Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some Missouri twisties and arriving home

The big rain that was supposed to come over night got stalled. When we woke up we checked the weather and the storm was just around the corner. By the time we tore down the tent it was already sprinkling. We grabbed a few items and ran for the bathroom. Within minutes it was pouring.

A huge storm passing over the camp ground in the early morning delayed our departure

Hidding in the bathroom to avoid the rain

Fog hovering over the water after the storm had passed

63 to 19 to I-44

We took 19 all the way from the Arkansas state line to I-44. This is a great road, not a lot of traffic but lots of hills and twists.

I've been on this road before and it's still my favorite road for sport-touring. It's curvy enough but not too much, so you can still make pretty good time on it.

19 started with many hills

And many sweepers

Flossie's Apple Barrel on 19 in Winona, MO

We got here between breakfast amd lunch, the place was empty

Apples on the curtains, how cute

Late breakfast, French toast for me and a biscuit with sausage and egg for Mike

The best part of 19 is between Eminence and Timber

Raining again

The storm had moved out of the area, but about two hours later we found another storm. The rain continued for at least an hour and a half. We took off our rain gear just before jumping on I-44, it was just too hot and muggy. The rain had stopped for now but just before St. Louis we had to pull over again and put the rain gear back on. Not only was it raining now, but it was cold. In one hour the temperature went from 80 to 60 degrees. The rain stopped in the Illinois abut the cold temperatures continued. The temps were only in the low 50’s during the day, then at night they dropped in to the high 40’s. It was also very windy.

A bridge on 19

There is only one Jack In The Box restaurant on I-55 in Illinois, I have always wanted to stop there to eat but usually when I pass it I’m not hungry, but today as we were looking to stop and eat somewhere I remembered the Jack In The Box restaurant.

The Gerbings heated liners kept us warm on this cold, windy and cloudy day. But after a few hours of the cold, we did need to stop at a McDonalds for some hot coffee. We arrived home late, just before midnight. This was a great trip, with great roads, even though it did rain a lot.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mammoth Spring State Park, Arkansas

Today we rode the best roads of this trip. The morning started out very nice, but there were storms north of us. After a quick breakfast at McDonalds we headed north where we encountered dark clouds and a chill in the air. No rain but the roads were wet.

7 North to 164 West to 123 Northeast

Dark clouds hanging over 164

Low hanging clouds on 123

A one lane bridge on 123

123 to 16 West to 65 North

Wonderful curves on 16

It seems like 16 is one of those roads that just goes on and on

65 is a major highway, but still fun to ride

Super sweepers on 65

27 Northeast to 14 East to 9 Northeast

Approaching a hair pin on 27

This section of 14 was wide with many awesome curves

Mike on 14

The roads in Arkansas are great and it’s actually hard to find a bad road out here, but today’s roads were just amazing. 123 was really great, although the pavement was a bit bumpy in some places. 16 was very similar to 123, but a bit better in my opinion. The pavement on 16 was better for the most part and the road was very long, it just kept going on and on. But my two favorite roads of the trip have to be 14 and 9.

14 had a bit of everything. There was a section that was narrow and a section that was wide with a shoulder. The wide section was still very twisty but because it’s wider you can maintain higher speeds. 9 was very twisty and slow going, most of the curves on 9 were posted at 20MPH. There are so many great roads in this area of Arkansas that we could have just rode here and spend all the days riding the local roads.

14 to 9 Northeast

9 was one of the twistiest roads of this trip

Most of the curves on 9 were posted at 20MPH

9 to 56 East to 412 North to 63 North

The visitor center at the Mammoth Spring State Park in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

Mammoth Spring

Ducks and geese at Mammoth Spring State Park

There was no camping at the Mammoth Spring State Park but not too far from there was a private campground called Mammoth Spring Camp Ground. It was located on RT 63 just a few blocks south of the state park. When we pulled in we though the camp ground was closed since there was no one was camping. But there were two people there sweeping up some garbage. We found out they were the owners and they were cleaning up after a very, very busy holiday weekend.

The camp ground was $17 for the night and that included all the fire wood we could burn. The neatest thing was that after the owners left we were completely alone at the camp ground.

Mammoth Spring Camp Ground, that's rain in the distance

Awesome water front camp site

Our camp site viewed from the road

Two cars from a derailed train at our camp ground

The camp ground was located next to the train tracks and a few days ago a train had derailed here. Two cars were still on the ground because they couldn’t be removed. We were told by the owners that tomorrow morning a crew was coming to cut the cars in to smaller pieces so they could be removed.

This camp site also had neat little cabins for rent

Dinner is served

One storm passed not to far from us as we were setting up camp, an even bigger storm was in Oklahoma and was supposed to roll through Arkansas in the middle of the night, so we got the tarp ready for the possible downpour. There was also a flash flood watch in this area from all the rain they were getting. The owner told us that the cam site had flooded before, but the chances of that happening tonight was slim.

There were not many places to get food at this late hour in Mammoth Springs, so we had Sonic for dinner again.

Even though we had all the wood we could burn, the wood was wet from all the rain and it wouldn’t burning. The mosquitoes were really bad again tonight, so with no fire to keep the bugs away we turned in early. Even though the road was just above us and the train tracks next to the camp ground, the noise wasn’t too bad and there were not a lot of trucks and trains running through the night. It was another pleasant night in the 60’s. The rain never came.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lake Dardanelle State Park, Arkansas

There was light rain overnight, by morning the rain was over but the whole top of Mt. Magazine was surrounded in fog. It was a very eerie sight, the clouds moved across the campsite pretty quick since there was a light breeze this morning. Unfortunately we had other matters to attend to this morning, so I didn’t even get one picture of the fog.

I woke up with a fat tick attached to my ankle. Serves me right, I brought my hiking boots but it was so nice and warm last night, I wore my flip flops at the camp site.

Mike had heard that lighting a fire under a tick would make it loosen it’s grip and fall off. So he grabbed a lighter and tried to heat this sucker off but this tick was refusing to let go. Each time we flamed it, it would tighten it’s jaws on my skin and try to attach itself even more. It was a bit painful. After a few tries to get the tick off with fire, the tick finally died, but it’s crispy body remained attached to my skin.

We googled “removing a tick” on the internet and many of the websites just said to grab the whole tick with a pair of tick tweezers. We didn’t have tick tweezers, but I did have an Army Swiss knife and it had some small tweezers. The dead tick was easy to remove now with tweezers now that it wasn’t wiggling around. I had to dig in deep to remove some of the flesh along with it’s jaws to make sure nothing got infected. The first aid kit was handy too. I always carry it but I have not used it until now. I wanted to disinfect the whole area and stick a band-aid over it, so that it didn‘t get infected. Then I got my hiking boots on and pulled up my socks. No more running around in the woods with flip flops for me.

I woke up and found a tick on me

Check out the bear proof garbage containers next to our camp site

A late breakfast or early lunch at the campsite

A scenic overlook at Mt. Magazine State Park

Another scenic overlook at Mt. Magazine State Park

We continued south on 309 leaving Mt. Magazine behind us. The road continued to twist but the pavement wasn’t as pristine as through the State Park area. Then we turned on 27 South, another twisting wonder. I missed the “Crooked and Steep” sign on 21, but did manage to take a quick picture of the one on 27.

The route for today 309 South to 27 South to 298 East to 7 North

We arrived at 298 and turned East. From now on we would be riding either North or East, instead of West and South. We were starting to heading in the direction of home now. 298 was a fine road, very relaxing with no traffic and many sweeper type curves. We stopped to grab a cold drink at a general store on the corner of 298 and 7. It was very hot today, about 90 degrees and a lots of humidity. I don’t do well in high temps and humidity. We already decided that today would be a shorter riding day, we left Mt Magazine State Park late and wanted to relax somewhere and possibly do some swimming to cool off. We saw Lake Dardanelle State Park on the map and we would by passing really close to there, so we decided we would check it out and possibly stay the night there.

Continuing on 309 heading south

A sign on 27 "crooked and steep"

Tight stuff on 27

Many nice sweepers on 298

We continued on 7 north, another fine road with many twists and turns, and it’s also a designated scenic road of Arkansas. There was a bit of traffic on this road, and at times it was difficult to pass cars, there wasn’t many straight sections and passing zones.

We passed a few general stores that also sold gas, but the pumps were ancient, and we didn’t trust them. So we kept riding, passing about two or more places selling gas, thinking that anytime now we’d find a modern gas station.

Arkansas scenic RT 7

I was on reserve now and starting to get nervous. 20 more miles and I started to coast down the hills, and keeping my revs lower (kind of hard to do on a really twisty road). I was definitely using more has on these twisty and hilly roads, so a tank full of gas just wasn’t lasting as long as it does back at home. Just when I thought for sure I’d run out of gas, we up on a modern gas station in Ola. All the pumps were being used, this was a busy place. Since they had food inside and it was already almost 3 PM, and all we had this morning was a small can of tuna and crackers, we decided to eat an early dinner, then ride to Lake Dardanelle and relax.

Early dinner in Ola, AR at a gas station consisting of chicken, beans and bread, Mike tried friend corn on the cob and I had jalapeƱo poppers, down south they fry everything

The food was good for a gas station, and cheap. The ride from Ola to Lake Dardanelle was short one. The Lake looked very refreshing and inviting on a hot day like today. We rode around the State Park and the campsite, it looked full. We found the campsite host and found out there were only two camp sites left, both electric and a bit more then what we wanted to spend and there was no swimming allowed at the lake.

The map above shows the overall route for the trip, Lake Dardanelle S.P. was not a scheduled stop, it's located off 22 not too far from 7

It was 4PM, still early. We passed another state park on the way to this one, Mt Nebo S.P. I’ve heard of it and was curious if it was a better place for us to camp tonight, but it was hot and we were already here and we didn’t feel like gearing back up and looking for another place. Being a holiday weekend there was a good possibility that the other park might be full. On top of that there was a large storm heading our way and we didn’t want to get caught riding in it. We decided to stay and picked the better of the two sites to set up our tent on. The site was $17 but we didn’t have exact change so we had to put a $20 in the envelope.

Lake Dardanelle State Park campground, it was packed, there were only 2 sites left when we got there at 4PM

Lots of RV’s, pick up trucks and fishing boats at Lake Dardanelle State Park

By the time we got cleaned up and got the tent up, we heard on a near by radio that a tornado was spotted just north of us. The tail end of the storm was moving just over us and we thought for sure we would get rained on. There was thunder and lightening, it got very dark but it passed above us not spilling one drop of rain.

This was a sign posted at the park showing the evacuation procedure in case something happened at the near by nuclear plant

Large storm rolling through above us

The nearby storm and clouds sure made for an awesome sunset. The clouds were moving fast across the sky, so every 5 minutes the sky looked different. We sat down at a picnic table and for 30-45 minutes did nothing but watch the sun set and the cloud formations.

I did notice yesterday and today, that the mosquitoes around here bit more during the daylight hours then at night. I was so happy that I picked up a bottle of Coppertone sunscreen with insect repellent, but either I wasn’t applying enough or it just wasn’t working. The stuff was also very greasy or I don’t recommend it. I was bit all over by the time the sun had set.

The storm clouds produced a really nice sunset

This was a fast moving storm, we watched it for over half an hour as it passed across the sky and the setting sun

The storm had passed and the sun had set

We had the tarp on top of the tent again, incase of heavy rain. More rain was on the way. I left the fly open to get some air, the temperatures stayed very pleasant all night.