Saturday, July 26, 2008

a quicker way to travel

a quicker way to travel
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
July 23, 2008
Tulsa, Oklahoma
(474 miles) (1165 miles)

Apparently, I slept through an awesome thunderstorm last night. I didn’t know that at the time of my last scribbled entry. As I was packing my bike this morning, a man from Holland came by and struck up a conversation. He asked me if I’d gotten wet last night. I said, I didn’t think it rained much. He replied, “not equal to the unbelievable thunder and lightning.” So there you have it. Rod slept hard.
After I’d waited out the rain and let the tent dry, I decided I had enough time to visit downtown Memphis. I drove down I-55 looking for Graceland, Graceland, in Memphis Tennessee, but alas, I didn’t find it. After the first time crossing back over the Mississippi into Arkansas again, I decided to cross back and forth a few times. No, really. This is a habit I picked up in Budapest a bunch of years ago when I crossed the Danube, walked down to the next bridge and walked back across. And so on…
Finally, I exited to downtown and rode down the riverside drive until I came to Union Avenue. Expecting to see the Ghost of Elvis, I parked my bike, fed the meter and set off walking. I walked up to Main Street, and then down to Beale. Besides the legendary Beale Street Buzz playing in my imagination, downtown Memphis was the quietest experience I’d had since I left my driveway 24 hours before. There were a few people walking about, and a few quiet trolleys ringing quaint bells as they stopped for the few people walking about.

I decided to do everything within my power to avoid interstate today, so I hopped Arkansas 64 to avoid driving south and then north again and to completely miss Little Rock. I’d pick up I-40 west of Little Rock and follow it to Oklahoma and then up to Tulsa. But about halfway across, I began to think I’d rather stay in the country and maybe begin my trek Northward before I reached Oklahoma. I spoke with a man at a gas station who suggested US-412 across the top of Arkansas. So I plotted a path to get me there.
Once again, it is proven true that the journey matters more than the destination. The hundred mile ride northward through the uninhabited mountains proved much more spectacular than the traffic-ridden, town-bespeckled, thunderstorm-laden 412.
As it turns out, 412 comes straight into Tulsa via the Cherokee Turnpike, and become I-44. I stopped at the first exit, and here I am, debating whether to set up the tent or sleep under the first clear skies I’ve seen since I left this morning.