Monday, February 22, 2016

Texas and preparing for what's next

After finishing up the Natchez Trace I needed to head to Texas.  I was going to camp on the beach but Michelle and I decided to take a job in California for the winter so I decided to head to Houston a few days before Michelle's arrival to rest up and figure out how we were going to make the 1900 mile ride to our next gig.

It is one thing to ride with just Yoska and I on Blue... Another to pull TicTac and a completely other way of riding is to add a passenger on Blue while pulling TicTac.  Michelle rode with me from Campbellsville Kentucky to my parents house... about 160 mile... With TicTac in tow... It took us a good day of riding since Michelle hadn't ridden long distances on the back of a motorcycle and it takes a lot more energy to add another person to the mix.

We originally planned to work in the Houston area for winter, Michelle flying into Houston after her stay with her family for the holidays, then head to Tennessee to a gig for the summer.  Far enough to feel like we travelled but not too far as our first time out.  I really didn't feel prepared to do 1900 miles.  So, I decided to take a few days to figure everything out.

Plus was I found a free campsite in Thomball TX that had electric and showers.  I could charge up TicTac and prepare for our adventure.

I decided we would ship a few things to our next gig to take some weight and stress off Blue and to also give us more room inside TicTac.  When traveling and only spending one night in a place I don't put up a tent... It's just the space of TicTac.  We would both keep a change or two of clothes and shipped the rest plus extra shoes to the next gig.  That was about 50 pounds of stuff and a bit of extra space... Not much more we could send... Tough part about not owning anything... Haha

I also decided we would probably travel 200-250 miles a day.  Not terribly long days of riding which would give us time to stop and have a meal and a few stops to rest or see things along the way... Plus get us to our stop for the night before sunset.  I also had to make rules for myself.  I normally, just me, would ride thru any weather... Rain, snow, winds, etc... But I have been telling myself that isn't necessary... No place or person is worth putting myself in danger... I decided to be a little more strict with a passenger.  No need to ride in rain, definitely no snow and no winds above 15 to 20 mph.  Depending if we are on the interstate or back roads.  Higher winds on back roads aren't as bad because there is usually less traffic and less semis.  I figured we could do the 1900 miles anywhere between 5-10 days depending on the weather.  You never know what the winds will bring thru the southwest or just how tired we will be.  I wanted no pressure... an enjoyable trip for both Michelle and I. 

Once I had a plan and was well rested the 1900 miles seemed doable... then it was about creating a trip that got us to where we needed to be but also enjoyable for Michelle.  I didn't want it to be all parking lots, so of course, I researched some more free campsites.

I was quite excited to share my way of life with someone...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Heading down the Natchez Trace (part 2)

The second night I stayed at Jeff Busby Park off the Natchez Trace... also a free campsite.  This one was very wooded.  You can hike to the highest peak in Mississippi.  There was one other RV camped for the night.  This one wasn't as well maintained as the Lewis one of the night before but still nice.  Bathrooms were heated and I am always excited by a real toilet. hahaha

Jeff Busby Park

The 3rd campground at Rocky Springs, I ended up staying 2 nights cause of rain.  Next to no cell service and many campers as it is a little over 50 miles from Natchez MS.  I enjoyed my two days relaxing.

Rocky Springs Campground

All the campgrounds had heated bathrooms and picnic tables.  These are quite awesome in comparison to some of the other free camping spots I have been to.  

Reservoir Overlook

You could easily spend a week or more camping, hiking and riding down this beautiful road.  Only needing to get off to gas or to resupply or even spending a days at some of the historical towns along the way.  If the weather was warmer I could of spent a few more days.  

I ended up spending one night at a Walmart outside Natchez MS waiting out a big storm and then headed to Texas.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Heading down the Natchez Trace (Part 1)

I have been on the Natchez Trace a couple of times.  I lived in Nashville for about 5 years in my early 20s so I would drive a little ways on it or by the big bridge.  Also, the first winter I was out on the road I came back to my parents house in Kentucky from my house sitting gig in New Mexico and road the Natchez trace from Natchez MS to around Jackson... then it decided to snow so I got off.

A friend of mine and I were going to camp along the Natchez Trace after leaving Amazon but my family wanted me to spend some time with them so I was delayed.  I thought about heading to the beach but decided it might be fun to take is slow and camp at the 3 free campsites on the Natchez Trace.  I got completely excited about camping on the Natchez Trace when Renee and I, on one of our day adventures, stopped by the northern free campground at Merriweather Lewis site.  It was extremely nice and I was excited to stay a night there and the other campgrounds.

So, the day I left Renee it was quite cold... a high in the mid 30s.   I've gotten to the point where I don't feel a need to rush, ride in cold and yucky weather.  Not that I'm a fair weather rider, I just don't have any place that important to get to.  I've done the below freezing temps, wind, snow, torrential rain... not anything new for me... I just don't feel the need to prove anything.  As a woman I have ridden thru just as much bad weather, crappy roads as any man so I have no doubts in my abilities as a rider.

Anywhos... I decided I would stay a night at the Merriweather Lewis campground.  This campground is nicely paved, most sites are pull thru and the bathrooms are heated... I was lucky enough to find an outlet for TicTac so I could have heat.  With a high in the 30s and lows dropping into the low 20s it was nice to live it up not really boondocking.

One thing that is frustrating about the Natchez Trace is finding gas.  Renee gave me a little map of the Trace that had supposed gas stations on it but it did not prove to be helpful.  I stopped at a visitor center and they had a list of things at mile markers but that wasn't all that helpful either.  First, I didn't see any mile markers on the trace... second one of the gas stations they said existed closed down.  This of course was a photocopied piece of paper from a word document and easily edited and reprinted... why would I think it would have outdated information???

I pulled into Thomastown MS... a corner of building that all looked abandoned.  There was one store that was open and when I stopped the people came outside to take a look.  I asked them where the gas station was.  They told me there use to be a gas station there but it closed down.  The closest gas station was across the trace after the bridge work, take a left,  take a right a few miles down the road at the stop sign and you would run right into it.  About 5 miles away.  

So, with no other choice... no gas stations anywhere around... I headed to where they directed.

I ended up here.  They also told me about the gas station that closed down and the bridge work.  Nice people asking about Blue and TicTac and quite entertained by the fact I live in there.  Then headed on my way.

This was pretty much my experience with gas.  I would head to where it said on the list and either there was nothing or it was a gas station on a hill of gravel.  Not quite sure what that is all about... not just a slight hill but straight up and straight back down on unmaintained gravel.  I don't know if I could even take an RV to get gas up those kind of hills.  Absolutely crazy.  But we did make it all the way down the Natchez Trace without running out of gas... I think that is quite the accomplishment.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Catching up

Hi all!  Sorry I have been a bit delayed these last few months.  Finally settling in to our winter position in California.

Over the holidays I went with my parents back to my hometown in Nebraska to visit my nephews.  Stopped in Kansas City to see my younger brother and his finance.  We had a good time and it was nice riding in my parents van and being able to nap along the way.  Yoska enjoyed the ride also.

We got back before the New Year and I hit the road.  I stopped off the Natchez Trace in Hohenwald TN to spend a few days with my friend Renee.  We camped together a few weeks last spring.  I wanted to spend a few days with her since she has now embarked on a new adventure of backpacking around the world.  You can check out her blog at

It was a chilly few days but enjoyed some down time and a bit of local adventures.  We had both worked as Camperforce for the season so we were still recovering. haha

 Frost almost every morning... luckily I was able to plug in to have heat when sleeping. 

Yoska is not a fan of the cold... waiting for Renee to let him in.

We went thru Tennessee Amish Country to see the farms and such.  

I always like going thru Amish country.  My mom is a Yoder so it is interesting to see the perspective of the Mennonite Yoders I grew up with to the Amish Yoders in these communities.  I didn't grow up Mennonite or Amish so it is always interesting to me.

Renee, Yoska and I had an enjoyable couple of days.  I had a week or so to meander before picking up Michelle in Houston to head to our next adventure.  I decided I would spend a few days checking out the free campgrounds along the Natchez Trace... More adventures to come. :)