Arkansas Motorcycle Trip in Review

WM wrote most of this.  My notes are in *Italics*

Day 1: Wylie, TX to Anderson, MO

Long boring day up US69 to I-40 east to I-540 N into Bella Vista AR.  540 ends and US71 takes over heading north into MO.  The plan was to take MO-90 west into Noel, MO and spend the night at one of the motels in Noel.

Turns out there aren’t any motels in Noel.  So we rode MO-90 back out to 71 and headed north into Anderson, MO.  Before we had turned to head into Noel, I noticed a billboard advertising a new Econolodge just a few mile north or the turn off.

Turns out it was about 10 miles but we found it, got a room, and walked next door to get some pizza at the gas station/pizza joint/Subway, then turned in for the night.  The road to Noel was sweet with nice curves and elevation changes…and we got to ride it twice so that’s not a bad thing.

MJ Note: This was my first motorcycle trip over 100 miles or hour… This was a long day for this newbie with over 400 miles… but the twists down and back up Noel helped me get comfortable with knowing what to expect on twists and turns.  

Just as we entered Missouri, WM got a close up of an eagle or hawk.  At highway speed, identifying a bird swooping down in front of you is not a priority. I was kind of bracing for impact.  It swooped off the mountainside, just barely above the semi’s roof beside us, and came down less than a car length in front of us at chest level.  It was LARGE 4+ foot wingspan, brown with lighter underside.    

Day 2:  Anderson, MO to Harrison, AR

Plan was to go back down to the MO-90 intersection and head east into Washburn, then north into Cassville to pick up MO-86 and take it through the Mark Twain forest and end up in Harrison, AR.  That was the plan.  In reality, as soon as we pulled out of the gas station/pizza joint/Subway, it started sprinkling.  But we trudged on because 90 and 86 promised REAL nice riding.  The father we got away from Anderson, the harder it rained and the colder it got.

As we pulled into Washburn, I pulled over under a canopy for an old gas station now flea market to look at the weather radar on my phone.  The radar showed massive rain about a mile south and several hundred miles east…all moving due east.

Change of plans…we will turn south in Washburn and come into Eureka Springs behind the rain..and do MO-86 tomorrow.  The closer we got to Eureka, the more the rain came down.  Trying to navigate the steep and twisty curves of US62 into Eureka through 2 layers of wet Lexan proved to be too much and we pulled into Eureka to find a motel and hang it up for the day…better luck tomorrow.

MJ Note:  Here we ordered “voted best in pizza in Arkansas,”  “that delivers.”  What with the geocities website and the online menu that listed “topings” and “carnation bacon” we were amused. 

But when we called in we were told they don’t deliver before 4.  (it was 2:15) so call back around 3:30 and they’d deliver at 4… we called at 3:30, we called again at 4:15, it was “on the way”, we got our pizza around 4:45… we were far less amused then.  

Although this picture helps…  
There were humorous things about the delivery driver’s car as well… but summation, there are obviously a lack of car inspections and safety concerns in Arkansas.  (C-Clamp “door closure” and go-cart seat for the driver seat among issues)

Also saw a BMW Motorcycle in the parking lot. 

Day 3: Eureka Springs, AR to Russellville, AR

Rained most of the evening and temp dropped into the lower 30s by morning.  Decided to hang around and let it warm up and the roads to dry off before heading out.  MO-86 will have to be done on another ride.  Headed west a few miles and checked out ThornCrown Chapel ..very beautiful and peaceful, and inspiring.  Left ThornCrown and rode east on 62 into Berryville where we took 21 south into Kingston.  I love this ride!

Lots of eleveation changes and fast sweepers..nothing real technical, just relaxing.  Valley Cafe in Kingston also serves up a real nice hunk of chocolate pie.  (MJ Note 3 BMW motorcycles here)

Our timing was off…neither of us hungry so after a short break, saddled up and back on 21 towards Boxley.  Took a short hop north on 43 into Lost Valley and picked up 74 that would take us through Low Gap, Mount Sherman, and on into Jasper, AR.  This is another one of my favorite rides.  The scenery is outstanding as you ride across the ridge with steep drop offs on either side.

The start and the end of this leg is rather tight and somewhat technical but not too bad…you just have to pay attention to what you are doing.  We dropped down into Jasper and took another water break then pressed on to a nice roadside park on Hwy 7 for a real break.  Followed 7 south down into Russellville and started the hunt for a motel.  Turns out there was a BassMaster tournament on the Lake Dardanelle that week and my first choice motel was full.  They kindly recommended a lace right across the street that was reasonably priced…checked in and walked over to Dixie Cafe for good meal before turning in for the night.

Day 4:  Russellville, AR to Mena, AR

Woke to mostly blue skies and temps in the low 40s.  Had a rather disgusting free breakfast at the motel and headed right through town so I could pickup 155 and get to the top of Mt Nebo.  Now this is a fun and frightening road with very tight, slow turns with rapid changes in elevation.

Ever ridden a horse up and out of a creek bed?
That’s what’s like going up 155.

The switchbacks are so tight you can’t even see your own lane when turning left.  Got to the top and over to sunset point to check out the view…it did not dissappoint.  More water, and then back down the mountain.  The descent is all first gear letting the engine brake and control the descent.  Its a wild ride for sure.

MJ Note: Warning: Video below is from the descent… If you enjoy motorcycles, make it full size and get the HD

Once down in the valley, we stayed on 155 south until we crossed 154 to go to Pettit Jean.  We rode through the park, and over to the grave site/river valley overlook.  Lots of good photo ops here.  Done with picture taking, we mosied over to the Lodge, and then onward, 155 south to 10 west and picked up 28 south in Ola. The ride on 28 from Ola to Parks is very nice and peaceful except for the less-than-stellar pavement.  In Park, AR, we picked up 71 south and headed into Mena for the night.  Got our motel room and rode into town dinner, then back and called it a night.

MJ Note: We almost called it a night.  I went across the street to Walgreens to get some bottled water, and a snack for the night.  Apparently Walgreens in Mena closes at 6.  * Yes. 6 PM.*  Did they have a sign that said?  *No.*  While I was trying to figure out what the devil was going on, WM was in the hotel lobby getting us more pillows, he saw me.  Upon asking the hotel manager, he sent me a text.  So I walked over to the Walmart instead…   And below is the  Petit Jean Hills for viewers not quite up to the Mount Nebo video.

Day 5:  Mena, AR to Wylie, TX

Bike is covered in dew and the air is crisp but not too cold.  Wiped down the bike and rode over to the Skyline Cafe for the best breakfast in Arkansas.  The pancakes are killer!  Stuffed with food, we loaded the bike and headed up the Talimena Scenic Drive.

I love this drive in the middle of the week…virtually no traffic.  We rode by the Lodge, but it was still closed for renovations from last year…I think they are behind schedule.  Stopped at a few of the overlooks, took a few pictures, and carried on into Talihina, OK.

Once through Talihina, we stopped for a break at the dam at Lake Sardis…knowing that the next leg was long and boring…43 through Daisy, OK and ending back on US69 in Stringtown, OK.  Yippee…back on 69 for the boring, long haul home.  The scariest part of the entire 1100+ mile trip was Collin County traffic in rush hour.  These people are nuts and the reason I don’t commute anymore.

Yes, there are many different routes to and from TX to AR…I have done most of them more than once but if you need to make some time, this is the best way to go.  Now I am ready for the next trip!

Map below or click here: 
and if you Yelp, here are the places reviewed
http://www.yelp.com/list/motorcycle-trips-j-n-mj-russellville

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