Having set up camp in the dark, we hadn’t realized we were on an RV spot, and not a tent site. Oh well. It was the first non-occupied spot we found.
After stopping at the park office to pay (the ranger kindly charged us the tent-site rate), it was time to set a steady pace for another high mileage day.
In Tupelo, we hopped on the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs from Natchez, MS to Nashville. Aside from the historic origins, and subsequent historic markers at nearly every turn out and overlook, the Natchez Trace is just like the Blue Ridge Parkway. Except without the curves or the views. Its a nice road, but pretty boring. However, it has the advantage of being a limited access two-lane road, and being more pleasant than the interstate. Here we go again with 50 mile stretches, knocking out over 200 miles before lunch.
Just before the southern end of the Trace, we stopped to see a Native American historic site.
It was a nice break from riding, but that’s all you get for pictures. It a big, grass covered plateau with some additional raised sections, so its a little hard to capture, and not a terribly interesting picture. We were more amazed and a little dumbfounded as to why people would go to such extraordinary effort to create such a massive pile of earth (they didn’t even have draft animals).
Natchez, MS, is the end of the parkway, so after traveling southwest for most of the day, it was time to head west towards Louisiana.
At this point, we were keeping a close eye on the weather. Basically, it was a guessing game to see how far west we could ride before hitting this:
I’m not riding through sever thunderstorms. We had to decide if we could wait the front out for a couple of hours, or if we would need to wait overnight. The weather radar showed the front steadily marching east towards us as we rode west, but the weather we saw was just overcast and a little windy. No reason to stop. We made it all the way to Alexandria, LA before riding into the front, and I mean that literally. I’ve never experienced such a distinct change in temperature in such a short time. We finally saw the storm clouds coming when we reached Alexandria, and decided to head inside for the night. As we rode towards the hotel, we rode into what felt like a wall of cold air. We could see the lighter clouds above us, and then as they got dark, the air got suddenly cold and dropped 20 degrees in the space of about a quarter mile. We checked into the hotel and parked the bikes just before it started to rain.
355 miles for the day was enough. Now that the land was flat, making the 360 miles to Austin the next day would be no problem. Here’s to not camping in the cold and the rain unless you have to.
4/18/2013 – 355 miles. Inside just before the storm, then a delicious Cajun dinner.