Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day 2: Pig Trail

Friday morning we’re all a little hungover from overserving ourselves. But, it’s sunny and nice. And we check the weather and Friday is looking like our best chance to ride. The rest haven’t shown up, but we decide we’re going to do a shortened version of our original ride and make sure (hopefully) we stay out of the rain. We’re going to take 187 to 62 into Eureka Springs and then get on 23 and do the Pig Trail. And then 16 and 21 back to 62 to Eureka Springs and home (looks to be about 220 miles roundtrip).

Off we go. First, we have to move our vehicles, unload the bikes, lock things up before we can get going.  The church parking lot is gravel and not very big and we’re supposed to “hide our vehicles.” Across the street, the “grass parking lot” looks flatter, is bigger and better. That’s the route we take and get unloaded. Al has a fancy trailer that raises and lowers and basically takes the bike off itself… Ours involves a little more maneuvering and “drama.”


187 is a nice ride to 62. 62 is a fun ride with curves and turns as it dumps you onto 23 (right at the motel we stayed at last time). 23 is a pretty boring ride most of the way. And, while we originally thought that it was more exciting, realize that we have now done the Tail of the Dragon in TN/NC and Devil’s Triangle in TN. There is a part of the Pig Trail (around 9 miles) that is great (http://www.motorcycleroads.com/75/20/Arkansas/Arkansas-Pig-Trail---Arkansas-23.html#sthash.iDKeMznP.dpbs ). But pretty benign now. We turn around at Turner Bend and then turn around and do it the opposite direction to 16. Don’t get me wrong, the Pig Trail is a nice ride and is considered one of the Top 10 rides to go on. But, it’s a baby compared to the Dragon.




16 is nice and has a part of the ride that has been really newly paved (glad it wasn’t raining because it’d be very slippery). 21 isn’t bad either, but the condition of the roads has deteriorated – and we got a semi behind us. We’re getting hungry and wanting to fuel up as well. But, there really isn’t anything around on this ride.
We finally stop at the square (or circle?) in Kingston (Looks like they have a website that is a work in progress: (http://www.theplaceonthesquare.com/blog/ ).
They have the Waldron’s Valley CafĂ© and B&B so we’re stopping to eat. Burgers for us (and BLT for Eileen). We can’t complain too much because this is our choice, but I think they made each burger one at a time – and then served them as such. Over an hour for our stop. [Note: we all had No Service on our phones and there was no Wi Fi] There is a gas station down the street but the boys don’t want to stop because they only have regular gas. A guy pumping gas tells us that about 8 miles away there is a nice new Conoco (head to the “T” and take a left and go about a mile). But, when we get to the “T” we see that it’s not far to Barryville and rather than backtracking, we can all make it to Barryville to fuel up. The route to Barryville is nice in a farm kind of way (I personally like some curvy, hilly stuff, coupled with the slow curves and farm county).
Waldron's Valley Cafe and B&B

In Barryville we finally have cell phone service. Tom’s at the cabin already (he rode down the unpaved road). We told him that we could meet him in Eureka Springs at the Harley Davidson T-shirt shop on 62 (http://www.pigtrailhd.com/default.asp?page=hours). 8 miles to Eureka Springs. And, the Harley Davidson T-shirt shop has moved to nearer digs (and bigger). Tony and I almost missed the turn because we didn’t know about the move. Then, we find that Betty Lou and Rick are down the street having a beer at the Rockin Pig Saloon (http://www.rockinpigsaloon.com/index.php ) – we find out it’s next to the former Harley Davidson T-shirt store and Tony and I had stopped and had a beer there last time we were there.

Then back to the cabin. Betty Lou gets in the back of the Navigator with Al & Eileen. Tom and Rick ride down and we experience our first issue with a one lane road: car coming in opposite direction. Rick almost drops the bike since it was at the switchback. A bit of maneuvering with our vehicles and the car, and it works out.

Brats and baked beans for dinner. Hot tub. Our main hang out is the porch next to the pool room. Perfect set up.

 Note: remember sunscreen. We forgot and while it was overcast part of the day, pretty sunburned.

Day 1: Dallas to Eureka Springs

Conversation the days before our trip to Eureka Springs between me and Tony:
Tony: Planning on leaving around 10:00 am to avoid the traffic.
Me: OK
Tony: Planning on leaving early to avoid the traffic.
Me: OK
Tony: We’ll leave when we're ready.
Me: OK

At around 4:00 am, Tony gave up on sleeping (I couldn’t either – it always happens before a trip) and we got packed up and left by 5:30 am. Al & Eileen had left the day before since they had a 12 hour drive from Knoxville.

Our route to Eureka Springs: Woodall Rogers to 75, which turns into 69 in Oklahoma, then Interstate 40 (drops you off in Fort Smith) to 49 (this used to be 540 on my old maps) to exit to route 62 in Rogers, to 187 to the road to the Beaver Lakefront Cabins (www.beaverlakefrontcabins.com). We have booked the Hot Tub Cabin (a four bedroom, 4.5 bathroom cabin with a pool room, hot tub, outdoor patio with firepit and grill, sunroom. From the pictures, looks nice.

No incidents until Denison when the bike started really swaying on the trailer (doesn’t help that the road through Sherman and Denison is AWFUL. We pulled over and tightened things and swung through Braums for breakfast (the exception to non-chain food is on the road).

In Oklahoma, 69 is sometimes a highway, and then you hit stop lights on occasion. Speed limit bounces from 40 MPH to 70 MPH. And sometimes the roads are nice. And sometimes they are AWFUL (yes, this word will be used a lot on Day 1 and Day 5). Interstate 40 is relatively OK and traffic has been good. Interstate 49 is when it starts getting pretty and hilly and we’re starting to get excited because we’re close.

There was this really red watered lake. 
Hard to see in the picture, but the lake was really red.

Tunnel (Al doesn't like tunnels).

In Fayetteville, we stopped at Harps Food Store (http://www.harpsfood.com/ ) so we could get all of the dinner stuff we were in charge of that we didn’t want to transport all of the way from Dallas. Steak, burgers, brats. Guess American Express thought my card was stolen and wouldn’t approve my purchase. Thank you backup Visa. Rogers isn’t far and we stopped at the Harley Davidson Pig Trail Dealership (http://www.pigtrailhd.com/default.asp?page=hours ). OK, but their T-shirt supply was depleted (and even Tony thought most of their selection was pretty “dark” theme wise on the front.
62 leaving Rogers turns nice and windy – Steep curves 6.5 miles at one point. Not so fun with the truck and the trailer. Would be a nice ride. We’ve decided to rely on the paper directions provided by the cabin instead on Wayzee. She’s good, but sometimes in remote areas she gets turned around. I told Tony I thought she’d get us close, but we may have to swim across Beaver Lake to get to the cabin. And, I like directions that give you input like – turn right at the brown sign that says Beaver Lake Dam 2 ½ Miles and church is across the street from the road to the cabin.


We get to the cabin and head down the road to the office. The website said it was 1.25 miles and unpaved. What their website did not say was that the road was 1) one lane, 2) very bouncy, 3) very steep in places, 4) had a switchback. Not exactly a road you want to have to unload the bike or ride up and down on a bike on (especially since we were looking at this time at 90% chances each day of rain). I’d be walking up and down it (done that before when we tried to do this 12 mile to a waterfall ride on an unpaved road – didn’t see bears, but saw bear poop).
Road to the cabin (before the switchback).


Check in at the cabin with Luke and go through all of the instructions and rules for the cabin. And have a conversation about the road. He said that often people parked up at the church and he could call Pastor Mike for us. Alternative is across the street from the church is a grassy parking lot.
Get to the cabin and it’s nice – spacious with a good flow. We’re here first and get to choose and chose the bedroom in the basement next to the pool room. Unpack the truck. Al & Eileen show up and unpack. Time to unwind. We decide we’re definitely going to take parking up top up and leave the bikes on our trailers.

Back of Cabin (bottom floor has hot tub, second floor has sunroom).

View of Beaver Lake from the back of the cabin.

Steak night, hot tub night. Overserve ourselves night. We’re still not sure what going on weather wise and will figure things out in the morning. Betty Lou and Rick and Tom show up on Friday. They are riding, not trailering up.


One last note on the cabin: we all had No Service on our phones the entire time. But we had Wi-Fi. Heaven, unless you really need to call someone. They give you free phone calls and suggest you give anyone who needs to reach you that number.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Booked and ready for Michigan 2017.

It’s time to start trash talking about Michigan Golf 2017. I’m making my return after having to bail last year since I was still recovering from knee surgery. That was a smart decision to not go. I don’t think I would have made it through that much golf.

This year, the courses, Saturday, July 29 – Sunday, August 6:
Forest Dunes: Black Loop on Saturday, Red Loop on Sunday (yes, a reversible course), Weiskopf Course on Sunday [staying in the four BR, four bath villa – haven’t stayed in these before – Forest Dunes keeps adding amenities and courses. I love this place].
·        Boyne Highlands (where we are staying this year): Heather, Arthur Hills, Ross, Moor
·        Bay Harbor (Liz’s Day): Links/Quarry, Preserve/Links
·        Boyne Mountain: Alpine, Monument
·        Crooked Tree
·        Kingsley Club

That makes two courses (well, one that’s reversible) that Tom and I haven’t played. Three that Pete and Paul haven’t played. And, Heather and Mark haven’t played any of them.

This year, the players:
Tom (ProVI, Julie)
Liz (The Princess)
Pete (The Volcano, Chewbacca)
Paul (PMS)
And… the Whites, Heather and Mark (who will get nicknames). These are the newbies on the trip. And, the first time TWO women have gone on the trip (well… some have whined like women so, there may be more estrogen in the group). Heather and Mark are actually coming in on Sunday and leaving on Friday, missing out on Forest Dunes and Kingsley. Their loss.

We're going to need to figure out a "game" with only six of us.

Am a little worried about color in the group. Paul is learning to love color. Tom and I like to put as much color on as we possibly can. Pete wears some color, especially yellow. The Whites – well, they are shades of grey most of the time, with black and white. Maybe some khaki or navy. We’ll have to work on them.  We changed Daigle. We’re working on Paul.


Better Made Butter Braided Pretzels. Oberon. Bob-In Again. Vernors. Lunch on the Patio at Bay Harbor (Liz's Day). Sagamore. Kilwins. Nice.

Day Ten: Back to Dallas


Saturday morning, we finished loading up the truck, threw Kat in, and headed out. Tony and I are going back the same way we came. Mike and Susan are going the Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock route because they want to stop in Nashville.

We make some pretty good time. After crossing into Alabama after Birmingham, we keep seeing Alabama-geared-up cars. I ask Siri who and where they are playing. It’s a home game in Tuscaloosa against Western Kentucky. We then start seeing Alternate Stadium Route signs near exits. And traffic comes to a crawl. Note: do NOT go anywhere near Tuscaloosa on game days. It’s crazy. But, it clears up right after the last exit to the campus. We even passed an SUV with the vanity tag: Saban. And lots of elephant heads. Lots. Not quite like this, but close.






But, we’re still making good time and keep heading home, stopping around Monroe for gas. Getting close. I was going to take over driving a bit, but Tony was good. And that’s a good thing because as we get closer to Shreveport, the skies are looking dark (I didn’t want to drive in the rain, or really near any cities, if at all possible). The wind then picks up and I’m trying to pull up the radar to see what’s going on. Hail wouldn’t be good. It’s starts pouring and Tony exits and we wait a few minutes while he reads what’s going on. Lots of red, orange, yellow and green on the radar from where we are all of the way through Shreveport (with lots of lightning bolts). But, doesn’t say anything about hail, so we head on, with lights on, and hazards. This is about as hard of a rain that we’ve ever driven in and we pull over again into a truck stop (with a casino), grab coffee and snacks and wait it out a few minutes. My shoes are NOT water proof and I grab socks from Tony’s bag and a t-shirt since I am soaked from going into the gas station.

We get through it and are getting so close to home. It’s a long day and took 14 hours from Knoxville to home. Unload the truck, leaving the bikes on. Tomorrow is going to be a rest, watch football, grocery shop kind of day.

Another successful trip with lots of riding (golf) AND, finally, bear sightings! Next trip we’re looking at is Eureka Springs in the Spring. Also looking at the Natchez Parkway through Mississippi (it doesn’t have any stop lights, signs and is over 400 miles of “Mississippi-ness.”


Day Nine: Cade’s Cove for Bears


This is the last day for us to see bears and we want a lighter ride since we have to load up the bikes and pack to get on the road in the morning. Cade’s Cove it is. It’s an 11-mile one way around and they say that there are bears, elk, deer, skunks, foxes, and more! We head down 140 to 129 (Exit 11 – we’ve used this exit almost every day this trip) to 411 to 321 N (we can’t understand this. We’re not going north, we’re going south) and turn right at Cade’s Cove. It’s about 9 miles to Cades Cove and the road is pretty much like Little River Road (with the addition of a tunnel). Stop at the entrance to Cade’s Cove and pick up a map/booklet. And tell everyone we’re looking for bears. Tony starts with the lead as we have most of this trip, and cuts off his engine once in a while (have to be quiet while looking for bears!). Eventually Mike and Susan take off in front of us. And Al and Eileen. We’re on a mission and it’ll take as long as it takes.

The ride is pretty. Woods. Then fields. Woods. Then fields. I’m looking left and right for bears. I don’t know how to even sight one.

And then we get to a patch of woods. On the left, I spot one. Tony stops (but tells me to stay on the bike). This is a juvenile. I’m trying to take pictures, but not successful. And, I’d rather see the bear than the picture. He’s headed towards the road.

They say on signs to not stop unless on a pull off. EXCEPT when there’s a bear sighting and then it’s completely acceptable. The bear crosses the road, right behind the car behind us! Awesomeness. Tony and I ride on and pull over. Tony’s comment was that he was more excited about seeing the bear than he thought he would. The car behind us stops as well – he had overheard us wanting to see a bear and wanted to congratulate us.









Yes, there's a bear in there.

Look right above the log. That black blog is a bear.

Can "barely" see him, but he's crossed the road and is up on that little ridge.

The next part of the ride has a lot of historic buildings (we were there for the bears, not the buildings and didn’t stop). We finally catch up to Al and Eileen. The guy in the car pulled over and told them that I saw my bear. Head to the visitor center and see a few deer. Then on for more bear sighting potential.

Catch up to Mike and Susan (they saw deer grazing on the side of the road and stopped in one of the cabins – Mike likes wood).

And then car stoppage on the road. I jump off the bike. It’s another bear. A baby bear. And up ahead, Mama bear. Again, no pictures worthy of the experience.
I swear, there's a baby and a momma bear ahead of him in this dry creek.

It’s a three-bear day!


After Cade’s Cover, Mike and Susan head to a winery. Al and Eileen are headed to the Smokey Mountain Harley Davidson dealership (again). This time for arm rests for Eileen. We head that way for lunch and then back to the house to start packing up.

Day Seven: Kentucky


29 states of golf now accomplished on this trip. Now it’s time to cross Kentucky off of the ride list. Found Cumberland Falls (http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/cumberland-falls/) pretty close to the border. There are a few routes, one up 75, one up 25 and one up 27. None of them look that exciting, but we want to cross Kentucky off the list. And they call Cumberland Falls the “Niagara of the South” and claim it’s the second biggest falls between Niagara and the Rockies. Mike and Susan have gone off on their own to Chattanooga to see go to Lookout Mountain.

Tony and I weave up 140 to 162 to 62 to 170 to 25 and get on 75 over near Clinton (yes, we pass Golden Girls restaurant). We’ve decided to knock some miles off the trip by heading up 75 and it’s a really pretty nice interstate. Quite a few semis, but not bad (I hate riding on the Interstate). We bail and then take 25 in to town (again, like Devil’s Triangle, this route is a bit of a trailer park and not much of a ride – 75 was more picturesque). Until we actually get to the park (Daniel Boone National Forest), it’s been a pretty boring ride. 

Not quite sure what we were expecting the "Niagara of the South" to be. I guess, like Niagara. Cumberland Falls is a "baby version" of Niagara. I mean, it's cool. It sounds cool. We saw a rainbow. It's a waterfall. 




Even seeing a bear on a sign counts for something.

Off we go to head back. Some of the ride is nice. Some pretty boring. OK, we'll just say it: compared to our other rides, this one is really boring. We're heading back to the house, but stop for lunch (again, not a chain -- and there must be a chicken fried steak theme -- yes, I had chicken tenders instead). There are two older women seated at a table. And two older men seated at another table. Older, as in 80s kind of old. There's some flirting going on amongst them that was pretty entertaining. The food here is pretty unmemorable (canned green beans, fries out of a bag, tenders out of a bag). 
Nope, they don't have a website. We were in Pioneer, Tennessee.

Back to the house. Kentucky is officially off the list. And we saw a waterfall.

Day Six: Golf!


Al & Eileen have to go to work on Tuesday. Tony and I wanted a little break from the rides and I booked us a tee time at Willow Creek Golf Course (http://www.willowcreekgolf.com/). Looks about 10 minutes from the house. On their website they showed that you can see the mountains, so that's nice.

Susan is going to ride in the cart while Tony, Mike and I play. Mike is now outfitted with a camo golf bag, Harley driver cover, and a gazillion foot ball retriever. The rest of his clubs have been assembled by Tony.






Yes, there are willow trees



This tree was NOT 90% air.


Fish in the pond. Big fish.


It's a fun day, with all of us playing rather poorly. But, we're playing. We never did see that view of the mountains. And there was surprisingly little elevation on the course. With about 20 pounds of leftover pizza left at the house, we head home for leftovers.

And then off to Tractor Supply (http://www.tractorsupply.com/) we went to pick up new tail lights to get the trailer back up and running. I have never been to a Tractor Supply place, but managed to spend $100 on new tail lights (these came prewired – a deal for $40), Horse and Mane shampoo and condition (Tony’s been raving about it), some hopefully miracle balm for poor Kat (she looks like a mangy neglected rat with her skin issues), jeans for Tony. And then to Publix to pick up stuff for dinner at the house (including fruit for me, as this trip hasn’t been very healthy in the fruits and vegetable department). If you want to entertain Tony in the grocery store, give him a race car cart and we're set.




Kitchen to myself, I prep the marinated buttermilk chicken (buttermilk, BBQ rub seasoning for at least an hour), spicy butter honey chili corn on the cob (butter, Tabasco sauce, honey, salt, pepper), and baked potatoes. We're going to test out Al's Traeger Pellet grill. The pellet grill worked pretty good. The little pellets look like rat poop, but the chicken turned out with a hint of smoke, but not too much.

Then down to the bar (of course) to figure out what we're going to do the next day. Al & Eileen still have to work. Al tries to convince Eileen that she should just go into the office. Wasn't successful.