Archives for the month of: July, 2011

 

 

One of the most beautiful spaces in our law school building is the Library Commons.  It is sunny, warm and inviting even on the grayest of days. Visit it, and you’ll find quiet (or not so quiet) conversations, folks reading or just enjoying a cup of coffee or a baked treat from Arsagas.  When we were designing our new building, our former Law Library Director Herb Cihak, the Dean then, Richard Atkinson, and the library committee chair, Steve Sheppard, hoped to make the library more accommodating, and welcoming  not just to law students but to the whole university community.  As we now know this was a great idea, and the Commons brings folks from around the campus to our building (which I think is a good thing).  This space was made possible by the generosity of Jim and Nancy Blair.

 

There’s a bit of a story behind this gift that is special to me.  Jim and Nancy are my neighbors and friends.  Early in my deanship, we were looking for gifts to complete the building. Jim, after seeing the area, agreed to make a gift. He did so, partly to encourage me in my new role.  He said, “I want to give you your first big gift. I have faith that you’re going to be a great dean, and I want the gift to be a reminder that you can do it.” That gift resulted in the Jim Blair Library Commons. It did encourage me, and I remain grateful to Jim for his support of the law school and of me (especially since he knew me before the deanship 🙂 ).

Friends of Jim & Nancy joined the new Dean of Law School, Stacy Leeds, and Chancellor David Gearhart, at the law school on July 13th 2011, to dedicate this very special space, and to honor two special friends of the School of Law and the University.  Dean Leeds welcomed everyone and extended her gratitude for the warm welcome she has received since her appointment this summer. She spoke of “the remarkable bond between the University and its alumni,” and how, “The University of Arkansas engraves the name of each graduate on Senior Walk and, in turn, our alumni hold a special place in their hearts for their alma mater.”  Dean Leeds noted, “Distinguished graduates like Jim Blair not only achieve great professional success, they generously support the university through their leadership and philanthropy.”  She thanked Jim for his generosity, vision and his wonderful gift to our students and campus community.

Chancellor Gerhart was the next speaker.  His remarks reflected Jim’s life of service and his and Nancy’s gracious generosity.

“It is fitting that today we celebrate two vital factors in the school’s rise to the forefront of legal education – this beautiful facility and the vision of esteemed graduates and supporters like Jim Blair.

“The law school building, highlighted by the Jim Blair Library Commons, is literally second-to-none.

“Our students have a state-of-the-art facility in which to learn the law and prepare themselves for lives of leadership and service.

“The Jim Blair Library Commons, in particular, has become a forum for the exchange of ideas, and not just for the law school community.

“It is a university commons in the purest sense.

“This room plays host to scholars from every part of our campus, people who are drawn here by the promise of enlightened conversation and a 20 ounce skinny latte.

“It only makes sense, then, that this space was made possible by Jim Blair.

“He is a lawyer. A student of philosophy and religion. A patron of the arts.

“He’s said that if he hadn’t gone into law, he’d be an archaeologist or a novelist.

“He is a one-man university commons who has given back in innumerable ways to his alma mater.

“Mr. Blair is former chairman and member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

“He is a member of the Board of Advisors and served on the Campaign for the Twenty-first Century Steering Committee.

“He is a Tower of Old Main and a recipient of the Citation of Distinguished Alumni.

“His philanthropic contributions to the university include the Diane Divers Blair Chair in Political Science, the Diane Divers Blair Collection at Mullins Library, and countless other generous gifts.

“His philanthropy has made an overwhelmingly positive difference in our community, most notably through his landmark gift to the Fayetteville Public Library.

“Mr. Blair has been an outstanding leader, having served as chairman and member of the Arkansas Board of Higher Education, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and as vice president of the Clinton for President Committee.

“And he has achieved distinction as a lawyer — in private practice, as longtime general counsel of Tyson Foods, and as a Special Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

“If all that doesn’t convince you that we’re talking about a pretty amazing guy, I should tell you that, for the sake of brevity, I was forced to leave out most of his honors.

“Jim, Nancy, thank you for making the Jim Blair Library Commons possible.

“Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our state, our community, our university, and our law school.

We are deeply grateful.”

 

 After the Chancellor’s remarks, Jim spoke, and he was as always, funny, poignant and thoughtful.  He spoke of the importance of the rule of law, but also shared funny remembrances from his days as a law student. He recognized the lifelong friends he made during law school, some of whom were present, and thanked them for sharing his special day with Nancy and him.

 

I was the closer.  I thanked Jim for that very important first gift, which gave me the confidence to believe I could face the challenges that a dean confronts and find success. It was a good feeling that my last “official” event afforded me an opportunity to thank Jim  and Nancy for the professional and personal support they’ve given me over the years.  After all the speechifying, we adjourned to University House for a reception to honor Jim and Nancy in more practical ways.

Jim and Nancy Blair with Morriss Henry, Dean Leeds & Sid & Rita Davis

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 It was a nice quiet Monday, with nothing on the calendar (What a feeling!) I was able to get correspondence out and to work on an Arkansas Law Notes piece that was to be an update on the law school accreditation process.  Sadly I ended up having to abandon it because of the time crunch and other commitments.  I promised Professor Flaccus that I’d work towards getting something together for next year’s volume.  I’d also ordered a number of books on the theology of working for an article for the St. John’s Law School Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, and Monday afforded me the opportunity to begin reading and thinking about the shape of that piece. 

After all the activities of the weekend, Sunday was literally a day of rest. I didn’t even keep my weekly date with Mom, so we went out Monday.  Mom was happy for the outing, but when I opened the door, she exclaimed, “Man, it’s hot out here!  What’s the temperature?”  It was in the upper 90’s but at least the car was nice and cool.

 

We went to Carino’s in Rogers, because I know Mom enjoys their pastas.  She ordered the spicy shrimp and chicken and thought it was terrific. I had lasagna and a glass of sangria and was pleased with my meal too.  During dinner I told her about what we’d seen on our ride to Joplin and shared pictures from my IPhone.  After and enjoyable meal, we bundled the remained of Mom’s dinner to go, and headed back taking the long way to enjoy the scenery.  I love a week that starts with such a gentle landing.

Saturday July 9th was the regular meeting date of the Chrome Divas of the Ozarks, our ladies’ riding group.  Our chapter is an affiliate of a national organization which is described on the national website as, being “formed to provide a means of camaraderie, community participation, and a national link to all women who ride motorcycles and strive to be known as outstanding citizens in their communities with a preference to ride, have fun and share their talents and compassion in group effort.”  Our chapter has about 22 members. The group is very diverse age-wise as well as occupation and bike type. It’s a great group of women and I’ve learned a lot about riding from them, especially how to be safe.  I’m kinda the nerd of the group.  It seems that when we’re together I also do something oddball, but it’s ok, because they’re all so warm and accepting. Our meeting was cancelled, but we were having a group ride. We met in the parking lot of Jose’s in Springdale (which by the way, has a bike night on Tuesdays, but I’ve never attended.)

Stacie York, Chelle Grant Custer, Me, Georgia Brooks, Stephanee Danielson, Trisha Davis-Labit

Our Ride Captain is Stacie York, and she plans the routes and leads our rides.  That day, though, Diva Georgia Brooks was taking the lead.  There were 7 of us riding that day and we rolled out about 9:00 a.m.  All I knew about our destination was that we were heading north into Missouri, but since I was with the Divas, that was good enough for me.  We took got onto I-540 headed north, but didn’t make it to the Pleasant Grove exit before we had a bit of trouble.  Georgia’s bike had mysteriously decided not to run. This is a bit of a problem, especially when one is on a busy interstate.  So, we all pulled over, and the more experienced Divas tried to figure out the problem.  I will say it made for an interesting sight for the drivers on the road, seeing all these women and their bikes on the side of the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before long, fortunately, Bessie, Georgia’s bike started again and we were underway.  540 is the craziest, in my opinion, between Bella Vista and Fayetteville, after that, in either direction it’s a nice drive. Interstate 540 connects to Hwy 71  and we had an easy ride once out of the RogersBentonvilleBella Vista traffic, and it was a good feeling to be cruising up the interstate with my Diva sisters. The day was going to be a warm one, but the heat hadn’t yet taken hold.

We exited 71 at the Gateway Drive exit in Missouri.  From there we took a right, then make a quick, sharp left (north) onto Hwy Vv which turns into Old Hwy 71. Our destination, the Undercliff Grill and Bar, was on the right, after crossing the railroad tracks. Though I’d never been, the Undercliff, located in Tipton Ford Missouri, is apparently a popular spot for bikers and bicyclists.  There were a number of both there that day. Now, here’s where that wackiness I mentioned comes in.  On the ride up, I felt like my helmet was sitting high on my head and I kept having to mash it down.  When we stopped, I pulled off my helmet, and out fell my summer gloves I’d been looking for.  Everyone just shook their heads and laughed, but I was relieved to find them because my leather ones were hot.

The Undercliff is so named, because it is built right into a huge rock cliff.  The wall next to our table was rock.  It’s neat inside and the waitstaff was clearly used to waiting on tables of rowdies, which of course, we were.  When the Divas get together there’s always a lot of spirited conversation, teasing and laughter.  That day was no exception.  The food came out pretty quickly given how busy it was.  And as seems to be the case everywhere we stop, the portions were very large.  One thing that tickled me was that my breakfast burrito came with wheat toast. No problem, I was able to find a taker.  I suppose I should say who all was on the ride that day.  Besides Stacie York (Ride Captain) there was Stephanee Danielson, Tail-Gunner who rides in the rear, Trish Davis–Labit, Laura Stanulis Wilkins, Michelle Grant Custer, Georgia and of course, me. During the course of the breakfast several other groups of rider rolled in, giving the place a rollicking, festive feeling.  

                         

 After a very enjoyable breakfast and visit, we pondered the remainder of the ride. Georgia and Stephanee were heading back to Northwest Arkansas.  Stacie and Trish were going to ride on to Joplin to check in on their friend who lived there, and to see how the storm clean-up was progressing. Chelle, Laura and I decided to go with them. 

 

 You most likely recall the devastation to Joplin from the May 22, 2011, EF5 tornado. The storm killed 159, injured countless more people, and major portions of the city were demolished, leaving many homeless in its wake.  Going there, helped me realize that it is one thing to see reports on television, but nothing is the equivalent of actually seeing the damage to begin to comprehend the enormity of the disaster.  Stacie pulled us aside and reminded us to keep eyes out, not only on traffic, but for debris on the road.  We road through town carefully and stopped at the high school. 

                         

 

It is hard for me to convey to you the utter destruction we saw.  The weird thing was, there would be entire blocks wiped out and one house standing across the street.  Stacie visited with the Americorps volunteers who were directing groups of volunteers in the cleanup efforts.  By this time it was hot, and I was thinking about how that added to the misery of the situation.  It had been 6 weeks since the tornado struck, but yet (and I should have known this, but hadn’t processed it) there was debris everywhere.  I can only imagine how it looked and felt in the days immediately after the storm.

 

We rode into downtown Joplin to meet Stacie and Trish’s friend Rich.  He was in good spirits and gave us an update about how the city was pulling together to recover.  Downtown, at least the part we saw had survived unscathed, reminding us of the randomness of nature’s force.  From there we headed over to the hospital.  It was very sad to see.  Not very far from the destroyed building was a vibrant tent city set up to serve as a makeshift hospital.  We took lots of pictures of the area around the hospital, which was flattened.  When we got back home, Stacie sent us a Google Earth link of what is used to look like.  As you can see, the difference is dramatic. She encouraged us to remind our networks and friends not to forget the people of Joplin, and to solicit folks to volunteer to help with the recovery efforts.

         

 

After that stop, we headed back home, stopping for gas and water.  It was really hot by now, and we had a bit of a ride to get home.  To my great delight, the gas station we stopped at had the most glorious cupcakes, so that became my ride back sustainance, along with a refill of ice water.  Once we got back into Northwest Arkansas, it was scorching.  In fact, we learned that the temperature exceeded 100 degrees.  Stacy pulled us into Shakes’ for a cool down ice cream break, and lemme tell you it hit the spot. We each drank lots of water and enjoyed our treats, before getting back on our bikes for the last bit of the journey. We said our goodbyes, because we would each peel away in various directions once we got going again.  From Shake’s, it was only a few minutes ride home for each of us, and after pulling into the garage and opening the door to the house, I was truly thankful to return to a nice cool home, and for a safe ride in the fellowship of the Divas.

That evening my fellow deans threw a dinner party to welcome the two new incoming University of Arkansas deans, my own Dean of the Law School, Stacy Leeds, and the Robin Roberts, Dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and to say goodbye to Dean Bill Schwab, the former dean of the Fulbright College and to me.  It was a lovely event, which we all enjoyed, and in a perfect touch, my colleagues gave me a fall version of my pink riding jacket.  I am grateful for the friendship and thoughtfulness of all the University of Arkansas Deans, Bob McMath (Honors College), Pauline Rankin (Global Campus) Ashok Saxena (Engineering), Jeff Shannon (Architecture), Todd Shields (Graduate Schools), Tom Smith (Education), Mike Vayda (Agriculture) and Dan Worrell (Business). Special thanks to Dean Carolyn Allen the hostess with the mostess.

I truly do believe that the gift of friendship is a blessing that makes life richer. I think the saying that, “A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are” get its right.  Anyway, in the midst of settling in, I had a quiet lunch with Dean Todd Shields.  Todd is a great guy who is the dean of the Graduate College & International Education at the University of Arkansas.  He was recently appointed permanent dean after serving as interim for a year.

One of the things that has bonded us (besides as you might imagine an irreverent sense of humor) is our conversations about leading with kindness.  Before becoming dean, Todd was a department chair and whenever I was feeling down, it was as though he had a sixth sense and would call, and we’d have lunch or a glass of wine after work and visit.  He’s quite the encourager.

Thursday was our semi-regular lunch date.  Todd was checking in to see how the transition was going and for us to more generally catch up on things because we hadn’t visited in a while given our schedules.  We decided to make the healthy choice and went to Paneras’s for salads. There’s a summer salad on the menu now, with strawberries that is yummy. It’s important for salads to be interesting to be enticing.  We had a good visit with lots of laughter, and a thoughtful exchange about how to tackle our different challenges.  Itwas a nice break, and a relaxing healthy lunch with a good friend.

 Afterwards, it was time to say goodbye to a long time law school colleague, Sally Kelley.  Sally had been with the law school 23 years before deciding to begin a new chapter in her life including her upcoming marriage to University of Arkansas Professor Emeritus John King.  Sally worked in the National Agricultural Law Center, and had been its librarian since it was founded in 1988.  In that capacity, she provided reference service to Center Attorneys, graduate agricultural law students, the law school community, and she fielded national and international reference inquiries.  Sally created the Center’s website in 1995, and published 6 bibliographies on agricultural law in four different law reviews.  In recognition of her service to the University of Arkansas, Sally has been granted the title of Research Professor and Librarian Emeritus by the Board of Trustees. The law school community gathered Thursday afternoon for a going away party and to wish Sally well.  Harrison Pittman, the Director of the Center sang a few songs on his guitar, and of course there were many well-wishes and some special gifts for Sally. If you think about it, Sally’s event recognized both a beginning and an end.  Best wishes Sally & John!

 

 

           

 

 

After a quiet 4th of July, it was time to get back into the swing of being a full-time Professor again.  That doesn’t sound hard at all, right.  At least it’s much easier than deaning. But, I felt like I’d been thrust into an episode of Undercover Boss (I love that show).  I had the darnedest time doing the simplest things.  It let me know how incredibly much Terri Huckleberry and the other members of the Administrative Team had spoiled me.  How to print an envelope? Work the 2nd floor copier printer?  (It turned out though, that part of the problem with this was that it operates using codes and my new code wasn’t programmed in.  So, I wasn’t totally inept).  The other part of moving is remembering where you put everything, and if not, figuring out where to put things in a place that makes sense.  So I was in the midst of all this when there was a really rambunctious knock on the door.  Phil Lyon was in town and was stopping by the law school to see my new/old office and to meet our new dean, Stacy Leeds

Phil, his wife Jayne, and I have been friends for a long time.  That’s a long story, but suffice it to say that the three of us have a very warm and close friendship.  We’ve shared good and tough times, many a meal, traveled and worshipped together.  Phil has been a mentor to me through the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section.  In fact, he is the reason I have been as involved as I have in both the section and the ABA.  We’ve spoken together on panels on various topics for different organizations.  Many times we make use of our different affiliations to provide a lively give and take for the audience.  Phil is a management-side lawyer and my affiliation is generally employee-side, but, back to the visit.  Phil has gradually transitioned to an almost exclusively entertainment law practice and was in town on a matter related to a film.

He is working on a project with Benjamin Gaither (Benjy) who was flying in that evening. You all might know this, but I learned that Benjy was one of the producers of the movie The Last Ride, which chronicles the last days of Hank Williams. He’s also the son of Bill & Gloria Gaither.  Phil invited me to dinner with he, Jayne & Benjy, but tasked me with finding a restaurant that would accommodate late dining. Benjy’s flight wasn’t due in until close to 9:00 p.m.   I made us a reservation at Bonefish and after a frustrating day of relearning the simple things, I headed out to meet them in Rogers for dinner. 

We had a wonderful dinner.  I learned a lot about Hank Williams, what it took to get the movie made, and some of the legal issues involved in making a biography.  To tell you the truth, I’d never thought about it before.  I think that were I more in the know about country music I would have been intimidated and nervous around Benjy because he clearly knew his way around the business and was a celeb.  But I have to say he was humble, charming, low key and just a nice guy (not to mention a cutie).  I have to say that sometimes despite myself, I end up having the most amazing experiences and a large part of the reason is the blessing of terrific friends I have in my life.  Phil and Jayne are no exception and I know my life is richer because they are in it.

Sundays are typically set aside for church and time with Mom.  The day was going to be a hot one, so I decided to pick Mom up early for our outing.  She wanted to see Roaring River State Park after looking at the pictures Carol and I shared with her from our ride.  It’s a short trip form Pea Ridge and seemed like a great way to spend the Sunday before the 4th of July.  On our way there, Mom commented about how beautiful this area is.  I agreed and we talked about the blessing of living in such a great place. In a way, we were having our own mini-worship.  As I mentioned, she doesn’t live far from the park so we were there in no time.

I pulled in alongside the fishing bank under a tree, so Mom had an easy walk over to see the river and visit with the anglers.  She was impatient to see the fish, and kept asking whether they were biting. ( I think I see a fishing trip coming when the weather cools.) I think I mentioned before that the river is so clear and there are so many fish, that as soon as you walk up you can see the trout in the water.   A woman saw Mom walking over on her walker and stopped to see if we were ok, and then visited with us about the park and the fish and Mom listened attentively.

 We walked over to a friendly looking guy, who’d smiled at us when we pulled up.  Mom asked, “Are they biting? I don’t see anyone catching anything.”  He said “Yes, Mam they are, but I’m not having any luck.”  “Well I believe that would make me mad seeing them in the water like that, and not biting.”  The fisherman laughed and said, “Well Mam, sometimes they’re just ornery like that.”  We thanked him and got back in the car to drive a little further to the hatchery area of the park.  Unfortunately, the parking area, and hatchery are in full sun, so it had to be a quick stop. I put a quarter in the fish food machine and handed the pellets to Mom.  She was amazed looking in the tanks, at the number and size of the fish. She giggled a little when she saw their response to the pellets. “Wow, those suckers are hungry.  Look at them.”      

  From where we were standing it was possible to see the cave from which the spring originated that fed the river. Mom said, “Isn’t that something that water comes out of a rock, and makes this river with all the fish living in it?” I hadn’t thought about it that way, but yes it is something to ponder.  By the time we’d done all that, Mom was ready for lunch and had decided that a fish lunch was in order, so we headed to the lodge.                                                         

If you do visit the park, it’s worth a stop, even just for a cold drink, to sit in the lodge restaurant, because it has such a lovely view. They will also prepare the trout you catch and serve you a dinner or lunch with your own fish.  Mom wasn’t kidding about that fish and ordered a fish sandwich.  It was quite generous, and as she noted, quite good.  (in fact, she still mentions it occasionally.) I had the meatloaf special, and it too, was quite tasty.  One the way out, we picked up a t-shirt for Mom so she could remember where we’d been that day, and headed home.  It had been a good day—a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

 

The irony of “Independence Day” weekend falling during the first weekend of my new status was not lost on me.  As I rode to meet my riding companions for the day, I smiled at how quickly things change.  It was Saturday, July 2nd and the four of us on three Harleys, me along with Terry Orman and Paul & Lorena Wood were headed out for adventure.  Well, ok, maybe not all that, but certainly for a good ride and as you know from earlier posts, adventure seems to follow.

We ate breakfast at Penguin Ed’s and were served by a really funny waitress who teased us all, cracked lots of jokes and asked a lot of questions about riding.  She was a hot and a lively way to start the morning.  I almost didn’t need my caffeine fix.  We rolled out of there at about 9:00, and headed west on 6th Street  towards Hwy 59, which we could pick up on the other side of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.  Hwy. 59 runs north and south close to the Oklahoma border.  It’s a nice route to ride, because there’s less traffic, it’s got some nice winding curves and pretty scenery—plus Terry, Lorena & Paul had never ridden it.

We knew from the weather forecast that it would be a hot one, but figured that the 62-59-64-71 loop would be doable before it got unbearable (famous last words).  We’d been riding a while so we stopped in Natural Dam for water and gas (guess who). 

 

 

 

 The parking lot of the Sunshine Cafe with it’s one pump was all rutted out since the last time I’d ridden that way, so we pulled into the post office across the street. Actually, they did because as I subtly noted, I needed gas.  My gas light was on (duh), and that’s when it hit me, “Geez what if they don’t have super?”  Plus, it meant I had to pull in the rutted, gravel lot. Sigh.  I gingerly pulled up to the pump to discover that, yes! There was super unleaded.

As I was filling my tank, those guys went inside.  A few minutes later, Terry came out with a strange look on his face.  “Umm, not sure how I feel about you going in there.”  “Huh?” I said.  “Why, what’s wrong?”  By that time I was about in the door.  Once I entered, I was greeted with “Hey Girl, where ya’ been?”  Terry started laughing and said, “I should have known.”  Well it was like old home week and we all had a lovely visit.

 

Unfortunately, I’d left my bike in front of the pump.  This isn’t a station with several islands just one and a farmer was waiting for the pump, so I went and moved Bea, and while still hydrating, the visiting continued.  One of the guys, Johnny, followed me out and sat on Bea.  He told me all about his bike, and said he sure did miss it.  I asked him if he wanted me to take a picture of him on it and he said, “Yeah.” So he posed and I took a picture—I thought.  It turned out to be a video.  Hilarious. 

Just then, the farmer called me over to the truck.  I thought he was gonna fuss, but he was smiling.  Terry kinda subtly walked a few steps behind me. It turned out that what he wanted was to tell me why he needed me to move my bike. “I guess you wondered why I didn’t pull around?” “No, sir. I was blocking you.” “Well I’m not a jerk, but these old boy—yes I know I’m old too—but these old boys can’t drive.  The last two times I got gas from the other side they backed into my truck.  That’s why I asked you to move your bike.  Besides if I’m mean, you can throw a rock at me.”  So you all know at this point I was cracking up.  Terry relaxed, and when I told him what we were talking about he cracked up too and shook his head in amazement.

When it was time to roll out, the other fellas came out of the store and one of them said, “I just came out here to see how the hell all of y’all were gonna fit on your bike.” Funny (Remember the other bikes were out of sight across the street in the post office).  I pointed over there and we all had a good laugh. Now here’s where I got nervous.  I have bike “performance anxiety.”  So I’ve got all these older fellas standing outside to send me off (Terry thought they were gonna have to come over and rescue me), but I’m taking off on rutted gravel with an audience.  I backed out and took my time and waited til I was on the highway to wave. Whew!

By that time, it was time to eat again, not really, but that’s what we told ourselves.  Actually we wanted to stop at Ima Jerk barbecue because I’d told them how amazing

IMAJERK BBQ

the food was.  It’s really good cooking, large portions, and very reasonable.  (By the way, if you go there, look up on the wall behind the cash register and you will find the Chrome Divas of the Ozarks logo.)  When we rolled in, there were several police officers who gave us, particularly me, the once over, but never said anything.  We had a great time, laughing about our gas stop, and other funny riding adventures.  Terry is a real crack up and soon we were all gasping for breath, listening to his misadventures. 

From there, we headed south into Van Buren along route 64.  This section of the ride was miserable because by now it was hot and we were catching seemingly every darn red light.  Once we got across 64 into Alma and headed north up Hwy 71, the ride was a lot more pleasant.  71 has lots of shady stretches, plus we were moving and out of the heat of the traffic.  We stopped at the rest stop in Brentwood (which is quite pretty and maintained by the local community—Thanks!), for a stretch.

The view a few steps off the highway

    

 

We made one last stop in West Fork for water and gas.  We cooled off, a bit, though it was really hot by now.  We said our goodbyes because we would each peel off in different directions, a bit up the road to head home.  It had been another good ride, and I’d made two new, fun friends.

 

Paul, Terry & Lorena

Many people have asked me “What’s next?” after the deanship. As a result, I promised to bring back the blog to keep you posted on what I’m up to.  To begin with, however,  I have to make a confession.  Although my last official day in office was Thursday June 30th, I took that day and Friday, July 1st, off as a vacation days.  Seemed to me a good way to start the transition.  🙂 

So, what does one do on the last day to commemorate 5 years of officialdom?  Why take a ride on Bea the Blessed Harley, of course.  I should explain. Since I last shared my adventures with you via the blog, I’ve acquired a Harley Sportster.  Her name is Beatus, which in Latin means “blessed.”  However, it also unfortunately looks like ” Beat Us” which has provoked a number of intersting responses.  Needless to say when I was selecting a name I thought would convey a quiet witness, I didn’t see that (nor did my friend Steve Sheppard who helped my pick my license plate.  That’s what happens when two nerds get together to do something cool.).  But I digress as is usual. 

Back to what I did the last day of “being dean.”  My Bestie, Associate Dean Carol Gattis went for a ride on our Harleys.  Carol is no wimp.  She rides a Fat Boy which makes Bea seem like a bitty baby by comparison.  Our destination was the Roaring River State Park in Missouri which was a nice ride, but not too far given that the day was to be a hot one.  We got our start at 7:00 a.m. and headed north.  Along the way at the stop lights we visited with each other, since we hadn’t seen each other for a while.  This seemed to really annoy the guys in trucks who were behind us, but we figured that was their problem, not theirs.  Our route took us up 265 to the shortcut in Lowell, over to 71B, up to 62.  

 We stopped at the Short Stop General Store to hydrate (and for me to caffienate).  From there, we took 62 north into Missouri and turned left in Seligmann onto 37.  It’s just a short way from there to highway 112 which takes you right into the park. We rode our bikes close to the river and parked under a tree.

Roaring River is a great place to visit to put the world behind you.  There is no cellphone service and as you come over the last big hill into the park, you know you’re in a different world.  The park has a lovely trout river (you can look into the water and see the fish–my kind of fishing), and a fish hatchery.  

 You are able to walk a short path to see the origin of the river, a spring, which begins in an cave more than 220 feet deep.

 Roaring River State Park truly is a relaxing setting. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve seen a number of families fishing and making a day of it. Carol and I bought handfuls of the fish food and marveled at thee feistyness of the fish who came up to feed.  

There is also a very large park store, cabins and a lodge that serves great cheeseburgers. After looking around,  we headed to the lodge for lunch.  Now, here I have to say it wasn’t quite that simple.  The lodge is on a steep hill that cirves off 112 on a sharp right.  Not knowing what that driveway looked like our plan was that I’d ride up slowly and if it looked doable, we’d head up, if not, we’d keep going and eat somewhere else.  This was one of those times that looks were deceiving because as I rounded the corner, the drive was steep, but not at all trick.  We enjoyed the air conditining and yummy cheeseburgers as well as the chance to rehydrate again. 

 Afterwards we headed back down 62, but decided to drop in on my Mom who lives in Pea Ridge.  This meant taking an unfamiliar road, Hwy 72, west, but we were out for the day, so why the heck not?  It was a pretty ride and took us right into Hwy 94, the main street in Pea Ridge.  Mom was glad to see us, and it gave us another chance to cool down and drink water.  By this time, it was in the high 90’s, and very humid, so the break was a welcome one for Mom and for us.

After a brief visit, aware of the steadily increasing temperature we said out goodbyes and headed home, down 94.  We stopped for gas  and water in Rogers, Arkansas only to discover that my wallet was back in Pea Ridge. So, after a detour back north we were finally on our way home after a hot, but good ride-and a slightly unconventional, but totally enjoyable way to spend the last day of my deanship.