I haven’t spent a whole lot of time east of the Rockies in my life. I am now coming to understand this whole, “yeah, but it’s a dry heat” thing that we do in California. There’s a bit of heat here, sure. But it never really got to 90*, in my bike’s thermometer’s telling. What it lacks in sheer Fahrenheit power, though, it makes up in Moist….ees? What’s the international unit of moistness? Are there imperial and metric flavors of the damp? I’m betting yes. And I’m doubling down on I Sure Don’t Know! Regardless, I just felt swampy all day long.
I slept in ’til 7am local time (due to the two hour time zone difference) and got on the road by 8. I hope Garden City, Kansas, has more to it that the hotel/fast food row I was stuck on. Cause that place kinda sucked from what I saw.
I headed due east towards Wichita, which made me even happier for the late start. The sun wasn’t much of a problem, just a bit of an annoyance. I stopped in Dodge City for old time’s sake, since Mel and I had a steak in town when we traveled out the US50 on a three-week road trip. This time I had a cup of coffee and a serviceable breakfast sandwich at a local coffee shop.
After that it was just straight driving to the Missouri border. The plains turned into a more hilly, forested, interesting land as I moved east. I kept waiting for a noticeable border feature, but Nope! Boom, bitch! Missouri up in your grill. The sign came up so fast and I had traffic on my ass to boot…I almost dumped the bike as I moved into this grass verge. I think the lady behind me peed her pants as she saw me skidding towards the sign. I’m positive that wasn’t my urine trail stretching down the road…
Aside from taking years from my life and adding skid marks to my drawers, Missouri didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I was diverted around Joplin into a place called Webb City. It had a pair of praying hands bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle. I can only imagine that they were erected to ask why Sam Walton wasn’t born there versus 30 miles to the south in Bentonville, Arkansas. Those hands probably damn near bankrupted the city. Bentonville, on the other hand, looked like they gave away swag bags full of cash to anybody that showed up for a Board meeting. Regardless, I stopped long enough at Webb City to ask Melissa to find me any place to stay that wasn’t Webb City. She was on the job.
Based on my newly reinforced plan to ride in daylight where possible, she looked at Joplin, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith. Fayetteville won, apparently, and she found a hotel near 1) campus, 2) good food and 2a) a Waffle House(!). So I walk to campus, then on to a good dinner, and in the morning I’ll get up and hit up Waffle House before I head out? Holy Shit! It’s like I found heaven. And it’s moist.
It was really a meander down from Not Joplin into Arkansas, but we seemed to morph from forested farm areas to forested lots-of-granite areas. Normally I would say, you know, “hill” or “mountain” or some similar mount-of-earth term. But this wasn’t like that. It was just a normal road through a normal rural area, then this aggressive pile of rock just jumps out at you…BAM! Like that. And you’re sailing along in a cut through this angry rock thingy. Outcropping? I think that’s right.
I wound down through Bentonville, which is Very, Very proudly the home of Walmart. It seemed almost Disney-fied, with its clear signage and general cleanliness. It was pretty impressive in its prosperous blandness. I passed McMansion development after development. Many in progress, all of them mildly horrifying. It was like the Walmart of small towns. There was a lot product, and it was all the same. But I found some nice roads down into Fayetteville, which dumped me off right into campus. There was a bit of activity but school thankfully wasn’t yet in session. Made for a bit of life in the town without the overwhelming crowds that come with the school year.
And what better way to end a long, moist ride? That’s right, a long moist walk. I deviated from a flat, straight route which (in retrospect) was the saner route, and cruised through the UofA sports complex. It’s quite impressive, although the contrast of the softball field to the (beach) volleyball <ahem> facility tells you that Sarah may not be a prime Razorback candidate…
But it was a nice walk, on the whole. I passed through the “Razorback Garden” which had a surprisingly disturbing Razorback statue:
Que es más macho?
You’re goddamn right it’s the bear! C’mon, man. Ignore the fact that it looks like it’s having a pleasant conversation with its cubicle-mate at its corporate job… (At least it doesn’t have those eyes!)
After crossing the campus, though, I began the long, moist hike up the hill to the local fun district. I had a drink in an old bank vault to start out the evening. At first you think, “Cool! These motherfuckers put a damn bar in a concrete tomb! Wicked!” Five minutes later, though, “So…turns out there’s not a lot of sound dampening in old bank vaults…aults…ults…ts…s…s…s.” Holy shit it was loud. So I had a quick drink and ran out into the evening traffic to enjoy the silence. But at least the AC cooled me down and mostly dried off my moistness.
Then it was over to dinner at Atlas. Solid place. I thought about work for a minute or two, so out came the firm credit card! Thanks for dinner, Aunt Virginia! I celebrated this culinary coup by hiking up yet another hill for a last beer and some pinball before I called it an early night. They had an Addams Family game. Fuck. Yes. It was on. Multiball for everyone, bitches! And then I ubered home with a guy whose college (well, UofA, so…) educated daughter was refusing a job from Walmart Corporate because she was refusing to get vaccinated. Why? Concerns about effects on reproduction, of course! “She doesn’t know who to believe,” he sighed. Well how about, oh I don’t know, Not Facebook? TahDah! Much less bullshit. Add a little Not Fox News and I think she’ll be headed in the right direction. Geez.
Then back to the room and off to bed. Hoping to make up some miles tomorrow and stay ahead of Fred.
Starting Mileage: 55725
Ending Mileage: 56198
Daily Mileage: 473