Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Last time I'd been on the Natchez Trace Parkway was on my first bike, a KZ750 twin, on my first two-wheeled roadtrip. It was in late March and I got drenched and cold, and had to hole up in a motel for a day due to an incessant deluge. I ended up 24 hours AWOL reporting to Ft. Polk Louisiana to finish out my tour, but a kindly Duty Sargent let me slide when I signed in. Different situation now, just meandering south and west with no schedule nipping at my heels.
The Trace is an awesome drive or ride. Beautiful, smooth road with gentle, wooded curves, ranging from hardwoods to open prairie grass to a canopy of conifers. The sun finally showed itself from behind Winter's dreary clouds, and my spirits soared after some shitty conditions. I hope not to wait thirty-five years to revisit this stretch. Kind of freaky to see nothing but a natural setting, no houses, businesses or billboards, and was surprised to see so many feral dogs patrolling the sides of the road. The pickings must be pretty good on The Trace, the dogs were dirty, but looked well-fed. I stopped once to check one out, Sputnik let out a low growl and the hair stood up on her back as her wilder relative stared back with furtive hateful eyes, before bolting back into the woods.

Came upon a portion of The Trace that looked like the Argonne Forest after a WWI artillery battle. Found out later it was the aftermath of a tornado in 2006. Must have been a mean one because this stretch went on for several miles.

I don't know who Jeff Busby was, but he was definitely a good old boy, because The Jeff Busby Park in central Mississippi is beautiful and you can camp there free for up to fourteen days! Sputnik and I  had the whole place to ourselves as we were the only residents this night. It caused me to contemplate a life spent camping in Wal-Mart parking lots and places like this, only having to come up with fuel and food money.
 The only drawback was no electricity and it was cold as hell that night. I shivered with little sleep, finally relented and turned on the camper's heater. Next morning both truck and camper's batteries were dead. I was screwed until an old southern boy showed up to swamp out the restroom. I approached him in his old truck and saw an old cracked and corroded set of jumper cables in the bed. I asked him if he'd kindly give me a jump me, and he said he would after he finished his duties. We hooked up and after a while the old microtruck fired up. I thanked him profusely, handed him a ten, and was back on the road. Lesson learned: Next time unhook the trailer plug and run down the camper's only. Or, get a generator.

Sputnik was psyched to be out of the infernal passenger seat and able to run off leash, chasing squirrels and racing me down the hills on my badass, outlaw non-motorbike.


  1. Travel's with Sputnik is looking good..Really makes me happy, to see an old stomping ground relatively unchanged from the memories of earlier times.Too many times disappointment waits...good to see yours are panning out unscathed. Have never traveled those roads myself, thanks for sharing the journey. The Tornado damaged areas look spooky. 'Keep on truckin' mama...truck my blues away...'

    1. It's all looking so much more enjoyable than last year's soakfest buddy . . . I'm with Laz, spooky indeed, especially referenced with the forest of Argonne . . . [play suitably creepy theme muzak]

    2. Yeah Larry, not enough places like this east of the Mississippi. I couldn't help thinking how cool it would be if it were a dirt track for dual-sport travel, with only an occasional gas and supply depot and campgrounds. But, gotta' go out west for that.

      Nice link Whitey. I was thinking, forest fire, but there was finally a sign explaining the tornado.