Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Gear Review: Cygolite Expillion 850, Ultralite Cot, Vittoria Randonneur Tire, And The Grand Bois Blue Cerf Tire.

"My biggest fear is that, when I die, my wife will sell my bicycles for what I told her they cost." ~ Anonymous

Well, since both my bikes are "classics" now and both are in the 30 years old range, I guess it really doesn't matter what they cost since the real value is the components on the bikes rather than the frames.  Now, on to some gear reveiws.  Some of this gear, I used on my recently aborted bicycle tour and some I've used here in Silver City.  Onward...

First up, the Cycgolite Expillion 850 rechargable USB bicycle light 
(http://www.cygolite.com/products/expilion850.html  .  I did a recent review of this while touring, where I used it several times when I ended up riding at night because the wind was slowing me down so much.  Every time I used this light, it came through like a champ.  Bright, long lasting, and easy to use, even easier to charge via USB.  I bought it at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Expilion-Light-Helmet-Mount/dp/B00LXTOPNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435613725&sr=8-1&keywords=cygolite+expillion+850), which had the best price, $90.  For those who think they might be riding in the dark longer than I did, you can purchase an extra battery stick for it (http://www.amazon.com/Cygolite-Battery-Light-Part-Expulsion/dp/B009F94SPK), about $33.  Keep the extra stick charged, keep it on you, and, voila, you got light when you want/need it.
Some pics:
Highly recommend this light and I give it 5 Stars for durability, brightness, battery life.  Can't go wrong with this light from Cygolite.

Next up, my ultralite cot.  Yes, there are some great air mattresses and/or pads that can be used and that work well.  I'm willing to carry the weight to have that extra bit of comfort at night.  This cot does not care where you camp...on a slab of concrete, on rocks, on sand, on rough ground, on an incline, whatever...this cot rocks.  Well, not really, that would suck.  This cot works every where.  It's durable, comfortable, easy to set up and take down.  The poles break down and are short, but they do take up space.  Question remains...what are you willing to do for comfort?  I am willing to provide the space it needs and, as I said, to carry the weight for the comfort.  The people who created this cot are from Texas and now Cascade Designs sells it.  It's available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Therm-A-Rest-6396-Parent-LuxuryLite-UltraLite-Cot/dp/B00HZ132N4) and now comes in a regular size and a wider size.  I have the regular and have no problem with it.  Some pics:
Read about it, read the reviews, and the best price is on Amazon.  Ebay may have a better price, too.  I really do love this thing and won't be sleeping in a tent without it, I assure you.  Great item and I give this a 5 Star rating, as well.

Now, on to some tires.  Vittoria Randonneur (http://www.vittoria.com/tire/randonneur/).  I got the first set of these from Twin Sisters (http://www.twinsisterscycling.com/) several years ago for my Cannondale touring bicyle and used them around here in Silver City.  I was impressed and did a review of them stating that they worked well.  Now, after using a brand new pair for my latest, aborted tour, I had less than stellar success with them, particularly the rear tire.  Here's a photo that I took just before I removed it in Eureka Springs, AR:
This tire only had about 1,000 miles on it and was on the rear of the bike.  It is worn through the tread, as you can see.  The front tire was still acceptable, but I've had Schwalbe tires with several thousands of miles on them before replacing them and Specialized Armadillos that had over 5,000 miles on them.  So, in the bigger picture of touring tires, these failed miserably, in my opinion.  If you're just riding around town, no problem.  Don't consider them for touring.  There are several other models with much better reputations.  Grand Bois also makes some superb tires, as you'll read about in a moment.  In my opinion, 2 Stars tops, only because they're good around town with no weight carried on the bike besides the rider.

On to what has turned out to be an incredible tire.  Exceptional, actually.  Compass Bicycles  (http://www.compasscycle.com/) sells these Grand Bois Blue Cerf, 700 x 26 tires (https://www.compasscycle.com/shop/700c/grand-bois-700cx26-cerf-blue/).  I purchased the set that's on my Vitus road bike in May/2014.  Since putting them on the bike, I have put about 4,000 miles on them and got my first two flats this past month with the front tire because of some glass that I ran over.  As any experienced rider knows, it's the rear tire that'll go flat first..or it seems that way.  Here's a  photo of the front tire on my Vitus:
When I got a flat this past month, I began to wonder when I had purchased these tires.  I know that I really like these tires.  They roll better and faster than other tires I've used and smooth out the rough roads around here.  So, today, I looked back on my blog, www.patricklyford.com, and was amazed to see that I've had these for over one year and that they're still in good shape with the miles I've put on them.  My Vitus is my go to bike, so, when I'm out riding, I'm on the Vitus not the Cannondale.  I will keep a eye on these and see how they are with flats.  But, I am impressed.  Compass Bicycles has some great gear.  Some of it is pricey, but these tires are about $57/each and weigh 222g.  They have an array of tires, all of which I'm sure are good, but these were great.  Yes, I'll be buying a new pair when these are done.  For me, these deserve a 5 Star rating.  5 Star Plus!!!

Enough reviewing for today.  Now, on to a tune to close this post with.  Over the weekend, Chris Squire, founder and bass guitarist for YES died (http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-33306933), so, with that in mind, here's one of my favorite YES songs, in memory of Chris and a shout out to Joan Fish, who turned me on to YES back in Glens Falls, NY, in the mid 1970's.  In fact, here are two YES songs, starting with "Roundabout" (http://youtu.be/SkGzjIq4aZI) and "I've Seen All Good People" (http://youtu.be/m1I4Q6Px_78).  This hardly does YES justice, but it's a start.  Do yourself a favor..go to YouTube and listen to them.  I still like this group.  Rock on, Chris.  God speed.







Thursday, June 18, 2015

On To Little Rock, Then Home To New Mexico!

"You can observe a lot by just watching." ~ Yogi Berra

"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours." ~ Yogi Berra

I love Yogi Berra's quotes.  He was such a character.  Ok, I left Conway, AR, with the sky blue and not much wind blowin' in my face.  Getting out of Conway meant dealing with a fair amount of traffic, but it soon thinned out.  I was on a smaller country road before I knew it and, voila, a donut shop.   Time for one of my favorite ways to consume calories...plain donuts.  They've always been my favorite, followed by glazed donuts.  And, of course, the plain donut has the most fat.  Didn't stop me from eating them.  Ok, a donut shop run by some Asians, not sure where they were from, but it did strike me as different... a donut shop in rural Arkansas run by a family who had moved to the U.S. from an Asian country.  How to turn your world upside down...  Ate lots of donuts and drank some coffee, then got back on the road.  It was only about 40+ miles to Little Rock, where I'd spend Thursday night, all day Friday, and then fly out Saturday afternoon, which would give me a little time to play around there.

In doing a little research about getting into Little Rock, I found a single lane bridge that crossed the Arkansas river and would put me near the motel I was staying at while in Little Rock.  The motel was near Spokes, the bike shop that would ship my bike back to Silver City, and near some cool neighborhoods, as well as being relatively close to downtown Little Rock.  The ride was pretty uneventful except for some asshole drivers in Maumelle, AR.  These people deserve to get awards for being assholes.  Fortunately, I was out of that hole in a short time and near the single lane bridge.

Of course, as I approached the bridge, which was in a more rural area along the river, I saw a sign saying, "Road Closed".  Well, I could see the gate that was closed, so I rode up to it to see if there just might be a possibility of taking my bike across.  Sometimes, when a road is closed, it's closed to motor vehicles, but bicycles can manuever through.  As I approached the gate, I thought that would not happen since there was no way around it and no one around to open the gate.  Preparing to turn around and seek another route, I pulled out my phone and began looking on Ride With GPS for some other way.  Suddenly, the gate began to open...YES!  I pushed the bike forward and was making my way through a small hydroelectric generating station when I heard a man's voice calling to me.  He told me that he couldn't let me through and he'd only opened the gate because he thought I was the rig that was due to arrive that day to replace some of the large gates over the large holes filled with water that I was trying very hard not to fall in.  Would not have been good.  With some hope in my voice, I asked him if what I was looking at not too far away was the other side of the river???  Another 5 feet and I'd be past these open water holes and onto the single lane bridge...but, no, he couldn't do that.  He would be fired if he did and he told me that I had to turn around and go out the gate I came in.  Explaining where I'd started and where I was headed....just across that bridge that was 5 feet from me didn't help..so it was back out the gate to find another way.

Once on the other side of the gate, I looked at my phone again to see where I could cross the river.  Seemed like there was a bike path I could take that would take me to a pedestrian/bike bridge over the river that put me in the parking lot of the Bill Clinton Presidential Library.  Ok, let's see if I can find this.  With only some minor issues, I found the bridge and crossed over into Little Rock.  No, I didn't stop at the library.  While in Little Rock, I used Uber to get around and one driver said he wanted to open a cigar store next to the Clinton Library called "MONICA'S", with a replica of the blue dress, and a box of the cigars she liked...on sale, of course.  Thought he could make money for a while on that theme.

 Ok, found my motel, called Spokes, and brought my bike over to get it boxed up and sent out.  Talked with several of the Spokes staff, all of whom were very friendly, and they gave me some ideas for dinner.  Seems there were a few good sushi restaurants nearby.  I love sushi.  From that point on, I was using Uber to get around Little Rock.  The service is fairly affordable and no tipping either.  That was good.
I went to a couple of sushi restaurants.  The one in the photos above was quite pretentious, with the waitress trying to tell me what was on the platter the sushi chef gave me.  I interrupted her, informing her that I'd been eating sushi for 30 years and that I was aware of what was on the platter.  This was after she'd explained the menu to me when I first sat down.  She irritated me, which was not good.  The sushi was good, as was the sushi the night before.  The places shall remain nameless.  

The other thing I was looking for, but did not find, was decent espresso.  Despite the rave reviews, the places I went to did not live up to their reviews.  Again, they'll remain nameless.  There is one of these "espresso" shops that deserves mention...Andina Cafe (http://andina-cafe.com/) in downtown Little Rock.  This has to be the worst espresso shop that I have ever been in.  How they got rated as being an excellent espresso cafe is beyond me.  The double espresso I got was in a regular coffee mug with no crema.  WTF???  Do not bother stopping in here.

The one place that I found in downtown Little Rock that was good was a pizza/microbrewery...Vino's (http://www.vinosbrewpub.com/).  The pizza was excellent and the stout was tasty.  Reminded me of East Coast pizza, which is my favorite.  Now, I'm sure there are plenty of good places to eat, and drink, in Little Rock.  I was only moderately successful, but it seemed like a fairly decent city.  Not sure I'd put it on my list of places that I want to visit again, but, should I be nearby  again, I'd stop at Vino's for sure.

On Saturday morning, I headed to an area on Kavanaugh Street, looking for an espresso shop that had good reviews.  To my surprise, there was a small festival going on...Etsy Little Rock...and they had a microbrewery set up to sell pints there.  The expresso was mediocre.  The beer was good.  I found a place for lunch, then called Uber to take me back to the motel, pick up my panniers, then take me to the Bill and Hillary airport.  While at the airport, I found a decent BBQ place and had another beer, which made things more pleasant while waiting for my flight to Albuquerque.  This wasn't how I expected my trip to end, but that's how it was.  I got into Albuquerque late and Isaac was there to meet me.  Too late to get something to eat, we headed to his house, had a bite, then went to bed.  In the morning, we had breakfast then he dropped me off at Albuquerque International, where I got my flight on Boutique Air to Silver City.  Below, a photo of the plane and my pannier inside the plane.
On arrival in Silver City at Grant County Airport, Eileen was waiting for me and I was extremely happy to see her.  I had really missed her on this trip.  So, we headed home and I have not regretted cutting this trip short.

Now, to end this post...a tune.  Since part of this ride was to attend my high school reunion again, here's a tune that was a big hit in my senior year, "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs (http://youtu.be/OcguLZaMelE).  And one more..."Hang On Sloopy" by The McCoys (http://youtu.be/TlTKhPkZSJo).  Oh, what the hellllllll...one more, just to drive you crazy, "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (http://youtu.be/qfZVu0alU0I).  Til the next time....

Monday, June 15, 2015

Harrison, AR, to Marshall, AR via Clinton, AR, Then On To Conway, AR...

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enoug to eat six." ~ Yogi Berra

"So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being." ~ Franz Kafka

My travels to Marshall, AR, went fairly well and I arrived there early in the afternoon.  When I stopped for lunch at Ferguson's Country Store (http://www.buffalorivertradingco.com/) near the Buffalo River, which, by bicycle, is a few hours from Marshall, I called the Jennings House (http://www.thejenningshousebedandbreakfast.com/in Marshall, AR, to see about a room for the night.  There wasn't a place to camp in Marshall nor was there a motel nearby that was very good.  Since it was off season, I got a better price.  The proprietor told me to call her when I arrived in Marshall and she'd come right over.

Some photos:
And I had the house to myself since I was the only one staying there because it was off-season and the proprietor didn't live there.  While this was great, the big issue was finding a place to eat.  There was nothing close by and riding my bike on Highway 65 was not something I wanted to do again that day.  So, I asked the proprietor who sent me to the "Daisy Queen", which she thought was pretty good.  Jesus, it was more junk burgers, fries, and a chocolate "milk" shake.  Got the calories I needed, but the state of food affairs in small town America is abysmal, at best.  This was where I decided on a change of plans, so I called Eileen and talked to her just to make sure that I was thinking straight.  After talking to her, I called Southwest to see if I could get the points back that I'd used to buy a roundtrip ticket for Eileen to meet me at my nephew's in Catonsville, MD.  Great news...I got all the points back and found a good one-way fare from Little Rock, AR, to Albuquerque, NM.  Now, I needed to find a bike shop in Little Rock that would ship my bike back to Silver City, NM.  I called Eileen back and let her know that I'd be home by Sunday (this was a Wednesday).  The one catch was that I needed to confirm I could get my bike shipped.  I wouldn't know that until Thursday because it was late and none of the shops were open.  Said goodnight to Eileen and then thought about my decision to end my ride.  Realizing that I was ok with it, I went to bed.  Next day, I'd be on my way to Conway, AR, just 45 miles from Little Rock.

In the morning, I found some food in the house that the proprietor said I could help myself to and got enough to get started.  Headed out with overcast sky and looking a lot like rain.  Just a few miles down the road, the rain started.  Of course, that was also where the climb out of Marshall started.  It was a long climb.  The mountains were not over yet.  While the distance to Conway was not great, the hills and the rain made for a long day.  After getting over a few of the mountains, I arrived in Clinton, AR, where I stopped at a diner, a chain, The Huddle House (http://www.huddlehouse.com/restaurant-locator.aspx?area=city&city=clinton&state=AR).  You all know this place.  Maybe with a different name, but they're all the same...Denny's, etc.  This place wasn't as big as most Denny's, but similar breakfast menus.  While there, I called the Spokes Bicycle shop (http://www.spokeslittlerock.com/in Little Rock, AR, to find out if they could ship my bike.  Yes, they could.  Deal was now closed..I would be home on Sunday.  I called Eileen and she recommended I take Boutique Air (https://www.boutiqueair.com/from Albuquerque to Silver City since it was very affordable, $69, and would save her an 8hr drive, back and forth, from Silver City.  She made those arrangements for me and I went inside to have some breakfast.  Or better yet, to suck down calories, fat, cholesterol, grease, and sugar, all under the guise of "breakfast".  At the table next to me were two guys from Clinton, who watched me while I took my helmet off, put my handlebar bag on the table in my booth, then ordered some coffee.  I was wearing my PubQuest (http://pubquest.com/) cycling jersey, which is a bright yellow.  Here's a photo I took of these two guys:
Quintessential small town guys.  Where I grew up in Upstate NY, these guys would fit right in.  Except for the Arkansas accent, no one there would think they were from anywhere else.  The guy wearing the baseball cap asked me if I was from San Diego because he saw he city logo on my jersey.  I told him that I was from Silver City, NM.  He told me he had lived in San Diego for about 25 years or more and had worked as a truck driver.  They continued eating and I ordered my breakfast...usually two eggs, bacon, french toast, homefries, maple syrup.  Keeps me rolling down the road.  While I was waiting for the food, the guy in the baseball cap asked me where I was headed.  After telling them, the guy in the black hat said that he'd have a damn hard time even riding a bicycle out of the parking lot.  The guy in the baseball cap asked, if I didn't mind, just how old I was...67 yrs. old.  "Damn, you've got two years on me!", he said.  The black hat guy said he was 67 yrs old, too.  We chatted all duirng breakfast.  These two were born in Clinton and the black hat guy had lived there all his life.  The other guy had moved back after he retired from truck driving.  Said he had bad knees from driving and that he'd be happy if he could get his weight back down to 220lbs.  Never judge a book by its cover, as I've learned repeatedly over my life.  These two were very friendly and wished me a safe journey and gave me some fairly reliable info on what the road was like to Conway, AR.

After I finished breakfast, I headed down the road towards Conway and the weather turned wet again and it rained on and off for the remainder of the ride that day.  Arriving in Conway, AR, in the late afternoon, I got a room at the Microtel Inn near some restaurants where I could get some decent food. Checked in, called Eileen, and hung up my wet clothes.  Took a shower and then headed out for something to eat.  Went to ZAZA's (http://www.zazapizzaandsalad.com/), which was a short walk from the hotel, but had good reviews.  It had good pizza, good salad, good gelato, and a great selection of wine, which I imbibed in.  I was walking after all.  And I only had about 40 miles to ride the next day.

Next, Little Rock.  For now, however, I'll close this post with a tune...Kevin Burke, who I got to see at a house concert in Las Cruces, NM,this weekend at a friend of our's house...Trish Cutler.  A photo:
This was a fun evening and I got to talk to Kevin for a bit about the West...and to listen to a fiddler that I think is one of the best on the planet.  So, to close this post, a tune from Kevin Burke...
http://youtu.be/OilNy6nY2YM  Hope you enjoy this.  Next, Little Rock...



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On To Eureka Springs, Arkansas...And Mingling With The Tourists.

"I'm not a good tourist.  I don't like tourism." ~ Joe Sacco

Despite my most inner fears screaming at me, like they should have before I took that "shortcut" in Joplin, I headed off to Eureka Springs, AR.  My wife, Eileen, and her mother, Maril, have been to Eureka Springs twice.  And they enjoyed themselves while visiting there.  So, I thought, maybe there's something to see there.  Again, voices in my head saying, "Listen!  Don't be stupid.  DON'T BE A TOURIST!"  Well, that's how normal people become stupid tourists...they forget to listen to the voices in their collective heads.  So, now, I'm off to be a tourist...

The road out of Neosho, MO, was good, with minimal traffic, and the weather looked promising.  No tornadoes in sight.  One of the difficulties of travel by bicycle is not knowing what the condition of the roads will be until you reach the road.  And, by then, unlike in a car, it's difficult to turn around and go try the other road 10 miles back.  That can be an hour of time just to backtrack.  So, like General Grant, who never backtracked because he didn't like going over roads he'd already gone down, I took the road that I thought would be good.  It turned out to be not bad.  Often with no shoulder, but the minimal traffic made the road tolerable.  Some photos:
The following 4 photos are a "Burma Shave" type of signage.  Didn't get the first one, but got the rest of them...These are put up by individuals or churches.
Signs of the Amish...
Who knew???
The spot in Eureka Springs where I fixed my flat tire...
A decent espresso shop in Eureka Springs with a LONG line...
Dogwoods...
A lunch stop in a small town on my way to Eureka Springs...brought back many memories of home.
Outside shot of Harry's Cafe...
Sushi in Eureka Springs...some parts of being in a tourist spot are good.
Some stuff is even better...Sake!
A brewpub in Eureka Springs...
A typical dinner spot in Eureka Springs...Italian food.
A single lane wooden bridge on my way to Eureka Springs.  This is from the other side and I have a very long, steep hill to climb to get up and out of the river's edge.
The sushi chef in Eureka Springs...he's from Minnesota.
This is what I'd envision heaven to be...a brewpub and an espresso shop for starters.  What a good concept...It was located in Eureka Springs.
This photo doesn't do this cup of espresso justice because it's hard to see that it's a large cup, holding a double espresso that's about 4 times bigger than it should be.  But it was tasty coffee.  And the breakfast food items were good.

Once on the main road to Eureka Springs, things got dicey.  No shoulder to speak of and lots of traffic.  Thank God it wasn't the weekend.  At one point, as I got to within 10 miles of Eureka Springs, I began to encounter HUGE hills.  One that I saw off in the distance, well, I was hoping that it was one of those 18 wheeler truck runoffs for trucks that have lost their brakes.  But, no, it was a real hill and, with no shoulder on the road, traffic had to crawl behind me while they watched me pedal my ass off getting up that hill.  Reaching the top, I pulled off the road to let traffic go by.  I was praying that there wouldn't be more like that.  I had done some research on Eureka Springs and found a road that would take me into Eureka Springs that was flatter (relatively) and had less traffic, so I took that.  It was a beautiful area and the ride was good.  Arriving in Eureka Springs, the streets were very narrow and I discovered that my rear tire (it's always the rear tire, which is the hardest to get off!) was soft.  So, had to stop and fix that.  While doing that, a guy on a bike stopped to see if I was ok, which I appreciated, and he gave me a hand holding the bike while I put the wheel back on the bike.  The next day, while riding around Eureka Springs, he drove by me in his pickup truck, calling out to me by name, which was odd since I was in a place where no one knew me.  While fixing my rear tire, another cyclist, who is the owner of a bike shop in Eureka Springs, stopped and gave me his card.  Told me to stop by, which I did.  That's how I discovered the Brewpub/Espresso shop.  And I got a new tire at the bike shop, Adventure Mountain Outfitters (http://www.adventuremountainoutfitters.com/).  I'll do a review of the Vittoria Randonneur tire, which didn't hold up as well as I had thought it would.  That's why I had a flat in Eureka Springs.  While at Adventure Mountain Outfitters, I also picked up some extra tubes.

The plusses in Eureka Springs...the brewpub/espresso shop.  What else?  Well, I did enjoy the other brewpub that I went to, but getting around Eureka Springs requires wheels, motorized wheels.  It is not designed for walking unless you stay in Eureka Springs proper, which is quite expensive, as you might guess.  They do operate a trolley system that is very affordable, but has limited hours.  If you stay past operating hours, you're walking.  And they don't really have sidewalks except in a few parts of the town.  I stayed  in Eureka Springs for 4 nights.  Not because I loved it, but to redo my route again.  And, of course, I wasn't aware that this should have been a big sign for me that something was up.  I spent a fair amount of time and decided that I'd cut out a lot of the ride in the Southeast part of the U.S. and skip the riding towards Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston and, instead, head northeast out of Jackson, MI, straight towards the Shennandoah Valley.  This would cut the time on the road in the South quite a bit. I was starting to slice away at my original route, again unaware or unwilling to admit that I wanted to cut my ride short.  Well, with the trip cut shorter, I headed out of Eureka Springs on Monday, working my way south towards Little Rock, AR.

My stop for the day after leaving Eureka Springs was Harrison, AR.  Actually, about 5 miles south of Harrison where I stayed at an RV Park.  Pretty nice place.  Didn't notice the tornado shelter, at first.  Not until I saw the sign, "NO PETS".  That's when I spotted the door to the tornado shelter in the side of an embankment.
I took a selfie inside my tent.  Yes, it was cold, but sunny.  I slept in my Big Agnes down sleeping bag, on my light weight cot, dressed with wool tights on, a smartwool zip tee, my smartwool jacket, and my yellow vest.  Pretty much kept me warm.  I'll do some reviews of my gear and what I liked in upcoming posts.

Before ending this post, I have to mention a place where I ate in Harrison, AR.  Most places that I ate at while riding were, at best, below average or just damn crappy.  This place, Neighbors Mill, (http://www.neighborsmill.com/#welcome), quite frankly rocks.  It was easy to order what I wanted, no lines to speak of since customers move from one section to another to order what that section serves, then it's off to the cash register, where there is no tip jar.  WTF?  The food was delicious and good enough that, if I'm near this place in the future in a car, I will take the detour and go there.  It's that good.  I loved this place.  And the people, staff and customers, were very friendly and wanted to know just what I was doing and where was I headed.  Lots of positive comments from everyone.

Ok.  Time to end this post with a tune.  This past week, a jazz legend died...Ornette Coleman, a saxophonist who was incredible.  I love the violin, the clarinet, the Uilleann pipes, and the saxophone more than other instruments.  And he could make the saxophone sing.  Hope you like it..."Lonely Woman" (http://youtu.be/QSmYTc1Jv7w)


Ft. Scott, KS, to Neosho, MO...A Frustrating Ride!

"It ain't as bad as you think.  It will look better in the morning." ~ Colin Powell

The day that I left Ft. Scott, KS, was overcast and not a promising day, weatherwise, but I took off anyways.  I'd redone my route once again while I stayed an extra day in Ft. Scott, but, as you know by now, I'd only been foolin' myself.  The temperature was cool and the wind was tolerable.  Heading to Neosho, I was taking a more direct route to the Ozarks and Eureka Springs.

Now, I'm not certain why I decided to head towards Eureka Springs, AR, but I did.  Growing up in Upstate New York, between the tourist towns of Saratoga Springs, NY, and Lake George, NY, I was absolutely turned off by just about any tourist place, no matter the offerings.  Tourists can be real assholes and living around them for 30 years did not endear them to me...at all.  Every time I'm traveling, I make every effort not to be a "tourist" and try to act like I live where I'm visiting.  Ok, what's worse than tourists?  Their kids.  The "absolute jerk gene" gets passed on to them.  I remember my Dad when he'd be around some kid who was acting out and their parent/s were not dealing with the situation...he'd say that his palm was just itching, itching to give the kid, then the parent, a swat.  That's what I think about when I'm around tourists.

Ok, back on the road to Neosho, MO.  For the most part, the day went well.  No major issues with drivers or dogs.  Soon, I was on Rt. 66, which I thought was different from THE Rt. 66 because it said Kansas Rt. 66.  That's just a glimpse of how normal people can be stupid tourists...duh, there's only ONE Rt. 66, Dude.  So, I come rolling into Galena, MO, when I see this:
Alright, now I know that I'm on THAT Rt. 66.  This was a cool graphic on the side of a building in Galena.  Adventure Cycling Association just finished mapping their Rt. 66 route (http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/bicycle-route-66/and people can buy the maps and take the trip on Rt. 66.  

Riding from there to Joplin, MO, was next and I admit to being more than just a bit anxious about tornadoes at this point.  Several years ago, Joplin got hit by one big tornado that did lots of damage, including to a hospital there.  Well, my eyes were constantly looking over the horizon, 360 degrees, to make sure that I'd spot any tornado.  Just what the hell I was going to do should said tornado appear was a very different matter.  Being out in the open left me vulnerable to whatever the forces of nature would impose on me.  So, I kept pedalling and no tornadoes.  Getting to Joplin, I began looking for the route to Neosho from there...and missed the turn.  Looking at my map on Ride With GPS, I saw another road that I could take that intersected the highway I wanted to be on.  So, forgetting all I've ever learned about not taking shortcuts (another lesson on how normal people turn into stupid tourists), I took the shortcut.  Just far enough into this shortcut...far enough to know that turning around was going to be just as hard as going forward...I realized that I should have not forgotten why it's not good to take shortcuts.  Rollers. Big fekkin' rollers.  I was in the hill country of Missouri.  At one point, I came upon road construction and a section of dirt road.  Hard packed dirt road, but dirt.  Fortunately, it was just a short stretch of unhappiness, but the rollers continued unabated.  Stopping to see just where the hell I was on this damn road, I saw that the intersection was not far away.  Getting to that intersection brightened my day a bit, but I knew that I was still a ways from getting to Neosho.
Pushing on, I realized that a lot of people sell cars from their homes in Missouri.  They were everywhere.  And churches.  God wants them to have cars so they can drive to church and give the pastors their money, so the pastor can have a nicer house and a much nicer car than any the churchgoers sell back at their homes.

To keep the curse words to a minimum, I'll skip the description of the rest of the ride.  Suffice it to say that I arrived in Neosho after dark, around 8:30pm, pissed off, cursing at Google Maps (I was not saying anything nice to the female voice on Google Maps!), and located the motel where I'd made arrangements to stay.  Of course, the nearest places to eat...all fast food places.  The one place that looked decent just closed, so I had the joyful experience of eating at a local burger chain that was just a notch above terrrible.  After my delicious burger, fries, and milkshake, I walked back to the motel and called Eileen.  If there was a way to get from Neosho back to Silver City the next day, I was up for taking whatever it was and get out of there.  It was the first crack in my determination to continue on this ride.  

Well, like the quote at the top of this post, things did look better in the morning, so I was off to Eureka Springs, AR.  More on that later...
My campsite outside of Harrison, AR
Yes, it was cold, so I was dressed to stay warm.  Sunshine, but cold winds.

Alright, a tune to exit this post...Etta James singing "At Last" (http://youtu.be/S-cbOl96RFM).  A great song and a great singer.  Hope you enjoy it.