|Leo Bell (c)||Paula Bell (c)|
|David Johnson (m)||Rhonda Johnson (m)|
|Richard Dickerson (m)||Teresa Floyd (m)|
|Jaunita Plant (c)||Shirley Huckaby (c)|
|Linda Mitchell (m)||Eddie Ellis (m)|
|Ray Messner (m)|| |
|We had 6 (m)otorcycles and 2 (c)ars on the ride this year.|
|Special Guests: Linda, Eddie and Ray.|
We were a little late leaving the church parking lot (8:30 a.m. 'ish). But, the weather was perfect for our first 350 mile leg of the trip. The ride stayed on schedule, despite a few minor mechanical problems with Rhonda and David's motorcycles. Rhonda had a problem with a kickstand safety switch that kept killing her bike after we got on the road for a few minutes. David's bike had a problem with a loose battery cable. One quick turn of the screw driver and Richard had him back on the road in a flash. We stopped in Marshall, TX for a long break and some much needed lunch. When we got to Texarkana, AR we stopped at the Arkansas Welcome Center for some new maps and a short rest. Despite stops for mechanical problems and the likes, we managed to arrive right on schedule at the Johnson's house in Arkadelphia, AR (yes, it was a miracle, not superior scheduling). Fixing Rhonda's kickstand switch problem was the first order of business that Richard took care of once we arrived at our destination. Elvin and Ann Johnson went all out this year and not only provided a place for us to stay, but also fixed us a great dinner and breakfast for us. I know this is hard to believe, but Richard had his fill of chocolate pie, ha!
We left the Johnson's house after a big breakfast and headed up the 240 mile stretch to Eureka Springs, AR. This route took us up Arkansas Scenic #7 highway into Harrison and then west into Eureka Springs. We stopped at the cliff house restaurant and ate a great lunch. On the way we stopped by The Great Passion Play and everyone bought tickets to the Great Passion Play and/or the Holy Land Tour. This was our first time to stay for the Holy Land Tour. After everyone purchased tickets, we wanted to get to our hotel, eat dinner and relax for a bit. We stayed in a nice motel called the Candelwick Inn. As it turns out there is a nice restaurant next door and we just walked over for an all you can eat buffet (can you say doggy bag?). If you've never seen the Great Passion Play, then you've really missed out on a spectacular show.
We did have some minor medical casualties that I need to mention. Richard got a miserable head cold/sinus/allergy condition when we got to Arkansas. He said he just wasn't use to all the clean air. He took a little Benadryl, NyQuil and a good nights rest. The next morning he was feeling better. Rhonda's eyes were red and burning when we got to Eureka Springs. Some generic eye drops from the Dollar General store fixed her up.
After a great breakfast buffet next door, we checked out and headed to the Holy Land Tour at 10:00 am. The Holy Land Tour was fantastic. The Bible stories were told in surroundings that seemed to transport you in time and bring the stories to life. I would highly recommend this in addition to seeing the Great Passion Play. As is usually the case we all wish we had an extra day in Eureka Springs. Next year we need to plan on riding around old Eureka Springs.
We exited Eureka Springs after the Holy Land Tour. The next 200 miles put us in Mena, AR at sunset. We ate a relaxing lunch at the Crossbow restaurant in Huntsville. There is a stretch of road (hwy #23, a.k.a. "The Pig Trial") about 11-15 miles long that is just made for motorcycles. It has one hill and curve after another (some curves are hair pin 10-15 mph, others are sweeping curves between two steep hills, can you say FUN?). The ride down the Pig Trail is simply too good to ride at any one's pace but your own. We basically split up into smaller groups for the day. This allowed everyone to enjoy the curves, hills and steep grades along highway #23. We dropped out of Fort Smith, AR on highway #71, straight down for Mena. This is a welcome, nice, relaxing motorcycle ride after a tense work-out on the Pig Trail.
In Mena, AR we stayed in the Limetree Inn. This was not the nicest motel we stayed in this year. Next year we need to stay somewhere else. The Lodge at Queen Wilhelmina is the preferred place to stay. But, it was booked full months before we started to put the ride together.
The last leg of the trip took us over into Okalahoma via hwy #88 (a.k.a. hwy #1, a.k.a. Talimena Scenic Drive) and then down hwy #259. The first 40 miles is arguably the best stretch of the trip. The rest of the ride home is by far the worst. It's a tuff 450 miles of flat highway after the first 50 miles or so. The humidity gets higher the further south you travel. We left the motel in Mena, AR at 8:00 a.m. and got home 6:30 p.m.
John Willis met us in Daingerfield, TX and rode home with us. He ended up with about a 500 mile day.
All things considered, this was a good ride and everything seemed to work out. After doing this ride for three years in a row, I can say that each year has presented it's own challenges and each year we (Rhonda and I) look back and say it was worth it. Rhonda and I enjoy the fellowship and fun that we always have on this ride. We hope that everyone else enjoyed it as-much-as we did.