Stocked up on food, I’m loading up the retrieved Sojourn outside of the shop while Sandpaper chats the owner up over a beer inside. Clouds and a light rain provide an ideal sunscreen and a welcome drop in temperature – though the humidity clearly doesn’t know when to leave the party. It’s a 3 mile bike path ride to the Trace and then 6 riding days of open road and zero capitalism mucking up my outdoor enjoyment. (Can we start calling them “cappies” yet?) SP and I do our bon voyage things and I get about 1 mile when the skies open up. This is where showers become storms.
I pull off to a covered area to drink some coffee. After 10-15 minutes the downpour subsides back into showers and I pop on my raincoat. I love riding in the rain. For some reason we lose this love as adults but almost all kids loved playing the rain. Riding in the rain puts me into a nice “here’s where I am, I’m doing what I do” mentality. There is no option to not ride, I’ve gotta get where I’m going.
Five miles and the showers further subside to scattered rain drops. Nice medium size ones that cool me off but not so big that get into my eyes. Perfect! After 20 miles I stop for a little lunch and the remove my raincoat, which is more wet with sweat than rain. Then I rock out a 40 mile stretch without a single stop to put my foot down. Whew!
Rolling up to the Kosciusko visitor center, I’m exhausted and looking for water. The Parkway map indicates this is a bike only campground and the signs back this up. You don’t see many of these except out west or overseas, so i like to utilize them when I can.
I walk into the center/museum and speak with the two helpful gents working there. Not only do I find out the bathrooms will be left unlocked for me, but that I can pop my tent right up on the front or back porch of the center. Taking cover!
Even the bathroom stall door has bicycles on it. They got a “Safety Guidelines for Motorists” brochure that starts with “bicycles are considered vehicles, and bicyclists have he same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Please treat cyclists with the same courtesy as you would another vehicle.” Hell yeah! It even instructs against blowing your horn because it can cause a loss of balance and possibly an accident. You reading this, lucky number 13?
I also get some great tidbits of knowledge: like the fact that the Natchez Trace is the most visited National Park (journey-oriented, rather than destination-oriented). I do the water in-water out thing and meander around the small museum. Taddeus Kosciusko was a distinguished military man from Poland who aided the USA during the revolutionary war. For this service they named a town in Mississippi (and a street in Buffalo) after him. Oddly, the town Kosciusko (“kozzy-esko”) is pronounced differently than the pronunciation of the man’s actual name (“ko-shue-skoh”). What gives?! If you name a fucking town after me, you better damn well pronounce my name the way it’s pronounced. Nothing but empathy for old Taddeus on this one.
I cook up some Ramen, pop up the palace and climb in as the skies simply open up. It pours all night, so I sure I’m grateful for my seven star accommodations here in Kosciusko – Airbnb ain’t got shit on this.