17th May 2016 Cabot, Ar to Clarendon, Ar 110.4 kms - 68.6 miles Up = 349m - Down = 388m
17th May 2016 - Cabot, Arkansas to Clarendon, Arkansas.
We started the day by enjoying breakfast (which is included in the room rate) at the Days Inn, Cabot. It was very civilised not having to pack up the van and tent this morning, and I was so glad to see that the rain had lifted. The sky was a bit dull and the weather report said showers possible - but it didn't look too bad at all. We were off on our way just before 8:00 am.
I had chosen a route given to me the night before (one of 3 bike options) by Google maps which had us travelling on these roads - 38E, 11S, 70E, 33S and 79N. What confuses me with Googlemaps is that this morning when I just wanted to re-check a few turns – it didn’t offer this option at all – I can’t work out why this happens??? Anyway – I decided to run with what I had written down – and am pleased to say it worked fine!! I am also really getting the hang of the road numbering system and the “junction” warnings. It makes travel as easy as “paint by numbers” really ……. although not quite so simple in large towns!
Once out of Cabot, and really all the way to Clarendon it was a nice easy rolling road, with good surface and shoulder, and very polite motorists (not that there was much traffic on this route). We were in the countryside all day, and this is a very heavily irrigated and cropped area. Corn / Maize was about 40 cms tall and looking healthy, but the far more prominent crop seemed to be rice. I didn’t realise it was grown here – but makes sense that my brother was given a packet when he visited the tourist information centre when entering Arkansas.
I have now googled “rice growing in Arkansas” – to discover 45% of the USA rice crop is grown here!! I found that interesting - I always thought all the rice was grown in Asia - duh!!
We passed through several little “towns” – well, the names are on the map, we see a sign post with the name on, plus a “population” figure, admittedly not very high. The only thing is – we never see housing or shops that would come near the population figure given! I can only think that this must be an “area” figure ….. or …….. dare I say it …….. maybe they count the people in the cemetery! One town claimed a population of 892 – I saw 3 houses, no shops and a large, extremely well maintained cemetery!!
Once again, the wind wasn’t all that kind to us – it seemed to change direction as often as we did so that it was always a head one - another thing I don't understand! On top of tired legs from the previous day it certainly did not help. What was good weatherwise was that the forecasted “showers” didn’t happen on us – so we reached Clarendon nice and dry – but hot and tired after completing 10 solid days of riding.
I had down to stay at the local RV Park, run by Council – but this turned out not to be suitable. It was fine if you had a huge “rig” with own shower and toilet as power, water and sewerage are all provided – but there is no toilet and shower block – so totally unsuitable for our setup!! We have since discovered that the "park" was where workmen stayed when a new bridge was constructed over the White River. Something has obviously gone wrong - the workmen have left but the bridge remains unopened and doesn't look likely to open maybe at all!!!
There were a lot of long bridges to cross on the last part of our journey into Clarendon. Until now, I had never heard of the “White River” – but it certainly is a decent body of water!! Firstly over a “bayou”, then over the White River “relief”, and then over the White River itself. No wonder there is so much cropping, particularly rice with so much water around. There is also a great history of flooding in the area although high stop banks surround the "town" now.
The town sadly is another that is dying with many derelict buildings, and yet still some very charming homes. It is put down to the increased mechanisation of agricultural activities and therefore far fewer jobs around than in the past.
We were able to get a room each for 2 nights at the local (one and only) motel here - so our rest day tomorrow should be just that as there isn't too much to see here.
Oh - on our way into town I called at the Information Centre to find out where the RV Park was. It was closed - only opening Wed, Thu, Fri afternoons. Fortunately a gentleman walking up the road asked if he could help us. He directed us to the unsuitable RV Park, but we also asked what the weather predictions were to see if it was suitable for tenting. He said it should be OK - but then pointed to a building and said - if things cut up bad, that's the jail, and it also doubles as our emergency and evacuation centre so you would be welcome there!! Great hospitality and information!! He gave Pat his business card - David Carruth - Attorney at Law - and I have to admit to "googling" him - he is actually the Judge of Monroe County so presides over the beautiful courthouse that was opposite us. Thanks for your helpful advice Judge David!!