We decided to skip the Hwy. 82 ride this morning, and instead took a lesser-traveled road that required repeating 2.5 miles of the Trace. No big deal, though. The day started out cloudy, but the sun came out around noon and overall it was a very pleasant, warm day.
Shortly after we got on the Trace, we passed through a roughly 8-mile stretch that had been hammered by a tornado in 2011. (The tornado blew through the entire state.) While nature is restoring the area, the havoc the tornado wreaked is still evident (see photos below).
On a happier note, we hit mile 222, the halfway point. Yes!
Slowly, the fall colors are becoming more and more evident. We were told the colors were great north of Tupelo, so we're excited to start seeing that. When we left home, the colors were a week at most from peak color. By the time we return home, we'll have missed peak color, so I hope we can catch some great color down here.
Mile 266 was the Tupelo Visitors' Center, which is the main visitors' center for the Trace. The center has fantastic displays on the Trace, a movie and gifts, plus knowledgeable staff. The only disappointing note for the day was that there was no good way to get to our hotel, La Quinta, about 3-4 miles away. We were faced with busy roads without shoulders. The visitor center staff, park ranger and locals all gave us different advice about the best way to get there. Between walking our bikes, cutting through parking lots and braving four-lane roads without shoulders, we made it! But we booked two taxis for tomorrow morning that can take us and our bikes safely back to the Trace.
Staying tonight at La Quinta, a wonderful place. Right across the street is South, a higher-end restaurant with great food and I think the best wait staff I've encountered in my life. From the server to the bartender to the owner to the maitre d', everyone was beyond attentive. And the food was great!