My good Illinois friend Josh and I started communicating several months ago regarding a ride. We’ve traveled together on the motorcycles quite a bit over the years, and I always look forward to spending time with him adventuring on the road. This timing for his Spring Break from the school where he teaches/administers seemed just about right. He was planning to head south away from the cold and was nice enough to detour toward Louisiana to see me and share some miles and smiles. The weather cooperated, so we decided to go camping in Mississippi. My good friend MikeP joined us for the adventure. We ate well, drank well, nobody got hurt, and we had a ton of laughs. It was a blast as I knew it would be. I hope you enjoy the pics. Josh arrived at my house about 8 pm on Wednesday evening to an open stable and a stablemate for the evening. My wife and I took Josh to a local restaurant we like. I ordered a medley of local favorites and we ate it family style. Josh like chargrilled oysters – my daughter likes the recipe here. After dinner, it was back to my house for some spirit and conversation. This rum is makes for a delicious after dinner sipsie. Day 2: Lafayette to Natchez State Park, approximately 200 miles. Last night, we discussed possibilities for the weekend. We could have based at my house and just made loop rides around here, but the weather forecast was decent and I felt like camping. Going even a few hours north puts Josh closer to home anyway, so that sealed the deal. But first, coffee/tea and breakfast. I was texting and talking to my good friend MikeP, and he decided to take the rest of the week off and join us. Josh and Mike know each other too. Looks like it’s going to be a nice day! We checked our Rok straps twice and set sail for adventure. It sure is good to be with you again, my friend. Looking quite well, my Cajun buddy! Now this is how we roll: There are no plans. No commitments, no reservations, or anything of the sort. The only “guide” for this weekend is that we are going to ride places and eat things. I’m leading this excursion and I’m making it up as I go. So far, so good! Spring is in the air and the green is nice. We got to Simmesport and my camera crapped the bucket. From here on out, it’s going to be cell phone pics. This is a good place for lunch. The food is consistent and tasty. Shrimp salads all around – good healthy lunch for the crew. After lunch, we zipped around the Three Rivers Wildlife Management area – here’s a link to some good map views of the region: http://www.apexmappingsolutions.com/three_riv.html I led us on some desolate and curvy roads in the floodplains of the Mississipp, Atchafalaya, and Red Rivers, where these 3 waterways meet. The water level from Winter/Spring rains is quite high, and we thought Josh would enjoy seeing this. Mike was born and raised in this area, and he explained how the hydrology of this place works. Two thirds of the United States drains and flows through this region. We ride up the levee to Vidalia and then cross the Old Man River into Natchez, where we stopped at a place I like for just 1 beer. It’s a nice place to sit down and shoot the bull a while. We picked up some supplies and rode about 15 miles north to Natchez State Park. There are two campgrounds at this park, and we picked the one that doesn’t attract all of the RVs. We had the whole place to ourselves. After the tents were setup, then we got to work on fire wood. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Samuri Joshua! Then it was Happy Hour. MikeP brought a nice cognac for sipping. And of course no Happy Hour would be worth a crap without Horse Divers!! I got inspired and decide to do a Facebook video: This is a nice place to go moto-camping. Josh wanted to cook, and I wasn’t in any position to be near things with heat and/or sharp edges, so I deferred to his expertise. Josh has this neat perforated skillet that is great for grilling. Coming along quite nicely, if I don’t say. I was allowed to make the salad. Well done, Chef Josh!!! Very well, indeed. After dinner, we sat around the campfire listening to music and telling lies. Life is pretty good. Day 3: Loop Ride up to Vicksburg and Back to Natchez, approximately 275 miles. I rested well in my tent and since the sun doesn’t rise until sometime near 6:45, the birds let me sleep in a while. As is the case at home, first order of business is coffee. I had to toast my bread with the meat fork – man, I’m really roughing it out here. We ran up to the park office to pay for the site. This is nice park. MikeP took the lead and we ran some back roads in, around, and heading generally north, stopping at Windsor Ruins. We found some flooded roadways with Mississippi River back water over the road, so we picked and poked our way around it and ended up in Vicksburg for lunch. This place had good reviews. Interesting idea for door handles. Kind of a cool place. The burgers were decent, but not as good as the reviews implied. After lunch, we crossed the river over into Louisiana and rode the floodplains south. There was a mixture of straight and curvy highways with absolutely no traffic and wide open views of the farmlands. I had never ridden these before, and the unknown kept me engaged in the ride. Midafternoon, we stopped at this store in the middle of nowhere. Don’t hate me ‘cause ya ain’t me….. We crossed the river back into Natchez about 4 pm just in time for happy hour. Josh is not much on beer, but I think Mike and I are influencing him. This one is mango infused and it was quite delicious. There’s nothing like a good beer after a great ride. We hung out at the patio for an hour, and then picked up some supplies and rode back to the campground. I posted this video on facebook – notice the B-roll in the background – cool! Now let me give you folks a little piece of time-tested advice. If you ever find yourself moto-camping with Josh, and he wants to cook you a steak, please ….. PLEASE do NOT object. Just grab a cold brew or your favorite beverage, find your camp chair, and get the heck out of his way. Of course, I’ve known this little snippet of wonderful knowledge for a while. But now you too can benefit from Pants’ experience. If I’m lying, I’m dying….. After dinner, we made a nice fire and sat around sipping on some fire water and telling lies. Life is pretty dog gone good, my friends. Day 3: Natchez State Park to Lafayette, LA, about 200 miles. It was kind of warm last night, so I slept on top of the sleeping bag. None the less, I slept well and while Mike and I took our time with coffee and breakfast, Josh packed up and loaded his bike. He’s got a long way to go to get to Illinois and he knows it’s going to be wet today for him. Regardless, he mounted up and in short order, shook our hands and pointed his bike north. Mike and I wandered a little in the Natchez area looking for some new roads to connect dots to for future rides. We found some, but most eventually led to gravel or dirt, and that just doesn’t work well for a loaded sport touring motorcycle. We stopped for lunch in Woodville, MS, at a place we enjoy. Watching the radar, we knew the weather would be deteriorating, so the post-lunch ride home was more direct and taken in bigger chunks. Mike and I got home about 3:30 pm safe and sound. Josh would get home the next day, more tired, but safe and sound as well. The concept of Spring Break is familiar to all of us. We can remember and relate to being young “adults” (using that term generically) at the beach or somewhere similar ripping it up and being the hooligans that we were. But for this rider, Spring Break has come to mean something different. It’s a time for the gathering of riders. A time for the northerners to blow the cobwebs off the exhaust cans and turn the horses loose. A time to enjoy the back roads, the scenic byways, the paths less traveled. A time to pitch the tent and sit by a camp fire. A time to cook and share a meal with each other. The timing of this is not coincidental. With the coming of Spring returns color to the landscape. The natural world awakes and encourages us to immerse ourselves within it. Moto-camping is a fantastic way to do that. For Pants, Spring Break has become a time to reflect on what is really important – enjoying my life and sharing it with others. Stay thirsty, my friends….