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Wandering Biker

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Oct '09

Muscle Shoals, AL to Clinton, MS via the Natchez Trace Parkway and Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield and Tupelo National Battlefield – 287 miles

The plan for today is to travel down the Natchez Trace Parkway collecting as many National Parks Tour stamps as I can.

It has rained overnight as a cold front went through but it is only sprinkling lightly when I get up. The weather station shows that the skies are clearing rapidly from the west. It turns out to be an absolutely beautiful day.

I’m anxious to get going and I keep having to remind myself that this is going to be a slow, relaxing day. Things move slower in Mississippi and the speed limit on the Natchez Trace is mostly 50 mph. I get out the door of the motel late after a frantic search for my camera and when I get to the motel office to check out there is a “Be Right Back” sign in the window. Relax…. relax…..

The Natchez Trace Parkway follows ancient hunting and foot paths that connected Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, TN. Commercial traffic is not allowed on the Parkway and there are many scenic and informative pull offs along its route. Most of the route is through rural areas and there are almost no services on the parkway itself.

I leave town on state and county roads to get to the Parkway just north of the Tennessee River crossing. The river is very wide at this point and actually looks more like a lake than a river.

My first stop is at the Colbert Ferry ranger station and I pull up just as they are opening and raising the flag at 9:00. I laugh at my earlier impatience realizing that it would have done no good to get here any sooner. I get my stamp and a great map of the Parkway from the ranger.

I stopped just after entering Mississippi and took a few pictures.

This is a good example of the many informative turnouts on the Parkway.

And the next two photos are pretty much the view I will have all day.

My next stop requires me to get off the Parkway after about 50 miles and go through the town of Baldwyn, MS to get to Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield.

The battle at Brice’s Crossroads wa a fairly minor one in the Civil war, so I get my stamp and head towards Tupelo, MS, where I get a stamp at the Parkway Headquarters and another for the Tupelo National Battlefield, another fairly minor Civil War battle that continued after the Brice’s Crossroads battle.

Continuing down the Parkway I stop at Jeff Busby, which looked like it used to be a gas station and probably used to have a stamp. It doesn’t any more and I think this is the first time on my trip that a stamp hasn’t been available where my information told me there was one.

My next stop is a re-creation of a stop on the old Trace at French Camp, MS. I got a stamp from the nice lady in the gift shop and took a couple of pictures.

Continuing south I get a stamp at the Kosciusco Visitor Center and after a scenic drive along the banks of the Ross Barnett Reservoir I get off the Parkway in Ridgeland, MS to get a stamp at the Mississippi Crafts Center.

Getting back on the Parkway I follow a fairly new (to me and Microsoft Streets and Trips) section of the Parkway around Jackson, MS to the visitor center in Clinton, MS. When I ask about getting a stamp at the Clinton Visitor Center the nice lady has no idea what I am talking about. After getting out my National Parks Passport book and showing it to her she assures me she would know if something like that existed because she has read the volunteer manual cover to cover but definitely will recommend that they get one. I’m about to leave when I see a stamp and ink pad right next to me on top of the donation box. Of course it is the National Parks Tour stamp that I need. We have a good laugh and she apologizes profusely.

It is too late in the afternoon for me to get to my next stop in Vicksburg, MS so I head towards the interstate and find a motel for the evening.

Woohoo! Eight stamps for the day and a beautiful day for a motorcycle ride.

National Parks Tour progress so far – 46 sites, 19 states.

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