Thursday, August 01, 2013

Boynes Cufflinks Tournment of Champions

Day 5 ended at the par 3 "The Cuff Links" at Boyne Highlands. I behind on earlier today and the other days, but we're sitting in the bar at the Highlands, having ordered pizza, salad and milkshakes to take back to the condo for dinner (our plan gives us breakfast and dinner and with dinner, we discovered we can order take out and since the food at the lodge the other night was not too good -- well, pretty inedible dinner, actually -- pizza seemed to be a safer meal). Bob has lent me his ipad to document this momentous evening at the new Cufflinks par 3 course. Not knowing the course and after a long day on the Hills and Ross. And not wanting to take more than three clubs. And me and Robert resorting to some pretty long clubs on pretty short holes towards the end of the round on the Ross, we decided to grab a few beers and play it as a four man scramble Rules: 3 clubs including putter (but, sharing allowed -- this doesn't help with me being a lefty except for Tom). Flip flops. No gloves. Bag of balls. Tees OK. We had to be able to play it at 9 under par amongst the four of us, right? Even though there have been some pretty poor rounds (typical when playing 36 holes a day for a week), we should be good to go on this. The course is played up the mountain where the chairlifts are at the Highlands. Up and down around. I don't know who the course architect is. We found the first tee, uphill, poorly maintained tee boxes (but there are garbage cans and tee markers to designate the tee boxes). I am short. Bob is short. Robert is right. Tom makes it on the green. We make birdie. Game on. Then... We're short. We're right. We're long. We're left. We're OB. We lose balls. We leave the ball on the wrong side of the green. Par is a very good score. There is no GPS on the course. No cart girls (a shame because the handful of beers I brought didn't last long) My Sky Caddie didn't have the course on it to download. We were definitely at a disadvantage (definitely not our fault) No club throwing during our round (couldn't imagine Pete not throwing something). Some left handed attempts. Some right handed attempts by me. How'd we finish? One under, 26. The four of us. On a par 3. As a four man scramble. Do we have the course record? I see a future for this course. But, they definitely need to hire a better greenskeeper. They need to show people how to rake the bunkers. And fix divots. The tee boxes are uneven and need some work. With some work, the course could compete with Threetops... (or not). Pictures. And possibly video to follow (but not from "he who shall remain nameless" iPhone -- story continues later). PS Good call on the pizza at Boyne Highlands and bringing it back to it. Their pizza is pretty good. Next time we'd order the pizza and play the par 3 and it'd be ready in time when we're done.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 3: Heather, Moor and what not to do with an iPhone on vacation in Michigan

Once we’re settled in at Boyne, it’s nice not to have to travel. Day 2 ended with the cocktail and reception and dinner as part of our Great Escape package. We excused ourselves from playing in the scramble on Wednesday and going to the Great Americans performance (Bay Harbor day). But met some nice people while sticking with each other. To bed so that we can play on Monday morning at the Heather and then the afternoon at the Moor.
With the exception of Bob, the rest of us are morning people. Bob isn’t bad, but he clearly isn’t an early bird. But, we head to breakfast at 6:00 am at the Lodge. They make omelets and have a pretty big spread. The driving range at Heather isn’t special, except that you’re hitting up a ski slope. But, I’ve secured tee times for an hour earlier so we’re happy and off we go. I didn’t realize that Tom always sets our tee time at the Heather course for a morning round. No wonder that’s my memory, but it’s a good one. The dew on the grass, the critters out -- we saw a number of deer, wild turkey, a muskrat, along with the seagull and plenty of geese. The first hole gets you going, but I always remember the dogleg right #2 hole and the first par 3 over water we almost always see deer. The first par 5 you would remember as “worse shot” on Big Break -- we’ve seen plenty of the areas, but today all manage to keep it in play.
Playing better, but not great. Same with the rest of the group. It’s a lot of golf.
Finish up and head off to lunch at the club. Sweet potato wedges and onion rings and Oberon beer.
The Moor at Boyne doesn’t go on our rotation often. It’s a really nice and fun track. But they do not maintain it. There are plenty of dead spots. The bunkers are full of rocks and not raked. Just not as special as the other courses. But, there are some good carries over reedy marshes. Plenty of trees (aren’t 90 percent air). The weather is nice. And there is Labats Blue Light beer.
There’s a junior tournament in front of us -- some of these kids have great swings at age 6. Pace starts out slow and then picks up.
Back to the condo to shower and go to dinner. We’re given dinner at a bunch of places and it includes three courses (and a free appetizer at the Highlands Main Lodge). I’m finishing up a work email that’s necessary, Tom’s working, Robert’s watching TV and the "he who shall remain nameless" is playing with an iphone app that lets you swing your phone like a club to check out your swing speed. His first try is only 91 mph. the second time was 121. The third time… couldn’t calculate it because “boom” into the wall goes "he who shall remain nameless"’s iphone. We all look as said cell phone is picked up to check out. Shattered screen. Really shattered.
He’s pretty embarrassed while the rest of us.. Well, it’s …. So, we head to dinner. Robert checks on his phone for the nearest Verizon store. In Petoskey. Open til 8. It’s 630 pm and we make the game day decision so that we don’t have to worry about it and he doesn’t stress about it (because even if he said he wasn’t). Pass the Bob In. Time to stop? Robert, Tom and I are now clearly amused at he who shall remain nameless’ expense at this point. Words like dumbass, bonehead. I think that the Verizon store is going to be next to the Walmart. Pretty close. We offer to come in and video tape the transaction for this adventure and are met with a glare. Instead, we go next door to the Mexican restaurant for margaritas. Never been to a phone store with under an hour wait. Same is the case here. Chips and Pace picante sauce salsa (we’re from Texas and typically stay away from Mexican food in other states, but it was that or going into Sally Beauty Supply to paint nails in the parking lot, or going for manicures and pedicures (just found out as I‘m typing this at 524 am before heading to Bay Harbor). Call Tony and tell him the story. His last words “don’t let him let SIRI call him 'Big Daddy.' Train her to say, 'please don’t throw me'.”
He is lucky that there was a Verizon store. He is lucky that they were opened. He is lucky that they had a replacement phone for him.
Back to the Lodge for a late dinner. All of us laughing, even he shall remain nameless. May even have to play golf on Sunday when we return just to tell this adventure at “his” expense. [Note: someone has asked to remain nameless in this blog because it may come back to haunt him. You think? We won’t let this down ever.]
So much for the early dinner we were going to have, as it is now past 8:30 when we eat at the Main Lodge. Debate over going to Bay Harbor to eat, but I want tomorrow to be “special” and at least the lodge is closer to the condo so we can eat and head back and go to bed. Someone doesn’t even make it through dinner, opting to sleep in the car while we finish up (ice cream). Worn out from his ordeal.
To bed. Tomorrow is Liz’s Day: Bay Harbor Day. Stop at 7-11 on the way (part of the routine). Sagamores for breakfast. Lunch on the patio. Links/Preserves/Quarry. And, this year, dinner at Bay Harbor (hopefully on the patio, even if I have to buy a sweatshirt to wear).
Final note: yes, pictures will eventually follow in these posts, but I will have to get them forwarded from people with cameras (and people with new cameras) and pictures downloaded off of phones-- well, some phones...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Michigan Day 2: Camera down, use your imagination

Day 2: Forest Dunes (again, and we’re not complaining) and the head towards Boyne Highlands where we’ll be staying for the rest of the trip. We haven’t stayed in the Alpine Village but we have four bedrooms and three full baths so hopefully we’ll be good.


All of us are up early, wandering around (shhh) the 7th hole cart path where we’re staying. Kinda looking for golf balls, but really just enjoying seeing the excellent shape the course is in. Even down to the mowers taking out all of the stakes before mowing the fairways, rather than just trying to go around them. All of us slept well, but stll up, anticipating round 2 (and breakfast). Breakfast is buffet, but good. And the coffee is good. I’m not usually a breakfast person (don’t lecture) except on this trip.

Head over to the chipping practice area and play a game of “21” -- kinda. Really just fun trying to take on shots and try to beat one another. Then warm up on the range and putting green (Forest Dunes has NXT Tours -- nice shiny ones). And then head to the first tee. Round 2 commences, with Tom wearing the bucket hat that Don/Forest Dunes gave me. Definitely his style (me? I wouldn’t have a place to put my tees with that kind of hat).

Weather is perfect. Sometimes sweater, sometimes not. Sun yes, Sun no. But no rain. Tom, as usual, is the only one hitting the ball solid, even though we have our good shots here and there. And Tom keeps muttering about the greens. I LOVE these greens. Super fast. “You’ve got to be kidding me” called out by Tom, Bob and Robert quite a bit as their balls go racing by and by and by. Just don’t hit it so hard… not that mine were just dropping. I just wasn't running them 6 feet by the hole.

Tom and Bob win the first robin (need to say that Robert and I really weren't playing well).
On Hole 10, Robert is MUCH happier with his tee shot because he isn't where he was yesterday -- actually just in the rough. Bob goes on a bit of an adventure. Tom and I win the hole. Hole 11 is a par 3 -- really pretty hole, but the 18th handicap. I'm the only one who hits the green, but probably have a harder shot than they do being off. But, no blood on the hole. On Hole 12, there were crew working around the green. Clearly trouble for them since we don’t necessarily know where our balls will go at any time. I hit right at them, hoping for my ball to go left to right. It went straight... into the bunker. Robert did the same, but hit the stake that was holding the hose they were watering the green with. Pretty hard to do (hitting the stake and hitting people we're actually aiming at because we're really not that good -- and worth trash. Only problem is that Robert had already been in the sand and didn’t really need the additional burden of now being in another bunker because of hitting this stake.  Bob made par and won the hole and tied the robin.

Sad to finish up on the 19th hole. Tom won the greenie and the skin. But I came up pretty close to getting it -- and hitting from the same tee box as all of them, I’m pretty happy -- he should beat me! But, Tom's happy because he isn't the biggest loser this morning.

Off we head towards Boyne Highlands. Next stop: Grocery store for snacks and beverage, Bob In for frozen custard, then check in.

So, here we are at Alpine Village. Not quite as nice as some of the other houses we’ve stayed at. But, all have bath tubs, nice patio, pretty spacious kitchen and dining rooms. I’m sitting here at the bar writing this blog, with Tom at the dining room table working. Bob napping. Robert watching TV. It's raining, but we're not supposed to have rain the rest of the week.

Boyne has a “reception” for the Sunday “Great Escape” package people -- remember the one that we went to a long time ago at the Mountain with Tom and Jason. This package includes breakfast and dinner each day. They food is pretty good up here.

Oh, note to people reading this blog. Going forward, it may not be very visual. Unless Tom and Bob take pictures. My camera seems to have “broken.” Took a picture of Tom in this awful stance, kinda in a bunker, kinda in grass (he made a great shot). But, something isn’t letting my camera lens open up and I’m getting lens error. We tried to fix it, but I’m guessing it’s finally a casualty of use. So, my plan is to post and then hope to circle back with pictures later.

Peter, if you’re reading this: yes, I got a Forest Dunes ball marker for you.

Michigan 2013: Insert Clever Headline Here (e.g. no clubbing throwing today at Forest Dunes)

Michigan 2013: Day 1


I guess I need to get more original with the titles of my blog postings. But, it’s 445 am (Eastern time) and that’s what I have while coffee is being brewed at The Forest Cottage in Forest Dunes. Recap of Day 1.



330 am and Tony and I head out the door to pick up Tom (even this is early for me). Thank you, Tony! Without incident get to the airport and curbside check in isn’t open so we check in regular. I haven’t flown much this year and didn’t know that you now have to put your bag tag stickers on yourself. OK, this is inefficient and stupid in my mind (\www.aa.com). Stickers are easy for kids. But I haven’t had to do this in a long time. PITA.



Bob and Robert show up when we’re done putting our stickers on. Head through security and get on to Ohare (again, without incident). Couple hours at Ohare and off we go to Traverse City. Quick one hour flight where it takes longer to get our bags and the mini van than the actual flight. On our way to Forest Dunes, stop at Burger King. It’s raining pretty good here. Not a good sign. But, we’re on vacation and we’re in Michigan. It’s a pretty easy drive to Forest Dunes, but there would have been a good stop in XXX (don't know where exactly and can't figure it out from my map), where they were clearly having some sort of town event with rides and food and attractions and people. Traffic jam! (well, kinda).




As I’ve blogged in the past, Forest Dunes (www.forestdunesgolf.com) is in the middle of nowhere. It now has signs that help get you there and the roads are paved. You’d think you’re going to nowhere, until you hit the guard gate and then the clubhouse. Pretty impressive. And now there is the new 15 room lodge right next to the clubhouse. We pull into the parking lot and start unloading. Pretty much take over an area to get clubs out, shoes, find stuff. The rain stopped a while ago and it’s warm enough to take my sweater off. And the sun appears to be staying out, even though there are pretty gray skies around us.



Now we check in at the lodge registration. Where, service is great. And, they have a gift for ME! (Tom’s jealous). With a note from Don, thanking me for tweeting about Forest Dunes (see, tweeting works) with golf balls and a hat (Tom likes his new bucket hat). Head to the range to loosen up from the flights.
We’re in Michigan and we’re on vacation! Surprised that there seems to be quite a lot of business today at the course. Great to see since it’s such a great course. Even though we’ve been spoiled having it to ourselves. Head to the first tee. Let the games begin.





I’m playing OK. Robert’s playing OK. Bob’s playing OK. Tom’s playing OK. That usually equates to not a lot of trash or wins. But, we have a lot of golf. I think I like the Forest side more than the Dunes side, but that changes year after year. I love that they end the front with a par 3 and the back nine with a par 5 (Bob chips in for birdie, net eagle, chippie, skin and Robert putts in for net birdie, polie, sandie). I also love holes like #10 Decision with its split fairway (don’t ask Robert about his “decision” on this hole) and #17 Wild Dunes that encourages you to go for it (Tom almost made it). And then to end with the par 3 19th hole. Round 1 a bit damp and rainy (but they have those nice rain "things" on the carts to protect your clubs and they keep the front wind/rain shields on there carts), but enjoyable as always.
Head to the Forest Cottage (next to where we stayed the time before). Since Tom gets the master at Boyne, I have next seniority and when seeing the tub and bathroom in the master, quickly take that (and it’s on the first floor so I don’t need to lug much). Very nice. And wi fi connection works and I send out a tweet (first tweet on my Kindle) even though forgetting that the cushions on the patio are wet. Smart. Smart.
Head to dinner (last time we were there, we would have been out of luck and eating the two bags of chips from our hotdogs during our round). When we finished the front, we had been detoured because of a wedding party going on (great location for a wedding). Well, it was still in full force (tried to get someone to crash it, but they wouldn’t). So, used to it being empty to it being packed. Great sign for Forest Dunes.
Dinner is great. Recommend their pecan crusted chicken salad with dried cherries and raspberries and strawberries. Petit size was more than enough for me. Head back to the cottage and time for bed. Day 1 is over. No clubs lost. No clubs thrown. Tom’s already talking about handicap adjustments since he’s losing (that changes quickly). Pete’s sending texts and hoping he can come next year (taking applications).



Day 2 is Forest Dunes again (yeah), shopping in the pro shop (ball marker for Pete, maybe something for me), then heading north to Boyne Highlands (stopping at Walmart on the way for a blender for Bob and some Monster for Tom, Vernors for me, hopefully Butter Braided Bettermade Pretzels).
Back to stretching while blogging on the floor of my comfy room at the Forest Cottage (I know I don’t have to set up this way, but figured out a way to upload photos, stretch, blog and do my hair while on the floor in the morning).

last disclosure on my blog that is a reminder: i am not a professional photographer. none of us are. these are pictures and commentary on vacation.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Last days of Arkansas Post


The problem with blogging on vacation is that inevitably you get to a destination and just don’t have the time or desire to blog. But if you don’t do it then, it might not get done at all. Hard to remember everything. But here goes, Day 3 of our Arkansas adventure. Followed by Day 4 and then Day 5 being the return trip to Dallas.

POSTING RIGHT BEFORE MY MICHIGAN TRIP. MAYBE I'LL GET A CHANCE TO UPLOAD THE PHOTOS FOR THIS POST WHILE AT THE AIRPORT.

Day 3, Tony and I get up early. Travelodge was “fine and dandy.” Not a lot of noise. WiFi works pretty fast in the morning so I drink coffee and finish up the blog while Tony gets up and about and ready for our ride. I also tried to figure out what I did wrong and didn’t have any video from the day before (user error). Like we have each day, we decide to change our course and go to Turpentine Creek (http://www.turpentinecreek.org/ ), the wild cat refuge about 3 miles away, that we heard good things about, but didn’t have on our itinerary. Get gas and swing by McDonalds for breakfast but the lines are too long, so go to a little bakery (non chain!) for biscuits and gravy before heading out on 23 towards Turpentine. For $15/person (all going towards donations to keep the refuge in business) you get to see the animals. They have “non tour” area and then a trolley/tour area. We, unfortunately, only have time for the non-tour area, because we have a lot of riding to do to get to Hot Springs Village later on in the day. But, it rocks. While the front area, most of the animals are in cages, they are well taken care of. And in the morning, it’s eating time, and clean the cages of their poop time. The white tiger is enormous. A boyfriend and girlfriend tiger sharing a cage are next door. But the boyfriend is trying to get the girl he likes to come out of her den. This all from one of the workers. Bam Bam, the bear, is quite a character and is being a flirt with the keeper and trying to get more attention. And then there is Willy the lion, who is quite a talker. And a loud one, as we now know he was the one we heard from the parking lot. Well, Willy had quite a gathering of people. That is, until he turned and sprayed a young girl right in the chest. And then kept talking when she ran away. We then kept our distance. Turpentine Creek was well worth the trip – and could be worth a return trip and stay, since they have lodging.

Off we go, deciding we’d take 23 down to 74 back over to Lost Creek, hoping to see elk, but realizing we spent so much time at Turpentine that would be unlikely (it was). Then back over to Jasper where we have lunch at the Ozark Café (burgers not as fresh as the ones the day before and were overcooked, but not bad) before heading on this “famous” ride on 74 and 123 with switchbacks. From there, we’ll go to 7 down to Hot Springs Village, to spend a couple of days at the Trahans.

This route was pretty impressive, even though Tony wished we were going the other way because the switchbacks were uphill, not downhill (I was fine with the uphill, given that I’m not a huge fan of heights). No video on this section since I was holding on. I don’t think the motorcycle ride brochures and sites we were on talk about this route much; maybe to keep the traffic down? Couldn’t imagine having to do that trip daily, but there are homes up there.

Then off to Hot Springs Village. We keep looking for a place to stop for a much needed, cold beer along the route, but can’t seem to find a roadside bar. I mention to Tony that there may be some “super dry” areas of Arkansas that sell none – in stores or bars or restaurants. He’s a little wary about my thought. So we continue riding. Russellville, not so exciting. Scenic 7 Byway is pretty and surprisingly there isn’t as much traffic as I thought there would be. We finally find a liquor store and decide to stop and buy a couple of beers and find a picnic table before finishing our ride (note that we weren’t far from Hot Springs Village, but it was the principle of wanting a beer for so long that made us do it). And, we found that we had been driving through all of the dry counties (no selling of alcohol whatsoever) and just landed in a new county. Wow. So we go to the visitor center to enjoy and then head on to the village. Get there, and it’s a 15 minute ride to Trahan’s (we followed SIRI in through driving directions and wouldn’t have found it without).

Deb and Larry have an awesome house on the lake. On the peninsula, so they seem in the woods and surrounded by water at the same time. While Tony and I hadn’t gotten in any of the motel pools, the lake looks super inviting and we opt for floating and another ice cold beer over showering. The water was sure nice after being on the bike all day long.

Saturday we’re not going anywhere on the bike and it feels great. Tony after all of the riding and not enough water, overserved himself on Friday night and spent a lot of the day in a dark basement recovering. I got up and helped Deb and Larry pull lake weeds. And enjoyed every moment of it (except when what I hope was a fish bit my toe – I’m still alive so must be ok). The weather is great – not too hot and the water isn’t too cold either. Great floating, with a beer.

Sunday we get up early and quietly get ready and packed up. We know that starting the bike won’t be quiet, but nothing we can do about it. Our plan is to get out of the Village (still can’t get The Villages in Florida song out of my head…) and head down 7 and then pick up 70 and head towards Broken Bow. Off of 30 as much as possible. We learned something about Siri in trying to get out: she doesn’t know a manned gate from an unmanned gate. And there aren’t intercoms at the unmanned gates. We get off the bike, trying to figure out what we’re going to do. And along comes someone entering! He was nice enough to hand me his wallet to swipe so we could get out. No telling how we would have gotten Siri to help us out of that situation.

So, down 7 we go, through Hot Springs. Last time we were there, we didn’t see downtown and all of the bath areas and “cuteness.” The bath houses are pretty cool looking. No stopping for us though. We want to be in the cool as long as possible. But we stop for gas and a quick breakfast at McDonalds and head on down. We’re pretty good at stopping at the right place. The next stop just happens to be at 70 and 41. I look at the map and 41 south looks like a quicker alternative that we might as well try that drops us off of 30, but gives us options to stay off the expressway if we want. Before we know it, we’re at 30 at New Boston, Texas. Decide to gas up and head on 30 with a couple of choices if we want to bail.

We’re making good time, but it’s pretty tiring with all of the cars and semis on the road. But we’re moving. Finally, at Sulphur Springs we get off for at least a break. Consult our map and looks like a route that will take us over Lake Tawakoni and then back to 30 eventually. Done. Well, route 276 never appeared (have to look at again at that) and so we end up heading to 80 and then back to 30. Took us a little out of the way, but still better. We’re ready to get home and hope Kat dog isn’t too mad at us for being away. Pull into the driveway and I forgot to take a picture, but we did over 1100 miles on this trip (I think a record for me). Kat hears the bike and comes running out of the house and I guess squealing would be a good way to say she was. And then didn’t let us out of her sight the rest of the day (even though she was not happy that 30 minutes home and she’s getting a bath).

Great ride and trip in Arkansas and we know we’ll be heading back – different rides and routes. Of course the maps and Arkansas planning kit I asked for was in our mailbox at our return. Didn’t need it!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Michigan, getting close!

Michigan, here we come! The annual golf trip is locked and loaded. Me, Tom, Bob as returning veterans and Robert is our newbie. As I've been up since 3 am watching The Open (go Phil), I definitely have "golf on the brain." Here’s the itinerary (yes, me being me, all kinds of documentation for the trip):

MICHIGAN 2013

Saturday, July 27
DFW to ORD (Flight 2320) 5:45 am – 8:05 am
ORD to TVC (Flight 4062) 9:55 am – 11:55 am
Drive to Forest Dunes
3:00 pm                        Play Forest Dunes
                                    Stay in Forest Cottage
6376 Forest Dunes Drive
Roscommon, MI 48653
989.275.0700
                                    www.forestdunesgolf.com

Sunday, July 28          
9:00 am                        Play Forest Dunes
Drive to Boyne Highlands. Stop at Bob In Again                      
Evening                        Check in at Boyne Highlands    


 Monday, July 29         
8:10 am                        Boyne Highlands Heather                    
Lunch at the club
1:30 pm                        Boyne Highlands Moor                         
Dinner at the Highlands

 Tuesday, July 30 (Liz’s Day)           
8:50 am                        Bay Harbor Links/Quarry                               
Eat lunch on the deck!               
 2:20 pm                        Bay Harbor Preserve/Links
Dinner at Bay Harbor
Bob In Again

 Wednesday, July 31        
7:50 am                        Boyne Highlands Arthur Hills                   
Lunch at the club                      
 1:30 pm                        Boyne Highlands Ross
Dinner at the club

Thursday, August 1           
8:30 am                        Boyne Mountain Alpine
Lunch in the Meadow                 
 1:40 pm                        Boyne Mountain Monument                    

 Friday, August 2           
7:30 am                        Boyne Highlands Heather
Lunch at Hidden River on patio

 1:40 pm                        Play Hidden River
7688 Maple River Road
Brutus, MI 49716
(800) 325-4653

Dinner at Highlands

Saturday, August 3        
8:40 am                        Play Crooked Tree

Drive to Traverse City

TVC to ORD (Flight 4272) 4:55 pm – 5:00 pm
ORD to DFW (Flight 2349) 7:10 pm – 9:40 pm
 
We also plan on playing the lit par 3 course at Boyne Highlands for the first time. Should be good for a few greenies. Spreadsheet with our handicaps complete. Itinerary complete. 80% packed. Can we go now?
 
 

 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Road to Eureka Springs

Day 2, I get up early and can’t wait to get out of the Baymont and on the road to Eureka Springs. Read my latest book, The Son, on my Kindle (yeah to the lit screen so I can read in the dark). After Tony gets ready, we eat a quick breakfast downstairs (me: donut; tony: waffle) and off we head on 540 to 40 to 23. We get off on 23 and stop at the visitors center and confirm that 23 is the Pigs Trail. Pretty soon after we get going on 23 there is something in the road.

It’s a deer (according to Tony, about a year -- to me, looked young). A wobbling deer. And there are cars going up and down the road. Tony pulls over and we get off. The deer isn’t really going anywhere, but seems confused. And not scared of us. And then cars pass (and not slowly). We don’t want her to get hit. So, we’re trying to figure out what to do because we don’t want her to get hurt. A big white pickup truck slows down and Tony explains why we‘ve stopped. The guy says, oh, that‘s the one with the bad eye. They live right there and they visit. And the woman gets out. The guy opens his gate and looks like there were going to get the deer back onto their property. Seems like this is a frequent occurrence.




And, it definitely has some curves. Weather is perfect since I’m wearing shorts and my jacket and not cold or hot. Stop at Mulberry River Outfitters for beverages (and beef jerkey) at Turner Bend (www.turnerbend.com ) and decide to change our course a bit and take 16 over to 21 and the Lost Creek with the elk I’ve been talking about. Unfortunately, we haven’t done any of these roads before and we’re relying on trying to rely on looking at 3 different maps and try and figure out where we’re going. Slight detour took us back toward Ponca and Lost Creek where we stop where others have stopped. A couple, Larry and Gail, tell us that this is where we’d see elk, but it’s too late in the day.








Site trip: Legacy Ridge golf course in Bonham is a trek, but looks like a good road trip. The course looked great from the road and it doesn’t look pricey ($40 on weekend and $30 during the week and if you sign up for their online specials, you get a free round on your birthday! Go to www.legacyridge.com 



So, back to the stop with Larry and Gail (they live in Missouri and are down for a day trip). Larry’s a talker and starts telling us about roads and where to go and what to see and what not to miss. And then offers to let us tag along for a while. At least to Jasper (we find out that Ponka doesn’t have a gas station and we’ll need gas and it being Fourth of July, not sure if everything is open) to get us to the gas station. We take 74 over to Jasper to the Conoco. They offer to let us continue to tag along on this ride from 74 to 123 and then back to where we want to go. That we cannot miss. And that we also have to go to the Arkansas Grand Canyon. Tony and I are starving and decline, since there is a café (Arkansas House www.arkansashouse.net ) open right next door. They head on and we head in for a hamburger for Tony and elk burger for me (if I can’t see them, might as well have them for lunch, right). We were starving, but the food was good. Tony thinks that for the price, they were overcooked, but we liked that everything seemed fresh.

We know we need to get up to Eureka Springs eventually and the route Larry suggested takes us south and then back. After discussion, we realize that we can go to the Grand Canyon and then do this route on our way to Hot Springs tomorrow -- and also try to see the elk again if we get on the road early enough. So, off we go to this canyon about 3 miles from Jasper. Must stop. Beautiful. And while we don’t know where exactly Missouri is in the view, we know that we’re seeing Missouri.






We then decide rather than to head back to 21 and to that, to head up 7 to Eureka Springs so that we can do 21 in the morning, hopefully see the elk, and then head back towards Jasper, do this route that Larry and Gail were raving about, and then back onto 7 to head towards Hot Springs Village.

Good call. Up 7, cross over Pruitt Bridge, stop at Marble Falls that we think may have been a cult or nudist camp or something. We can speculate because it’s now this odd ghost town. And didn’t see any falls. In Harrison, we get on 62 (kind weird road markers to get you to 62). Since Tony has sunblock in his eyes that is burning, we have to stop at Wendy’s so that he can wash it out and we can have frosty’s in waffle cones (a trip without ice cream is not a trip). Harrison’s kinda “big time” -- and smells. But it has a Home Depot and Taco Bell and Wendy’s and Sonic and…. We don’t stay long and off we head towards Eureka Springs.
62 is pretty uneventful, but after all of the switchbacks and steep grades, a lot of it is 2 lanes and pretty relaxing for Tony since he has to concentrate, but not nearly as hard. We also see clouds and definitely would have been screwed if we were stuck in rain on 21. At least on 62 there are real “towns” to stop in and wait it out.

4.5 miles into Eureka Springs we see a billboard for the Pig Trail Harley dealership. http://www.pigtrailhd.com/ . Should be close to our Travel Lodge. Eureka Springs is definitely geared towards bikers in the part we hit first. Lots of bikers. Lots of inns that cater towards bikers. Even miniature golf for bikers! Stop at the Harley dealership and buy a couple of Pigs Trail shirts (and a golf ball) and grab a beer next door at a Hog bar (can’t remember what brand but it was an Arkansas Hefinfiesen (sp)) at a much needed time. Been a long day (it’s after 5 pm).

 Instead of showering and going out to dinner, we unload and swing by Subway to eat in the room and sit on the porch. The Travel Lodge, while not much from the outside has clean rooms, a coffee maker that isn't the single cup servings that I don't like, and few of 23 (kinda) from the balcony overlooking a ravine and the pool. Much better than the Baymont except for only having full size beds. I'd stay there again.

Tomorrow we think we're going to head down 21 to 16 to Lost Creek. If we get there early enough, maybe see some elk. And then Take 74 to 123 and then down 7 to Hot Springs Village, where we're spending a couple of nights with Larry and Deb on their lake.


Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Road to Fort Smith, Arkansas

Day 1, get up at 430 am and get ready for the trip. Walking back to the house on Kat’s walk, Tony’s already up with a cup of coffee. Impressed that I can pack all of my stuff in this one little bag (and include a netbook, kindle wire, camera, blackberry -- no skycaddie on this trip).


On the road a little after 600 am, heading up 75 to 121 where we’ll head to Bonham and the to Paris. Nice to be on back roads most of the trip. Passed what looked to be a nice golf course, Legacy Ridge, on the way. Road trip? Stopped and gassed up and saw some cows heading on a trip. Turn on to 82 to head to Paris, and stopped at Nancy’s Café, 329 N Main Street, Paris TX 75460, for breakfast (really good ham and cheese omelet with great ham).


271 up we head not sure what our route will be. Jogged over to 93 to head over Hugo Lake. It dead ends into 3 and right we go towards Broken Bow to 259. All of it scenic, hilly, curves. And it isn’t until Broken Bow that I shed my jacket because the weather is chilly! Not bad for July 3.
Stopped at 3 Sticks to see what its story was. Not much, but ran into another biker who told us to take route 1, the Talimena Scenic Parkway http://www.talimenascenicdrive.com/ .

We took it one way and then pulled over and turned back the Oklahoma way on route 1, to 271. Wish I could take pictures while riding, but didn’t have my camera on me. Pretty. Curvy, hilly, scenic. We have the road to ourselves, until we run across a stalled truck pulling a wide load. Then back to having the road to ourselves.
Stop at a Tote a Poke (Tony’s tells me a poke is the thing that would hold everything a hobo would carry on a stick since I was not sure why you would want to tote a poke).

Pretty ride all of the way into Fort Smith. Buy a six pack of Samuel Adams Summer Ale and check in to the Baymont (well, not exactly a recommendation for a place to stay, we’re only here one night. Note to www.Baymontinns.com , the property could use some new carpet and a refresh). Shower and will finish uploading today’s photos and try and find a “non chain” restaurant in a sea of TGI Fridays, Hooters, Dennys.
Tomorrow will be fewer miles, but should be a pretty ride into Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Arkansas, here we come!

After a successful motorcycle trip to Arkansas over Memorial Day, Tony and I are heading back for the holiday for some more rides. We're especially excited about the cooler weather we'll be having. Hopefully we'll dodge the rain.

Tomorrow morning, off we go. First heading to Fort Smith, Arkansas, taking as many country roads as we can find. Thursday off to ride around and to Eureka Springs. Friday, head south to Hot Springs Village for a couple of nights. And then ride back early to Dallas on Sunday.

Like last trip, we have a few spots we want to check out, but have left the trip pretty open to stop where we want to stop and see what we want to see.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What a Day for Ian Poulter (Live on Twitter)

 

Ian Poulter is on Twitter (@ianjamespoulter) and you know that it’s Ian tweeting, not some publicist. Some of his posts are pretty comical. Today has not been his day and his fans are helping experience it live as he tries to get back to the United States. If you’re not meant to head out, you’re really not. And it’s clearly true of this day. But, he clearly knows what is the right way to "bash" British Airways without being mean. And he knows that a sincere thank you goes a long way. I don't know how his day will end, but read his posts (if you want the start to now read bottom top).
  • Water still pouring into cabin. Oh dear I don't think we will be taking off today. Hahaha
  • Hahahahaha now water pouring into the first class cabin from upstairs thru the light fitting. Today
  • Ok Ok Doctor Who, please please can I borrow your tardis and put an end to this delay, you can have it back soon. I promise.
  • RT never a G450 around when you need one mate! >> not
  • Will the bags make this 20.00 flight. Jane at will let me know just before take off. Tick tock tick tock.
  • Now taking off to JFK in 30 mins, Good news but probably no baggage. Will I ever see them again... We shall see.
  • Oh boy Ive just been offered an economy seat to Atlanta when I booked a different cabin. Nothing wrong with economy but, $5500 for economy
  • Story gets better i changed off the flight to get the JFK and back onto Atlanta. They gave my seat away . No seat at all now
  • Update have found a plane with 2 Engines and is now taking off at 21.45 to Atalnta. Never ending day. 2 is Better than 1.
  • Please can you release my bags off the engine troubled BA227 to Atalnta. as I'm now on the BA 183 to JFK. I need my clubs
  • This seems to be the problem for de boarding and now hopefully getting to JFK. With or without bags.
  • I might have to change destination and get on the JFK flight. The part for the engine could take 5 hours to repair. Interesting day ahead
  • Ok Ok Doctor Who, please please can I borrow your tardis and put an end to this delay, you can have it back soon. I promise.
  • The most satisfying button in the world is the BLOCK BUTTON. Hahahaha it's regularly pressed and boy does it feel good.
  •  RT do they not know they have a 2 time WGC winner on that plane? >> Safety first. Always takes priority....         
  • RT 747 or the triple 7 >> Engineless 7 more like.
  • Well I'm still tweeting as I'm still on the ground. Engine trouble... Not good news, engineers trying to fix. Oh joy. May May go away.
  • On board with BA to Atlanta then quick home home. Couple of days until I fully erase May from my…
 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Making money on a blog

Sitting here in the dark business center at the Baymont so that Tony can sleep (my typing isn't exactly sleep inducing since I learned how to type on a manual typewriter) waiting for 630 am so I can get a refill on my coffee. Contimplating all of the blogs out there. And all of the blogs that accept advertising. Do they really make money off of their blogs? Could I really make money off of my blog that has 1) quick writing, 2) "cr&&^py" quality photos mostly taken off of smart phones en route, 3) topics that only appeal to me and potentially a few others?

I know I watched Julie and Julia (or the other way around) about a woman who cooked all of Julia Child's French Laundry recipes and blogged each and every entry. And now she's famous.

Just my luck I'd end up getting some odd ball advertiser (you can probably insert one you can think of and it may be correct) and selling who knows what.

With that said, I think I'll hold off on advertisers for now. I can just imagine that if I did have advertisers, I'd be big time. Kinda like buying a lottery ticket and dreaming about how you'd spend that money.

Riding around Arkansas: Day 2 in Hot Springs

Again, you'll be looking at these photos sideways since my netbook (no snarky comments about a netbook, but I like my keyboards). Sunday morning and we’re going riding up to Queen Wilhelmina State National Park. Neither of us slept particularly well so we had our free Baymont hot breakfast (read: breakfast sandwich), then gas up and go looking for sunblock that we both forgot. Kroger, finally.

Then off we go down 270 to 88, stopping in Mount Ida for a quick break before taking a left towards Mena on 88. Again, smells so nice. Curvy roads up and down hills. Not much traffic on the road. See a few bikes here and there. We get to Mena and 88 disappears momentarily, but then we see the signs to the park and take a right and head up the mountain, stopping at the visitors center on the way, picking up the map that tells you about some of the stops. Of course we briefly pull into all of them. But the pictures aren’t optimal because it’s on the foggy, cloudy, almost to the point of drizzly side. But if it were sunnier, you could definitely see how beautiful the vistas would be up here. The Castle in the Clouds (a 38 room inn) is closed for renovations, but would be a quiet place to stay.





The scenic parkway complete, we head to 272, to 270, trying to get to the north of the lake to ride over to route 7 and then down to Hot Springs. Somewhere along the way, either the 10 year old map I have has changed, or it isn’t well marked, and we end up back in Mount Ida, getting gas at the same place we stopped earlier. Decided to head back towards Hot Springs. We’re hungry at this point, but people don’t seem to be capitalizing on campers or bikers and there really isn’t a single stop to eat. But I did remember a place that I thought I saw bbq and bikers that may be on the way. Sure enough, near Crystal Springs, we ran into Burl’s BBQ at an old mill grist. Ordered our sandwiches with meat 3 ways and sat outside to eat.

I'm sure Tony wants to say something, but we're watching these four couples with their Honda Goldwings, some with trailers, all with little stuffed animals that ride on the back, lit up brakes, matching outfits, one man wearing an Ian Poulter wig and visor. Really? Couldn't imagine me and Tony being that way.

Unlike the BBQ we’re used to, these were cold sandwiches. But the meat was good. Stopped to get thrown into their jail afterwards. But, they let us out.


Headed back to the hotel, even though we did think about heading into Hot Springs. Glad we didn’t because not 20 minutes into watching Boo Weekley win the Colonial tournament in Fort Worth, kaboom thunder and kaboom downpour of rain.
Tired, we checked on this pizza, Rocky’s Corner, down the street (on Central Avenue by the racetrack) , by chance, from the Baymont. They deliver. Ordered Chicago style pizza (Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions). We’ll see. From the reviews, they gave it great ones online. And someone told Tony on Facebook to try it. All of that riding makes you tired. Learned something new about Arkansas: don't sell beer on Sundays. No beer and pizza for us.

I'm from Chicago originally. And know that there is more than just deep dish Chicago-style pizza. There is also think Aurelios pizza that is cut in "squares." Rocky's Corner delivered to us at the hotel (yeah), but I don't think we got the full taste of the pizza in the transit from the oven to our room so would have to try it again to let anyone know if it's the "bomb" like some of the reviews I read. It had good flavor (the house salad with the house viniagrette dressing was really good). Crust almost deep dishy, but rest more Aurelios thin and cut into squares. Interesting. Told Tony that shouldn't be his gauge for Chicago style pizza, but we didn't have to go anywhere (another note: Rocky's Corner, call me about a website. You need one).

Tomorrow we head back to Dallas. Think we're going interstate the whole way (sigh). Maybe that means a Waffle House or Cracker Barrel is in our future.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Impromptu ride to Hot Springs, Arkansas


As many of you know, I’m not necessarily impulsive. I like my routine and it’s hard to deviate from it. Not that I don’t mind breaking out of it. I just like advanced notice and planning. It’s Memorial Day weekend and on Friday, Tony’s asking what my plans are for the weekend: “Three days of golf and then watching golf?” “Yes. And washing the windows. Some weeding.” Pretty exciting Memorial Day, right? Tony wanted to go somewhere. Ride somewhere. So when I went to bed, I told him if he could figure out a place to use his hotel points, I was in.

Saturday morning, I get up to play golf (routine) and see a text from Tony about 2 nights booked in Hot Springs, about 5-6 hours away. I head to the golf course. We’ll take off after I get back from my round. But, as I noticed from the wet roads on my way to the course, it rained that night (not much near us). Eric tells us the course is closed with the two inches of rain at Woodbridge because bridges on 2 and 12 aren’t passable. This may make Tony happy because we can get on the road early.

Tony shows me the route on Google. Looks like we’ll be on 30 for a while (hard not to do to get out of Dallas) and then get on lesser roads 67, 37 and 70 to Hot Springs. We overpack our things, load up the bike and off we go to Hot Springs, Arkansas. A new place that I know I’ve never been to.

Before we headed out, had to take a picture of our newly bunted house (with the pretty Mother’s Day hanging baskets from Tony). Winnetka Heights likes anything that gives an excuse to decorate and between Memorial Day and fourth of July, we bunt.

Our start is rocky with a wreck on 30, but then we get moving. I can’t wait to get off the interstate because the wind makes the ride not a lot of fun. I know Tony’s hungry. We settle on stopping for lunch in Sulphur Springs. My rule is to try not to have any “chain food” on a trip. You have to go local. We drive around the Sulphur Springs square where it looks like a parade will be later. Typical little old time square that they try to build now, but don’t quite succeed as they did. We stopped for lunch at Lou Viney's Restaurant and Pub (www.louvineys.com ) at the recommendation of a pedestrian and his family setting up for the parade.


It was a good choice with great shoestring French fries. Time to head back on the road again. We’re off the interstate the rest of the journey and it’s immediately better. It smells green. Looks green. The only thing I notice about “rural America” is that there’s a lot of “trash” in yards. Do people just hoard their old tires and chairs and cars and lawnmowers and playsets? And it’s not just Texas. It was like that in Oklahoma. And Arkansas. But, it still is so green and you could smell the honeysuckle on the ride, and the pine, and the fresh cut grass.

I get a better taste of a ride than Tony, who has to pay attention to the road. I get to see the horses and cows and donkeys and such. And probably spend more time thinking about the collections of stuff in people’s yards.

We stop a couple of times to read historical markers about the Trail of Tears. At one marker, we see a Hilltop Tavern with “beer to go” and “bikers welcome.” Since we left quite a bit earlier than Tony expected, we decide we need something for the blog and to stop in. From the outside, not much. From the inside -- well, it was so dark that you couldn’t tell. A few patrons and we order a couple of beers. When we tip the waitress $2 for the $4 tab, she seems surprised. Tony mentioned that was the least we could do since she had to go to another room off of the bar to get our “special beer” (Bud Light and Coors Light in BOTTLES). That’s the minimum tip in our mind for stopping by somewhere. I heard a gentleman at the bar ask her what we were drinking. And a little while later, two more beers appeared at our table. The generosity of strangers. They left shortly before us. We stopped to take a picture of this “landmark” before heading off, passing these guys stopping at the next watering hole down the road. We’re pretty close to the Arkansas line and getting closer to Hot Springs.

Surprisingly there isn’t as much traffic as I’d expect for Memorial Weekend. Figured that everyone would be heading to Hot Springs and there would be a lot more bikes. We’ve seen our share, but not nearly as many as expected. We make one last stop so that Tony can let Siri takes us the rest of the way to the hotel. We’re staying at the Baymont because Tony had points and it “had the most reviews.” It’s been a long day and we’re happy to get there, passing over a lake of some sorts on our way. We’re supposed to have a view of some water body at our hotel, but who knows.

We arrive at the Baymont and so far, so good. Looks relatively fresh. Wish there weren’t a whole group of kids screaming and playing in the pool. Guess that means that we won’t be using it. Pools + hotels = kids. We figure we want to eat and end the day. I’m online looking for a restaurant. Like the above pool comment, Coupon + Tourist Book + Page in Hotel Directory = Bad food, bad service. Sorry, but that’s usually how it is. And the reviews for those restaurants online were not good. There’s a Mexican restaurant next to the hotel. Tony and I are a little concerned about a Mexican restaurant in Hot Springs when we live in Texas. But, the woman at the front desk said it was good and the parking lot is jammed. We can walk so we take the risk. Jose’s Mexican Grill & Cantina (don't know if Arkansas is just behind the times, but really amazed at how many of these places didn't have websites to check out) was pretty good. I had the Chicken Adriana and Tony had shrimp and carne asada. He said it was pretty tasty. The margaritas, not quite up to Mi Cocina standards. The salsa was good. The avocado salsa that we couldn’t identify until we asked -- pretty bland, a little salty. I’d go back to Jose’s.

To bed. In the morning, we’ll be up early, ready to ride. We’re both a little sunburned from our riding today and need to remember the sunblock.

Our plans are to go to see Queen Wilhelmina’s “Castle in the Clouds.“ (http://www.queenwilhelmina.com)  The Talimena Scenic Drive has also been designated a National Scenic Byway, which is an example of the best scenic and historic routes in the United States. According to the website it’s 54 miles and we could see bears, and deer and turkey and other critters, there are historic markers, lots of curves, and you can stand in Oklahoma and Arkansas at the state lines. I’m in. Don’t have anything else really planned.

Apologies for the sideways pictures. I'll blame it on technology, not user error. They appear, "right" on screen and then post sideways. With that said, I think you can turn your head sideways if you really want to look at a picture, don't you?