A New York man who cycled through all 50 US states over the course of a year discovered “peace and quiet” amid his trek through the southern state of Arkansas.
But not only that—he also appreciated the random acts of kindness from his fellow Americans “in the middle of nowhere.”
Bob Barnes, 52, of Syracuse, New York, shared his latest travel experiences and discoveries with Fox News Digital, including his 27th visit to the capital: Little Rock, Arkansas.
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The former Uber driver arrived in town on Monday afternoon, just days after he crossed into Arkansas from Oklahoma on Friday, February 11.
This week, Barnes shared some of his thoughts on “normality,” as well as his appreciation for our country and its people.
When Barnes was cycling in solitude, he noticed a small refrigerator on the side of a country road.
Posted on the front of the fridge was a note: “Free Water! If you need a snack or drink, please take one!”
Inside were fruits and other items available to anyone who needed them.
Barnes said he grabbed a Swiss roll and went on his way.
“It kind of gives you a sense of not just the state of Arkansas and Little Rock, but the whole country,” he said.
“The whole country [commits] These random acts of kindness. It’s really cool.”
Barnes described the people of Arkansas as “very open and curious”.
He said the people he met — though those encounters were few and far between — quickly recognized his New York accent.
He said they were curious about his unique journey across America.
“In Arkansas, they just want to know everything,” Barnes said.
“In a nice way.”
Arkansas’ parks are among the state’s best
In a state known for its scenic waters, Barnes enjoyed his ride along the Arkansas River.
He stayed for two nights camping on the beach, an experience he described as “fantastic across the board”.
“They’re beautiful and big,” Barnes said of the Arkansas parks.
“I’ve stayed at state parks in every state, and [the Arkansas parks are] Among the state’s best parks.”
Barnes also drank at the views from the bridges crossing the Arkansas River as he strolled across the bridges.
“You don’t often get that chance to be on a bike and stop in the middle of a bridge at the top of the Arkansas River,” Barnes noted.
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Barnes arrived in Little Rock around 3:20 p.m. Monday, outside the Capitol Building.
Since the Capitol building—which he described as “giant”—was already sealed off by the time he got there, Barnes was unable to go inside.
The “unique” architecture of Little Rock
However, Barnes noticed the famous 10-foot bronze doors—and appreciated them.
They were made by New York’s Tiffany Studios in 1910, according to the Arkansas State Capitol self-guided tour.
“It’s very unique,” Barnes said.
“They just get your attention.”
After Barnes takes pictures of the Capitol, he stops for a beer to celebrate his arrival.
‘It was great’
On his way out of Little Rock, Barnes talks with a police officer about where he might spend the night without getting into trouble.
“I was honest with him,” Barnes recalled. “I told him who I was and what I was doing…and he was cool. He was like, ‘As long as you don’t disturb anyone, you can sleep anywhere you want on the road. ‘” “
The New York man who bikes to all 50 states arrives in Oklahoma, and realizes, “I’m going to start feeling proud again.”
“When I’m camping, I worry more about disturbing law enforcement or having someone call them and come check on me,” Barnes said.
He added, “But it was great, and it just gives you a little bit of knowledge about the police and how they treat me here.”
“warm weather ahead”
Although the weather wasn’t as severe as it had been in Oklahoma—there, Barnes had to stop for two days because of snowstorms—the temperatures were cold.
Barnes was glad the weather was warming up.
“We’re getting warm weather ahead of us, so I can open my horizons a little bit more instead of just focusing on staying warm and finding a place to sleep,” Barnes said.
As the days gradually get longer, Barnes said he’s looking forward to tackling volunteering, something he’s been trying to do throughout his entire trip whenever possible.
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On his first day in Arkansas, he was able to donate blood.
This is the third time he has done so on his “across America” trip. He believes in giving back.
Next stop: Pelican State
“I’m an urban dweller,” Barnes, who is single, revealed. “I’d rather cycle in New York City than go out in the country.”
He added, “But you mix it up. You get the country scene. In the city, you get the action.”
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Although he enjoyed Arkansas, Barnes said he was prepared for what still lay ahead.
Yet – and despite the desire for change – Barnes said he is not looking far ahead.
“One capital at a time,” he said of his planning.
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“That’s it. So right now, I’m focused on Baton Rouge [Louisiana] – and nothing transcends it.
Stay tuned for Barnes’ next stop in The Pelican State.
And by the way, for all readers’ clarity as Barnes continues his journey: He plans to bike to Juneau, Alaska, after catching a ferry there from Canada.
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He’ll also bike to Honolulu, Hawaii – after traveling on his bike to the island.
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