Carney, It's Me, Bud...'s me, Bud. I need to take a trip.

Oh, I don't know. Where do you want to go? Just need to take a trip, I guess. You know get off the dead butt and go for a few days and just mess around looking and riding.

No....I don't have any place in particular I want to go to. Jus' wanna go for a ride, you know.

OK.....maybe up the Natchez Trace? We've been talking about that little ride for awhile and maybe we just can go up the Trace to Nashville, turn around and come on back down to Natchez. Nice easy ride, 50 mph speed limit and a bunch of historical markers to read. When we get tired of going, we can drop off the Trace, find a place to eat or get a motel room and watch Judge Judy or Cops or sumpen or other.

You can take your K75 while your hack is in Fort Worth.

Well, maybe we can leave next week early depending on the weather. I don't feel like riding through weather fronts and such.

OK. I'll call you Friday and we can plan on leaving the first of the week.

Well that started it. I haven't been on a five or six day trip in a few months and the "gotta go summairs" had hit me big time. I go to Natchez to get tamales from Fat Momma's....about a 240 mile RT ride, now wanted to go for a few days and hence the phone call to my riding buddy, Carney.

You see, he is the one that takes a few months in the winter to head to Mexico in his big motorcoach and in the summer heads for the high mountains to spend a few of the hot months in the summer. AND he calls me and convinces me to go on up or down there to meet him and Becky. Last year it was down to Mexico on the Sea of Cortez at San Carlos and last summer it was up to the mountains in Colorado near Creed. That ride from south Louisiana to Tucson, AZ was a trip out of hell with rain, HIGH winds and COLD and the trip back from Tucson was another 1100 mile wet ride. But the trip to and from San Carlos from Tucson was great. And the trip up to Colorado and back wasn't that bad with the heat until I slowed down or stopped. Thunder storms.........

We decided to leave Sunday, but one thing and another along with weather delayed the "leave" day until the following Wednesday.

We met up in Vidalia, me going from Opelousas, LA and his leaving from Alexandria, LA. We crossed over the Mississippi River and went to Fat Momma's Tamales for the required half dozen tamales and hit the Natchez Trace up US 61 north of Natchez and started the easy ride on the 50 mph road.

Now, the Trace is like riding through a park: the road is a nice, smooth road through the piney woods with well manicured 100 yard cut through the country side. Light traffic, no trucks, everyone cruising along at 50 to 60 mph with no one in a hurry. Historical markers all over the place, picnic areas every few miles. On the whole 450+ miles, there is only one fuel stop/convenience store on the Trace itself, so we had to plan the stops to get off the Trace for fuel and food.

When I thought about the trip, I wondered if I would get bored with the 50-55 mph speeds, but it was so pleasant a ride through that long park, that soon I found the 55 mph with the gentle curves and hills was just the  right speed. We would stop every 30 or so miles and pull into one of the picnic areas, light up, drink water and watch the cars, motorcycles and bicycles glide easily along the Trace. Nice.

The first day we had a late start from Natchez after the tamales. We hit the Trace about 3PM. By 6 PM we decided to leave the Trace and get something to eat and find a place to spend the night, so we turned off the Trace at Koscuisko, MS. Within a mile, we were in town, found a motel and a restaurant and stopped for the night. Carney, a growing boy couldn't go much further on just a half dozen tamales, a Honey Bunn and water.

The next morning we got up, packed and went looking for a sit-down waitress served place to eat breakfast. Finally found one across the street from the courthouse and had breakfast. The lady there, being the cook-waitress-owner, told us that that was the only place in town that opened early and served breakfast AND they had real country ham, my favorite.

We cruised up the Trace, planning the fuel stops from the Trace map and Mississippi road map we had picked up in Natchez. At one fuel stop in northern Mississippi, we were sitting in the shade in front of the old store taking a break and drinking water when an old car pulled up to the pumps. A man and wife and two girls barely into their teens got out and walked into the store. Those two young girls with no makeup and plain clothes had to be the two most beautiful girls I have ever seen in my life. If I had been 50 years younger, I may have stayed there. Oh well......the road called.

 The second day's ride was as gentle and relaxing as the first. A most memorable thing happened. I was wearing light windbreaker because of the morning cool and I saw a yellow and red blur coming from the left and a tug on the windbreaker. I looked down and there was a beutiful bird in my jacket. I reached down and grabbed him with my hand and pulled off to the side of the road and showed it to Carney and then turned it loose and watched it fly to a tree and alight on a branch so I guess he was OK.

We rode out the day stopping for breaks and pit stops and made it into Nashville that night for a meal and restuarant food. We talked bout heading back home along the Trace and Carney mentioned he had a daughter living in Knoxville, so said we could head there before we turned around and came home. So the next morning, the weather report promised heavy rains west, south and east to Knoxville. We decided to stay another day and let the front come on through. I was not willing to ride through or along a weather front to make miles.

So we sat around all day watching showers and one heavy storm come through. It cleared up too late to make any time to head for Knoxville so we stayed. Got up the next morning and after a sitdown waitress served meal, we headed out on I-40 east to Knoxville. After two nice gentle days of great smooth roads with little traffic at 55 mph, I had to adjust to heavy big truck traffic at 6 5-70 mph on bumpy roads. I really didn't like it too much and remembered why I don't like those slabs.

Into Knoxville and met up with Carney's daughter and went out to a Yuppy high profile hamburger joint in an old warehouse with 100 kinds of bottled beer from all over the world with prices ranging from $2.50/bottle to $8.00/bottle. The hamburger, wildly overpriced (and not that good) and a bottle of O'Doul's for me completed the meal and we put it down for the night.

The next morning we decided to hit the slab down to Meridian, Ms where we found a Patel motel (overpriced) and shut it down after finding a Cracker Barrel restaurant for dinner. Up the next morning, back to the Cracker Barrel for breakfast and on to Jackson, MS on the slab. Again, since leaving Knoxville, it was heavy truck and auto traffic at 65+mph. Not for a relaxing ride for me. I was happy to get back on the Trace west of Jackson and get back to a nice relaxing ride down to Natchez, MS for another half dozen of Fat Momma's tamales. We crossed over to Vidalia, LA and parted: he headed west to Alexandria and I headed south along the rivers to Krotz Springs, LA and 5 miles to the Camp.

I pulled the rig under the carport, unloaded and went into the house, let the dog in and told him and the cat hello, made myself a cup of Cajun chicory coffee, put on an album of the great Jimmy Smith and his B2 organ and came down off the ride. Felt right again after the long dry period of no good long rides. Whereas, before the ride, the house felt like it was trapping me, now it felt good to be here. I felt welcomed.

I enjoyed the ride on the Trace. At first, it felt like it dragged until I settled down and got into synch with it and then it was nice........

If anyone decided to try that ride, I would recommend they take it realizing that it takes a while to slow down mentally and getting into sync with the road. Stop and read the signs, take those little "sitdowns" at the historical markers and enjoy the slow paced traffic. After a few hours on the Trace, you'll not like the slabs.

Next time I need a break, I think I'll do it again.

budamy aka swampbuggy