Day 8
March 29th, 2007
Coppell, Texas

I squared away most of my gear the night before so not much to do this morning but get dressed and head east.  Ken had to be at work at 7am, and he needed to be on the road around 6am.  "I like to get there early."  The fire service is such a fun job, it is common for guys to report for duty 30-60 minutes EARLY to catch up on the scuttlebutt, and interact with the off going shift.

After thanking everyone for such a nice stay at the Hendrix household, I followed Ken on the dark streets of Coppell back to the freeway system to escape the metromess.  My custom route didn't start till I was on I-20 east of Dallas, the Zumo was going to auto route me to the starting point.

If I really wanted I could ride I-20 all the way to Alabama and home by late this afternoon, but that wouldn't be any fun.  Still roads to ride and things to see.   My plan is leave Texas on I-20, and then turn north on backroads into Arkansas east of Shreveport.

The ride today is mostly to set up the ride for tomorrow through the Mississippi Delta, the last remaining objective of this fun and unique tour.

At this hour traffic was not a problem as I followed I-635 out of Coppell around the east side of the Metromess.  Talk about your urban sprawl-this area is growing by the day.  Things change by the hour here.  What was here on Tuesday could be gone on Wednesday, and by Friday something new is there.

It seemed like a long ride on the 635, most of it in the dark.  I passed several construction crews preparing for their day by placing cones and barricades out.  "Man, I don't wanna be here in another hour when the rush hour begins, in this construction zone."

The Zumo pointed me over to U.S. 80 to connect to I-20.  The connector is a freeway type road, and the pace was quick.

With a big storm chasing me, I went to I-20 east, it was still dark.  I did a head check and merged into the flow.  I was back in the east, so rode with the reserve lights on for 20 miles.  Both the Zumo and dash lights were blinking.

In Terrel I heeded the call and gassed at a 66 station.  A truck driver asked if I knew where his next delivery address was.  It was obvious I wasn't local, so I don't know why he picked ME.  "Not from around here, but I can help, gimme the address."  I put in the numbers on the zumo and the directions quickly came back. 

"You need to go out here and turn left, take the next right, and the place is quarter mile on the left.  About 2 miles away." 


Dawn was breaking when I got back on the road, the eastern sky was partly cloudy, not at all like the rainy looking west.  The humidity was picking up also.  Alabama needed the rain in the front behind me, but a stubborn high pressure system had been parked over the state for 2 weeks, diverting all moisture up and around.  I knew if I could make it to the Mississippi River, I had little chance of getting wet.

I came through a bad bug swarm on this morning and the RT was covered, and I was out of Plexus.  "I'll find a Honda Shop in Shreveport and pick some up."

Traffic on I-20 picked up around Tyler and Longview, and I was riding into a now bright Eastern sun.  When I'm on a interstate the miles are intolerably slow, no matter how fast I go.

I took the Marshall exit and found a busy con store to take my morning break.  I made a sandwich and bought something to drink.  I stood outside by the bike.  A man in a  Lexus pulled next to me, got out and went inside.  He came out with some coffee and honey bun and said, " Nice bike."  Before returning to the road I vented out the Roadcrafter and went to textile gloves.  It was going to be a warm day.

The 18 wheelers on I-20 seemed to be conspiring against me.  I was boxed in several times and just had to ride it out.  I don't like being caught in that situation because I can't see the road ahead.

Near Shreveport I went to my custom POIs on the Zumo and brought up Honda Dealers.  The nearest dealer was 15 miles away on the south side of the city.  I hit go and followed the arrows.  About 20 minutes later I was at the just opened Honda shop and had my plexus.  I cleaned the screen and the fairing of the RT before getting back on the road.  "Much better, now take me back to my custom route."  The unit calculated the best way to get to my next waypoint, and off I went.  I picked I-20 back up on the west side of the city.  

My first trip with GPS is turning out to be fun.  I can do things now, I use to never attempt.  It took me so long to go to GPS, not because I thought it was hokey, but I was waiting for the right unit, and not trying to make a auto unit fit.

I finally left I-20 at Minden, and visited a ATM, then went north out of the city on U.S. 79.  

It was good to see green again.  The thick, vibrant foliage you find in the southeast.  After several days out west, I missed it, I always do when I spend time in the Southwest.
​Good to see green again.  Somewhere in Arkansas on U.S. 63
My route from here to the river was complicated, I hoped my planning was good, and I could stay on course.  Custom GPS routes are only as good as the guy creating it, but even if you mess up, as long as the ending point is where its suppose to be, you'll get there.

I was down to just a couple of bars so gassed in El Dorado, at a Chevron station.
​For Westerners, water is common in the East, and found
everywhere.  Such as this farm pond in Arkansas.  I use to
take it for granted, but my tours in the southwest changed that.

From El Dorado I went to U.S. 167 and continued north.  The riding was so so.  Mostly timberland and a few hills, but nothing to get excited about.  The day was really beginning to get warm, and my hay fever, which had been non existent in the desert, was back in full force.

The miles were much better on the back roads of Arkansas, and by the time I came into Hampton it was after 12 pm.  Past my lunch window.  "Gonna be crowded now."  I saw an old truck in front of "Big Daddy's" and pulled in for lunch.

 I was already over 300 miles for the day.

In a place like Big Daddy's a hamburger is a safe bet, so I ordered one up.  A young couple by the wall and myself were the only patrons.  The waitress was also cook and cashier.   

Cingular left a message I needed to pay my bill.  Away from my computer I had totally forgotten about it.  Funny how dependent I am on that little box.  My life would almost shut down if someone took it away.  My music, photos, videos, games, news, finances, friend connection, training regimen, and long riding all depends on that thing.  I hate its that way, but that's reality.  I did the #729 dial on the phone and paid my bill with the debit card they have on file.  "Well took care of that easy enough."

A young couple sitting across the cafe from me started raising their voices.  "Dang, this is gonna be good."  I said.  The young man had on a white t shirt with his hair in a ponytail, she wore some kind of hospital or doctor office uniform, but I don't think she was an RN, she was farther down the food chain then that.  "That must be their old pick up outside with the broke windshield." I thought.  She stood up, flung her napkin down on the table and shouted at him,  "How ya reckon we're gonna go to Little Rock Easter, and my momma's?"  "I dunno baby but we'll work it out"  'AND DON'T EVEN THINK YOU'RE GOIN WITH THOSE BOYS TONIGHT."  "I already said I would."  WELL YOU BETTER GET EM ON THE PHONE COS THAT AIN'T GONNA FLY.   IN FACT I'M OUTTA HERE!"  "WAIT A MINUTE HOW AM I SUPPOSE TO GET BACK TO WORK??"  "WALK!"  And she stormed out the door with her nose in the air.  I was laughing like hell.   She was halfway to the door, when I called out to her,  "look here baby,  I know you're gonna lay rubber leavin here, so watch out for my bike."  DON'T WORRY, THAT PIECE OF JUNK CAN'T LAY RUBBER."  She snatched the door open so hard the vacuum nearly pulled my Arai off the table.

I looked over to the young man in the booth.  "DAYUM! That was awesome!"

"Man this sucks, I ain't gotta way back to the shop."

"How far is it?"

"5 miles"

I laughed, "dang bro, I'd give ya a ride but I'm loaded down."

"Thats Ok I'll call my brother to come get me."

"so what ya gonna tell him happened to your ride?"

"The truth, that Cindy got pissed off and left me here.  Everyone knows how she's subject to go off."

"How long y'all been married?"

"2 years"

About that time my hamburger came out.  I was eating while watching the young man out in the parking lot waiting for his ride.  She never did come back for him. 
​All quiet at Big Daddy's after SHE left.
I don't know why Big Daddy's didn't have more customers, the food was good, and the entertainment one of kind.  I put some notes in the Axim and left my son a text to call his mother to let her know I was fine.

Feeling good I left Hampton on U.S. 278.  The route was typical U.S. highway, kind of busy and crowded.  I try to avoid U.S. routes as much as I can in the east, because they are tied to so much urban sprawl.

Monticello was a typical old south town in this part of the country.  Older wood frame homes on large lots, lots of trees, and green lawns.  I took a nice local road not on most maps and caught up with SR 83.  The riding was good, taking me past lakes, thick woods, and fields with rolling hills.

SR 83 mysteriously turned into SR 54 and the landscape started to change.  From timberland and woods I started seeing large cultivated tracts.  A crop duster dipped and swooned overhead, dusting some kind of crop.  Scores of John Deere's were in the fields and on the highway.  It was getting warm, time to plant, and unless something unusual happens, the last of the frosts are gone.

Near Dumas I stopped at a local store for no other reason other then it looked interesting.  Inside I met a lady named Pam.  She informed me I was officially in the Delta, but on the west side.  "But life here is pretty much the same as that of the east side.  Lots of farming, the land is good."  I hung around with a canned drink for 15 minutes, and got back on my way.
​The conversation was good in this store in the Delta.
Sometimes you have to make yourself slow down, and
sample things

Dumas was the site of a recent tornado.  Pam told me I could see the damage when I came through town.  When I arrived on the east side of town it was easy to see the path the tornado took.  It wiped out a McDonalds, a storage shed complex, a few other businesses, and some homes, but after seeing New Orleans, I wasn't impressed.
​All that is left of a Dumas mini storage business, after a recent

I took U.S. 165 North and went on final approach to Helena.  Pam corrected me back at the store when I pronounced it, "Hey-lean-a" like the one in Montana.  She told me it was "Helen-a."  "Have you been to the one in Montana?" 

"Yes, several times." 

"I hear its beautiful there." 

"That would be understatement."

The route went to SR 1 and I left 165.  The road moved up and down over the the round topped hills, and even had a few curves.  Rows of plowed fields were all around me.  The riding was good.

Eventually I came to the end of my route on SR 49, just a few miles west of Helena, my stopping point for the day.  I coasted to a church parking lot to see what to do next.  I brought up the lodging info for Helena and was granted several options, but none of them looked good.  "I'll just ride into town and see what I can find."  A few miles later I saw a sign for Motel 6 and that ended the quest.  I found the motel off the highway under some trees.  It was recently converted to Motel 6 from something else.

I was checking in the room and asked the lady for a place to eat.  She gave me a card for "Olivers," and said it was pretty good.  I pulled the RT to the front door of my room and ended a 503 mile day.  "Didn't seem that far."
After unloading I cleaned the screen of the RT with my new Plexus.  I checked tire pressure and oil, all was good.  The RT burned oil like a drunk sailor when it was new.  It gradually got better and better, and now between changes burns none.   It was down a little, but not at the point I needed to add.  On the Honda I quit checking, nothing ever changes.

I took a shower and put in the address for Olivers.  "Dam, 6 miles over there."  So I got back on the RT and headed that way, but if I saw something before getting there, I would divert.  There was nothing on this side of Helena but fast food places so I rode all the way to the cafe and found it in a questionable section of town.  "Dang, this area ain't hittin on much."

The cafe was in a old store front shop in the ransacked business district.  The place was busy inside and cheerful, I was surprised.  Too much background noise to make a phone call so I worked on my journal.  An older couple from the Ozarks was seated next to me, and advised they rode a GL.  "So what brings you to Helena," they asked.  "Nuttin, I'm just passin through on my way home, and y'all?"  "Believe it or not we came here on a destination when we saw this add for B and B."  I laughed out loud.  "Really?"  With a puzzled look on my face.  "We had NO idea," the lady said.  "Well this IS the Delta, what where you expecting?"  "I dunno but we are staying across the street, and its like a slum, this whole town is not fit for much.  We're leaving tomorrow."
The service was slow at Olivers, but the food was good.  I had chicken and rice.

It was dark when I finished supper and made it back out to the bike.  A row of Harley's were arriving on the scene while I was gearing up.  I came to the cafe on GPS, but I had no address to give it to go back.  I'd have to return by memory.  I was a little worried, but made it ok.  

Near the motel I stopped at a stop and rob for a bag of popcorn. 
In the room I ate popcorn and checked the Zumo for tomorrow's ride through the Delta and home.  Looked good.  The storm behind me was causing all kinds of problems in some of the Texas areas I came through.  My timing had been good.  It was far west of me now, and I was in no danger of it catching me.

The motel was really quiet, only a few customers in the 200+ rooms.  I fell asleep fast.