A group of us rode down to The Roadhouse for breakfast. There had been problems there last year when the restaurant was undergoing a change in ownership, but the Gambler Clan tried it out yesterday and said it was fine. In fact, it was better then fine. The server was friendly, took our orders quickly and brought the right thing to the right person. And the food was excellent.
Stewey and Coyote had been talking about riding to the Cliff House Inn near Jasper for lunch. They had intended for it to be a small, informal ride but people kept asking if they could go. I'm not sure how many bikes started out but we were third in line behind the two instigators. Sherm elected not to go on this run. Coyote led at a moderate pace down US 23 and we stopped at a WalMart in Huntsville to let a couple gas up.
Leaving Huntsville, Stewey dropped back to get some video of the group, which moved us up to the number two spot. We continued down US 23 to SR 74 and then headed east to Kingston and then on to Jasper, where we stopped again for a few minutes at a Conoco station amidst a sea of Bikes, Blues and BBQ bound Harley Davidson's. The roads were awesome and the more relaxed pace allowed us to look around a bit more than we have up until now.
From Jasper, we headed a few miles south to the Cliff House Inn, overlooking the Arkansas Grand Canyon. There was little space to park but, as usual, we got the bikes wedged in. Just after we got there, a second group of our people arrived.
Despite all the cars, we were ushered right in to tables. I had planned on a light lunch but ended up having coffee and dessert. Only dessert. Sandy had blackberry cobbler while I had their trademark Company's Comin' Pie, advertised as the State Pie of Arkansas. I had never heard of it before and had to give it a try even though I knew it would mess up my blood sugar. It was excellent.
Our group (sans Stewey, who went the other way and said he would meet us in Kingston) left the Cliff House heading south on Highway 7. Again I was second behind Coyote. All was well for a few miles until we skirted a the dark leading edge of a nasty looking cell and large raindrops started to fall. Coyote pulled over and I pulled up beside him to tell him I had no intention of stopping. As I did, Southern Draw must have been of the same mind because he blasted past me.
As the two of us roared (OK, whooshed in the case of the Wing) through the rain, I looked in the mirror and saw we were not alone. After about five miles, SD pulled over when we reached the SR 16 intersection, and motioned me ahead. I was now the leader but I only had a vague idea where I was going. Regardless, I was going in a hurry because the black cloud looked like it was chasing us.
When 16 reached SR 21, I cut north towards Kingston because that was where Stewey was supposed to be. We got to the town square and found no one, so we parked and settled into the gazebo to wait. A quick head count showed Southern Draw, DD, Cheap B and Rick were still with us. We had no idea where the others were. After a little while, Stewey arrived for the rendezvous. A bit later, Coyote pulled into the square and, ignoring us completely, road through and north on 21. That was unusual. As to what became of Wrong Turn and KT, Skyking and Gearman, we had no idea. At that time.
After a decent interval, I led the remaining riders north on 21 to US 412 west, where we stopped at a Conoco for fuel. As we were there, Sandy commented on a black cloud north of us. North, the very direction we were heading. We continued on 412 and then took CR 127, the same road where we had seen the deer a couple of days ago, north to US 23. Looking at the GPS and estimating the west to east speed of the cell, I predicted we would come in behind the rain. Sandy was skeptical but, for once, I was right. We encountered wet roads ten miles south of ES but stayed dry. The only challenge was the school buses once we got into town.
When we got back to Motel 62, more people had arrived. We wandered the parking lot mingling with our fellow VROC'ers having a great time.