F&F Day 11: Goodbye Family, Hello Friends. And Twisties.
Early this morning I bid adieu to brother Jon and sister-in-law Ulla in Andover (just east of Wichita), headed east on U.S. highway 400 and watched a lovely peach-colored sun rise in a nearly cloudless sky before me. A few hours later the extremely bright sun made seeing the road and other vehicles rather difficult, and by noon the sun made the air coming off the asphalt pretty damn hot. But at 7 a.m. it was still lovely.
The time with family was good. Ulla and Jon fed me way too well, and I wish we could have had a few more days to chat. But Jon didn’t work me too hard and he provided five bottles of Jack Daniels. (A selection of small single serve bottles, but it was a nice gesture). I won’t give up the verdant mountains of North Carolina for the wind-blown plains of Kansas, but it would be nice to spend more time with Jon and Ulla.
The primary reason I fired up the V-Twin at sunrise this morning was to ensure arrival in Rogers, Arkansas by noon, so I could spend a few hours with good friends Mike and Diane from our days in Tullahoma. Mike was a golfing buddy, a work colleague, and our daughter Hilary’s introduction to playing saxophone in a bar band. Mike and Diane are two of the hardest working people I know and have the enormous talent it takes to work in many different industries in a changing economy. They also raised two beautiful daughters who are repaying them with very special grandchildren. As I discovered again today, they’re also capable of remodeling houses into beautiful homes. They have been important to Marilyn and me for nearly 25 years and they will continue to be. We only had about two hours to catch up, but that brief time was another vital link in the F&F tour.
After more than a week of riding in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas I was ready for something a little more challenging. Following a wonderful quiche and salad lunch expertly prepared by Diane, I headed east across Arkansas into the Arkansas mountains. I had in mind the road I wanted to ride because I’ve ridden it several times before, including during last year’s Alaska trip with Mark. Arkansas Highway 7 runs north to south through the middle of the Arkansas mountains and is correctly identified as a “Scenic Highway.” The road surface is good, though I scraped it up a little with my floorboards as I raced up and down the hills and around the curves. On the ridge top straight aways, panoramas seeming to stretch hundreds of miles reveal forested mountains and canyon-like valleys, offering something much more pleasing to the eye than desiccated Kansas fields. I wish the temperatures had been a little cooler, but at the higher elevations it was a pleasant ride.
Family, friends and twisties. Yeah, it was a good day.