F&F Day 12: No Friends, No Family.
The title of today’s post sounds like the recipe for a major case of depression, but it really only refers to today’s ride, during which I neither saw any friends nor visited any family. Today the F&F Tour was just about riding.
I rolled down the same highway this morning that I ended with yesterday afternoon: Arkansas Scenic Highway 7, aka “Scenic 7.” The quickest route to today’s destination of Vicksburg, Mississippi, would have taken me along Interstate 40, but that was never a real choice. Scenic 7 wound its way through some small, south-central mountains to Hot Springs where I departed its scenicness and headed east toward Pine Bluff then southeast to Louisiana before crossing the Mississippi River and coming to an afternoon stop in Vicksburg.
I had been on Scenic 7 to Hot Springs once before, so I knew I was in for an enjoyable ride. Pretty good surface, not too crowded (only had to make two double-yellow-line passes), and challenging enough to keep me focused on the road. But I also suspected the remainder of the day would not be nearly as enjoyable and I was right.
From Pine Bluff to Vicksburg, the scenery was flat and covered with soy bean fields and acres and acres of blooming cotton, giving those fields the appearance of a snow-like covering. Farmers along the way were making their final harvests and mowing the brown stumps that remained after the harvesters had their way with this year’s crop.
Checking the weather forecasts last night and this morning warned me I was in for another blistering hot fall day. The air temperature registered once again in the mid-90s but the heat rising from the asphalt was even higher. Sleeves to protect my arms from the sun and extra water were the order of the day.
But the weather forecasters neglected to mention that a plague of unidentified large insects were prowling the highway south of Pine Bluff in search of hapless motorcyclists. I could see the kamakazi bug bombs coming at me but unlike the occasional varmint there was no way to avoid them. So, for about a 10-mile stretch I was peppered with a staccato drum beat of bug bodies smashing into my windshield, fairing, face shield and occasionally my hands and legs. No damage done. (The deceased bugs may have begged to differ during their final squishy moments.)
Tomorrow morning I’m going to explore the National Military Park at Vicksburg where during May, June, and July 1863 General U.S. Grant attacked and besieged the pivotal Mississippi River town, inflicting a crucial wound on the Confederacy’s attempt to rend the union. Then tomorrow night it will be family time again, this time in Kenner with Hilary and her trio of youthful Amazons.