NY man cycling across America reveals ‘random act of kindness’ in Arkansas
A New York man who cycled across 50 US states in the span of one year has found “peace and quiet” on his journey through the southern state of Arkansas.
But that’s not all — he also appreciates random acts of kindness from fellow Americans “in the middle of nowhere.”
Bob Barnes, 52, of Syracuse, NY has shared his latest travel experiences and discoveries with Fox News Digital, including his 27th visit to his capital: Little Rock, Arkansas.
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The former Uber driver arrived in town Monday afternoon, just days after he crossed into Arkansas from Oklahoma on Friday, February 11.
This week, Barnes shares some of his reflections on “The Natural State,” as well as his appreciation for our country and its people.
As Barnes was cycling alone, he saw a small fridge by the side of a country road.
Pinned to the front of the fridge a note: “Free water! If you need a snack or drink, please take one!”
Inside are fruit and other goodies available to anyone who needs them.
Barnes said he took the Swiss roll and continued on his way.
“That sort of thing gives you a feel for not just Arkansas and Little Rock, but the whole country,” he said.
“The whole country [commits] this random act of kindness. It’s quite interesting.”
Barnes described the people of Arkansas as “very friendly and curious”.
The people he met — though those encounters were rare, he says — quickly recognized his New York accent.
He said they were curious about his unique journey through America.
“In Arkansas, they just want to know everything,” says Barnes.
“In a good way,” he added.
Arkansas parks ‘among the top state parks’
In a state known for its stunning waters, Barnes enjoys his walks along the Arkansas River.
He stayed for two nights at a campground on the shoreline, an experience he described as “overall excellent”.
“They’re beautiful and big,” Barnes said of the Arkansas park.
“I’ve lived in state parks in every state, and [the Arkansas parks are] among the top state parks,” Barnes added.
Barnes also enjoyed the view from the bridge across the Arkansas River as he pedaled across the flyover.
“You rarely get the opportunity to get on your bike and stop in the middle of a bridge at the crest of the Arkansas River,” says Barnes.
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Barnes arrived in Little Rock at around 3:20 p.m. on Monday, outside the capitol.
Because the capitol – which he described as “giant” – was closed by the time he got there, Barnes could not get inside.
Little Rock’s ‘unique’ architecture
However, Barnes noticed the iconic 10-foot-tall bronze door – and appreciated it.
They were made by New York’s Tiffany Studios in 1910, according to the Arkansas State Capitol Self-guided Tour.
“They are very unique,” says Barnes.
“They just get your attention.”
After Barnes photographed the capitol, he stopped for a beer to celebrate his arrival.
‘He is cool’
On his way out of Little Rock, Barnes spoke to a police officer about where he could stay for the night without getting in trouble.
“I was candid with him,” Barnes recalls. “I told him who I was and what I did… And he was amazing. He was like, ‘As long as you don’t disturb anyone, you can sleep wherever you want.'”
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“When I’m camping, I’m more worried about upsetting law enforcement or having someone call them and check on me,” says Barnes.
“But he’s cool, so it gives you a little bit of insight into the police and how they treat me here,” he added.
‘Warm weather ahead of us’
While the weather wasn’t quite as extreme as in Oklahoma — there, Barnes had to stop for two days because of a blizzard — it was freezing cold.
Barnes is glad the weather is improving.
“We’ve got some warm weather ahead of us, so I can open my mind a bit more than just focusing on staying warm and finding a place to sleep,” says Barnes.
As the days get longer, Barnes says he’s looking forward to tackling volunteer work, something he’s been trying to do throughout his travels whenever possible.
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On his first day in Arkansas, he was able to donate blood.
It was his third time doing so on a “cross America” trip. He believes in giving back.
Next stop: Pelican State
“I’m a city dweller,” Barnes, who is single, also revealed. “I’d rather cycle through New York City than out of the country.”
He added, “But, you mix it up. You get the scene in the countryside. In the city, you get the action.”
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Even though he’s enjoying Arkansas, Barnes says he’s ready for what’s still ahead.
Even so – and despite wanting change – Barnes says he’s not looking too far ahead.
“One capital at a time,” he said of the plan.
“That’s it. So right now, I’m focused on Baton Rouge [Louisiana] – and no one gets through it.”
Look out for Barnes’ next stop at The Pelican State.
And by the way, for clarity to all readers as Barnes continues his journey: He plans to cycle to Juneau, Alaska, after taking the ferry there from Canada.
He’ll also be biking to Honolulu, Hawaii — after flying on his bike to the island.