Trans America Trail: Coke Oasis

Oct 10, 2013 View Comments by

Trans America Trail: Coke OasisFor anyone who dares to follow the road less traveled or the road-less trail, not knowing if you are even going in the right direction can be both exhilarating and daunting. For anyone who has tackled the Trans-America Trail you already know that it can be filled with challenges including closed roads, privatization of land, and the ever-present detours. By the time I cross the mighty Mississippi River and into Arkansas I have had my share of challenges. One of the greatest lies right in front of me as the GPS instructs to go straight ahead on a road that only offers left and right options. Apparently, a new visitors center has replaced the “road.”

As I look for a way around, I pass the gas station where I fueled up earlier for the third time. My embarrassment begins to turn to frustration. It is time to make an executive decision and I take the first left I can off of the main road. I feel a little silly riding a fully loaded and filthy bike through a residential neighborhood, but I am off the main road and making progress. Even though the neighborhood is just waking up, the sound of multiple lawn mowers drowns out any noise my KLR might add to the early morning landscape. As I exit the neighborhood on the other side I am surprised as the road again turns to dirt. I still don’t know if I am on the right path, but the dirt feels like headway and I start to settle in and enjoy the morning ride.

Moments later I spy a hand-painted sign welcoming TAT riders! I can’t believe my eyes. This is the first indication I have had since I started that I was even remotely close to being on the official Trans-America Trail. My excitement soon turns to apprehension as every horror film that begins with a “wrong-turn” begins to enter my head. As the road begins to become more remote there is a second sign, similar to those for Wyoming’s famed, Wall Drug or the East Coast’s oasis, South of the Border, both stops for my dad and I on previous adventures. I suspect, here in Arkansas, that this stop will be a slightly smaller tourist destination.

My helmet phone still has a signal so I call my wife to express my excitement of knowing I am on the right road; and, of course, to solicit her possible future assistance should the signs lead to a cabin in the woods as envisioned by Joss Whedon!

A mile or so later, I arrive in Trenton, AR. A mangy, but friendly, old dog comes to greet me; he does little to put my horror movie fantasies to rest. It takes the 70-year old Percy, hopping out of his air-conditioned truck with a warm hello, to finally calm my overactive imagination.

He is heading into town but has delayed his departure upon my arrival. As I dismount next to a hand-truck that again welcomes TAT riders, Percy offers me a Coke. We both find a spot on the front porch of the old Robert Heidelberger & Company building, which now houses antiques and refreshments for TAT riders.

He explains that his son is a motorcycle enthusiast and that he had noticed many riders passing by and finally stopped one long enough to learn about the Trans-America Trail. It was then that he was inspired to stock a fridge with water and Coke and leave it just inside the door for any passing rider to walk in and enjoy. They even have a sign-in book for riders. Unfortunately, only days before I arrived someone stole the original book. This left me to sign the new book on page three. I did recognize a couple from New Zealand who I had heard about when I was in Tennessee. They started the trail a few days before me but we have yet to cross paths.

Percy tells me the history of the area while I finish my Coke. About how the farm community eventually gave way to small retail shops and now, “not a whole lotta much of anything.” A common story as you pass through America’s farmland communities.

I am glad to report that the “Welcome TAT Travelers signs” herald a legitimate stop and one not to be missed if you are on the Trans-America Trail.

To be continued . . .

 

To read the previous Trans America Trail episode, click here.

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About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!