November 14, 2017

Port Gibson Mississippi to Natchez Mississippi . 38 warm and sunny miles.

I keep thinking that we will be soon out of these hills. But they just keep coming one after another. They are gentle but long. My legs and butt are feeling the fatigued of seven days of pedaling.
After seven wonderful days, and 414 miles we pull into Natchez Mississippi.. We take showers at Russ and Cindy ‘s hotel and then meet at the waterfront for a delicious celebration meal.

The group in Sunken Trace of yesteryear

The finish line – L to R Mike, Dan, Maja, Brad, Russ, and Cindy.

Overlooking the Mississippi in Natchez from our celebration restaurant .

It was a great trip with a wonderful bunch of friends. I got thinking we should do it South to north next year, and then my mind returned to just enjoy them moment of feeling relief and accomplishment. Put this Natchez Trace Parkway on your list of things to see. THE END
Cheers,
Freebird

November 13, 2017

Russ Barnett reservoir near Jackson MS to Grand Gulf Military Camp near Port Gibson MS, 63 miles.
This is one of the prettiest parts of this beautiful ride. We wind along the reservoir for miles and then travel through the center of Jackson on a paved off road biking path that Parallels the Trace. It’s a safe and enjoyable way to get through this big city. We meet Cindy and Russ on there tandem and stop for a delicious lunch in Clinton MS. The rest of the day goes well as we are blessed with sunshine and a nice tail wind. We pull into camp and just catch the ranger before he leaves for the day. He Turns out to be quite a character that could fill another page with silliness. The campsite is not too far from a nuclear power plant on the Mississippi River. Its low tone hums can be heard for miles. I put in my earplugs and curl up in camp happy for the last night of the journey down the Natchez Trace.

Riding the Trace Parkway video

Russ Barnett reservoir and the Natchez Trace Parkway Road.

The original Natchez Trace – before roads were invited.

A snack stop along the Trace

November 12, 2017

Jeff Bugsby Park MS to Russ Barnett Reservoir camp (just north of Jackson MS) 61 miles of warm Mississippi sunshine.

We get an early start because we don’t have to pack up camp. It’s Sunday morning and there is very little traffic just like always on the Natchez Trace. Riding into the little historic town of French Camp we notice a church parking lot full of Sunday worshipers and ask about breakfast places. We are told that everything is closed on Sundays. We ride on and munch on energy bars and leftovers from our food bags. Our day is spent enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful scenery as we pedal along the Trace. The hike around Cypress Swamp goes without a gator sighting, yet there is something magical about these monstrous trees growing out of the water. We pull into a private campground and pay the $5.00 camp fee. It is our first paid site and comes with a shower – well kind of a shower . Let’s just say it was warm and wet:). Camp happy is set up on a flat area just above the water. My friends joke about me becoming gator bait as night falls in the Mississippi Bayou. The only real predators turns out to be the mosquitoes. I crawl into my little tent (camp happy) close my eyes and listen to the wild songs from the birds and animals of the Bayou. Two owls hoot from a tree above lull me to sleep.


Cypress swamp

Camp Happy in the morning light

November 11, 2017

Tupelo Mississippi camp to nearby Jeff Bugsby Park (hotel in Eupora MS. ) 62 miles.
Today was my drive day. It was spent finding and delivering lunch to the other riders and a hotel and laundry services for the evening. The hotel is nothing to write home about but it had running water, hot showers and was close to a laundromat. We showered, washed clothes, and ate Mexican food. An exciting Saturday night for sure:)

Watching clothes drying – just don’t get more exciting than that!

5 people, 5 people’s gear, and 5 bikes on a Subaru. Proving once again that you can fit ten pounds of poop in a five pound bag.

November 10, 2017

Colbert Ferry Alabama to Natchez Trace camp just outside Tupelo Mississippi 68 miles of sunshine.
The Colbert Ferry campsite proves to be the best yet. Hearing the hoot from a pair of owl in a nearby tree and seeing a beautiful starlit night sky was a real treat, as was waking up to a dry tent. It seems as though I am once again starting to appreciate the little pleasures and awareness that this kind of travel brings. After a camp breakfast of oatmeal, tortillas with peanut butter, and hot tea we hit the road and begin the day with our warm weather gear. It only takes the first big hill and we are stripping off hats, gloves, and leg warmers. The day warms up nicely. In the afternoon, Maja and Dan arrive with a lunch from a local food truck. We fill our bellies with hush puppies, catfish, and everything deep fried and southern. It makes it somewhat difficult to get back on the bikes.
In late afternoon we pull into our campsite just outside Tupelo. For the first time on this trip we set up camp in daylight and have time to build a nice camp fire. I am pooped from the days ride and hit the sleeping bag early. Others follow my lead and the camp is quiet by 9PM. So much for party animals.

Famous Tombigbee canal

Brad – no he’s really not dead

Ancient Natchez Indian burial mounds- yes they are all dead 💀

Campfire provided by Dan and Brad

Story of the old Trace

November 9, 2017

Meriwether Lewis camp Tennessee to Colbert Ferry, Alabama – 65 sunny miles.

I awake in camp happy with the sun shining into my tent. First thing I notice is that I can see my breath. Brrr it’s cold but the sunshine is good news. We load ourselves into Brad’s car and head to the little town of Hohenwald for a southern breakfast. It is nice to have a SAG wagon on mornings like this. We get a later start then planned but that gives the sun some time to warm up a bit. We climb and descend through the Tennessee ridge country. The road is smooth, the traffic is light and we have a slight tail wind. After the first couple climbs we stop and remove our warm riding gear. The forest canopy connects the trees on either side if the road. For many miles we ride in this tunnel of nature with leaves crackling under our tires. The stop in Collinwood for lunch takes a couple hours of our precious daylight and we have to burn a lot of energy to reach our campsite before sunset. Lucky we cross the Tennessee River and into Alabama just as the sun hits the horizon. Brad finds up a beautiful stealth campsite on the river. We set up camp and head to Muscle Shores to meet Cindy and Russ for dinner. We return to the campsite with full bellies and find a local armadillo searching for his supper. We chase him off and crawl in our tents and I am feeling grateful for another day on Mother Earth.

Mija resting safely from the fire ants 🐜

Tennessee river

November 8, 2017

Nashville TN to Merriwether Lewis National Monument, 60 cold misty miles on the beautiful Natchez Trace. We unload the bikes and gear at the Loveless Cafe which is the northern terminus of the Trace. My friends Dan, Brad, Seth, and Maja are here. Also Russ and Cindy from Iowa on a tandem. Within the first mile we cross over a high valley bridge. It’s an Architectural wonder and the view from the top is breathtaking partly because of the climb but also for the view of the valley below (see photos). We climb and descend all morning. We are blessed with a north wind that helps our spirits but not our cold fingers and toes. We stop for lunch and eat our sandwiches at the beautiful Jackson Falls. Recent rains have it flowing fast and loud. We pass clear little streams in every valley. The afternoon climbs are gentle but very long. They have names like “nine mile ridge “ and “Baker Bluff lookout “. It’s a test for both my legs and lungs. We pull into the campsite just as the sun sets behind the Tennessee ridge. The cold air settles in the valley and I smile as I crawl inside my sleeping bag and call it a day knowing that horse and I are back on the road to adventure. Thanks for coming along. Only 414 miles to go 😎🚴🏻.

April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017. Gainesville Florida to Saint Augustine Florida 87 miles. 2887 miles from the Pacific. I awake from a deep dreamy sleep and wonder where am I . Dan and I make breakfast and talk about the plan for the day. I will ride to Saint Augustine without my panniers and Dan will meet me at the beach tonight. Losing the cargo of 30 pounds should help my speed. I leave Gainesville with unsure feeling in my gut. I’m still feeling a little ill but I am excited about the possibility of reaching the Atlantic. The morning goes better than expected. It is cool and the road is smooth. I stop for a large breakfast in Melrose. On the way out of town I find a fruit stand selling fresh strawberries and blueberries. I fill my food bag and start munching on the delicious nectar. By late morning I am riding on a beautiful rails to trails bike path all the way to Palatka. It is smooth and well shaded from the hot Florida sun. Horse and I make good time and I am feeling much better then yesterday. In East Palatka I spot a McDonald’s and have my first Mac attack of this journey. I taste and re taste it for the next couple of hours. By mid afternoon the route turns north and east into strong headwind. I struggle to maintain 10 mph. After a couple hours at just over bug speed I sense the smell of salt in the air. It’s the Atlantic. I suddenly get a feeling of excitement and renewed energy. I scream at the top of my lungs “I am going to make it” and pedal onward toward Crescent Beach. Dan arrives a couple miles before the beach. We find the beach access and I dip my tire and then go for a swim in the Atlantic. I celebrate with laughter and tears. Dan, Nate, and Gina are there to share the moment. I feel all smiles inside and out.
Thank you so much for all the love and support that you have given me on this journey from San Diego to Saint Augustine.
Thanks for follow me.
With love
Freebird

Rails to trails bike path

My last bridge crossing.

Ceremonial tire dip in the Atlantic

Celebration dinner with Dan.

April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017. IchetTucknee state park Florida to Gainesville Florida 47 miles. 2800 miles from the Pacific. I unzip my way out of camp happy as the moon is still shining in a dark sky. I start packing up my tent and equipment for what will be the last time. How many times have I taken this tent down in the dark. How many times has it provided me great shelter and a good nights sleep. by the time I’m finished with my camp breakfast dawn has appeared in the eastern sky. I want to get going before the heat of the day. The sunrise is beautiful as I peddled eastward. After about 20 miles I stop for breakfast in the little town of High Springs. I am not feeling well. Maybe it was from the heat yesterday. Maybe i have been pushing it a little too much. I have to stop often and struggle with the small hills as I approach Gainesville. I get to my friend Dan’s son’s house just afternoon. Dan says I don’t look good. I take a quick shower and a nap. Then lunch and another nap. By evening I am feeling better but still worn out. I am hoping to finish tomorrow but it won’t happen feeling like this. It’s great to see Dan, his son Nate and significant other Gina. They feed me and take good care of me.
Cheers
Freebird

Sunrise in the Florida panhandle.

April 12, 2017

April 12, 2017. Madison Florida to Ichetucknee Spring State Park Florida 73 smiling miles. 2753 miles from the Pacific. Sleeping in the big comfortable bed at the B&B was awesome and so was breakfast. I could get used to that lifestyle. I saddle up Horse and we head south east. We soon cross the historic Suwannee River. It is beautiful and I begin to sing “down by the Suwannee River far far away ” – that’s the only part of the song I know. By late morning I find myself in the little hamlet of Live Oak on a park bench taking a little siesta. It’s the hot part of the day so I use it wisely. Another ten miles down the road and my stomach is empty. In Wellborn I stumble upon a great little restaurant that serves up the best pulled pork and salads this side of the Mississippi. I buy an extra sandwich for later tonight and load it into my food bag. It’s another 20 miles to the park so I stop in the shade repeatedly to cool my motor. The traffic is light and the road is smooth. I get lulled into a day dream and miss my turn off. It was a mistake that cost me an additional 8 miles at the end of a long ride. I am angry at myself for the mistake. But all that is forgotten and forgiven when I get to the park and jump into the Big Blue Hole. It’s a natural spring that pumps out a river full of water every minute. I dive into the cold clear spring. It’s source is an underwater cave. It is beautiful and amazing. My day on the bike is quickly forgotten. I get a camp site and set up camp Happy. I am once again reminded of natures beauty and the magical power it has over us.
Cheers
Freebird

Historic Suwannee River

I love these Bayou trees

I am ordering one of these for Cheryl’s b-day. It’s a joke

The Blue Hole

More of the Big Blue Hole