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!

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