Saturday, May 1, 2010

Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri Trip

April 17, 2010 ~ April 20, 20110
The Woodlands to Eureka Springs

Someone told me long ago, there's a calm before the storm.
I know, and it's been comin' for some time.
When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day.
I know, shinin' down like water.
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
comin' down on a sunny day?
- John C. Fogerty ~ Credence Clearwater Revival

We started out on Saturday morning with clouds knowing that we would get some rain but would ride out of it. Little did we know we would be running from the rain for 9 days. When you combine rain, cold, and curving mountain roads you get a very interesting combination. One being reduced visibility.
The first day we spent our time just getting out of Texas and into Oklahoma.

Welcome to Oklahoma!!!
We made it to the wonderful Rockin H Inn in Talihina, Oklahoma about 6:30 that night. There was a little confussion as to the location of the hotel and the actual name. It is advertised as the Rockin H Inn but the sign says Lazy R Inn. However, there are only two hotels in town so we couldn't be that wrong. This first stop would be a sign of things to come for me - GRAVEL DRIVEWAY. Damn, the gravel!

We were not the only bikers to be out in the rain. There were two other groups at the hotel. Obviously there were not any pictures from this day because of the rain. I only got these two of the hotel the next morning by holding my hand over the lens.

Have you ever walked into a place and been welcomed with a sudden silence and all eyes focused on you?  Well, that is exactly what we experienced when we went into town for dinner on Saturday night. Wow, what a reception. I guess they don't take kindly to strangers in Talihina, Oklahoma.  We did have a nice dinner though.  Of course, after the ride we had almost anything would be a welcome dinner.
 On Sunday we rode through the Talimena Scenic Drive and up to the top of the Ouachita Mountains to the Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge. My ass was freezing before we drove up to the lodge and I'm not afraid to admit it. Forget being a bad ass biker - I could harldy feel my hands. I had on three pairs of pants, chaps, rain gear and heated gear and I was still cold. My heated gear decided to have a malfunction during the one time I needed it most on this trip. I don't know how the others took the cold so well, but as we kept discussing Jack has a Honda Goldwing with the fairings, Jerry has a Harley Ultra with fairings and I have a deluxe with the full wind and rain coming at me. So that must be the difference.

 I'm so glad we chose this lodge to stay at on this night as it rained. The lodge is so nice as it has a restaurant and a cozy lobby area with a fireplace.  Although we could not get out and about we made the most of it and visited with the other bikers who were also stranded here by the weather. It was a bit nice to actually have a vacation day in a vacation. Usually we are so busy with a packed schedule there is not one minute to take a calming breath. So even though we didn't get to ride until the next day we got to enjoy the lodge.
While there I met a man who was 83. He had gotten his first Harley when he was 78! He and his friends had rode the Pig Trail that day and he had ridden his bike off the road in one of the curves. He lost his crash bar and they hung it in one of the trees there. He was holding parts of his bike together with bungee cords. He was a most intersting person to talk to. He actually lived several miles from us in an area we often ride in.
These two dogs were at the lodge as their owner was camping down the hill. They never barked one time.
A beautiful view of the Ouachita Mountains looking out from the lodge
Queen Wilhelmina Lodge
                                                    Jack and Lorraine

Down the way from the lodge is a very small almost forgotten cemetery in the woods. Pioneer Cemetery.

After visiting the cemetery it was time to head toward Eureka Springs.  YaY! No rain today!  Although our ride would have some cloudy and dreary sections at least rain was not pouring down as it was the afternoon before.  After a short ride I realized we were actually on the Pig Trail! 
The rugged and forested Boston Mountains region of the Ozark Mountains provides the setting for this route, which often runs through a tunnel of foliage during spring, summer and fall. Spring wildflowers and brilliant autumn foliage make the route especially popular during those seasons. The route crosses the Mulberry River and the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail.

 Oh, wow! After talking with my new 82 year old friend the night before I was a bit apprehensive about the trail. He and his friends said the curves were hellish and if the sign said 10 MPH you had better go 10 MPH.  Jack told me that also meant to keep your speed up to 10 MPH or you might fall over.  Damn, this was a lot to think about in diminished light because of the clouds and the trees covering the curves.  During one curve in which I could not see Jack anymore as he had already rounded the curve he started saying on the CB 'slow down, slow down, slow down'  - Oh, Shit!  What was ahead of me anyway? When a thirty year rider starts saying slow down it must be one hellacious curve.  At some point during the Pig Trail Jerry said we should try and find the tree where they had hung the crash bar. Are you kidding me? I can barely keep up with the road, much less look for a freakin' crash bar in a tree.

 Complicating our  ride was construction on the road. Now that was interesting. We all made it through the trail just fine and it was a great ride.
Sights along the way

There were a lot of bikes in all of the places we rode along the way.
Remember how I mentioned the damned gravel?  Well, that was not to be my only experience on this trip. I'm not sure if any of you name your electronic equipment but I sure do and Jer and I found out we are not the only ones. My cell phone is named Steven, my GPS in my car is Little Betty and Jerry's GPS on his bike is named Gizmo. Well, Jack's GPS is called Emily.  Emily decided to lead us down the wrong path and to get us back to the road we needed to be on she took us down a dirt and gravel road, ugh! I definately racked up a lot of experience on this trip.

Almost to Eureka Springs!
                                                                        We made it to Eureka Springs. On the way in I saw a sign for Pig Trail Harley Davidson. Well, hells bells, I rode the trail so I wasn't leaving there without a
t-shirt. But we had lots to do before that.

After checking into the Inn of The Ozarks - Best Western - we decided to head out for downtown and a much needed meal. Meals are always much needed in my opinion.

Ermilios Italian was the greatest little place to eat. So cozy, warm and inviting. The food was delish! I would definately recommend this great place if you are in town. Great service as well.

The next day on the way to the Harley store I took a wrong turn and ended up finding the World's Largest tuned musical wind chime. And there was a very cool art car there.

Proclaimed "The Herald on the Southern Gateway of Eureka Springs," the chimes consist of six tuned pipes up to 35 feet 10 inches long. That's almost 36 feet! Lovingly crafted by "Master Wind Chime Artist" Ranaga Farbiarz, the colossus was officially listed in the Guinness Book of World's Records in 2006.

I love the inscription on this artwork, which they used scrabble letters to spell out.
"I imagine myself the wizard of Oz passing out awards to you all"

I would have been really bummed to have left Eureka Springs and later read about this wind chime. I'm so glad I took a wrong turn. So always remember, It's not the destination it's the journey.  And I did get my
After going back to the hotel Lorraine and I decided to take the trolly to downtown and have a look-see and wait for the guys to meet us there. We each bought a ticket that would take us to the Thorncrown Chapel about 5 miles out and then back to downtown. We waited at the trolley stop for about 20 minutes and finally our driver arrived. After getting on we started discussing our route with him and he informed us that they stopped going to the chapel at 3:30. Okay, we were about 10 minutes late for that, so where would we be going?  Oh, about a mile up the road, turn around and then back by the hotel to the downtown train track.  WTH? Why did we buy a freakin' ticket? What was the purpose of having the trolley still running?  We waited 20 minutes to be driven a mile? This was the weirdest trolley ride I've ever been on. So during this little debacle Big Daddy called and said they were at the hotel and we said we would meet them there.  So, hey, Keith, can you drop us back where you picked us up a mile ago? Thanks for the $5.00 one mile ride, it was really fun!
I'd rather go have a look-see on my Harley anyway so I guess it worked out better in the long run. 
I must admit I had seen a fudge shop the night before and was obsessed with getting some fudge.  I just have a thing for fudge - and donuts.  More about the donuts later.  I'm sure Jack and Lorraine were tired of hearing about the damn donuts.

Ah, the fudge
Is it possible to overdose on fudge? Unfortunately I do know the answer to that - yes!
This became the usual spot we could find Jer and Jack when we went in any store. Any bench would do them.
This is a gorgeous park in downtown Eureaka Springs. This violin player just added the right touch to the day. Of course with the temptation of a huge rock formation there I just had to climb it. It was a wonderful view from way up there! So beautiful in Eureka Springs and just a nice touristy (is that a word?) and also homey feel to it.
 After a very nice day in downtown it was time to head over to the lovely Crescent Hotel for dinner. We were to have gone there for lunch but as our day went we didn't make it for lunch. Most days we didn't have lunch we just had an early dinner. There is no way to really describe the Crescent in words. It's one of those places you just have to see. One word would be palatial.

This was a one of the best dinners we had while on our trip.  Five courses and all were wonderfully tasty. The steak was melt in your mouth and cooked to perfection. The dessert was cooked per your order and was warm.  Mine was a brownie with chocolate syrup and ice cream.  The others chose a cheese cake that was not your usual type of cheesecake it was very different.
The cat at the Crescent was the most lazy cat I have ever met, and I've met some lazy cats in my time. Even though I'm highly allergic I convinced myself it wouldn't hurt to say hello to kitty - wrong! The fact is kitty wouldn't wake up or move no matter what I did to him so I kept hanging around tickling his feet and rubbing his head. After about ten minutes he finally moved his foot and I was convinced he wasn't deceased so I could leave him alone. But the exposure to C. A. T. stayed with me all night.
Our next day would take us to Branson, Missouri for a day but first we had a plan to go to the Thorncrown Chapel before we left town.
I'll finish the trip blog up in the next blog post. 
Get ready for rain....and those damn donuts!

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