The Bumblebee and the Vespa 2014

I think it's time for me to redefine what this new blog is about. In the past I've posted individual blogs for motorcycle/motor scooter rides to places like Alaska, Nova Scotia, Key West, Mexico, Canada, New York, etc. That's all well and good but it seems nowadays I'm dividing my rides into shorter ones comprised of two or more weeks each on different bikes. The total time and mileage is about the same, it's just split into multiple rides with a break somewhere in the middle.

The summer of 2014 serves as a good example of that wherein I rode south to Tombstone, AZ on my '92 BMW R100GS Bumblebee/Ural sidecar rig, (phew!) then returned home for a few days and set out again on my '07 Vespa 250ie motor scooter to visit Canada. That summer has gone and the seasons have changed as will the reports, some will be about shorter rides, some will be about maintenance, and maybe on occasion I'll post a photo or two just for interest. I may even introduce other bikes, a few of which are lurking under cover in the barn...

Navigating this blog is easy, just scroll down the list of posts by date to whatever interests you, click on it and you're in. Photos can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

Finally, if you'd care to post comments please do so, I'd love to hear from you. CLICK ON "NO COMMENTS" TO ENTER YOUR REMARKS. That seems really silly but that's how it works. The entry window is located at the bottom of each screen. Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy your stay.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sep 01 Day 12 - The Old Spanish Trail - Jackson, MS

OMG, I can't believe it, I had biscuits & gravy again this morning! What's happening to me, what about oatmeal and all that other healthy stuff? I wonder if I'm beginning to affect a southern drawl? Will hound dogs start hanging around me?

Alright, on to the bike stuff. I'm about ready for new tires so I called Skinner's Motorcycles in Auburn, AL and talked with the owner John Skinner. I told him what I needed and he agreed to get the tires and install them on Friday, Sept 4th. He came highly recommended by one of the members on the Triumph Rat forum ( yes, rat, don't ask me why) 

Boy you can sure tell I don't corner very hard. Maybe I should just buy the center strip?
The frugal part of me wants to keep the front tire but I may as well do both
With that settled I could get back to meandering towards his location. I've got three whole days to get there so I'll be riding real slow. Or stopping for longer periods, maybe take power naps hunched over the handlebars.. 

I poked along after leaving the hotel and headed north towards Mississippi. Isn't that a great name? I'll bet every kid in America can spell it by the time they're in first grade.

Do  I look thinner when I raise my arms? No? So who cares, not me.

The first tourist trap of the day got me early on, I just had to learn all I could about the West Feliciana Railroad. I chatted with the guy inside the station and his entire dissertation (like that word?) took all of 30 seconds. "I dunno, I think it was a train (thank God he didn't say choo-choo) that hauled cotton way back in time. Would you like a map of Mississippi?"

I'm beginning to like tourist information stops, they give you free stuff

This is the station. No train. No tracks. Nada. Not even a Choo-choo.....

With the train history lesson out of the way I moved on to more interesting stuff, like stopping to visit the local cracklin' business "Praise Da Lard". Who could resist? I barged in and asked the proprietor lady what the heck cracklins were. She gave me a fairly graphic description of the exact area of the pig they're made from and pointed out what each of the cracklins were preferred by some customers, etc, etc. I hesitated a bit before buying a bag. 

See this? This used to be your money cowboy, now it's mine!
Men are so easy, they'll buy anything. Pork bellies fried in grease.. My God.
I nearly missed the significance of the small white price list. For those who failed math 101
Did I mention how delicious these things are? How do you feel about Spandex?
Since I was already in Woodville I figured I might as well take in the sights, explore a little. It turned out there's a ton of old stuff to see and my first impression that the town was small was way off. I got lost. I rode around the back streets for nearly an hour just taking in the aura of everything, it's the quintessential Old South. You can just feel the Civil War, slavery, Southern life that used to be but is no more.

Some important people lived here when our nation was young

City Hall
The African American Museum didn't appear to be open. Ever.

This old water tower is completely overgrown with vines

But check out all the old TV antennas
Imagine reading their oldest issues, what stories they would have
One of the many back streets I rode through

It's great that they're trying to preserve little shops like this

Towns like Woodville can hold my attention all day long but it was time to move on. I'd decided one of the things I wanted to see was the Natchez Trace. I stopped for lunch at Burger King in the town, uh, no, the "Corp" of Natchez. Prior to lunch I'd spent a fair amount of time trying to locate the entrance using my GPS. Wrong. Wrongo wrongo wrong! Stupid GPS. I finally cornered a couple of non-firemen guys and asked for directions which I got without any sniggering or evil laughter. Mississippi guys are the salt of the earth.

With my new-found wealth of directions "Ya'll ride past the Walmart and just beyond that, oh I don' know, mebby a couple hunert yards on the right you'll see an exit to an underpass. Take thet and it'll getya right there. I like yer bike." And it was easy, no sweat. Who needs a GPS?

The Natchez Trace goes on for hundreds of miles across several states. The road is paved and well kept, the shoulders are mowed and lush, and frequent information signs beckon. The posted speed limit of 50 mph seems to be well adhered to and makes for a relaxing visit. My trip would encompass nearly 100 miles and I saw few other vehicles or bikes. 

I've no idea. None whatsoever.

This pretty well spells it out

One of the many interesting stops

Typical of what you drive through
 It began to rain so I pulled into a rest stop to drag out the gear. Two gals rode in behind me for the same reason. Their rain gear was nothing more than plastic ponchos. Must have been real flappy in the wind. They both live in Jackson and ride on the trace a lot.

I wonder if there's any booze left in this?
Outta my way!!!
 I looked for another La Quinta but none were close by so I opted for Best Western. Dinner would be Cracklins and Gatorade, manly food fit for those who brave the open road.

The nice people running the motel told me I could park under the front portico (or whatever the heck they're called) so I did. Before I can cover the bike I have to wait a few minutes for the exhaust pipes to cool down - don't want to melt the cover. 

I went to my room to unpack and within a few minutes the front desk lady called to ask if I had a bike cover as it was raining buckets. By the time I got out for a look the Bonnie was drenched and it made little sense to bother with a cover. Might even clean some of the grit off, even a bug or two.

A clean bike is a happy bike, eh?
Today was a hoot, I had lots of fun riding around through small towns and getting a feel for how some of the folks live. Maybe I'll get lucky and tomorrow will be the same.


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