Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 20, 2013. Ridgeland to Natchez, MS. 87 miles.

The breakfast at Econolodge was as bad as the motel itself...we brought in wheat bread, peanut butter, and the rest of the boiled eggs to add to the cold cereal and packaged danish and muffins.  We said goodbye to Barbara and Stan at the motel and Fred and Tom took them to Jackson Airport to pick up their rental car.

Bill dropped me, Dianne, Diana, Otis and Ed at milepost 87 and we started our ride in 80 degree muggy heat with a headwind, of course.  By the time we got to milepost 76 Fred and Tom were there and they joined us on our ride. The wind was worse than ever, so we all joined a pace line, pulling as far as we each could before taking a break at the back of the pack.

There were not a lot of places to stop on this section of the trace.  At 15 miles into the ride I suggested we pull off at the next opportunity, but that did not happen until over 10 miles later! We pulled into the Rocky Springs area and Bill was already there. Diana told us she had broken a shifting cable--fortunately Ed is a bike mechanic and brought his took kit with him, including a spare cable! Fred lent a hand and soon we were all back on the road.

I had been suffering with a bad headache all morning, took as much medicine as I thought I should while riding, but decided after the break that I would quit riding at lunch and go back for Fred's truck. Dianne and I rode the Natchez Trace Parkway last year from the beginning to milepost 59, and this would serve several purposes--Fred and Tom could finish the ride without worrying about getting the truck, and I would be able to get out of the relentless wind that I suspected was the cause of my headache... also, Stan had told me not to miss seeing Rocky Springs, which was a couple of miles uphill from where we rested, not something we wanted to do by bike.

Our lunch stop was at milepost 41.5, which I had been talking about since the beginning of the ride! It is the most dramatic view of the old trace that I have seen. Looking at this section of the trace we could all imagine the traffic through here hundreds and thousands of years ago.

We ate lunch and loaded up my bike and Dianne's and when the rest of the group pedaled out, Bill drove us back to Fred's truck. Once in the truck I headed straight for Rocky Springs. It was several miles uphill on a one-lane paved road. Where the road quit there was a path into the ghost town that was a thriving community in the mid to late 1800s. It was a little spooky walking alone through the remains... all that's left are a couple of safes and cisterns, a church and cemetery.

I walked past the church and through the cemetery, which was draped with Spanish moss.

After Rocky Springs we headed back down the trace to find the bikers. After we passed them we decided we had time to see Emerald Mound, another feature that is too far off the trace to do by bike; uphill of course, on a rutted narrow road. This burial mound was built about 700 years ago by the Mississippi Indians.

Emerald Mound is the second largest burial mound in the United States; its footprint is 8 acres and it towers  above the surrounding land. I stopped along the road to take the photo directly above--it was impossible to get the whole site in one photo.

And then we were there!

After patting each other on the back and getting a cold drink, we loaded up and headed for the Isabella B&B at Port Gibson. And what a wonderful way to wrap up our trip!

We had arranged ahead of time to have dinner here, and we chose our entrees before showering. Dinner was ready by the time we all came down from our rooms. We had a leisurely dinner and dessert, all prepared by owners Bobbye and Phil. After dinner Dianne and I played a few games of Scrabble in the game room--I still had a headache but we could not pass up this opportunity to play in such a perfect place!

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