Saturday, September 16, 2006

Natchez Trace State Park, Mississippi

In Alexandria, Louisiana, I hooked up with Scott Brown and his fiance Kacy Rhymes ride Scott's Suzuki DZ-650 "V-Strom" to school, about an hour's ride from Alexandria. The day after their December 16th wedding, they plan to leave for Costa Rica.


At the Arkansas campground, I used the hook-up spigot and my collapsible bucket to wash the bike, then went over to the bath house to shower and wash clothes in the sink. Rolled them up to strap on the bike behind me. Hopefully, they'd air-dry as I drove.

I'm still grumbling over yesterday's experience. I just don't get it. Across this nation, towns have jake brake ordinances and post warnings at their town limits. Yet Harleys, most of which can easily exceed any jake brake in decibel output, are okay? The insensitivity and the selfishness is infuriating. But, hey! It's just an expression of our freedom, right?  "Bullshit."

On the road at 10:30. Cloudy, and the air felt "steamy". Averaged 60 to 70 mph over beautiful roads. The Arkansas police are considerably more visible than police in any previous state. Entering the state through the Ozarks definitely gives a great first impression. Southern Arkansas, with its “managed” forest resources is not nearly so appealing.

A common sight along the roads of Southern Arkansas and Northern Louisiana: pine forests being cut for lumber. Just as in Washington state, Weyerhauser has created great "agricultural forests" in this region, mono-cropping where diversity once existed. This is near Camden, Arkansas.

I saw the headlines of the Camden News today: citing a depressed housing market and over-production, the Dearborn Lumber Company is closing Beardon Lumber, their local pine mill for 60 days. Coincidentally, another of today's headlines: Ford plans to close two more plants, axing 10,000 jobs.

Crossed to Louisiana, and came to Ruston where I stopped in at the Lincoln Parish Library, a huge modern building with an amazing array of hi-tech resources and facilities. Curiously, I couldn’t connect to the internet. I asked a librarian if their internet service provider is down? No one at the library knew how to check. From their pay phone, I called Scott. We agreed that I'd call again upon reaching the outskirts of Alexandria.

For a possible internet connection, the librarian directed me across the street to Crescent City Coffee, a popular shop with students. Here, I was easily able to connect, and enjoy coffee and a cinnamon roll! Very good.

Reached Alexandria at 5:45 and called Scott from the local K-Mart. Scott Brown and his fiancé Kacy Rhymes arrived soon after, riding his one-month-old Suzuki V-Strom DZ650.

I stopped in Alexandria, Louisiana to meet Scott Brown, a fellow motorcyclist I met through my blog. Scott is currently studying hospitality with hopes of starting an eco-tourism company in Costa Rica.

We went to Gator’s, a sports bar near his house. Scott and I shared some beer, and I munched some chicken nuggets. Scott and Kacy will be married in December and plan to honeymoon in Costa Rica. He's thinking about leading eco-tourism trips in Costa Rica.

They shared some stories about the unique region in which they live. I need to try the “boudin”, they said. It’s a local dish made with a pig intestine stuffed with savory rice and beans.

I also got a little Louisiana language lesson (i.e. Nachitoches is pronouunced "natch-ee-toe-chee" and Cloutierville is "cloo-chee-ville".)

Scott and Kacy warned me about the ride over to Natchez. Their are many deer along that corridor, and they felt I should be on my way before dark. Heeding their warning, I wished them farewell and asked that they keep in touch. I'll be following their adventures as well!

I was on alert during the 60- or 70-mile twilight ride to Natchez. Happily, I didn't meet any deer along the way. Crossed the Mississippi into the city. Noted this park as a good base for a return visit to explore the city tomorrow.

As I was trying to navigate the highways through town, rain showers caught me, and I quickly grew concerned about finding a campsite. Required the staff and clientèle of a gas station convenience store to point me in the right direction.

The rain was brief and I easily found this campground less than 10 miles northeast of Natchez.

350 miles today.

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