This is the story about a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed. No, no, that's not right. This is a story about a motorcycle who sometimes goes by the name of The Bird and a motorcycle rider who sometimes goes by the name of Jack. I will be narrating this story from the third person omniscient point of view. That means that I saw what happened, heard all that was said, and knew the thoughts of the characters, but I didn't actually take part in the incidents I will try to faithfully describe. The Bird is a 2013 Triumph Street Triple that Jack rescued from languishing on a showroom floor in January of 2015. He was a motorcycle who, for one reason or another, was found unattractive by everyone who had entered the motorcycle shop during the past two years. [Hey, hey, hey, Mr. Omniscient Narrator, you are way off base. I am the beans in this here chili. Jack is a Mr. Nobody special whom I felt sorry for. I allowed him to take me home with him. Let's get this right, right now. I am a Street Triple and that says it all. Jack is a poser who only acts like a motorcycle rider. I can scare the wits out of him anytime I want, but I always remain cool as a cucumber. Remember that.] That was The Bird who chimed in there. He does some trick with his ECU that allows him computer access. I can't prevent it. As for Jack, I do not think he will chime in. Jack says this trip was not epic and doesn't think it deserves a write up. I don't think we can expect him to participate. So let's get back to the story. Jack is an old, retired guy who is trying to develop an interior life so that he can just sit contentedly in the back yard and listen to the birds chirp, but when spring rolls around it is The Bird who does the chirping and Jack soon feels the wanderlust stirring and making an interior life distraction. Jack has been to all fifty states -- forty-eight by motorcycle and the other two by ship -- and he has been to forty-seven of those states on Triumph motorcycles. This year he decided to ride out to Arizona and make it forty-eight states by Triumph motorcycles. So that's what he and The Bird did. On day one, May 1st, they set off on the Interstate headed west. Fortunately, that didn't last long and pretty soon they were up into the mountains of North Carolina and then Tennessee. At the beginning of this post, I got sidetracked by a mountaineer named Jed. Well there was another Jed who was admonished with this sage advice, "Cold iron shackles and a ball and chain, listen to the whistle of the evening train, you know you bound to wind up dead, if you don't head back to Tennessee, Jed." Well our duo headed back and do you know what happened right off? That's right, our friends marked 50,000 miles together. [I did all the heavy lifting for this achievement.] The day wore on and threatened to become evening so Jack and The Bird called it a day and camped at Rock Creek Campground which is part of the Catoosa National Wildlife Management Area. The campground has about ten tent sites six miles up a winding road behind Wartburg, Tennessee. It's on the Emory River where Rock Creek intersects. Our friends heard a couple of trains in the distance, but other than that, only the sound of water bouncing off the rocks. The river and creek water are the only water in camp, so Jack used it for cooking and coffee, but brushed his teeth with water from his Hoser. In the morning, Jack told the GPS lady to take our friends onward and to avoid dirt roads. So she took them right out of camp, and instead of turning left ,and taking the same six mile winding paved road out of the woods, she insisted they turn right and go out on ten and a half miles of gravel road. All along the way, she further insisted they turn right or left where only woods would greet them. Jack kept hollering and asking if she was drunk, but her pleasant voice remained calm and insistent no matter. The Bird kept his composure and just kept spinning his wheels. [Yep, that what I do. I'd ride plum into a tree if that's where Jack steered me.] After a while, our buddies sucked it up again and returned to the Interstate. This time it was I-81 just before it joins I-40 which they rode through Knoxville and onto Nashville where they found the start of The Natchez Trace. The Trace is 444 miles of fifty mile an hour road with no stop signs and no traffic lights. It pretty much follows a trail, the Natchez Trace, of course, that predates the western invasion of this part of the world and runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, catching part of Alabama on the way. Out travelers found a National Park Service campground on the Trace in Tennessee and picked a spot that looked like it would not flood if it rained. To their delighted surprise, they found that all three of the National Park campgrounds on the Trace are free! The campground they found was the Meriwether Lewis campground and after making camp, Jack walked through the woods to the Meriwether Lewis memorial. There were obstacles on the trail. In fact there were a lot of fallen trees all along the Trace and one area that looked like a tornado had touched down for a spell. This tree required climbing over, not stepping over. There are about a hundred other grave markers in this field and they witness the heavy travel the Trace has seen. Jack and The Bird had a furry neighbor in the next campsite. The camps on the Natchez Trace were the only camps Jack and The Bird shared with motorcycle riders. In fact they saw very few motorcycles on their trip and talked with even fewer riders. The group that rode with this mutt were a friendly trio from Mississippi and when it commenced to rain that night Jack was not the only one to find that he had not chosen his campsite well. The ground is so wet from rain that there's just no room for more water. Whatever water falls on the ground, stays on the ground and since it rained about an inch that night -- Jack left his coffee cup out and that's what he found in it in the morning -- the floor of his tent looked like a water bed that wasn't water tight. Everything got wet. One of the motorcycle neighbors, a round fellow with a an extra, extra large Confederate Flag tee shirt got flooded as well and he was not nearly so stoic about it as Jack was. In the morning he figured he would just throw all his gear away. Since it was warm, Jack just figured his would dry out so he packed up and split. This is what the Natchez Trace looks like. What you don't see here, is that that there are a lot of turkeys along this route, more turkeys than Jack and The Bird see anywhere else they ride. The next campsite was in Mississippi and it wasn't swell. Jack spent two nights and a day holed up in that wet tent while the rain just kept a pouring down. It was 2:30 in the afternoon before the rain let up enough to leave the tent for a while and Jack went for another walk. First down to this pretty creek -- his source of water again -- and then along part of the old Trace. Where ever our buddies found the old Trace, it was well worn down into a little valley. After an hour and a half walk, Jack returned to camp, assured The Bird that he was sorry about the rain, and returned to the tent because the rain had returned to Mississippi. This was the other camp, Rocky Springs campground, where Jack and The Bird saw another motorcycle. The camp is named after a community called Rocky Springs that hung on for a hundred years but gave up when they became so infested with boll weevils that they just couldn't hang any more. The other motorcycle was a Triumph Scrambler that belonged to a young fellow who called his bike, Burro. He had a burro sticker on the tank and a license plate that said BURRO as well. They had just passed twenty-five thousand miles together. They were also wet. As to the weevils, quite some time ago, Jack's mother in law had a bad stroke and Jack, his wife, and their sons went to be with her. Jack's sister in law showed up and Jack doesn't care much for her. Jack was cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the boys while Jack's wife spent the days with her mother at the hospital. They were staying at the mother in law's house and Jack noticed there were weevils in the rice in the pantry, but, being a seaman, that was nothing to him. The boys were warned and Jack made rice for dinner when the sister in law showed up. The boys kept a close eye on their aunt as she ate the rice and asked what the little dark spots were in the rice. To their credit, neither son laughed, but Jack's wife scolded him later when she found out about the game. When the rain let up, Jack and The Bird hit the road and were glad they'd stayed in camp during the rain because the last time they rode together through Louisiana it was cold and rainy, this time is was just about as perfect as perfect gets. The road they were on turned out to be The Camino Real which is a road built by the Spanish and supposedly the oldest road in what is now the United States. Of course it's been repaved. In Texas, the speed limit went up to seventy-five and that's a lot faster than the Spanish ever thought it would be. An interesting note here: Jack did some figuring when they camped that night and noted that on the Natchez Trace, with a fifty mile and hour speed limit and no stops, they were able to cover about 350 miles at an average of 49 mph. The next day, they covered about 350 miles on roads with 55 to 75 mph speed limits and stops at 51 mph. So an average of 2 mph faster, but with more stress. Not a good trade off. Our pals spent the night in a campground in Davy Crockett National Forest near Ratcliff, Texas. They were the only campers in the tent area and the frogs in the lake behind them kept up quite a dialogue all night long. I know it was pleasant for Jack, but The Bird is inscrutable at times of rest. He just sits quietly, rain, shine, wind, or sun. The only evidence that he's still with the living is a little red LED that blinks every few seconds near the speedometer. I think it pacifies him like a thumb in the mouth of a toddler. I'll take a break here and see if I, or The Bird, can figure out a way to pick this narrative up later.