Ahhhh...I had a good lunch and now I'm ready to continue on with the details of our trip. Oh, the picture above? That's our bikes on top of PetitJean Mountain (our first stop) and I just thought it was a really cool looking picture - wouldn't you agree? And, oh, I'll talk more about this toward the end - but mine is the pretty blue one on the left!
O.k....back to the story as we begin to ascend Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas. Let me interrupt here just for a moment to explain something that comes into play in this story - I AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF SNAKES!!! I forgot to mention that, on our way up to Rich Mountain on Thursday, there was a big black snake sunning in the opposite lane - and he took up the whole lane! I'm just glad I wasn't coming back down at that particular moment in time - I think my bike may have been without a rider! Why do I bring that up? On the way up to Magazine Mountain we passed by a HUGE rattle snake that had been hit by a car - thankfully in the other lane. I'm not sure how long he would be stretched out, but he was as big around as my forearm - and I have a pretty good-sized forearm! Again, I'm not sure what I would have done if we had been coming down at that time - but it would not have been fun or pretty!
May I take a moment and make a public safety announcement? Thank you. Please, when you are driving, pay attention to signs such as STOP signs. And when you see one - STOP! As we neared the top of this mountain and came to one intersection I slowed down to read the directional signs to make sure we were headed toward the lodge. It was a good thing I did as a car driven by a young girl (teenager) blew right through the sign - she didn't even slow down and I don't think she even saw the sign. Honestly, if I had not slowed down to read the signs, I might not be here typing this right now. So, people, when you drive - PAY ATTENTION!!
Thank you. I feel better now. ;)
As we neared the top where the lodge was located we found a spot with an incredible view and pulled over to take a look and take some more pictures. When we first got to that point there was no one there but us and I was disappointed that we may not be able to get anyone to take our picture together, but, while we were there a family of four pulled up and agreed to take our picture. While doing so the mother asked, "Hey, who's is the pretty blue bike?" You see, this is a running joke with Fred and me. His bike is a Harley - and you know how "Harley people" are about their bikes, right? It's like they think there is not any other kind of bike in the whole wide world and they do seem to price them like they believe they are the only bikes available in the whole wide world! ;) Anyway, my bike always gets compliments on it's paint job and I always am sure to "rub it in" to Fred when that happens. As a matter of fact, on Thursday as we were getting back on our bikes after lunch at Petit Jean a family was getting out of their vehicle and preparing to go on a hike. As I was getting on my bike the mom said to her daughter - "Now we know who belongs to that pretty blue bike!" I looked at Fred and winked as the little girl said, "I took a picture of it!" So, you see...I had a lot of chances to rub this in to my ol' pal, Fred!
Anyway, after taking this families picture and talking to them (yes, talking about that big rattle snake in the road) I offered to take their picture for them as well - which they appreciated. Again, it's always fun to meet and have a talk with people from different places - what a joy! As Fred and I were preparing to get back on our motorcycles this family who had already gotten in their vehicle and began to drive away stopped and the dad asked, "Can we get a picture of you guys for our camera?" Of course we agreed and I just thought how cool it was that these people wanted to include us in their "book of memories" from this trip.
Fred and I enjoyed a nice lunch in the restaurant of the lodge at the top of Mount Magazine but were a little disappointed that the atmosphere was not one that really was conducive to us "cutting up" as we usually do with the waiters and waitresses while we enjoy our meal. Oh, we were nice and friendly - but it was just different. Remember me telling you that Fred and I both like to drink a lot of liquid while we eat? This was really evident at the end of our meal. I looked over at the table next to us where 4 ladies had been sitting and enjoying lunch and noticed that there was only 1 glass on the table for each of them. You see, the waitress would just leave your glass on the table and bring another one full of your beverage when you needed more. So, it was obvious that each of these ladies had only one glass of tea, cola, etc. and some of them weren't even empty. Then I looked at our table at the end of our meal. There were 6 glasses in front of me and 6 glasses in front of Fred. Oops! (Diet Cola and Lemonade by the way - JUST IN CASE you are getting wrong thoughts!)
We loaded up and headed out with our next stop being Rogers, Arkansas. Again, not taking the main roads (such as I-40) but enjoying the back roads - like the Pig Trail Scenic Byway. I had never ridden this before and, though I had heard of it, didn't realize that this was part of the route I had mapped out. We accessed this beautiful highway by heading north on Hwy. 23 from Ozark - where most people would get on I-40. I cannot describe to you how beautiful this drive was...and how CROOKED this road was! In Arkansas you will see a lot of signs that read, "Crooked and Steep next ____ miles". When you see this sign for this road - they mean it! Some of the turns in the curves were literally like doing a u-turn in the middle of a highway, but it was absolutely worth it. I told Fred that I thought this was some of the most beautiful stretch of highway that I had ever traveled. Parts of this highway were completely engulfed in trees giving it a "tunnel" effect. Of course, the shade felt WONDERFUL on a very warm day - but the beauty was beyond description. I was looking for somewhere to pull over so I could get a picture, but was unable to do so. If you get the chance to drive this route (and aren't afraid of major "10 miles per hour" curves) do so - you'll be glad you did. I really think I may want to drive this one again in the fall when the leaves are changing.
Long story longer...we arrived in Rogers around 5-5:30 p.m. and were beat from the heat of the day. We found a very reasonably priced hotel (made sure they had a pool), checked in and parked the bikes. We were a little uneasy when 4 doors opened and looked our bikes over when we pulled up to park. Bad part was, our room was on the 2nd floor - too far away from our bikes for our own taste.
Now, again, Fred and I have a great time giving each other a hard time and I do so every chance I get. He was asking the clerk at the hotel for a good place to eat (How do you answer that? Doesn't that depend on what you want to eat, Fred??) when I physically took his body, turned him toward the door and pointed to a sign in the parking lot next door - "Braums" and I said, "Fred, we're eating there - right next door!" He agreed as neither of us wanted to get back on the bikes anymore for the day. We also noticed that gas across the street was priced at $2.11 - the cheapest we had seen yet - but were too tired to even go across the street on the bikes and decided to wait until the next morning. We did. And it had gone up to $2.21 overnight. Oh well!
As we walked into Braums Fred said, "Wow! They have regular food here?!" (Braums is known a lot for it's ice cream and Fred thought that was all they served). I said, "Fred, did you really think I was going to make a whole meal on ice cream?"
The servers were too busy to really have the chance to enjoy our humor - but there was an older man standing to the side waiting for his food that got quite a chuckle when Fred ordered a shake and the young lady behind the counter asked, "Sir, would that be a medium shake?" To which Fred replied, "Ha! M'am...do I LOOK like a medium shake???? Make it a large!"
Without going into every detail on the rest of the trip (there are a few things I really want to be sure I cover) I just have to mention the pool at the hotel which we headed for after supper. It had been hot that day. We were road weary. All I wanted to do was jump in that pool - and I did exactly that. Let me ask you a question - have you ever seen the movie "Vacation" (the first one) with Chevy Chase? Do you remember the scene when he jumps in the pool with Christy Brinkley? Well, that was pretty much me. I jumped in and got out very quickly as I discovered this water was C-O-L-D!!!!! As we were talking to the hotel clerk a few minutes later when he came out for a smoke I said something about it and told him that I was surprised he didn't hear me when I came up out of the water. With a grin on his face he said, "Oh, I heard you - and enjoyed every minute of it!" Yeah, yeah, yeah.
As we retired to our room a little later I kept worrying about our bikes and would go out on our balcony and look down to make sure they were not being bothered. The room right below us had some guys from part of some sort of work crew that were living it up for the night and were likely drunk by 8 p.m. Oh boy. We both finally gave up on checking again and again and turned in for the night only to be awoken at 4:30 a.m. by a knock on the door by two policemen. Well, one was a woman - which I'll get to in a moment. Fred answered the door (after looking through the curtain to see who it was) and, since they were police immediately said, "Are our bikes alright???" Now Fred wears gym shorts to bed and I was just in my boxer briefs as I stumbled to the door, past Fred onto the balcony to check on the bikes. Uh.....female...policewoman. Oops!
Anyway, apparently they were checking different rooms looking for someone besides us and we were able to go back to bed.
This next part is, without a doubt the HIGHLIGHT of the entire trip. Well, just the fact that we had breakfast at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop was pretty cool - but it wasn't THE highlight. Fred wasn't able to finish the doughnuts he had ordered and took the remaining 4 or 5 over to a young family with 4 year old triplet boys to see if they would like to have them. They graciously accepted as one of the boys immediately grabbed one and shoved it into his mouth before mom and dad could answer! As Fred and I were preparing to hop on the bikes to head to the knife show, the family came out to see our bikes and Fred very kindly took each boy and sat them on his bike and allowed them to crank the throttle so they could hear it roar. This was priceless and a memory I will never forget. Of course they wanted to know first who owned the pretty blue one! (Yeah, Fred - that would be me.)
After this wonderful memory we located the knife show and spent about 1.5 hours there. Now, I like knives but Fred literally slobbers and drools over them so I allowed him the pleasure while I found a chair to sit in and relax. You see, within about 20 minutes I had seen all I needed to see, but not Fred! He was like a kid in a candy store - and I loved watching him interact with the vendors while there.
We then started the last leg of our journey back to my house under cloudy skies - which was nice in comparison to the glaring sun we dealt with the day before. We drove through very light rain most of the journey and stopped in Harrison, AR. for lunch and enjoyed another wonderful young lady that served us (yes, again, young enough to be our daughter) as we laughed and teased with her and we were all smiling as we spent our time there.
After getting into a little harder rain only about 15 miles from home we finally arrived back at my house at around 5:00 p.m. and after have covered right at 650 miles in the beautiful state that I call home. What a great time with a great friend!
One last note about the journey - Sunday afternoon after we all attended worship, my wife and I escorted Fred back up to Thayer, MO. to send him on the rest of his way and for us to head back. However, along the way we stopped in a little town called Salem for a short stretch only to have the 2 guys behind the counter ask, "Wow! Who's bike is that blue one? It's awesome!" (That's right Fred, I had to mention this one last comment before I finish!).
Hey, I have pictures posted of this whole trip on my Facebook page if you'd like to see them. You can request me to add you as a friend - but if you would, put a note with it letting me know you are doing so through the blog or Future You University. Thanks!
I hope you enjoyed reading all of this - I know it was a lot, but there was so much that we enjoyed on these wonderful 3 days toward the end of July in the year 2009.
Hey, as always, "Make it an AWESOME Day! (Who else is going to do it for you?)"