your eyes, child, and look at what I'll show you.
Let your mind go reeling
out and let the breezes blow you."
- Jerry Merrick, Follow
MO to Hot Springs, AR: SR-37 South through Cassville to Gateway, US-62
West through Garfield to Pea Ridge National Military Park, East on
US-62 to Harrison, continuing East on US-65 across the Buffalo River,
turning West on SR-74 to Snowball, then South on SR-377 to Witts
Springs, then SR-27 South through Hector and Dover, to SR-87 South
through Russellville, Ola, and Hollis to Hot Springs. (MAP)
By the time I wake this morning, Im in a better mood. Maybe some
rest was all I needed. And when this
black kitten wanders into my room
as Im loading the bike, Im actually feeling quite chipper.
After all, what do I have to be in a bad mood about? Im living
a dream. I name my newfound feline friend Jingles, and think about
taking him with me. Then I remember Im not really a cat person.
A few miles into Arkansas, and I arrive at Pea
Ridge National Military Park. Its the site of The Battle that Saved Missouri for
the Union, and the battles fought here in March of 1862 kept
Missouri protected from invasion by the Confederate army. Pea Ridge
also marked the first Civil War battle in which Indian troops participated.
About 1,000 Cherokees fought here as part of the Confederate army.
I drive the parks loop road and then head southeast through Eureka
Springs and into the Arkansas Ozarks. The roads around here, with gently
sloping hills and deciduous forests remind me of Dutchess County in
New York, where I grew up and later learned to ride a motorcycle. That
familiar feeling of fall rushes through me. That certain scent and
mood hangs in the air. Warm colors of changing leaves are a welcome
sight, and the memories of turning years saturate my brain with each
breath of cool autumn air.
The Buffalo National River winds a serpentine path across northwestern
Arkansas, beginning as a trickle in the Boston Mountains and flowing
for 150 miles to the east into the White River. The Buffalo flows past
massive sandstone and limestone cliffs, following what is likely an
ancient riverbed. Fully wild and protected, the river is one of the
few remaining unpolluted waterways in the lower 48 states. The water
level is low now, but come spring there must be some good rafting and
kayaking opportunities around here.
Speaking of good opportunities, the roads are getting exciting again,
with curves and windy routes. I have to wake up from the riding slumber
Ive been in for the past week. After those straight, flat roads
Ive been on lately, I almost have to learn how to ride again.
Leaning into the turns on the Route 7 Scenic Byway feels great. I ride
south through the Ozark National Forest, push through Russellville,
and then return to the serenity of the Ouachita National Forest.
I come up quickly on a school bus heading south towards Hot
Springs. Within seconds, I see dozens of smiling faces pressed up against
the glass, trying to get a look at me from the back of the bus. The
kids on the bus are waving and smiling, and yelling with excitement.
I pass them with a wave, and a grin on my face. I think I made their
day. I know they made mine.
I reach Hot Springs and head straight up to the Hot Spring Mountain
Tower, a Hot Springs landmark since 1877, with 140-mile views. But
it is November, and even though the sun has not yet set, the tower
closed at 5 PM. Im minutes late. Oh well, I wont let
that ruin my day. Im still smiling from those kids on that bus.
Miles Today: 303.8
Total Miles: 23,882
Time on Motorcycle: 6 Hours 1 Minutes
Average Speed: 50.5 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (MO, AR)
Total States Visited: 36
National Park Service Passport Stamps 2
NPS Stamp Totals: 181 Stamps, 33 States
Weather: Same old, same old. Sunny and Clear.
Species of fish found in the Buffalo River: 60
ON THE ROAD:
and Steep, Next 6 1/2 Miles, Drive With Care” – road sign on US-62
south of Gateway.
Ive been seeing these Waffle House restaurants all over the place
as Ive entered the south. And Im kind of curious to try
one out. Tonight I dont have too many dinner choices, as the
motel Im staying at isnt near much, so I give Waffle House
a try. My review? Well, lets just say I wont be eating
at any more Waffle Houses. Not only was the food lousy, but the clientele
left much to be desired as well. There havent been many places
Ive been where Ive felt uneasy, or unsafe. But I wasnt
very comfortable at the Hot Springs Waffle House. Thats been
two horrible dinners in a row. Lets hope I can break that streak