May 18:  Fulton, MS to Pickwick Dam, TN  74.5 miles

Breakfast at 7am, skies looking a little gray, and air temperature around 60 degrees -- oh, just pack the rain gear and go!!!  And so begins the last day on the road in Mississippi.  

Leaving Fulton (pop. 3,882) early on a Sunday morning is traffic-less and trouble-free for the first few miles.  Then it is into hill country.  Rather than ease into it, the group found themselves climbing immediately up 10-12 percent grade inclines erasing any feeling of an early morning chill to the body!!  With sweat dripping off the forehead and the air being pumped rapidly through the lungs, each rider crested over the top only to see another in the horizon.  Oh this could be a long day if this is what is to come!!  To make matters worse, it seems to be a "put rain gear on, take rain gear off" kind of morning.  As fast as one can get the jacket out of the backpack and on, the showers have passed.  Leaving the jacket on creates a sauna effect while riding that can or can not be enjoyable depending on the mood of the individual.

But save the day!  The Natchez Trace Parkway.  For over ten miles it twists and turns through the hills in a gentle rolling pattern.  The pavement is smooth, the traffic totally minus semis and trucks (one, it is Sunday, thus no working vehicles, and two, it is a parkway and therefore not allowed!).  Natchez, itself, is steeped in history.  The old Natchez Trace was a well worn wilderness path.  In pre-Civil War times, Natchez was one of the largest and busiest slave markets in the entire South.  The Trace provided a route to transport the slaves to their new "homes".  It also in later years was a path to freedom for those brave enough to seek a better life.

Up a hill, down a hill, through rural northern Mississippi with its dogs that like to mark their front yards by charging only to stop immediately at the road's edge.  Most seemed to only want to say "bark, bark" (dog language for "hi") and then return to their front porch.  A few got adventurous, but after hearing the roar of the whistles, quickly ran back to their owners.

So up the route the group rode passed Tishomingo (pop 316) , Paden (pop 106), Cairo (pop ? -- a stop sign!), Burnsville (pop 1.034) and on into Pickwick Dam.  The area is a lake resort community full on summer homes and cottages sitting high on the hillside looking out over a vista of the waterway.  Quoting the Tennessee State Parks web site, Pickwick Dam and Pickwick Landing " was a riverboat stop dating from the 1840s.  In the 1930s during the depression, the site was chosen for one of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s dams on the Tennessee River. What comprises the park today was once the living area for the TVA construction crews and their families. The TVA Village, better known as Pickwick Village was located where the Post Office, Park Office and day use area are now located.  A Boy Scout Lodge was located where the old inn is located. The State of Tennessee purchased all 681 acres of Pickwick from TVA in 1969.  Since that time additional land has been bought to enlarge the park.  We have a home at the local Hampton Inn!

The traditional marguerita party for crossing another state line started the dinner hour with gusto.  It was immediately followed by another gourmet meal cooked by our executive chef, Patty and her assistant, Barb in our parking lot.  Oh, James Beard would be proud!

Tomorrow brings another day in hill country, so it is early to bed, early to rise for this group!!

Frankie "On the Road Again"

Sue and Elaine

Tenn-Tombigbee Waterway Overflow

Northern Mississippi Countryside

Frankie, Judi, Holly, Joyce -- "Oh, that Coke tastes Good!"

Coming into Pickwick Dam

Holly & Judi at the Tennessee State Line

Frankie:  "Me too!"