May 19: Day 4; Still Texas! It’s Arthur’s Fault

 

Tuesday began typically early. Papa went to the lobby to put some bags into his Harley and then hunt coffee. The having-difficulty-trying-to-be-pleasant night manager greeted as Papa walked by. On the way back in, pre-coffee mind you, THDTTBP night manager stopped Papa and exclaimed:  “For future reference it is not ok to park your motorcycles under the canopy. This is not allowed!”  With a sort of too late so say attitude, Papa replied:  “Well your evening person didn’t seem to mind. I apologize for causing you or any of your 12 guests any difficulties. (a 300 room hotel). Great Start!!

Papa went to the fancy coffee machine to have the perfect blend brewed.  THDTTBP night manager collared across the lobby, “I have coffee over here.”  Ok Papa thought and began the trek across the lobby. “Don’t bring your cup!” (I guess he didn’t want my COVID coffee cup to contaminate his gloves.”  Papa politely disposed of the contaminated cup and graciously accepted this COVID free brew… Out of the corner of Papa’s eye he saw a weather report about Arthur off the coast of the Carolinas. He then retired to his room for final check and packing.

Just before the appointed time Papa joined Paco AND Lone Star at the bikes.  Lone Star showed up early and checked the oil in both travel bikes. He brought extra oil and left it with us for future use. Lone Star had polished the windscreens and front fairings of both travel bikes. Lone Star is nice to have around. Before we departed Lone Star presented us with:  a full package of motorcycle washing cloths, a special spray on solution to use with the cloths,  and not only the leftover oil but a plastic bag wrapped oil funnel.  Oh and… Lone Star must have been hunting because he also presented us with an elusive grey long necked goose. This will come in handy in the evening as most hotels are only partially open.

Off we depart on interstate 30 East… directly into the sun.  I mean directly!  So direct, that without shielding from ones hand it was not possible to determine if the traffic light was working let alone green, yellow, or red.  Taking one hand off the handle bars is not easy when stopped.  First we needed fuel so we limped with sun shielding to the local Shell and fueled up. Just that few minutes allows the sun to reposition and it was no longer an issue.

We soon rejoined interstate 30 East and proceeded to Little Rock, Arkansas.  Given we are still without Slaw we again were able to get up to highway speed and not leave the interstate, or even slow down for that matter, until we again needed fuel at the halfway point to our scheduled stops in Little Rock.  Having Lone Star in the rear view is a comfort for Papa. We pulled off to fill up and realized we were fully two hours ahead of schedule. It was unanimous that we find a place to have cup of coffee and lallygag. Something that would be impossible with Slaw in tow. 

Paco proceed to walk over to the McDonald’s to scout the option of in facility dining/coffee sipping. Just ponder that for a moment. This is amazing on two levels. Who would have thought, just 60 days ago, a McDonald’s at 9:00 in the morning would have to be scouted for a seat opening. More importantly, who would have thought Paco had the physical capability to volunteer to walk across two parking lots for this purpose. In past years walking across the lobby was a feat. Paco’s physical shape is 10 years better than he was 7 years ago!

While discussing his striking out at McDonald’s, Paco was beckoned from a truck. This gentleman said the greasy spoon was open and gave very detailed directions. That was great because it was all of 150 yards! We decided a sit-down breakfast would be a welcomed attractions. 

As we pulled into this establishment it was obviously an independently owned reincarnation of what was once a Waffle House.  We were greeted warmly and asked of we wanted smoking or non-smoking seating. WTF?!?!  Yes, the dining room was separated by a social distancing table.  Smokers on the left and non-smokers on the right. This was going to be great food!

We had a marvelous breakfast. Smothered and covered eggs, by a different name. Same with the hash-browns. No toast… we had biscuits along with the requisite gravy. It was a stayallday breakfast.

Before leaving we asked to have a photo op in the smoking section.  Paco was accosted by a Vietnam era Air-force Flyboy. After some flyboy vs squid banter the flyboy noted that he new some Marines who were accused of being part of the Navy… “We are… the best part!” they retorted.  We saddled up and roared off the the Southside of Little Rock and the berg of Benton. Still being an hour ahead osf schedule even after the retooled waffle house, we stopped for fuel and hydration and email and text and leg stretching.

About 45 minutes later we fired up the engine and proceeded north two exits to find our way to ACDI in Benton Arkansas. Josh and the ACDI crew were there to greet us.  A little anti-climactic given we had only three riders this year but a wonderful greeting nonetheless. We proceeded into the ACDI lobby to find good people and good snacks. After some small talk it was revealed a masseuse… no, a massage therapist would be arriving soon to take care of each of us. Papa ran to the door like a puppy waiting for her arrival. Lone Star got shy and Paco… no no not me. No way. Not with my back. Never going to happen.

Soon Piper the not-masseuse Massage Therapist arrived with her fancy chair and set up in there direct center of ACDI’s lobby.  Before the chair was assembled Papa was climbing aboard. Piper was a 47 year old singer mother of three (now two) boys and was assembled by god in a proper manner. Papa soon found out she has the fingers and hands of an olympic power lifter.  When whimpering was heard Papa ignored the peer pressure and winced to have the pressure backed off a bit. Soon it was time for Lone Star because we already know Paco will have none of this.

Lone Star is tougher than Papa.  He still whimpered as a result of the pressure but didn’t back it down. Texas Strong I suppose. We continued to learn about Piper’s life and family…because Paco was as inquisitive as Geraldo Rivera. Lone Star finished and Paco decided to position himself into the chair for a photo op only.

Once in the chair Piper accepted the challenge of keeping Paco locked in and begin his massage. The uttering of a blissful Paco are priceless and… unaided by Papa’s Irish embellishing. Someone does have a video in an evidence locker.  Remember this is all on the light of day in the ACDI lobby with a rather large peanut gallery.

Massage is hard!

This where they have a hole for your face?

“How’s your back Paco?” I’m more worried about my font than my back right now.

You’re good at this.

“what’s the difference between a masseuse and a massage therapist?”  Happiness.

After Paco’s ending we prepared to saddle up and head to Datamax but before we gathered at the Ikes for a photo up!  We were asked to go out of our way two blocks and enjoy the stuck-in-a-magical-time Downton Benton.  It was cool.

Off we rode to the other side of Little Rock and our buddy Barry Simon at Data max. The Pack-lite were greeted warmly as usual by Barry’s team. We were invited into a demo room for some refreshments along with a very cool carry bag full of goodies. This was a great little treat.  Barry’s team and Pack-Lite had a spirited discussion about the current state of the USA. We are in very interesting times and makes for some great discussion. As the group loosened up we heard Barry talking about some less than stellar decisions his son made when in high school… haven’t we all!!!!  Then Barry commiserated a bit and gave us a detailed account of a Barry indiscretion. All I will say is that it included Barry, a bum, his kitchen and his back porch.  When Hollywood produces this story, Joe Peci will play Barry and Brad Pitt will play the role of  Dr. Fauchi.

Soon it was time to depart for Memphis.  Lone Star would return directly to Dallas so the OG’s are off to Memphis alone.

Throughout the day Papa has been keeping an eye on Arthur off the eastern coast. The final two stops: Jeyser, West Virginia and Richmond, Virginia will be drenched in hurricane induced weather on Thursday. Following this Bach of weather the remnants of Arthur are scheduled to bye in that area for a few days.  Heavy rain and wind. Mind you, the OG’s are world famous for riding through the Oklahoma City Hurricane of 2013. The truth is we were blissfully unaware the severity of the black storm clouds ahead of us. We didn’t realize why the passers by were honking and gesturing for us to leave the highway.  We finally did and watched the carnage happen in realtime on a television at the OKC Harley Dealership.

Proceeding east from Memphis our heading back West will be an evening decision.

We travel very quickly and efficiently from Little Rock toward Memphis.  We were scheduled to arrive just before 5:30pm so we could get ready for our dinner with Josh and Scot Berry. Papa also had a scheduled phone call at that 5:30pm mark.  We were in perfect weather and moving ahead of schedule… until West Memphis, Arkansas. Literally less than 5 miles from the interstate 55 south exit that takes us around the south end of the metro to our hotel.  Not just heavy traffic but dead stopped traffic.  Then creep.  Then dead stop.  It is 4:45 and we have some time to give.  Having moved forward 300 yards in 30 minutes it became painfully obvious we would miss both appointments.  Paco and Papa decided to move the bikes to a merge land shoulder and shut them down to notify those waiting fur us that we need alternative plans. The Berry’s were most gracious but Papa’s phone call could not be postponed.

It was decided to just wait on the shoulder, take the call there and then get back into traffic. This worked surprisingly well. Off we went and jumped into the scrum for stop and go but more stop.

Not knowing how long would last or if it was accident related or construction related we pulled an audible.  We cruised off the next exit and made our way to US 70 and proceeded until this would merge onto interstate 55 South. We hoped the traffic was unique to interstate 40 and after the split we. Would be fine…. Geniuses we are!!  Interstate 55 was clear and moving above the posted limit. Soon we crossed the might Mississippi River, took the old-school hard right on the Tennessee side and proceeded unscathed to our hotel. We were too late for our Berry dinner so we checked into our hotel and never left the lobby. We decided to field dress the grey long necked goose Lone Star provided and decided a delivered pizza would compliment well.  Ashley the hotel check in person graciously allowed us to pack in ice the fowl Lone Star had captured.  It turned out to be great evening. By all accounts we will be heading west tomorrow. Papa had no interest in explaining to Mrs. Paco just why Papa would lead Paco willingly and knowingly into a hurricane.

If I’s lying I’m dying. Just after leaving the hotel in Rackwall, Texas, Papa fired up the Harley sound system blaring Apple Music’s versions of classic RocknRoll.  Coming out of the speakers was the Scorpions, Rock You Like A Hurricane.  Seems someone was telling us something.

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