I am now on the hotel's computer in the lobby, which allows for much faster writing. Let me see what I can resurrect from my previous composition.
Fred and I both arrived at the Little Rock airport at around noon, and not too long thereafter were at the hotel. We were greeted by the lovely and helpful Cathy, who is the person who made it possible for us to ship our bikes directly to the hotel, and by Ray, who materialized within a minute or so of our arrival.
Ray took us up to his room for a toast with Heinekin that was cooling in a sinkful of ice. We puzzled over the fact that Fred's bike arrived upside down with the box's bottom open -- no staples or tape -- just flapping flaps. Luckily the bike was intact and nothing was missing. My bike, in accord with my nature, was double taped and secured with numerous nylon packing straps, all of which were intact.
After a bit we went out for a decent, if not ample, lunch at a restaurant a short distance from here. The hotel's driver/maintenance man gave us a lift over, but we walked back, over Ray's mild protests. There was some concern that I suggested the wrong direction back to the hotel in spite of my massive electronic compass watch. It is clear that I am going to be catching more than my share of shit on this score for the next couple of weeks!
We got the bikes assembled without incident and each of us took a short ride around the parking lot to be sure they were functional.
The highlight of the day was the hospitality shown to us by locals Oren and Carol. Oren is a cycle touring guy with whom Ray connected through warmshowers.org several weeks back. His advice was of great help to Ray in planning his route into town. In addition, Oren and Carol took Ray out for dinner the other night, and had us all to their house for a wonderful dinner tonight! Before dinner we got to tour The Old Mill which is a park/attraction directly adjacent to Oren and Carol's back yard. It is impossible to describe. I wish I were able to post a photo or two. It reminded me of something that you might find in one of Tolkien's hobbit books.
Oren is the son of a missionary and the house is full of wonderful African art. There are lots of interesting figures (and skulls) in their backyard as well, watched over by their very friendly dog and two fat and happy cats. Wonderful people. I hope that we have an opportunity some day to reciprocate their kindness or at least to pass it along to others.
It turns out that the three of us all have different routines in the morning, so we are just going to do our own thing and meet with our bikes out front tomorrow morning at 7:15 to start our ride to Star City, about 72 miles south.