Yesterday I said goodbye to my dear friend, Denali (Beef). On Sunday evening, as the moon eclipsed and meteors raced across the brilliant New Mexico night sky, I steeled myself for a visit to the vet the next day. I knew it was probably time to say goodbye, so I just made sure I let him know how loved he was. We camped out in a baseball dugout in San Jon, NM that night, and in the morning as we got up for coffees at the nearby gas station, Denali and I spent some more time together, giving scritches and kisses.
We rode out to Tucumcari, about twenty-four miles away. It was a really beautiful ride through the desert, on old Route 66, with hardly a car in sight.
I had talked with the vet that morning to make sure he could be seen. When we got into town, my phone said it was just before one, when the office would be closed for lunch till two. We wouldn’t be able to make it to the far side of town by then, so we stopped for groceries (we’re in a food desert as well), and loitered around.
Just after two, we continued out to vet’s office, on the remote west side of town. When we pulled up, there was a sign on the door saying they were out to lunch. I checked my watch; it was just after one. My phone, which had correctly switched to Mountain time as we passed into New Mexico the day before, had reverted to Central, effectively giving us another hour.
he held still for once
We sat on the porch and Stink and I both loved up the old boy. He ate some sugary sweet baby food mixed with frosting off my finger, and did some impressive eye boggling and teeth grinding displays (that’s how rats show pleasure, don’t ask me why, I’ve always found it really silly).
famous tour rat
When the vets and techs all came back from lunch, we went in and him checked out while I filled the vet in on all the recent issues, his age, and info from the vet last week.
A lesson in rat ownership
We could try and give him some steroid shots, or just let him go. I don’t think the steroids would’ve been able to help much, and it was already tough seeing him struggle to get around and sit up without using his back legs (a common issue among geriatric rats). I had come prepared to have him put to sleep if needed, and the vet agreed that it would probably be the best thing for him.
That doesn’t make it an easy decision though.
I was there with him the whole time, and sooner than I’d have ever liked, he was gone.
I wrapped him up in my bandana and we biked out into the surrounding dessert, till a spot called out to me. Stink and I both put together some mementos, flowers, rocks, and such. I wrote him a little note, laid him to rest, and covered him with earth in the shade of a tree. I topped his grave with a large feather I’d been carrying with me this week, and a small piece of turquoise my great granddaddy had polished.
we liked to snug on the hammock together back at home
I’m glad to have been his pal, and to have had his near constant companionship for the past two years. Denali was the best ratboy you could’ve ever asked for, and he was loved by people far and wide. He changed people who never thought they could love a rat, and won hearts along the way.
I wanna start off by saying thank you for all the letters and postcards and goodies that we found sitting perched atop the piano at my grandpa’s last weekend. We had Christmas morning at the breakfast table on Sunday, while feasting on blue cornmeal and toast that my lovely little Japanese grandma prepared for us. (She’s the best at making healthy yummy food. My being vegan doesn’t phase her in the least). It was kind of a stinky Christmas morning though, as my dad had sent a can of V8 tomato juice stuff, which had exploded all over everything else in the box. The post office has kindly bagged the sodden package, and by the time we arrived to open it, it was spouting a nice growth of mold, and smell, well, like rotten tomatoes.
Anyways, I spent the morning reading letters and perhaps getting an early start on all those snacks meant for the road. After noon, the Trickey clans began trickling through the door. Greys and Simons and Ragsdales and Colliers soon filled the whole house with chatter and laughter. Stink and Beef both got to meet the fam, which was probably a bit overwhelming for the both of them.
We had a late lunch, and the long benches and tables int he dining room overflowed into the rest of the house. My grandpa had a few words to say, then a few more, then sooner or later we were all chowing down. My Aunt Kathy & co. ended up staying late with us, playing dominoes, drinking like seven pots of coffee I think, and cracking up over the slightest things. I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.
Finally through, even they trickled off home, and we headed off to bed. In the morning we had to pack up, and this included the pound of goodies and snacks passed on to us by family members, and by friends in the mail. It was a weight I was more than okay with bearing. Once the bikes were loaded, we had to say goodbye to grandma and grandpa. He fanned us off (a prayer ceremony involving getting sacred cedar smoke fanned all over you with these beautiful fans. This was probably a bit strange for Stink, but just reminiscent for me. It always feels like a giant bird is wafting over me, beating it’s wings along my body. I may not be religious, but this, this I like).
My grandpa is a participant in the Native American Church, and this an example of a traditional fan used in ceremonies
We said our goodbyes, then rolled off down the gravel road, and were both immediately out of breath. How had three days gotten us so out of shape!? We chugged along though, and had our goal set for Edmond, OK (which as it turned out was accidentally a hundred miles away). We were in touch with Donna, our Oklahoma Rat Lady, who lives just south of there in Oklahoma City., and planned to meet up .Since we were going to be so close to her though, she offered to have us stay for the night. Yay!
route 66 !
So, we rolled along on Route 66, saw us a couple German bike tourists in a dive bar along the way. We wondered why anyone would want to bike the entire Route 66 (not very bike friendly, with old bumpy roads that run parallel to the interstate in many places), but chalked it up to the idea that foreigners probably still think Route 66 is the “essential America”. We reached a gas station 76 miles out from grandpa’s, then Donna and her husband Ted came our way to pick us up and take us to dinner and home for the night. Beef got to meet an entire van full of children who were curious about the little creature I was tending to on the back of my bike.
Beef boof bof
Beefie has been showing his age lately (I’ll have had him two year next month, and who knows how old he was when I got him from the rat rescue). His back legs began to start giving out that past week, a common thing among old rats. When Donna and Ted arrived, we loaded up the bikes while she held him. Not quite the pudgy little pork he was when she met him in Yellowstone four months ago.
We all went out to dinner at this cafeteria, Luby’s, which was bomb. Donna and Ted and the nicest folks you’ll ever meet, and kept us entertained with stories of their many and varied adventures. When we got home, Donna had set up a nice big rat hotel for Beef, and we set about making sure he’d be comfortable. But he wasn’t. He was a bit freaked out, and his breathing was getting more labored than usual (he’s been a wheezy boy since forever, but this was more extreme). Donna suggested we take him to her vet, and assured that they were wonderful with rats. I jumped at the chance, and we four (Stink included), zipped off together.
I was getting more nervous about my boy, so it was good to have folks chatting in the car. We got their and got him all check in, and they put him in an oxygen tank to help with his breathing. The vet came out later and said he didn’t look good. He didn’t know how much longer he’d be around for. This is never something you want to hear. I kind of had a moment in the lobby, just from the shock of it. But I was surrounded by good people, even another patron waiting had sympathy for this kind of ordeal. When the tech brought him back out, he got lots of loving, and a few different medicines, to do the best to getting him feeling better.
One of the medicines was a liquid to be used in a nebulizer, which I didn’t even know what it was. But in the way that things just end up working out, we happened to be staying with a bona fide Rat Lady, who had the very thing on hand. This is a tank you put the animal in, while a machine vaporizes the medicine and pumped it into the container like a fog. The critter then breathes it in and get medicine very directly this way.
So we got home and set this up and did his first treatment. Donna offered to let us stay for another day so we could do more rounds of it. We talked it over and agreed that this was best. So, Beef’s “Auntie Donna” got him some baby foods and yummy treats, and set up beds for us on the couches. Donna’s girls, Emma and Livie, were home, and everyone gave Beefie lots of lovin, just what the doctor ordered. By then, it was late, and it had been a long night, so soon enough we were passed out.
Dale Chihuly glass stuffs
Donna had tons of cool art around the house as well. check out these postcards!
We got up kind late in the morning, and nebulized the old ratboy again (nebulize is such a cool word). Donna had an appointment later, but told us about the art museum in town. Ted ended up picking Stink and I up and driving us out there for a few good hours of destressing and art viewing. There was a huge Dale Chihuly exhibit, and Fabergé eggs too, but what I really liked was the varied assortment of American painting displayed on the second floor.
that’s me sitting in front of my favorite, the coming storm by george inness
here is it.
Fabergé made… bit too gaudy for my taste. There were some cool carved animal figures though…
Donna picked us up afterwards and we all went home to drug the beef again, like ya do. We went out for dinner at Mexican restaurant, then stopped by the lakefront park on the way home to see if the treeman was there (Donna and Ted had been telling us about this guy who like, dances with the one tree every night, and plays his didgeridoo during the sunsets). Lo & behold, he was there, along with a tree lady, and a little German shepherd pup. We sat on a bench and watched the rosy sunset while furtively stealing glances at the tree folk and trying to think of an excuse to go over and talk with them.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something small and dark skittering across the path, and headed over to see what it was. It was a tiny mouse! Everyone came over to see the little fella, and by then, we were right night to the tree folk, and their pup began barking so of course we had to go over and say hello. This ended up with us all chatting away like old friends and petting the pup and even ended with a didgeridoo performance by treeman. I was glad the little mouse had led us over their. Just another wholesome feeling of being at the right place at the right time.
Occupy bench. Watch treeman.
will we ever leave?
We got home, nebulized Beef again and soon all zonkered out again. In the morning we did a final treatment and prepared to leave. Donna was going to ride with us along the bike paths, back to Route 66, so we all got ready to go. Stink had to fix a flat (then another as she exploded her tube with a bit too much air pressure when topping it off. Never do that again! Our ears were ringing). Donna took a spin on my bike, and I on hers (it weighed next to nothing) and it was probably equally challenging for the both of us to remain upright.
beef photoshoot (these pictures are from Donna BTW
Eventually, we got on the road, and had a pleasant 13 mile ride out with Donna, till she dropped us back off on our road. Beefie had to say bye too, to his Auntie Donna ( as we have now deemed her). We then just busted out miles and stopped to eat sandwiches at Subway and try to get Beefie to eat morsels of our foods too (his appetite is failing as well, so if we think we can get him to get something, by all means, we’ve got it dangling in front of his puffy little face).
On a ride with Aunt Donna
…and saying goodbye
We rode on to Weatherford, OK and scoped out a nice church pavilion. We asked permission and got the go ahead. Stink went to a college kids sermon thingy, and I zonked out after giving Beefie his meds and getting him to eat some baby cereal (also courtesy of Donna). When we started packing up in the morning, the college pastor came out and invited us to come in and use the restroom if needed. He also stuck around to watch us try and cram all our junk back on the bikes. It’s like a reverse clown car and proves endlessly entertaining to others. He also gave us contact info for some churches in towns we might stop at that evening, that would probably let us camp out for the night.
flat flat flat. also hot.
We rode out to Sayre that day, and found one of his churches. I asked a fella heading inside if the pastor or someone was around, and he flagged down a guy in a truck who was pulling out of the parking lot. This was the music director for the church, and turns out he was a cyclist too. He showed us an area we could camp out at, only after offering to get us a hotel (we were able to declined this time!). We walked over to the grocery next door, got some beans, then relaxed in our hidden little spot.
this toad guarded the tent for me.
Stink slung her hammock over on a stairwell, and I put up the tent that night, as there were bugs everywhere! Ants had even invaded Beef’s mailbox so I spent awhile in the streetlight wiping them all out before safely getting him in the tent and zonking out. In the morning, we packed up, and Stink headed to a McDonald’s down the rode while I finished gathering my things. Only then did I notice that ants had invaded my snack pannier and were bust destroying everything! They had chewed through double layers of plastic bags and effectively ruined most all of the snacks from friends and family that I was carrying.
I was bummed. Those were good snacks. I dumped one bag out onto the sidewalk and was trying to salvage some of the eatables, when music man showed up and then I realized how pitiful I looked, squatting over a pile of ant infested trail mix, picking out raisins and banana chips. He asked if he could just give me a few bucks to get some more from the grocery across the street (this was an irreplaceable delicious gift from dear friends though!), so I knew I must end my fool’s errand, and kick the rest into the grass.
everything was bigger.
I met up with Stink, drank coffees, and slowly and painstakingly feed Beef baby food and cereal off our fingers (he’s getting so he won’t eat out of a bowl, just wants to lick food off your fingers). Eventually though, we hit the road, and bot howdy did we ride. We had all these back roads to travel on and it was beautiful, flat, and even windy in a helpful way. We crossed into Texas, our 42nd state, though it wasn’t much different than Oklahoma.
mm. soggy. this was fun
We stayed in this teeny town McLean, TX that night, then got on the road early the next morning. We went on dirt roads for part of the day, and even had to ford a flooded one, taking off our shoes and walking out scoots through shin deep waters out in the middle of nowhere, under the watchful gaze of a fancy prancy horse.
you think you’re so fancy… and beautiful… you’re right. dang it.
We eventually entered Amarillo, and immediately wanted to exit Amarillo. It was trafficy, with hotel and gas station after fast food after another. We stopped at a truck stop for a bit to chug gatorade and scarf down some food (and for Beef to lap some up as well) then got the hell of out dodge.
The next town we hit was teensy, and we had the option of staying there, or doing another twenty miles before sundown. We moved along. And fast too! We had a tailwind, a sunlight deadline, and motivation to get there and go to bed. we were probably scooting along at a good 18 mph at least, and soon the town was in view.
I got some water at a Subway, Stink scouted out a church we could camp at, and then we sat about eating chili beans, drugging my rat, and trying to convince him to eat various tidbits. While this was going on, Stink check out how man many we did that day: one hundred and twenty.
We hadn’t even gone over a hundred the entire trip, and here we are doing 120. I didn’t believe it at first, but then my weary body convinced me otherwise.We set up the tent in an adjacent field, set the alarm for 10 and a half hours from then, and immediately passed out and didn’t wake till a gang of crows on the fence started showing off their voices half an hour before the alarm was to go off. And even then we didn’t get up till it did go off, slowly clambering out into the dewy grass, packing up our soggy tent and scooting to a gas station for coffee.
Beef durgging, feeding, coffee drinking, oatmeal eating, and a bit of well earned loitering ensued. Once we left, we had some miles on frontage roads along the interstate, but then even those ended and we had to join traffic with the big boys.
We’re newly mexican!
But, here we are now, in the New Mexico visitor’s center, just after crossing the state line; our 43rd state.
Love you all, and make sure you send old man Denali “Beef” Beeferton all the best vibes you got.
It seems like these posts are getting longer and longer. I’m not completely sure why that is, but I suppose it could be due to the distance between blog entries. Honestly, I simply just didn’t want to start writing the blog for this week.
We were in Arkansas for quite a long time. I just entered our miles and locations into the WBD tracker spreadsheet and discovered that we were in Arkansas borders for 11 days! That’s longer than we’ve been in any state aside from South Dakota. That’s not to say that it wasn’t great–Arkansas was a lovely surprise. We had a great tour of Little Rock High School though Lizzy and I are of different political perspectives and took different lessons from the museum there. We were both in admiration of the Little Rock Nine and consider ourselves quite lucky to have such a wonderful tour. We also had the pleasure of picking my dad up from the airport and having some much needed company for a while. We made new friends in Atkins, rode dinosaurs in the Ozarks, met friends of friends in Fayetteville, fixed up our cycle scoots for the road ahead and went swimming. What more could you want?
When we first left the Little Rock Airport, Lizzy and I realized with much excitement that the weather was changing. That morning it managed to rain and maintained a pleasant overcast haze until late evening. Rain–yes, even rain–was welcome as we had been cycling through heat that hung in the hundreds well into the night.
We put Daddy’s bicycle together inside the lobby of the airport. This managed to attract the attention of some friendly security guards, but we were out there lickity-split and onto the Little Rock bike path system. Lizzy and I were excited to offer dad a first hand experience of WBD life complete with sneaky camping, dumpster diving, bugs etc. . . We camped at a church in Maumelle and managed to whip up a mean, chia seed spaghetti for dinner. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was so excited to have Daddy with us, and I horked down a massive milkshake before trying to catch some shuteye. Liz and I kept accidentally setting off the motion activated overhead light so I eventually decided to read the fantastic book that my friend Mary had mailed me. At one point, since I couldn’t sleep, I was able to get into a staring contest with a deer that had wandered into our camp area. It’s not everyday that one enters into a deer-human staring contest. I lost.
The next morning we pedaled off into the beautiful, steamy morning through fields of cows and lazy pine trees. The terrain was becoming increasingly hilly as we approached the Ozarks, but it was decidedly cooler than it had been in weeks. This was good because it was also humid, and though Lizzy and I are used to the humidity here, I don’t think Dad was. We rode full miles and made it as far as Atkins before we realized that we should look for a place to stay the night. The three of us (four if you count Beef) stopped at a little gas station market to get ice water and ask the lady running the store if she knew any numbers for churches in the area. She offered to let us stay with her and her family at her home outside of town. We considered, but not wanting to displace her family for the evening, told her that we would first look for a church at which to camp.
Big man in a little tent
The road we were on was lined with churches on both sides. The second church that we saw had an attached house, so we went to the door hoping that it was the minister’s home. It was. Sister Naomi, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Atkins was home, but didn’t know if we could have permission to camp out behind the church. She left to call the elders and to see if the Baptist Church down the street would let us stay there (they have showers).
While we three were waiting out back for Naomi’s answer, we were approached by a sweet Labrador and a man who went and retrieved a woman named Nancy from a house a yard away. We talked to her for a while and before we knew it, we were all in her house getting ready for showers, dinner, and to stay the night. We thanked Naomi profusely for her efforts to find a place for us, especially after we found out that she was ill, trying to get over a case of shingles.
Nancy has a wonderful home that was built for a doctor in the early 1800s. She bought the home for 8,000 dollars many years back. At the time, it was in such shape that it was necessary to bring an umbrella to the bathroom during rain showers. Now, however, it has been transformed into a cozy, dry home. Nancy, who is town famous for her wonderful pies, got to work in the kitchen and in a matter of minutes whipped up a meal consisting of pork chops, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, corn, green salad, biscuits, gravy, and one of her famous chocolate pies. We were simply flabbergasted by the meal she had managed to put together for us when she had no notice that we three, bear-hungry cyclists were coming. Her pie was deservingly famous (sorry mom) I have never had so good a pie.
We fell fast asleep with our full bellies and were able to get on the road fairly early the next morning. We rode over increasingly steep hills to a little town called Ozarc. We met a fisherman on the outskirts of town who told us of a campground on the other side of the river and plodded on to a grocery store to get burrito supplies, and then took off to the Army Corps of Engineers campground. Daddy treated us to a wonderful (perfect I might say) campsite along the river. I put my hammock up in some trees along the water’s edge and set the tent up for Dad. We made some burritos and fell into a wonderful sleep. It was an absolutely perfect night–cool and beezy. The stars were out, and though we were on the river’s edge, there were no bugs.
A perfect camp spot, even with Elvis
I woke up in the morning to the sound of Elvis floating across the river. I was not pleased. At first I thought it might be a fishing boat blasting the radio, but the river was clear of watercraft. Dad suggested that it could be the shift change at the Butterball processing plant across the river. We all had theories. We rode back into town to get our fill of hashbrowns and sundry and discovered that the town of Ozark was hosting its annual Rods and Ribs car show/BBQ. They were the Elvis culprits. We decided to check out some of that classic car action after chowing down on a delicious breakfast.
Waking up to Elvis
The thing about big breakfast is that one’s body requires a nap after eating it. Unfortunately, we had no nap time scheduled for that day. We slowly rode on over the river bluff hills , each left to his own thoughts. For instance, “why did I eat biscuits and gravy” and, “do babies grow more hair follicles on their heads as they get bigger, or are they born with all that they need and as their head grows the follicles spread out to cover that larger space?”
We made it as far as Alma before we had to have a little powwow to decide whether we should go west towards Ft. Smith and push up toward Joplin, MO, or to follow the hillier, but shorter Route 71 to Bentonville and take a zero day to figure out how to get Daddy’s bike packed up and get him to the airport in Tulsa. We knew that whichever way we chose we would have to be in a town big enough to have a bike shop, UPS store, and transportation to Tulsa. We ended up decided to take the shorter route to Bentonville so that we would have more time to visit and get to stop by Lizzy’s cross country coach’s friends in Fayetteville.
Now that a plan had been established, we had time to get slushies from Sonic and peruse a gigantic second hand store across the parking lot. We got some treasures including a Star Trek Mugato and a really cool Davy Crockett figurine. From there, we made it up a steep hill to a KOA and decided to make camp for night, eat burritos, and go swimming.
If anyone finds him, treat him well
Side note: This is the last seen location of Davy Crockett
The folks running the KOA were a little off so to speak, but we had a good time in spite of them. Our camp spot neighbors had a gigantic RV with a side porch complete with outdoor TV. We had a good laugh because of them as they were reclining in lawn chairs outside their massive home watching TV, but it’s not really like we were doing any hardcore camping anyway. Our own little camp spot had wifi.
We left in the morning to tackle more hills, ride some dinosaurs at a little community park, and enjoy the cool air of the mountains. The later was an exceptional gift. It seems that in fall has come in all of one day. We plodded up the mountains and were impressed by the view at Artist’s Point, then rode on to Fayetteville to stay with Becky and Larry.
Lizzy’s new tour style
Larry was waiting for us with the makings for an exceptional curry. We all three invaded their home, took showers, did laundry, began the tremendous task of charging every electronic device we could muster, and devour Larry’s delicious homemade salsa. We had a lovely dinner together and even got a chance to see some end of the season fireflies. Becky out together a wonderful area for us to sleep and we all crashed around 9:00. Lizzy and my sleeping schedule is a little bit goofy since we have been rising and sleeping with the sun. Now, we are both suddenly stricken with sleepiness immediately after dark.
When we woke in the morning, Becky had a wonderful breakfast smorgasbord waiting for us. We had delicious coffee, various granolas and yogurts, and a great chance to talk. We left just before noon and Becky rode with us to the point in the trail where she felt comfortable leaving us without fear of our being lost. We got a group picture and took off onto the Razorback Greenbelt. That trail system is another reason to like Arkansas.
We and Becky
Last known sighting of Davy Crockett
We only had 27 miles to go that day in order to get to Bentonville. We couldn’t really go further because we needed to be able to have a day to pack up Dad’s bike and such, so we decided to take the day really easy. We also decided that the following afternoon we would ride out to the Crystal Bridges American Art Museum and spend some time there. But first, we needed to ride to a bike shop and secure a large box.
We rode to the nearest shop I could find and ended up replacing Lizzy’s chain and freewheel there. They had no bike boxes, but did have a significant secret coupon for a nearby hotel. We decided to check into that hotel and ride out to the bike shop Becky had told us about, Phat Tire. We got there and were glad to find ourselves in a real, honest to goodness bike shop. A Trek dealer to boot, it reminded me of Tommy’s back home. They were able to hold a box for us and I decided to buy some new bar tape for my Amelia since I have always hated the green tape I put on her before we left and by then that tape had been reduced to shreds. I had been re-wrapping my bars in rope from side of the road. That was working, but it was not a tidy looking thing.
We affixed the box to my rear rack and I bike delivered it to the hotel. The bike shop was only three miles from where we were staying, the hotel had offered us a ride there for 20 dollars but I simply refused. I have never been denied a load on my bicycle except for my guitar and I don’t think my guitar is something to be bicycle goofing around with anyway.
Why the heck not?
We made it ‘home’ without a hitch and retrieved another coupon to a Thai restaurant across the street. We froggered cross four lanes of traffic to get there, but it was worth it. So worth it that we decided we’d have to go back the next day. When we got back to our room (which was scattered with the luggage, tools, and paraphernalia of three bike tourists) I received a phone call from home. My friend Wayland had been oiling the roof and had slipped, fallen, and broken his back. It was very upsetting, but I was glad to be able to get some words with him before the doctor came. This did nothing to decrease my mounting desire to be home.
Though we were concerned for Wayland, we had made the best of the time that we had. Each to his own chore, we kept telling ourselves that we were going to have a Netflix party. It didn’t happen that night. When we woke up, we had until 11 to clean up the gigantic mess that we had created. Balancing coffee, bikes, rats, and swamp hats we made quite a spectacle as we left the hotel building. We checked into a hotel across the street that had a pool, deposited the elephantine box there, and rode out to Crystal Bridges.
None of us had checked the times for the art museum since it was a Tuesday, but sure enough, it was closed when we arrived. Apparently they close every Tuesday for building maintenance. It was a bummer, but we got to ride around the grounds and see a couple sculptural pieces. We spent a good while at the geodesic sphere called the Buckey Ball. From there we decided to get some chores done and buy some groceries, packing tape, and a sharpie from Walmart.
The Buckey Ball
Walmart is from Bentonville, and everywhere you go there are blue and khaki clad professionals. We meandered through towering Walmart Corporate Offices, Walmart International Offices, Walmart Research and Development etc, until we found the layman’s Walmart. We got our things and rode home to take a nap and go swimming.
That night we did go back to the Momma Fu’s Thi restaurant (which was just as good the second time) and managed to get Dad’s bicycle packed up. We watched a couple original Twilight Zones and ate popcorn and M&M’s as per family tradition.
The next morning we had until 9:00 to get the bicycle to the UPS store 0.6 miles away. Dad and I left Lizz in the hotel room in case the shuttle driver came early, and the two of us carried the bike down to the store. By the time we got back, this shuttle man had arrived. We gave hugs all around, and then Dad was gone.
Lizzy and I packed up and headed out. I had to make a couple stops on the way out of town, but we were on our way in no time. We followed the bike path to the Missouri border, and then rode through the mountains to Baxter Springs, Kansas. We rested there, and were so close to Oklahoma that we couldn’t stop for the night. In spite of the gnarly headwind, we pushed on, into OK and made it as far as Miami. It was a long day.
We’re not in Kansas anymore
We saw a church with cars in the parking lot and decided to pop in and ask for permission to camp on the property. They were in the midst of a huge teen rally event so we waited around for a while. We were given the okay and were shown to an absolutely perfect covered area where we could camp, and were invited inside to get our fill of leftover fruits, cookies, Gatorades, and doughnuts. We were also shown to the showers and got to spend some time talking with those who were cleaning up after the event. We headed back outside and cooked up a mean batch of burritos but were unable to eat all that we’d made since we had snacked so much in the church.
After a good night’s sleep, we headed out towed Tulsa where Lizzy’s family lives. We made it as far as Sequoyeh before it started getting dark. We had no place to stay and the only church in town was chuck full of little kids practicing football. There was a basketball game going on at the high school across the street so Lizzy and I rode over to the high school to wait and see which location vacated first. We had a fine dinner of chilly, canned goods. After an hour, it became obvious that neither place would be empty anytime soon, but the basketball game had ended. The two of us went into the school to use the restroom and fill water bottles.
I do not like the idea of sleeping on school property when school is in session because it is just not a very responsible thing to do, but we really had no place to go. The plan was to cross the school property and hammock in some trees on the other side of the parking lot, but when we made it to the trees we saw that they were enclosed in by a fence and tall grass was growing between them. I had seen some fairly sizable snakes on the side of the road and the prospect of hopping a fence into unknown, potentially snake infested shrubbery was not appealing. Instead, we wheeled around behind the gym where a cluster of air conditioning units were sitting on a bug-free concrete pad. We popped up the tent and set the alarm for six. I wanted to be out of there well before any people showed up, but I knew that if anyone had the gumption to show up to work very early they would probably be some of those crazy self-disciplined exercise people and head straight for the gym.
Sure enough, when the alarm went off just before six in the morning, someone was already in the gym. I rolled my bike away from the windows and we packed up camp. We were on the road well before the sun had risen, and thus got to experience a glorious Oklahoma sunrise as we pedaled toward the nearest place to get coffee.
Since we had pushed ourselves to Seqouyeh the night before, we had less than thirty miles to ride that morning. We were excited to be heading toward Lizzy’s mom’s aunt and uncle’s home. It was an eventful ride nonetheless. We were traveling along Route 66 which is has stretches of high traffic. I hadn’t really slept much the night before and I missed a turn, so we were on 66 a bit longer than we really needed to be. In that time, a horrible, maroon PT Cruiser looking vehicle wooshed by us followed by about twenty Police/Sheriff/Highway Patrol cars. We pulled off the road to watch the high speed parade and then carried on our way. Whoever they were chasing was making quite a mess of the place and for a while after they had first passed us we heard and saw evidence of their evasion. At one point we ambled upon the crushed remains of a Sheriff’s SUV and a poor little mini truck (I have a growing fondness for minitrucks and I was upset to see that causality) We rode on, up an extremely steep hill, and into the loving arms of Maryann and Dale.
Model trains: one of Dale’s many talents
Lizzy had put together a nostalgia tour bike route, and I needed to work on the maps. After eating a wonderful lunch with Maryann and Dale, Lizzy biked off into her memory and I used Dale’s computer to get some work done. I haven’t really been in front of a computer for any great time since school. I was surprised by the burning in my eye sockets and the hot, splitting feeling creeping up in my brain. I was starting to get nauseous before I decided that maybe I should let it go and relax a little. Maryann–a superb hostess–showed me to my room and shower. I sat down on the bed for a minute and fell asleep, waking up about an hour later not realizing what had happened. I went back downstairs to visit with Maryann and play with two of her grandbabies that she was watching. It was absolutely wonderful.
After a little while, Lizzy and Dale returned (Lizzy and the bike got a ride back home) and we all got ready for the arrival of Dale and Maryann’s children and their families for a Baker family Friday pizza party. It was a hoot, but once 9:00 came Lizzy and I both found ourselves fighting back sleep. I finally gave in and went to bed.
I woke up at 9:00 the next morning. That was pretty shocking to me since I rarely sleep past 7:30. Dave and Maryann were away, so Lizzy and I helped ourselves to coffee and oatmeal and waited for their return. We left for lunch with Lizzy’s Aunt Kim and cousin Danny. We got our fill of fajitas and then went back to their home to have a private showing of Danny’s mad martial arts skills. He is preparing to test for his black belt. We also got the opportunity to work on a coloring project–Kim teaches kindergarten.
We left around 4:00 to go back to Dale and Maryann’s to meet with Lizzy’s cousin Erin. She was planning on bringing us and the two bikes to grandpa Trickey’s, but a quick assessment of the cubic footage in the back of her minivan told us that nothing shy of a miracle would get our colossal amount of impedimenta in the back. We ended up cramming Lizzy’s bike in the back of the van and made arrangements for Erin’s husband to retrieve my bicycle after work.
We hopped into the van and took off to see Erin’s new house and get some ice cream from the Oklahoma landmark, Braum’s. We had a great time giggling and being utterly silly as we drove around Owasso, then to Erin’s where we played with her five dogs and chickens. Erin, who is a professional hair cutter-upper, gave Lizzy’s quaff a much needed chop. An edgy look for Oklahoma, but a breezy one for riding bikes through the desert.
We all loaded into the van and headed through the dark to Grandpa and Grandma Tricky’s, where we were met–with miraculous timing– Erin’s husband who had managed to transport with neigh a scuff the “biggest, most awkward bike on earth.” Many thanks.
fixing a flat
We had a good chat before Erin and her husband Robert headed home. For us, the chat continued to midnight.
We were awakened the following morning by a trumpet blast, the low crash of thunder, and the sky split apart by lightening. It was a wake-up call of Biblical proportions, as are the intentions of Grandpa Tricky who blows his horn every morning at at sunrise before his prayer time.
I think I might let Lizzy pick up from this point. With this abrupt ending… Thank you to everyone who sent us letters and packages. It is always a blessing to hear from home, and abroad too!
PS This is a Gorn
This is a Mugato
I happen to like me some Gene Roddenberry Star Trek.
The scene is this: hot, sunny, and in the middle of nowhere, Mississippi. We focus in on two possibly homeless girls on bikes. They sweat profusely. One burps, interrupting the constant buzzing screech of the cicadas in the heat.
Welcome to our life.
Okay, so we left off in Lumberton, MS last week. We had spent many an hour working away in the library, and generally just schmoozing it up in the air conditioning.
Once the post was posted and we had exhausted all further excuses for loitering around, we headed out into the blazing sun and hit the road. We didn’t have many more miles to go to achieve our 55 mile goal, so soon entered Baxterville, which was made up of exactly two businesses: one Family Dollar and one teensy convenience store.
it’s hot, we ride bikes. repeat.
As we were stopped in front of the Family Dollar checking the map to see what camping possibilities we had, a car full of folks pulled out, collectively gave us the stink eye, then proceeded to drop trash right into the road as they drove off.
Where are we??? One thing we both sorely miss about home is the attitude of protecting the earth, recycling, not using plastic bags unnecessarily, and you know, stuff like not dropping your garbage out the window…
(Okay, I know, there are litter bugs back home as well)
Anyways, after being aghast at such a display of inconsiderate behavior for a few moments, we rolled on to a community center down the road. I admit, this town was so teeeensy tiny backwoodsy that I was surprised there was even a community center.
It was a small brick building with a couple busted up picnic tables out back. We situated ourselves, making sure not to sit on any rusty nails poking up through the fractured seats and table tops, and dined on a fine meal of beanie bean burritos.
Beef thinks these tables need fixin.
Stink set the tent up out back, and as night fell, I set out to find a place to fill my water bottles. I had seen a Chevron gas station sign off in the distance as we pulled into the parking lot earlier, so in the burgeoning darkness, I headed that way.
Only, I couldn’t see the sign in the distance anymore. It should’ve been a beacon of civilization, like a lighthouse in the boon doggies. But it wasn’t there! Eventually I rolled up to the unlit busted up ol Chevron sign, and there wasn’t a gas station in sight…
By now, night had taken over, and I turned round and headed back the way I came, toward the little bitty convenience store by the Family Dollar. On my way to the Chevron sign, I had passed a dog that was, uhm, vocal about my proximity to his territory. On my way back by, he discovered that his gate was wide open, so proceeded to give me chase down the road.
I put the pedal to the metal, er, uh, well, I put the pedals to the air, circularly, with much speed. It was pitch black out now, and I couldn’t see schmidt, but the subtle sounds of a beastie coming from directly behind me spurred me on.
I was pretty sure I’d have to jump off the bike and dash inside and slam the doors of the teeny mart, but when I reached the low wattage buzzing lights out front, the beastie dog was no longer at my heels, and I was able to dismount without needing a change of underwear.
Once I finished filling water from the hose spigot outside, I headed back home towards the community center. As I approached, I saw the headlights of a truck pulling into our super sneaky stealth campspot. No bueno.
I reached the truck as dogs and people piled out left and right. Tweaker people, dear readers. They swarmed around (and out back, though I didn’t know it at the time, their wild dogs were circling around the tent, seemingly intent on eating Stink). I’m serious when I say they were a gang of tweakers; they were straight wigging out, doing lots of crazy arm motions, talking in a way that was more incomprehensible than a mere deep southern Mississippi accent, and generally, just behaving in a way obviously indicative of not being quite right in the head.
But they were nice!
The lead tweaker, who seemed less tweaked out (thankfully, as he was the driver), said they came down to the community center once a day to fill up buckets of ice. I went inside with them, and it was so nice and cool, compared with the hot muggy outside. Tweaker leader said we could camp out in there for the night, if we just locked the doors in the morning.
I was all for it, so as the tweaker truck pulled out into the night, we pulled our bikes inside, and immediately got to work blowing up the place. He had said to keep the lights off (we weren’t officially supposed to be there), so we crawled around the linoleum floor in the dark, ate all our snacks, played on our gadgets, then eventually drifted off to sleep. We locked the door that night…
Stink found an adorned a fancy hat for my amusement at some point. I was amused.
In the morning, we cleared the heck outta there, biked forever, and at some point reached a McDonald’s for a lengthy loiter. After McDonald’s, we hit the road again, and the miles flew by. A truck pulled over in front of us, and we stopped to talk with the fella inside, D’Andre. He said had seen us at the McDonald’s, and then he offered me his spare apple pie. I no thanks, but then, later, I wished I might’ve said yes. It’s not every day that someone offers you a pie…
He had a lady on speaker phone while he was talking with us, and was just plumb tickled with our adventure. He said we could come shower if we needed, cause he lived in the town we were headed for. We got his address for future post card correspondence at least, and then continued our way.
much thanks to these fine folks
We stopped at a promising church at the beginning of town though, and asked if we could crash inside for the night (it was crazy hot out still, makes it real hard to sleep, also bugs). The pastor man Terry came and talked with us, then blew our minds cause he insisted that we let him arrange a hotel room for us for the night. We were like, “No really, we can just sleep on the floor here! We like it! No, we love it! It’s our favorite!” but nothing we said would sway him.
We’ll, we were real appreciative of what he was doing for us (real beds! air conditioning! complimentary breakfast!), and then he blew our already blown minds when he further insisted we take some dollars and eat at the Mexican restaurant conveniently located in the hotel parking lot. But we love Mexican!
After giving him one million thanks, we headed out to ride the seven miles to the hotel, and met up again with D’Andre on our way. We let him know our good fortune, and that unfortunately we wouldn’t need to come by for a shower after all. But all’s well that ends well. We arrived at the Hampton Inn, got our room checked out, took the scoots up in the elevators, and promptly came back down to hit up the Mexican joint before they closed for the night.
Free chips and salsa, check. Tasty veggie fajitas and burritos, check. Happy campers, super check. We walked “home” with protruding bellies and a waddling gait.
Showers, wifi, then soon enough, snooze town as we were tuckered out from a days riding in the heat. In the morning we made multiple strategic attacks on the complimentary buffet, that was as good as everyone kept telling us it was.
We didn’t have to be out till noon, so took full advantage of the place and pulled out with not a minute to spare. Pulled right out into a sheer wall of heat, that is. Hello reality.
We scooted along though, and were chased by dogs a few times, stopped for odds and ends like dead butterfly carcasses, lost bandanas, and babydoll heads many times, and were generally just in good spirits all day.
We ended in Natchez, MS that day, right on the Mississippi/Louisiana border, and hung about a McDonald’s for a bit, stealthily eating cans of beans for dinner. Obviously not stealthy enough though, as a nice lady came up and asked if I had ordered any food. I thought I was busted for bringing in outside food, but turned out she just thought I was destitute and wanted to buy me dinner. After realizing what she was getting at, I quickly reassured here that all was well, I just can’t/won’t eat most anything from McDonald’s and I was fine. Turns out, eating out a can is a surefire way to immediately look homeless…
We eventually left and hit up a Wal-Mart to stock up on groceries and snackums, then headed out into the night to try to find a place to sleep. We ended up in a Jehovah’s Witness parking lot. It was so hot we couldn’t sleep, and we laid out on the asphalt for hours in a catatonic state.
Eventually we must have drifted off, because in the morning we woke and scooted to the Natchez Coffee Company to drink good coffee, work on WBD stuff, and wait for a newspaper man I had spoken with the day before. He was a no-show, but we enjoyed our hours of comfortable coffee shop atmosphere.
mississippi crossing, I do believe
When we left, we were finally able to cross back over the Mississippi River, and into Louisiana.
Louisiana, has anyone ever told you that you have a beautiful name?
That day we ended in Tallulah, LA. We found a church at dusk and threw up our hammocks (Stink took the children’s swing-set out back, and I took a couple pillars out front) and attempted to go to sleep. Attempted being the key word here. It was miserably hot, and the mosquitoes and who knows what other hordes of biting insects were relentless. I got up and wandered around in my boxer shorts in a daze at one point late in the night. I was sleep deprived, and out of it. I came back, tried to pass out, still to no avail, and then at three thirty in the morning, got up, threw on my shorts and tennis shoes and exhaustedly weaved my way down the road, talking to myself, and probably looking like a real life zombie. I found myself at a 24/7 laundromat later, eyes drawn into the blinding fluorescent lighting inside. I wandered in, used the potty, checked out all the vending machines, watched some tv, then curled up on a wooden bench, pulled up my bandana over my eyes, and slept for a few fitful hours.
Around five thirty, I got up, walked back to the church, and crawled into my sleeping bag (it was no longer intolerably hot) and zonked for another hour. Stink woke me up then, and said we oughta get packing, as folks in the neighborhood were up and stirring, getting ready for work. We rolled to a McDonald’s and fell asleep at our table (Stink didn’t sleep much at all either, and we were both plastered in bug bites). Then we went to the library to try to get in a nap, but I made a whoopsie at one point by sorta uh, laying down on the couch, and someone had to come and tell us we couldn’t lounge like that on the public couches. Oops. Apparently they said we could use a work room, but it was already like 11 or so, so we packed up and rolled out of there.
there was cotton though!
When we left that day, there wasn’t much of anywhere to stop and take a break at, till we reached Transylvania. Seriously, Transylvania, Louisiana. It consists of one market/restaurant (The Farmhouse), an autoshop, and one dilapidated old school house that earned the spooky name of Transylvania Elementary.
spooky scary, werewolf bar mitzvah
We went into Farmhouse, and we’re right away made quite welcome. They let us fill our water, get ice, and asked lotsa questions about our trip. Upon hearing about our sleeping fiasco the night before, one fella called up his church in the next town to see if we couldn’t sleep there that night, when, once again, our brains were overblown with generosity because the pastorman wanted to put us up in a motel. They got it all arranged for us, and Olivia, the Farmhouse owner, gave us some bananas and other goodies. She told us to call her once we got to the hotel, and that she’d bring us dinner from the restaurant when she got off work at five. Dang, everyone is so nice, it’s nuts.
mmm. food. also, you can tell we are in a dark motel room watching tv. such is the life
So we went back into the heat (and boy, it was a hot one that day) and chugged on till we reached the next town, and the pastorman flagged us down outside the Economy Inn and booked us a room for the night. We thanked our little hearts out and soon piled into our room and cranked the AC. I gave Olivia a call and let her know where we were, then we both laid down and immediately passed out at like three in the afternoon. Mm.. precious sleep.
I had set an alarm for five, so we woke up, turned on the TV, and rubbed out the eye crusties before Olivia showed up. Soon enough her knock sounded at the door and she came in carrying bags laden with dinner. Salads and lima beans and turkey soup stuff for Stink and the most delicious sweet potato pie too. We was in heaven. We watched the final Hobbit movie, which was god-awful, while we feasted, then zonked back to sleep after all was said and done.
The next day was another hot one, and we rode out to Lake Village, entering Arkansas on our way.
featuring my new shark temporary tattoo, courtesy of my pal Steveo
we spotted an alligator in a roadside ditch at one point
We stopped at a visitor’s center on the lake at the beginning of town (sometimes they have free coffee… also postcards, just sayin). The gal behind the desk let us know there was a grocery in town, and that there were state park campgrounds nearby. I think I asked if they were free or not, and accidentally clued her in to our… somewhat hobo-y tour style, as she then said we could camp out for just one night on the visitor’s center property. And that the door to the bathrooms would remain unlocked all night. Remember this, it may or may not come into play later…
We rode further into town, to hang out at the McDonald’s for awhile, and I looked up the Sun Flower grocery store on Google maps. I had my eyes peeled for it on the way into town, so was surprised when Google said it was back the way we’d came. I set off in search of it, and two miles later, found myself back at the visitor’s center, sans grocery store. So I went in and asked where it was. Turns out, it was literally right across the street from McDonald’s. Once I got there, it was glaringly obvious. Talk about being blindsided by technology…
Anyways, we got our grocery on, then scooted out to a lakeside park in town to chow down our beanie bean burritos. There was a huge dead catfish on the rocks, raising quite a stink (heh heh heh) but overall the lake was nice and we were able to dangle our feet in the water and relax.
When it started getting dark, we scooted back to the visitor’s center and pulled our bikes onto the huge multilevel dock porch deck thingy. It had lighting along the waters edge, so folks kept coming by to go fishing. It also attracted swarms of mosquitoes, we relentlessly bit all available surfaces. Stink went up into some trees on the lawn to sling her hammock, and I talked with some fisher folk. The guy said to be careful on the grass cause water moccasins would swim across the lake and slither up there. Gulp. Good luck Stink…
Eventually, I couldn’t stand the bugs and the heat any longer (reoccurring themes in these parts) and marched myself up to the bathrooms. I made a cozy little bed on the floor, jammed the door shut with the wooden doorstop, and zonkered out. Around one or so, Stink joined me on the floor, then headed back out around three. I cleared out at six, and slung my hammock on the dock system, fell back to sleep, woke up a few times, saw that Stink was still out, decided to let her sleep if she was able, so I went back to sleep, all the while she was doing the same with me, so we ended up sleeping in till nine!
Stink came and I packed up, and we chatted with this nice park ranger guy named Ray, who was cool, till he went off on a little political rant (like people end up doing pretty often), but then he eventually wrapped that up, and was cool again, ending the conversation right before we rode off by telling us his plans of getting a whole herd of goats. Like a hundred.
thar be swamps out here, me mateys
We rode along that day, and ended in Dumas, which I could easily make a low-brow joke about the name, but I won’t, because I’m a classy broad. Just kidding, I obviously couldn’t help myself and did just that when I saw what town we were in.
Anyways, we decided to ask a church if we could sleep inside (not wanting a repeat of public restroom floor sleeping night) and quickly found one. We asked a couple ladies who were heading inside if we could talk to the pastor about staying the night, and they went in to see what they could do. Soon enough, this fella Ernie comes out and says they wanted to get us a hotel room for the night. Boom, minds blown for the third time this week. Now we have to stop asking if we can camp indoors because they will insist on getting you a hotel, and we honestly are getting spoiled by all this. We have a perfectly good tent and the ground is our bed.
But yeah, after asking if there was any such possible way of persuading him to let us just sleep on the floor somewhere, we have to admit that hotels are awesome, and we’re really super duper grateful (spoiled, but grateful).
So he drives along and leads us to a Day’s Inn, books us a room, then heads off again. He told the gal at the front desk, Deborah, what we were up to, so she said that if we got bored to come and talk to her cause the cable was out and she had all sorts of questions for us.
So after we got ourselves situated in our super fance room, we went back to the lobby and had a good time sipping coffee and talking tour, and then eventually maths (she’s teaching herself calculus out of a textbook in order to be an actuary), and lots of other things were talked about that I don’t even remember, but it was all good fun. Deborah, you’re way cool and you make me want to go work on a math textbook.
After awhile, we see the two church ladies from earlier pull up outside, so we go greet them, and they wanted to chat too. So all four of us sit out in the lobby and seriously just have a grand time talkin bout this and that. Jesse West (super western bank robber name) and Velva offer to take us out to lunch at the McDonald’s the next day before they leave. We accept and make plans to meet them at noon, conveniently right when we have to be checked out of the hotel (McDonald’s is next door).
here’s a swampy photo to break up all this incessant talking!
We headed back to our room, showered, and got laundry together to do in the hotel laundromat. We end up going and talking to Deborah some more, and I bring her the copy of Eat Pray Love that I had just finished reading (Momma Sue mailed it to me in Florida, so I’d been reading it while I rode all that way. From the title, I didn’t know if I’d like it, but actually it was a pretty good book, and got me laughing out loud in a few places).
In the morning, I slept in and only hit the continental breakfast one time (though I certainly did not hit it lightly…) and we lazed about, snoozing and reading on our tablets till checkout time, when we went and met up with Jesse and Velva for lunch.
More good conversation at the McDonald’s, where literally the only thing I could eat besides coffee and apple pies was a bed of lettuce with two grape tomatoes in top. But booyah, bomb diggity, cause I happen to love salad. I just think Jesse was worried I’d gotten enough to eat (she hadn’t witnessed the breakfast buffet massacre of nine o’clock).
After lunch, Stink and I headed over to the Mad Butcher (small town grocery stores get all the coolest names) and stocked up on beans and such. Out back, as in in the dumpster, I found a couple bell peppers, potatoes, and some apples. The dumpster divings in these parts have been slim pickings as it’s so hot and things can get a little nasty out there… so I was pleased with my finds.
We rode on and finished up in Pine Bluff that day; a town of over 40,000 people. We stopped at a couple different McDonald’s but they didn’t have outlets so we left without getting anything or loitering.
I was kinda zonkered from riding in the heat, so wasn’t much help in the decision making department, but eventually Stink got us headed to large park where we might find a place to sneaky camp. We got there and all along the road going through, it was nuts. We had pulled into a baseball stadium area and watched gangsters on horses charging through the park. Dudes shredded though on street bikes and Harleys. There was constant traffic in and out of the place. Stink went on a scouting mission and experienced more insanity even deeper in the park. Then we realized, duh, it was labor day weekend (though, I kinda think that park is probably always that nuts).
fantastic sunset though!
We ended up just going to a less noticeable baseball stadium and pitching the tent out behind it. It was so hot, we were sweating bullets laying there. At least there weren’t bugs in the tent though (I mean after we went on a rampage and slayed the seven or eighth mosquitoes that dared to enter our realm). Eventually we were able to get to sleep through, and woke rested, mostly.
We rolled to a McDonald’s for coffee sneaky breakfast loiter, and it was one of those fancy ones with touch screen videogames at some tables. We just happened to be seated at one, and so were soon absorbed in all sorts of intense gaming. Only one cup of coffee got spilt! (See how I twisted that to sound awesome?)
Eventually we did leave though, and made our way towards Little Rock. We kinda did like 40 something miles without stopping, so when we did stop at a small mart I kinda got a little light headed and had to sit down. I had asked the cashier lady if I could use the restroom when I went in, but she said no. When I was sitting at the table I asked if customers could use it, and she said no again… and that I couldn’t sit at that table for more than five minutes if I wasn’t eating. Outside, Stink wasn’t faring much better as a group of guys were hitting on her (“You can come stay a night at my house, I’ve got a treadmill” is not exactly the best pickup line).
So, uh, needless to say, we moved on. Anyways, we were only about six miles out from Little Rock at this point. I had been in contact with my cousin (or maybe she’s more considered my aunt) Morning Star recently about going to the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. (My great uncle Roy was married to Minnijean Brown Trickey, who was one of the Little Rock Nine, and they are Morning Star’s and Spirit’s (my other cousin) parents). My family tree is confusing. I just roll with it.
Minnijean gives us a salute
Anyways, Spirit used to work at the museum too, so Star called her up, and got us contact info for Jodi, one of ladies who works there. I had called up Jodi and we were gunna join up with a tour the next morning, but since we kicked butt and scooted our miles in real fast that day, we let her know that we’d be in the same day.
When we got there, everyone was real nice, and Jodi came out and talked with us, then gave Stink and I a private tour of the exhibits and the surrounding areas and through the school itself as well. I was really really impressed with the bravery of the Little Rock Nine, and with all the information Jodi was giving us, and learning about my great aunt, and with the whole atmosphere of the place and of the students still milling around, like it was well aware of the pivotal part in history it played. It’s hard to describe, but that scene of such outright racism and violence, yielded to such bravery and courage standing up for what’s right, you could just feel it. It was really moving, many times I cropped up goosebumps at the things Jodi was telling us about.
I guess the feeling I was getting was just a hopeful feeling for the future. In the way we were able to move on through such blatant racism of the age of segregation and “separate but equal”. I feel hopeful now too, in the way gay marriage rights have been fought for and won. And who knows what the next battle for equality will be (and many are still being fought now), but I’m reassured that we the people will come out for the better on the other side.
So, yes, I may have spent hours more going through the exhibits after Jodi left, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. Eventually though, the place did need to close, so we scooted on through Little Rock with much food for thought.
We scooted out to a Warm Showers host Stink had hooked us up with, and, like all Warm Showers hosts, they lived at the top of a series of increasingly steep hills. Our host, Mac was home, and quickly showed us the showers. That out of the way, we were given free roam and leisure time to lay about and read and procrastinate writing a blug post…
Eventually Mac’s wife, Amelia, and their friend who was staying with them, Avery, both came home. They cooked up a couple pepperoni pizzas, and I chopped up and roasted my potatoes, bell peppers, and a couple carrots I had stashed away. We all sat downstairs and watched the Serena v.s. Venus match (possibly the first time Stink and I had ever sat and watched an entire tennis match). After the game was won (Serena, though it was pretty close), both Stink and I drifted off to bed, quite zonkered once again.
In the morning, we had free reign till we had to leave at eleven to head towards the airport to meet up with Stink’s fa, who has flown out to ride with us for a week. I slept in till 9:30 though, and barely had any time to get a good morning loiter in. We made up a cardboard sign for “Ice Cube” (his way cool super hip nickname) and took off through the hilly streets of Little Rock at eleven to reunite BMX Club after four months of separation.
We arrived at the airport with an hour to kill, so after backtracking from the front doors to ditch our pocket knives at the bikes (I don’t wanna go to jail!), we sat by a Starbucks and sipped coffees, while a player piano directly behind Stink dueled with the p.a. system music playing throughout the airport. She had to put headphone in.
When it hit one o’clock we went up to the gates to meet our much awaited tour guest: Stink Fa.
A joyous reunion indeed, dear readers. Group hugs complete, we headed down to baggage claim to pick up Stink Fa’s bike and another box full of goodies and such.
After much anticipation, the huge box shoot off a side ramp, and we quickly dragged it through the little Little Rock airport and began assembly.
this how you make a giant bike a tiny bike
The extra box was opened up as well, and we snacked and read letters and played bikes for two hours, building up the bike in record time. The cops only came by once, and Stink refrained from using our phrase for when we spread our junk everywhere, “blow up the place”…
…but we totally blew up the place
Stink Fa loaded up his scoot, and we packed up the our goodies as well, after making a large dent in the snack collection. We rode off and onto this great bike path, attracting lots of attention with our super cool awesome hip bike gang. The bike path took us out of Little Rock and was nice and smooth. The weather even let us off the heat hook in honor of Stink Fa’s arrival.
Ready to rolllll
After getting back on the main road, we stopped at a Kum & Go gas station for our first three-man loiter, and Stink Fa did it with style and the grace of a seasoned cycletourist veteran; and that means slushies. After this, we stopped at a Wal-Mart and loaded up on such delicacies as wasabi peas, peanut butter honey crackers, and chili lime chips. Also more sustainable foods, as in the ingredients to make spaghetti for dinner.
We loitered it up outside for a bit, and once again like an old pro, Stink Fa mastered the art of sitting on the sidewalk, snacking on snackables, and loving on Beef.
We head out eventually, stopping at a church a bit later and asking the folks outside if they were cool with us camping on the property. Once we got the go ahead and filled our bottles inside before they locked up, we laid claim to a covered entrance area on the side of the building and began cooking up a mean batch of spaghetti.
After chow town, we set up our sleeping arrangements, Stink Fa gets the place of honor in the tent, and Stink & I free style it on the porch. Once complete, we walked down the road to a gas station and get in a nice late night snack/loiter consisting of a slushie, milkshake, and fritos honey bbq flavour twists. Job well done, we walked home and went to bed. Not necessarily to sleep, as I could hear Stink snacking and goofing around, and I was up till two chronicling this tale.
Pack up in the morning was done with speed and grace, and we soon made our ways over to the gas station, where we found a kitty! Stink Fa got him a tin kitty food while we munched our oatmeals and slurped hot coffee. He named him Pumpkin Spice in a nod to the coffee selection inside, but unfortunately we were unable to actually bring lil Pumpkin Spice with us for the rest of tour.
We rolled out, and straight up did forty miles without stopping till we reached this here McDonald’s we’re currently at. Poor Stink Fa. He do super awesome though, and powered along right with us.