What a very quiet and peaceful night at the Isabella. We woke to find our bikes still resting comfortably in the morning room . . .
When I went downstairs at 6:30am for coffee . . . here our hostess, Bobbi, ready to start cooking breakfast
. . . and what a breakfast she had whipped up by 8:00am . . .
. . . which this group heartily consumed . . . YUMMM. It would get us through our 40 mile day to Natchez and probably hold us for lunch, too.
Had a nice chat with Bob, the other half of the Isabella ownership team, about woodworking and the nice dining room table he made out of cypress. 12 inch boards without a knot in sight!!!!
TommyH, our resident cat lover, made a new friend. I thought he was ready to put this one in the van and ‘relocate’ it back to Wisconsin. To a cat, how can you explain . . . WINTER!!!!
Soon we were back on the Trace with FINALLY a sunny, cloudless sky over our head. The first in over a week of cycling!!!
Only 40 miles to Natchez.
Great road, no traffic, blue sky, perfect road . . . a bikers dream.
BillyB did some research and there were no historical education points for the first 26 miles!!!! There may have been one here but they removed it!!!!
Our first signs of Spanish moss occurring on the roadside trees . . .
. . . and the first sign of sharecropping on the Trace right of way.
This poor turtle unfortunately didn’t make it across the road.
The last several days we have seen a few logs from downed trees along the road. First we’ve seen since the start of the trip. The Park Service has been meticulous in cleaning the roadway right of way.
I stopped to take some photos along the way and lost track of the boys ahead. I figured they would stop at the first exhibit of the day, Mount Locust, but were not there. But Doug, from San Antonio was and we had a big chat about his new recumbent. He had just started in Natchez and was biking to Tupelo. NO HELMET!!!!
This was an excellent example of a rural plantation home that had been expertly renovated . . .
. . . and I got the whole scoop from Sherry who volunteers for 8 months of the year as a docent at various National Parks. This is the furthest east she has volunteered. She lives out of her camper and the Park Service gives her free electricity and plumbing. She stays with her son in Hastings, MN for a month each year.
The family room . . .
. . . master bedroom.
Kids room . . .
. . . complete with ‘coon skin’ cap.
No video games here . . . toys kids actually played with in their leisure time.
Everything one needed to tend to the garden.
A dark side of our history, the slave cemetery located right behind the master’s home . . .
It was a quiet, serene place today, but probably not always in the past . . .
. . . there was only one gravestone left.
Even with all the rain last week many of the streams were starting to dry up along the way . . .
The second big attraction of today’s ride was, Emerald Mound, the second largest Native American constructed mound in the United States. The largest is Cahokia, located in Illinois, near St Louis. This mound was about 1 mile off the Trace . . . over a section of town road that had the worst surface of the whole trip !!!
. . . but at least the locals were trying to solve the litter problem!!!
As one approached, it was hard to get a good feeling for how large this mound was.
Here is an aerial view that gives some perspective . . .
. . . and what it probably looked liked being used, soon after it was constructed.
There was a bicycle touring company, based out of New York, set up with a SAG wagon rest stop in the parking lot. Had a nice chat with the operator, referencing my days in the bicycle touring business, and met two of the riders who hail from Mpls!!!!
. . . goodies all around!!!
. . .up to the top.
Back on the road, I stopped to shoot one of the ‘artistic’ arrangements TommyG had been stopping to make every time he saw a tossed beer can or bottle. Sticking them in an ant hill makes it a lot easier for the Park Service volunteers to find them!!!
Along the way there was a exhibit sign regarding the formation of wind driven soil-constructed local bluffs. Reminded me of emJay’s love of the Loess Hills of Iowa.
One of the last examples of the ‘old Trace’. Here the path, due to heavy traffic, had been worn down 4-5 feet.
A final stop was at the former site of the Elizabeth Female Academy. The academy was the first school for women to be chartered by the State of Mississippi. Founded in 1818, it was one of the premier institutions for young Southern women of its day.
Not much left of it today!!!
Soon the riding for today was over, as was our Natchez Trace riding adventure. Great weather today . . . so it was a great day to finish.
While we were at the finish, Rachel, the Brit, who we had met several days earlier rolled in so we took another group shot celebrating our international love of bicycle touring
We invited her to join us for dinner tonight at our celebratory meal. We headed over to the Magnolia Grill, located in the ‘under hill’ area of Natchez Trace.
Natchez proper is the town on top of the bluff; Natchez improper was the boat landing beneath the bluff on the bank of the Mississippi. This area of Natchez was described by numerous nineteenth-century travelers as one of the rowdiest ports on the Mississippi River. Here docked the keelboats and the flatboats, and, beginning in 1811, the steamboats. mmmmm . . . four middle aged guys from the midwest would probably not have fit in!!! But in 2015 . . . not a problem
A celebratory salute to our finish and staying as dry as we did considering all the potential for downpours . . .
Rachel had a true American classic, especially in this part of the country . . . Catfish !!!
Several of us had the tasso, grits and shrimp special . . . YUM!!!!
We headed back to the river for one more look. Rachel had not been to Louisiana on this trip, or her prior US bicycle adventures, so we all decided it was time for a road trip, across the bridge to Louisiana . . . and another American classic . . . .
. . . the drive-in. Sonic is one of the last drive-in restaurant chains in the US. Click here to see her in action. She handled it like a pro!!!
We dropped Rachel off at her hotel, wishing her well on the rest of her journey, and were soon back at the Holiday Inn Express.
Breakfast tomorrow at 6:30am and on the road by 7:00am. Good thing we are leaving . . .100% chance of rain tomorrow!!!!
FINAL THOUGHTS TOMORROW . . .