Day 24 - Ferriday, Louisiana

I am in Ferriday, Louisiana, which is the home of the famous rock and roll cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, and Jimmy Swaggart.

I am at a very cool campground. It's next to Lake Concordia, which is an oxbow lake. The lake was once the Mississippi River, but when the river changed course at some point, it got detached and became a lake. It's totally scenic, I'm right on the lake, which is surrounded by cypress trees with egrets sitting in them. This is the view from my picnic table.

LakeConcordia (381K)

The campground has been here for a long time. It was once a KOA, but it isn't anymore. There appear to have been no improvements in about 30 years. It's run by an elderly couple, who look like they've made all the money they will ever need from the campground, and so they keep the campground open, but are basically retired. They have horses, and dogs running around. This is a really beautiful spot, I've very envious of their lifestyle.

There are two big puppies I made friends with here.

CatahoulaCurs (355K) CatahoulaCurs2 (336K)

The owner says they are Catahoula Curs, and they are descended from Indian dogs. He said the single white eye (which you can see in the first picture) is a trademark of the breed. The more heavily marked dog of the two is deaf. I asked him if a Catahoula Cur was the same as a Catahoula Leopard Dog, which is a recognized rare breed. He said sometimes they are leopard spotted, sometimes ticked, and sometimes brindled.

I am in Louisiana, so I crossed the Mississippi River today.

MississippiRiver (265K)

This is looking back at Mississippi. Note the lack of shoulder. The totally helpful lady at the Natchez Visitor Center advised me to ride against traffic on the eastbound span, which has a nice wide shoulder. This was very great advice.

Other big milestones for today are I saw my first live oak trees with Spanish moss, and I saw an anole lizard scurrying around the bath house. I am way south now.

Today was another fabulous day of bike riding, with perfect weather, highs in the 80s, and not a cloud in the sky. I have completed the Natchez Trace Parkway, all 440-some miles of it. It's really beautiful, scenic, serene, and there is no traffic, and there are cool historical sites ever 10 miles or so (Indian mounds!). Here is one from today, where the Old Trace has worn down a 20 foot ravine.

SunkenTrace (377K)

But when you get right down to it, the parkway's monotonous, and I get a big charge whenever I get off it. The scenery always looks like this.

MississippiRoadside (294K)

For breakfast, I got off the parkway and rode into the cool historic town of Port Gibson. Debbie and I visited Port Gibson last year on our Memphis to New Orleans vacation trip. Port Gibson has lots of cool old buildings. Check out this garage.

PortGibsonGarage (211K)

Around the corner from the garage is an 1840 Greek Revival commercial building with a residence above.

1840CommerceBuilding (233K)

I was really excited when I found this, because the first floor is a cafe. Doesn't this look great?

CommerceBuildingCafe (263K)

Unfortunately, they serve only coffee until 11:30, and it was only 8:30. But the guys drinking coffee directed me to a great find of the trip, Packy's Roadside Cafe.

24PackysRoadsideCafe (278K)

It's right across the street from the garage, but I rode back and forth in front of it three times asking people where it was before I figured it out. Everyone in town knows about it, so they don't really need a sign. Check out the cooker on the right side of the picture. The deck on the left side is the dining area. You place your order at a window behind the trellis in the center. The menu is on a white board next to the window. They serve everything all the time. I had a pork barbeque plate with baked beans and onion rings for breakfast. This place rocks.

However, soon after breakfast, my bike started talking to me. The closer I got to Natchez, the louder it got. Every time the pedals would go around it would say, over an over

Fat Mamas
Fat Mamas
Fat Mamas
Fat Mamas
It's because the T-Bone magically knew we were getting closer to Fat Mamas Tamales, which is tasty and delicious and home of the Knock-You-Naked Margarita. It sure tasted great. I think that was the first drink I've had since Front Royal. It's been all dry counties and Jesus land for weeks. I love river towns. Today has been a food fest.

So now I am in Louisiana. It's not beautiful so far, like the trace. I rode 8 miles on a bumpy gravelly shoulder after the bridge, past junkyards, metal fabricators, used car lots, and trailer home dealers. Really gross. Heavy truck traffic. I'm hoping when I get out of town, it will be nice.

One other horror show today, the trace ends on US 61. Highway 61 is a very famous road about which many great songs have been written. It follows the Mississippi river all the way from Minnesota to New Orleans. It is the backbone of American Music Culture. It is about the least bike-friendly road imaginable. For hundreds of miles on the Natchez Trace Parkway, there are these signs that say "Bike Route". Then all of a sudden you find yourself on a four lane expressway, speed limit 65, just like an interstate, except that interstates have shoulders. Someone in the Mississippi Highway Department needs to get a clue. This is absurdly dangerous.

Here is the actual route traveled for today.

Actual24 (245K)