Sounding like Honey Buns and me could go for our first DS ride with us both aboard our new bikes amid some great weather: Me on my new WR and Honey Buns on her CRF230L.
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 slowly 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 in the 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! (No pics: Didn't happen, right?)
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 now seeing and riding over. It that Rabbit Kill Curve ahead? (Ran over one very unlucky cottontail 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 home-bulit mini-pickup 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 spot.
For decades, I have this favorite place right before you start to descend the south slope. It was here that 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 then 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 of a few years ago 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 forest roads 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, dual sport/adventure rider types 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'. For these parts, that's pretty high.
The vistas wouldn't be constant this ride, 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...
End of Part 1.
Quick Link to Part 2:
Edited by Vinduroman, 13 May 2012 - 04:43 PM.