Day 3: Monday, 10/6 – Tupelo, MS to Jackson, MS
Third day into our trip, and friend wind is still with us, blowing relentlessly. It had rained overnight, and was still sprinkling when we went down to breakfast. The weather forecast was pretty ominous: a front moving eastward bringing with it heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. The good news was that the southern boundary of the front was only 30 miles away, and beyond that the radar showed clear skies all the way to Jackson. Time for flexible planning once again.
The plan was to head into downtown Tupelo and visit the birthplace of “The King” of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Presley lived in Tupelo until age 13, when he and his family moved to Memphis, TN. This small park commemorates the man who sold more records than any artist on earth. We didn’t see it, but you can here.
Being a Monday morning, and rush hour in Tupelo, we decided to forgo the Presley house, and continue our journey south on the Trace to beat out the front. We were disappointed, but avoiding large amounts of water and becoming a moving lightning rod won out the decision process. Back on the Trace, it was time for another history lesson.
Bynum Mounds. These Indian burial mounds were built between BCE 100 and CE 100. The National Park Service excavated five of them in the late 1940’s. These two have been restored for public viewing.
This part of the Trace, between Tupelo and Jackson, really exemplifies the remoteness of the area. More time was spent on the bike than off on this 175 mile stretch, but the ride was beautiful. Finding something to eat, if you weren’t packing your own, could be tricky. There are no services on the Trace, and on this section, you would have to travel many miles off Trace to find something to eat. We were hungry. Thankfully, French Camp, an historic stand (rest stop) on the Old Trace, was a few miles down the road.
Louis LeFleur established a stand here in 1812. Today, French Camp Academy, an interdenominational school founded in 1822, caters to the needs of young people who come from broken homes. They also have bed and breakfast housing and a restaurant that serves lunch to Trace travelers. Lucky us!
The main cabin at French Camp, housing the cafe. Great food, great people!
Autumn scenes at French Camp
The second of the four Model T’s to arrive at French Camp
What a great meal at French Camp! The sun was now breaking through, and we were ready to motor southward once again. The next 50 miles or so were to be a wonderful cruise down the Parkway, enjoying the natural beauty that surrounded us. At this point, the Parkway has pretty much become a nearly straight ribbon of tarmac, which would drive anyone on a sportbike absolutely insane. But this road isn’t about speed, or technical twisties. It’s about immersing yourself in your surroundings, and this section of the Trace forces you to do that.
About 20 miles out of Jackson, we come to our final Parkway stop of the day. The beauty and uniqueness of this place just astounded us.
The natural beauty here is unparalleled. Here is a short slide show of this unique place.
As we exited the trail around Cypress Swamp, we heard a sound and smelled a noxious odor in the air that was becoming quite familiar:
We just can’t shake these guys! I sat around talking with the owners of these beautiful pieces of automotive history while Roo meditated by the swamp for awhile. As late afternoon closed in on us, we mounted the beaST and headed into Jackson to our hotel. Day two on the Trace had us immersed in natural beauty, meeting wonderful people, and sharing stories with other Trace travelers. Tomorrow will be our final day on the Trace as we make our way south to Natchez.
Next post: Day 4: Tuesday, 10/7 – Jackson, MS to Natchez, MS