​​​BamaRider
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Day 2
June 14th, 2005
In the Ozark Mountains
Near Eureka Springs, Arkansas


This morning is a far cry from 2002.  At that time a blowing rain was pounding the Iron Horse and delayed my departure for at least an hour.  Today rain would not be a problem.  The sky was crystal blue, and the air cool.  Last night's storms had washed the atmosphere of the thick humidity, and cooled the temps off.  A cool front was passing through, and I was right in the middle of it.  How lucky can a long rider get in mid June?

I checked the tire pressure.  Both were a few pounds low.  I'll take care of that in Eureka.  The 1300 is more sensitive to tire pressure than any of my previous bikes.

By 7am I was loaded and out the door.  It was a great day for a ride.  I took U.S. 62 West and headed toward Kansas.  The route is a good one as I ran it in the opposite direction from last year.

Eureka Springs is the Gatlinburg of the Ozarks.  Not quite to the scale of the Smoky Mountain city but getting there.  It is full of tourists traps, motels, goofy golf, and restaurants.  The town was quiet as I passed through this early morning.
A con store with a air compressor donated a few psi and I got back on my way.  I still had half a tank of gas so skipped a fill up.  I was anxious to get underway, and besides I don't really worry about gas in this part of the country.  I'm going to stop in a hundred miles anyway, so will consolidate gas with peanut butter and jelly.

The road surface was wet, and a few curves still had trash on them from the night before.  The curves banked me downhill as I slipped on to Bentonville.  The riding was good as I leaned the loaded 1300 for 40 or so miles to Wal Mart City.
You would think traffic would not be a problem in Bentonville.  Think again.  It was work time for the Wal Mart folks and everyone was on their way.  The mega store dominates the city and is spread out everywhere.  Traffic backed up at many intersections, overwhelming the light controlled turn lanes.  It was chaos.

The Bentonville area was not made for such traffic, and the infrastructure is being pounded.  Everything is stressed to the limits.

I rode past a Wal Mart store and felt sorry for the store manager.  How would you like to be in charge of a store where big wheels everyday come in to shop.  I bet that joker gets more memos than a absent minded president.  "I was in your store yesterday, and aisle 7 had stuff on the floor.  signed S. Walton jr.  Chairman of the Board. "

U.S. 71 was hard to find.  I missed it for some reason, but found a guy unloading a vacuum cleaner from his car trunk, at a sewing machine repair place.   "Which way to U.S. 71?"  "Go back and turn left at the underpass."

Getting to Kansas from this little corner of the Ozarks was going to be complicated, but I figured I'd make it.  The route north of the city showed improvements.  Several areas were still under the same construction I noticed when I came through here 3 years ago. 

A couple of hours after leaving the Iron Horse, and 100 miles, I was pulling in a con store in Neosho for gas and a sandwich.  I filled the 1300 and went in for a Mountain Dew to drink with my peanut butter and jelly.  I was walking back to the drink coolers when a older man wearing a seed hat noticed me.  He was thin and had on faded overalls.  He looked at me, and said with perk, " There he is, easy money."  I smiled, "aw cmon is it THAT obvious?" 

The paper in the rack read Michael Jackson was found not guilty.  "Well dayum, first OJ, then Robert Blake, now Jackson.  I wonder what Martha Stewart is thinkin?"

I paid for my drink and went outside and made my sandwich over the H2W bags on the 1300.  My bread was still fresh.  My Rubbermaid box is doing a good job.  I figured I'd buy another loaf sometime today, and repack the box.

I called Debbie and reported my whereabouts, and caught up with things at home.  I almost always called her at my first morning break.

A short ride later I took SR 86 to cut over to I-44.  I got stuck in a long construction zone and had to wait 20 minutes for the pilot truck.  I passed the time walking around and making notes on the Axim.



















 
"I got stuck in a long construction zone and had to wait 20 
minutes for the pilot truck"

From I-44 I went to U.S. 400 and into Kansas.  I had to settle down for the long ride across the Plains.  Kansas is almost 500 miles across east to west, so no need to be in a hurry, and I wasn't.

A cattle truck entered the highway in front of me.  Why he could not wait for me is unknown.  I had to smell that awful trailer for a few miles till I found a place to take him.  Man it was satisfying when I came around him.

Unlike the Ozarks, the Plains of Kansas are pancake flat.  I still had a little greenery, but I knew that was on the way out.  In a few miles it will be all prairie and little foliage.  The temp was only in the mid 60s.

Traffic signs in Kansas are helpful.  "KS Route 63 3 miles,"  A great way to find out where you need to be.

I turned off 400 onto U.S. 69, and then went to U.S. 160 West, the route that would take me all the way to the mountains of Colorado.

Near Oswego I passed 3 gravel trucks one at a time.  I'd take one, come back in, check things out, then take another.  They were helpless to do anything about it.

Oswego seemed like a nice town.  A sign as you entered announced anyone building a house here, would receive a 2,000 dollar bonus.  Folks, the Great Plains are suffering.  No one wants to farm anymore as people flee for the cities.  Most feel life in these small towns is not fun.  But I disagree, you won't find nicer people anywhere, and their sense of values and trust need to rubbed off on the rest of us.

























                      The Great Plains is begging for people to come
 
Through the town I went, pass the tractor supply and hardware stores.  I had to keep moving west.  I busted out the west end and put the 1300 on 85 and tore across the open range land for Independence.  I figured a good lunch could be found there.

Traffic was non existent.  Just me and the open road.

On the east side of Independence I found a cafe called Kinsey's and came off the road.  I had to use the skid plate on the soft asphalt driveway.  Can't risk the 13 falling over.

After throwing my gear on a empty seat, I sat down.  A nice middle aged waitress brought water, and I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich.

A few minutes later a big man walked in, in his 60s, and took the table next to me.  He acknowledged me and asked- "that your motorcycle out front?"  "Yes sir."  "Where ya from?"  "Alabama."  " So, dam whata ya doin here?"  "Nuttin just passin through on my way to California."

The waitress called him Big Daddy.  He shouted out, "Hey is ANYONE gonna take my order??"  He was a regular and knew everybody in the place.   "I'll be there when I can."  "Well there goes YOUR tip."  "Big Daddy your cheap ass ain't NEVER left any money anyways, so whats new?"  That cracked everybody up including me.

I told Big Daddy- "I guess she told YOU."

Finally she came over and he ordered a hamburger.  While we waited for our food Big Daddy and I had a long talk.  He grows wheat and raises cows, and leaves the farm every day for lunch at Kinsey's.  A few other farmers came in and sat down with him.  "Still too damn muddy to get in the fields," one remarks.

I asked Big Daddy, "so ya gonna make any money off your cows this year?"

"prolly not, but who knows."

The waitress sat his burger down in front of him, and with a smile he says, "You call that a hamburger??"  "Be quiet and just eat," she shoots back.

Big Daddy finished eating and said he had to get back to work.  "Take care son, and have a safe ride.  Wish I was YOU."  "You too Big Daddy, don't let em work ya too hard."




























                                  You will find "Big Daddy" here most everyday

I called Debbie and Chris and made a few notes in the Axim to capture the moment.  I loaded my things in my pockets.  I looked around for my ticket, but found none.  "Baby can ya bring my ticket?"  "Big Daddy already took care of it sir."  I smiled and looked out the window as he backed his old pick up and shifted to drive.  I watched him as he got back on 160 and went back to his fields.  See what I mean about folks in the Heartland?

It was mid day when I left Independence for more riding across the Great Plains.  The sun was high in the blue sky and there wasn't a cloud all the way to California.  I motored past the long fields of wheat and corn lost in thought.   Time had no meaning, I was a society drop out.  All around me people moved on their way to work or school.  They all had schedules and places to be.  I was like an alien visitor.  Free to move among them, observing, taking notes, and wondering how their lives came to be.

Is today Monday? Friday?  What does it matter, not going to change anything for me.  I had my motorcycle, a little money in my pocket, and the open road.  A John Deere vibrated and shook across a field on my right, the farmer through his hand up at me and I returned the salute. 

All I was worried about was my left calf.  Was it going to let me run today?  I went out for a 7 mile run the day before departure but had to cut it off at 3 and call Debbie to come get me.  My left calf suddenly turned sore.  Twenty years ago I would have finished the run if I had to limp in.  I'm older and wiser now, so cut it off and perhaps it will be ok in a few days, instead of making a minor problem a 8 week recovery ordeal.  It felt good walking, I will see later this afternoon when I venture out.  The worst that can happen is I walk back to the tent.

Rain has been abundant the last few weeks.  Kansas rivers were swollen and full.  Fields were green if not muddy.  Nothing like years past.  I've been through here when it looked dust bowls.

Cruising 160 I was quickly closing down on a white car that just left a dirt road.  I was about 200 ft behind him, when I saw something one hop and hit me right on the bridge of my nose. It was on me before I could react.  I had the screen below my chin and my face shield flipped.  I was doing 80 mph.  It belted me and splattered all over my chin bar and forehead.  I felt like someone had just decked me.  "Dayum that hurt."  I said out loud.  Then, "what is that awful smell??'  My Oakleys were a mess.  "Don't tell me I was just hit by a cow turd ball."  I kept on a few miles till a came to and old gas station.  I took my helmet off, and if it wasn't a cow ball it was something pretty close.  I went to the rest room to clean my glasses, helmet and face.  It stunk pretty bad.
Miles began to tick off kind of slow, and the towns grew more forgotten the farther west I went.  I thought about so much on this day.  Like working the hot summers at the pickle plant, wishing I was on a ride like this instead of unloading trucks that never seemed to stop coming.  As soon as we finished one, 2 took its place.

I thought about my Uncle Tommy. (God rest him now) He told me about the time he drove to Alaska.  He said the roads up there shook the dash clean out of his truck.  He could tell some funny stories.  I miss him.  He had a sense of adventure about him also, but he died young, his life was hard all the way to the end.  I'm glad he's in a better place now.
My day dreaming was interrupted when I saw the library in Attica, a tiny place of closed down shops, and a few stores.  I parked in front of the library and went inside to use the computer.  Two white haired ladies looked up when they saw me come in.  They must have thought me strange in the fancy riding gear.  I was taking my gloves and helmet off when one asks-

"can we help you"

"yes, ma'm I'd like to borry your computer"

"Ok let me close this out.  We even have broadband."

"I'm impressed."

The library was small, maybe a thousand books.  The ladies spent their day looking out to Main Street, but doubt if they saw much action.



























                          Checking Email Attica, Kansas

I logged on and checked my email, cleaning out a bunch of spam, and made a stop on my checking account.  I was quick, and when I was done one of the ladies asked.  "So where are you going?"

"Don't really know, depends on which way the wind blows me.  I retired 6 weeks ago and still kind of new at this.  All I know is I gotta be in California in 7 days."

"So ya just gonna ride around the country for the heck of it?'

"Yeah"

The wind picked up just a little, but nothing close to what is possible out here.  The wind always blows on the Plains, but not today.

In Medicine Lodge I stopped for a Mountain Dew.  The last 100 miles were the best as I worked my way to Meade State Park.  U.S. 160 occasionally turned north, why I didn't know.

U.S. 160 passed through Big Basin Preserve.  I stopped to read the sign about what happened here.  It read a long time ago there was some kind of upheaval and the grass basin was the result.




























               I passed through Big Basin Prairie Preserve

The roads were still empty as I made the last miles into Meade.  Once again, I'll be returning to a place I've stayed before.  I entered from the south last time, but today it will be the east.  

































  
       "The roads were still empty as I made the last miles into Meade."

Signs were everywhere describing the Dalton gang hideout.  This year I decided to stop for a visit.  I entered the town, and wondered down the side streets following the signs. 
 
The landmark was less than impressive, but it was all Meade had to try garner some fame.  Even the water tower looked like it could fall any minute.  I took a few pictures then stopped at the store to pick up something to drink, and some bread.  When I finished shopping I took SR 23 out of the town to the park, a 15 mile ride through the fields. 






















 

                            Dalton Hideout, Meade, Kansas


The 1300 and I pulled to the office and registered, cost for a site -8 bucks.  I went down near the lake and set up camp.  A ranger stopped by for a chat.  He has been working the park for 20 years.  He told me Long Riders stop here more than you might think.  I told him we were often creatures of habit. 
 
I put down 514 miles today.

Cotton willows drifted down from the trees, so many it looked like snow.

With my tent and bed set up I pulled my running shorts and shoes on.  I strapped on my Garmin GPS runners watch.  A great retirement present from my brother in law.  It instantly figures pace, distance, and stores 1000s of runs.  It even has a virtual training partner to help in races.  I wasn't racing today, I just needed it to tell me how far I ran.  I can even change modes and it will tell me how to get back to where I started. 

I gingerly went out the back gate, testing my leg, and started running north on SR 23.  If able, I'm going to run 2 miles out and back.  It was a nice afternoon, and the road was void of traffic.  The running was good.  I was elated when I had no pain.  A great feeling to be running pain free.  I thanked God for letting me do such a simple thing.
  
If SR 23 looked long when riding, it looked never ending running it.  I focused on the utility poles, counting them as I went.  Running and long riding has so much in common.  I thought about many of the same things I do when riding.  Before I knew it my watch beeped signaling I was at 2 miles.  Time to head back to the tent.

When I turned around I could see the oasis of trees 2 miles back down the road to my tent.  "Dam that looks like a long way," I thought.  I could hear the wires singing overhead.  A farmer in a pick up approached me.  He moved way over. Undoubtedly, I was probably the first joker he ever saw running out here.

My Garmin said I was running along at 8:22 pace, not bad as I pumped the last quarter mile and home.  I covered 4.1 miles.

The run felt extra good.  After riding all day it was good to move some air and blood.  I was ecstatic at being pain free again.  Back at the table I relaxed with a diet Pepsi.

I cranked open my canned chicken (find it in the tuna section) and fixed a healthy sandwich.  I was feeling extra good.  I sat on the table and finished eating.  The most relaxed I've ever been after a ride.  Folks, it just doesn't get any better than the afternoon I had at Meade Park.

It was almost dark by the time I cleaned up and headed to the shower.  After washing up I took a walk to the pay phone to call home.  I had no signal and had to improvise.

Back at the table I tried to make notes for the next days ride, but mosquitoes drove me inside my tent.  I got out my DVD player and watched Boogeyman.  Don't waste your money, but it was better than listening to myself breath for 2 hours.
A steady motor hummed in the far off distance, but I had no idea the source.  Perhaps it had something to do with irrigation in a nearby field.


I feel asleep about 12 looking forward to Colorado.

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