Today we spent most of our time just riding. After a quick breakfast we were off from our hotel in Tupelo, Mississippi on Rt. 78 and within a few minutes back on the Trace.
Once again it was a beautiful day and as we traveled northward noticed how much cooler it was riding along. I noticed as we rode along the change in terrain as we moved from one state to another. Today we started in Mississippi, traveled for just a little while through the northwest corner of Alabama and finished our ride in Tennessee.
For the most part the landscape was large farming areas with crops as far as the eye could see. What changed were some of the trees, wildflowers and streams. I could not help but notice that at the start of the ride the creeks and other small waterways at the beginning in Southern Mississippi were mostly dry. Oh, you could see little pools of water now and again but mostly just the muddy bottom. As we traveled further and further north more and more water appeared.
Going through Alabama and Tennessee I saw large fields of small white and yellow wildflowers with just a little purple clover mixed in. The most significant change was in the trees. Once in Tennessee I started to see silver maple, mimosa, cypress, tulip poplar and many others I could not readily identify. Also in Alabama I started to see outcroppings of rock along the road.
However, the biggest change we encountered was the roads. Gradually as we traveled through Alabama and Tennessee we encountered hills and the roads that began to twist and turn faster and steeper. I asked Randy how he liked today’s ride and he replied, “I liked the curviness of the road and the aggressive way I had to take the corners”. He said riding along the Tennessee portion of the Trace reminded him in some way of riding on the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We stopped several times along the road to visit historical points of interest. We visited Colbert’s Ferry and the Meriwether Lewis monument. We were looking for some information about so places to eat once we got off the parkway so we jumped off the Trace at Collinwood and stopped in at the Wayne County Welcome Center. It just so happened that there was a ‘Tour de Wayne’ bike tour of Wayne County so there was bicyclist everywhere. A small reception had been set up in the welcome center and we were invited to partake of their lovely homemade foods. We graciously accepted one cookie each. Randy and I struck up a conversation with one of the men responsible for the tour and he learned that we were going to the end of the Trace he recommended that we stop at the Loveless Café for lunch. After eating one peanut butter cookie we were back on the road.
We encountered a detour at about mile marker around 392 crossing over US 412 and it was about this time we realized that we were really low on gas. Well were having such a great time just riding along we were not paying attention to the notches. The tank was down to two notches and frankly Randy was not sure that was correct. I am not sure why but we missed two exits to look for gas. The frustrating thing is that when we finally got off we traveled quite a way only to find that the little town consisted of an auction house and cemetery.
Randy decided to get back on the Trace and continue on using the GPS. We finally found another small town off the Trace that had a Shell station. Randy mentioned that when he had spoken to a park ranger she said that, “The reason the park service does not post locations of gas stations is because they are not sure how current the information is and the hours of operation”. Fortunately for us the Shell station did exist and was open for business. With a full tank once more we hopped back on the Trace and headed for the double arches bridge that marked the end of the Natchez Trace.
The view from the bridge was spectacular. It’s amazing to me that they would build such a bridge for a road that is rarely used. Randy had a point for almost the entire six hours we were on the Trace yesterday there may have been ten vehicles behind us. We met a very nice couple who were heading in the opposite direction down to Mississippi who were kind enough to take our picture with the bridge in the background. We then rode back over the bridge and went down to the bottom of the hill to get a good picture of the entire bridge. Then we drove back across and headed to the Loveless Café for lunch.
There was no trouble finding this café. This is not just a café but a complex of shops selling jellies, jams, hams, jewelry, art work, bicycles, etc. We entered the restaurant and had to stand in line for a bit. Once we got up to the desk we were told it would be a wait of one hour and twenty minutes. Considering the fact the every table was full and there so many people waiting we were going to stay and see what this entire hubbub was about. We spent our time walking around the complex of shops, and sitting in the restaurant watching everyone leaving with little go boxes. The restaurant’s entrance hall walls were covered with signed photographs of Nashville’s notables and country western stars that had eaten there. Looking at some of these pictures brought back nice memories as I recognized so many.
Trust me when I tell you it was definitely worth the wait to finally order our lunch! The menu was filled with many southern favorites with items like biscuits, fried chicken, pulled pit pork barbeque and much, much more. We looked around the room and notice the size of the portions and decided to just order a sandwich. The sandwiches came with fries but you could switch this out for another item on the sides menu. I ordered the macaroni and cheese Randy ordered the coleslaw with each of us promising to share. Before our meal was served the waitress brought a small plate with the specialty of the house five small homemade biscuits made famous by Carol Faye Ellison otherwise known as the, “Biscuit Lady”. The biscuits were served with a sampling of blackberry, strawberry and peach jam. Randy preferred the blackberry; I preferred the strawberry but enjoyed the peach too. I could understand why the biscuits were famous. They were small but oh, so soft and airy.
It turned out to be a good thought to eat a small lunch. However, the sandwich was huge. I decided to eat just the meat and discard the bun (after all a girl needs to watch her girlish figure). Both the pork barbeque and macaroni and cheese were delicious. The pork was so tender. The macaroni and cheese was smooth and creamy. I was in heaven. Randy ordered the coleslaw and loved it.
One truth I have learned over time is to never to leave a really good southern restaurant until you have had a chance to sample one of the desserts. The pies in the refrigerated case looked tantalizing so we ordered one slice of coconut cream pie and two forks. The crust was amazing, the custard layer creamy and the whipped cream layer soft and melted in your mouth. But what really made this pie beyond delicious was the layer of toasted coconut nestled between the custard and whipped cream layers. Just yummy! I don’t think I have ever seen Randy enjoy a dessert more. I’m not sure but I think each time I put a morsel in my mouth I kept saying, “Mmmmm, oh that is so good”. I just hoped that the people at the next table did not hear me.
It was time to find our home for the evening. We followed the road off the trace until we got onto I-40 and headed towards Nashville. We went around Nashville and eventually got on I-65 heading north to Louisville. We stopped for the night at Bowling Green, Kentucky getting off at exit 22 and stayed at the Sleep Inn.
Tomorrow we are off to visit Mammoth Cave and Lincoln’s birthplace.
(** Just a note why I did not post last night. It was a long, long day and I was really tired. My plan was to get up early this morning and post. Unfortunately, the area we were staying in lost power so I could not get on the internet before it was time to leave for the day’s ride.)