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...
The spot in Eureka Springs where I fixed my flat tire...
A decent espresso shop in Eureka Springs with a LONG line...
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)