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Topic: Ride the Natchez Trace  (Read 4343 times)

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Yankee Dog
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« on: February 01, 2007, 11:09:55 am »

There have been a couple of disussion regarding the Natchez Trace here and there.  So I thought I would repost this trip report.  Hope you enjoy.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/sign-1.jpg

Awhile back the Missus hears about this place called the Natchez Trace.  Seems back in the early 1800s the pioneers used to float down the Mississippi to sell their goods in Louisiana.  It was before the advent of the paddle wheeler and sport bikes so they had to hoof it all way back to their homes in Kentucky after they sold their stuff.  Now the Indians already had a sort of superhighway of the day laid out so them pioneers just jumped on it starting round about Natchez and used it to make their way back to Nashville.    

Anyway, itís so full of history that the National Park Service created this 440 mile long scenic highway stretching from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN.
http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/traceroad.jpg

It follows pretty close to the original route those old boatmen used to walk.  Just chock full of interesting sights, historic stuff and just plain pleasing to the eye.  So, since the Missus is the captain of the ship and I am just the pilot/stevedore, I took a couple of days off work, loaded up the Trophy and headed out for Mississippi.  


Day 1, Thursday.  Slab side down to Natchez, MS.  

I knew that there are at least a gazillion places to stop along the Trace so I decided to take the slab from Huntsville, AL down to Natchez.  Thus saving the majority of our time to sightsee along the Trace.  After a pretty uneventful trip down I-65 and I-20 we arrived in Natchez in mid afternoon.  

Acting upon the advice of a couple of people on this board and others, I stopped into a placed called the Under the Hill Cafť, which is not really a cafť but is in fact, a saloon that in fact serves alcoholic beverages.  It does have a lot of character and a beautiful view of the Mississippi river.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/NatchezUnder2.jpg

after a long boring ride on a warm day it was just what the doctor ordered.  To all you safety Nazis out there I am sorry to say that I did drink beer and I did ride my bike to the motel afterward.  I did not however wreck or run over anyone over on the way.  I did try for a couple of old ladies but they ran up on the sidewalk before I could get them.  I wont do that again.  One of them almost got me with her cane as I passed by.  




Day 2, Friday.  Off Route for a while.  

The next day was up and at em retracing the step of those pioneer types.  The first stop was a place call the Emerald Mound.  The folks who lived in the area back before those we presently know as Indians built a bunch of hills all around the area.  Some were to bury their dead in and others for their big shots to live and hold ceremonies on.  The Emerald Mound is the biggest of the lot at about eight acres or so.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/emerald3.jpg

The most impressive thing about the thing was the thought of those folks moving all this dirt by hand.  They didnít even have a shovel let alone bulldozers and such.  I had to sit down and take a rest just thinking about it.  
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Yankee Dog
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2007, 11:14:04 am »

Again acting upon the advice of others I deviated from the actual Trace and took Hwy 552 or the Old Rodney Road towards my next destination.  It is a great twisty road but I canít say much for the road conditions.  No out and out gravel, but lots of asphalt patches.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/gibsonroad.jpg

Along the way was a sight called the Ruins of Windsor.  I am not sure where the name came from.  We got a funny look from a couple of folks from Britain we met later when we described the place.  But anyway, what it is, is the remnants of a really big house built back just before the Civil War.  Those fine visitors from up North left it alone during their visit in the area so the place survived the war with nary a scratch.  The problem came a couple few years after the Civil War.  The owners of the place threw a party that got a little out of hand.  It seems one of the guests threw a lit cigarette into a trashcan.  The result is a dozen or so eighty foot columns that are all that is left of the place.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/Ruins3.jpg

The weather by the way was beautiful.  That is until we were just short of our destination for the day.  About four or five mile short of Kosciusko it started to rain, no big deal I thought, I keep my leathers well oiled and usually just ride though any minor rain.  But when the rain stared to sting though my leathers, ping off my helmet and bounce off the road I decided it was time to head for shelter.  By the way, thank you National Park Service for those little bathrooms you built along the Trace.  They are perfect for waiting out unexpected hailstorms.  The hail got up to not quite golf ball size.  It didnít last long, but the ground was covered by the time it was over.  My beloved Trophy survived without a scratch or dent.  I had pulled it into the picnic area under the trees to shelter it at least a bit.  When we pulled into the Motel a few miles down the road the road was dry and the clerk said they only had a light rain and no hail.  I guess we were just lucky.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/hail4.jpg

Day 3, Saturday.    Lawrenceburg

Do you remember me saying there are a gazillion places to stop along the trace.  Well since the Missus likes stopping and looking and I hate getting my helmet slapped we must have stopped at most of them.  Thus, by the time Saturday morning rolled around we were already behind schedule.  Because of this I am sad to say that when we passed through Tupelo, MS we did not have time to visit the birthplace of the King.  I am not exactly a fan of Mr. Presley, but it is like the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.  If you are in town you really should go and see it.  The Missus says I should seek counseling.  

We did get a change to stop in at the establishment of Ms. LV Hull, artist extraordinaire.  
 
http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/LVHull2.jpg

LV is a self-taught artist and you really have to see her place to believe it.  Hopefully she will be at home when you stop by and she will invite you in as she did us.  I do have a question however, what in the heck and I going to do with that painted hubcap I bought?

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/hubcap.jpg
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Yankee Dog
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2007, 11:16:22 am »

We continued on down the trace stopping as the Missus so dictated and generally enjoying ourselves.  The temps started to drop and the winds were kicking up as the day went by.  We pulled off for gas and after a conversation with the attendant we decided to stop for the night in Lawrenceburg, TN.  The winds by this time were whipping and the temps had to be in the low forties.  It seems like a pizza and beer night.  The Missus called out and ordered pizza.  I was ordered to gear up and go out for some beer.  The guy at the party store looked at me like I was crazy when I pulled up on the Trophy.  What can I say, I was thirsty.  


Day 4, Sunday.  Tennessee and home.  

The next morning the winds were fifteen, gusting to twenty-five and the temperature was thirty-three.  After some discussion about why I had decided not to bring the long underwear along we made a side trip to Wally World.  After enduring more strange looks and comments reflecting upon our sanity, we purchased a few extra layers of clothing and went back to the motel to change.  We could have headed home from here and cut a couple of hours off the trip.  But since we were so close to the end it seemed a shame to give up now.  

Just up the road is a place all you adventure riders will have to hit if you ride the trace.  It is a short section of narrow road that follows a piece of the original route.  The road is only one lane and canít decide if it wants to be a paved road or gravel.  I motored along the thing in first gear with only a little sweat.  All you GS/V-strom types will enjoy yourself to no end I am sure.  But the Missus wanted to do it, so do it we did.  

We also stopped at the place where Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame died.  There is a nifty monument and small exhibit.  The original story is that Meriwether committed suicide, however it seems to me the fact that there were multiple gunshot wounds brings that somewhat into question.  

The ride home from Nashville down the freeway was as uneventful as the trip down to Natchez.  Except for the wind blowing us around that is.  I really hate crossing that big bridge where I-65 crosses the Tennessee River when the wind is blowing.  


Summary.

The Natchez Trace is a beautiful two-lane roadway with beautiful scenery.  The road surface of all four hundred forty miles is in excellent condition with one gentle sweeper following another.  Traffic is very light.  Commercial traffic is prohibited altogether, although you do have to put up with the occasional RV.  Access is limited; in fact, there are zero commercial enterprises along the Trace.  You will need to take this into account as you travel.  Food and gas stops are not necessarily located immediately off the road.  For example when we exited near Lawrenceburg, TN it was about five miles to gas and twenty to a place to eat.  Not all are this bad, but some are worse.  

The biggest problem with the Trace and the reason most mentioned by others as why I wouldnít want to ride the Trace is the speed limit.  The limit on the Trace is 50mph and is enforced by National Park Police who are federal employees and give out federal tickets.    So all those great sweepers and that excellent road surface is a waste if speed is your game.  But if you are into history and you enjoy beautiful serene scenery then give the Natchez Trace a try.  What else do you have to do on four days in April any way.  

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/bridge3.jpg

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/cemtary1.jpg

http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a295/Yankeedog/Swamp2.jpg

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DosEquis00
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2007, 12:33:37 pm »

Nice write up Yankee Dog and that is a great picture of Ruins of Windsor. Must have been some place when it was completed.
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QuienSabe
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2007, 04:03:50 pm »

I'll definitely remember this if I ever head to Nashville.
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KillerB
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2007, 04:20:36 pm »

Nice write up.

That's just the sort of info I've been looking for.  I think I have to do this just to say I did.
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2007, 08:40:55 pm »

That's one of the only ride reports of the Natchez Trace I've read that makes me wanna go ride it!
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2007, 09:18:35 am »

Nice write up. I did the Trace from Natchez to just north of Tupelo a couple of years back (I realized that I was just west of Birmingham and deserted the road for the Barber Museum). Will have to go back and do the northern chunk later.

You now need to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway to complete the set. The Trace was nice, but too straight for my tastes. The BRP corrects that fault ;-)
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2007, 05:55:32 pm »

Nice ride, Yankee Dog. A freind and I did that ride a few years ago, but North to South, and on  Harleys. We also made a side trip to Talledega(sp)....we are niethr one NASCAR fans, but we were close, so.... We also made a side trip to Vicksburg Battleground; we are both Civil War History fans, so it was a great trip. I took my wife most of the way up the Blu Ridge Parkway last Summer, and will take her down 'The Trace soon. We both enjoy Native American History, and The Natchez Trace is a great place to see it.

                                                Brian
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