As Maureen mentioned, it has been a really nice break staying put for a week and eating food we cook ourselves. One of the goals for this week–beyond relaxation–was to plan at least the immediate next steps of the journey. We had pretty much decided before we left Palm Harbor that we wanted to head for Mississippi and the Natchez Trace. This week’s weather was not promising, so staying put made sense on many levels. We’re hoping for better weather next week, since there is camping involved!
So, the idea (as always, subject to change) is to drive to Natchez tomorrow, spend two nights in a hotel there, do some exploring (mode to be determined) on Sunday, then move to Natchez State Park on Monday. Maureen has not done much camping, so this will be a good opportunity for her to get some “practice,” with more support than when traveling solely by bicycle. We made reservations where we could, but some campgrounds do not allow this. We’ll see how it goes. The National Park Service website provides a lot of good information about accommodations and sights along the Trace. This made planning fairly straightforward, but we still spent much of one day deciding which places to use as cycling “home bases” and to make reservations for as many as we could.
After a full day shut in by pouring rain on Wednesday, we had two “big” outings Thursday. The first was a long walk with Rebbe along the path and boardwalk near our condo. It seemed like everyone in the area was out and the beach was beautiful. The waves seemed a little too fast-breaking to be worth braving the cold, but some surfers obviously disagreed with this assessment.
Our second outing was to the Destin Bass Pro store. We had determined before leaving Colorado that our car-camping air mattress was dead, but we hadn’t replaced it since car camping wasn’t in the plan until recently. Luckily, we had the best selection of gear in the Florida panhandle (their words) just two miles away. We didn’t know that the store was dog-friendly (it is!) or we would have taken Rebbe too. We found an air mattress and admired the fishy and furry decorations.
Friday it was finally nice enough to consider riding our bikes again. We had cycled the western end of the Timpoochee Trail on Sunday, so we decided to ride on the eastern end this time. We parked in the little town of Rosemary Beach. Maureen went into the Post Office to ask about parking, since there were no signs except for the rare 15-minute and handicapped spots. They told her that everything else was free! As she said to them–what a nice town.
We rode about 8 miles along the trail. There were some Gulf views and lots of little towns and developments. The paved surface was smooth, but the trail was close to route 30A, which is quite busy, so it was not a quiet ride. We also wished that there were a few more places to pull out from the trail, though there are definitely more eating establishments being built. We noticed several places to rent bicycles, each with dozens of bikes on offer. I can’t imagine what the trail would be like if all those bikes were in use!
We stopped to eat our peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches in Central Square in the town of Seaside. This cute town has a set of Airstream trailers serving food truck fare and was featured in The Truman Show. Set-up was underway for the weekend’s Taste of the Race and Seaside School Half-Marathon and 5K races. Seaside also has very nice public restrooms!
Getting a ride in made the task of packing up a little less onerous. A little whiskey didn’t hurt either. We managed to get most of our stuff packed and in the car before Amazing Race, leaving only a little to do before the 9 am check-out deadline. It was hard to leave our temporary home, but more adventures beckoned.
Next stop–a new state for me!