It never seems to fail; the weekend the hogs are off is usually the weekend that everyone plans their events on. Not only was the Diamond Dash Saturday, but also the local Occupy Wall Street group planned their protest march that day and the Arkansas Freedom Fund had its Veterans bike ride through town. So it was pretty chaotic downtown! Nicole and I walked down to the Statehouse convention Center to sign in for the dash. There were over 300 couples participating this year. For those who don’t know, Nicole and I participated in the Diamond Dash the past 2 years in Hot Springs and the first year we played, we actually won the diamond ring and I proposed a few months later. Even though we can’t win anymore, we still like to play because it’s a giant scavenger hunt all around downtown Little Rock and I heard at least two couples in passing saying they had definitely seen a side of downtown they hadn’t noticed before. The race lasted about 2 hours and we all met up at Juanita’s’ afterwards for the after party and awards. We eatimated we had ran about 5 miles total, zig sagging back and forth through town as far east as the I-30 overpass at Markham, all the way west to City Hall. We left after the after party and walked home, complaining about how sore our legs were the whole way back.
Later that evening, we got ready to go to my high school reunion party back at Juanita’s. I took a shower and we decided that rather than walk we would ride our bikes there. I was pretty impressed with Nicole riding all the way there and in heels!
Sunday was the last day of the Kickball regular season and we had a double header. My friend James is our team captain and had planned a chicken fry (since our team is the Electric Death Chickens), so I rode my bike over to his house on Booker St to help him get ready. Rather than taking my usual route down 3rd street to Markham, I biked down Chester St, all the way to 7th and took 7th to booker. I had had a comment about this route earlier when I was complaining about how dangerous the 3rd St – Markham route was and it was definitely a lot safer and I felt a lot more comfortable riding on the straight and wide road. There was a pretty steady climb up to the top of the hill but then a long steep decline back down the other side that was great to ride down however I decided right then I was going to find an alternate way back to downtown when I returned. I didn’t think I had the calf muscles to make it back up that thing! I got to James’ house and helped he and his wife, Jeanne Marie, batter chicken. Another friend and teammate, Pete, drove over in his truck and we loaded everything up and headed to Interstate Park. We played our two games and fried chicken in between, and afterwards, I caught a ride back with them to James’ house where I got my bike and headed home. I decided to bike back up to Markham and head back downtown that way rather than attempt the climb back up 7th. Markham turns back into 3rd St just past the railroad bridge, unfortunately, it too has a pretty steep valley, but it you travel a block over to 2nd street, it isn’t nearly as steep but you either have to ride on the sidewalk or be aware of oncoming traffic on 2nd street since its one way.
Finally, Sunday night, I biked down to Union Station to the Amtrak office and met up with Lucas, John and Troeger. As Part of this experiment, I wanted to study, not only Little Rock’s local public transportation, but its public transportation to the rest of the country as well. So next weekend I will be travelling with my friends to St. Louis for the weekend. I have already made some early observations about Amtrak. Many of you may wonder why you have never seen an Amtrak passenger train passing through the city or through Arkansas for that matter. Two trains come through Little Rock every day. The northbound train to St. Louis and Chicago arrives and departs around 11:40 P.M. and the southbound train to Dallas and San Antonio arrives and departs around 3:10 A.M. Not exactly the most ideal hours. However, It does work out well for this trip, because we will leave Friday night, arrive in St. Louis at 7 in the morning and have the whole day until 8:00 P.M. to hang out. It’s a great day trip if you don’t want to worry about staying in a hotel. The other thing we learned is, because the train runs so late, The ticketing office is only open at night, from 10:30 P.M. to 8:00 A.M. Also, not the most ideal hours. Amtrak does have a website to purchase tickets, but I drug everyone down there to the actual train station to actually buy the tickets there. It probably wasn’t necessary, but it was definitely an experience. Sorry guys! But we finally got our tickets and I biked back home and almost immediately passed out from the busy weekend.