Big River Crossing again

Knowing where we were going made all the difference this morning. And we left at 6:15.

The Memphis River Walk has the potential to be a good trail. It’s a series of individual parks, starting with this one:

We went through some nice neighborhoods with great views of the river:

But the third park and trail was closed. Yesterday we had to find a detour, today we knew what to do. We rode past Beale Street and found some construction happening. In the background, the local riverboats that offer tours, Mud Island, and the closed I-40 bridge:

A right turn on Monroe Ave took us to Main St with an empty trolley going by:

Main St in Memphis at 7:15 am, looking north:

South:

On the corner:

This is the detour we had to take around one of the closed parks. The left lane on S Riverside Dr was blocked to vehicle traffic. In the right lane, the correct place to ride, there was no bike lane or shoulder (or sidewalk). But there was plenty of partially protected space in the blocked left lane so that’s where we rode.

Approaching the bridge from the east side of the river:

A better view of the park underneath the three bridges:

At the W Memphis end of the Big River Crossing, we turned left on S Loop Rd for about 3 miles to get back to the turn off for the campground. Industrial sections on the right, the levee and river on the left. It had a great shoulder most of the way and very little traffic.

21 miles. Hurray! We got to ride two days in a row which also meant Starbucks both days. And we were back in the air conditioned RV by 8:45 am!

Big River Crossing

The weather cooled a bit, we were able to turn off the AC overnight and open the windows. We were up early and started our ride at 6:45!

Destination: a place we have been unable to access in several days because crossing the I-55 bridge in a vehicle could take a couple of hours. BUT on a bicycle, it was just a 10-mile bike ride, and crossing the Mississippi River on a bridge that spans 4973 feet is rather spectacular.

We rode 3 miles from our campsite on S Loop Rd to the start of the trail:

We crossed under I-55 a couple of times as it climbed toward the river.

At the top of our short climb there was a park between I-55 and the train tracks:

The bridge we took is farthest to the left of the 3 bridges:

A look back at the bridge we’d just crossed:

On the east side of the river, we rode a trail through a series of parks called Memphis River Parks until we found Beale Street. Neither of us would consider going to Beale Street in the evening when things are “hopping.” We were quite satisfied to ride down the middle of the street with no cars on a deserted Wednesday morning.

Our destination was Starbucks – you probably already knew that. We loaded up for the ride back. Double orders, empty containers to transfer our drinks.

Time to ride back before it gets any hotter. Back up Beale Street:

Riding the opposite direction allows you to see new things on the other side of the road …

and to appreciate traveling by bicycle instead of this:

Because I managed to get us lost a couple of times, today we rode 22 miles! Yay – felt good, and we were back by 10 am!

River traffic

It was still hot so we completed any outside tasks in the early morning. By 9 am it was time to sit and do something else. If a breeze was blowing, it was possible to find a good patch shade by the river to sit and watch the traffic go by.

There is no recreational boating, it’s all commercial. Push-boats moving barges up or down the river.

Sitting high in the water, going upriver, means the barge is empty:

When something unique came up/down the river, other camera-ready RVers came out:

Like this one. Nine barges rafted together, each holding 36 shipping containers. That’s 324 trucks not driving down the road each pulling one container on a trailer.

Too hot to …

be outside after 9 am and too hot to ride the trails on the other side of the Mississippi River. It was actually just a 10-mile bike ride from our campsite across the river using the Big River Crossing Trail to the Memphis River Walk, then a right turn onto Beale Street, and a few blocks later – ta dah – the closest Starbucks. Surely an incentive but the weather was unbearable.

Saturday night Billie slept sideways in her bed and I slept on a short bed. I took 2 of the 3 back cushions off, it was wide enough and long enough at an angle.

Sunday’s focus was figuring out what was wrong with the slide outs. Billie read, researched, contacted the previous owner, talked with a technician at Lippert (manufacturer of the slide out mechanisms), unscrewed and reattached plates to check the wiring (from a most awkward position too, I had to hold a mirror so she could see the holes), found another fuse box to check if anything had tripped, and finally put a post on an owner’s website. The responses came in quickly … one post said “Is the emergency brake on?” Billie puts on the emergency brake on EVERY time she stops, but not this time. That was it. Problem solved. Slides out. Big lesson learned.

The trailer beside us also had problems. As Don and Mary were driving over the levee to get to this RV park, they blew the transmission in their truck, which was now in the shop being fixed.

W Memphis AR

We had a long day on the road followed by a problem. Some of the roads are in horrible condition and you bounce around or hit unexpected hard bumps or dip into potholes. Bad drivers are always annoying. And then there’s crossing the Mississippi River. I-40 will be closed for months to fix cracks in the steel beams which means all the traffic must cross on Hwy 55. It takes hours to make the crossing, but we were moderately lucky on Saturday morning.

Right after the bridge we turned left to go to Tom Sawyer RV Park. No trees and it’s (expletive) hot.

We have a great view of the Mississippi River.

The problem: the slides would not go out! The road to a solution began …

Truck stops and Cheetos

I’ve developed a habit of buying a small bag of Cheetos at every third truck stop or so when we refuel. I snack as we go down the road then roll up the bag and stick it in the door storage area. When we’re camped, Cheetos don’t enter my mind, but as soon as we’re rolling down the road, I start thinking about how good that day’s snack is going to be.

Hop skip jump

Hop. On Wednesday we stayed at Ocoee Winery in Cleveland TN – a Harvest Host.

We’ve stayed at quite a few Harvest Hosts so far and this one ended up lower in the ranking system we’ve conjured up. We tasted and bought some wine and were told we could use either of two sitting areas – both of which were dilapidated and unusable. This was the best place for wine, cheese and crackers. And the wall in the background was perfect to set a grill on.

Skip. Thursday, Crossing Creeks Farm in Shelbyville TN. A multi-generational farm with a great story. You can learn more about the family and the farm at crossingcreeks.com. The very long driveway crosses two creeks:

There were several RV spots, we parked next to an event space that also served as storage for farm trailers, a boat, etc. Our bikes became towel drying racks and the steps onto the hayride wagon was a good place for the grill.

One flatbed trailer had two rows of harvested garlic drying out:

As we got ready to leave the next morning, we noticed Shane carrying a new-born calf toward a small barn. Elizabeth led the anxious mother closely behind. After having a good meal while the calf rested nearby, they were released back into a field. Another unexpected event we were lucky to see.

Jump. Century Farm Winery in Jackson TN. We parked under a big pecan tree with a cornfield on one side

and the tasting room on the other side.

Tom, behind the bar, was rather entertaining with his banter, knowledge of wines, and Scottish accent.

The view from our “patio”:

Walnut Hollow Ranch

Harvest Host. Excellent destination in Hayesville NC.

We arrived on Monday and stayed for 2 days. We also arranged to buy bacon and sausage before arriving. It was so good we bought more before we left. Just 5 RV spaces with full hookups – perfect.

Plus the environment was perfect. Beautiful.

Swamp Rabbit Trail

We rode 7.5 miles of the trail before our Down the Rabbit Hole tour – 13 miles roundtrip. Today we rode almost all of it. We started early in the morning because it was going to be hot and humid later on. It was actually quite humid even at 8 am but cool when pedaling through the air. Stopping and not moving was when the humidity had more of an impact – at least for me. Our starting point, a bowling alley called Bowlero:

The Swamp Rabbit is a beautiful trail – 13 miles long – it goes through downtown Greenville and past Falls Park on the Reedy, continues to Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, Furman University, and ends in Traveler’s Rest. I took so many great pictures of this trail, you will see just a few highlights.

A few goose families walked their young ones around some little rapids.

One adult leads the younger ones while five “sweeps” follow up.

The black area alongside the asphalt trail is a rubberized surface for runners and walkers:

After turning around in

we stopped at Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery for breakfast. Yum one more time!

27 fantastic miles.