Today was a banner day! We were up early and eager to get started on our ride on the Natchez Trace. But first things first, I made my way to the window so I could enjoy one last time the wonderful view of the Mississippi river. The river was already busy with a large barge being pushed down the river. Then it was off to eat a little breakfast, pack up and get on the bike.
From our hotel it was only a short ride to the entrance of the Trace but we knew we needed to stop for gas first. There are no gas stations on the Trace so it is vitally important that tank is full. In just a few short minutes we made the turn onto the Trace and started a very pleasant morning ride.
The Natchez Trace is a state park named for a 444 mile highway that was an important wilderness road during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Natchez Trace is operated by the National Park Service. The road is well marked alerting visitors to upcoming points of interest, necessary facilities, ranger stations and turnouts.
We sent our morning with a leisurely ride down a wonderfully smooth, satin ribbon of a road filled with gentle twist and turns that is a motorcyclist dream with miles and miles of nature’s beautiful scenery. I loved the changing scenery as we drove along. One moment the trees were just a few feet away from the road and then suddenly just around a turn the trees had retreated far away from the road. There were only a few patches of Black-Eyed Susan at the very beginning of our ride. I asked the park ranger about the wild flowers along the Trace and she told us that most of the flowers had come and gone especially now that it was summer.
If all you wanted to do was drive the Trace it could be done in one day. However, Randy and I wanted to stop along the way and see whatever there was to see along the way. We had also decided that we would get off at several points to do some sightseeing in other parts of Mississippi. We made two stops during our ride. We stopped at Mount Locust. Mount Locust built in 1780 was a working plantation and Inn and is the only surviving Inn on the Natchez Trace. It was actually very spacious having three bedrooms, a large eating area and storage room. The kitchen would have been an out building to avoid a fire to the main house. We both enjoyed being able to walk up and look inside and see representations of furniture and other home goods so you could get a feel for what life would have been like for the early owners of the Inn as well as visitors.
Our second stop was at the site of a long gone rural community called Rocky Springs. According to the information at the site, “Rocky Springs called ‘Rocky Spring’ by early travelers; the town later became Rocky Springs, a rural community covering about 25 square miles”. The town grew to approximately 2600 residents between the 1790’s and 1860. What are left at this point are church, an empty creek, and a rotting safe and cistern. There is a Methodist church high up on a hill that was built by Methodist congregation of Rocky Springs in 1837. The sign in front of the church reads, “The church is preserved by the former congregation members who hold regular services here and gather for an annual ‘homecoming’ each spring. Eventually over time the spring dried up, and disease and the boll evil infestation of the town’s cotton crop decimated the town.
At this point we hopped off the Trace and made our way to Vicksburg. Randy and I are history buffs and wanted to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park. We arrived in Vicksburg around 11am and followed the ‘scenic route’ signs and could not find the park. It was getting hot so we decided to stop at McDonald’s to get a quick lunch and decide what we would do next. We decided to just head back to the Trace and get off in Jackson to spend the night. We were disappointed that we would miss the park but hopped onto I-20 anyway. To our surprise and amazement we stumbled onto the entrance to the park. We drove around the park stopping at several points of interest eventually stopping at the visitor’s center to watch a brief film re-enacting the battle, siege and eventual surrender of Vicksburg. The park was beautifully dotted with many statues, monuments and obelisks honoring all the brave men caught up in this horrible time in our country’s history.
It was getting late and hotter so we headed to Jackson, a room for the night and hopefully a pool. After relaxing for a bit and taking a dip in the pool we went on the hunt for a restaurant to have dinner. Within walking distance of our hotel was a restaurant called there was a Japanese restaurant, an Applebee’s and a restaurant called “The Froghead Grill”. We decided on the Froghead Grill and walked over to hopefully have a good dinner.
Oh, my what a find!!! The menu was extensive and filled with some interesting dishes. There was an appetizer called ‘Famous Froghead bread’ described as toasted French bread smothered in garlic, cheese and green chilies; a salad called, “Already famous chicken salad’. There were wraps, Po-boy sandwiches, quesadillas, burgers, seafood, soups, gumbo all sounding wonderfully delicious.
Although the menu was so varied I had no trouble choosing my dinner. Everyone who knows me knows that I love burgers and if I see an interesting burger on a menu that is what I am going to order. The first hamburger on the menu was called ‘Hamburger in Paradise’ described as a hamburger with mayo, lettuce, tomato, mustard, onion, pickle and ketchup. Now a few choices down was a hamburger called, ‘Jalapeño Mama’ which started with the ‘Paradise’ then topped with shredded jack cheese, bacon, jalapeños and Pico de Gallo. Oh, my I was in heaven just thinking about enjoying this hamburger. What was not mentioned but much enjoyed was the onion roll the hamburger was nestled in.
The burger was as good as it sounded. The many layers of tastes and textures were a delightful eating experience. The burger was a little hard to manage because it was so moist the roll began to fall apart. But where there is a will there really is a way. I kept the sandwich together and enjoyed every bite. I decided to reward myself for managing to keep my sandwich together and ordered a mini sundae for dessert. Now I took ‘mini’ to mean small, very small. The sundae was anything but. When the dessert arrived at my table my eyes were deliriously happy but my stomach was screaming, “Can I really eat all that”. Well, I did and loved every spoonful.
The Froghead Grill turned out to be a great choice. If you are ever in Clinton, Mississippi I would encourage you to ‘hop in’.
Tomorrow we are back on the Trace on our way to Tupelo, Mississippi.