Saturday, April 24, 2010

Arkansas meets Missouri

8 days a week

The "Open 8 days a week" sign catches my attention and I think, "cute".  But then I see the closed sign on the door and I begin to wonder what day it is.  The 9th day of the week maybe?  I have had weeks, back when I was among the working class, that had 8 or 9 days working days in them.  

Speaking of work
We keep passing all these little educational factories with full parking lots and we know that America's brightest minds are being nurtured to their full potential. We smile to know that the process goes on and we smile because we're just gliding past on our bicycle. And as we smile and pedal down the road I can hear Kamala singing, "NANNY, NANNY, BOO, BOO." 

Ahh, this can't be right.
This is a very popular chain of convenience stores in the area, but wouldn't you like to have been the fly on the wall at the meeting where they came up with that name? Or maybe we just have dirty minds.

Sometimes going out of your way can be good.
I'm sitting in one of the smallest yet most diverse National Forests in the U.S.: St. Francis. But I'm not happy. We've just left the flat delta and found the only hills in the area and went 7 miles out of our way. I feel guilty and responsible. It was only supposed to be 2 to 3 miles out of our way and I didn't expect the hills. I had confirmed camping facilities on the internet and I even called, but we discover that due to a recent State Park - National Park merger the camping facilities were being reconstructed. The State Park ranger was kind enough to give us permission to camp at the day-use facilities. Charley puts his hand on my back, "It's OK, just look around. It's beautiful." It was. Slowly the magic of this forest calms and heals my spirit. Camp is set up. I make chamomile tea. We sip and take in the beauty that surrounds our little home. As dusk dims, a cacophonous lulluby of hoots, chirps, creaks, and squeaks emanate from the darkness. I emerge from our little nighttime cocoon to see a light glow reflecting off the still lake. Slowly the excitement of the new evening settles down to complete silence. Magic! We leave the next day, grateful for the out-of-way excursion. 

Did ya'll (I'm developing a Southern accent) ever hear of 'Larry the Cable Guy' from Red Neck Comedy? I'm outside a convenient store while Charley is purchasing bicycle fuel (lunch) and this guy walks up to me, and I swear if I had my eyes closed that it would have been him. He said, "Good Lord, ya'll are taking 'green' to a whole 'nother level! I swear, ya'll are goin' hog-wild! Good travels to you!"
I smile, "Thanks!"
Another fellow walks by and asks, "Where ya'll comin' from?"
"El Paso, TX"
"MERCY!" I just came from El Paso, Arkansas and I couldn't do that on a bicycle!

All of these comments, waves from cars, thumbs up, make me feel like I'm in a one-float parade. 

Our last day in Arkansas finally came to a close but not too soon that the gnats didn't get to have fun with us. Apparently, they love sweaty heads. We're riding to a state park and stop to look at a map and suddenly we are swarmed with gnats. I see Charley's helmet is covered with hovering pests. They really like those ventilation holes in the helmets too. They playing chase and hide-n-go seek with each other as we try to bat them away. We finally take off and are free of most of the little fighter jets at about 12 m.p.h.. We stop again, to breathe, to check our location and THEY'RE BACK! Off again, every time we stop the flying gremlins are back so we decide that our state park camping goal just might be loaded with the little varmints at this time, so to continue moving seems like a good idea and we both agree that we have more miles in our legs.

Our new destination is Jonesboro, another 20 miles.We arrive and are manuvering our two-wheeled cargo through afternoon traffic of 55,000 population and I feel something on my arm and look down to find a two-inch iridescent bug calmly stretching his legs. Little did he know that it's human vehicle was going to shriek, shudder, shake the bike violently, and flick him off onto oncoming vehicles. After Charley learns of my encounter, he chuckles. Actually he has to; he did a wonderful job keeping the bicycle straight with all my tumultuous movements. After that I see signs like, 'Buy a room of furniture and get a free bug.' I shake my head, oh yeah it says rug. Later on an RV sales says, 'Free bug with purchase of an RV." Alright, now I have a problem.

Obligatory new state photo
This is just something cycling tourists seem to do, (state and country boundaries and mountain tops).  We've now crossed Arkansas diagonally and, all in all, a sweet ride.  The roads were safe, 95% of the shoulders were wide and smooth. The most dangerous parts of the trip were bridges and towns. There are NO shoulders on bridges or in towns, (or sidewalks for that matter), so we just had get out there in the traffic. We had no close calls because the motorists treated us real nice and gave us plenty of space. Thanks Arkansas.

Kamala--The flat terrain buckled at the Jonesboro city limits as we rolled up and down a few hills. Fitting, we had hills when we came into Arkansas and we'll have hills as we leave. Arkansas has been our home for almost two weeks and it finally ends when we take our victory picture at the Missouri state line. We pass Trinity Community Church where men are standing around a pick-up truck's bed and one calls out over the 50 yards, "WHERE ARE YOU GOIN'?"
He shouts back, "GOOD L-O-R-D! GO WITH GOD!"
Welcome to Missouri!

To ride, or not to ride

Charley--It was an unanimous vote by our little tandem team to find a dry place to hold up in. 
We're 1,404 miles away from home. We're currently in Hayti (Hay-tie) and taking a day off, thanks to the weather and 100% precipitation. Tornadoes are the main topic on The Weather Channel. 

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