Day 4

Weather gods appeased.

Old Mike tries to reappear but New Mike prevails… mostly

8:15 wheels rolling. Judge had time for his swim. This keeps his frame in top shape. You do not stay married for 50+ years just by telling lawyer jokes…. you must have abs of aluminum. The growing Pack is gathering in the lobby and at the bikes. The overnight biblical rains have caused flash flooding in parts of Little Rock as well as surrounding areas of rural Arkansas. The logistics team is in deep contemplation. The I40 bridge into and out of Memphis is closed. Bridge cracks are frowned upon… especially those running the entire span and measuring over ten inches in girth. There is the old I55/US61bridge just a mile south but… it now is handling its own traffic and that of I40.

Click here to donate!

This is nothing less than a logistical nightmare. Memphis is served by only these two bridges. 50ish miles south or north to find the next bridge!!! Plan A seems to be to head directly east from Little Rock and take the southern bridge south of Tunica and ride north on Hwy 61, the Great River Road. Downside? The falling aqua devastation of rural Arkansas. The Logistics Team shelves decision making and the Pack mounts up for the short trip to Datamax and our breakfast visit with Barry Simon’s amazing team.

Thank goodness Trish hasn’t yet read the Day 3 blog. Papa is trying to minimize the havoc this demure creature could wreak.

The Pack mounts up. Formation set. Bert’s Toyota settles in ahead of the Mars’ Rover Rover and off we go for the 10 minutes or less of stress less surface streets to Datamax. The parade of Patriots comes to rest at a traffic light. Upon green, Papa proceeds ahead around the next slight corner and up a little grade. In his rear view he sees Cal and Captain and… no one else. Protocol says stay at very low speed giving a chance for the rest to catch up. Still no sittings. Up ahead is a turnout for a bus stop. Papa pulls in with Cal and Captain in tow. We wait… nothing…. Papa calls the Mars’ Rover Rover and was informed of a slight mishap. No skin was left behind. Soon the rest of the parade of Patriots came around the bend and the Pack fell back into formation. We proceeded onward the next 2000 yards to Datamax and pulled into the parking lot to a wonderful reception of smiling and accommodating professionals.

As we dismounted we were treated to a conversation between old Mike and new Mike. It was quite civil and a bit entertaining.

We should mention that a day earlier in the trip Lone Star’s steed rolled over 100,000 miles. A true milestone! Well done Lone Star. He also told us that bike, with over 100k miles and the others puts his two wheeled miles at over 200,000 miles and he NEVER once had one on its side. Well done!!

Barbara Noll presented Paco and the Pack with a motorcycle vest from her recently deceased husband. He was a veteran. Barbara and her family tasked the Pack with delivering this vest to the wall in honor of their husband/father. Every time we arrive it becomes emotional and wonderful.

We proceed into Datamax to find a breakfast feast hosted by some of the best people in the industry. Barry Simon has also connected the Pack Logistics Team with one of the Datamax experienced drivers to discuss option to Memphis. After some breakfast dining, a couple of tours for the first time Pack members as well as general fellowship it was time for Barry to drop some wisdom on the Pack as well as his team. We were also presented with a wonderful donation to Jillian Fund. Thank you Barry Simon and the Datamax team. Always a great stop!

The Pack had another enthusiastic stop on the Little Rock area before needing to finalize travel-to-Memphis plans. Off we go to Benton Arkansas and ACDI. This is about 15 miles of travel from the West to East side of Little Rock and a bit south. Captain, with the eldest of the bikes, is running low on fuel so Papa makes the decision to fuel up a few miles from ACDI. As the Pack edits I30 into the truck stop we all find a fuel pump and begin to fill up. The Mars’Rover Rover parks off to the side. Rover himself comes over to inform us the stop will be a bit longer than expected. Apparently the adjacent retail center has an open liquor store. Trisha and the GAL gals want to restock the Mars’Bar. (That’s a 10 point reference from chocolate lovers)

Soon all were ready and the Pack parade proceeds onward into Benton and our reception at ACDI. We were early but word had spread and the team came out immediately to greet us. Josh wasn’t entirely sure who is this Papa sending him a text or the word may have spread even quicker.

The ACDI team tends to trend more millennial than many of our stops. We were greeted with present team members and a few virtual members. This is a very interesting building to tour. It was designed around this team and makes for a great visit! The Pack hung around a bit longer than anticipated because ACDI was having Benton famous milkshakes delivered. The hospitality the Pack receives, as we cross this great country, is humbling. Time to mount up. Don the rain jacket so as not to tempt the weather gods and proceed to Memphis.

The logistics team met in secret while at ACDI and decided the anticipated traffic delay at the 55/61 river crossing was less than the extra time to take a southern route as well as the added risk of the unknown. US 70 across Arkansas to Memphis was our selected route. Off we roar.

The Pack proceeded north on I30 to and outer loop, I440 and exited on US 70 which will be our route of travel until it literally merges with 55/61 at the river crossing. This keeps us from the I40 18wheeler NASCAR event that is Little Rock to Memphis. If you haven’t made this short 150 mile route we encourage you to do so. It is two lane. Slow moving and nothing short of motorcycle Zen. Very little traffic… small towns filled with Americana… and roads lined with trees creating a foliage tunnel at times. After about 90 minutes (roughly half the route) Papa slowed for a bio stop. The Mars’ Rover Rover emptied and supported the riding Pack with hydration and snacks. Rover, who rarely (if ever) travels off the beaten path walked up to Papa with wide eyes and unbridled excitement. Rover was unabashedly effusive about the vistas he experienced in this little excursion through the Americana canvas. (That’s for you Bert… look it up)

As we approach about 30 miles out from the bridge we proceed through a little town with three traffic lights. These little buggers cause breaks in the Pack. On the way out of town Papa can see all 5 two wheelers and the Bert Toyota but no Mars’ Rover Rover. Papa proceeds at a snail’s pace to allow for the Mars’s Rover Rover to catch up. Still no sighting. Off we roll up to speed and proceed toward West Memphis Arkansas and the simple merge with 55/61 and the daunting traffic at the river crossing.

The Pack, minus the Mars’ Rover Rover, proceeded forward and into West Memphis Arkansas unimpeded… and we spoke too soon… Literally less than a mile from the merge two lanes of east bound traffic came to a stop. These two lanes needed to zipper into one and then that one lane needed to sipper into the merge traffic at the bridge.

This task may have been more efficient except for the few drivers who were seeming more important the rest of the traffic and needed to find alternative ways to get ahead in line. With 4 or more wheels this activity tends to cause disgust and even disdain. On two wheels this activity can cause criminal thoughts that are punter to the mission. Breathe. Stop and go traffic is a less than delicate ballet on two wheels in steam Memphis heat. Harleys like to move not idle. The first 3/4 mile took 40 minutes. The next 1/4 mile about 10 minutes and the actual bridge crossing another 10 minutes. The road takes a hard right hand turn as you enter the Memphis Tennessee and the traffic roars up to speed. Captain… again with the fuel!!! Papa waits until Hwy 61 peels off south and I240 heads east to the airport before finding a fuel stop.

I believe if you dig out past blogs the following is a recurring theme. The Memphis traffic seems a bit aggressive and antagonistic toward a rolling motorcycle Pack. The locals are not impressed…. this seems counter to the aroma in the air. I swear the pungent aroma of medicinal herb is thick in the highway. This seems to indicate many drivers have medicated to a relaxed state yet… they remain aggressive… and impaired. Time to exit and fuel.

Papa is informed the Mars’ Rover Rover has arrived at the hotel and is greeted by a front test with a reservation for 1 room. 11 room less than anticipated. Clearly this is an error and Judge handles it. Getting back on I240 is less than clearly marked so Papa leads the Pack on a surface road for a few miles before coming to a clearly marked intersection with clear access to I240 east. We have only a few miles before our destination exit. This intersection has a rather short green left turn arrow. The few cars in front make the green and Papa slows waiting for the all green so the Pack can make it through when the oncoming traffic clears. Just at the green arrow finished and the lights turned full green a car at the RED to our left decided he needed to get moving quickly and accelerated across the intersection on while two lanes of green cross traffic came to a screeching halt. Lesson… never be a left turn green trailer on a motorcycle…. crisis averted and the Pack proceeded onto I 240 east and the two miles further to our exit.

Tonight’s hotel is a new venue for the Pack. Papa’s muscle memory proceeded toward the old location and caused a but of a kerfuffle. A quick parking lot meeting and it was decided Bert’s Toyota would lead the way for the last few blocks and soon we arrived. Ready for a shower and preparation to join the Scot Barry family for dinner.

Wheels rolling at 5:30 for the short 15 minute ride to the Barry residence. Apparently the Mars’ Rover Rover got the wrong directions.. and they decided not to follow the Pack so upon entry into the gated community the Pack put kickstands down and waited for the Mars’ Rover Rover to come back from their excursion to Arkansas and back. (Exaggeration acknowledged)

Soon the Mars’ Rover Rover was in our sights and we proceeded through the gate and into the circle drive at the Barry residence. This will be a night of great company, relaxing conversation, auto envy, excellent bbq and one or two deserts. Seems Memphis has been blessed with a “Nothing Bunt Cakes” franchise. These are heaven in a foil.

Preacher Scot welcomed us with a wonderful blessing.. wait wait… Paco was trailing behind and was locked out of the home. Won’t-you-be-my-Hiro took the call and along with Josh unlocked the door to allow Paco’s entry. Back to the invocation and a wonderful finish. Time to eat and fellowship!

This is always a wonderful and welcomed respite from the road. As darkness descends Papa begins to herd the Pack for the return to the hotel. Especially in aggressive Memphis it makes sense to get to the hotel before actual sundown.

Upon arrival the bikes are tucked in for the night and the Mars’ Bar is transferred to the patio outside the hotel.

The full Pack gathered at a long table, now adorned with custom Yeti cups emblazoned with our Pack names!!! These will keep our refreshments the proper temperature during our confession session tonight.

So Captain was the drum Major in high school and has the Afro to support it… well… HAD the Afro to support it. Won’t-you-be-my-Hiro was in a fist fight. So was old Mike but we didn’t even have to ask. Paco pontificated on the nuances that separate “regret” from an admission of “failure”. Jennie GAL enlighten us on the particularly vicious nature of female combat. Patti was quiet and demure at the end of the table and had to be coaxed into the conversation. Old Mike and New Mike had a conversation but most of this was under their breath. Bert was remembering the medicinal herb that powered his best pal the drum Major. Several of the Pack members fondly reminisced the times their steed had been metal side down rather than rubber side down. Lone Star had had a perfect record. Soon it was time to wrap up… before we disperse we must salute Won’t-you-be-my-Hiro for his service to the Pack and Jillian fund on this first part of our journey. You will be missed. Safe travels home to our friend/brother.

SOURCE Industry Analysts Inc.

The Jillian Ride Day 3 OKC to AR