It was overcast much of the day and I like riding in those conditions...especially when headed into the sun - no glare!
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My first stamping stop would be the Jean Lafitte Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice LA. It's a cute little town and the Center occupies a very nice old brick building on a corner of the main street in town. There's a really nice little museum inside, with information about the Acadian settlers. I loved how the sign headers were in French! That little touch really added to the feel of the exhibits!
Continuing north on LA 13 toward Mamou, I passed many rice fields, newly planted. There were dozens and dozens of what might be Glossy Ibis working the flooded fields. As I rode past, they all took off in flight. Definitely Ibis, from the long, downward curved bill, but dark color, not the white ones we see in Texas. Very cool!
Continuing on through Mamou I was watching a dust cropper plane running along side me to my left. As he got ahead of me he banked around and started heading back my way...right down the middle of the highway...flying very low....!! How cool was that?! I waved and he lifted up just as he got to me and banked right back over the fields. That was really neat...a little disconcerting at first, but very neat! He clearly was playing with me.
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The traffic was very light and I was making very good time toward Natchez and my next national park stamping stop. How many times have I ridden right past this Natchez visitor center, not even realizing there was a small National Parks counter in one little corner of the gift shop? I parked and walked inside and worked my way through the labyrinth of tours schedules and counters to the gift shop in the back. There I found three stamps: Natchez National Historical Park -Melrose (which is a couple blocks away from this tourist center), Natchez Trace Parkway (with AL, MS, TN in bottom rocker), and Natchez National Historical Park - William Johnson House. Eager to make it to Vicksburg before 5:00 when the Visitor Center closes, I did not stay long in Natchez.
The route to Vicksburg was clear sailing and I made it to the Vicksburg National Battlefield visitor center at 4:30, with plenty of time to get into the visitor center, get a stamp, then proceed onto the park road. The USS Cairo museum would be open until 6:00, and the park until 7:00 PM.
I love this park! This is my third time back, and none of these visits were stamp-and-runs. I like riding the park, taking my time. Several years ago I read extensively about the battles held here and, with the information fresh in my memory, came to the park on motorcycle and took more than half a day to visit the park, stopping frequently, reading the plaques, reconstructing the battles based on what I'd studied and what the lay of the land presented.
So this trip through was equally as enjoyable as the first...I took my time, made a few stops, pulled over when a car came up behind me.
I love the Ulysses Grant statue and the loop the goes around it. The USS Cairo exhibit is so incredible! To be able to view the planks, the metal spikes all more than 150 years old, handled and crafted by men who lived more than 150 years ago. Enough of the bow of the ship is still intact to see how the ship was constructed.
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