Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Epic Motorcyle Ride Day 3: St. Louis, MO to Little Rock, AR

Brad and I woke up at Keith's and went out to get some breakfast at the Kingside Diner. The Kingside is right across the street from the National Chess Museum (who knew there was such a thing?), and this area of town has decided that chess shall be it's theme. Okay by me, because I was on the chess team in high school (and might be the only person in the history of high school chess teams to ever come to physical blows with a teammate).

As a person with gluten sensitivity, I have to say the quinoa pancakes were a thing of majesty, but even more spectacular was the very first decent cup of coffee we had on the entire trip. And, we only had to go 1,000 miles to find it.

The architecture in St. Louis is really cool, and I found lots of interesting accents and touches. With all of the trees and greenery, it's a city I could (almost) live in (if not for the Mississippi River humidity). I really like this city and the people in it. 

Brad and I said our goodbyes to Keith, thanking him for his kindness and hospitality, and then got on the road. After a short trip together, we split off, and I was solo for the first time on my epic road trip, heading southward to Little Rock, Arkansas. It's interesting to me how different the roads are north and south of St. Louis. North, the flat roads are squared, everything progressing in logical grids, with towns sprouting up where the roads intersect. South, the Ozark Mountains begin, and the roads undulate and weave to accommodate the varying terrain. 

Oh. And, it's hot. I thought it was hot before. Then I hit 98 degree weather with 90%+ humidity and I began to realize what hot was. Enetring into Arkansas, I stopped at a rest area to snap a quick photo to commemorate my entry into the Natural State.
I also needed to get some gas, so I pulled off to fuel up and get some shade and fluids. While I was there, a guy pulled up in an old, red pickup truck, straw hat perched on his head, bandana hanging out of his left rear jeans pocket, dog sitting at attention in the front seat. He looked like someone had sent him straight out of central casting to play a role in my movie. I was not dissuaded that I wasn't on Punk'd when he drawled, "Boy, I sure do miss mah, Ducati." I thought he was having fun with me, but we ended up talking as he filled up and I drank cold Gatorade. It turns out that he was in Italy for a year, and used his Ducati to follow the racing circuit there, travelling from town to town on his Duc to watch the races. You meet the most interesting and unexpected people on the road, if you take a moment. Lesson learned. 

Heading south, I found a truck graveyard. I pulled off to take some more pictures, sending them to my 18-year-old daughter. She is a budding photographer, and likes things with decay in them. It's not very often that I am able to impress her, but this time I actually managed to succeed. GO ME!


I continued to ride south and it continued to get hotter. I pulled off a couple of times into the shade just to hydrate and cool off.   

I like this little post office I found...

...where I also managed to pick up a hitchhiker.

The decay in the south is so much more active, visceral. I saw buildings taken over by vines, or with trees growing straight up out of them. It seems to happen more quickly down here, and many times I was reminded of those scenes in Southern Gothic novels where they describe the landscape, and nature is almost like a character in the book. I understand that now in a way I never did before.

I finally arrived at JP's place, and it was great reconecting with him. We had met initially when I was cleaning my life up and getting fit for the first time in 15 years. JP ran a Fitness Summit, and I went, and some of the people I met through that experience have stayed friends to this day. It's weird how quickly you can continue on with someone you haven't seen in a long time, and JP is one of those people. He invited his girlfrien, Rosi, over, and the three of us talked about art (JP's brother is a Disney animator, and you would recognize his work; his daughter is also extremely talented), theater, the oceans (Rosi grew up sailing the south Pacific), and so many other things. I was so busy enjoying the time together, and eating the pork gyro on naan, that I forgot to take pictures of us, something I really regret.

I also took JP for a ride on the Multi, his first time on a bike in a loooooong time. I am not going to say he caught the riding, bug, but I am not going to say he didn't either. I would not at all be surprised to hear he got a bike and is enjoying it, tooling aroundd through the great back rroads of rural Arkansas.  

My biggest regret on this leg of the trip? Not knowing that Steve Winwood and Steely Dan were plaaying that night in Little Rock! Had I known, I surely would have bought a ticket and rocked it. Note to self: we regret the things we don't do far more than the things we do.  


Joe said...

Sorry I missed you on this trip...and btw, the Steely Dan/Steve Winwood concert was awesome.

FishrCutB8 said...

Nooooooooo! On the entire trip, this was my biggest regret, by far!