WHAT. A. TRIP! The 2023 Overnighter was a huge success, despite several rain delays and one bike who refused to go one mile further past Grove, OK. Most importantly, everyone arrived in Harrison, AR and back home safely. Sweaty, but safe. The Arkansas Kitties had a fabulous time; enjoyed the rides that Arkansas is famous for; laughed until we cried; met and got caught up with family and one special stray Kitty; shared some TMI stories (if you know, you know!); had their Kitty Sisters’ backs by making sure they were safe and loaning out items they needed; and got to know each even better. After all, there is no better way to REALLY get to know someone than by spending a weekend with them! With this being her first Overnighter, Cina got to learn that firsthand!
So, how did the weekend go? Well, let’s start at the beginning….
We all met at the QuikTrip in Derby with loaded bikes and excited attitudes. Brenda, who had to cancel at the last minute due to her daughter’s health, still joined us at the QT to ride with us as far as Winfield. Maureen pimped out the 50/50 tickets with possibly some assistance, but I’m sorry I didn’t pay enough attention to that to burn it into my pea-sized brain. We drew the winning ticket at lunch and lo and behold, Brenda won! This proves you don’t have to be present to win! NoFacebookGreg showed up at the QT because he wanted me to check my oil when I got there, but after further reflection, he didn’t trust that a) I would do it and b) I would know what I was looking at. That turned out to be a good call! Of course, as always Stephanie snapped into action and took pictures of everyone. Thank you BadA$$!
After I took roll call and confirmed everyone was presented and accounted for, I led the group in the prayer, we biked up and were off! Donna led the first group with Tina in the sweep position and Kari led the second group with Cindy serving as sweep. Let’s just take a minute to talk about these ladies. Leading a group of bikers even on a day trip is a great responsibility. Taking them across state lines on a multi-day trip takes it to a whole new level. There are highway signs to watch for, gas stations to look for, speed to keep consistent, and the safety of everyone behind them to take into account. Donna and Kari expertly mastered all of it! We split the group into three on the way home to make the gas stops quicker and Kim stepped up to lead the third group home. There were two groups who went on different excursions on Saturday. With only one Lead Ride under her belt, Kim led one of the groups and nailed it! Again, with only having ever led a Kitty ride once before, Tina led the second group and handled it like a pro! Thank you, Kim and Tina, for giving Kari and Donna a break from the Lead Rider duties! I can’t thank all of the Lead Riders for first of all, agreeing to lead and secondly, being prepared and getting us to and from safely! The Sweep positions also have a great responsibility on rides and THANK YOU to Tina and Cindy for being at the back on the long hauls making sure there weren’t any stray Kitties left behind and being there if we needed you. Kitty Kisses to each and every one of you!
Our lunch stop on Friday was in Grove, OK where we ate at Drake’s Restaurant. We had the pleasure of being joined by two family members! Conn is the brother-in-law of Stella, who lives in a town very close to Grove and Sarah is the cousin of Jennifer, who lives in Grove. Drake’s was on top of their game by quickly gathering tables for 16 Kitties and two guests. The food came out of the kitchen lightning fast, which was very important as we still had a lot of miles to cover. Once again, we were celebrities and guests of the restaurant were intrigued by this “girl gang” of bikers. One guest in particular, Claudine, was very interested in us and asked lots of questions and took pictures of us. One of her comments in particular really stuck with me. She said, “You girls are so different than the normal bikers we get here. You’re all so cute, polite and friendly!” Way to break the stereotype Kitties! We cooled off in the glorious air conditioning; filled our bellies full of good food; Drake’s refilled our traveling water cups with ice water, Stephanie took lots of pictures (again, thank you BadA$$!), we said goodbye to Conn and Sarah and headed to the nearest gas station to fill our tanks and hit the road.
After getting gas and while still at the gas station, one bike said, “Nope, I’m done. I’m not going one mile further. I don’t know how you’re getting to Arkansas, but it ain’t gonna be on me.” That uncooperative bike belonged to Stephanie. Stephanie wasn’t in my group, so the way we left it was she was going to call for help to come get her and the bike. Christine and Angel would stay with her until help arrived and then finish the trip together. Plan B was equally as good, if not better. Remember how I said Jennifer’s cousin, Sarah, lives in Grove? Well, how about we take advantage of her, uh, I mean ask her a favor?! The whole group rode to Sarah and her husband Matt’s house, along with Stephanie and her bike who agreed to go that far, but no further. Everyone stayed with Stephanie until they knew that help was on the way and then knowing she was safe and sound at Sarah and Matt’s house, they hit the road to finish the trip. The help that was on the way was a friend named Tommy and Mitch from Bike Wurks, who is a bonafide bike mechanic. I gotta give mad props to Mitch, who not only agreed to drive to Grove, OK with a bike trailer, but agreed that if he could fix it there, he would load Stephanie and her bike onto his trailer and bring her the rest of the way to Arkansas. If he couldn’t fix it, then he would bring Stephanie and her bike home. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened. The bike couldn’t be fixed on the fly so Stephanie, her bike and her rescuers made the trip back to Wichita. Stephanie, we missed you like crazy!
My group arrived in Harrison right at dinner time and while we had reservations at Colton’s Steakhouse for 16, we explained that a large part of our group had a problem on the way and couldn’t make it. Given that Stepanie’s group had such a long delay, they decided to go right to the hotel when they arrived and they would order in a pizza. By the time my group got to the hotel, the second group had arrived and were gathered at the pool and just getting ready to start eating their take-out dinner. After my group got checked in and ditched sweaty biker clothes for bathing suits and shorts, we all joined them. Well, except for me. Apparently, I like sweaty biker clothes and joined them in what I arrived in, minus the boots. We worked on what the plan would be for Saturday and it was agreed one group would do the Mountain View Run and one group would go to Eureka Springs. One teeny tiny group of two would stay behind at the hotel. Nellie wasn’t feeling well and decided to take a break from the heat and riding on Saturday. On our way to Harrison, we went through a town called Springdale, Arkansas. Turns out Springdale is one congested town. The traffic was horrendous! At one point as we were inching our way through traffic, I looked over at Nellie and said, “This is like going through downtown Sturgis at Bike Week!” By the time we finally made it through that awful ordeal, my poor arthritic hands were shot. All the clutching and braking did them in and my concern was if I did a ride on Saturday, they would be in such bad shape, I would have a hard time getting back home on Sunday. When I couldn’t get the lid off the Jello shot Maureen had brought because my hands were so sore, I made the decision to stay at the hotel on Saturday. That turned out to be a good decision as on Saturday morning, I could hardly get the cap off my toothpaste! Now that plans were made, lead riders were in place and everyone knew what time to be in the lobby to leave with their groups, some of the Kitties stayed at the pool to chat and some said, “Stick a fork in me. I’m done.” and returned to their rooms.
The Saturday Plan – the Mountain View Run group was leaving at 9:00 am Saturday morning. The Eureka Springs group was leaving at 10:00 am. The Reality – it was raining Saturday morning. Nobody was going anywhere anytime soon. That gave everyone plenty of time to eat hotel food minimal breakfast, chat and marvel over the sparkly hoodie string that Angel had. I bet we’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of those adorning hoodies now! After consulting radar, everyone estimated what time they could leave and eventually they all did. Given that I wasn’t on these excursions, I can’t write about it, but I sure heard some great stories and the Kitties did a great job in sharing their pictures.
So, what did Nellie and I do all day? Well, after everyone left, we continue to sit in the lobby and chatted for a long while and then we went to our rooms to relax. We could have gone to the pool, but it was still very cloudy and cool, so that was a hard pass for me. I got all my stuffed packed up for the next day’s return home and chilled out until I got a text from our special stray Kitty – Barb! Barb lives in Arkansas about an hour and a half away and she had already signed up to have dinner with us on Saturday night. She knew that I had stayed behind and arrived much earlier, which gave us some quality chatting time. By then, the sun had come out and we sat by the pool and reminisced about old times and got caught up on what each of us had been doing for the last 11 years since we’d seen each other. I tried to call and text Nellie to come visit, but apparently her phone was as dead as Stephanie’s bike and she never got the message that we were at the pool. I had to temporarily say goodbye to Barb so I could get cleaned up for dinner and she went in search of something cool to drink at the Dunkin Donuts, which was very close by.
We had dinner reservations at Roma’s Italian Restaurant at 7:00 pm. I had told everyone that had left on day trips to be sure to be back by then and they were, but barely! Having fun on Arkansas roads trumps Italian food! Some were able to grab a quick shower, and some had to go as they were, which was still beee-u-ti-ful! I counted heads to make sure we had 16 Kitties in the lobby, and we made the long 700 feet walk to the restaurant. You know how we are loud everywhere we go? Well, we WAY outdid ourselves at Roma’s! Sorry to all the patrons who were just trying to have a quiet, romantic dinner. You picked the wrong night for that! I formally welcomed Barb and told the group how I had first met her way back in 2005 and how she came to be a Kitty that same year. We gave Maureen a hard time about how she went on not one, but two dates, on the Overnighter in 2021, because we don’t ever let a good story die. Jennifer mimicked a guy the Eureka Springs Kitties had met by smearing food on her teeth and saying “corn caaaaab” about a dozen times. That’s when we really owed an apology to the other guests because we were roaring with laughter! Christine tried to help the wait staff out by making sure we paid attention to food and drink orders that were coming out of the kitchen. Sorry Christine, you had to know that would be included! It was a purrfect night! Given that we were leaving bright and early, we said our goodbyes to Barb and went back to our rooms to get packed up, oh wait, I already did that!, and go to bed early.
Once again, our plans were derailed by rain. We were SUPPOSED to be on the road at 7:30 am on Sunday. Rain kept us huddled under the awning until nearly 9:00 am. That gave everyone plenty of time to get some food in their bellies as we were not stopping for lunch. If you gotta eat, then it’s gonna be gas station food! People were anxious to get home and several had afternoon/evening obligations. Even with the rain delay, we made great time and despite the radar saying we were going to run into rain in eastern Kansas, we only got a few sprinkles in the Parsons area. We were all rain suited up so we were prepared for whatever came our way. By the time we got to Fredonia, our last gas stop, we all were able to peel off the rain suits and finished the ride without worry of getting wet.
And there you have it! As long as this is, it’s still the condensed version! I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Kathryn, Donna and Tina for planning this awesome trip for us! You guys are wonderful and I’m especially sorry that Kathryn did so much work on this and then couldn’t go because of her brand-new knee. We missed those who couldn’t make the trip with us. I know going on an Overnighter is a big commitment and I understand that’s not always possible for everyone. Just know that we missed you!
Arkansas Kitties! Thank you a million times over for the laughs and the memories! Each and every one of you were perfect traveling buddies and I loved every minute I spent with you. Kitty Kiss to you all!
Janice Friedman, Founder