Day 3, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

March 30, 2013 – Awake at 6:00 a.m., on our bikes by 7:22 p.m. in 54 degrees and cloudy weather. Failing again to find a mom and pop breakfast joint in Mountain Home (well actually, we found one but they were closed today, to prepare all the bakery orders for Easter), we stopped at McDonald’s for a latte and WiFi.

After traveling east on Hwy 62 a few miles, we stopped at Southfork Cafe in Salem AR, for the first real breakfast of the trip. I mean the kind where I can order the special of the day (2 eggs, country ham, hash browns and toast or biscuit for $6.95 (of course, I have to waive the bread for the meal to meet my gluten-free needs), and the server calls me darlin’ and you can almost hear the country song being written as she shares tidbits about her life. Such as “Between you and me, I went to culinary school and won the top prize in a baking competition at the school, and then I won fourth place in a state competition. . . My daughter asked me to bake a cake for a memorial service for a friend who was a trucker . . .” And now she appears to be the owner/operator of  a nice breakfast/lunch/dinner joint in Salem, Arkansas. I bought two framed pieces that are on display by local artists for a total of $30. That’s the kind of mom and pop places we love to find! This one was worth the lack of them the past two mornings!

Then on to Mammoth Springs, shortly after which we entered Missouri and near where we turned onto Hwy 9, then to MO state hwy 19 for much of the day — and take note bikers — it is a dream of a highway! Forest, lakes, mountains, curves, hills  —  miles and miles and more miles of ribbony two-lane highway along beautiful scenery. It’s even better than Scenic 7 yesterday! Towns along the way included Alton, Winona (gas), Eminence (home of Eminence Ozarker 4-H Club), Round Spring, and Salem, MO, where we stopped again at McD’s for another latte and WiFi break, but mostly to thaw out my numb finger. Renaud’s syndrome is a bummer when it comes to biking in chilly weather. And OK, I have officially been at McDonald’s more in the last 30 days than I have in the past 5 years!

We continued North on 19. It started raining lightly at Cherryville, and by Steelville the rain began in earnest, so we stopped to put on our rain suits. It’s consistently 50 degrees most of the day, so the extra layers feel good. It’s chilly and the wet pavement slows us down, but we can’t complain since we’ve dodged rain 98% of the time on our travels for nearly four years! We pass Cuba, then stop at Owensville about 2:00 for lunch and to warm up. Then on to Hwy 50 East for 30 miles, Gerald, Bueafort and Union. Gerald appeared to be a very cute little down with lots of fun businesses.

We travel interstate highways as little as possible on our travels, but there are times when it is unavoidable. Today was one of those days – for time, convenience and given the cold, wet conditions, we got on I-44 for 35 miles to I-270 to the West end of St Louis, North to I-70 East, past airport to Comfort Inn. Freeway driving terrified me when I first started riding. As my skills improved and my experience developed, I was no longer terrified of freeway driving (or I wouldn’t have been able to manage the L.A. or Dallas freeways!) but they are still not fun, and given the wet conditions, my muscles were tight by the time we pulled into the Comfort Inn. My sweetheart is often thoughtful of my advanced beginner status, and left me at the front door with the bags after I slid off my bike into a puddle of weariness, while he parked both bikes.

A hot shower, rest, glass of wine and nachos later, I’m feeling recovered, but still looking forward to a massage back at home next week! It was another incredible day, with a total of 302 miles – all of it beautiful, most of it fun, and the last of it, mentally and physically challenging. I’m always learning and growing, and these trips offer so much material for that growth. I learn geography, experience different ways of living, engage with and learn from people who live very different lives than mine. I learn the thrill of accomplishment and fun when I’m able to take curves comfortably without slowing way down, and I conquer fears of heights and freeways. I’ve learned how the sun, wind and freedom make creativity flow through my brain, when I though 18 years in Corporate America had rusted my creative circuitry. So, I’ll take a little rain and a few miles of freeway and be grateful for it!

Wishing you, me and our families and friends a blessed Easter, as we marvel at the mysteries and miracles of life and death.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Good Friday, March 29 — we were on the road before 7:30 a.m., but by the time we gassed up, resorted to breakfast at McDonalds due to lack of finding local, non-chain restaurants in Broken Bow, it was about 9 a.m. before we headed east on Hwy 70 to Glenwood, Arkansas, North on 8, north on 27 to Russelville, north on Hwy 7 to Harrison, East on 62 to Mountain Home. Now the impressions and details.

The weather was overcast and at times foggy and misting, but the temps were mild – hovering upper 50s, until the sun broke through, mid-afternoon, resulting in upper 60s. The landscape is surprisingly beautiful. I’m not sure I ever thought about what Arkansas looked like. What we found was many rivers and creeks, farm and ranch land, lots of trees and logging, rolling hills and the beautiful Ozark National Forest. In all, I think today was one of my top 5 favorite motorcycle rides, and I’ve been on some beauties!

On the other end of the beauty spectrum, I saw lots of run down trailer homes, some with years of accumulated junk and rust in the yard, especially earlier in the day (west/southwest Arkansas).  The towns, counties scenic points and businesses had quaint and sometimes funny names – Dierks, Daisy, Kirby, “Y”, Caddo Gap, Mt. Ida, Booger Hollow, Ouachita, Washita, Story, Aly, Onyx, Rover, Danville, Ranger, Chickalah, Yell, Dog Patch, Dardanelle, Dover, Sand Gap, Jasper, Harrison, Bellefonte, Pyatt, Snow, Summit, Yellville, Flippin, Gassville and Mountain Home, where we will spend the night.

We had lunch outside Russellville at Colton’s Steak House, and just as we were preparing to leave, I got a phone call from a recruiter about a contract job at my former employer. It was an important call for a couple of reasons — it reminded me of all the SUPER people I had an opportunity to work on the most challenging project of my career the last few years I was there. It also reminded me how grateful I am that my position was eliminated there, following the successful completion of that challenging project, as it gave me the chance to explore and create completely new career and business possibilities that are challenging and exciting in completely different ways. I’ve always coached my team member to look for the opportunities that come out of change; and I’ve always truly believed and experienced that personally. My displacement was the biggest and most challenging career change, and I believe that change has – and will continue to – provide the greatest opportunities. Not that it has been easy to see that every moment or day, but looking back over the past year, and forward to the future, it is clearly a positive change.

One of those opportunities has been this Winter Adventure! Although today was a long one on the road – about 320 miles – the route was so beautiful, with such great biking roads, that it really didn’t feel very tiring. It was challenging for me, without being frightening, like some of the higher mountain highways we’ve traveled on past trips.  The elevation was probably about 2,000 ft at the highest point, but it seemed higher. Many great sweepers, some button hooks and many stretches didn’t have much traffic, so in other words – AWESOME riding! The stretches of pavement that were wet slowed me down quite a bit, but had to appreciate the upside that we never actually got rained on!

We checked in to the EconoLodge about 5:30 p.m. and after a short snooze and shower, we walked to the Mexican restaurant next door for a nice meal and great conversation. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to ensure that this is really my life. I’m so grateful for all the experiences, people and opportunities I am blessed with! Hope you are enjoying sharing them with me!

Love, Tomboy Tam