2022 Tour of Honor – Arkansas Trophy Run

Wednesday, April 20th

I got up, packed for my trip, then loaded everything on the bike. I wasn’t rushing, nor was I taking my time. I was trying to be deliberate as I packed.

I couldn’t find my usual pack for the laptop, electronic cables, and books, so I just my old backpack. It is bigger than the one I have been using, and it weighs a little more. I got things loaded, then I saw the trackball. I just put it in the bag with my clothes and planned to move it tonight.

A prayer and goodbye kisses, I was on my way. The GPS wasn’t wanting to use the route I had planned, but I knew we would get on the same route once I was out of town. I stopped to top off gas and start all the trackers.

As I neared US-43, the GPS wanted me to eventually make a right on Woodward (US43N and US 72E), then immediately make a u-turn. I made the left turn onto US-43S and we started working together. I would have chosen a different route to Okolona, but I got there safely and easily.

I got the required picture. I thought that I might see the Chief, but I was in and out quickly.

Okolona, MS

I left the setting to use highways since I was more interested in putting miles on the bike and getting to the different sites as quickly as possible. Leaving Okolona, I hit I-55 for a few miles, then a lot of backroads. There are no interstates between some of the sites I wanted to visit.

I visited Charleston, MS, then on to Strong, AR. At Strong, the site is a Statue of Liberty replica. This also counted toward the Statue of Liberty visits.

From Strong, it was getting late so I scrapped visiting a couple of the locations in Louisiana and headed straight to the hotel. I pulled under the canopy, parked the bike, and made my reservation. I waited a couple of minutes then went to check in.

This was one of the friendliest check-ins that I have had in a while. The people were so nice and helpful.

I went to the restaurant next door. We had been to another of this chain’s locations in Virginia, so I thought I was familiar with the chain, WRONG. I ordered a margarita. Since it was Happy Hour, I got two for the price of one. I ordered a large cheese dip with beef to go with the chips. I wasn’t going to take the chance of getting sick with salsa again. I ordered steak flank over rice.

The margaritas were so watered down that they tasted awful. The chip dip was greasy. The steak and rice were not very appetizing. I drank less than half of one of the margaritas, not quite half of either the dip or the steak. I headed back to the hotel.

I planned the ride for tomorrow. The original plan had a lot of doubling back on interstate. I worked and found a way to spend some more time on AR-7, a very scenic and twisty road, with less time on the interstate.

Today’s ride:

Day 1 Route

Thursday, April 21st

Going to bed early last night meant that I was up early this morning. Of course, the person in one of the nearby rooms was making a lot of noise. I packed up and left about an hour and a half earlier than planned. I checked the breakfast area, but there was nothing there I wanted.

I started on the interstate, heading to Shreveport. The first memorial of the day was in Keithville, just south of Shreveport. I kept pace with the few trucks on the roads and had the cruise control at about 85, the speed limit was 75. Light traffic, until I hit Shreveport. The 15 minutes that I had saved off the trip was quickly eaten up in traffic. Once through town, the traffic lightened up.

I pulled to the first location and noticed it was in the Veterans Cemetery. I got the pictures to earn credit for the cemetery. I saw two different memorials, so I tried the check the app. I did not have cell coverage, so I was not sure which one to submit. I got pictures of both.

Initially, the GPS had indicated that I would be back-tracking almost to the point where I had gotten off the interstate. As I left, I noticed that I wasn’t turning at one intersection and was taking a new route. It was a pleasant trip through country areas, farms, and little towns. Once back on the interstate, I picked up speed and was quickly on my way back into Arkansas.

When I made my first stop of the day in Arkansas, I was still about an hour and a half ahead of schedule. The site in Fouke, AR was a memorial near the High School. It was at class change, and the kids were walking around. I rode past and stopped at the memorial. The phone still did not have cell coverage, but I was able to see the memorial and got my picture. I was not able to submit it, and the previous sites were still in limbo.

Fouke, AR

Fouke was only a few miles from Texarkana, so I took advantage and visited one of the sites from Texas. If was on State Street, which was along the line separating Arkansas and Texas. I was not able to park to get a picture similar to the picture with the bike, so I got one from the front and one from the back.

Texarkana, TX

I was soon back on the interstate heading to Sheridan, AR. This memorial was a plane that had crash landed. I got a couple of pictures and made a donation to the memorial park. Again, still no cell coverage to see what I was to photograph, but I got enough that I later knew I had enough.

Heading to Benton was the stress of the day. The interstate was under construction and traffic was routed in different directions. Since I do not have the new GPS configured to show me the compass heading, I got turned around. When I finally got on the road, headed in the direction I wanted to go, I had spent about 30 minutes in Benton.

The backroads I have picked to avoid the interstate were beautiful. There was a little traffic, but most people were moving along. Near the end of AR-7, I got behind a car from Montana. They were doing 15-20 mph BELOW the speed limit! Even when it was just the warning to slow in tight curves, they even slowed down more. When I got to Paris, AR, I was about two hours ahead of schedule.

I checked the map at Paris and the best way to the hotel for the night was to double-back about 30 miles. It was a nice two-lane road through little towns, so I enjoyed the trip. Once I got close to the interstate, it was another 50 miles of interstate. I had set to visit two memorials in Conway before heading to the hotel. I decided to just head straight to the hotel.

The original route had been to leave at 8am and arrive at the hotel at 7:30pm with 570 miles of traveling today. I left at 6:45am, and made it to the hotel at 5:00pm. The ride was beautiful, the temps were in the mid to upper 70’s, and mostly cloudy. A few sprinkles, but no rain.

Day 2 – Route

Supper tonight was a little walk, but it was worth it. And the walk helped me burn calories that I consumed! The place was Burgers, Pies, and Fries. It is a chain in the area, only three stores. Conway, Searcy, and Jacksonville, all in Arkansas. The burgers were a little different, but I couldn’t quite find the difference. The lady told me as I was leaving, they don’t use ground beef, then use brisket. I took a cherry fried pie and a chocolate shake back to the room for my dessert while I watch Young Sheldon and planned the route for tomorrow.

Burgers, Pies, and Fries

If I leave at 8am, I should be able to stop at Ash Flat, Jonesboro, and West Memphis while still getting home by shortly after 5pm.

Friday, April 22nd

I didn’t get a good night sleep last night. Putting it plainly, I over ate and was paying the price. And I am not sorry!

I was packed and rolling about 7am. I stopped at the 9-11 memorial at the fire station near the hotel. My route showed me an easy access in and out of the hotel on my next trip there. At 7am, the town was quiet. I rode past the local college and a few students were doing their morning logs. I got my picture at the fire station then headed to my next site.

Conway, AR 9/11 Memorial

I have been to the Gold Star Memorial in Beebe, so I knew the route a little better than the GPS. The GPS wanted me to take the highway, then double back to the memorial. I knew the backroad would be quicker and it would be easier to access the parking. As I started to submit the pictures, the apps notified me that I would need tow pictures. I got a second one while I was at the bike in the parking lot.

Beebe, AR Goldstar Memorial

I spent a few minute on the interstate, then on the wonderful Arkansas backroads through the Ozarks. I stop at a local gas station. The attendant came out, wiped the gas spigot, then tipped it to make sure there was none of the other gas in the hose. We talked while I pumped the gas. There was not credit/debit charging on the gas pump. Once I filled the tank, I gave him the money. I followed him inside to get my receipt. I spoke with the manager/owner. This was the old style gas station, they had two bays to work on cars. This was just a gas station with a car shop, no convenience store. It was a fresh change.

Across town was the memorial park. I got my pictures of the memorial and the K-9 memorial. I left poker chips at each of these memorials.

The trip to Jonesboro was along roads that I travelled in previous years. I passed through Imboden. I had stopped for breakfast at Virgie’s Place. I had a pancake on my last visit, just one. It was huge, and thick. It was great and I was full for the day. Today, I kept rolling, but the memory gave my tummy a little smile.

I got to the memorial in Jonesboro. This was at the VFW next to the airport. The memorial was two tanks that were on display in front of the VFW. The winds were starting to pick up, I had to park the bike in gear so it wouldn’t start rolling. I got my picture and got it submitted.

Jonesboro, AR

The winds were a challenge on the ride to West Memphis. I got something (pollen probably) in my left eye. The eye started watering and it hurt if I opened it. All this while fighting some strong winds. I kept hoping for a rest stop where I could just go and rinse my eyes and wash my face. I managed to get to the memorial in West Memphis.

The winds had eased up a little since there were building around to help block the wind. The memorial was a static display of a fighter jet next to the VFW. The area was run down, though the area has been run down since I lived in Memphis 30 years ago. There was a “For Sale” in front of the building. The sign implied that the pool area was included. Since there was no pool outside, it must have been somewhere inside. I got a few pictures. Happy that someone is taking care of the jet, sad that the entire area has not been able to improve over the years.

West Memphis, AR

My ride through West Memphis to get back to Memphis was along Broadway Blvd. There were a few newer buildings, but the area was mostly run-down older buildings. Many appeared empty, some were for sale. The roads didn’t appear to have been maintained over the years.

The ride on the interstate crossing the Mississippi River wasn’t as stressful as I had expected. The bridge seemed to block some of the wind so the vehicles weren’t blown around. My trip around Memphis was a familiar trip. I have travelled that route many times over the years. I thought about riding through town, but was more interested in getting back home. I stayed on the interstate.

Why Memphis puts up speed limit signs is beyond me. I was doing well over the speed limit just trying to keep from getting run over. I got a glimpse of what was once the Mall of Memphis. It looked like it has been completely torn down. Aerial view shows that it looks like a truck center, though most of what had been the mall had become a grassy area.

I made the turn onto US-72, I knew I was on my way home. I stopped for gas in Walnut. I thought about getting the picture of the Huey there. My photo from a few years ago is the picture that is used in the app. I have a few other pictures in the apps.

I turned onto the Trace. I love riding the Trace, even for 15 miles. I set the cruise and just relax. I turn onto AL-20, thinking about stopping at mom’s, but know it wouldn’t be a good idea. I ride home via AL-20, Savannah Highway. My bride is standing at the door when I pull into the drive. It is good to be home!

Day 3 Route

I make sure that all my memorials were posted. The next morning, I see that I had earned a 2nd place trophy for Arkansas. Someone must have been close behind me since there was also listed a recipient of the 3rd place trophy.