These are the voyages of the Wandering Stewarts. Their 6 week, 2000 mile mission is to explore the Natchez Trace from southern Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, to seek out the last of the 8 Missouri State Parks they have yet to visit and to boldly go where no Higginsville resident has gone before (by bicycle).
Map of Our Natchez Trace Bike Trip
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Geri in the middle of Emerald Mound
Dennis in front of Mount Locust Inn
Our campsite at Rocky Springs
Day 23 - We set the alarm for 6:00 AM, but we woke up at 5:45 AM. We were anxious to get on the road, but we took advantage of the motel breakfast and made a quick Walmart stop before heading north on the Natchez Trace. The Natchez Trace Parkway stretches 450 miles from the farmlands of Natchez, MS. to the hills of Nashville, TN. It was originally an Indian path which became a road that opened the forested wilderness of the Deep South to settlers, soldiers, boatman and even outlaws. Today the recreational road is a limited access, low speed, noncommercial vehicle pathway rich in history and scenery. It is ideal for bicyclists like ourselves. Even with our early start, it was quite warm and the cold front that we have been promised by the weatherman had not arrived yet. We knew we were going to have another hot traveling day. We made several stops to learn more about the history of the Trace. The first stop was an exhibit near a small cemetery with elaborate marble tombstones and a large carved marble crypt. While we were there, the same bicyclist that joined us on our final 6 miles to Natchez two evenings ago, stopped to say hi again. His name was John and he was out on another training ride with his friend, Will. We stopped at Emerald Mound, which is the second largest Indian ceremonial mound in the U.S. It is enormous at 35 feet high and covering 8 acres. We also visited Mount Locust Inn, which is the oldest structure still standing in the area and served as accommodations for travelers along the Trace in the 1800's. There are many places where the original path of the Natchez Trace is still visible and it was exciting to stand on it and think about the thousands of pioneers who followed this same route. For lunch we decided to go off route 2 miles to The Old Country Store in Lorman, MS. Do not judge a restaurant by its exterior. The owner, Arthur Davis, says, "If Colonel Sanders had my chicken recipe, he would have become a 5-Star General!" Mr. "D" is right. We had a great chicken lunch there, but when we left to start traveling again the heat was stifling. It was the hottest I remembered on the entire trip. We were forced back into the safety of the air conditioned restaurant for over an hour until the temperature was tolerable enough to travel. Even with the delay, it was still pretty miserable pedaling in the heat and we did not reach our goal of Rocky Springs Campground until after 7:30 PM. It was our latest arrival time so far on the trip and we had to set up camp in the dark. As I walked through the copper-colored leaves with my dim flashlight, I thought a lot about the 3 copperheads we have seen on this trip! Although this campground had running water and flush toilets, there were no showers. It was not very pleasant removing dripping wet clothes soaked with sweat and only have access to a sponge bath to clean up before bed. Just as we got in the tent, it started to drizzle, so we had to put the rainfly on, even though it was still warm and the rainfly would trap extra heat in our tiny bedroom. We covered over 66 miles today with temperatures in the 90's most of the day, but we still managed to average 11.5 mi/hr and we passed the 1000th mile mark on this trip!