This state has been the wildest combination of ups and downs I could have imagined. The downs consisting of weather and and hard traveling, and the ups being the people. A few days ago we were playing our daily game of guess when the storm is going to be the worst while sitting on the ground near a fuel pump in Devalls Bluff, Arkansas. Up pulls a man who notices aloud that we are not from anywhere near here. He mentions that he has heard of the trip we are doing, sympathizes with our situation, and offers to put us up for the evening in a cabin on the White River. We followed him back to his place and were immediately treated with the most hospitality possible. Allen and Brenda Childress were absolute angels as they fed us, laundered our clothes and provided an air conditioned cabin. Luke and Allen even provided some entertainment via an old fiddle. We departed on our way the next morning feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, spirits lifted and ready to head to the Ozark Mountains.
That next night we found a perfect campsite just inside the Ozark National Forest, set up camp, and watched a large thunderstorm roll in. So much lightning it was almost too bright to sleep with our eyes closed. We awoke at 6am and made some oatmeal while discussing our aspirations of an early start and lots of Ozark riding. That's about when wave #2 of the storm blew in and kept is hiding in the tent until 11:30am. We broke camp and hit the wet trail excited to be moving again. 20 or so miles down the trail, Lukes motorcycle gave a sputter and a pop and came to a halt. We spent some time working on it to little avail. We were fortunate enough to meet Don an Jeannie Furr, who of course invite us into their home, feed us, and haul Lukes bike to Jerusalem, Arkansas to their small engine/lawnmower repair man Mike Shannon. He helps us diagnose the issue. No spark. We spend the night in the grass behind Mikes shop and in rolls our massive thunderstorm equipped with lightning and 60mph winds, the high winds are new to us at least. Mike informed us they were in a horrible drought and hadn't had rain in two months. He appropriately thanked us for bringing it with us. After breakfast I towed Luke's bike to Russellville Suzuki with my bike using a couple of modified ratchet straps that I'd packed. (video of the tow coming soon) To be completely honest, the trip was in limbo at this point. Not knowing what was wrong with the bike, how expensive the repair could be and how long we could have to wait for some obscure part to ship here were another type of cloud storming over us. One of the guys at the shop noticed Lukes Minnesota plates and came out to inquire about us and our travels as he had lived in Grand Rapids, MN. Levi proceeded to invite us to his home, meet his family, feed us an amazing dinner and stay the night. Luke again entertained with a fiddle as we played a game called 'washers' and fired shotguns. We are currently still at Levi's place awaiting news of the part that will hopefully get us back on the road within a day or two. Levi's sister Leah has agreed to take us out kayaking this morning on the river they live on, it's doesn't sound like it going to be too hard of a day today. After all, we got to sleep inside Levi's house last night and observe the lightning and rains out the window from the comfort of the couch on which I am still laying and writing this post.