Day 2
June 12th, 2002
In the Ozark Mountains
Near Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The patter of rain woke me before the sun came up.  I hate packing up in the rain, so I quickly jumped out of my tent, and began striking camp.  
I did not sleep all that well because the campground is located just off US 62.  The noise of passing cars woke me often.

With flashes of lightening lighting the sky, I packed my sleeping bag and therm a rest first, to make sure they stay dry.  Just as I finished, the bottom fell out, and I scurried to the deck to stay dry.  The sun was still not up, and I was the only guy up this early.  

I sat on the deck and watched it rain.  I was not sure what to do.  Stay here and wait it out?  Ride west and see if I can ride out of it?  I played it safe and stayed put.  It was raining really hard and I did not want to be out in it.  Damn, I need some info, is this a big front passing through or a isolated shower?  I waited around for someone to get up, so I could check the weather channel.

My goal for the day is Mead, Kansas.  Don't know if I can make it with such a late start.

I drank a coke, but the sound of the rain on the tin roof put me to sleep.  

Mike got up a hour later, and told me it was a big storm but would soon be moving out.  He said he was going to cancel today's ride into the hills, and take off for home.

I took some toast while Mike ate breakfast.  Soon the other riders began to file in, all of them lived within a days ride of Eureka Springs, so they were in no hurry.

The rain stopped so I loaded the ST and said my good byes.  I thanked Mike for his company, and wished him a safe ride.  I was 2 hours behind schedule, but who cares.  I waved at the other riders as I left the parking lot.

I took US 62 West through several Ozark Mountain resort towns.  The roads were curvy, but wet, so any sport riding was out of the question.
The towns along this portion of 62 remind me of Gatlingburg, Tennessee.  Full of tourist traps and miniature golf courses.

I switch over to SR 72 which takes me to world's retail capital- Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Wal Mart.  The city is a shrine to the company.  Company divisions take up different areas of the city.

I see a small airport, undoubtedly for company executives to fly in and out off.  In fact several of the company jets can be found near the tarmac.
I cannot imagine a town where everyone works in the same place.

The ride west out of Bentonville was scenic, and fun.

In the sleepy town of Maysville, the Post Office is busy.  Two local guys are having a conversation over a truck bed in the parking lot.
I go into Oklahoma on SR 20, and the skies begin darken.  East Oklahoma is green with a few rolling hills, nothing at all like the rest of the state.
From SR 20 I go to SR 82.  There will be lots of route changes today, as I seek out the back roads.

I stop in Spainmaw to change glasses, and rest my butt.  The skies look really dark where I am going.  I have a chat with 2 young boys on bicycles, about where I am from.

Riding north on 82 things suddenly take a turn for the worst.  The sky is dark, I mean really dark.  Damn, I wish I knew what was in front of me.  Large rain drops begin to fall and I am in the middle of NO WHERE.  It is 11am in the morning, and you would think the sun has set.  It is that dark.  Now the wind kicks up, rocking and throwing me around.  I keep riding north, as I have no alternative, there is not one thing out here to offer me shelter, so I keep riding to see what I can find.  Just maybe a store or something is up ahead.  I expect hard rain to hit me any second and it does, gushing me and soaking me in just 2 seconds.  It is the hardest rain I have ever encountered, including the storm in North Dakota.

                                             Thunderstorms in Oklahoma

I KNOW its dangerous to continue, but I have no choice, there is NOT one damn thing out here.  I see no sense in pulling off, and just standing in the rain, and if I keep riding, just maybe I will ride out of it.

I move along at 20 mph hoping I can hold the ST in the road.  The wind is fierce, as the rain pelts me.  I see a building up ahead, perhaps a mile away and focus on it.  I will go there and pull off, and hope the driveway is paved.

I'm in luck! Its a church with a covered driveway, the ST and I can both get out of this storm, and the drive way is paved!  I pull in and gather my wits, thankful to be out of this storm.  The Roadcrafter kept me reasonably dry, considering, but my feet are soaked.  I take my stuff off and sit on the steps, and contemplate my next move.  

It is then I have a brainstorm.  I get out my phone and call the fire department office back home.  Someone is ALWAYS on line, and I can get a guy to go the NOAA weather site and pull up the local radar for my area.

I have a good strong signal ( I was most impressed with Cingular on this trip.  I almost ALWAYS had a signal, and brothers I was in some REMOTE areas)

I call Neal Mixon-

"Hey Neal its me, go to the NOAA site and look at Eastern Oklahoma and tell me what ya see."

"just a sec"


"a band of storms is moving through, its RED"

"you aint telling me nuttin I don't know, I just came through a turd floater. How wide is this band?"

Not very, but it runs a long way north to south. You can sit still and it should blow over, or you can ride west and get out of it.  There is nothing else behind it."

"ok thanks, keep that page bookmarked, might need ya again"


Now I know what I am facing, and can plan accordingly.  I sit still a few more minutes, and sure enough it goes over and the skies clear.
My cell phone proved to be a essential item on this trip.  I can't emphasize enough how important it was to get real time weather or other info anytime I needed it.  Noting is worse then thinking you can ride out of a rain, when you can't.

If you are serious long distance rider I suggest you find a good phone with a good plan.  My plan gives me long distance without roaming anywhere in the USA.  350 anytime minutes, 3500 nights and weekends.  I store any number I even think I will need in the 100 listing phone directory in the Motorola StarTac.  Motel room info, campground, friends, HRCA, are all just one button away.

I get back on US 60 West and quickly dry out.

I make it to Bartlesville and stop for gas.  As I was gassing up, 3 Harley riders loaded down, cruise through town.

The sun is out but the wind is too.  It bucks me the rest of the day.

I take SR 11 West, but the cross wind does not change.

I find the 3 Harley riders cleaning their bikes in a picnic area.  I stop in for a conversation and find out there are from the DC area heading for California.  It has taken them almost 4 days to reach this point.  They only ride 300 miles or so a day, but there are 3 of them and that slows things down, and their gas tanks are small.  But they are real riders, and have my respect.  

Lunch was at a Sonic in Medford.  I had the burger and tots.  

The landscape is open and barren as I ride west.  The speed limit is 70 on these highways and I'm glad.  I use every mile of that and then some.
I stop for a butt break in Alva, and check in with Neal.  The skies are getting dark again, but I KNOW these are not fronts, just more of the isolated storms that pop each afternoon out here on the Plains, and back home.

The sun is really hot now, but the humidity is down.  I enter the Panhandle, and it keeps getting hotter.  A big storm is brewing to the north of me, and I see storm chaser vans enroute to the scene. NOT a good sign.

I go to US 64 and get held up in a construction zone again.  This is a lengthy wait, so I strike up a conversation with the flag girl.  I asked her if she ever got to drive the pilot truck.

The storm to the north has some real possibilities of brewing up a tornado.

I was flying down US 64 when I went around a pick up.  Suddenly SR 23 pops up out of no where.  HEY!! I gotta turn here!  I check my mirrors and make the turn, but I bet the pick up guy is pissed.

I make it into Kansas without getting wet.

Meade State Park comes into view, and I ride down to check it out.  Yes this will do nicely.  I begin to set up camp when the ranger comes down to collect my 6 dollar fee.  All I have is a 20, and he has no change, so he said I could have this night on the state of Kansas.

After setting up camp, I made the 15 mile each way trip into Meade for a can of Chef Boy Ardee.
I ran 3 miles finishing well before dark.

I ate supper then walked over for a cold shower.  The water is warm, but the bath house unheated.
Walking back, I stopped to talk with a couple of fisherman.

I rode 533 miles today.

It was not much fun today, and my lack of picture taking proves it.

The park was quiet, and I fell asleep quickly.
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