Dave's Ride to Remember 2001

Day Seven

by Dave Schultheis

Saturday, May 26, 2001 - [still in] Fort Smith, Arkansas

I was awake at 6:15 a.m. and up at about seven o'clock, washed and combed and packed and loaded the car. I drove over to the office and then walked (limped) inside for the Continental Breakfast; in this case, all I had was juice.

In my trips to the laundromat and the dealer, I had located the Fort Smith post office, so I stopped there for a picture for my album, even though it wouldn't count for the ABCs of Touring.

Then I stopped at a Walgreens and a liquor store to get a case of Coca Cola and a case of Budweiser for the Service Department guys, then refueled and "returned" the rental car.

I say "returned" because it was Enterprise and after they got me checked in and paid, they were kind enough to take me over to Denney's H-D, just a few blocks away.

I stowed my gear near the Service Department entrance, delivered the liquids to the parts guy (for proper storage in the employee refrigerator) and took a look at the Road King.

The bike looked fine/much better but did not have an engine guard ("crash bar"), so I asked them to put one on and they said they would. I later found out that I was charged labor three times: once for them to remove it from the bike it was on, once for them to install it on my bike and once for them to put a replacement crash bar on the bike that they had taken this one from, when that new crash bar came in, some few days in the future. (It sort of made sense, didn't it?)

After some waiting, some talking and some paying (a little over $2000, they had to call it in to American Express), I was good (and safe) to go.

I asked one of the local H.O.G. members/customers who was hanging around the shop if he would take a picture, then rounded up the entire Service Department (Mike, Ron, Kevin and Chad) and had the guy take a picture of me and Pearl and the four of them.

It took me a little while to load up all my stuff while the bike was warming up, then I thanked everyone again and got back on the road at 11:15 a.m.

I rode a few miles north on Interstate 540 and then back onto eastbound I-40. Careful readers will note that this put me directly on track to go by Mile 37, where the unscheduled dismount had occurred, but I calmed and reassured myself and relaxed my tense muscles as I approached the scene of the incident.

This time through, I stayed on the concrete so that there would be no transition from asphalt to concrete, and safely got through the area with no additional problems.

I was a day and a half late in my plans to get to the Washington, D.C. area, but I was anxious to continue the trip and see how far I could get.

I got fuel in Alma, AR at 11:30 a.m. It was another warm southern day and I was still hurtin', so I didn't feel too bad stopping at a rest stop about 70 minutes later. As this was a holiday weekend, the Johnson County Storm Team was staffing the rest stop, handing out food and drink to tired travelers.

I realized that during the repairs, the handlebars had been adjusted to a different position from what I had been used to, and it was fairly uncomfortable. I stopped at another rest stop another hour later, then pulled into Jones Harley-Davidson in Little Rock, AR at 2:41 p.m.

When I went into the Service Department, I asked the young man if it would be possible to make this adjustment and to help me locate a rattle. He asked me what kind of bike I had. He said that certain models were much easier to fix, but that since it was a Road King, it would be "a booger" to fix the handlebars right now, but their Technician Kevin did give the bike a once-over and tightened the horn, which had been rattling, didn't charge me for it, and sent me on my way.

After another fuel stop and another rest stop, I saw a sign saying it was only another 50 miles to Memphis, TN, so I pushed on.

I had determined from reading my maps that it was a short distance from Memphis to the Mississippi state line, so I followed the signs for U.S. Highway 51. However, as I read the roadside signs, it became obvious that in doing so, I would miss the Tennessee Welcome Center on Interstate 40.

Hy 51 was actually a city street, and after driving past some homes and stores and parking lots, I was in Mississippi but I didn't know it.

Unfortunately there was no "Welcome to Mississippi" sign, but I stopped to take a picture of a city sign, and when I stopped at a convenience store a few blocks later, the clerk told me I was in Mizz-ippi.

I knew that Interstate 55 was nearby, so I rode a few blocks east and then got on northbound I-55. There was a fairly safe place to stop to take a picture of the "Welcome to Tennessee" sign, but as I continued north to the next off ramp (to come back), the road was under construction, very rough and dotted with barrels and other barricades. Having just experienced a crash due to rough pavement, I was not a happy camper.

On the southbound side of I-55 there was a small Mississippi sign but it was hard to find a safe place to park and take a picture. Once I got it, it was hard getting back on the freeway, but I did it, then got back off at the next exit.

There was a gas station there, so I refueled and then went a few blocks west and turned north on Hy 51 again. From this direction there were two Memphis signs, so I stopped for photographs and continued north.

A few blocks later I realized that one of the parking lots I had passed was across the street from Graceland. I saw the gates to the property (with the musical notes) and recognized them right away. Evidently when I had passed the first time, a truck or bus had been in the way and I didn't see them.

I got back onto a maze of highways and somehow found my way eastbound on Interstate 40 but never did see the Tennessee Welcome Center.

At 7:45 p.m., I stopped to rest at exit 56, Brownsville, TN. I called my brother James on the phone but got the answering machine. I did talk to my sister and updated her on my progress - both where I was and how I was healing.

An hour and a half later I pulled into Jackson, TN and found a bustling little town with lots of cars and a whole bunch o' motels and restaurants. I'm not really sure why there was so much activity but the map says it's not far from the Casey Jones Home and Railroad Museum, plus it was Memorial Day weekend.

The sign at the Econolodge said they had rooms for $30.95 but (of course) there were no singles left, I had to pay $45.95 for a King room. On the one hand, I was able to park right outside the room, but on the other hand I had to walk (limp) about a half mile to the ice machine.

While unpacking and cleaning the bike, I talked to a rider from Texas about his trailer and his bike. He and his wife had visited Graceland for about 4 hours earlier in the day and he was glad they had the trailer to carry home all the treasures they had found.

As it was late, I took a shower and went to bed.

Miles for the day = 430.

Miles for the trip = 2814.

Nice people talked to = quite a few.

Tomorrow: Can I make it to The Wall in time?

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Last updated on March 8, 2002.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA