|05-12-2012, 08:34 PM||#1|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Patooty, Eastern Oklahoma
OK-AR Ride Report n' Pics
I had HIGH hopes for today (Saturday, 5/12). Earlier in the week, the forecast for today was supposed to be partly cloudy and the high temps in the low 70's. Further, my new WR250R was supposed to be ready by Wednesday.
Sounding like Honey Buns and me could go for our first DS ride with us both aboard our new bikes amid some great weather.
Life is good.
Then the forecast started degrading as the week passed. Then I had delays and drama taking delivery of my new WR250R. Then my night shift job started bogging down. (Got home at 6:10 AM one morning.) A long shift means not much day left once you grab a few hours of sleep. To cap it all off, Friday's forecast for Saturday was calling for an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms with heavy local rains possible. Crapola.
Life is bad.
However, there WAS a bright spot among all the proverbial and forecasted dark clouds: Finally took delivery of my new bike on Thursday. But the depressing rain forecast continued, with slowy increasing odds by the day.
Honey Buns indicated that if it was raining, she wasn't going. Understood completely. However, a new bike in the garage... high temp forecast to be 69 degrees. Rain? So what... I'm going if at all possible. No dust to deal with!
Went to work on Friday evening hoping for a decent quit time so I could be up and at'em and off to the woods pronto. Instead, I got home and in the sack after 4 AM.
Arose about 9-ish. What's that? No rain? Staggered down the hall rubbing my eyes and scratching my butt... looked out the window... the blacktop was dry? Hey... there's hope!
"Mornin' Honey Buns... What's the forecast now?"
Point, click: "20% chance of showers... high low 70's." says she.
Eureka! It's a go! Soon enough, we were suited up, gear loaded into our fanny packs, the bikes retrieved from the garage and... press the magic buttons (I LOVE this electric start thing!)... and it was off to fuel up before we headed out.
Our plans were:
Do backroads from Poteau to Monroe. Then hit some dirt roads over to Poteau Mtn' Road. Cross over Poteau Mtn Ridge and drop down and ride forest roads on the south side through the pine forests. Come out over near Hon, AR, blacktop to Waldron for lunch n' fuel... then black top to the east end of Poteau Mtn Road and ride the ridge to the cutoff and drop back down to Monroe, then back to Poteau.
Let's get going!
Oh... first up was fuel the mosickles at Poteau. Pic below proved we did that!
Heading for Monroe, I couldn't help but notice that the few patches of distant blue behind the holes in the clouds were being hidden again: The clouds were getting thicker.
Wow... it has been A WHILE since I've ridden this route. Remember me mentioning dirt roads from Monroe to Poteau Mtn Road? Well... those are now blacktop. OLD blacktop. Hard to reconcile the mental images in my memory files with what I was seeing and riding over. It that Rabbit Kill Curve ahead? (Ran over one very unlucky cottentail there as I was slinging gravel aboard a brand new 1980 Yamaha IT 425 way back in... well... 1980! Think about that next time you want a rabbit's foot for good luck.) When WAS the last time I rode this route??? Time flies, they say. What's this? Rain drops???
Sure 'nuf... a light rain starts. The sky is completely overcast. The nearby mountains have disappeared behind a cloak of misty fog. Uh-oh.
Somewhere along the way we cross over into Arkansas. It continues to drizel on us as we turn south on Poteau Mtn Road and begin the ascent to the ridge. The pavement is now behind us, and will be for the next 20 or more miles. The clouds hang low and we ride through patchy light fog as up we climb.
If we doubted we were in Arkansas, coming up behind the vehicle ahead would remove all doubt. There on the chopped down mini-pickup's flatbed was a pen full of coondogs baying at us. The feller stops for us to pass... right in the middle of the road. We both take the right... and sure'nuf, it was Redneck City in the cab of that mini-truck! They waved, we returned the wave with a "Thank You" wave thrown in for good measure, and continue to climb.
The valley floor is about 500' in elevation. We would top out at over 2000' crossing over the ridge. Soon enough, we were on top and riding the ridge for a couple of miles. It was time for a break and an attitude check. I knew just the
For decades, I have this favorite place right before you start to descend the south slope. It was here an old favorite trail from the west ended. It was called "High Top Trail" on account of it taking you over High Top mountain (in OK) and running the ridge to connect with the crossover road we were now on (which is in Arkansas). It's a great ride. No, a FANTASTIC ride. Was, that is. It's no longer open. Plus, the gas well boom eradicated at least 30% of the trail on the west end. Sad, sad.
However, many good memories have been charted out there on High Top Trail and the vista once you hit the crossover road was always great... when the leafs are gone, that is. (Gotta' remember almost ALL of my dirt riding is during the colder seasons from sometime in Autumn until sometime in the Spring. I haven't enjoyed dirt riding in the heat for a long time.) Today, the leafs are on BIGTIME. Plus, the misty fog prevented much in the way of vista. Oh well, it's still great to be out in "my" mountains again!
Here's a few pics of where High Top Trail joins the crossover road...
Time for that attitude check...
"Okay... decision time. I can reverse our route and we can head for the house or..."
"You mean QUIT?" asks Honey Buns.
"Well... it's raining... and you..."
"This isn't anything," says she, "let's do it!"
"Okie doakie!" I reply in shock.
Fortunately, the light rain begins to let up as we work our way down and around the switchbacks heading to the valley below.
Once off the mountain, we were again at about 500' elevation. Next would be many miles of meandering through the big pine forests and enjoying the sights and smells of the big trees... what's this???
Oh great. A CLEAR CUT. The loggers are here, in a big way. Don't you just love the way the USFS puts the clamps on the way we (dirt riders) can enjoy OUR forests, all in the guise of preventing us from "marring the environment"... and this same USFS then lets logging take place that completely removes beautiful forest stands of trees, never to be seen again in our lifetimes? Talk about hypocricy. Argh. I need to get off this subject.
I think part of the reason I enjoy riding the Ozarks more than riding this region is because in the Ozarks, we're discovering NEW areas to ride and many, many things are fresh and never seen before. In my region, I've ridden it all, and everytime I ride out here again I can't help but think of the things LOST and GONE, instead of fully appreciating what is still left.
Anyway, we pass through the logging areas and finally get to enjoy some big pines. (Better enjoy them while we can... they'll be logged soon enough.) Ah well... today is a day to enjoy riding and not carping about things I can't change. Let the ride continue!!
Eventually we exit the forest roads and ride a few miles of backroad blacktop into the edge of Waldron, Arkansas. Destination: An old burger haunt that I knew had some GREAT burgers. Pulling in... I start to dismount.
"I thought you wanted burgers? Now you're in the mood for Chinese?" came the puzzled question from Honey Buns.
Sure 'nuf. Somewhere in the years I haven't been here, the burger shack is gone, being replaced by a Chinese restaraunt. Hey... I like Chinese okay... but not today. We fire up and head back for the Char-Broiled Grill. THAT place is still there.
Good choice. I had a great Philly Steak n' Cheese and Honey Buns had a great BLT on buttered/toasted marble rye bread. To add to it, we had some excellent onion rings to go with it.
Noticably absent at this point in this long-winded novelette is the defacto-standard "Food Picture". When I suggested such a pic... Honey Buns looked at me with a "you've got to be kidding" look. I explained that, no, the adv.com guys really dig food and they even have food porn pic fests... even dedicated threads about food!
"Ride To Eat. Eat To Ride" is their motto, I said, some even having side covers on their motors engraved with same, as well as tattoos stating such. They're a hardcore eating group, to be sure.
She just sat there and stared... slowly shaking her head in disbelief.
Anyhoo... chow time over. It was fuel time AND... check my MPG. Wanted to see how the ol' WR was going to do on MPG. It held .791 gallons. Doing the ciphers... turns out the MPG came in at 69.53 MPG! Not bad! Even with the tiny tank, we will be good for over 100 miles of riding before we need to start thinking about fuel. (May consider a larger tank someday... but would rather not.)
Darn! Just about forgot a pic of the Char-Broiled Grill!
From Waldron it was north on 71 Hwy to Poteau Mtn Road. Turning west, it would now be about 25 miles of mountains n' dirt. During the course of those upcoming miles, we would top out at elevations over 2300'.
The vistas wouldn't be constant, again owing to the foliage, but still it was a fun ride. We did stop to smell the coffee (pines) a couple times. First up was some type of historical marker I hadn't noticed before. Turns out it is a memorial for a Forest Ranger that I can't remember the name of. Oh well... it's a nice memorial. Shame I can't remember his name.
A pic of the Forgotten Forest Ranger Memorial:
I fired up Scrapper and waited for Honey Buns to get her little Honda purring. No go. Puzzled, I dismounted to go have a look-see as she tried again to fire it up. It wouldn't turn over.
"Is it in neutral?" I ask?
She makes sure it's it neutral... it wasn't.
Press the Magic Button again and "putt putt putt"... Lil' Red snaps to life.
Seems the US is heavy into making our bikes as "safe" as possible now.
From The Forgotten Forest Ranger Memorial it was miles and miles of rising and falling road as it followed the topography of the ridge. There are some spectacular vistas on this road during the winter time. At some places, you can look south and see the ridges of four and five distinct Ouachita Mountain Ranges... the furthest being 50 or more miles away.
Just a pic along the way...
Eventually we stopped at another location that holds a bunch of good riding memories. It is where 10 Mile Trail rejoined the road we were riding. Remember me telling you about High Top Trai? Well... once you hit the eastern end of High Top Trail, if you drop south and know where to enter the woods, you pick up 10 Mile Trail. It's super neat trail that runs on the side of the Poteau Mountain Range to come out where we're standing in the pic. (Look over at the left edge of the pic.)
Below is a better pic of the trail. What this pic DOESN'T convey is the drop you're looking at. It's going down in significant fashion.
No way in China does Honey Bun need to ride 10 Mile. Last time I rode it, it was a pretty serious trail in places. That's been years ago. Trails NEVER get smoother. Nope, she needs to stay off 10 Mile.
From there we get ready to saddle up and get ready to head for Monroe again. Sitting on my idling bike, I couldn't resist:
"Don't forget to have it in neutral!" I said with sarcasm.
"Oh, and also, don't put it in gear with the kickstand down, or it will die!"
"I know" she responds.
"Oh? How do you know that?" I ask (knowing the answer). She looks at me with a "that's real funny you smart arse" look on her face.
"You know what? They're trying to make these bikes Idiot Proof... or have you already discovered that by personal experience?" I smirked... sarcasm definitely in evidence.
No verbal response... just one of those "you're so full of it" looks.
Confident in my cleverness, I tap my bike into gear... "sput".
Graveyard dead. I look down... the kickstand is down.
Not saying a word I quietly kick it up, fire up and head off.
By the time we arrived at Monroe, we were due a fountain drink and a short break.
Good ol' P.J's...
Sitting and looking at the bikes, I decided to snap a pic. Hmmm... notice something on the horizon?
It was here I offered Honey Buns an option:
Head for the house, OR, ride a loop of some significantly rougher (than we had been riding) old logging/access roads on the Oklahoma end of the Poteau Range.
"Let's do the loop!" she said.
Off we went. We entered at Round Mtn Road. Soon, we were making our way up a washed out and rocky road. Watching in the mirrors, Honey Buns was motoring right up. We negotiated several ups and downs, crossed some rock strewn brooks, and stopped to take us a break.
"This is great!!" she said.
I'm still amazed at how putting her on a decent bike has really snapped things around in regards to Honey Buns riding and level of enjoyment. WHERE were these good bikes back when we really needed 'em????
Here's a couple pics of our first stop. Time to lose a layer and pack it in the fanny pack...
Remember that pic up above concerning noticing something on the horizon? Look again. Note the sharp shadows indicating SUNNY? Note the distant horizon? Kind'a dark and forboding, isn't it? Well... that dark and forboding was moving in and moving in a hurry.
I stopped again... this time to batten down the hatches and waterproof the electronics and essentials. (Camera, cell phone, my wallet.) Gadgets and wallet safely in sealed plastic bags... it was off to the races and try to get home before what appeared to be some SERIOUS rains begin to hit.
I told Honey Buns it was going to be close IF we beat it. I also told her the backroads were
over... it was home on the hiway as far as practical.
I snapped our last pic before weatherizing and off we went...
Sure 'nuf, soon after we came out onto blacktop, the showers begin.
We were in 65 MPH territory when it begin to rain in earnest. We weren't wearing bandanas... so it was cup our left hand just below our gogles to fend off the stinging rain drops. Not soon enough, we exited and hit the Poteau streets to head for the house.
Fortunately, it turned out to look worse than it was, and we weren't soaked to the core.
We were home safe and sound and suprisingly dry!
In all, it was a great day to be out riding and it was indeed another ADVENTURE. Total miles for the day was 139.
The WR is working out great and Honey Buns enjoyed the rougher loop more than anything else we rode that day.
Ain't it grand being a dual sport rider????
1969 - 2012: 43 Years Of Riding And Still Counting!
Vinduroman screwed with this post 05-12-2012 at 08:47 PM
|05-14-2012, 04:03 AM||#4|
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: N. ILL.
Wow sounds like you two did some some real good ridin, is some more very pretty country. Glad the Scrapper was able to stay ahead of the wife's Honda, for now anyway. Sounds like she has found a comfortable ride for herself, and is getting more comfortable trail riding all the time. Glad you were able to get home with just a little dampness. May just be me but me thinks you are have found the right replacement bike. A few changes to customize it, for the ridin you do, and then try to wear it out.
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