Today was the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Much of the TV and radio coverage was going to be centred around remembering that. There was no big rush since we only had a little over 300 miles to go. We talked to the lady at the front desk, one of the owners, about some of the things that Super 8 franchise owners deal with. It was interesting to see the operation from her perspective. The renovations here have made this a very nice property. We described the downward slide of the one in Auburn, Indiana and she said that it probably would not last long.
After skipping the Quick Start Breakfast in favour of having some McDonald's down the road, we were rolling by 7:20. I zigged where I usually zagged and crossed the Mississippi on a pretty cable stayed suspension bridge on I-70, north of our usual spot on I-55.
We were now on the north side of the downtown area while I-44, the highway we needed to be on, was on the south side. There were no freeways going that direction, but it was early Sunday morning so I figured the streets should be fairly quiet. We got off I-70 and drove south on Tucker Boulevard, right through the centre of the city. It looked very nice, as were the houses on Lafayette just before we caught our freeway. My only complaint was that there were too many red lights.
There was a time when I would get off a freeway and go into a city just about anywhere. Lately, news of places like Ferguson (just north of here) have made me a little paranoid. If I am feeling this, I can just imagine how other less secure folks feel. It is really a shame.
There were patches of fog along I-44 and one patch of colour on a tree. We started rolling up and down the Missouri hills, a change after the flatlands of Illinois. We stopped around 8:30 for fuel and breakfast in St. Clair. This was the same place we met the tour bus folks a couple of years ago, the same people we met later at the Ozark Mountain Hoe-down.
The rest of the drive southwest on I-44 to Springfield was uneventful. We saw the Uranus Fudge Factory (what were they thinking???), listened to the 9/11 memories on XM and (oddly) thought about The Outlaw Josey Wales. There were no clouds in the sky whatsoever. I also thought about the food snobs who put down McDonald's restaurants. There was one at every exit and they didn't seem to be hurting for customers.
We stopped at a Love's Truck Stop just before we got to Springfield and picked up some snacks. I was feeling a bit tired and had a 5 Hour Energy drink before continuing. The exit from I-44 to US 65 South was busy but that traffic soon dissipated. The hills on 65 are brutal and I was glad I wasn't towing a trailer this time.
We followed US 65 past Branson and turned right on Missouri 86 south of Table Rock Lake. We have been coming down here in the fall for 15 years now, and this is the point at which I start to feel like I am coming home. Traffic on 86 was busier than usual and there was some kind of festival going on at the park. I ran with a group of cars but they all turned north at Blue Eye so we crossed the state line into Arkansas all by ourselves. We were surprised to find Highway 21 had been resurfaced from Cosmic Caverns all the way into Berryville.
Sherm was the only one at the Stonegate Lodge when we pulled in just before 1:00 PM. Our room was a little small, with no table or desk, but the furniture was nice and the WiFi worked. We'll see if that holds up when the crowds arrive. As we were moving the gear into our room, head organizer Laura pulled in. Right behind her were Gambler and Bubbles.
Sandy, Sherm and I headed up to the Rockin' Pig for lunch. In past years when we were here at night, it was loud and crowded and the service was slow. Today, we almost had the place to ourselves. The service was fast and the food was good.
After lunch, we drove into Berryville to get a few things at WalMart. Back at the hotel, MoParMan and Vickie arrived from Texas, Brandon and Sheila got in from Kansas and Jetson and Renee made it from South Dakota.
Sherm and I took our vehicles a mile up the road where he showed me the tips and tricks on how to get use a coin operated car wash. This was good for getting the bugs off but, with a black car, not as good as taking it to Owen's shop back home.
Debbie, Vickie and Kay rode in from Texas. Debbie had gotten a large bolt through the rear tire of her 900 Vulcan and someone had assisted them by plugging it. Unfortunately, it was a spoke wheel with a tube tire. Plugs are neither recommended nor effective for this type of tire, but they didn't have any other option at the time. It held some air but the tire was flat again when they pulled in here. There are no regular motorcycle shops in Eureka Springs so we will have to work out a strategy to deal with this in the morning.
A few folks went next door to the Forest Hill Restaurant for supper but we skipped eating because of our large, late lunch. We spent the rest of the evening sitting in front of the rooms talking and then ended up going to bed early.
Today's route (312 Equinox miles):