Monday, June 12, 2006

Conway, Arkansas to Arkansas Post National Memorial

I hadn't really planned on riding this past weekend. I was kind of bored and unenthusiastic and had some things to do. So of course what do I do? Hop on the bike and ride 260 miles in 97 degree heat and 90 percent humidity to Arkansas Post National Memorial. Yahoooo!

The first part of the ride (the stretch from Conway to Pine Bluff) was fairly boring. I was headed toward the southeast corner of the state. Arkansas is a wonderful mix of six distinct regions. From the Ozarks to the Delta this state is like three or four states packed in to one. I was headed toward the Delta section. It's a long, flat stretch of farmland from Conway to Gould, Arkansas. The roads are straight for miles and population is sparse. It's a little desolate and in the wrong frame of mind can be a little depressing. Once I started getting into the Delta area I was reminded of my trip to Clarksdale. It's an economically depressed area but there's something authentic about it and like I mentioned in the post of the trip to Clarksdale, I've never been to a place that seemed so right for the music it inspired. This is really blues country.

When I got to Gould I headed northwest on Arkansas 212. It's an interesting road that runs along the top of a levy. It overlooks the backwaters of the Arkansas. This was one twisty road. When the traffic sign says fifteen mph around a corner, the sign ain't lying.

After hitting AR 165 it's a short jaunt across the Arkansas River and to the road into the park. The park itself is relatively small with a rich history. Starting out in 1686 as a French trading post it passed hands through the Spanish and on to the US. It was the first capital of the Arkansas Territory. There's not much left of the town but if you're in the area it's a beautiful park and well worth the trip.

After walking around in the humidity and heat I was feeling a little thirsty. I made a stop at a gas station for a Gatorade where I got into a conversation with a young boy on a West Coast Chopper bicycle. He was waiting for the pool to open. A little curious, I asked if it was the town's public pool. He replied that it was "a private pool that cost $20.00 a year to join, but they don't allow black people in because they trash it." Needless to say I was shocked and disappointed that this kind of thing still goes on. It was an ugly slap to the face and it was a pleasure to get going again.

Still thirsty and now hungry on top of that, I stopped at a Chili's in Pine Bluff. After about fifteen strawberry lemonades and a steak tougher than my riding boots, I was full if not satisfied and back on the road.

As always it was a good ride. It was nice to head to another part of the state I really haven't explored much.

Miles - 260