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Tuesday 28 June 2011

Day 49 - Orzarking into Arkansas

Todays mileage: 88
Total mileage: 2,432
End point: Van Buren, AR

Did not get a great nights sleep last night. This was down to three factors; firstly the noise of the crickets and locusts, secondly the incedible heat and thirdly the positioning of my tent. I had without knowing it planted my tent in direct site of a street light and by the time it came on I was just too lazy to move all my stuff and the tent. I probably managed to get 5 hours sleep in total, enough for Thatcher, not enough for me.

I got a good early start and headed east towards the stateline. I had one major town before Arkansas called Tahlequah. The route was littered with election signs for the Cherokee National Council. My favourite of which was for 'Dave Walkingstick', anyone with that surname deserves to be elected! I have done some reading on the modern Cherokee Nation and I think I am now more confused than before. The Cherokee Nation has citizens and one must be able to prove some indian heritage to join. It has courts, police, hospitals and business interests. But the Nation has no continuous geography, it is scattered across many states, although Oklahoma is the centre and the town of Tahlequah is the capital. I guess my confusion is the conflicts of jurisdiction between state laws and the National Council, and what about non-indians who live in Tahlequah. If anyone wants to shed some light on this they would be more than welcome.

Tahlequah saw one of my less fortunate incidents on the trip so far. I'm a big fan of a mcdonalds breakfast and at about 9 am walked in with my bike and joined the line. After about 15 mins I got served and sat down to tuck in. After about another 10 minutes the manager came over and requested the bike go outside. The debate lasted about 3 minutes with each claim and counter claim escalating in volume and aggression. My key points as follows:
1. My bike had all my stuff on it and was very expensive
2. No locking up facilities outside, nor any seating area
3. I'd almost finished eating anyway
4. The bike wasn't causing anyone any problems and was out of the way
5. No other mcdonalds had been so mean
After the first minute nearly the whole restaurant was watching us, I finally gave up the battle, stuffed my last hash brown into my mouth and then proceeding to exit the building at the speed of a snail on a caribbean vacation.

Now I can hear my mother saying, you get that side from you father! Well she is 70% telling the truth, but if you have ever seen my mum served a meal in a restaurant that isn't a temperature equivalent to the outer layers of the sun you'll know the 30%. The plate gets immediately sent back and at least 10 minutes of shock at how the restaurant could dare serve such a meal! Only kidding mum ;) xx

Once outside the restaurant I had a customer come out and sympathize with me, and another member of staff came over and told me she was on a bit of a power trip. Readers will await my email to mcd corporate hq and to the Tahlequah Times.

I headed 20 miles to Stillwell and then onwards to the Stateline, crossing into Arkansas, AHH-KAN-SAW! With a brief photo stop. What awaited my in AR was one massive hill and then another - the Ozarks which the bamboo riders had got excited by. It was beautiful dense forest that felt alive. The climbs in 100f heat were brutal, and I hadn't faced anything like this in nearly the last month. I think I prefered the times when I had to decide whether to wear 2 or 3 layers. Up, down, up down and I did some great top speeds today hitting 40mph, although I'm happy to hit the brakes if the tarmac looks questionable or I am gaining too much speed. The upside of the forest and the hills was less gusting winds. I headed on to the town with my favourite name to date: 'Figure Five' - Love it.

And so I totalled 88 miles today, good effort from me. Headed out for a well deserved beer only to find out that I am in a dry county. I thought these were the sole preserve of KY. Anyway the owner of the gas station showed my sympathy and appeared with a few cans of keystone light (I am lead to believe this is the equivalent of Carling from the UK) but he refused to take any money so no complaints. I'l' be slowing down over the next couple of days enjoying some more of the Ozarks and am looking forward to meeting the Gillums, Tim, Sarah and Casey. More of them later.

And finally, question for the day - what's going on in AR with these funny red and blue street signs? My experience is that they are normally green and occassionally white (in the states).


  1. You hit 40 miles an hour at one point?? Wow. That's fast. Loved the bit about your mom and the 30%. :-) I am happy I was not there for the McD's argument. Good work on 88 miles! I hope you enjoyed that amazing Keystone Light. So happy you get to be with some fun people soon! Talk to you soon. xxx

  2. A blue sign simply indicates that the street is private: it was not built by, and is not maintained by the city and a red sign the opposite. Alternative interpretations could be Republican versus Democrat or North versus South. Welcome to Arkansas!