Day Fourteen by Dave Schultheis
Sunday, June 1, 2003 - Gardner, Tennessee
My brilliant, middle-of-the-night idea to try using ear plugs to keep out the noise was not so brilliant. They _did_ cut down on some of the outside noise, but they amplified the breathing (and probably the snoring) noises in my head, so I removed them. Besides nearby snoring, two very early-morning departures and the lack of a pillow, it was another not so comfortable night.
I was awake and moving at 5:08 a.m., and started to slowly pack my belongings while I was still in the tent so as not to make too much noise and annoy others.
Others were also getting up as I carried some of my stuff down to the tent area and cleaned off one table so that I could roll up my sleeping bag and Therm-A-Rest into as small size as possible. Then I joined others in cleaning the rest of the tables, picking up trash and generally neatening up the area.
Breakfast had been prepared, so I had some pancakes and a banana "for the road."
One of the technical innovations I observed while at the Temporary Bar & Grill was Tim O.'s Taillight Trash-bag System. He hooks an ordinary plastic bag (from the grocery or drug store) over the rear turn-signals of his motorcycle as a place to put small pieces of trash and debris while he's packing his stuff. Excellent idea, Tim.
My own non-technical innovation was to take the old towels that I used to wipe down the dew from the tent, and bungee cord them to the top of some of my gear, so that they would dry in the sunshine as I was riding.
After many goodbyes and opening the gate for others to leave, I said my goodbyes and left Roger & Karen's at 9:05 a.m., in cool temperatures, and rode westbound on TN 431 toward Union. I knew there was an Obion County sign just down the road, so I took a picture, then continued into Union and turned south on U.S. Highway 51.
I passed a church with sign in front, "Wal-Mart is not the only saving place."
Thirty-some miles down the road I turned west onto a combination of U.S. Highway 412 and Interstate 155, crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri (took a picture, I think) and continued a few miles to Interstate 55, then rode north for about a mile and continued west on U.S. 412 into Hayti MO, in beautiful sunshine.
I stopped for a directional sign picture ("Braggadocio") and then noted Chubby's BarBQ ("come get Chubby with us!") and Boudreaux's authentic Cajun Cafe ("come in for ribs, finger-lickin bone-suckin good").
While stopped there (and chuckling), some other riders stopped; a Harley pulling a trailer, another Harley pulling a trailer, a ?Honda pulling a trailer, and a small blue (junky) follow-car with slipping fanbelt ("screech, screech"). Their leader wanted to be sure I was okay, so I thanked them, took my pictures, made my notes and got back on the road.
As I rode through Hayti, I saw a sign on a bail bondsman's van parked at the side of the road: "I doze but don't sleep."
I continued west on U.S. 412 and Missouri Highway 84, passing several closed gas stations with closed snack or convenience stores attached. It looked like they had all gone out of business.
Down the road in Kennett MO, I followed Hy 412 as it turned southwest, while Hy 84 continued west, and I caught up with the other riders with trailers who were splitting up and going in different directions.
In this section of the Missouri boot-heel I saw a number of homes and businesses that appear to have been hit by a tornado. I don't mean they were messy, I mean they look like they were hit by a tornado. I recalled seeing some news coverage of the tornadoes that had gone through the area some months earlier.
There was plenty of sunshine and it was a very comfortable ride. I crossed a body of water and some bridge construction into Arkansas (picture) at 11:25 a.m., then a few minutes later stopped for fuel at an Amoco Station in Paragould. There was a sign on the pump saying "BP welcomes Amoco fuels," so I guessed that there was a transition taking place.
I took the opportunity to check the map and try to memorize the next few highways I would be taking. One sign on a nearby business said it was 69 degrees F., another said it was 76 degrees. Either way, it was warm enough to remove the soft lowers from the engine guard ("crash bars"). I also turned the old towels I was carrying so that the wet side would be in the sunshine. I noted that some riders were wearing helmets, some were not.
I got back on the road and continued westbound on U.S. 412, got into Walnut Ridge and turned south on U.S. Highway 67, through Hoxie and headed southwesterly toward Little Rock.
Somewhere along here I saw a sign on a church: "You can remain youthful by being useful."
In Diaz I stopped at the Arkansas State Police barracks for a photograph (and to cool off in the shade), then took the little jog that takes you from the two-lane highway to the four-lane freeway, still southbound on U.S. 67.
Another 40 miles or so and I stopped in Searcy for a beautiful sign on a frontage road. The road was a little hard to find, but the sign was worth it.
My nose told me there was a Wendy's in town, and I rode west a few blocks and found it, in hot temperatures at 2:00 p.m., so I went inside to enjoy a hamburger with air conditioning. There were several other riders inside who finished and went outside without saying a word or looking in my direction. Maybe I looked too mean. Or grubby.
I finished lunch, rode back through Searcy and continued south on U.S. 67. Somewhere along here I saw a sign that said "You can multiply your happiness by dividing it."
At Beebe AR I turned westbound on U.S. Highway 64 and rode about 30 miles into Conway, where I stopped for fuel at a Texaco Station at 3:10 p.m. It was hot!
I knew that Old Crow works in Conway, but he and Lynn were likely still on the road, so there was no point in going by his workplace, especially since it was Sunday. Instead, I turned west on Interstate 40 and skedaddled for the Oklahoma border. Did I mention that it was hot? Not that it would be any cooler in OK, but it's not so bad while moving.
A little after 4 p.m. I stopped at a rest area near mile 76 (?) for some shade, then continued westbound. Sometime later I passed the scene of my 2001 accident on the other side of Interstate 40, but couldn't see the spot for all the trees in the divider. I don't exactly think they would have erected a marker, but I'm still missing a couple things.
I stopped at the Oklahoma state line for a photograph at 5:35 p.m., and shortly thereafter saw a sign with drawings of a car and an airplane and the words "Watch Your Speed. We Are." I really enjoyed that one.
Then at 5:50 p.m. I stopped at the Oklahoma Welcome Center. Although the center itself was closed, the restrooms were open (thank you, Oklahoma). It was warm and breezy although there was a high overcast and I could barely seen the sun as I continued westbound. But it was up there, doin' its thing.
Half an hour later I took exit 308 at Sallisaw OK, checked a couple of motels and settled on the Southern Hearth Inn, a newly re-opened old place that was lightly occupied and which offered an AAA discount. The room clerk gave me the key (a real metal key) to Room 23, and 'splained that, sorry, the laundry wasn't working. Rats! Oh, well.
Before putting anything in the room, I rode across the street to the Wal-Mart to drop off some LPCs at the one-hour photo. Outside I saw a young couple on a motorcycle, and the male was willing to take my picture with the Road King to help use up one more shot.
I also took the opportunity to stop for fuel at a Phillips 66 Station, then rode back to the motel to put my things away and to enjoy the air conditioning. After I got things put away, I rode (helmetless) back to Wal-Mart to pick up my photos, then stopped at McDonald's for some kind of healthy salad (gag) with chicken pieces.
I rode back across to the motel at 7:50 p.m. and parked the bike right in front of Room 23. I tried to carry _everything_ inside in one trip, but ended up spilling my (wonderful, healthy) salad in the parking lot. Oh, well, I was able to save the chicken pieces and some of the lettuce (gag), so it wasn't a total loss. Next time: make two trips.
I cabled the Road King to a pipe in front of the room and noted that the parking lot was well lit, so everything appeared very secure.
It had been a long, hot day, so I was very happy to get inside and take a shower, then turned on CNN, called home, checked for messages, and returned a couple of phone calls. Later, I watched some chopper builders on the Discovery Channel and went to bed around 10:30 p.m.
Miles for the day = 422. Miles for the trip = 4873.
Tomorrow: rain, then heat, and the Big Texas Steak Ranch.