I live south of St Louis Missouri and each year I try to take a solo moto camping trip on my VTX. Last year the heat wave changed my plans and I stayed in Missouri and went north (where it was somewhat cooler). My bike wasn’t running great (carb problems) and I had multiple tire issues (which ended up being a faulty valve stem cap). This year I was hopeful that my trip would be less problematic. I spent late fall and early spring working on my carb issue and got it resolved (with the help of this board) a few weeks ago.
This year I chose the Trace ride and scheduled it earlier so I could avoid extreme heat. As the day to leave
Monday: I left home around 7 a.m. It was cloudy and cool with sporadic chances for rain. One thing I have learned through the years is if you are going to ride much, you will occasionally have to ride in the rain. However, anyone who chooses to ride in the rain is tougher than me. I have good rain gear and am “prepared” but prefer to not need it. A few years ago I took a trip to Colorado and rode 3 days straight in heavy down pours. It was miserable. So Monday I left home and traveled to Land between the Lakes in Kentucky. I stayed at Twin Lakes campground which is a primitive camping spot. I hit about 5 minutes of sprinkles along the way but no significant rain. When I arrived I found a spot on the lake with a great view and only one close neighbor. Land Between the Lakes has a 3 day camping pass for $10. The site had a vault toilet, picnic table and fire ring.
About 1 o’clock in the morning a truck pulls up to the front of my tent and yells “Is anyone home”? I about jumped out of my sleeping bag. I answered. He said “I am leaving out and leaving all my stuff, you can have it all” and he drove away in a truck that sounded like the transmission was about to go out. When I got up on Tuesday morning and was driving out I saw his campsite. He had left a teepee, a free weight barbel set, a case of water, and a few other items that I could see from the road. I didn’t enter the site. I rode to the welcome center and informed them of the event. I guess he thought he could “give me his stuff” and it would eliminate his responsibility. I don’t know how he thought I was going to carry any of that stuff on a motorcycle that was already packed full. The ranger was not happy to say the least.
Tuesday: I rode down through the LBL on the Woodland Trace. It is a pretty ride with several places you can stop and enjoy. However, skies were threatening so I made fewer stops than I probably would have otherwise. I traveled over to the North entrance of the Natchez Trace just outside of Nashville. I stopped and had lunch at the Loveless Café. The food was good. I would recommend it to anyone in the area. Watching the radar it looked as if there was a major storm moving in around 4 p.m. My ETA at my next camp was 3 p.m. I rode the NT down to Meriweather Lewis campground and hurriedly set up my camp. The Natchez Trace has three campgrounds which are basic sites with no electricity. There is a bathroom with running water and flush toilets but no shower. The camping is on a first come first serve basis and is FREE.
With skies darkening I finished setting up my camp and pulled up the radar on my phone to see how long I had before I needed to go to the bathroom house for protection. As the storm approached my location it dissipated and I didn’t get a sprinkle. The evening was perfect with temps in the 70s and blue skies.
Wednesday: I woke to the birds singing and cool temps. As I traveled down the NT towards Tupelo (my next overnight) I stopped at some interesting sites. There are MANY historical sites along the Trace and I didn’t stop at all of them, but enjoyed several along the way. Traffic is very light along the Trace. I adhered to the speed limit (50 mph) and enjoyed the scenic ride. The trace is closed as you get close to Tupelo for repair. The detour is well marked and though it took me down some rough roads, finding my way around was no problem. From Monday to Wednesday I traveled through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi. There are lots of turkeys along the trace but surprisingly I only saw 4 deer the entire week. My mother in law lives in Tupelo and so I spent Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday with her.
Thursday: I helped with a few projects she needed and was planning on leaving around noon on Thursday to go to Rocky Springs campground on the south end of the Trace. Unfortunately, about the time I was ready to leave a storm was moving in and it wasn’t one I would be able to dodge. Instead of leaving at noon, I took her to Amory, MS (in her car). Our intent was to eat at Bill’s Burgers, recently made famous due to their cook being on American Idol. Unfortunately when we arrived, we found it to be closed due to storm damage. Amory was hit pretty hard by the March tornado and there is a lot of damage in town. We found a little hole in the wall BBQ place to eat (The Rib Shack). Food was good and portions were enormous. As we arrived back in Tupelo, the storm was subsiding so I packed up and hit the road. With the change in plans due to weather, my ride time and distance needed to be adjusted. Instead of going to the Rocky Springs campground, I shortened my trip and went to the Jeff Busby campground instead. I camped there Thursday night.
Friday: Friday morning I woke around 6:30 and packed up. I was headed to Bald Knob Arkansas where my mother lives. I took all the backroads in getting there. As I traveled through Mississippi back roads I found some of the surface to be pretty rough. Thankfully that only lasted for about 60 miles. It felt like 200. Add to the rough roads that there was heavy fog and lots of big trucks, and it therefore was probably the only 60 miles of the trip that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. I stopped at Clarksdale and had breakfast at Wendy’s. The weather turned beautiful and my trip up through Arkansas was a good ride with lots of unique small towns to go through.
Saturday: The last day of my ride was leaving Bald Knob and traveling up through some great roads. The Trace was beautiful but, as I knew before going, it is not curvy and the reduced speed limit is a real thing. Traveling through towns like Mammoth Springs AR and Ellington MO, put me back on curvy roads with regular speeds. After almost a week on the Trace I had to relearn how to lean 😊.
I arrived safely home around 3 p.m. on Saturday. The X ran flawlessly with the only issue being my right saddle bag core pulled out of the mount and one side of my bag came loose, dropping it down on the pipe for several miles before I noticed it. I melted the bottom of my Saddleman bag but didn't burn all the way through.
Total miles 1,200 ish
Average fuel mileage 44 mpg
2 man tent
Self inflatable mat
Ultralight camping cot
Solar battery back up for phone
Back up phone
Lots of smiles as the wind blew in my face
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