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Arkansas High Country, days 4 and 5: the kindness of strangers

When we last left our hapless heroine, she was quietly crying in the aisle of a small-town convenience store, having resolved, after a long and difficult day, to quit the race and go home.

I'd had some basic goals before starting ARHC: A) finish; B) get in at least 3-4 days (my longest previous bikepacking trip being two nights); C) learn something from the experience. With the latter two thoroughly achieved, I figured I could assign myself a solid B and go home with my head held up regardless of what anyone else thought.

Looking around in an effort to find something that looked like what I wanted, whatever that was, I noticed a deli counter on one side. A sign listed the hours as closing at 6, and the meats were all covered. "Is it too late to get a sandwich?" I asked the owner. It was, of course, but he looked at me for a moment and then replied, "I'll make you a sandwich."

I carried a random mix of food and a chocolate milk to the counter. The woman at t…

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