WanderlustBy Sam Lepore
(Click map for full size)
Blue Springs to Huntsville
Subject: Wanderlust 28 - Huntsville, Arkansas
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 20:15:18 -0700

"It is well and good to be a seeker, but eventually you must become a finder ..."
        - a quote on Phyllis' wall, from Jonathan Livingston Seagull

        Friend Phyllis fed me full of fine food, fabulously fixed, and framed with fancy fixins. Not to mention the Mt. Herman Yummy Bag packed in the saddlebag. (How many people do you know who own their own church?)

        On the road again, making time to Texas, heading for the first annual Avinger Blueberry Fest and Motorcycle Rally, courtesy of the gentleman blueberry farmer, Herb. Despite Street Atlas telling me the fastest route is 500+ miles, I am going to somehow stretch it out to about 650 miles. Perhaps that man back in Iowa was right about me and maps ...
        Again I am holding the bridal train at the wedding of the rain gods - close enough to see everything, but not part of the ceremony. The day before I got to Kansas, Phyllis woke up to the sound of missiles being thrown against her house. She looked out and said the sky was green. It wasn't quite a tornado, but the 80+ mph winds made some new toothpick sculptures out of barns and trees near her. Yesterday, my rest day, it rained enough for frogs to buy boots. Today, I was tailing the trailing edge of the cloudline, never quite wet, but never on dry roads. The one time it started sprinkling, it was suddenly time to delve into the Yummy Bag. Say this should be interesting ... Jon Diaz and me at the same event. Suppose it will rain on one side of the campground?
        Because of all the moisture still in the air, a thick damp fog had settled on the bike, coating it with a wet gloss. When I rode away, I saw something I've never heard any other BMW rider talk about. There is a large 4 inch circular "watermark" of the BMW Roundel in the plastic windshield. (The K75 RT has the same windshield as the K1100LT.) I've never seen it in any side light, but it was quite visible in the damp gloss. When the windshield dried from air flow, the watermark disappeared. I rode along trying to look at the windshield from every angle, probably making watchers think I was doing aerobatics on the seat, but I could never see it again.
        Speaking of the bike, the tire for which I had called ahead at Engle Motors was not there. Herein lies a tale of good customer service, and no customer awareness. When I walked in and said I had come for the tire, the young man at the parts counter said, "Didn't come. Maybe tomorrow." And went back to his conversation about the weekend with his buddy. I'll spare you the rest of our exchange ... you've probably played Hangman and recognize what happens when someone uses up all his letters - if I had a rope! Then Rick, a BMW rider himself and a man who knows why riders come to his business, talked to me and realized "tomorrow" was shall we say inconvenient? He arranged for another vendor in town to sell the tire I needed, and he saw to it the tire was mounted pronto. He even found it at a significant discount over what he could have sold it. Thank you Rick.

        Riding along the gentle rises of southeast Kansas, every time I crested a hill, I could almost reach up and touch the clouds. They are so low and they have such flat bottoms that they are like atmospheric packaging material. Then in Missouri, the land texture changed with more hills and river valleys, pushing the clouds higher and roughing them up a little. One thing about the farms around here surprises me a little. There are quite a few that have llamas in pastures. I've seen a few large llama ranches out west, but not a small number of animals on several different farms, like here. Was there a vogue trend of llama raising that I missed? I haven't heard about them being used for anything special ... and there sure as hell are not any Himalayas or Andes in THIS area that need them!
        Crossing the border into Arkansas was another magic boundary. Although the Missouri roads are very pleasant, suddenly in the "mozarks" there are twists, turns, and drop offs like the Sierra Nevada foothills. Route 23 south from Eureka Springs is a wonderful road that I found (and was later recommended to me) when I went to the IBMWR Blast To Branson. This was my second passage over it, and yes I still like it, but I did not remember how plastic and tourist-trappy Eureka Springs is. Skip it.
        Rolling south on 23, I noticed a turtle crossing the centerline of the road. Thinking first "what a hazard that would be for a bike wheel", then wondering if it was going to make it across, I stopped about 1/4 mile down the road and turned around. One pickup truck had passed in the opposite direction during my deceleration. When I went back to the spot ... there was no turtle. Not on the road, not squashed beside the road, and not visible in the grass. Did it get hit and propelled? Or was it fast enough? We won't ask why did the turtle cross the road.

        Dirty, dirty bike. I hope Herb can come through with those cheerleaders he promised would perform a benefit bike wash ...

Blooberries here I come.

FuelPlus 295 miles, 5:53 hours, 51 mph average
Osage City KS31 US59 US54 MO43 MO86 MO37 US62 AR23 Huntsville
Plans - Blueberries, Cajun Country down to Port Barre

Sam Lepore, San Francisco
Wanderlust Rider

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