Natchez Trace - The Trace Pace

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by UtahJim, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    Well, I guess it's about time I get off my butt and do this ride report; especially considering the ride started April 5th of this year. I figured if I at least did the intro I would be forced to get it done. It seems like an eternity since I completed this ride with my friend Dennis and "Top" , his orange VTX 1800. I was riding my VStrom, which has yet to be named.

    The title says it all. The Trace Pace. Things run slower along the pace and that's a good thing considering life does not. It's nice to slow down from time to time and smell the roses. There are plenty of opportunities to do this along the trace considering the speed limit of 50 in most places and the threat of federal cops waiting behind bushes and bends. That's ok, we took it nice and slow and enjoyed the stops along the way.

    It only took us two days to ride the trace but we took two days to get there. I started my journey near Atlanta, GA and Dennis started near Birningham, AL. We linked up on day one at Chickasaw State Park just off 43 in southwestern Alabama. When you read the description on this park it tells you that this is a roadside park with day picnic areas and camping available that about sums it up. It does offer running water and electricity, just no showers. That's not a problem for a couple of Army Vets. We're used to "roughing it".


    Here's a photo of our camp on day one. More photos and info to follow...

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    #1
  2. 1KBOOM

    1KBOOM 2-Wheel Patriot

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    Very interested to hear about your Trace experience. I had this trip extensively planned from the beginning to end & then various Louisiana/Miss. diversions with a Blues/BBQ themed return route to home (Louisville), two years ago. I turned on Weather Channel 10 days before the trip to see their latest fool standing in the streets of Vicksburg in chest waders, talking record floods! No Natchez trip that Spring :kboom

    Gimme more!
    #2
  3. HPTuner

    HPTuner Been here awhile

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    Trace has been on my list,too. 'scribed...
    #3
  4. forrestrider

    forrestrider Dont Do Stupid Shit..

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    That Chickasaw state park is NOT a REAL Good place to camp, Is's not in an area with what I would Not Call (The Most Contributing Members of Society)
    #4
  5. NPRider

    NPRider n00b

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    I plan to do the Trace in May. If you made the trip in early April did you hit any bad weather?
    #5
  6. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Chainsaw Monkey Juggler

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    That's the (second) ugliest 'Strom I've ever seen on the Trace. :lol3

    Looking forward to more pics. :lurk
    #6
  7. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    Yes, the campground choice on the first night did have some "interesting" residents with questionable hygiene practices but it worked for us. After we set camp we made our way into town for dinner at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Linden. The food was pretty good with all you can eat chicken, ribs and fish. The fried fish was the best of the three. I was digging for a food shot, but it looks like I got deleted from my phone.

    Day two was our ride to Natchez State Park with one mandatory stop along the way. ( Teaser. Stay tuned). After a good nights rests listening to mud tires hum down the highway at 03:30 we packed up and made our way back to Linden for breakfast.
    Breakfast was at Screamers and the price was right. Two egg breakfast with bacon and hash browns with a cup of coffe for around five bucks.

    For those wondering why the name screamers, they print this on the back of the menu:

    "We chose our name after learning that during its early days, our town was nicknamed Screamersville, allegedly because of its rowdy frontier reputation. It was renamed The Town of Marengo when it was surveyed to serve as the county seat after Marengo County was established: it became the count seat in 1819. Linden was dubbed HohenLinden by French settlers from the vine & olive colony, near present day Demopolis, to honor a victory by French Emperor Napoleon in Bavaria in 1800. Over time, the name was shortened to Linden."

    Sorry, no pictures in this post but the next stop will. I promise.
    #7
  8. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    I found the image of the whistle stop dinner.

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    #8
  9. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    Here we go with day two.

    I told Dennis that I had no plans or stipulations for this ride with one exception. This place has been on my list for along time and I had to make it before they closed or I would consider this ride a bust. Well, we made it and was it worth it!

    So, we headed south out of Linden on 114 to 10, then over to 17. We hit the town of Gilbertown where we found this in the town center and had to stop.

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    This was the first oil rig in Alabama.

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    This is the kind of thing you see on the back roads. It was an interesting stop and a chance to check the map and figure out where to next.

    From here we continued south to 84W. Not exactly a scenic route but a good road to make some time.

    After grinding some miles on 84 we had enough. It was time to hop off on some more back roads. A quick stop for some gas, a cold power aid and a check of the map found a road that would cut us up to our dinner stop.

    We took old 84 to Brookhaven and 550 west which turned into 28W to Fayette, MS. A turn north on 61 took us to the best fried chicken ever....
    #9
  10. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    I first learned about this place from Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt season 2 The River Run.

    After a short run up 61 we arrived in Lorman, MS at The Old Country Store. I'm sure you have heard about this place. If not, you need to know about it. Alton Brown was Quoted saying this was the best fried chicken he had ever eaten. I would have to agree. I grew up in Georgia and I have eaten a lot of fried chicken. Nothing compares to Mr. D's fried chicken. I can't explain it but it was beyond good. Not only was the fried chicken good, everything on the buffet was great. If you have never been there and are within a days ride of this place make plans to go. Needless to say, I will return. Here are some photos of the meal:

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    Here's a shot with Mr. D.

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    This place is classic. Mr D is happy to tell you the history of the place. It has been a little bit of everything. Now Mr. D runs his restaurant. The place has a a wall full of business cards from who knows how long ago.

    After a great meal we had some trouble walking out the door. It's all you can eat and we got our money's worth.

    Not only is Mr D a great cook, he's a great host. He enjoys talking to his guests and it's clear to see he loves what he does. As we were heading out he suggested a route we had to take. I'm glad we stopped and I'm glad we took his recommendation. We were off again exploring one more stop before we set camp for the night.

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    Next, our side trip en route to the campground.
    #10
  11. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    Taking Mr D's suggestion we headed about a mile up 61 to the first exit and jumped on 552 to Windsor Ruins.

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    Here's the write up from the National Park Service web site


    How it actually appeared before being destroyed by fire in 1890 was a mystery (and possibly part of its attraction), until a drawing was discovered in the diary of a Civil War officer, showing the Claiborne County home in its heyday.
    The diary and drawing belonged to Henry Otis Dwight, a Union officer who served with the 20th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War and was discovered in the Ohio State Archives in Columbus, OH.
    Though other artists have sketched pictures of the house, they were
    done from oral descriptions. Dwight's drawing is the first found that was done by someone who actually saw the home. The sketch bears the words, "May 1st 1863. Residence Near Bruinsburg Miss.”, in what is believed to be Dwight's own handwriting.
    It is thought that Dwight and other soldiers passed Windsor on their way to fight in Port Gibson in May 1863. The site is near the former town of Bruinsburg, where Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant's Army crossed the Mississippi River in his quest to take Vicksburg.

    Windsor, built between 1859 and 1861, was the home of Smith Coffee Daniell, II, a wealthy planter who had extensive properties in the Delta and in Arkansas. Completed in 1861, the home was the largest house built at that time, the plantation once covering over 2,600 acres. From the elaborate furnishings to the wrought iron staircase, the four-story home was designed to reflect the height of Southern life at the time.

    Construction costs totaled $175,000 (not a small sum for that era), which included the building cost and its furnishings. Tanks in the attic supplied water for the interior baths. The mansion contained twenty-five rooms with twenty-five fireplaces, with a basement containing a school room, dairy, and supply rooms. Unfortunately, Smith Daniell only lived in the large mansion for a few weeks before he died.

    Windsor, built between 1859 and 1861, was the home of Smith Coffee Daniell, II, a wealthy planter who had extensive properties in the Delta and in Arkansas. Completed in 1861, the home was the largest house built at that time, the plantation once covering over 2,600 acres. From the elaborate furnishings to the wrought iron staircase, the four-story home was designed to reflect the height of Southern life at the time.
    After the war, Mark Twain used to stand in the rooftop observatory and muse while overlooking the Mississippi River in the distance, comparing Windsor to a college instead of a residence, due to its size. The plantation became a prominent landmark along the Mississippi River, and Twain wrote of its elegance in his book "Life on the Mississippi."

    The home survived the war only to be totally destroyed on February 17, 1890, by a fire said to have been caused by a party guest who carelessly dropped a cigarette. Descendants of the Daniells say the fire started about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The family was making plans for a seated dinner, but had gone to pick up the mail. Riding back to the house, they saw flames shooting from the shingled roof. The fire burned Windsor from the top down, making the conflagration impossible to put out.
    Today, all that remains of Windsor are 23 Corinthian columns on the site. The family's descendants gave the ruins to the State Department of Archives in 1974 and the State has maintained the site since. The wrought iron staircase is now a part of nearby Alcorn State University. Windsor Ruins has appeared in several feature films, including Raintree County (1957), which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Cliff.

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    This house was massive. Even by today's standards of huge homes this would dwarf many of the largest homes built in modern times. I can only imagine the labor and craftsmanship that went into this. It's a shame it didn't survive.

    Again. Worth the stop. The road to and from the ruins was entertaining as well. Twisty at parts and nestled in the woods it's a scenic loop.

    We made our way back to 61 on the loop to set up camp for the night at Natchez State Park. More on this in the next installment.
    #11
  12. DBrentMiller

    DBrentMiller Sojourn Chronicles

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    Jim, this is a great start to your ride report. Keep it coming. Maybe you can write some more while you're sitting in an airport waiting for clearance. (Not in the cockpit, though.)

    Brent
    #12
  13. DBrentMiller

    DBrentMiller Sojourn Chronicles

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    Having ridden the Trace several years ago, and producing a video, I know this scenic byway is an attractive destination for many travelers. If you are planning to ride down (or up) the Trace, check the calendar of events along the Trace at http://www.scenictrace.com/. There are some mighty fine things happening along the Trace and the Civil War 150th Commemoration is very much a part of it.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/OgygWi1r2iY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    See you on the highway. You too, Jim.

    Brent
    #13
  14. sonicsix

    sonicsix Ruckus Rider

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    Thanks for the ride report. The wife and I will be taking our Can Am Spyder RT-S on the Natchez Trace Parkway this summer. We plan ro go on in to Natchez, MS and ride the whole thing up to Nashville, taking 2 or 3 days to do it. We like to stop and look at everything we see so we need extra time, LOL.
    #14
  15. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    The great thing about the trace is all the history and interesting stops. Do your homework and read ahead before you go and you'll enjoy it more. Just remember to take it slow and enjoy the stops.
    #15
  16. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    We made our way back south after a great dinner and the ruins tour to Natchez State Park. The ranger station was closed and we got the last site that night. There are several options at the park. Everything from primitive camping to RV sites with electric hook ups and bathrooms with showers. There are also cabins for rent.
    We set up camp at an RV site since Dennis needed power for his laptop and we needed to charge the phones.

    Dennis was working on his site http://www.motorcycle-maps.us

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    We camped on a concrete pad but the Thermarest pad made it comfortable.

    We got up the next morning and made our way back to the ranger station to pay for the site and get advice for a good breakfast stop. I always ask the locals for suggestions and prefer locally owned and operated restaurants. I have rarely been disappointed doing this. This place was o exception.

    More on that later...
    #16
  17. Honkey Cat

    Honkey Cat Tailights Fade!

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    Thanks for thr report
    #17
  18. aldntn

    aldntn Vgo

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    Mississippi tamale: a great experience
    #18
  19. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    We didn't eat BBQ for breakfast, but I bet this place has some good breakfast. We got there just after 9 AM, starting our first day on the Trace at a slow pace. The gal at the front counter said they stopped serving breakfast, but the owner quickly stepped up and said he would be happy to cook anything we wanted. He even put on a fresh pot of coffe and joined us during breakfast for some great conversation. I love these locally owned restaurants so much better than chains. When would McDonald's ever cook breakfast for you after they stopped serving it?

    If you're in town, check out Big Momma's.

    http://bigmommasbbq.com/
    #19
  20. UtahJim

    UtahJim Been here awhile

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    After two easy days riding to Natchez we finally hit the trace. During out stay at the Natchez Trace State Park we discussed some places we might want to see along the way. Having completed my one and only mandatory stop at Mr D's, I really didn't care where we went or where we stopped, although I did have a few places in mind I wanted to see. We were not even 100% sure where we were going to stay that night.

    So, after a really good breakfast and some great conversation, we hit the road about 10:00 AM. The owner of Big Momma's warned us about two things along the trace. The first being the deer that come at when the sun starts going down and the second being the federal revenue collectors and I am not talking about the IRS. Since the Trace is a National Park the speeding tickets carry a federal fine. Not cheap. With that in mind, we settled into "The Trace Pace".

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    That's where it all started for us. Mile zero of the trace. Just a few more to go, but we were not in a huge hurry.
    #20