22-25 July 2016
25.07.2016 90 °F
Four days and 1071 total miles got us from Clarksville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. The goal was to ride the Natchez Trace which starts in Nashville so we had an extra 50 miles each way just to get to it. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile (we only found 442 mile markers) scenic highway that winds through Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. It was used as a pathway in the 1700 and 1800’s when travelers were moving westward and also as a trade route for selling goods. Now it is a highway marketed for recreation with multiple historic sites along the way. The speed limit is 50 mph and commercial traffic is not allowed. It is perfect for motorcycles and bicycles.
Day one for us was from Clarksville, TN to Tupelo, MS. We got a late start because I worked in the ED until 0200 and it took us 1.5 hours to get to the trace in order to avoid highways. We had a quick gas station lunch and were hearing thunder and watching clouds roll in so figured we should move on. As luck would have it the second we got on the trace is started to rain. So about 4 miles in to 444 we were stopping to put on rain gear. The day only got worse after that but we did have a brief period where it looked like the day would turn out beautiful so we stopped in Shady Grove, TN. The country store was definitely memorable. A sign was posted on the bathroom that asked us to please pay for our items before going in. We found out later it is because people would take their beer in to the bathroom and drink it. The tip jar also had a message on not to steal the tips – it requested that if people needed it that bad just to ask for it. We decided we probably shouldn’t leave our motorcycles unattended too long in this town. We hit another rain shower which wasn’t bad but not far down the road we got caught in pouring rain that kept us from even seeing the road in front of us.
We had to stop in Waynesboro at the welcome center to change clothes and devise a plan. The intel we got was that the weather should pass in another hour so we were told to have dinner at Meme’s and then we should be able to continue.
It was a worthwhile suggestion as the food was all brown but delicious. The chicken strips were hand dipped and hush puppies home made.
Our plan held out and we made it the remaining two hours to tupelo without getting any more wet. We were at the best western next to chili’s so we celebrated our successful day with drinks and queso dip.
Before we were ready it was time to wake up and start riding again. Yesterday took us much longer than we thought so we didn’t want to get too late a start. BW has breakfast in house so we fueled up and were on the road by 0830. The Tupelo to Natchez portion of the trace is my favorite with a segment that overlooks the water.
We made a stop at the Reservoir overlook and some locals suggested we get lunch in Clinton at Frogshead Grill. The recommendation turned out to be spot on with a neat atmosphere and tasty food. I got a shrimp po boy and fries and loved it.
I wanted to make a stop today at Emerald Mound which is the second largest temple mound in the US used from 1300-1600 by Mississippians which were descendents of the Natchez Indians.
This was only about 10 miles from Natchez so we stopped for a photo at the 1 mile marker and then found our B&B called the Burn. I may have a new favorite. Right off when we arrived we were taken to our room and had a chocolate chip cookie and water. A short while later we were given a tour of the house and wine tasting. We learned that the first owners were Scottish and the original property had a creek. Burn is Scottish for creek which is where the property got its name.
We spent some time relaxing in the pool on the property before walking to Fat Mamma’s. We have been there for margaritas every time we have come to Natchez and we love it there. The gringo pie is a plate with tamales covered in chili and best enjoyed on their outside patio. This time we share our table with a Belgian music teacher who is on a 7 week tour of the United States!
The best part about staying at a B&B is the second B. Breakfast at the Burn was no exception. We had great conversation with another couple from Baton Rouge and enjoy a plate of baked French toast with eggs and bacon. Our luck from yesterday expires as we look out the window at the end of breakfast and see the rain coming down pretty steady. The weather report says the storms are confined to the local area so we put on our rain gear again and take off. That proved to be true and we rode to Clinton for gas and Krispy Kreme without being too wet. In Kosciusko we take another break at El Rodeo Mexican restaurant for lunch. The beauty of this trip is that the only things to worry about are where you will get gas next and where you will eat next! I already knew I wanted to try the Neon Pig in Tupelo because it supposedly has the best burgers in the states. Sadly it was closed but we made the most of it by hitting the movies to see The Secret Life of Pets. The Thai Garden was just across a parking lot from the Best Western but closing 10 minutes after we arrived. The restaurant looked adorable inside and they were nice enough to fix us a plate of pad thai before they closed.
Way too soon our last day arrives and we get gas, breakfast and a quick tour of the birthplace of Elvis. I couldn’t leave Tupelo and not see where Elvis spent his first 13 years. The place gives free tickets to the military so we also saved $17 each! With your ticket you get to walk through his 2 bedroom house decorated with period furniture.
You also get to take your photo with a sculpture of Elvis when he was 13 which is when his family moved from Tupelo to Memphis.
They have on display the church he went to when he was a boy, his chapel built later by his recording studio, his outhouse and a small museum and gift shop. It didn’t take long to see but I was glad I didn’t pass it up.
We stopped several times today at historical sites – Colberts Ferry which now has a bridge but at one time was crossed by ferry.
On Highway 13 we got gas, pizza and a lottery ticket so I might never have to work again. No such luck. We walked down to Jackson Falls which didn’t turn out to have much of a falls and stopped for a photo of the double arch bridge mostly obscured by foliage.
The last Kodak moment was at mile 442 (the last one we could find). We arrived safely home around 1800 with sore butts but glad we did it.