Day 18 - Summer Solstice, June 21
On the road at 6:45 a.m. Drove about 30 miles to the village of Collingwood, Tennessee. It sits just behind tree line at mile post 355. This is the perfect rural town unspoiled by progress. Stop by before it changes. It has one restaurant, owner run. I sat and talked to Mr. Harris, 85 years old, likes to garden, doesn't know how much time he has left, but he feels pretty good. He looked good to me. He quizzed me on the economy in New Hampshire. He reckoned it was pretty good in his county by the number of new pickup trucks he sees everyone driving. The general mood I am picking up is that this country has no real good choices based on the current candidates. "Nobody does nothin'." As long as the National Park Service maintains highways like the Natchez Trace and Blue Ridge Parkway, I think we are doing okay.
I cruised over the Tennessee River. It was surprisingly wide. I see on the map that it is damed 15-20 miles from where I crossed. The Trace goes from Tennessee to Alabama and then into Mississippi. Three states most northern New Englanders never set foot in. I suggest a trip down the Trace. Hernando de Soto came through here about 500 years ago.
I took a side trip into Tupelo to see Elvis Presley's birthplace. It is surrounded with information walkways and a museum. If it wasn't a shrine before, it is now. The tiny little house is getting lost in all the baggage around it. Did you know that Elvis was born at 4 a.m?
The main Trace information center is in Tupelo. I stopped in to get a sticker for the bike. They don't have any. None exist. They have, "I support the National Park system" stickers. I told them that was too generic. They were crest fallen. Me more so.
Late afternoon traffic on the Trace near Tupelo picked up. I had the feeling the road is used for commuting. It's speed limit is 50 mph. I poked along at my 35-40. There are plenty of passing opportunities. I camped at Davis Lake near where de Soto passed through.
Just before sunlight completely disappeared, it set the few wispy clouds above a brilliant pink. Fireflies came out to celebrate while frogs croaked.