Sunday, July 6, 2008

Oh Bouy, What a Day! Where is the Lighthouse?

We had a minimalist breakfast at the Belmont Hotel. I actually was disappointed with my decision for this stop but we did experience small town Mississippi.

Some people were hesitant to engage in much conversation while others couldn't seem to stop talking. The kids that were running the Subway where we hung out last night were of the latter variety. At the gas station this morning, we met another such couple. They were locals and were also on a motorcycle. They told us the ride to Tupelo on Natchez Trace was the prettiest part of the Trace. I'm sure they were somewhat biased but it was indeed very pretty.

When we stopped at a Indian Burial Mound site, I asked a park ranger about the condition of the road and she assured me it was good all the way to the Natchez Trace Headquarters and Visitors Center in Tupelo. So back on the Trace and the road was good; newly paved and smooth right up to the Visitors Center. There we watched a short video on the history of the Trace and viewed the exhibits. There were two park rangers; both college kids. We spent maybe a half an hour talking with them. When David said something about accents, the girl said (in a full southern drawl), "I don't have an accent but my mama does." We asked the rangers about the repaving of the Trace and the girl said she was from Houston MS and drove the Trace to work every day and "it isn't very bad." I told her we were on bikes and it had to be not bad at all. She insisted it wasn't. I also mentioned that Houston was a scheduled gas stop for us and then David asked if there were any good places to eat. She drew us a map. Unfortunately, not to scale and her estimate of mileage was way off. When we got to Houston (over very GOOD pavement), we couldn't find the recommended restaurant and ended up way past the city limits looking for it. We turned around and went back into town where we finally found it - closed. McDonald's was our lunch choice today. We then gassed up the bikes and got back on the Trace.

This was the first time for me to lead as David had been leading to keep our speed under control. Not too long after we returned to the Trace, the skies opened up - BIG time. (Later that night on the news we heard "thunderstorms and blinding rain with some areas getting three inches or more in two hours; other areas getting five inches.") The last thing I heard David say was "Don't stop too fast, I don't want to run into you." I put on my four-way flashers and slowed down to find a turn off. There were no turn offs to be had. Before the deluge, there where "Historical Markers" every few miles. Now we couldn't find one! After several miles, I realize I haven't heard from David in a while. I started calling for him on the radio; no response. I finally find a place to pull over and continue to call. In the meantime, David is trying to contact me. He has even told a couple on a motorcycle to be on the lookout for me. I start to panic. David starts to panic. We both are driving up and down the Trace calling over the radio to each other, neither one of us can hear the other, and (YIKES) even looking in ditches. I finally find another turn off and pull over. In just a matter of minutes, I see David coming towards me and he takes the same turn off but (picture it like exit ramps) the other part of the exit triangle. I start calling for him and honking my horn. I assume he hears me and is turning around to join me. In the meantime, I hear him calling me. I answer but it is obvious he can't hear me. So I wait for him to get turned around, still assuming he saw me and that is why he took the exit. When David got off his bike at the end of the ramp, for some reason, he turned on his speakers rather than his headset and that is the first time he was able to hear me. We got together at the bottom of that ramp and hugged and kissed, sopping wet, rain still beating down on us. We had been separated for at least 45 minutes, maybe an hour, and we were just so so very happy to see each other again. We waited out the rain for a little longer and then started back out. The rain was still coming down but not so hard we couldn't see. About 20 miles later, we pulled off and dried off a little and then continued on to our hotel.

We were still really wet when we got here to Kosciusko MS. The hotel here is not fancy but they are the nicest people. We have real internet and a decent, although outside, pool where we took a swim - that after swimming down the Trace just a few hours earlier. The desk clerk is very thoughtful; she even suggested we pull our bikes up onto the sidewalk and under the overhangs just in case it starts to rain during the night.

Tomorrow we are hoping for less adventure as we finish the Trace in Natchez MS.

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