TEXAS 2023

Day 01

March 6

  The last eighteen months have been really 'interesting' for me physically, mentally and emotionally. Both my shoulders were 'bone on bone' with the left socket completely wore out allowing the bone to dislocate if much pressure was put on that arm. In the midst of me trying to schedule my surgeries my dear wife fell and broke her left leg again. This required two surgeries and an extended stay in a rehab facility. Also, I was trying to get things sorted out at work since I would be retiring at the end of 2022 and I was the sole computer support for the company. There were also other things going on but I will not bore you with the details. My shoulder replacements went well, my wife made a reasonable recovery and I was able to retire at the end of 2022 as I had planned. After all of that, I just needed a place that I could go and just watch the ocean roll in and chill for a few days. Thanks to suggestions from friends over at ST-Owners.com I found such a place in Texas and today I am headed that way on SweetTreat.  
  My plans are to run the Natchez Trace down to Natchez, then highway 165 from Alexandria, LA then back roads to where I am headed. This will allow me to stay completely off the madness that the interstate highway system had become. Before I get out of town, the road I usually take to the Trace is closed because of trees that have fallen due to recent storms.  
  So I backtrack a bit and soon I am at my old friend the Trace. As I pass through this very familiar sight, I wonder just how many times I have ridden through these gates. Best I can count, I have ridden the Trace from one end to the other well over a dozen times.  
  As I ride along, I see several places where there are some trees down. But they have done a great job of getting them cleared off the road and for that I am thankful.  
  Some say the Trace is boring, but I find it peaceful and interesting. There are plenty of historical stops along the way such as this explanation as to how the Alabama/Tennessee state lines were designated.  
  But just about the Mississippi line, a section of the Trace is shut down for construction. I knew this as I always check their website for this sort of stuff. They have the detour marked, but I have chosen a little different route.  
  Soon I cross over into Mississippi on the detour which will be the last state line I cross for today.  
  It's only about 30 miles or so for the route I have chosen and soon I am at the other end of the construction and back on the Trace proper.  
  I relish the pleasant isolation and the absence of semi-trucks, commercial traffic, and the mobile phone booths so common on the interstates these days.  
  Before long I cross over the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a 234 mile man-made canal connecting the Tennessee River to the junction of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River system. It links commercial navigation from the nation's midsection to the Gulf of Mexico.  
  The lilacs are started to come out in beautiful profusion as I head further south.  
  In many places on the Trace, you are riding between great stands of trees and seem to be miles away from anywhere.  
  Further south the Trace runs alongside the beautiful Ross Barnett Reservoir. It is Mississippi's largest drinking water resource.  
  Before dark, I make it to the end of the Trace and my motel in Natchez. Nothing fancy but it's location is ....  
  right across the four lane from Jughead's Fishfry - a place I have been by and have been wanting to try.  
  Jughead's 'decor' is nothing fancy and most folks chose take-out instead of dine-in. But I ain't really into upscale ambiance so I dine in. I order a fried catfish fillet and fried oyster combo and it is absolutely out of this world.  
  And there ain't much left when it's all over.  
  I waddle slowly back across the four lane to my room and fold up like a nickel card table. It's been a great, peaceful day and just what I needed.