4 friends, 4 states, 3 park rangers & 1 Natchez Trace Pky

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BlueLghtning, May 7, 2007.

  1. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

    Joined:
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    Day 1

    This was the Dbl K world tour to Nashville. Most of the time in the past, these trips usually follow the format to ride out on Saturday on all back roads, find a place to stay, eat some good food while we all enjoy the company of friends, and then ride back on Sunday. When this trip started to materialize, the idea was thrown in to just slab it to Nashville Friday night, and then run the Natchez Trace Parkway that goes 445 miles from just outside Nashville, to Natchez Mississippi. This sounded like a good idea and gives us all day Saturday to enjoy riding what looked like a nice road with sweeping curves through 3 different states. When we got to Natchez, Mississippi, we could find a place to stay and then have a nice ride back home Sunday.

    A map of the Parkway
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    Leading up to the trip, it was calling for rain Friday night and Saturday, but the 4 of us stuck to our guns and the trip.

    I got home from work on Friday afternoon and pretty much had the bike packed to go except for a few things. The rain was holding out and it looked it would wait until about Chattanooga before we hit it.

    Here I am ready to go.
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    I had the bike outfitted with all the necessities! Music (multiple sources), GPS (x2), and a way to listen to all that together! LOL. Since we would probably be hitting rain, I had to make some home made rain covers for the MIO and XM that aren't waterproof. LOL
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    2 Ipods, cell phone and XM remote control in the tank bag. Also had the Mix-it where all the audio sources were being pumped into.
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    Since we were all on different sides of Atlanta, our plans were to meet up at the BP off of Barrett Pky at 8pm. In attendance was Dbl K on his FJR1300, Jamie on his Triumph Sprint ST, PandoraTracy (Drew) on his Vstrom 650, and myself on my Vstrom 650.

    Some shots as I was on my way to meet the group.
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    I got to the gas station and Jamie was already there. Dbl K and PandoraTracy pulled in not too far behind. Jamie said it looked like the rain would be hitting around Chattanooga, so everyone put on their rain gear.

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    We headed up I-75 to Chattanooga, and then got on I-24 over towards Nashville. This was my first time going over Monteagle on I-24 a bike. It's a fun mountain road and I was looking forward to it. I know the truckers have to hate this little part of interstate as it climbs very fast and has numerous sharp curves along the way, but that makes it fun on a bike. I followed Dbl K up it and was really pushing my 650 to keep up with the FJR going up hill. At one point the GPS said we were climbing at a rate of 350 ft/min. It was pretty much dry as we went over the mountain.

    So far in our trip, we had been pretty lucky with the rain and had just hit very minor brief sprinkles of rain. About an hour outside Nashville, my gas was getting low and it was starting to rain a bit harder at times, so I decided to pull over and fuel up and give us a break.

    At the gas station about an hour from Nashville.
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    We left the gas station and rode the next hour to Nashville without incident at about 12:30am. We found our hotel and got our bikes unloaded. At that point, we were all hungry, so grabbed a bite at the local Waffle house and then and settled in for the night.



    .....con't
    #1
  2. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

    Joined:
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    Day 2

    We got up to a nice morning with the sun shining. The weather channel said all the precip was going to be north of us, so it looked like a nice warm day heading south. We headed back across the parking lot to the Waffle House for some breakfast, and then went back to the hotel to get packed up.

    We had found some nice dedicated parking spots for our bikes the night before. With the poles there, we didn’t have to worry about some crazy cager running over our bikes. LOL. While we were in the office the night before, some dude was complaining to the front desk person that they could not park directly in front of their room (Rm#130) and they needed to ask the people whose car was right in front of his room to move! :eek: A security guard was trying to diffuse that situation. I hope he had luck, but that guy needed a reality check.

    The next morning getting ready to leave
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    Drew going back to find his key
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    We left the hotel and had about a 15 minute ride to the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Our route took us through some really nice neighborhoods in Nashville!

    Here is the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway – Map

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    Drew and I exchanging camera shots
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    Alright, time to go ride this parkway!
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    The first 20 minutes of the parkway started off awesome and I was thinking we were in for a great ride.

    Video of the first part of the parkway
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    I think Drew is pushing Jamie at this point! LOL (Dbl K is bringing up the rear)
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    So, the good curves last for about 20 minutes and then it starts to straighten out a bit with just very gentle curves here and there. I had already noticed the frequent speed limit signs and that it was radar enforced.

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    I figured we could travel about 60-65 and just take a nice easy pace that wouldn't get us in trouble. I settled into a real nice comfortable pace where I felt that we weren't pushing to really attract too much attention and just sat back enjoying the scenery and the road. Jamie and Drew weren't too far behind and Dbl K was lagging back a ways. About 20 minutes later though, a white crown vic coming at us suddenly gave me that lump in the throat feeling when I saw him breaking hard and flipping his lights! Busted! I glanced down at the GPS and it read 66mph. The 3 of us pulled over right away as the cop pulled a U-turn. Dbl K came around the bend as the cop was pulling in behind us.

    Don't you hate this look
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    The officer was very polite as he asked us for or licenses, where we were going, etc. He said he clocked us at 67 in a 50. (Oops, I guess we were going a bit faster then I was trying to keep us, but still not bad). He was actually fellow rider himself riding a BMW GS1200. Every spring, he takes a ride to Natchez and had already completed his ride a few weeks earlier. Although Dbl K was with us in the group, the officer said he was far enough back that he wasn't bothering him. He kind of chuckled as he said the fastest bike in the group is bringing up the rear. (Dbl K was having a hard time himself holding his chuckles in as ironically he's the speed demon of the group, but this was his lucky day). As we talked to the officer more, I was thinking just maybe we might get out of this with a warning since the officer was pretty relaxed about everything just chatting it up with us. He went back to his car and then called us up one at a time and I was first. He started cracking a few jokes with me, even making a comment that he was surprised the Vstrom 650 was enough to haul me around. I piped back with that it was good enough to get me to Alaska last year. He asked if that's where I got the crash damage from (busting on me again laughing). I had to say that that incident happened on the track as I was track coaching and not on the street. That actually seemed to really intrigue him as he was looking over some paper work in his car and filling out my ticket. As I was standing there, it became obvious he was filling out a ticket and not a warning, so I guess we weren't getting out of this one. I saw him write down the $75 fine and then some small print on the ticket that I couldn't read and then the final total of $100. Hmm, i guess that wasn't too bad. He said he'd go over everything with the 3 of us and to send the next guy up.

    After it was all said and done, 3 of us got $100 fine for 67 in a 50. He made a point several times to let us know there was a tolerance that they would let slide, but we needed to keep it closer to 50.

    Me having my talk with the officer (pic by Drew)
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    Dbl K can hardly contain himself sitting there watching the 3 of us with our tails between our legs.
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    Obligatory shot with the officer and all 3 of us holding our rewards.
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    I'm sure we were all hoping not to get a ticket at all, but after getting home and researching it some more, the park rangers have the authority to fine you $100 for every MPH over the speed limit you are! :eek:. Our tickets could have very well been $1700 tickets with probably mandatory court dates. I'd say we got off fairly easy knowing that info. For me, my last ticket was in 1995, so I've had a nice 12 year clean streak.

    We continued on down the parkway at an even slower pace hovering right around 50-55mph.
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    Here is the sign for Jackson Falls. I guess we should have stopped to enjoy it, but at this point we just kept driving
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    After a while, I didn't feel like leading anymore, so let the group pass me as I retired to the rear of the pack.
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    A pretty neat bridge you cross over. At this point Dbl K actually stepped up to the lead.
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    Video going over the bridge
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    We continued on down the parkway.
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    You hit the corner of Alabama for a little bit
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    And then not too much further down, you enter Mississippi
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    This was one of the few places we stopped to take a break.
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    At this point, we were going through a lot of farm land and it straightened out a pretty good bit.
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    Just another one of the many signs along the way
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    My collection of wires and gadgets on the bike. LOL. I gave up on the XM player as it was coming loose from the cradle and I didn't want to loose it.
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    Overall, the parkway is a nice flowing road with gentle sweeping curves.
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    At this point, we had been maintaining a very respectable 55mph along the parkway. I'm in the rear of the pack and we are pretty spaced out, in fact quite a bit more then earlier in the day. The next thing you know, I see another white crown vic coming towards us and he lights us up! (My first thoughts are no, it can't be happening. We aren't getting stopped again on this same damn road). I look down an the GPS and I'm doing 55mph on the nose. As it turns out, he was just giving us a flash and didn't turn around. However, not even 5 minutes later, we spot another park ranger that was making a b-line for the entrance ramp to the parkway and sure enough pulled out right behind me. He proceeded to follow us for 20+ miles. He would back off, almost out of sight and probably in hopes that we would speed up, and then gun it to catch up to us). Keep in mind while he is following us, we witnessed several cars that passed the other direction that looked to be cruising well over the 50mph, but the cop never blinked an eye at them. He had his target set on us. This little game seemed to go on forever, before he finally turned into a pull out spot. After he pulled off, we stopped to chat down the road. At this point it's a universal vote to get off the parkway. We've had encounters with 3 park rangers and no one wants another ticket. It's been nice, but we've all had enough. We make plans to go to Tupelo, MS and figure out our next leg from there.

    Here is the cop car following us. I was trying to keep the camera hidden, so it didn't turn out that well.

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    We stop for lunch at a Chick-fil-A in Tupelo. We discussed our options and threw out possibly heading back North to Memphis for the evening and then over the state line just to add another state to the trip. We threw out a few more ideas, like heading south to Pensacola, but the final vote came to be that we wanted to head more back towards home to make Sunday an easy ride and maybe some hopes of riding some decent roads. We finally decided on Huntsville, AL as I knew some good roads up in the NE corner of AL.

    Leaving the Chick-fil-A
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    Oh yeah, at this point I want to give a big thanks to Dbl K. I had been dieing in my full suit and 80+ degrees we were riding in. I really don't like riding without anything on my arms, so he volunteered his mesh jacket to me so I could pack my suit away and needless to say he ended up with one heck of a farmers tan! :crackup:
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    We made our way towards Huntsville just taking what ever roads we found on the GPS that took us in the right direction.

    Back into Alabama
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    Jamie doing the shocker I believe
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    Overhead shot
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    Other shoulder shot. (I'm getting pretty good at this camera stuff on the bike! LOL
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    Let me sit back and get real comfy! Yes, that is my foot up on my handle bar!
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    Jamie getting a good laugh at me!
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    We found a hotel in Huntsville with plenty of day light left. We had only covered a little over 300 miles for the day, but we were all exhausted.
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    We all welcomed a fresh shower from being sweaty and hot all day and then made it over to a Olive Garden for dinner.


    ........con't
    #2
  3. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

    Joined:
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    Day 3

    We got up Sunday morning to overcast and foggy skies. It had stayed fairly warm the night before with temps already in the 70's. We headed out of Huntsville heading towards Desota State Park and Little River Canyon in NE Alabama. This is all near the Ft Payne area. I had been there a few years earlier and really enjoyed it.

    Drew saying my shot is good!
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    Another cool bridge
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    Uh, does this bridge have some support beam issues? :crackup:
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    Hmm, looks good behind me!
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    Uh oh, not looking good behind me now!
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    We stopped for a quick break and to grab a snack since we had skipped breakfast.
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    Along this stretch of the trip, I passed over 25k on my strom!
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    The other Etrex got relocated up to the dash since I had put the XM away and it was easier to see it up there.
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    We got to DeSoto State park with some awesome views of the canyon below.
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    Dbl K checking out the obvious. It's a long way down there!
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    Jamie confirms
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    At this point, Dbl K feels he's closer to God having just had the fear scared out of him from looking over the edge!
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    Drew and I enjoyed some of the nice twisties in this park
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    Check out the rock and the tree you go right past in the middle of the road.
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    There is a really nice water fall in Little River Canyon
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    We ended up finding a path that got us closer to the falls, but my camera batteries decided they had had enough.

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    Drew got some better shots, so I'm going to borrow his pics for the rest of the report.
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    Looking down the canyon
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    We had a nice ride through DeSoto Park and down Little River Canyon without incident. I did lead the group down some back roads that eventually turned to gravel. I got us off that pretty quick, but it put us on the wrong side of Lake Weiss. By this time, Jamie was past hungry, and I was getting there myself, so we finally found a subway to eat at in Leesburg, AL. From that point, we all had different routes to get home, so we broke off. I put the GPS on shortest route with no highways which always gives me some interesting roads to hit. I made it home at about 5pm with just shy of 900 miles for the weekend!

    Even with the couple glitches, it was a great trip!



    .........End
    #3
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
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    That NTP looks like a nice relaxing cruise. Lots of great pix. Looks like you guys had a great time. Sorry about the ticket . . .
    #4
  5. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Yeah, it's definitely a nice cruise, you just have to keep your speed in check. The cool thing is there is no comercial traffic allowed, no intersecting roads (just on and off ramps), and light traffic while we were there.

    The ticket is life. It's been 12 years since my last one, so not a big deal. You play you pay. :evil
    #5
  6. DWalt

    DWalt **** The Beans....

    Joined:
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    Location:
    At the Dew Drop Inn.
    The NTP is nice for about 50 miles, then it gets boring! The last 50 miles of it looks just like the first 50 miles of it. The Rangers are mean, and the MHP patrols it too.

    Now if you could run it at 80+.....


    PS. Next time, check the "Tent Space" thread. :baldy I live right at the end of the NTP, and had y'all made it this far, could have shown y'all some great, secret backroads, put yall up in the bunkhouse and made a big party out of it. :freaky :freaky
    #6
  7. Knucklehead

    Knucklehead Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
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    668
    Location:
    Jackson, MS
    I live 10 minutes from the NTP in Madison Mississippi. If you would have made it this far I know a great twisty road right off of the Trace at Raymond that would put you right into Port Gibson. There are some great places to explore around the Natchez area.

    I really hate you guys turned around, but the Rangers are indeed tough on the trace.

    Team Redneck most likely knows about Old Port Gibson Road.
    #7
  8. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

    Joined:
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    nice ride down there - lots of bent signage and bridges though:rofl
    #8
  9. britman

    britman Britman

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
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    280
    Location:
    North metro Atlanta
    Hwy 140 north from Canton, cross I 75 to Armuchee<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 27 to Summerville<o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 48 to Menlo<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 157 to <o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 136 near Cloudland Canyon towards Trenton<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 11 / 58 <o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy White Oak Gap Rd<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 301 to CROSS AL state line becomes Hwy 90 / 73<o:p></o:p>
    TL CR262<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 93 to CROSS TN state line to S. Pittsburg becomes Hwy 422<o:p></o:p>
    Cross Hwy 72<o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 156 <o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 156 N Cedar Ave<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 156 2<SUP>nd</SUP> St.<o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 64 to Sewanee, Winchester<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy Alt 41 in Winchester to Tullahoma, Shelbyville, College Grove CROSS 840<o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 96 CROSS I 65 CROSS railroad <o:p></o:p>
    Immediately TL Saint Margin St.<o:p></o:p>
    TR Hwy 431 <o:p></o:p>
    TL Hwy 31 / 96 / 431 to Natchez Trace
    #9
  10. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Thats what we started to figure out is other then stopping and checking out the history, it really doesn't change from one end to the other and it was loosing our interest fast.

    I'm in the tent space thread myself, but I didn't thnk to check it before this tirp to see who was around. Thanks for the offer though. It probably would have been a big party with the other guys I was traveling with! :huh :1drink :freaky
    #10
  11. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    We almost kept going to Jackson as one guy wanted to it a casino or two in Miss, but on the course we were on, the only real way to get there was the NTP. :eek1
    #11
  12. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    I might check that out on another ride if I get back over that way.
    #12
  13. Trophy1298

    Trophy1298 Vicarious Cowboy

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    Aug 10, 2006
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    THE SOUTH
    The Trace is great for nice relaxing rides on spring and fall days. I live about 2 miles from the Trace in Clinton, MS. There are a bunch of great side trips, but it can get very boring especially at 55MPH. It is well patroled, and 5 MPH is the upper limit of what you can get away with (if caught).
    #13
  14. rluczak

    rluczak Bemused

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
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    218
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Nice report . . . I was planning a trip down the Trace for this very week but work got in the way and I'll have to put it off 'til the Fall. Thanks for the pics, looking fwd to the ride!
    #14
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
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    Fantastic report and pics!! The Natchez Trace Pkwy is often overlooked but it's truly spectacular. Thanks for posting. :thumb
    #15
  16. Wandering Dane

    Wandering Dane We are the luckiest guys Supporter

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    Dittos on the nice report and on a scuttled planned ride for the Trace this week, back trouble got in my way!

    Thanks much.
    #16