Weather or Not

Journey to the ST.N National Meet
Day 8 – Paducah, KY to Arkadelphia, AR
~400 miles

I should have done the hotel thing last night because I got a really late start this morning. I guess those 600 mile days really do take a toll.

First order of business was investigating the nasty weather seen on the Weather Channel in Canaan Valley and also described by Mom on a phone call last night. The Weather Channel on XM Radio gave me a pretty good indication that I’d be getting wet today, but I thought I’d brave the droplets anyway. I set out to do my planned route of Arkansas twisties.

After about 60 miles of travel, I started seeing both heavy rain and lightening bolts. See the green blob on the radar map? Shift it about 2 inches west and you have approximately what my day looked like.

I pulled over near Bertrand, MO to waterproof electronics and reevaluate my plans. Deciding that “better safe than sorry” was the way to go today, I directed the GPS to “Take me home. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.”

It concocted a stunningly exciting ~700 mile route through Memphis and Little Rock, peppered with interstates and superslab US Highways. With a grimace, I tightened my jacket wrist straps over my gloves and got underway, determined to get as far as I could before dark.

The weather I encountered was truly fascinating. There were 30-60 mile stretches of overcast but sunny skies punctuated with 20-30 mile stretches of dark grey clouds and rain. At times coming down very hard, the droplets felt like needles on my protected arms and knuckles. This rain was different from any I’d ever experienced in my travels in the western United States.

I sheltered under an overpass during one very bad band of storms and considered calling Mom to let her know I’d be a day late. But after a few minutes, the blinding rain calmed and I continued, mentally promising to reevaluate in the next sunny area, if I made it.

I saw probably a dozen lightening bolts over the course of the day, usually while in areas with particularly dark clouds. Each time I went through an area with lightening, I wondered about the intelligence of traveling through a thunderstorm on a motorcycle. I tried to remember statistics about the likelihood of getting hit by a bolt, but mostly wondered if this band of storms was the One where I’d get crisped and my family would wonder why I hadn’t pulled over and delayed my homecoming. My boss would probably understand if I didn’t make it to work on Monday, right?

All of this punched home the knowledge that I have much to learn about weather patterns in Texas and the South. Storms here are much more dangerous than those I’ve known all my life.

As the day waned, the storms seemed weaker. Grey skies meant only droplets without a loss of visibility. I would need fuel soon too. I decided that 400 miles was enough progress and resolved to pull over for the night at the next major town. Arkadelphia appeared with a multitude of hotel advertisements.

No pictures today. I really wasn’t in the mood to get my camera wet while documenting how lovely interstates are when soaked with rain.

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