January 23, 2013 Edition

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Bikers receive
extraordinary
local hospitality

John Bland
Publisher

Karen Pratt of Cavenaugh Chevrolet Buick GMC has taken hospitality to a new level. If there was an award for "Most Hospitable Person of the Year," she would be one of the top contenders.

She welcomed cross-country bicyclists Shane and John Hunter of Biddford, Maine, and took them under her wing. On Saturday, the men had had an extremely hard day of walking their bicycles for some 16 miles due to the strong headwinds blowing directly at them.

It was closing time on Saturday at Cavenaugh, the start of Karen's weekend, but she nonetheless took time to treat them to supper and secured them a room at The Phillips Motel.

The Hunters said they have been dependent on God and the kindness of strangers on their journey that began in May. When possible, they have been working at odd jobs along the way to pay for their food and other necessities.

Their original goals were to see Niagara Falls, which they have already done, and the Grand Canyon. They plan now to continue on to the Pacific Ocean.

Although they have encountered kind-hearted people along their journey, I would imagine that few are equal to Karen and others who she has involved here to help the Hunters.

John Hunter, age 35, had to convince his uncle, Shane Hunter, age 51, to join him on this odyssey. John said, "We wanted to see God's world the way he wanted us to see it."

"We more or less wanted to see beautiful places and meet nice people. It's been an adventure," John said.

Shane added that they have slept in dugouts, on porches, behind a former Walmart building on two slabs of stone and next to a couple of rivers.

"We have seen places not many people have seen," Shane said.

The men each have ceramic crosses displayed on the backs of their cargo. "He's (God) been with us every step of the way," said John.

Making the visit here even more memorable was an invitation by Greg Smith, who invited the Hunters to attend church with him Sunday night at the Hoxie Church of Christ. There, John was baptized during the service.

Both men expressed their appreciation to Karen and others for their kindness while here. John is keeping a journal with plans to turn the journal into a book. I expect their visit to Walnut Ridge and Hoxie will now be a whole chapter.

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