Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 2008

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Where I stayed
Bayou Bluffs Recreation Area

Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's a short trip down Highway 79 to I40 which I follow through Memphis and across the mighty Mississippi into Arkansas.  As I cross the border into Arkansas, the sky is looking very dark ahead of me so I pull off at the Arkansas Welcome Center just over the border to put the waterproof liners in my riding suit.  It starts to rain as I'm putting everything together and I move under a picnic shelter.  Before I finish, it is quickly coming down hard.  I move out to the bike to cover my seat bag and tank bag.  By now it's coming down so hard and visibility is so low I decide I'm not going out.  The picnic shelter is offering no protection whatsoever in this deluge... the wind is blowing the rain right under the shelter... so I ford a small pond that's developed on the sidewalk and move into the Welcome Center as rain comes down in torrents.  The staff in the center provide me with maps to peruse while I'm waiting and I use the time to decide on a route, settling on one that will take me off the freeway and into the Ozarks.
As I'm leaving the center after the rain has let up, a lady who is just coming in starts a conversation with me about the rain.  She says she lives in Little Rock and that in 40 years she's never seen it rain like that.  She said that visibility was down to almost zero and "cars were hydroplaning all over the place."  I think I made the right decision to wait it out at the Welcome Center.  Even if I stayed upright (which isn't a foregone conclusion) sharing the road with hydroplaning cars doesn't sound like fun to me.
I follow Interstate 40 continuing through more open agricultural land.  While I'm stopped at a rest stop looking at a map, two '05 ST1300's pull up next to me.  (I ride an '05 ST1300.)  It turns out there's a gathering of ST's planned for Eureka Springs, Arkansas that I didn't know about.  They invite me to stop by but I don't think I can squeeze that in with everything else I have planned.
Once again I find myself wondering about town names and their source.  When I was in Kentucky I went through the town of Gum Lick and have a mental image of the founder being an old man, with no teeth, who had a habit of licking his gums.   Now in Arkansas I pass by Toad Suck.  I'll let you do your own imagining about the source of that name.
I continue down I40 with the intent of getting off at highway 7 but an electronic sign on the freeway warns that 7 is closed and to use alternate routes.  I get off the freeway to consult my map and plan an alternate route.   I discover I'm on the 105 and that will get get me where I need to go.   It's getting dark so I stop at the Bayou Bluff Recreation Area, a National Forest Service campground on the Illinois Bayou.
I set up my tent next to Dale and Steve who, as it turns out, are local men scouting new areas to go deer hunting when the season opens.  They invite me to join them at their campfire and offer to share the dinner they're cooking over the open fire.   I join them until it's time for me to toddle off to bed.
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