Bikes, Blues, and BBQ rally ~ on the road to Arkansas!!

Naturally i procrastinated on getting ready for the trip to Arkansas, which led me to finish packing at 3:30am. I set my alarm for 5am.. just long enough to get a little drool on my pillowcase. I rode to Lakeville to meet the girls for our adventure to NW Arkansas. Surprisingly, I am early - gassed up and ready to roll ahead of schedule! While waiting for the 3rd girl to roll in, an older employee of the gas station came out and started talking about her old panhead bike that got her 'into nothin but trouble'. While ocassionally remembering to take a breath between taking drags off of her smoke, She gave an example, which was a 'dooozie' of a story at 7am, told by someone who has clearly been awake too long and drank too much coffee for her own good. She went on to say that the last time she went to Sturgis o nthe bike, she drank too much, "fell asleep" and woke up with a tattoo on her arse. She was crackin herself up mid story and clearly thought we were headed on a very different trip than she had in mind for us. She said her tattoo was that of a mouth and a tongue. On her bum. Thankfully, she didn't show us. Then she said she went to another rally (I can't remember where because by this time I was still trying to process the words she had just spoken and silently shaking my head wondering if this was really happening at 7am) and "fell asleep again", waking up with yet another tattoo. This one she showed us - on her upper back/low neck, were the words (written in semi-cursive and in the shape of a rainbow) "Love you more". She said her husband 'got it' for her that night, and they have been together something like 40 years now. Still puffin her smoke like she was trying to beat the fire department record, she went on to say that she hasnt been on a bike trip since. I foolishly thought this was where the conversation would end, because I was still facinsated of the reality of events being told. But the reason she hadnt been to another rallly wasnt because she didnt want more tattoos, rather, she 'saw her kids off to college, got lonely, and bought some cows. And she can't just 'leave them home alone' for too many days in a row. It's now 7:20am and she left us with that tidbit of info before leaving to go home, exclaiming on the way out that 'you girls will have a great time!". In comparison to her stories, I hope to have nothing even close to exciting to report. Anyways - the third girl rolled in and off to Arkansas we go.

 I know what you are thinking... Arkansas?! Who goes there? It's just hillbillies with no teeth, wearing overalls that only have one strap hook left. That is partially accurate...if you wander into the backwoods of Arkansas. Off the paved roads. Arkansas is my FAVORITE place to ride... seriously!  There is no straight road in the area and no wrong turn - the views of the rolling hills and tree lined canyons are amazing!

The weather was perfect the whole way - 92 degrees ('feels like 100' according to the weather app), the traffic was minimal, the bikes ran great, and we stayed dry! We made it from MN to Eureka Springs in 11 hours. After  650+ miles of straight freeway riding, we turned onto County Rd 86 on the MO / AR border, and were thrown into a mish mash of S curves and hills that had no visible end. Along the way, us 3 girls were all lacking sleep, not used to the heat and sun, and a little delusional ourselves, but we managed to come up with some great punch lines, like when we stopped for food and Shelly said she was glad we stopped to eat because she "needed something more than the usual nuts and jerky". I don't know why that was so funny, but it became one of our go-to punch lines.
We checked into our hotel, walked across he street and bought some beverages to celebrate our return to Eureka Springs. "Home" at last! We showered (ok, we reapplied deodorant) and headed downtown to the Cathuouse ~ my fave local watering hole. Sheila got there before us and as we walked onto the patio, we heard her self-proclaimed new nickname, "tequila sheila". The phrase quickly sums up how the night went. Long story short, after a long day of riding on minimal sleep, after soaking up 11 hours of sunlight, wind, and bug guts, it really didn't take much to 'relax' and unwind. The pictures we found today at dinner were a vague recap of some otherwise fuzzy moments in time! And the fact that I woke up (not in my bed....which was comfy and clean and inviting), but on the floor next to the AC, curled up with a hoodie on my legs tells you how well Tequila Sheila affected us all. Ah, the things we do, and miles we log, just to have stories to half tell!

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