Leaving the Dead Armadillo Zone
One way of indicating our path north was to figure out where the last dead armadillo we saw was, as dead armadillos (or live ones) are not a common site in the Midwest. These little guys are a bit more complex to see in the road as they have those shells that stick up like speed bumps. If you went directly over one, it really would be a serious speed limiter if you know what I mean. I believe it can now be confidently stated that the last dead armadillo we saw was in Izard country, Arkansas on state road 69 north.
This area has a lot of character. We stopped at a place called Possum Trot in Giefer, Arkansas for gas. We saw an older man negotiating with the clerk to pay for his $65 in gas for his truck with an IOU. After a few minutes of mostly polite discussion, she granted it. And then there was an old Sinclair gas station with these old saw millers who were resting and scratching lotto tickets. Outside was a field full of great old cars from the 50's and 60's (a Hudson, a great old Buick, some Caddys and Chevys) unfortunately rusting, but protected by hundreds upon hundreds of popping grasshoppers.
The roads today were the best so far, starting with 69 North: Beautiful wide sweeps, no traffic, little gravel, good speed. And Missouri state road 160 through Mark Twain National Forest was probably one of the top ten roads I have ever ridden, with twisties and nice banked turns and NO traffic or cross traffic or other reasons to have to stop or slow down on its length of 40 miles, curve after curve past trees and local, back country houses and small establishments. If you are reading this and even come close to this area, ride it and you won't be sorry for a minute or a mile.
Today we head for Bloomington and then the final push to Milwaukee tomorrow. We are a little weary, but you can't wipe the smiles off of our faces. Our group still grows as we met still more folks riding up to Milwaukee at the terrific (and large) party at Minor's Harley-Davidson in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Mexicans are still hanging tough and having fun despite many of them not speaking any English. One guy - Angel from Monterey - tried to ask me how to get a manual at the dealership, and we just couldn't get past Manuel as a name and the misunderstanding. You want a guy named Manuel? Eventually someone translated. But in the end, they speak Harley, and so do we so it's all good.
Goodbye dead armadillos...