We admit it. We have to be a bit on the crazy side to go bike touring. Why else would we subject ourselves to the whims of Mother Nature, the hours on a hard saddle, the pick of sleazy motels, and the potluck of unknown restaurants? It takes a true sense of adventure and at times a sense of humor to survive. And yet, we love it.
Sometimes the challenges are unforeseen. Take the Chardonnay drought. For weeks in Texas, we struggled to get the hang of the whole BYOB thing. Countless times we'd arrive at a restaurant only to find that they didn't serve wine, but we were welcome to bring our own. Off we'd dash to the nearest gas station (yes, you read that right) or other dubious establishment and return with our bottle. Now in Arkansas, it's the dry counties. Forget bringing your own, you can't even buy it. After too many wineless nights, Rich informed me that Ozark, our next destination was not in a dry county. “How do you know?” I inquired. “I searched for liquor stores,” he responded with a grin.
If wine is Rich's hang-up, food is mine. I refuse to touch anything from a place with Golden Arches overhead, or other fast food joint. It's tough to keep up my standards when we are reduced to what's within cycling or walking distance. But so far I've managed, even if it means resorting to my stash of bagels and peanutbutter as an alternative. Despite our sharp scrutiny of the available restaurants, we've had our share of mediocre meals. It's especially crushing after a long day of cycling that leaves us famished, when going out to eat is the social highlight of our day. But we survive.
I'm also always on the lookout for a good coffeehouse. Fortunately, Rich has learned the value of such establishments for their guaranteed wifi. Now we're both happy. I get my coffee fix and he his internet quota. Today we found a wonderful place called The Coffee Break in Ozark. It's part of the Franklin County Learning Center, employing disabled adults and serving up delicious fresh sandwiches, coffee and baked goods. We already have plans to return for breakfast in the morning.
At times, I struggle to get Rich to stop to see some of the sights along the way. He's especially opposed to any length of detour. But at any hint of a “purple cow,” he's the one yelling Stop! For the uninitiated, a purple cow is any quirky, unusual object on the side of the road. It's origin harks back to our very first cycling tour when he really did see a purple cow. I just didn't realize it's significance at the time. Now I know better. Purple cows have been pretty rare on this trip so far, but here are a couple:
Weather is definitely a factor, every single day. We've become devotees of the weather map showing us what is in store for us, and change our plans on the fly to accommodate it. And yet, it is still unpredictable. Yesterday the possibility of rain was high all day. But we had a lovely sunny afternoon. We love surprises like that. Today we woke up to heavy showers that delayed our start by four hours. But by waiting we stayed dry, even if it meant shortening our distance for the day.
And despite all that we cycle on. The discomforts, the longing for a good meal, the raindrops and the squabbles all make for good stories in the end. Perhaps we're a bit crazy. But it's all worth it.