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Dan Hughes

Wednesday May 12, Robinsonville MS to Selmer TN

Well, I ran across a nice surprise of a road this morning, US 51. It was a short hop East on MS 304 to get there. The road parallels I-55 and I took it South to explore more of this region. It must be on the Eastern edge of the delta mega-farming lands because it runs across pleasant small wooded hills. Lots of small towns and communities along the way. Eventually entered an area in which tree farming for paper making was a major activity.

I rode South to near Grenada at which point it was getting straight and flat. Picked up MS 7 to get back up into more forests and hills. It was pleasant ride, but the road is highly proved-up with very long straight sections and wide sweepers. Not technical at all. Probably there are no technical roads in all of Mississippi. But exploring new areas is the destination.

I’m not seeing high-water marks so much any longer, but the Mississippi River was high. Some of the fields have signs of recent standing water, too.

Chatted with Harold at a rest stop. Harold is a native of this region and has a great interest in things motorrad. Very knowledgable and was interested in my approach to long-range touring. Wished me well in my travels.

Rode MS 7 all the way back into Tennessee to get back into forests and small hills. Still kind of flat and straight in Southern TN, but very forested. Had a pleasant ride Eastward on TN 57. I recalled that this was a kind-of twisty road the last time Mary and I were here. I think it’s been re-aligned, as they say. Wide and smooth and not like I remembered at all. But, maybe it was wishful recalling on my part.

Motels have been very few and very far between all day. The usual case when we aren’t in major tourists areas, so I start trying to find a place. Took US 45 North, an almost I-State grade road searching for motels. Finally landed here in Henderson, South of Jackson. In the process I crossed the disaster that US 64 has become. I see that US 64 is designated to be a scenic route by the State of Tennessee. Not any more for me.

I’ve next got to get across the nearby part of Tornado Alley that is West of here. I figure that if I see one of those soon enough I can easily out run it. I’ll probably stay here for two days to take a break from riding. While moto road touring is great fun, it is not travel in the lap of luxury. Especially when heat, humidity, and big hot winds are parts of the journey.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Tuesday May 11, Milan TN to Robinsonville MS

The rains did pass through overnight and it’s clear today. It’s going to be hotter, too. I take US 70A / 79 into Memphis and locate the motorcycle store. Another nice ride through the country side. The people at the store tell me that I’ve picked the wrong route down into Mississippi and offer an alternate. The objective is still to get to my original road, MS 61, but not by the route that I had first set out.

So I putt-putt on down into Mississippi, along with millions of others on the same route. The objectives include seeing the Mississippi River and the mega-farming operations on the delta. The delta is fairly famous for fabulously fertile farming on vast reaches of bottom lands produced by the Mississippi River. The historical crop, cotton, however depletes the lands of important plant food, so there’s been a switchover to soybeans.

A short distance down AR 61 leads to Tunica and the RiverPark on the bank of the river. The river is running high and muddy and one road into the place is flooded over. I checked out the place and the river hoping a long string of barges would pass. John McPhee, in Uncommon Carriers, has written a piece about how the barge system works. I vaguely recall that he has other pieces about travel on the Mississippi.

A little more South gets me to MS 49, which leads to MS 1, a Scenic Byway. Friars Point is off the main road a bit and is home for the North Delta Museum. Also the birthplace of Conway Twitty as is frequently noted around the village.

I ride back up 61 to Robinsonville to get a room. It turns out that Robinsonville is home to part of the Mississippi Gaming Industry. Thousands on motel rooms at the “resorts” that have been built, Las Vegas style, out on the very flat former farm land. A very unusual sight. Huge buildings sticking up in the air out in the deep boonies complete with gaudy signs. I suspect the local natives have made deals for their land that was depleted by cotton and of little use unless much nitrogen is added back into the soil. I didn’t stay out at the resorts, but at a motel that supplies rooms after the resort rooms are all filled.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Monday May 10, Clarksville TN to Milan TN

Weather forecast, both last night and this morning, indicate rain that will blow through by early afternoon. Well, I waited until about 3 in the afternoon for the rain to blow over, but it never really did. I finally decided to take off during a lull between raining sessions.

I began to note lots of high-water indications well before i got close to Clarksville. The flowing streams are still very full, the gully that drains rain down from the hills are washed out. Water marks in the trees way above where limbs and leaves start to grow. Standing water in most fields and the edges of the roads are washed out and damaged.

Lots of high-water indications all around this town, with some major streets still closed. Lots of damage, too.

I take TN 13 kind of South and West. Not much rain right after I start, but get more rain as I travel. Now I’m seeing more and more flooding damage along the stream that is beside the road. The streams are so small that they don’t show on my maps. Even lots of debris washed down from the hills in the gullies that usually drain rain water.

I get to Erin TN, a piece of Ireland in Tennessee, and find the town basically in ruins. It’s a very small place, but houses, and other buildings, have been wiped out. Houses that were flooded but not broken up have the contents out in the yard. There’s. Large boat jammed against the side of a bridge. A service station, at which I was banking on finding for desperately-needed gas, is ruined. As I travel on down TN 13, the damages increase. Bridges. Houses, buildings, cars, farm land, everything along the stream has been hit. Even houses on the other side of the road from the stream have been wiped out by water flowing down off the hills. It’s a tragedy. While it seem that Nashville is getting all the attention, there are major problems well away from there.

I pick up US 70 / 79 at Waverly, the road I intend to take into Memphis. I stop here in Milan to let the last of the rains blow through. I picked a cheap-looking place, one of two motels in town, both cheap-looking.

It was a very short riding day.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment