Jasper, Arkansas and The Ozark Grand Canyon
Wednesday - LOST!
Ok, the route you see above is the actual route we took. If we'd KNOWN that was going to be the route I think I would have been less irritated at myself by the time this ride was over. This was a LONG ride, and we wore Carrie out literally before the first stop. The downside is we got lost, and I got embarrassed, and pretty grumpy about having a hot, tired, annoyed girlfriend. The upside is that we got to ride one of the most amazing roads in the area. 125 from Sparta Missouri to Rueter Arkansas is nothing short of fantastic. I've never ridden anything like it before. It's like riding a rollercoaster, it picks you up, drops you and throws a corner at you. You're either coming up a blind hill to a turn, dropping down in to one or coming over a crest only to have your stomach drop out from under you again.
My mistake of going NORTH when I should have gone south literally added 80 miles to the trip. It might have been a "long, but fun" ride for Carrie, but instead it turned into a "motorcycle death march" for her. We have GOT to get a more comfortable bike for her. That's the plan for 2014 - an upright motorcycle in the picture, so look out for one.
Getting ready to leave, another amazing sunrise.
Carrie, fresh faced and teasing for the camera before we headed out.
Coming up 281 North, heading to Branson Missouri for breakfast
Stopping for Breakfast in Branson. Branson was fine, a tourist town mimicking an ideal that never existed and never should. Bart Simpson described it best "My dad says it's like Las Vegas, if it was designed by Ned Flanders." Basically it's all the worst parts of Las Vegas without any of the glitter, girls, gambling, sin, alcohol or fun. Get ready for NONSTOP FAMILY FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT!!!!
After breakfast we started off in the right direction and here are some pics of that part of the trip. I'd zip ahead and capture these. This is NOT 125, these are very mellow roads by comparison. I'd compare this to Cherohala Skyway, only the roads weren't on the side of a mountain. Nice sweeping turns, a few tight switchbacks, but very manageable.
Here, RIGHT freaking HERE, is where I got us lost. I made a left on 125 North when I should have continued a few miles farther and taken 125 SOUTH. The whole freaking time in my head I'm saying "amazing roads, but shouldn't this say 'SOUTH'?" This is from our stop in Bradleyville. Here I actually asked the man, pointing to the direction we're going "This is the way to the Peel Ferry, right?" He must not have looked at the direction I was pointing because I was pointing farther NORTH. "Yup, just keep going that way and you can't miss it" - it wasn't until I stopped in Sparta that the lady behind the counter said "you are lost and a LONG way from Peel, trust me"
It's probably another 30 or 40 minutes north from Bradleyville to Sparta.
Even so, by Bradleyville Carrie was toasty and not feeling it - imagine how awesome it was after adding almost an hour and a half to our ride by going the wrong direction. I was MIGHTILY uncomfortable. Carrie didn't bitch or complain, but it was very obvious to me she wasn't having fun and wanted a teleporter back home. The fact that no matter how lost we were we'd have to keep riding to get home wasn't a welcome thought either. I didn't mind being lost, I don't think Bill did either. I was VERY concerned though about Carrie's level of fatigue. I'm used to 10+ hours in the saddle before I HAVE to stop. Carrie's got an hour before she's uncomfortable and I'd guess 2 hours before I start to worry about her.
Carrie rides in the middle, not because she needs to but because I need her to. When she moved to behind Bill I pretty much had a fit. Short man, jumping up and down, yelling in his helmet, fit. I love Carrie, I'm in love with Carrie, and the idea of her being last in the group and something happening and there NOT being someone behind her to immediately help is beyond intolerable. Bill's got a million miles under his belt, I don't worry about him and I'm not sleeping with him either. Clearly our relationship is different. Carrie means the world to me, and when she's too tired to be the middle rider then the earth needs to stop spinning because EVERYTHING is coming to a screeching f'ing HALT.
Bill led us from Sparta to Bradleyville, with me following Carrie. I genuinely enjoyed this, she's fun to watch and I could hang far enough back to zip through a few corners before catching up and needing to back down again. I actually got a chance to look around on the way back, and the forest is really pretty here.
This is us, at the Peel Ferry and me trying to laugh it off and tell Carrie everything would be OK. This is her, looking at me, thinking "you're an asshole sometimes, but I still love you"
Us waiting on the ferry
And the ferry ride to Peel.
From Peel it was about an hour or so before we were home but we knew we were in the right direction and we were passing familiar places so it was easier. We got home and again, I don't remember what we did after that.