Jasper, Arkansas and The Ozark Grand Canyon
A Morning and an Afternoon Ride
Everyone was in pretty good spirits after the Sunday ride and to my surprise Carrie agreed to a ride on Monday. Bill and I would go check out a route that looked interesting on the map and if we thought she'd like it we'd bring her back to try it herself.
Bill and I got up, grabbed breakfast at a restaurant with ANOTHER amazing view and headed out to see the sights.
Here's the route we ran first. They call it the "Deals Gap" of Arkansas.
They'd be right, if Deals Gap was far more terrifying and significantly longer. Route 123 is a very, very challenging road and 3 different times I was genuinely worried about Bill being able to make the turn. Hairpin turns at 90 degrees, straight uphill, in gravel. The second hairpin I remember thinking "Ok, I'm not having fun right now" and wishing I could find a place to pull over and wait for Bill. This brings me to another matter: If you need to pull over on these roads in Arkansas then the local term is "well that's just too F'n Bad . . ain't it?" Twisty roads with elevation changes are a blast but it'd be nice to be able to pull over and wait for someone without running the risk of them running right over you because EVERY corner is a blind corner. I pulled over once in a driveway, but it was so steep and with so much loose gravel I immediately went from waiting on my friend to worrying I was going to drop my bike.
You'd see more pictures but I'm not kidding, there was no place to pull over that wasn't a genuine collision risk. Still, once we got past the worst part of 123 this ride was pure gold. LOTS of great turns, great rolling hills and a few other motorcyclists out and about as well. These pictures LOOK like the roads are desolate, there's a reason for that. I'm not kidding when I say we'd see MAYBE one or two cars PER ROAD on a given ride. This was officially the "end" of tourist season and everyone had gone home. The roads were locals going to the grocery store or in to town but otherwise there was literally no one out there. The good part is that we had what felt like the entire state to ourselves. The bad part was the very real knowledge that if you got hurt you were at least an hour away from a town that probably had a population of 250 at the most.
So, we ran the route above and came back to pick up Carrie for lunch. All three of us had a good laugh about whether we thought Carrie would enjoy 123 and we decided on a different run. She was prepped and ready to roll so we went BACK to the place we had breakfast at on Hwy 7 (I literally can't find the name of the place and it's not on Google either) for lunch and to head out on this route.
74 Heading West out of Jasper is a GREAT road. Not kidding. I'm using the word "GREAT" here and it's fitting. IT is much more like Deals Gap or Wolf Pen Gap in spots than 123 is. Good pavement, LOTS of switchbacks. Honestly it's somewhere between US 421 and Deals Gap. It's wider and faster than Deals Gap without the INSANE speed that is possible on "The Snake"
On Carrie's route we were getting towards the end of the day and the locals SEEM to have stopped their chores and decided to sit out by the edge of the road to watch the cars and bikes go by. North of Ponca we saw more than a few Corvettes and other sports cars making use of the road. The locals were all friendly, they'd wave as we went by.
So we finished our day and headed for our cabin. By Sunday evening we'd moved from the little cottage at the bottom of the hill to the much nicer cabin at the top. It cost me something like $80 to move rooms (which is weird because I'd swear I booked the bigger cabin to begin with - but whatever) and it was totally worth it. I don't remember much else about the day to tell you the truth. Where we ate, what we did with the rest of the evening are a bit of a blur.