So there I was, going 55 down I-40, rocking out to Buckethead and eating animal crackers. I had left OKC a few hours previous and was now speeding, under the speed limit, through Arkansas.
“Another dead armadillo!” I yelled as I passed Number Five. Dead armadillos were everywhere along I-40. It was quite peculiar. At around 9:45 I had the opportunity to pick up a hitchhiker, which I took. His name was Billy, and he was 32 and an ex-heroin and crank addict. He had to travel about 60 miles for a court appearance, and needed a ride in the Little Rock direction. Though he sounds shady, he turned out to be a really nice guy. He was a roofer by trade, didn't have a GED, and wanted to work at a recovery home for addicts. he rode with me for about 45 minutes, chattering away and making good conversation. I let him off where I-40 meets 65 North, and drove on. I drove until I was almost out of gas, which proved to be an hour outside of Memphis at 12:30 AM, Tuesday. I pulled off the interstate into a residential district and quickly found a spot off the road where i parked for the night. Arkansas nights are pretty hot, so I vented as many windows as I could and lay shirtless on my couch. Sleep came quickly, but was soon interrupted by some well-meaning police officers just doing there job and investigating a shadily-parked huge van with an out-of-state license plate. They wanted to see my drivers license, which I promptly gave them, and they asked what I was doing parked there.
“Just trying to get a couple hours of sleep before I hit the road again, sir,” I answered. “Is it illegal to park on the street here in Arkansas?”
“No, no you’re fine. We just had to check. We don’t see many vans around here, y’know,” he answered with a heavy southern drawl.
“Of course, sir. I understand.”
“Have a good night, now.”
“Thank you sir.”
And that was the end of that exchange. I was asleep soon after. The next day found me driving into Memphis looking for a garage. My van had been sporadically overheating throughout out the Arkansas drive, and I wanted to see what could be done about it. It didn’t take me long to find a garage, and after leaving my contact information I dropped my van off with some friendly-looking technicians. I proceeded to hop on my Pista and explore Memphis by bicycle. Memphis, for those who are wondering, is not a very bicycle-friendly city AT ALL. The roads are bad, there’s traffic everywhere, and the whole city just seems very narrow. I did manage to find the Memphis Public Library, located on the waterfront, but to my dismay they did not have wireless internet. What they did have were a bunch of homeless people hanging out and, more importantly, air conditioning. I stayed at the library for quite a few hours, in the meantime watching videos on my laptop and answering phone calls from the garage. As it turns out, my fan clutch had failed quite a while ago, and had just now become a real issue while driving through the summer heat. I told the technician to go ahead and fix that. I was planning to see Graceland in Memphis, but time got the upper hand and I had to be in Chicago in two days. So, on Wednesday evening, I started the journey north towards Illinois.