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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Natchez Trace - Day Three - Trails End

I was feeling a little melancholy this morning, knowing it was our last day on the Trace. We left the campground and passed the farm with the imaginary animals - or should I say the "plaster of Paris" animals. I've seen deer statues in people's yards but several horse statues and a cow? That's a bit much!



At milepost 330.2 we stopped at Rock Spring. There is a 20 minute walk along Colbert Creek. We met a couple walking up the path. She said, "Don't worry, the five dogs are very friendly." At first I thought that she had five dogs herself, off leash, coming up the path. Then she added, "There's a mother and 4 pups down there. I really wanted to take a puppy!" I thought, "Oh no, not again!" She said that the dogs all looked healthy. I was happy/sad that we did not run into them as we walked along the creek. There were these neat stepping stones to get across the creek.




The creek was fresh and clean at this spot. But as we walked further around the curve, the water had pooled into an area, thanks to beavers building a damn. The smell was pretty rank. We saw a brown spotted/striped snake slithering in the water. Not sure if it was a water moccasin or a harmless brown water snake. In either case, it gave me the shivers. Not a fan of snakes!

We continued down the path and ran into an elderly couple, along with their daughter, who were from Wisconsin. The older woman really knew her wildflowers. She identified several to me while I took pictures and Jim took notes. This one is called Jacob's Ladder.



Here is a purple phlox:



This third one is called trillium. I thought it was interesting when I looked up some info on this. Another name for this is Stinking Benjamin because the flowers have the smell of rotting meat, and they are pollinated by flies! Who knew?



We have met some really nice people on the Trace. Fellow RVer's, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and car enthusiasts. Either we strike up a conversation or vice versa.

At one stop we found a thirsty bicyclist who asked us for water. Luckily I had put some bottles in the refrigerator earlier in the morning so we were able to give him a nice cold one. He was waiting for his group to join him. The group was driving/biking the whole Natchez Trace - he had to drive 2 days, but he's been biking for 300 miles including today.

At another stop we ran into a group of car enthusiasts. We didn't get a chance to talk to them, but I was able to snap a photo of some of their cars.



One woman really was into playing her role as you can see by this photo:




At mile post 404.7 is the Jackson Falls. Right off the bat we spotted this unusual bike in the parking lot.




I had to take a bunch of pictures of it, then found out who were the owners.



There were two trails available - one that was very steep, 900 feet, that went down to the falls. The other was, according to the sign, a "gentle" 1/4 mile trail that leads 300 feet (30 stories) high above Duck Pond. We were obviously misled about the "gentle" part. About a third of the way up my joints started speaking to me. About a half the way up I started answering them. Jim went on ahead to see how much further we had to go. I looked around and dug up a thick branch to use as a walking stick and began walking up the steep hill. Jim came back and didn't even ask where I got the walking stick - did he think I pulled it out of my butt or what? Finally the path leveled off for awhile and Jim volunteered to go on ahead to see what he could see. It turned out there really wasn't much to see - the trees were blocking the way! We turned around and headed back down the path. I was mumbling a few choice words under my breath. Somehow going down hill was a lot easier. Kind of like trying to stop a steamroller. We met a young couple charging up the hill. The woman was carrying a baby (maybe 15-20 lbs!) in a carrier that hung from the front of her. I don't think she was even breaking a sweat! The way I looked at it, I was climbing that hill as if I were the octoplet mom with 8 babies hanging off of me! Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little. I could lose about 3 babies weight! Anyhoo, I felt appropriately ashamed for about 2 seconds then continued down the hill. We ran into another more reasonable couple towards the bottom, who were already sweating. I smiled, told them it was a rough climb, and bequeathed my walking stick to them. My good deed for the day.

Did I mention the bugs around here? They are BIG down south. Especially their bumble bees. They sound like freakin' B-52 bombers when they fly by you, and they're almost as big! They would bounce off our large side mirrors on the truck (about 18 inches long). I'd hear, "Bing!" Every once in awhile one would bounce into the truck. They'd only be stunned momentarily. I heard a bing! felt something hit me in the chest, I let out a yelp and started freaking out. I looked at my feet and found what looked like a lighting bug on steroids! He was about 5 times the width of a normal size lighting bug. I had to be brave and kill him because Jim was driving. It was not pretty.

Sometimes Jim and I would get confused after we'd turn into one of the scenic areas. We'd pull out and couldn't remember if we were heading north or south. Because of our mistake and we had to turn around, we were able to have our lunch at a beautiful location - a nice picnic area overlooking Lake Pickwick. A cool breeze coming off the water blew the humidity away and the big bugs! This is the John Coffee Memorial Bridge over Lake Pickwick.



Our last stop on the Trace was at the Double Arch Bridge. We pulled off there so I could take pictures.



A car pulled up with a Hispanic girl all dressed up, along with her friends. I think they might have been celebrating her 15th birthday, or Mexican QuinceaƱera. I thought it was cute how she stood on the bridge and waved to the cars passing underneath.



There were so many motorcyclists on the Trace. It's a beautiful road for that purpose. Jim and I had just gotten back into the truck when I saw this couple getting ready to leave on their motorcycle. I quick snapped pictures from my seat, across Jim, through his window. I call this one "Tough Love". You'll see why.





Well, we did it. We drove all 440 miles of the Trace and enjoyed every minute of it. We think we might just come back down this way on our way to Arizona in the fall, but visit the outlying cities. All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and we'd recommend it to anyone. Thanks to our friends Norma and Larry for telling us about the Natchez Trace in the first place. Did you plan our next trip?

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