Sunday, and we are just starting to get into the riding groove. Its our third full day on the road and Hiatt and I are getting used to this life. The road waits, and all we have to do is wake up and eat breakfast. So we head down to breakfast for the second day in a row. We’re pros at this point getting at the food that we’re interested in. After a filling meal, we headed back to our room. That was when we saw some true Arkansas ingenuity. I have no words for this, so I’ll just show the photo.
We took Rockhouse road out to Berryville where we ended the previous night. This is a nice back road route that was lots of fun. A narrow two lane road encroached by trees. Those trees created eery early morning shadows! Hiatt was in the lead and took off like a rocket, occasionally slowing down to make sure I was still alive. I was uncomfortable with the texture of the road and the shadows to go too fast, so I took it relatively easy. At the end of this short diversion, we headed to the nearest gas station to fuel up and consider the rest of the day. At the gas station was a group of 4 riders doing the same thing as us. The license plates had them from Wisconsin, so they were on quite a journey!
We decided to re-run the 215 to Oark route because it was quite fun the previous day. This time, we would run it backwards and see it from the other direction. Its amazing to me how much faster things seem when you have already seen them before. This route passed by very fast. We were less worried about where we were going and discovering new things. Riding backwards on the route was like getting revenge to us. We focused on the turns that we didn’t take as well the previous day and not getting lost like yesterday. We skipped the town of Oark and just made the turn to stay on the major path. If you’re wondering why we would re-ride the same route again, it may help to look at the pictures that follow. They best describe the roads we were on. The last photo of the group is Hiatt’s back tire. The dark spot is the portion of the tire he has been riding and shows just how far he has been leaning into the turns we have been riding! I would be lying if I said that I didn’t ride aggressive today either…
We stopped near the end of this route to have lunch at a Sonic. We just can’t seem to get enough being outside on this trip! Of course this is Mother’s Day (a made up holiday), so we called mom and both got to say hi to her. Then we proceeded to call our wives and wish them the same. Of course, we could each hear in our wife’s voice the need to have us home soon. We had been gone for a few days, one of them celebrating them. Of course, we can’t thank them each enough for allowing this trip!
At the end of the route, we were back in Eureka Springs. We had decided that we need to end up near Harrison, Arkansas at the end of the day to facilitate getting home earlier than planned on Monday. That would make the girls happy, and that is always a consideration for each of us! The plan was to head towards Harrison and run the Mountain View route from the pamphlet and be back in Harrison that night. Of course, to get there, we could take the Rockhouse Road route again… So off to Rockhouse we went. I took the lead this time, but was a bit lethargic after lunch and road at a more civilized speed. My lack of speed turned out to be a blessing. Around a nearly blind left hand turn, there was a red truck that was backing out of a driveway that just seemed to be parked, blocking the road. As I slowed, it finally pulled back into the driveway and we passed without issue. Had the truck been there earlier in the morning, it could have been a much different story!
Not being that far from Harrison, we figured we would finish off the day with the Mountain view run and finish in Harrison where we started this adventure and get home to our girls early. We ran the route backwards from the directions on the map, but were getting good at it by now. The drive down US 65 South was long, straight and fairly boring. We had a near run in with a police officer for speeding in Harrison and decided we better take it easy on the larger highways. Going the speed limit after the last couple days was difficult, but we didn’t want to add any donations to local cities (tickets) to the expense of our trip. At this point, I was starting to get saddle sore from all of the riding we have done. I was ready to get off the bike and walk around. We came over the top of a hill and there was a very long downhill of at least a half mile. I was probably doing 5 – 10 over when I crested the hill with light traffic and let off the throttle. There at the bottom of the hill was a Highway Patrol officer waiting for people to speed down a hill. As we passed the bottom of the hill, eye contact was made, and he didn’t look to happy to see us pass. I watched in mirrors as we passed just waiting for him to come after. Once out of site, we may have speed up a bit just to add some distance. Then we found a place to pull off and rest.
There is nothing quite like canoe country. The rivers are peaceful and everyone seems happy. We stopped and walked down to the river to relax and stretch our legs. And *maybe* there may be girls where there are rivers and canoes…
Back on the road, we were rewarded with nice mountainesque views. At the far end of the route, Mountain View Arkansas, we turned up the scenic road to head back to Harrison. This road was secluded. So we may have speed up. Being that few cars were on it, I saw a couple of snakes on the road warming up before the evening. We made one more stop at a river to stretch our legs and had a treat. As we pulled in, the road was gravel and quickly went down into a large lot. I went first and had no trouble with the gravel. Once parked, we walked around and took pictures. Then we met and talked with Tabatha. She was a young cute girl looking for her grandmother who run a canoe outfitter on the river. It was a nice discussion that kept us off the bikes longer.
When we arrived in Yellville, Arkansas, it was getting dark fast and we were tired. So we found a hotel and decided to call it a night. This was the first no-name hotel, but it turned out to be just fine. Staying in Yellville positioned us to do part of another route from the trip and get home early to the girls on Monday night. Once settled, we went out for pizza. We sat outside and enjoyed the sunset and the 4 cars/trucks that we driving around town showing off.
Saturday, and we got a late start. After the previous night riding in the dark, we were ready to sleep in. Once we got down to breakfast, we realized that it would be a bit longer before we left the hotel. The food at breakfast was amazing. Fresh quiche and waffles. In an effort to save money, we were going to get a meal out of breakfast. This hotel was a bit more expensive, so this helped us feel better about it.
Riding in Eureka Springs is easy because it is a motorcycle friendly town. There were bikes everywhere. We picked up a new pamphlet the previous night that had suggested motorcycle routes based out of the town. I preferred this pamphlet over the one at Harrison because it was less focused on a single town and more focused on the area, providing more meaningful maps. Unfortunately, I lost the map to scan, but I do have one photo of it.
Our late start afforded us a visit to the first cycle shop that was open. A big hat tip to Arkansas Adventure Rider in Eureka Springs [http://www.arkansasadventurerider.com/]. That cycle shop had a little bit of everything. They had more than one type of face shield for Hiatt’s helmet. Hiatt was at the point where he was ready to buy a new helmet cause his face shield was so bad. Instead, we got the replacement he needed and a wonderfully friendly shop.
We decided to try out the Beaver lake route first. The route started out going through downtown Eureka Springs. I was afraid I was going to wreck my bike during this part. The traffic was mild, but there were so many shops and people to see on this narrow two lane road. A pleasant looking walking path went through the whole of it providing a safe area for pedestrians. Even at 10:00 am in the morning, the area was quite active with people about.
One of my favorite features of this little town was an open creek that separated all of the properties on one side of the street. Each house or business had their own bridge going over the open ditch. Prior to this trip, there had been a whole lot of rain and lots of roads were closed all over the place. Therefore there was plenty of water for us to look at as we went by. I often stood up on the pegs of the bike to have a better vantage of the water. It is one of the features that defines the town and sets the mood.
Not too far outside of the town proper, we came upon a site that caused me to pull over and have a look. There is a train depot with several colorfully painted pieces of machinery just outside of it. Several pieces of the machinery were turning via a motor and it appealed to the kid in me. So we stopped in a no parking zone and had ourselves a look. I ventured far enough away that Hiatt started to tell me to come back. I could still see the bikes should anybody come up and make a stink about our choice of parking spots. We snapped a few photos and said we would be back. Little did I know it would be sooner that we both thought!
The grand feature of the Beaver lake route is an old one lane wooden bridge to drive over. Hiatt and I were both looking forward to going over a few times, getting pictures and video of the whole thing. So we headed down the route careful to follow the written directions lest we have another Jasper Disaster! At our turn, there was a sign stating that the road was closed a few miles ahead because of flooding. We looked at each other and decided the sign didn’t apply to motorcycles and went for it. Soon enough, we were faced with a very flooded and closed road. So we parked the bikes and walked down to the water to have a look.
The road was flooded as far as we could see. The only thing to do was turn around and head back the way we came. Of course, we were determined to find the wooden bridge and cross it flood or not. So I got to make a return trip through downtown and enjoy the town from the other direction. We would get at the bridge from the other direction! Through town and headed the other direction, we were excited to be making headway towards our destination. The goal was in sight and we were homing in on it.
The bridge wasn’t the only good part of this ride. Beaver lake has a dam that we visited. With all of the rain, the lake was very high. In fact, where we stopped, Hiatt remembered from a previous visit. The water was covering playgrounds and shelters. It was shocking to see so much water covering everything, but there was nowhere for it to go! While we were stopped viewing the water, we have a nice conversation with two other bikers enjoying the same view. I’m a huge fan of the motorcycle community. If you have a bike, its like you’re in the club. You are automatically treated differently. Before owning a motorcycle, I probably would not have stopped to talk to this couple. Since we were there, we make sure to help them get a picture together. Its amazing how many people don’t bring a tripod with them. The mini tripod pictured below is the same model we had with us. It fit in my pocket along with my camera and helped us take lots of “group” photos!
After leaving the reservoir, we rode around generally following our path and taking some side roads that looked interesting. They were exciting, but we didn’t want to loose our focus and backtracked to stay focused on the goal of the wooden bridge. After going in circles for a while, we ended up asking for directions at a gas station. After getting pointed in the right direction, the road had some great elevation and switchbacks that made it quite exciting. On one particularly amazing sweeper, there was a sign for a photographer taking roadside photos. The website is http://ridepics.net/. The photographer took some amazing photos of us in action. Later, we remembered the website and found the photos.
Back on track, we found the road we were looking for and turned down it. The scenery was open fields, sweeping turns, and green foliage everywhere. The bridge was in our grasp and we were closing in quickly. My pulse quickened as the speed limit signs showed a lower limit. This means that the town is around the corner and the bridge we want. I can see the water and know we only have to go down a hill when I see another dreaded road closed sign… Before the sign, I pull off into the Post Office parking lot and park. I was going to walk down and see it at nearly any cost. After I’m done taking my gear off, I can’t find Hiatt, I look around and walk to the road waiting for him. In my excitement, I lost him. He was nowhere to be found. Then I see him down the road and he waves to me asking why I parked so far away. Back to my bike, I go around the road closed sign and join his bike plus two others that ignored the sign.
The approach to the bridge was under water and the bridge was not far off. We were not going to be able to ride across the bridge like we planned. For the second time in the trip, I pulled my pants up above my knees and removed my boots and socks. I tried to walk out and get on the bridge, but I wasn’t ready to get as wet as it took to get on the bridge. We were only going to look at the bridge this trip due to flooding!
Coming back from the wooden bridge the way we came, I took it slow trying to pull off and see something that caught my eye on the way there. Almost too late, I slowed and turned off into a flat grassy gravel area at our destination. It was HUGE tree cutting equipment. The saws were on the end of large booms and obviously built to go nearly anywhere and clear out trees. This was a cool stop!
Like a repeat of the morning, we were backtracking again back to Eureka Springs. We knew there were some great roads to look forward to one more time. Going down the switchbacks we cam up would be a new perspective. The road was a bit un-nerving though. They had repaired cracks in the highway with strips of tar. Each time a wheel of the motorcycle hit the tar, there was a tiny but perceptible slide of the wheels. One slide would not be bad, but there were numerous patches on the road making for a very interesting ride. It is the sort of thing that knocks your confidence one level down.
As we reached the outskirts of town, we were ready for lunch! It was around 2:00pm and we were finally ready for food. We wanted something local and fun, and we hit the jackpot!!! The Rowdy Beaver Restaurant and Tavern.
Stuffed, we were ready to try something different. Heading South to see more scenery seemed to be the right choice for us. In our guide, there was a decent route called the 215 to Oark. It was a very long route that would take us the rest of the day. Little did we know at the time, it would nearly be more than the rest of the day…
We spent an hour or so heading South to catch highway 215, the namesake of the ride. We were watching closely for 215 to come up. Without any trouble, we found highway 215. This is where the ride got interesting quickly. 215 parallels the Mulberry River. I say parallels because the highway starts near the same elevation and quickly rises with switchbacks and rock walls on each side of the road. This highway is perfect for cyclists that want to ride at high speed and test their skills. Except if they mess up, its gonna hurt a LOT! There were several pull outs on this road and we took advantage of one to hang out and breathe the fresh air. As an added bonus, there was a great view down to the river where we got to watch several boats pass a rapid. None of them tipped, but we were hoping…
After watching the boats for a while, we were hyped up to get moving again. I took the lead and was moving at a brisk pace. Then, before I realized what happened, I had a moment of sheet terror. I was riding close to the line on my side of the road, when something blinked by on my left and was screaming loud. I was so startled, that I let out a loud curse in my helmet. It took what felt like an eternity, but was actually about 2 seconds to realize it was Hiatt. I would expect his speed to have been 50 mph more than mine and growing when he passed me. I attempted to recover and catch up, but it was only by his graces that I was allowed to catch up. I was grateful that i was not in urgent need of a men’s room at the time, or I may have made a mess of myself!
We continued following 215 to the town of Oark. There we saw three crotch rockets parked at the gas station. We thought nothing of it at the time and kept going. Out a few more miles, and we passed something that caught my eye. I slowed down quickly and Hiatt pulled up. I said that I thought I saw a sign for a bridge and wanted to see it. There were several cars there, so it seemed good to me.
It ends up that the bridge was the only way for a family to cross the creek and get to their property. There was a donation box to help maintain the bridge. I learned this because as we were leaving, I talked to one of the property owners.
The bridge was not far from the end of the road and the start of gravel in two different directions. We took what we believed to be the continuation of the highway, but concerned that it was gravel. I went about twice the speed of Hiatt, which was about 15 mph. Not too far in Hiatt had enough and we both turned around. Stumped, we figured we just got lost like normal and we started to backtrack.
Flying down the highway the way we came, I saw a Honda Goldwing. It was heading towards the gravel road. Goldwing motorcycles are not made for gravel roads. Further more, they are generally purchased by people that really pile on the miles. I figured that if we followed him, we would get back on the route. What else could there be out here… At the end of the road, the Goldwing turned left on the gravel road. I knew we made a mistake and would go over gravel for a bit and right back on blacktop. Then the Goldwing pulled into a building that looked like a restaurant. I felt dejected, but I would resolve the issue. I parked and walked up the the Goldwing guy. He was quite nice and once he saw our map, re-directed us to the correct way. We completely missed the rest of the route. It required minor backtracking, but that was part of the route. We thanked him and asked how far to the next town and gas. It was going to be close, but we would make it.
After a quick stop for fuel, we realized that it was getting late in the day and we still had half of the route left to traverse. So up the road we went. I was nearly stopped in my tracks at the most disgusting gas station I have ever seen in Clarksville, Arkansas. We stopped long enough for a photo and took off before it could get any worse.
As days wear on, I generally get short on photos and memories. This day seemed to be coming to a close and we need to get back. This may have been part of the encouragement for the bit of extra speed we had on the highway. Its important to be safe and we probably saw 10 cars and motorcycles combined on this stretch home. The route ended at Berryville. It is worth noting here that Hiatt is a hotel snob. I’ll stay just about anywhere, but he likes to stay at “name brand” establishments. We looked around Berryville, but could not find anything to his liking. I was willing to go to Eureka Springs, but Hiatt said he wasn’t interested and just wanted to take it easy after our day our day of riding. So he fired up the ‘ole Tom Tom and asked it to find us the nearest hotel that he was willing to stay at. It plotted a route of about 8 miles and he headed out with Hiatt in the lead. I got a good laugh when we were about half way there and saw a sign for Eureka Springs. As luck would have it, Hiatt was navigating us back to the same hotel we had stayed at the night before.
As we pulled up to the hotel, the three crotch rocket bikes (Ducati 1098, Aprillia, and modified FZ1) that we had seen the night before and at the gas station in Oark were at the hotel again. The guys were out front when we pulled up. They were quite interested in Hiatt’s Ninja ZX-12 as it was a comparable bike to theirs and possibly faster! There, we had a long discussion with the guys about bikes and where they were from. It turns out that they travel to that hotel a few times a year, trailered their bikes down for aggressive riding. They were either great riders, or good story tellers. I’m leaning towards good riders.
After settling in, we went to a local bar (across from the Pizza Hut from the previous night) and proceeded to have a couple of beers and dinner. We continued discussing the ride of the day. When I explained my issues and technique of using my rear brake and high gear going into turns, Garet explained that I should only use my front brake and use a lower gear to have more control going into turns. I gave this advice serious thought as I considered the next day’s ride. I was a little concerned because my front brake wasn’t that good, but it had to be better than was I was going. As nice as their company was, it was time for us to turn earlier than them and sleep for the next day’s ride. Another amazing riding day in the bag!!!
Friday morning, I woke to the alarm on my phone. I was quick to get through my morning routine and be dressed to ride. We shared a continental breakfast at the hotel lobby and then had to figure out what to do. After flipping through the pamphlet, we decided to try out the “Jasper Disaster” route. The route is only 56 miles with 316 curves and it was supposed to take two hours. We thought we would start with a shorter ride and end up back where we started to do another one.
Part of the goal of doing a short ride and getting back to Harrison is because Hiatt’s face shield for his helmet was badly scratched. He was having trouble seeing out of it. He didn’t bring a replacement, so we had to find one. Luckily, there was a motorcycle shop next to the hotel we stayed at. So we figured after a nice easy 2 hour ride, they would be open for business.
We had decided to use radios so that we could talk to each other during the ride. I had my radio in my jacket pocket with the wires coming out of the zipped pocket like an angry octopus. The three wires then has to be plugged in to the corresponding two wires in my helmet and one on my bike. The two coming out of my helmet were for the microphone and headphones. The one attached to my handlebars was a push to talk button. We tried them the whole first day with little success. Ultimately, we would slow down to talk if necessary, because this system didn’t work!
Hiatt was in charge of the maps for the trip and therefore navigation. He has a tank bag with a clear plastic window in it, plus a GPS mounted on his bike. Between the two tools, we should never get lost. With confidence, we pointed our bikes South on highway 7 to start the route. It was a crisp morning just perfect for a ride. We let the miles pass without a care. We passed cars with ease and breathed in the scenery. Eventually, we rode through some fog, slowing down a bit to ensure our safety. The road quickly rose up back out of the fog and presented us with spectacular beauty. We were above the clouds/fog looking down into a valley.
Just beyond our first scenic stop was a viewing tower to overlook the valley. Of course, we made the obligatory stop and climbed the tower to check out the scenery. It was hard to believe we would have scenery this good at the start of our trip.
After getting our fill of the breathtaking view, we climbed down the tower and continued South on highway 7. After a while, I began to wonder when we would hit the town of Jasper [the namesake of the ride] and turn to complete the ride. We ended up pulling into a rest area along highway 7 to get our bearings and figure out where we were. Amazingly, this rest area was nearly as beautiful as the last stop we had made.
After turning on the GPS, we realized we were around 40 miles past Jasper where we were supposed to turn. Our best bet at this point was to go back North where we came from. Our goal was to get back to Harrison to get a new visor for Hiatt’s helmet. Off we went. This time, we were both quite aware of Jasper as we went through. There was a dog leg in the highway that announced the town. It was around the start of lunch time and we noticed a large amount of bikes parked outside of Pizza on the Square. Fortunately for us, we were not really hungry at this point.
Excited to be back in Harrison, and knowing where we were going, we rode directly to the motorcycle shop. After a quick glance around at new bikes, Hiatt went to the counter and asked if they carried the face shield he needed. As luck would have it, they didn’t even carry that brand of helmet. They kindly told us where the other two motorcycle shops were in town. With our thanks, we went out in search of the next cycle shop.
At the next shop, which I remember being a Honda shop, we were concerned we went to the right place. There were more trucks with lift kits and big mud tires then there were motorcycles. We didn’t expect much and weren’t surprised by the result of nothing. The third shop in town again provided us with nothing. At this point, we were beginning to get frustrated with the town of Harrison. It really isn’t a bad town, but our luck just wasn’t holding up. The Jasper Disaster route had felt like a disaster as we couldn’t stay on the route. Because we were having so much fun just riding, we made the decision to just go back the way we came. Back down highway 7 and see what we would see. The riding and scenery was amazing and we figured we would just get more of it.
Our adventure wouldn’t be complete without random stops to see the local scenery. As we raced past everything in sight, Hiatt flagged me to stop. We did one of numerous U-Turns for the trip and went back to see what he saw. There was a road leading down to the river next to the road. We decided it would be fun to walk down and check out the river. So we parked the bikes at the top of the side road and headed down to check out the river. After talking about how amazing it was to be next to the river and listening to it flow over the road, we both agreed that there would be no way that we could get our bikes across the river because the water was too high. However, I thought that maybe I could walk across just the same. With great fanfare, I took off my boots and socks and pulled my jeans up above my knees. Gingerly, I stepped out into the water. I forget that rivers in early may are NOT WARM! It was super cold, but I persisted a few more steps. I quickly decided that the algae covered road would quickly cause me to slip and get totally drenched. So I turned back for dry land. The crossing was not possible and I was sure of it now.
This time, we didn’t miss the town of Jasper and stopped at Pizza on the square for lunch. It was a very nice small town with an amazing pizza joint. The locals were quite friendly to us. In fact, we had a guy tell us the last three month’s worth of his life story. We just about had enough of him when he headed off on his bicycle. Of course, I did snap a photo of him to make us smile.
With nowhere in particular to go, we had to figure out what our destination was going to be. I remembered a past trip to Arkansas when we went to Mount Magazine, the highest point in the state. I remember there being switch backs and having an interesting time with the drive. So we decided to head there. During a fuel stop, we asked for general directions. Mt. Magazine is located outside of Paris, Arkansas. We found it without much issue going up one side and coming back down the other. While at the top, we stopped to enjoy the view and saw a hang glider quite a ways up in the air.
Back on the ground from the “mountain”, we had to figure out what we wanted to do for the night. I decided that I wanted to see Eureka Springs. I heard it was close and they were likely to have motorcycle shops there. We were still trying to figure out how to get Hiatt a new face shield. He did quite a bit of riding with the shield up and hoping his glasses would do a good enough job of keeping the bugs out of his eyes.
Eureka Springs turns out to be a bit farther than we both expected. Our goal was to be relaxed on this trip and to not ride at night, avoiding unseen animals. Unfortunately for us, the last 90 minutes of our ride was in darkness. We were now going so slow (partially due to Hiatt’s face shield issue) that cars were passing us. While this is slightly embarrassing, it is best for our safety. In Eureka Springs, we found a hotel with a decent price and motorcycles parked in front. This is always a good sign as far as we’re concerned. During check in, I was being goofy and flirted with the front desk lady a bit too much… Something about I’m old enough to be your mother and all.
In our room, we were quite ready for food. Unfortunately, every place we called was closed or didn’t deliver. So we ended up back at the front desk asking if there were any food places. We were sent off in the correct direction with no sidewalks and a decent sized highway to cross. I may have already started in on the Southern Comfort, so I was feeling a bit like Froggert. Just a half mile down the road was the Pizza Hut that wouldn’t deliver to us. We ordered a pizza and waited while it cooked. I may have done it again and upset a waitress, but I think she was in a bad mood before we showed up.
With pizza in hand, we hit the liquor store on the way back and got a Mickey for Hiatt while I would persist with the Southern Comfort. Once back in the room, we ate the greasy pizza with gusto and went right to sleep!
The images below are the relevant pages of the pamphlet that originally drew our focus to Harrison, Arkansas. The quality is lower because this is the same copy that was on our trip. It was folded and flipped through numerous times. I’m impressed that it made it this long.
I wanted to add a couple items. The planning section for where Hogan and I went to was a little bit of a battle. Hogan didn’t want to be land locked to a state and I knew Arkansas had some great roads. The quest was to have a happy medium between adventure and just logging miles to log as many miles and states as possible.
We had decided that we were going to venture Arkansas after passing off some blog data about Arkansas and some Arkansas Motorcycle maps that explained the paths of travel. The was the key factor in holding Hogan’s interest in Arkansas.
Secondly after Hogan explained and I went with his idea we said no locking in Hotels. We would move to were the weather was good and the roads rocked. I had GPS setup on the bike along with a phone with the net. Hogan was setup with a mini laptop and a phone which we got signal when we looked about 70% of the time.
Hogan kept telling me how I needed to have some waterproof clothes during the trip and told me what he bought. I said those who prepare for rain get rain. That is the positive thought I had to have during this trip. Any rain was going to suck but I figured if I got any on me it would dry rather quickly. The plan was to ride to the nice weather right? Well, that is what I am going to do! I was not going to bring my winter/waterproof pants…I would die from dehydration and heat stroke even with the vents open and liner out of them besides being about the size of my bag I had loaded up.
So to add to the first day of travel, I got out earlier than I had planned from work. Called Hogan and the bum was not ready to go…Well there goes an earlier start around 2pm. So I stayed and my parents packing up a couple more items on the bike and visited with mom. I didn’t pack that much but it doesn’t take much not to fit on my bike the greatest. The worst thing I didn’t bring was my clear visor. I had taken my smoked colored visor…BAD mistake but that is later.
I was about half way into re-cleaning my chain when I get a call from Hogan with a couple excited motivation verbs, he was out the door. I was like ALSDKJFALSDKJSAF I hustled up the rest of the chain, went back into the house and changed into my trip clothes. I then tossed on the jacket, the earphones, plugged in the phone, put the helmet on and the gloves. The gloves took a little bit as I had already started nervously sweating because I was out the door after Hogan had left and the excitement of the trip. It was about 3:30pm and we had planned to scoot hopefully by 3pm. I then put on the helmet and strapped it on. I turned the key nervously to the on position, kicked up the kick stand. Flipped down the on starter switch, and pushed the ignition button. The ole trust ZX12R fired right up knowing she was going to love the next five days.
As I started to easy out of the garage, mom was at the bottom of the drive way. Like any big adventure during my life, she would be their or dad to video the dorkness called us kids as we adventured. I rolled down the driveway and blip the throttle a little nervously and then eased out to the street. It was almost like Battlestar Galactica as they loaded up to their fighters and launched. I had that type of tunnel vision going down the street.
Making my way out with some rocking tunes playing, I made it to the highway a little later than my brother leaving…ohh well. He has nothing on me with his touring bike. I get on that on ramp and the sweet music of 10,500 rpm each gear in first and second gear! I merged into 3:35pm 435 traffic with easy and moved pretty good even through the Grandview Triangle. That itself was a good sign.
Harrisonville Missouri came rolling up and I was looking for my exit to get gas and hop on Hwy 7 to Springfield Missouri. Here I topped off the tank I think about 2 gallons or so. I guess it was not topping off as it does hold around 5.1 gallons. It is always fun when you notice people look over at you with all your gear and this point the bag I had strapped on the back. Crazy bikers… So I topped of the tank just a tad…so I could extend my fuel window and mileage and started to re-gear up. Gloves go on sweaty hands a lot slower than dry. So far no problems. Fired up the bike and started to make my way to the exit of the gas station.
I came to a stop as I saw this car out of no where turning into the gas station right at me. WTF….and then he noticed and I started to throttle and release the clutch to move as he grabbed more wheel and brake and gave the ” I am so sorry ” look. This was not a good feeling to have just this short into the trip. YIKES…come on people…I will say that is a horrible setup for the Gas station…its been like that for years, what a couple of painted lines would do for that place.
I left the gas station nice and easy, again having the tunes playing in my ears and I powered out of the gas station. Nice easy throttle was the game plan and I did. There was no hurry as I knew that Hogan had a 1/2 more of a trip than I did to get to Braums. I was maybe half hour into riding down hwy 13 and I noticed the change in the clouds. I could see a tiny bit of moisture on the roads but nothing that said fresh water. YES…that is a good sign. Because of Hogan I have missed this wave of weather through this area. The road started picking up some more moisture the farther I got and the clouds go darker. I was about 1/2 from Braums as I started to see a drop here or there but mostly it was spray from the roads.
I pulled off the highway on a off ramp. My gloves where sticky from sweat as they strained to be pulled from my palm to my fingers. I took off the GPS from the Ram mount that I had. Reviewed the rest of the turns for our meet spot. I put all the electronics into the tank bag and put on the rain cover to it. I worked those gloves back on, then sat there a minute looking at the clouds and knowing…almost there! Turned the key and fired up the bike and eased down the rest of the ramp. Then I…uhhh didn’t notice there was no lane from the light and proceeded to head across the road and back on the highway. Come on right…the light was green and that was all I needed. Getting back on the highway the spray from the road was starting to hit me good.
I started taking my gloves to help clear away the rain from my smoked visor. I stayed tucked on the bike as much as possible to keep the water spray from the cagers off of me. The bottom of my jeans where pretty damp and my shoes but ohh well. Those dry quick and it was not freezing thankfully! I continued to make it into Springfield and continued to wipe away at my visor…damn why didn’t I think to rain x my visor! I had made it through some construction and traffic and arrived at Braums if I remember right it was around 5:30 or 5:40pm. I pulled up next to a car that was loading up and leaving. I pulled off the helmet, then the gloves, then the ear plugs, and only then did I get my first break of the day.
I called Colleen and let her know I had made it safe and sound at our first meet point. I think she was extremely relieved at that point. But she did know that two crazy brothers together could equal more danger! I waited…and waited… then I saw this guy on a gray Kawasaki pull around the bend. Black helmet and visor was partial dark ( I am very envious of that visor setup ). My brother made it! Hell yes…he is in the house! It got my heart beating faster. The other half arrived, the crazier and more unsprung do’er of evil. I think it was just after 6pm maybe when he got there.
Hogan pulls up and shuts down his beast. It was my first time to see his battle cruiser…aka the Connie in person. It sounded good and he looked natural on the bike. He gets his helmet off and looks at me with a grin. It didn’t rain on you he asked me. Nopers…just some spray. With some classic hogan verbiage he calls me and says your a lucking something… He goes on to tell me how it rained most of the trip down here. I was laughing so hard…I then explained to him what we talked about before. Those who prepare for rain get rain. He could have just punched me right there and I would have still been laughing by the look on his face. Just dead serious you need some real rain gear. Wow it was classic.
Now the whole point of picking this spot was for Ice cream. Guess what…Hogan talked me out of it because it was too cold. So what did we do, have soft drinks. Hogan had several refills move than I. Because it was cool out he didn’t want have that as we warmed up and dried a little in the restaurant. Well, all that Lillis diet coke didn’t save him. He was just as cold and had double the liquid volume in him compared to what the ice cream would have done.
So we go up to order food. Burgers and Fries were a must. Our order was read and we head up to get some supplies. I started to fill up those little ketchup cups. Hogan tells me no dude…you have it all wrong after I have 5 read to go. He grabs the biggest plastic lid for the cups. He procedes to place it under the ketchup machine and pile a HUGE serving or should I say about 13 servings of ketchup on this lid! I am just laughing away at this monster serving on this lid. We slowly eat and dry looking at the weather forecast on my phone. We see the main front is gone and another one is due in pretty soon. So we make another pitstop before we leave Brams.
Outside we take some photos, its around 7:10 or so as we continued to be tourist snapping photos. We tossed our legs over our trust steads and tossed on our helmets as we were just going about 250 yards to the gas station. We go there and filled up our tanks. Something that happened very often on this trip. Remembering Harrison Arkansas is a dry county, we went in for some drink that Hogan talked about. Good ole Southern Comfort, a gas station specialty in Missouri. We got out to the bikes and talked about our route and loaded backup on the bikes. Gloves and Helmets back on, yes no music this time because the earbuds do make it very tough to hear with or without music. We loaded up and set off to the south. The day was losing light and we wanted to beat the next front.
We still had a good amount of spray from the cagers and a little mist here and there. I continued to wipe my visor with my gloves and my vision for the road did not get any better. Being with Hogan we seemed to add about 10mph to the speed limit. We moved at a good clip as we finally came into Harrison Arkansas. The first hotel was a Holiday Inn which Hogan pointed to and I gave thumb up. We pulled in and I realized that Colleen and I had stayed at that Hotel before with the kids. I knew where we were at which is always a great feeling!
We checking in sometime around 8:00pm. After getting our room, two beds ( no chance of any jokes here ) We decided to roll down the street to Wally World. We geared up with jacket, gloves, and Helmet and decided to ride the half mile or so on each others bikes. Lets say that I didn’t enjoy Hogans bike. I am guessing its part related to riding a different bike in the dark on semi damp roads for a first time. It was not my idea of fun once we had parked at Wally World. Give me my bike any day, but I am sure on a nice day and a feel for his bike it would have been a more enjoyable ride eventually. Anyways, back to getting parked and looking like a goon trying to get used to his grandpa like throttle and butter clutch… I gave him the keys and took mine back. I like the raw feeling of a none hydraulic clutch and non silky smooth throttle like mine.
Inside Wally World Hogan broke out for the first time I think that day the first Cletus joke which had me cracking up. It was one of many more to come over the next couple days. We picked up some drinks and some chips I think. We checked out and hustled out to the bikes. We mounted up for the half mile ride back to the hotel. Once inside Hogan demonstrated how to use a hair drier. Honestly I had never seen a hair drier lay on the floor for 45 minutes drying gloves and shoes. It was classic as I just put stuff on the A/C unit and it was dry in the morning.
We mixed our drinks and started surfing the TV. Only to see us land on the Speed channel for most of the night watching a show on the new Eco boost for motor for the F150. Damn…that was insane and would make anyone look at that truck for a future purchase. We skipped around different TV programs but found are selves ready to hit the sack around 10:15pm. Lights out, sweet dreams, the morning is not that far away…Alarm set for 6am. The fun has only just began!