competitive, so one of the highlights of the day for me was when we actually caught a moving train and started passing the cars one by one.  This continued for some time, even as we crossed a bridge over the Tennessee River.  The highway we had to travel on today had moderately heavy traffic all day.  The shoulder would vary from a magnificent 15 foot wide runway to a 1 foot ribbon with half of it covered with 2 inch deep rumble strips.  We never knew how long a good or bad section of the shoulder would last, but we sure enjoyed traveling on the wider one rather than having to focus every second of attention following a narrow 6 inch track.  We arrived at a nice motel in Huntingdon, TN.  just before 6:00 PM, of course, compared to the motel we stayed at last night anything else would have been nice!  We covered 67.5 miles today and our bike passed its 19,000th lifetime mile.
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Monday, October 4, 2010


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Not your typical bridge!!!
 
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SUCCESS!!!  Time to head back home!
 
Only lodging in town----Motel DESPARATION!!!
 Day 32 - We had a very lazy morning enjoying a large motel breakfast and catching up on blogging, since we have been without an internet connection for a few days.  It was very cold this morning, so we were happy not to be getting an early morning start in the chilly air.  The TV weather mentioned that the morning temperature was 16 degrees below normal for this time of the year. We left the motel at the 11:00 AM checkout time and pedaled over 13 miles to return to where we had left off on the Natchez Trace. There were some large mansions southwest of Franklin that we passed as we returned to the Parkway. We stopped for lunch at Leipers Fork, TN. just before heading north again on the last 13 miles of the Natchez Trace. There were much fewer roadside attractions than there had been, but we did enjoy the unusual double arch bridge that passes 155 feet above Hwy 96. We lost 270 feet in elevation in the last 2 miles of the Parkway, so we had a fast descent to mile marker 442, the last one of the Natchez Trace Parkway. We immediately rewarded ourselves for pedaling the entire length of the Natchez Trace by stopping at the famous Loveless Cafe for desserts. We had to battle a cold, north wind all the way to the end of the Parkway, but at that point we started heading back west toward Missouri, so it wasn't as much of a handicap any more. It was nearly 4:30 PM, so we had to hurry to get in as much daylight travel as we possibly could on roads very busy with commuter traffic. We did have a narrow shoulder, however, so it made the travel tolerable, but we did not reach Dickson, TN. until after 7:00 PM and it was already dark. The shoulder of the road had grown to over 10 feet wide the last several mile, so we felt quite safe. We located a very cheap motel (the only one in town) quickly in Dickson after covering nearly 55 miles and averaging 10.5 mi/hr today. We were very happy not to be camping in temperatures that are supposed to get near freezing tonight.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Geri at Fall Hollow Falls
Upper Fall Hollow Falls
Nature's fall color show
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400 miles down----42 to go!!!


Stewart Family dinner (Betty, Martin, Geri and Dennis)
  Day 31 - It was a cold night and the morning left us with a heavy dew.  We still managed to get packed up pretty quickly, but we enjoyed a slow breakfast before heading out into a strong, cold, north wind.  We battled the wind all day.  It was the strongest wind we have had on the entire trip so far.  The only time the wind did not bother us was when we were climbing the many long grades we ascended today, but once we crested a hill the cold wind was fighting us again.  We grew jealous of the several bicyclists we met heading south with this wind to their backs.  We met one fine fellow from Australia, who was pedaling from Chicago to New Orleans.  He was very interested in U.S. Civil War history and his route zig-zagged back and forth across the Natchez Trace as he visited famous Civil War battlefields.  The biggest roadside attraction for us today were waterfalls.  We saw several at Fall Hollow and one area that we need to visit again someday because Jackson Falls was nearly dry, but based on the large cirque that the falls drops through, it must be an impressive sight when the water is flowing.  The color show from fall leaves gets better everyday and it is a shame that we will be finishing the Natchez Trace tomorrow before the colors are at their peak, but hopefully we will be able to catch an encore of nature's pre-winter entertainment when we return to the Katy Trail in about a week.  We reached the 400 mile marker on the Parkway, which is the last century landmark we will encounter before reaching the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace and finally start heading back west toward Missouri.  We enjoyed several fine overlook vistas today and a small demo tobacco farm along the Parkway.  Despite tobacco's bad reputation, it does have a very attractive pink flower.  We left the Parkway at Leipers, Fork, TN. and traveled northeast to Franklin, TN. to get lodging for the night.  This turned out to be a much longer detour than planned because all the motels are located on the far east side of Franklin and we had to pedal over 10 miles off of the Parkway.  This increased our mileage to over 50 miles for the day, but even with the wind and hills we got close to averaging 11 mi/hr.  There was another reason for traveling so far off of our regular path.  We needed an easily identifiable landmark so my brother, Martin, and his wife, Betty could meet us.  My brother is an organic chemistry professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and it was only a 30 minute drive for them to visit us.  It would have been a 3 to 4 hour pedal for us to travel to Murfreesboro!  Martin and Betty took us out to eat at a fine restaurant.  It was a fun way to finish our next to the last day on the Natchez Trace.  Thanks Martin and Betty!!!