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Old 04-27-2010, 06:48 PM   #1
JayElDee OP
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Travels With Stella: Arkansas...again

You've all felt it.
The need to be alone.
The need to hear no other voices other than the ones that talk to you in your head.
The sometimes crazy voices.
The often wise voices.
The voices that sometimes answer life's biggest questions and the voices raise life's littlest issues.

Yeah, well, I didn't hear them this time.

No big realizations like "they're all Children of God" or let that anger go or gee, I really do miss them, or she is a truly lovely person, or conversations I should have had or would change or I am going to do that differently or any of that. No-sir-eee, not this time.
This time it was Get on the bike, do miles, get here, ride there, eat, drink, be merry and just be on your own.

Not that that is a bad thing; sometimes you just wanna have fun, right Cyndi? Sometimes, just to get away from it all. A walkabout on two wheels.

So, the possibility of 5-6 days in Arkansas arose and I jumped at it.

Arkansas is where Camaros go to die ( all other brands go to Kentucky, which is next up in a couple of weeks -woo-hoo), but Camaros breathe their last on a two lane chip and seal in a dry Arkansas county, far from redlights and far from the polish of Sally-Jo's cut-offs that made the testosterone interior of this hatchet of an automobile pulse and glow. But, before they do, before they die, they live their last loomin large and loud and fast and squealing before they rest in a field forever. Some say that if you put your ear to the shell you can hear Steppenwolf or Led Zep or Music From Big Pink. Take a load off, Manny, and put it right here on my roads.

Hit the road on a Tuesday morning and I knew it would be good just a short way out of town when that familiar bond between Man (me) and Machine (Stella!) reared its seductive head. You know the feeling when the bike is purring and the road is kind and the traffic is forgiving. You know the sensation that every cubic centimeter of the 1138 is singing its familiar sweet song. A song whose melody is Ride On. A song that touches both Earth and Sky and you ride that song to the horizon and beyond.
Ya know? Ya know what I mean?
Yeah, within about 25 miles of home I felt that, way early compared to previous trips.
But it isn't all sweet...To get anywhere from here I must get out of Louisiana. There may be "better" roads in Louisiana, but "good" roads a few and far between. Plan A is to get outta Dodge ASAP. Decided to try a different route this time, US 167 from Pineville to N La through Dry Prong (If you lived in Dry Prong, you'd be home now) and Winnfield and Jonesboro and Ruston. Only marginally interesting; once is enough. Gonna stick in the future to I 49 and get off at Natchidoches and head north.

I get to Hope, Arkansas by late afternoon getting a taste of what the Razorback State can offer...Ar355 from Magnolia to Ar 29 into Hope. But in Hope I stop at the now familiar Super 8 for the evening and get an early start the next morning and head to Washington, Arkansas, a refurbished village dating back to the early 1800s. It's sort of a Williamsburg type of place but not nearly as extensive. I had ridden through at least three times and now I would stop.











It was early morning and they were just opening so I had the place to myself. There is a groove you can track when you're on one of these rides that on previous ride was elusive for days and days; but, on this ride it hit me early, as I said the first day, and now here in Washington, Arkansas it was in full swing.









The town began to stir. Porches were being swept. Big trucks made big turns from 278 and rumbled through on their way not for Washington, Arkansas. The townspeople who worked as tourguides sauntered down empty streets, slowly, the air of a 200 year old lost purpose thick in the slanting light of the April sun.













The former courthouse, now visitor's center, stands silently, signs whispering "Open" and an RV crunches the gravel drive. A Civic parks. A motorcycle named Stella! lounges in the shade, and the dogwood shows its conceit mocking the fragrance of the freshly mowed lawn.









and it is time to move on...next stop, Nashville...Arkansas, that is.

Nashville's skyline is one story tall, but it, like all small towns has many stories to tell. And it is easy to imagine the tall tales at



or the rumors and gossip at



Let's get closer to where Walk-Ins are always welcome

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Old 04-27-2010, 07:17 PM   #2
dukeofnikonoft
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awesome! nice pics and scenery fella..

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Old 04-27-2010, 08:58 PM   #3
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Where's the camaros?Matter of fact where are all the vehicles and people in that town?
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Old 04-28-2010, 12:23 AM   #4
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Old 04-28-2010, 12:53 AM   #5
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Is Black's Blacksmith shop still there in Washington? We made a special trip up there in '94 to see it. Great Bowie Knives. Great talk with the guy that had it and built the stuff. When I mention about working offshore Louisiana, then all he wanted to talk about was fishing in the gulf. LOL What was funny, we asked about the place at a stop and go store and they didn't know anything about it. Have not been back in that area since. Need to do that this summer I hope.
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:50 AM   #6
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Stella gets around and finds lovely locations to pose by! thanks for sharing your sunny ride
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:59 AM   #7
RedDogAlberta
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Love that wooden sidewalk at the Visitor's Center.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:28 AM   #8
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Love all the pics, especially that post office
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:45 AM   #9
JayElDee OP
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The Camaros are not in the pictures. Do you need to see them?

And the blacksmith shop is still there, behind the visitor's center. I should've stopped in there, but I was getting up to Clarksville taht day and 27 was ahead of me, so I rolled.

And, thanks...Stella! has seen some very pretty scenery and brought me to some areas where flight of ideas takes control.

more later
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Old 04-29-2010, 05:32 PM   #10
JayElDee OP
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Thanks for the kind words.

But now it was time to start really riding. Ar 27 sort of parallels Ar7.

Now, Arkansas 7 is a fabled road. It gets a lot of press and rightly so for it's scenery and sweeping turns, mostly high speed sweeping turns, and there's the rub.

Arkansas 7 is so well known that every Ma and Pa Kettle from Grosse Tete, Louisiana to Oat Bran, Michigan brings their RV to it to sample what beauty Arkansas offers. The RVs have names like Sojourner and Journeyman and Let-Me-Block-Your-Enjoyment-Of-This-Beautiful-Country and they belch, burp and fart their way at a mostly steady speed of 35-60 mph and the Toyota Camry between it and you must be the only Toyota on the damn planet that DOESN'T have an accelerator that sticks and seems to be quite content to look at the back of the Journeyman and you get to watch their brake lights asynchronously firing, asking yourself Why Are They Slowing Down Here and Why Won't They Pass and praying to (insert your favorite deity here) to launch a thunderbolt, cramps or a full bladder at them and to put a Rest Area in the foreseeable future.

But that doesn't happen and you will be forced to pass them both, probably reaching the mid 80s and saying out loud "Thank God!" when you finally pass.

That is Arkansas 7...sometimes.
But it is rarely 27, so 27 is my route of choice up into the guts of Arkansas.

A bit of an aside here.
I posted a request over on theADVrider forum for info about camping in an area that was good for day rides. Got a lot of responses and some good information and based on the info I was seriously considering Mt Nebo State Park. On the night before leaving I decided against camping and chose instead to motel this short trip because of location, miles, time. I am glad I did that not because of the more or less certainty of a bed and a hot shower, but because it is no fun to set up camp at dusk and breaking down camp for me takes nearly an extra hour.
Then I visited Mt Nebo.

A very pretty park, but WOW the road up to and down from the campground is quite something. It is the twistiest steepest road I think I have ever traveled. An 18% grade and one hairpin after another, lots of them. awaits the traveler and the thought of doing it at the end of a long day, perhaps in the dark, or in the morning with a cold engine and cold tires just did not appeal. I am sure you've had the vision of losing your bike on such a turn. I sure did, and I could not imagine where the 600+lb roadster would wind up or if it would be even retrievable. But I did do it without incident.

On the way up



Here you can see the access road way down there



One of the hairpins



And at the top were numerous homes, some very nice



with views like this from their front porch (if you look closely you can see the stacks of a nuclear power plant way down there). The water is Lake Dardanelle and out in that direction is Russellville, the home of the country's worst drivers.



From the Visitor's Center



The top of Mt Nebo is mostly flat and the two ends are known as Sunrise Point



and Sunset Point.

It was at Sunset Point ( or maybe it was Sunrise Point ) That I met another John, who enlisted my services for his endeavor

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Old 05-02-2010, 02:56 PM   #11
JayElDee OP
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So, here I am with John on the edge of Mt Nebo, or oblivion, take your pick, and I asked him: "Who's crazier, me for riding or you?"
He thought for a second and said, " I think it's a wash. Do you have a cell phone?"
"Yes, I do."

So, what prompted me to ask that? Why would I suggest a formerly complete stranger is as crazy as some one who rides?"

Because, this is what John does.



That is a full race, carbon fiber, world class hang glider. It is fully decked with electronics and here he is checking, adjusting, powering.



In that last picture of the previous set he was showing me where he would make the leap off the edge of Mt Nebo, trusting completely, as we do in the God of Physics. And he needed my help. He had been waiting for someone to happen by for an hour. Wound up being me.

He gave me a quick course on what he needed me to do, how to hold the stays, what to do in particular winds, and the most important bit of information of all: When he says "The glider is mine!" I am to let go and get out of the way.

Why did he want to know if I had a cell phone? Because if he crashed he needed someone to call 911.

It was quite a drop from that cliff and it could be very unforgiving. He has an accent, sort of British. Sort of.

"Where are you from originally?" I ask.

South Africa--Durban.

"How does someone from South Africa wind up on Mt Nebo, Arkansas?"

It's a long story.

" Can you tell me in three sentences?"

My father had political issues and we left.

Man, does that speak volumes. John was prob about 50, so he prob left during the "troubles" down there; but fate has us together here and now. I guess jumping off a mountain is relatively as safe as staying in Durban during that time?

Anyway

We watched the wind for a while, it needed to be from a certain direction for that spot (south) and it needed to be steady.

We watched the trees in the saddle below. We watched some smoke way off in the distance blow to the south east. We watched a red-tailed hawk circling and catching thermals, probably dreaming of where she'd go from there, wings outstretched, majestic, regal against the robin's egg blue sky.

John grumbled how the wind had been perfect for so long and now was fickle. We talked about where he'd go..."to those sheds, you see them? they look like silver? My friend lives around there." Those sheds were about six miles away and you may be able to see them, they are shining in the afternoon light. They are chicken sheds.

"Or if I can't go there I'll go to my girlfriend's on the other side of the mountain."

"By the nuclear power plants?"

"Yeah, around there."

What's the longest distance a hang glider has gone?

"The world record is 437 miles."

Is that miles covered or as the crow flies?

"As the crow flies" Not that crows are migratory, or maybe they are, nor to suggest that any crow would care to fly 437 miles, and do crows fly without detours, and do crows chirp, caw, squawk "In a straight line?" instead. ONly one thing is certain. Crows do fly as a crow flies. Something never said in the crow community, and if mentioned would probably elicit a "huh?" from any crow present.

"The longest I've been up is 6 hours."

6 hours! Geez. Imagine that. 6 hours flying around.

I ask if there is a nickname for hang gliders - thinking bird or angel or something other than hang glider - No. Hang Glider.

Some college kids arrive in their pickup and get out to watch and lend a hand; well, one of them lends a hand. The other starts quizzing John about his hang glider, why isn't it triangular (because it is a professional racing one) and then makes some comments that to a 17 year old with low self esteem, might be impressive, but not to John.

This guy was intense, talking to himself some, making sense doing so, watching the winds, reminding me of my do-s and don't-s. I nod and say yes.

I have flown some big dual control kites in some pretty stiff breezes, very impressed by the power of the wing, but this is intense, waiting, waiting waiting until suddenly, out of the blue, John says The Glider Is Mine. I let go and watch him run toward the cliff, jump off and f l y away.

Stunned momentarily, I run back for my camera



and then shoot too many pictures as John plays on the thermals, duels with the gusts, and surfs the winds that will bear him to his friend's house or to his girlfriend.

Godspeed, John











I pack my camera stuff and straddle Stella! for the ride down the 18% grades of Mt Nebo, catching glimpses of a large red and blue bird with a hernia circling languidly from afar.

On the road again and heading for my destination for the next few evenings, Clarksville, Arkansas.

Clarksville was chosen for it's proximity to the day rides I planned. What I did not know was that Clarkesville is known for two things, it appears. One spurious, one a real bitch.

The spurious one first.

This is NOT the Clarksville of the Monkees song. Don't tell the Chamber of Commerce though. The railway station is near the campus of The College of the Ozarks.

"The Clarksville train station is just two blocks from campus and I would always sing this song as my son headed back to college" E.D. Eldorado, Ark

That station was in Clarksdale, AZ.

The bitchy one.

Clarkesville is the location of the ADULT-SuperStore X-Mart...woo hoooooo

http://www.city-data.com/forum/arkan...ksville-2.html

So, I have the choice of a La Quinta, a Best Western, and a Super 8. I choose the Super 8 and guess who's my neighbor?



Yes Micky Dee-s and...and...and... Mc Porn!




They sell "novelties" AND lingerie. It's so hard to find a full service shop, you know? Maybe I could pick up something for MLW, she'd like that I'll bet.
I wonder if they have X-Ray Glasses? And double A batteries?

We share a parking lot and



OH, my ever-loving and all-merciful God!
Can you imagine? A motel selling a mattress? or mattresses? Next door to Mc Porn, the X Mart?

Ewwwwwwww.

I have to admit that I did walk through the other parking lot, the one shared with the X-Mart looking for the tell tale signs of love in a bottle, love on the cheap, love for sale, mattress extra. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
Ok, it may have not been my finest hour, ok? But, Father, I was in Clarksville, Arkansas. And it could have been the Lagavulin 16, my travel companion who offered and gave me solace at the end of a long day in the saddle. And it told me, speaking my language, my tongue, and gave me the idea, actually it gave me many ideas, all worth discussion at the time, that Lagavulin said, "Hey, why don't you go look over there. Might be interesting." I said Sure, why not.

But as it turned out the ADULT SuperStore X-Mart was a good neighbor to the Colonel



and to the Waffle House



I saw no remnants of love gone quickly, no detritus of passion flayed, no purveyors of time well-spent, or not.

And as I circumnavigated the Super 8 I wondered how much they were asking for that mattress.

I returned to my room, shut the door. Locked the door. Twice. And slept.

7:13 am arrived right on time, neatly spaced between the ungodly hour of 7:12 and the who-do-you-think-you-are-Prince-Ranier? 7:14 and I rolled from a mattress soon to be on the block.

This was the worst breakfast bar I have ever encountered at a Super 8. No hard boiled eggs, No orange juice, no toast, no waffle machine to flip, no fruit. Only half pint too white bagels of indeterminate age and a dispenser of CLO-s (Cherios-Like Objects) in colors that certainly do not exist in nature on this planet.

I pour a cup of weak coffee and, sh*t, no yellow envelops, only pink and white, and some other envelop containing a relatively complex and certainly toxic white powder designed to make coffee reflect more visible light so it appears "lighter."

"is this all there is?" I ask Jugdish or Sanjay or Kirit or whatever who seems to own the place. Location, Location, Location.

"We have oatmeal, there"

Well, they have a "potential" oatmeal like preparation, contained in a brown envelop, just add water. Didn't see any water either and no way to heat it, but by this time Plan B was being formulated.

For the next two mornings I would eat at the Waffle House with pretty blond waitresses just young enough to make me know they think I am old. But this morning, this morning I would visit a place in legend in Arkansas ride lore.

There are two places to eat or snack or have a coke on a motorcycle trip when you are in this neck of the woods and they should not be missed.

I would visit one this morning and hopefully get there still in time for a real breakfast.

John
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:03 PM   #12
Sourjon
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WOOHOO! Another Stella adventure. Can't wait to find out if they ask at breakfast 'how is everything tasting'


More please.

John
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:43 PM   #13
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Nice Ride and pics! Sometimes getting out and riding along is best!
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:11 AM   #14
JayElDee OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sourjon
WOOHOO! Another Stella adventure. Can't wait to find out if they ask at breakfast 'how is everything tasting'


More please.

John
Son, you've been paying attention!
You get an A
Hate to disappoint, but on this trip, no one asked me that. However, in a couple of weeks I will be going back up to Ky and WV. I will be tuned to hear it.
Maybe I'll say "what do you mean?"

Thanks for the kind words

John
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:24 AM   #15
RedDogAlberta
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Fantastic!
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