Day 2: Busby, MS to Natchez, MS – Monday, May 28th (Memorial Day!)

Monday Morning Campsite

We broke camp and got out at a fairly reasonable hour. Got a great night’s sleep. Got on the trace for about 40 miles to Kosciusko. Tried a local pull-off, but everything was closed for the holiday. Turns out our only breakfast option was Subway. Breakfast sandwiches were actually decent—as were the breakfast dessert cookies. Don’t tell my doctor!

Next stop was Wal-Mart. Matt decided that the $25 hammock was the way to go. Picked up a few forgotten supplies and hit the road…and it was already getting hot big time.

My backside….

Mondary – keep your hands on the handlebars!

Next big scenery on the trace was the Ross Barnett Reservoir. The trace ran by it from about MM 125 to 105 or so. The reservoir was so big, you’d really almost think you were driving by a serious lake or even bay. Beautiful rides. Everyone said that the Trace got ugly as you went south. Tennessee was the best part – road quality, scenery, driving style – but this was certainly not ugly.

We ended up stopping to cool down at the Reservoir overlook. Ended up chilling for more than an hour. Met an ADV rider on a nice BMW. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves for surviving the  first 400 miles or so…until we met the middle-aged bicyclists who had covered the same distance in about four days. Jerks. J We took pictures for them and got back on the road, determined to make it to Natchez.

Lunch at the Country Store

Construction detoured us off the Trace in Jackson…we had to spend a few miles on the interstate. It wasn’t too bad. We made it down to Lorman (MM #27) where we pulled off for lunch at the Country Store on US-61 for lunch. The ADV BMW guy suggested it—and he was right on course. Good country buffet. A little bit heavy for the temperature, but it was nice, and we were ready to finish the trace.

Got back on the road – made it down the rest of the trace without incident. Just good, simple, highway-style riding. For most of the Trace we averaged 55mph or so. We probably only saw two cops per day, and none of them seemed particularly interested in us. We were a little worried it would be crawling with troopers being a holiday weekend, but evidently they had better things to do.

Matt at the Southern Terminus

Southern Terminus

Took a quick picture at the southern terminus before we made it into Natchez for our doctor-mandated ice cream. Ate at a nice little outdoor ice-cream shop right in the heart of Natchez. Arriving there was a little anticlimactic….it seemed like there should be banners or something announcing the fact that we had survived so far.

After ice cream, we decided that renting 2 ½ hours of air conditioning was in order, since it’s now in the middle of the afternoon. Heat is high and humidity was climbing. Our best plan for renting air conditioning involved a matinee at the theater. We saw Battleship—which was worlds better than I feared. I wouldn’t hold my breath for any Academy Awards, though…

The theater was small. Several flights I’ve taken have had more seats across….but it was nice. Nobody was sitting near us. I imagine we didn’t do much for the “atmosphere” of the place.

After the show, we set out looking for dinner. Finding supper was more difficult than we expected, so after wandering around for 40 minutes, we eventually just decided to get on US-61 and head south to see what happened. That eventually brought us to Roux 61 – conveniently located next to the Natchez Heliport. Who knew?

Roux 61

Dinner was good. Overpriced steaks and salads, but refreshing at the end of the day. We asked the waitress if she knew of any campgrounds nearby. She offered us her backyard. Another waitress suggested the gravel pit outside of the restaurant.

I still can’t decide if a) we look far more trustworthy and attractive than I would have ever imagined or b) we looked (and smelled) so pathetic, they felt sorry for us. I’m guessing B…

Salad at Roux 61

The sun set while we were eating, so we’re out in darkness again. We took off looking for a campsite…and found nothing that wasn’t just a trailer park. We eventually wandered back northeast into the Homochitto National Forrest, which had a sign saying camping was permitted off the gravel road.

Matt’s KLR did great on the gravel. The Vulcan (and her rider) aren’t quite as stable, but we made it about ¾ mile down the road without incident. We eventually settled on a clearing next to the woods. We were seriously in the middle of nowhere. We set up the hammocks in knee-high grass and briars. Beautiful place—not the world’s best campsite.

My first concern was at the sign outside of the national forest. It mentioned that there had been bear sightings. It occurred to me that a person in a hammock looks very much like a nice human-burrito for a bear. I knew I should have taken Leslie’s advice and bought an axe…

This is a picture of the next-to-last turn of where we went camping taken from Google Street View. The sign in the right is the one that mentions bears. Dumb sign… By the way, our campsite is at the intersection of the road south of the man on google and the road that forks to the Northwest…just barely off the map.

We were settled in for the night when I hear a loud crashing noise. The knots on the head-end of Matt’s hammock backed loose, dumping him from about 4 feet onto the ground (read: briars and weeds) head first. I was laughing too hard to ask how he was doing. The fall knocked the wind out of him so he couldn’t answer either. Whoopsie!

The owls calling were incredible and intense that night. There were at least 3-4 different owls making beautiful calls all night. Of course, I was still convinced bears were going to eat us.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3am, my hammock had stretched and lowered on the tree a fair bit, so that the nylon was rubbing against briars right next to my head whenever I moved. I must have turned in my sleep, because it started gently scratching the fabric—which startled me. I woke up absolutely convinced that there was some rodent crawling into the hammock with me. It was Matt’s turn to laugh uncontrollably. All in all – good day, and good night.

Day 2 mileage: 238. Cumulative: 560.