A Little Bike Ride on the Natchez Trace

I have concluded that it is much harder to get motivated for cycling when you are traveling by car. And when you have a resistant dog traveling with you. Nonetheless, we did ride our bikes on the Natchez Trace on Wednesday. We had spent a good night at Rocky Springs National Park Service campground (nice, and free) and did not have to vacate our site or be anywhere else in a hurry. So we decided to ride before breaking camp. After freeing the bikes and Rebbe’s trailer from the rack and the chaos of the car, respectively, I gave the bikes a little TLC (lube, air, and some alcohol for disc brake rotors) and we were off. It was warm! (Remember this for later.) A pair of turkey vultures flew right over us shortly into the ride. They are huge and actually do look a lot like wild turkeys when they are on the ground. I told Rebbe to put his head in the trailer, though he was probably safe since they eat carrion almost exclusively. He was quiet after that for about 5 minutes–probably the longest stretch of the entire ride. While we have tried to encourage him to love cycling as much as we do, we have sadly come to the conclusion that there is not much joy in cycling for the little guy. Advice: get your dog a basket or trailer and use it when s/he is a puppy. I wish we had.

We stopped only one time on the way out, pulling over on an overpass (the only place where there is a little bit of a shoulder) for a drink and to take some pictures. The terrain was rolling and apparently we had a tailwind on the way out, as we discovered when we turned around 🙂



We stopped on the return trip at the Lower Choctaw Boundary. As the sign indicates, this was the last place northbound travelers could get provisions for the journey. Considering that this is about mile 60 of 444, that is pretty intense. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the Natchez Trace visitor centers in order to learn more about how they accomplished this. Did they really carry enough for that long of a journey? Did they shoot squirrels? How far did they travel in a day? I’ll try to report on what I can find out when we get there…

We saw the same pair of vultures on the return, as well as some park service employees replacing signs. Once back to camp, we packed up the tent and the bikes and finally reorganized the chaos of the back seat. I took a few photos of the site’s daffodils and we managed to get out by around 1 pm and headed up the Trace towards Clinton.

Along the way, we stopped a couple times, but nothing inspired picture-taking. During the drive, I also discovered that Rebbe had located ticks at the campsite (ugh). Two went out the window, but one had already chomped down. So our first order of business upon checking into our hotel in Vicksburg was tick extraction, which Rebbe endured like a champ. We were then able to enjoy the most important luxury of a hotel room compared to a primitive campsite, i.e. a shower.

We needed some fresh food to complement our camp food and Maureen had located a nearby Kroger store. It took us a few mis-turns, but we got ourselves there and I went in for food while Maureen waited with Rebbe–remember, still warm. Kroger was awesome. It reminded me of some of the times in Europe when we had only limited service grocery stores for days or weeks and then we found a full-service store. Ah. They had everything we wanted AND reasonable prices. I walked out of the grocery into a different world. The temperature had dropped from 75 to 58 and the wind picked up in the 25 minutes or so I was in the store. I guess they weren’t kidding about the storm coming in.

We hunkered down in our hotel room just as the precipitation started. We watched the Weather Channel make predictions about the huge diagonal storm while watching the temperature drop. I think it goes without saying that we were very happy that we had modified our plan from camping to staying indoors!

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