A different side to the USA
One thing that we had noticed about Alabama and Georgia was the road maintenance on the country roads that we were travelling went from perfect to terrible, and that there was starting to be A LOT of litter strewn at the sides . It was a big surprise as up until now the roadsides in Canada and the USA had been immaculately clean.
What was going on we thought? Did people not care here? or were the people not cared about? or both???
On the morning of 16th October we headed NW for the outskirts of Memphis. It took us through the NW tip of Alabama and the NE tip of Mississippi into Tennessee.
As usual our travel app took us all the back roads and we were heading though forests and swamps etc.
It also took us through the poorest areas we had seen so far.
Some houses falling down and still being lived in, front yards full of every discarded item the occupants (and possibly occupants before!!) had ever owned from cars to fridges to plastic children toys to pizza boxes just strewn and piled up.
Fly tipping took on a whole new level and we lost count of the number of mattresses by the side of the road.
There were a lot of dogs too; the vicious fighting kind and they could hear the bikes coming and would run out and either chase the bikes or try and take a chunk out of your leg ...acceleration was the key here!
We joked that we might have to do a motorcycle boot review, Sidi V Gaerne, which one remained unpunctured by dog bites!
As mentioned a few months ago in a previous post, we are here to see everything, warts n' all, and we are not judging, merely making observations based on what we saw. And what we saw was a piece of America that seemed to have been forgotten about; the dust brushed under the carpet.
It was sad and it was an eye opener.
We passed through a swap area and we were surprised as we'd not expected this so far North. We saw no Alligators (thank goodness!)
We had however, been seeing lots of flora and fauna different to us.
Vultures (they look like a cross between an eagle and a chicken when they fly off), Groundhogs which look like a Beaver without a tail, box turtles, lots of dead snakes on the road, lots of dead racoons and amardillo dead on the road too.
We came across cotton fields too, some that had been baled ...just like big bales of hay, and some still standing. This is another thing that we didn't expect to see. we were amazed how soft the cotton plant is ...much softer than cotton wool you buy in the shops.
Our navigation app started to play up and take us down random dead ends, or even worse down "no trespassing PRIVATE" driveways ...not a good idea in this neighbourhood and a country where they shoot trespassers!
The fourth time it happened it was at a closed bridge. Nick decided it was perfectly all right to just duck our bikes around the barriers and go over anyway ...he even jumped up and down on the bridge to make sure it was safe.
In the evening we arrived at a little town east of Memphis. It was the only motel for miles and once we had checked in we went to the cafe over the road ...again the only one for miles.
The waitress was very twitchy and erratic and could stop itching her arms and legs, and then a group came in and she sat them in the corner and was whispering and gesticulating to them and one by one they kept disappearing into the toilets. Our eye brows were raising so high to one another they were almost touching the ceiling!
We didn't get much sleep that night either as the other guests in the hotel seemed high on something other than life and were talking, drinking, smoking, cackling etc. for most of the night.
The following day, tired from no sleep and exhausted from weeks of constant travelling we made the decision to book somewhere for 3 nights and just rest.
We found an Airbnb in a little town that was in the general direction of where we were going and thought perfect ...booked! And for only $30USD more a night than the terrible place we stayed the night before.
On the way there we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas and then took some back roads again ...which turned out to be like fields (this was actually a real road!!!).
The surface looked pretty dry and innocuous but soon our mudguards were blocking up and stopping our front wheels turning. whaaaaat?????
We got talking to a farmer just down the road and it turns out this is silt from the Mississippi River called Gumbo Clay and is renowned for doing this, which is why all the farm machinery is equiped with tracks and not tyres!
We managed to free this stuff which has set like concrete with sticks from the hedge and then got back onto tar seal.
Our airbnb turned out to be PERFECT and in the Folk Music capital of the USA, a place full of music and antique and craft shops. The place itself was over a music shop so Nick got to hang out listening to all the music lessons that were going on as well as the concerts in the park and garden!
And the apartment was beautiful ...you have no idea what it was like having the luxury of waking up in this bed for 3 days straight knowing that you didn't have to move on today! And for only $30 more a night! Makes NO sense!
We ate in Tommy's famous pizza (delicious!) walked for miles everyday, updated our blog posts! listened to music, window shopped with the great excuse of "sorry we have no room", got Nicks prescriptions sorted, and most importantly just rested!
The only thing we didn't do is drink! Turns out Arkansas is the driest state in the USA. Doh!
Nick is back to write the next post... by popular demand!