Arkansas Riding and Exploring with Friends
(Goldwing Road Trip)

SPOT Tracker Link

Road Trip Background …

Two surgeries within the last two years can get even the most stubborn sixty-four year old man to thinking. First Prostate Cancer then a Hernia … merely bumps in the road of life we have no choice but to accept in defiance of our age and in spite of our mortality. We all come to the same end. I have many many friends and family who suffer with much much more. I’m blessed to be where I am, to know where I am and to accept and be happy where I am. And where I am today is healed enough finally to be able to hop back on my beloved Wing and do some serious riding. Ok … well maybe the serious riding could wait a little longer but I was anxious to get back out there and ride some on a couple of shorter outings. After three weeks of sitting around healing I was ready to roll somewhere for a Road Trip and test out my stamina and strength while realizing I was still healing down below. Now that my surgeon has given me the post surgery go ahead to ride after my check-up I was gladly willing to oblige. Several options racked my brain but I finally decided to head West into Arkansas for a few days with some buddies. Bob (Monk) and Paul (Paulb269) comprise our initial group of riders but that may change if others join in on various days. Weather pattern that has been soaking the Midwest and South is finally breaking. We are going to ride some roads in Arkansas. Hummmmm Good. Then mid week if the weather still holds for the long term we ride to Summersville, West Virginia and take in the Dark Side Spring Ride In. Will post nightly updates to my blog and you're welcome to follow along.

Sunday - May 31' 2015

Nothing says welcome back to the road like a good soaking rain. As I gazed at the radar on my smartphone prior to mounting up this morning to leave it was clear the wet rainy pattern wasn't quite done with our area just yet as a good blob of rain stood smack in the way for getting over to Arkansas on this first day.
Heading out over the Kentucky Lake Bridge near Paris Landing south of the Trace cloudy skies loom on the horizon.

First rendezvous was with Paul in Dyersburg, Tn around 10 am. He had left Evansville, Indiana early morning and I had adjusted my departure time from Dover, Tn accordingly. We each had each others SPOT tracker so that made it easier and we hooked up as plan and grabbed a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately, the rain was rendezvouing with us as well in Dyersburg so we put on our rain gear and headed out. Bob called and suggested a more northerly route to get over to Batesville, Arkansas were we were to meet up with him and while it didn't eliminate the rain it minimized it by allowing us to stay north out of the heavier stuff.
Today's route about 387 miles

We plowed through the rain and it never got really bad at all and we finally popped out of most of the heavier stuff about the time we met up with Bob in Batesville by mid afternoon
Bob (Monk) on the left & Paul (Paulb269) on the right

Bob led the way back down to Morrilton, Arkansas which is where he lives and the location that will serve as our base of motorcycle riding operations for the days ahead. I think Bob has every road in Arkansas imprinted in his memory. Bob will lead each days ride for the most part. As it turns out all of our bikes are some variation of "red" so who ever it leading all we have to do is remember to follow the red bike.

Both Bob and Paul are really excellent smooth and fast riders and I'm looking forward to getting some pointers from both of them for improving my riding skills. Weather here for the next week is forecasted to be AWESOME!!! Weather in West Virginia not so much. We'll make a decision later in the week whether to head to the DarkSide ride up there or maybe just stay here and enjoy the sunshine for the for the rest of this week.

Tomorrows route has been decided and we should have an additional Winger with us as Bob has another Arkansas Rider buddy , Dave, that will be joining us on our run.

Resting tonight in the land of milk and honey … also know as motorcycle heaven … Arkansas

Monday - June 1' 2015

Waking up this morning I think we all were thinking that all the rain was gone … not so fast. As we fueled out bodies with breakfast for today's ride we watched it cloud up and begin to rain right over Morrilton. Seems we were getting the 100 percent of the 20 percent chance of rain today. We knew it wouldn't last but it wasn't the sunny blue skies we were anticipating. Today's run would take us north up around Push Mountain and once we figure out Dave wasn't joining us today but instead on Tuesday we departed under a steady drizzle and headed north.

The roads were dry in places but in many more they were still wet and deserved caution to preserve our vertical position. We still enjoyed the morning run but soon had a reminder of how frail and weaken some section of the road were due to all the rain over the last several weeks.
Construction delay on highway 27 … fixing a part of the highway that had failed.

We also had a little mishap this morning as a critical part of Paul's helmet flew off in a turn and he had to turn around and play find the needle in the haystack along side the road. Bob and I stopped a little further up the road and waited. After about 15 minutes and Paul had not returned Bob went back to see if he could help in the search leaving me to wait. Another 15 minutes pass and now no Bob and no Paul. I was beginning to wonder if they had fallen into some mysterious black hole or something. Finally curiosity got the better of me and I turned around and went back to see what was going on. Just as I approached them
they were mounting up again as "Eagle Eye" Bob had managed to finally spot the small part just as they were about to give up. Paul was happy and his helmet was able to be restored to working order.

We pressed on north and even though rain continued to find us here and there it was slowly improving and the roads much dryer. Push mountain was, as always, a real treat. The roads up there are perfect for practice your turns on. We stopped and discussed and shared some riding tips and made the return leg and then down to Mountain View for lunch.

Over lunch the discussion of the Wing's poor suspension came up and both Bob and Paul (being a Traxxion Dealer/Installer) were once again extolling the virtues of how easy and smooth a Traxxion Wing is able to handle the twisties. I'd heard it all before and Traxxion my Wing is something I had thought about from time to time but not something I figured I was ever going to do. I just figured the ride I was experiencing was as near as perfect as it was going to get. Even though I believe both Bob and Paul as to how great their bikes handled with the Traxxion I had never actually ridden a Wing with the Full Monte Traxxion suspension system installed so I was basing my opinion primarily on my perception …. until today.

Paul and I traded bikes so I could experience first hand how different a Wing with Traxxion would handle. I have to say I was impressed just by turning around in the parking lot of the restaurant even before we even got out onto any curvy roads. After about 10 miles or so in the twisties I was amazed at how easily Paul's Traxxioned Wing handled. It handled so smoothly in the turns and felt so planted and tracked so effortlessly. I knew right away that I had lost the battle of resistance to investing some dollars to significantly improve the ride of my Wing. This was probably one of the reasons I had resisted even riding a Wing that had been Traxxionize for fear I wouldn't be able to resist once I experience it. The difference in the two bikes was even more evident when I switched back to my bike after trying Paul's. Now … I'm sure there is in all likelihood a Traxxion upgrade with my name on it in the near future.
Moving on by afternoon we were starting to finally get into some blue skies and were able to verify that the sun did in fact still exist. We made our way back south towards Morrilton taking some different roads (so many to choose from) and got back in around 6:00 p.m.
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Todays run … 302 miles total

Some more pictures from this afternoon's ride back

Ready for a repeat for tomorrow.

Tuesday - June 2' 2015

This morning we finally met up with Dave at the Cracker Barrel in Russellville. He rode up from Amity, Arkansas about 100 miles to join us for todays run. Weather was overcast today but least it wasn't raining. Look to be a similar type day as yesterday setting up with cloudy skies mostly interspersed with sunshine off and on. We were fine with that since it would keep the temperatures down.

Deja-Vu (Boo) for Bob today when he was leading and we saw a few deer here and there cross our path ahead of us along highway 123 and 16. Nothing of an imminent threat but with Bob's recent deer encounter last year it's always on your mind that they are close by when you're zipping through the forrest. Nothing spoils a good time on the Wing quicker than a deer hit. Lunch came quickly and before we knew it we found ourselves in Jasper at one of our favorite haunts.
Ozark Cafe in Jasper, Arkansas
That's Dave in the middle

After lunch we mounted back up and took Highway 74 back west and ran into a Parade.
Of course everyone loves a parade unless you're a winger trying to get to that next turn as fast and smoothly as you can. With a parade this long abusing the double yellow line didn't seem like a good idea so we cooled our heels for a while. Eventually thing opened up and soon we were once again in the clear and enjoyed the afternoon ride back south under increasingly clearing skies.
Some pics from today ….
Near Ponca highway 74 meets 43
With all the rain over here lately it's no wonder everything is so green
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Today's route … 292 miles

Tomorrow we are tracking south and will take in the Talimena Scenic Byway near Mena Arkansas.

Couple of notes …

After reviewing the weather forecast in West Virginia for the Darkside Ride coming up we have decided to not attend after all and stay here in Arkansas the rest of this week enjoying the good weather that has finally arrived here.

Also you may notice some of my pictures have been blurry or wavy. It seems to be an Iphone 6 issue. Least that's what I'm finding out from that oracle of truth … the internet. I guess new technology comes with new glitches. Hopefully I can get that resolved soon.

Resting up for a full day of riding tomorrow

Wednesday - June 3' 2015

Finally a day that was blue sky from start to finish. We left a little earlier this morning figuring we'd be putting in some extra miles today since we were heading down to Mena and over to Oklahoma some.
Clear sailing …
Blue sky and green earth … that's the way it should be.

We zipped on down towards Mt Ida to meet Dave but before we got to far down the road there was some unfinished business I had to attend to. Having tried Paul's Traxxion Wing I wanted to try Bob's Traxxion Wing. Reason being is that Bob's Wing had a car tire on the rear like my Wing so I wanted a true feel with that combination. Paul wasn't running a car tire on his Wing. We swapped Wings and off we went and just like before as soon as I started to roll out of the Gas Station I could feel the difference right away. The Traxxion Wing just felt so smooth. Bob had explained to me before its kind of like the difference between driving a car with manual steering (if you remember those) and one with power steering. After we stopped about 15 minutes later and traded back I was fully persuaded I had to have it on my Wing. Paul has offered me a chance to ride back home and to his shop (Midwest Custom Cycle Works) in Evansville, Indiana later this week once we finished our expedition here in Arkansas and he would fix me up right away. I accepted so that should be an awesome finishing touch on this road trip. With that out of the way we moved on to meet up with Dave.

Dave was waiting for us in Mt. Ida. I guess we didn't scare him away the other day :-) and we were happy he decided to join us again for todays run. In fact he was going to lead us over to Mena and along Highway 88. In order to do that it meant we had to break our rule about "following the red bike".
Ok … so we made an exception and followed a Yellow Wing. Here's Dave leading us we zoomed down the Talimena Speedway … I mean the Talimena Scenic Drive - Highway 88.
During one of our breaks I tried taking a panoramic shot. We stopped at the lodge but it was still under construction and renovation. According to Bob and Dave they have been working on that for the last 3 years but aren't finished yet.
Break Time

We continue on down the scenic drive planning to eat lunch in Talihima, Okalamas near where the scenic drive ended.
Unfortunately that didn't happen. As it turned out one of the best curvy parts for that scenic drive the road was closed due to High Water. Hard to believe since we were up pretty high. As a result we had to exit and head down to Heavener to find a place to eat which we did.

With our ride cut a little shorter we headed back towards Morrilton but did make a run up to Mt. Magazine to enjoy a few twists and turns there. From there Dave took off to head home and Bob, Paul and I headed across the Arkansas River to the freeway and home. Here are some shot of the river as we passed over near Russellville Highway 7 … Water was crazy high from all the rain.
Those trees in the foreground are not normally under water like that. Tons of rain has swollen many rivers and creeks in Arkansas these last few weeks.
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Todays route 380 miles

Tomorrow will be our last day before Paul and I head out on Friday. That means tomorrow is a must stop at Oark for some pie and ice-cream :-)

Thursday - June 4' 2015

Another picture perfect day in motorcycle heaven. Just the 3 amigos today with the red bikes headed for 3 separate state parks and peaks followed by some pie and ice-cream. First up …

Jean Petit State Park

Early morning view shows the swollen Arkansas River with some haze
Cedar Falls … Bob said as a kid he used to hike down there and fish. I don't think he's up for that these days :-)

We had breakfast at the Lodge there and when we came out to the bikes we discovered someone had left a Gremlin Bell on each of our bikes …
Read about the legend of the Gremlin Bell

Next up …

Mt Magazine State Park

We mounted up and headed over to Mt Magazine State Park and had some lunch and enjoyed this view over the valley.
Taken from The Lodge at Mt. Magazine. That's Blue Mountain Lake in the distance.

Last but not least …

Mt Nebo State Park

Pretty steep climb up to Mt. Nebo so if you make this run you can expect some significant grade with some challenging hair pin turns so be careful. However, once on top you've got some spectacular views …

Finally, after hitting these 3 beautiful parks it was time to head to Oark and gets some pie. Little did we know about the large gathering at Mulberry River near Cass, Arkansas near junction of Highway 23 and 215.

It's the WAKARUSA Festible. What in the world is that? Apparently some huge "Woodstock" like festival. Here's a link I found about it.

With that large a gathering there were a ton of state troopers and police everywhere and as we turned onto Highway 215 and came around the first turn there was a Check point for all vehicles setup in the middle of the road blocking the way. They were checking Drivers Licenses and proof of Insurance. We stopped (no choice) and we each had our own officer to chat with before we were allowed to proceed. We all passed inspection and were back on the road pretty quick. As we got down the road a mile or so coming the other way was a huge contingent of Harley Riders sporting a huge Confederate flag on the lead bike heading right into the check point. I think we all thought to ourselves what an interesting encounter they were about to have. We would have loved to have witnessed that exchange but atlas pie and ice-cream was all that was on our minds as we pulled into Oark.
Bob is a professional at this … Notice how he always holds one pie and ice cream in reserve while devouring the one in front of him. We were all very impressed. Speaking of devouring …
I think Paul just inhaled his … explains the grin :-)

We stopped at Russellville Honda to look around on the way back home and pulled in around 6:00 p.m. putting the finishing touches on our last fully day of riding in Arkansas
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Today's Route …. about 250 miles

Tomorrow Paul and I are heading out and Bob is going riding by himself. Unfortunately, he'll be riding a lawn mower to cut the grass … Ha. What a great time we all had! Now it is time to get to Evansville and get my Wing Traxxinized.

Friday - June 5' 2015

Hard to believe just how fast time can pass when you're doing something you love to do but pass it did and today it was time to say good-bye to Bob and Arkansas. Paul and I said our good-byes early and zipped up to Evansville Indiana to his home and his Midwest Custom Motorcycle Work shop.
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Today's route … about 475 miles

Paul is going to tear my Wing apart and fit it with the Traxxion "Full Monte" suspension system. If all goes well and knowing Paul, it will, it will be finished around mid day tomorrow and I should be on my way south and home to Dover, Tn. Looking forward to this upgrade and appreciate him getting this done for me so quickly. I'll have a couple of weeks to get used to the changes on some of my familiar roads around my house before leaving for the Smoky Mountains Ride In coming up at the end of this month. I'll give my first hand experience riding on the new (to me) Traxxion suspension on my journal for that event in North Carolina.

Resting tonight in Evansville, Indiana

Well, I didn't rest long … Paul and his wife Jeanne came and picked me up from the motel and we drove some miles for dinner at a great BBQ place just east of Mt. Vernon, Indiana on Highway 62 … Paul said he hoped it wouldn't disappoint and believe me it didn't.
The Hawg "n" Sauce … great Ribs and BBQ …. I'll be back.
Good atmosphere

Paul and Jeanne … Thank you for Dinner out at a great place!

Enjoyed the company.

NOW … I'm resting in Evansville, Indiana

Saturday - June 6' 2015

Paul has worked tireless all day on my bike and I did my part by staying totally out of his way. Paul is passionate about his riding and working and he excels in both areas. By 6:30 in the evening he was done and that not only included installing the "Full Monty" Traxxion install he also did many others things … lights and trunk guard … anything out of place he improved it.
In the beginning …
and it was good …
Paul inspects and makes sure everything's just right.

I extend my stay one more night and that gives us time for dinner. After enjoying a great steak dinner it was time for a test ride on a short loop on various roads close to the shop.

Immediately out the drive way I had the same reaction of stability and smoothness I felt on Paul's and Bob's Wing when I test rode them in Arkansas just a few days ago. The brief ride felt really good and I'm eager to experience more over the coming days. Tomorrow should be an interesting day for me as I look forward to riding to get a better feel. Feel like a kid getting a new toy. I guess we never grow up and I for one don't want to.

With 10+ years and over 300,000 miles riding on Goldwings I think I deserve a quality suspension and now I have one. It is quite possible I could be kicking myself for not doing this sooner.

Thanks so much Paul and Jeanne !!! I really appreciate everything. We will be sharing the road together again soon Paul

I'm homeward bound tomorrow …

Sunday - June 7' 2015

Was able to attend a local Church for services this morning before getting on the road. Always a joy to find your church family anywhere you go on any given Sunday while on the road. Met a BMW, Harley and Honda riders in their congregation. Once on the road but before I left Evansville I had a senior moment that was a little embarrassing. I noticed I couldn't engage the cruise control and promptly returned to Paul's house to figure out why. Paul takes one look and the cruise button wasn't pushed into the "on" spot. I didn't even check that as it's been on since I bought the bike almost 2 years now as I never turn it off. I didn't even think to check that. Oh well we had a good laugh. If you can't laugh at yourself who ya gonna laugh at? I departed for the second time.

Once south near Hopkinsville, Kentucky I exited the parkway and engaged some of my favorite curvy local roads around my home on the way in. The entire feel of the bike is different and I feel so much more in control of every task I ask the bike to perform. That alone was worth the upgrade. The icing on the cake will be with practice … pretty soon going through curves will be like slicing butter with a hot knife … smooth.

Safely rolled into my drive way this afternoon around 2:15 p.m. … What a blessing - 8 Days on the Road - 2,307 miles and home safe. What started out as a post surgery test ride turned into a full blown ride. It's only been a month since surgery and it didn't bother me at all the entire 8 days I rode. Nice to put the hernia surgery in the rear view mirror as I feel great now.

Final Thoughts

What a great road trip … and great friends to share it with. A true adventure happens every-time you hit the open road to ride on any motorcycle. Good times usually follow. It always makes my blood boil just being out there riding and riding is what let's me know I'm alive.

"Every man dies. Not every man really lives" … William Wallace

I want to be the man that "really lives". Don't we all?


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