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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Natchez to Home

Time to wrap up this trip with the final three days. We started on Wednesday (April 18) in Natchez, Miss. We intended to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway the entire 444 miles to Nashville. I forgot to mention when we were in New Mexico that we decided that we weren't going to camp on this trip, so we had Sully send some of our extra bags back home to Virginia. So, we were staying in hotels the rest of the week until we got home on Friday. Anyway, once we got up and going, we entered the Natchez Trace right at the beginning in Natchez. I forgot to get a photo as we entered, so picked one up at a later entrance ramp.

This parkway is nice, but Steve and I like the Blue Ridge Parkway a lot better. But the great thing about a parkway like this is there is very little traffic, no big trucks, no stop lights or major intersections.

The speed limit is only 50 mph on the NTP, but there are almost zero curves, at least in the first couple of hundred miles. I wanted to take it slow to enjoy the ride, maybe like 60, but Steve really wanted to go faster. This was about the only disagreement we had in three weeks of riding together. We edged it up to about 70, which really felt kind of fast to me on this little road with the trees right next to it. But we kept it there for a while. At one point, we had a police car pass from the other direction; right before he got to us, he flipped his lights on. I was thinking, "Oh, bummer, we're going get a ticket." But he kept going. I guess it was just a warning.

I really didn't think there was that much to enjoy about this parkway. There are no views, just green and trees and more trees and the occasional stream or something.

We did come across some construction and had to sit for a few minutes waiting our turn to go.

I have to admit, I was kind of thinking it would have been kind of cool to get pulled over by that cop. So far, we hadn't had any negative things happen on this trip, other than some high wind. Not that that's a bad thing, but a little trouble can add some character to a trip. But I'll take all the good stuff, especially with weather.

At some point along this route, we decided to get off and start making our way toward Virginia. I'm quite sure we missed the best part of the Natchez Trace, but if we had stayed in Nashville, it would have meant a very long day to Danville, Va. the next day. We got off on mile marker 320 in Alabama and went past Muscle Shoals (actual place, not just lyrics in a Lynyrd Skynyrd song).  We made it to Chattanooga, Tenn. When we decided to get off the parkway, I looked up a hotel and reserved a room. It said downtown Chattanooga, so I thought it would be cool. I should have known the $67 a night rate was a dead giveaway to "not cool." This hotel was totally in the hood. The GPS was freaking out a little bit. It was lagging in directions and would say to turn right as I was passing the right, we ended up driving through a neighborhood with cars double parked and folks outside drinking 40s. Steve was thinking, "Don't stop to ask for directions."

We did find the coolest Starbucks, though, on our way out of Chattanooga. This place had an outdoor fireplace and they gave us stickers.

So, while we were sitting there at the Starbucks, we were trying to figure out the best route to get to Danville. Fastest route was I-75 to I-40 to I-81 into Virginia, then U.S. 58 across the bottom of Virginia. We have done a lot of the mountain roads in the Smokey Mountains, like Deal's Gap, a.k.a. the Dragon. I had heard about the Snake, so looked it up. It was pretty much right on the route already. So, we adjusted a bit, to get off of I-81 in Bristol, Tenn. to take U.S. 421to Boone, N.C. then we were going to take the Blue Ridge Parkway to U.S. 58. The Snake is 421 from Bristol to Mountain City, 489 curves in 33 miles. It was a very nice road, not quite as good as the 318 curves in 11 miles on the Dragon, but still a very nice road.

Anyway, there is a neat store in Shady Valley that is really trying to promote the Snake. We did get our stickers though. Got mine next to my Dragon sticker. Also, gotta love the gas pump with the premium snake venom. 

We got on the Blue Ridge but had to get off after about 20 miles for a closure. We made our way down N.C. 18, (also a nice road), to Winston-Salem then up through Martinsville, Va. before heading to Danville, just a few minutes after dark. We had to go via Martinsville in order to get Henry County as part of our county collection. I think we have about nine counties in Virginia left. At the beginning of this blog back in June of last year, we decided we are going to visit all the counties in the United States on our motorcycles over the course of the next couple of decades, starting with getting all of Virginia. The rules are that we both have to be on our motorcycles and we have to be together for it to count. Steve had been to Henry county before on his bike, but I had not. 

We stayed in the best hotel of the whole trip in Danville, it had a bar/restaurant right there that was apparently a happening place for the locals there, not just hotel guests. Great dinner and DJ.

We left Danville on U.S. 58 home. This was uneventful and we've both ridden this route before, so no pictures. We got home early, so we stopped at Adventure BMW in Chesapeake to pick up a headlight bulb for my bike (it burned out two days before) and also to make my service appointment, since it's been a few miles.

We just didn't want our trip to end, so we stopped for lunch at Catch 31 at the beach, just two miles from the house and then at Starbucks, of course.

We made it home safe and sound Friday, April 20. I will add some statistics in a follow-on blog, like 6600 miles, 19 days, etc. I will also have a follow up of the counties collected.

The dogs were also very happy to see us. They were beginning to think we weren't coming back and they were destined to live at the house with the two giant dogs. Not a bad thing for Belle, but Tanner was apparently starting to get depressed. He was so excited that he was even ready to drive the car himself if I didn't hurry up.


  1. Welcome home. I'm anxious to talk about your trip and compare your experience with mine. One question will be for Steve and what he thinks about the leather pants he wore for the entire trip.

  2. Glad you two made it home safe and sound. Truly an adventure; I've enjoyed following your blog. Looking forward to more stories at the next meeting!


  3. Too bad you missed Bench Mark Works in Sturgis, MS.
    Vech, Elaine, and a hundred other BMW riders would have been happy to meet you.
    They are not too far off the Natchez Trace.
    Looks like you had a fun ride.

  4. Hey GS Lady glad you made it home safely. Your stories and pictures were wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    Have a question for you. You took a picture of a large "Route 66" sign when you were traveling home. Can you tell me where that sign is located. Someone told me it might be somewhere near Flagstaff, Arizona. IS that correct. My wife and I are heading out on a rode trip two up on my 2011 R1200RT and I would love to visit the sign if it is indeed anywhere near Flagstaff. Please let me know. Thanks.

  5. That Route 66 sign was at a gas station called something like Cruzn 66. We left Kingman, AZ on 66 going East and it was probably near Peach Springs. We were keeping our eye out for good photo opportunities along that route and that one kind of stood out. haha. We got back on 40 at Seligman, so it was definitely between Kingman and Seligman.

  6. Thank you for the information..not sure we'll get that far over on our trip but we' ll see.