Our second day on the Trace was filled with beauty, new discoveries and a few bumps in the road.
We hopped back on the Trace from I-20 after a really good night’s sleep and simple breakfast. We had only been on the Trace a short while when we encountered a detour and had to get off at Rt. 49 and take I-220 north and then I-55 north finally getting back on the Trace.
We learned that there is a major reconstruction taking place at several locations on the Trace. Evidently around the area of Jackson many of the residents use the Trace as a commuter road and have torn up the road. Randy referred to ride this portion of the road as, “riding over a washboard”. The rest of our day’s ride was smooth.
I was so excited today because we finally saw wildflowers. We saw Black-Eyes Susan, Queen Anne’s lace and a scattering of tiny blue/purple flowers I could identify. It took Randy and me coordinating our efforts to spot the flowers far enough in advance so we could slow down allowing me to take a picture.
Taking pictures on the back of a motorcycle going 50 miles an hour is no easy feat. I would focus on some flowers and just as I would take the picture the bike would hit a bump. I would look at the screen and see this beautiful yellow blur and start laughing. With Randy and I both looking way ahead, watching for cars or bikes in the mirrors and slowing down to a crawl we got some wonderful pictures of patches of Black-Eyed Susan. After all that effort we emerged from a long stretch of tree lined road to a field carpeted with Black-Eyed Susan on both sides of the road. It was just beautiful.
While we were in Natchez Randy spoke to a fellow rider who had just come down the Trace and was complaining that he thought the ride was boring. “All I saw was trees,” he complained. After spending only a day on the Trace I thought to myself: Not so kind sir, not so. Oh, yes there were beautiful and magnificent trees but the Trace is alive with many other sights to see. Yesterday we saw farms with acres and acres of corn, peanuts and soy beans growing just a few feet from the edge of the road. We saw a dairy farm and, of course, the various historical points of interest.
Today we saw two boating communities, more farms, a cattle ranch and a 50 square mile reservoir. We stopped at the reservoir and were astounded at the beautiful landscape surrounding the water. The information I read said that the reservoir was formed by an earth filled dam and is administered by the Pearl River Water Supply District an agency of the state of Mississippi.
While taking a few pictures Randy struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was out for a drive in his 1926 Ford. I walked up to look at the car I saw that the whole side of the car was full of bullet holes. As I approached the two men I think I said something like, “Very Bonnie and Clyde”. Randy asked him about the bullet holes and he said, “I don’t know the history of the car I just bought it like that. I asked him he if ever showed his car and he replied, “It will never be a show car I just like driving”. We said our goodbyes and continued on down the road.
We needed gas and it was coming up on noon so we exited the Trace at a town called Mathiston, Mississippi. We spotted a gas station right away and then looked for a restaurant. We saw several and then noticed a small restaurant on the right side of the road with its parking lot over flowing with cars, motorcycles and pick-up trucks. Almost at the same time we said, “That’s the restaurant for us”.
The Trace-way Restaurant was packed. One of the patrons said, “Just find a seat and they will find you”. I thought that was funny. There were two choices for lunch. There was a menu filled with traditional lunch sandwiches, salads, chicken dishes and sides. The other choice was a luncheon buffet. Randy decided to get the buffet. Now this was a deal! For $4.50 you got 1 meat, 3 vegetables, a roll or corn bread muffin and a drink. The meat choices included a chicken fried steak, fried chicken livers or spaghetti with meat sauce. The vegetables included carrots, butter beans, mashed potatoes, potato salad or coleslaw.
I looked over the menu and could not make up my mind until Randy returned with his plate. I took one look at the butter beans and got up and got in line. This wonderful woman stood behind the counter, picked up a divided paper plate and asked what my choices were and proceeded to fill the plate to capacity. I ordered the chicken fried steak (I have never had one and wanted to try it), mashed potatoes with gravy, butter beans, potato salad and a cornbread muffin. Once she was done I thought to myself that this was definitely not a lunch for the weak. Actually I couldn’t help but think that this meal was a heart attack waiting to happen but I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed every bite.
Frankly I would have been happy just having the butter beans they were great. They were prepared with small strips of bacon. I loved them! The potato salad was absolutely delicious with little pieces of onion and celery for an added crunch. The cornbread was slightly crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft and moist inside. It was delicious. I tried the country fried steak and after a few bites decided that I did not like the texture of the meat and did not finish it. Randy on the other hand loved the steak. Actually, Randy loved his entire meal and left his plate clean as a whistle.
One of the things I liked about this restaurant was the friendliness of the patrons. As I mentioned the restaurant was full with people coming and going at a fast clip. We asked three very nice gentlemen if we could share their table and they were fast to say, “Well of course”. They were very friendly and we all had a very nice conversation about the restaurant, the town and shared stories about riding the Trace. I asked if they knew the name of one of my favorite trees on the Trace. I was told that the one I described was called a loblolly pine.
Our appetites satiated, the bike gassed up we headed back to the Trace to continue our ride. Our second stop of the day was at the Bynum Mounds. These two Indian burial mounds date back a period of time between 100 BC and 100 AD. Before walking to the mounds we stopped at the information kiosk and read the information about the Indians who had inhabited this area. Much to our pleasure there was a painting accompanied with a recording that gave a brief description of the mounds helping us to understand exactly what we were looking at. We walked over and were amazed at the size of the mounds. To create perspective I took a picture of Randy standing in front of the larger of the two mounds. Randy stands 6’ 3”. We calculated that the larger mound stood at least 10’. They were truly amazing to see.
We decided at the beginning of today’s ride that we would stop in Tupelo, Mississippi to visit the birthplace of Elvis Presley. It was interesting that his boyhood home was actually on the premises of the museum as was his childhood church. There was also a replica of the 1939 green Plymouth sedan the Presley family drove when leaving Tupelo and moved Memphis. By the time we finished our tour of the museum grounds it was time to find a place to settle for the evening.
Tomorrow we will finish our wonderful ride on the Trace and head for Kentucky.