Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Maine to Arkansas - Day 4

It was 44 degrees in Paducah this morning, but the sky was clear. Lucky us since the Weather Channel was showing rain in the northeast. Forecast for the area was a high of 66 with 77 being forecast for Springfield Missouri. We’d be headed for the better stuff.

I checked the tires after breakfast. The pressure was fine, but the rear is wearing strangely on the left side. It is cupping with distinctive ridges. However, after seeing the way the Dunlop Elite 3 wore, I am never surprised by what these radial tires do.

It was a slow start. We got underway after 8:00. After a day and a half of Interstates, there were none in the plan today. We started out on US 60 West right out of the parking lot. After leaving the city, it dropped to two lanes of fairly flat, straight road. I had to pass a few slower cars but we generally moved along pretty well. After a while, I could see we were traveling along the top of a levee. At ended at a pair of very long, skinny bridges over the Mississippi. The second took us across the state line into Missouri.

US 60 got on I-57 for a while. This didn’t look like the Missouri I know, with straight, flat roads and flat fields of crops. Many were cotton. When I-57 ended, US 60 remained a four lane divided highway. Near Dexter, we encountered our first rolling hill and by the time we got to Poplar Bluff, the rolling hills and trees were looking more like Missouri. At Poplar Bluff, we turned off on US 160 West. This was a two-lane road that started to wind a bit. After Doniphan, it got seriously twisty with many of the corners marked for 35 MPH. This is not a New England 35 MPH. Those carry 50 MPH signs down here and can be done easily at 70. These 35 corners needed some effort, coupled with the fact that the road was simultaneously going up and down like a roller coaster. This was why we came this way.

After 33 miles, we came to Alton. I recognized the town because we had come through here with Auggie and Sue a few years ago heading south on SR 19. From Alton, the road straightened out but the hills got steeper and more frequent. We were getting butterflies over the top of many of them. We made good time to West Plains, a fairly sizable university town. After that, there were some straight stretches and some sections with the trees and 35 MPH corners. All in all, I’d recommend US 160 through here to anyone looking for a good ride. Near Forsythe, we turned south on SR 76 to Branson. Now many of the corners were 25 MPH. Near Old Branson, traffic picked up and we came into town at a crawl. I saw a gas station advertising regular for $2.11. Also, the temperature was very warm by now.

The Georgetown Inn, where we stayed a few years ago, only had rooms with single queen beds. They were going for $28.95 a room, showing Branson is still a good motel value, but Sandy wanted more space. We moved up the strip to the Palms Motel and a king room. The couple in the room next door, from southern Illinois, had a new Harley at home and a Corvette that they take to Eureka Springs each year. They’ll be down there in two weeks and he seemed disappointed to find that the bikes had moved their weekend. The only drawback here is that the WiFi is 3rd party. The gateway near my room isn’t working and, while I can connect in the lobby, it won’t take my credit card so I can’t do anything on line. I’ll check back alter.

Sandy and I walked over to the Uptown CafĂ©. I told her it was a short walk. I lied. It was a lot further than I thought. Sandy had Hawaiian chicken and I was good and had a chef salad. Then we walked slowly back to the Palms and I sat down to type this. Now, since it is a gorgeous evening with a pleasant breeze blowing, I’m going to sit out in front of the room for a while.
On a different note, one thing has caused me to wonder all summer. I see people everywhere talking on cell phones. Even in backwoods Missouri. Just who the hell are all these people talking to?????

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