Missouri to Kentucky then Tennessee – Opps Ferry Out Missouri to Arkansas Instead
October 7, 2015 – Day 34
East Prairie, MO to Blytheville, AR 98 miles, Total Miles – 2,175
Weather- 80 degrees, partly sunny and tail wind
Today’s plan were to head to Big Oak Tree State Park near East Prairie, MO. The park is run by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and is a beautiful park. The park is 1,029 acres of the areas original landscape and has been preserved and stands out as an island of trees in a sea of agriculture. Trees in the park are unsurpassed in the size for the state and the park was once home to 21 state or national champions. It was fun to walk on the board walk out in to the park and see the trees first hand. We were the only people in the park and really enjoyed being there.
While bicycling out to the park and towards the ferry to Kentucky – three different motor vehicle drivers stopped us to tell us the ferry was not operating and make sure we were aware of that so we did not bicycle the 12 miles and then find out and have to bicycle all the way back. We even had an older man who grew up in the area drive by a second time to check our revised route to Arkansas because he wanted to make sure we had a good route and the roads were in good shape. The 2011 flood resulted in the Army Corp of Engineers blowing the levee in the area to relieve the Mississippi River flooding. One of the park rangers home was up on 12 foot high stilts and he still ended up with 2 feet of water in his house. There was lots of damage to the roads and the homes in the area – they have repaired the roads but few homes are back.
So a quick change of plans kept us on the west side of the river heading to Arkansas. It was cool to be riding along the bottom of the levee and we also rode on top the levee for a section of the ride today – very interesting.
The plan change also resulted in a much longer ride than anticipated because there really was no where to stay until we got into Arkansas. Our ride was good though mainly on roads just to the west of I 55- the roads were in good shape and had little traffic. We also saw our first cotton fields – very cool and funny to see cotton balls laying on the side of the road and blowing around. Many of the fields were being harvested and they actually put the cotton in big rolls similar to what they do in the Midwest with hay.
We have found the people in southern Missouri and Arkansas to be very friendly and whenever we stopped we had lots of conversation and questions to answer. We told our story many times today and people were very interested and intrigued. Also it was not uncommon for drivers to beep and wave when passing in both directions.
Tomorrow we head to Memphis, TN hopefully; getting across the Mississippi River may be a challenge!!
Tried to put up videos and pictures but no luck tonight – connection to slow – will try again tomorrow.