Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Natchez Trace Tour

Just back from scouting our new, improved tour in Mississippi. We've done a Natchez Trace tour in the past, but that was years ago, and before the National Park Service finally completed the entire parkway. Now, all 450 miles of it is free for us to bike on. No commercial traffic, strict enforcement of the 50mph speed limit and no services along the entire historic route. It's truly beautiful.

I started keeping a list of the wildlife I saw: turkeys, bobcat, deer and armadillo. Even a lone burro on the side of the road. Now how southern is that? A northern girl like me -- I found myself falling in love with the South.

The Trace is so full of history, Choctaw Indian mounds, relics of slavery, battlefields of the civil war. It's all there and it's fascinating. And I'm someone who regularly slept through high school history classes. We even get off the Trace to visit the National Military Park in Vicksburg. It was a cold, dreary day when we visited, and it seemed fitting. A fitting tribute to the 20,000 men who died in the war in that area. I felt I finally understood this important piece of American history.

And then there's the South of today. We stopped at a small country store to make sure we were on the right road. A bag of potato chips was 30 cents. 30 cents! Where else can you buy anything for 30 cents? We were quickly questioned - we certainly weren't from there. What were we doing? Where were we going? Where were we from? Just then, a rancher walked in, cowboy hat and all. He knew everyone but us and began filling them in on the status of his sick calf. A city girl like me. I can't wait to go back on my bike - I'll be leading the tour this November. I'm psyched!