Saturday, April 23, 2011

Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Louisiana revisited...

Well, we finally made it to New Orleans!  But first, let's catch up on the past couple of days...

After a lovely stay in Hot Springs at the Alpine Inn, we set out for Natchez, Mississippi on a cold and rainy day.  We said our goodbyes to Erich and Leslie and reluctantly left.  What started out as a dreary day ultimately gave way to sunshine and, after a change of socks and shoes, Ty and I both were in much better spirits.  Typical of our trip so far, we pulled into Natchez right after dark.  We stopped at Fat Mama's Tamales which had the best taco salad I have ever had in my life, not to mention delicious frozen margaritas.  I'm sure both the food and margaritas are only going to get better from here.  Over a margarita and a coke for Ty, we finally decided that we didn't want to set up camp in the dark.  I had seen a couple of cheap motels a few blocks back so we set out in that direction.  As we pulled into the parking lot of two competing motels, an Iranian man ran out of one hotel and an Indian man ran out of the other.  Both gave compelling arguments, but we decided that we would stay at the Indian man's Travel Inn.

We woke up the next morning ready to make the last leg of the trip to New Orleans.  The weather was beautiful, although we didn't realize how windy it was until we were out on the highway.  Still, a nice change from the rain.  Our first stop was at a gas station in a small town in Louisiana.  A girl about my age was running the regisiter.  As I paid for our drinks, she asked "Is that your bike out there?  Because if it is, you are [expletive] awesome!"  I really love Louisiana and the people that live here...straightforward kindness.  As we continued to drive down the road, we saw a sign that said "'Rosemont Plantation, Home of President Jefferson Davis."  I racked my brain trying to recall this president, but to no avail.  We immediately had to turn around and take a picture for Ty's brother Jack, knowing that he would find the sign amusing.  We pulled into Baton Rouge after only a couple of hours, and stopped at the Capitol City Grill for lunch.  After running through a giant water fountain to cool off, we met up with Jonathan, a really nice guy who had a bike similar to ours.  We chatted about our bikes and the trip for awhile before saying goodbye.  We hopped back on the bike and headed for New Orleans.

I have so much to say about arriving in NOLA, but not enough time to do it justice.  More on that later...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day ONE - Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and (accidentally) Oklahoma...

I finished the last blog, we went through Kansas City for final goodbyes, and hit 71 south all the way through Missouri. We had lunch at Dairy Queen in Nevada, where we met an older lady having coffee by herself. She asked if we could talk while we were riding, and I told her about our headsets. She replied, "Good, because it seems like it would be awfully lonely if you couldn't." We spoke for a moment and then headed back out. I hope she had some company for coffee on the way. 

You may have noticed our accidental state in the title. It was not as big a deal as it would appear; we were actually only three miles off course going through Fort Smith, Arkansas. Aside from that everything went according to plan, and we arrived in Hot Springs at around 9pm a little wet and a little cold. Northwest Arkansas is absolutely beautiful, and we wove through cedar scented forests for hours on our way down highways 71 and 270. I can't really describe the feeling we got yesterday as we passed through Fort Smith and left the arrow-straight four lane highways of Kansas and Missouri; suddenly going 55 seemed acceptable, being a bit chilly felt right, and it started to sink in that we have no one to answer to for the foreseeable future. It got dark too soon and was raining not long after. We checked into the Alpine Inn in Hot Springs, where we met Erich and Leslie, the Scottish couple who own and manage the motel. The Alpine Inn is a 50's style roadside motel, with one interesting difference - each room is decorated uniquely and feels like a friend's guest room. Erich showed us to the "Rose Room" which is part of a house toward the back of the motel lot. We unloaded the bike, I went and got a truly awful version of Wendy's food from the most sullen Wendy's employee I've ever met (and that's saying something!) and bought a few well-deserved High Life tallboys at the gas station down the street.

A great day by any measure, 510 miles toward New Orleans.
Jill relaxing in the "Rose Room"
Wendy's floor picnic gone horribly wrong

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We're Leaving!

Hey everybody,
After just two years of planning and saving we're leaving today! The first leg of the journey is Lawrence, Kansas to Ozark National Forest, Arkansas - via Kansas City. Everything is (probably) packed, and everything is stored...I think. I slept well for the first time in a few weeks last night; I've reached the point where I'm too exhausted to worry anymore, and it feels great. I can only assume that Jill has also reached that point, as she is still sleeping.

Savvy (and gravely concerned) readers are probably thinking, "Ty, where is the link to the GPS tracking device you mentioned having when you were trying to sell us on this whole insane plan?" Well, unfortunately our particular GPS unit is subject to recall, and must be shipped back to the manufacturer for replacement. Sorry about that! We'll have it up and running as soon as we receive a replacement, hopefully sometime while we're in New Orleans.

I need to start loading the bike, so I'll sign off for now. Thanks to everyone for your support (and ample storage!) while we take off on what I can only assume will be the trip of a lifetime. I'll promise keep this page updated (at least) enough to prove that we're alive and well, if you'll promise to assume we are alive and well in the interim between these posts! I don't think we'll have internet access in the campground in Arkansas, so I'll see you in Jackson, Mississippi on day three!

The bike has undergone some changes for the trip, so here's a before and after:

Here's a picture of the bike with the new paint job, crash bars, and skid plate I built. I decided the re-made bike deserved a new name, so I came up with these graphics and had them cut by Sign d'Sign in Lawrence. As you can see, it's no longer a V Strom - it's been rechristened a Suzuki "PANAMERICA"
We're off!