Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eureka Springs Arkansas - Branson and packing

Sherm slipped quietly out the door at 5:00 AM. He had the Burgy and most of his gear loaded last night, with everything he needed to take this morning on the little round table. This was much like a cat. It makes a big fuss when greeting you but, when it is time to go, just slips away without a backward glance. It was great sharing with him again. It's hard to believe it was a year since the last time. He had a rendezvous planned with Lanny in Amarillo tonight and you can be sure the big left handed guy won't be dawdling.

We heard a number of other bikes fire up before we cracked the door at 7:00 AM. Serious travelers don't waste any daylight when trying to make miles. Still, departure days are sad at the end of a rally. It's hard to believe that we have already spent six nights in this room.

Skies were blue when we finally poked our heads out the door. Breakfast was (you guessed it) biscuits and gravy for me while Sandy had cereal and yogurt. She has a more refined palate, I guess. Then we sat outside talking to Tom M. until a wasp started paying attention to me. Then there was another. This was odd because we hadn't seen any all week. Tom traced them to a gap in the wood of the walkway above us where they must have been just starting a nest. The manager got a spray can of some kind a shot the contents into the crack, after which about seven wasps dropped out and lay twitching on the ground. Good stuff, that spray. Then he stepped on them.

Sherm called before we got doing anything and told us he was almost to Oklahoma City. He wasn't sure if he would skip the Amarillo meet with Lanny and keep going or not.

I had suggested to Zeke last night that we go to Branson for a ride. Neither he nor Han had been there before, so we made that our destination for the day. We left about 10:00 AM. I know there are people who believe in ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time), but it was getting quite warm and I opted to ride in my T-shirt and VROC vest. On the plus side, Sandy didn't have to worry about her malfunctioning Gerbing heat controller.

I led into Berryville where we caught Arkansas 21 north. Along the way, we saw some kind of fire burning but I couldn't tell if it was intentional or not.  We stopped in Blue Eye on the Arkansas/Missouri border for the traditional photo op. A few years back, HotSauce turned me on to the Pat Green song If I Was The Devil, which started:

If I was the devil
I'd hang out in Blue Eye, Missouri
Where the water and the mountain collide
I'd scare all the little children
And rumble around beneath the beds
Tell them all kind of stories
I can't help but get them stuck in their heads

We looked but didn't see any sign of the Devil while we were there.

Something burning on the horizon

Sandy and the Blue Eye novices

How did HE get in there?

Even a post office

We continued on, catching the winding Missouri 86 over to US 65. As we approached the bridge over this end of Table Rock Lake, Sandy got a picture of my favourite house in this whole area. It sits on the south side of the road and the west end of the bridge. If I were to win the lottery........

Missouri 86 with my favourite house at the bend ahead

I could live here

Bridge over this finger of Table Rock Lake

After riding a short way north on US 65, we exited at Missouri 265. I didn't think Saturday would be a good day to get stuck on the main drag through town. We turned onto 165 and stopped at the Dewey Short Visitor Center overlooking Table Rock Dam. Just like the Beaver Dam, this structure was built on the White River by the Corps of Engineers, albeit a few years earlier.

Dewey Short Visitor Center

Zeke and Han relaxing

Table Rock Dam

The rest of Table Rock Dam

We left the visitor center and rode 165 across the dam. It was getting hotter as we turned right and followed the road almost to West 76 Country Boulevard, the main street through town. In the shadow of the Branson water tower, which was having new art applied, we stopped at one of Sandy and my favourite restaurants, the Uptown Cafe, for lunch.

The Uptown is well done in a 50's theme. Once again, Sandy and I split lunch. This time, it was a smoked ham croissant and fries while she had a root beer float and I had water and coffee. Zeke had breaded fish of some sort.

Missouri 165 showing the sedimentary rock

Uptown Cafe and the Hudson taxi

Painting the water tower

This was hanging over the cash register

It was 86F when we left the restaurant and took the Yellow Route west, which parallels 76 but without all the traffic and lights. It joined Country Boulevard at the west end of town where Shepherd of the Hill Expressway begins. We turned left and, with Branson in our rear view mirrors, rode through some very nice sweeping curves. They would have been nicer if we hadn't been stuck behind a minivan from Kansas who wasn't sure how to negotiate them

A word here about riding. Up until today, I had been comfortable on the winding roads. Relaxed, with the bike responding easily and a sense that I was in control. Today, my old nemesis vertigo reared its ugly head. I was tense and easily disoriented  when we rode anything but straight lines. This happens from time to time but much less than I used to. Still, I had to go easy and it reduced my enjoyment of the ride. I am sure Zeke could see the tentativeness. I speculated that perhaps it was a result of dehydration, so had started socking water back at the visitor center, but it didn't improve. Some day I'll figure out why this happens, because I'm tired of feeling like someone has wrapped my brain in a Baggie.

Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies sounds like my kind of show

Some day I will zip-line Branson

Zeke's GL-1500

After following 76 out of town, we turned left on Missouri 13 towards Kimberling City and another bridge over a narrow part of Table Rock Lake. This bridge looked very much like the other one. We continued south until we came back to Missouri 86. Instead of heading on to Blue Eye, we rode due west across the south part of the state. This road is pretty open and relatively straight and is parallels the Arkansas state line.

The bridge at Kimberling City

When 86 reached the nondescript County Road P, we stopped at a gas station so Zeke could get some fuel. Then we rode south on P for a short ways before it turned to Arkansas 23 as soon as we crossed the state line. The straighter character of the recent road ended and we started winding our way towards downtown Eureka Springs.

Rather than ride back through the most likely congested downtown on a Saturday, the GPS had us branch off on Magnetic Drive, which took us across to Passion Play Road and then to US 62 right near our motel. We pulled into the parking lot at about 2:30.

We have ridden more with Zeke this week than we have at any past rally and I just want to say here that it has been a real pleasure. It was also nice to meet Han. And Sandy still thinks you sound like Billy Bob Thornton:-)

Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway

Magnetic Drive

It was finally time to prepare for tomorrow's departure. We packed our big suitcases and the large riding gear bag. I brought the truck over and stowed the bags in the box. Then I hooked the trailer up and pulled the rig into a double spot in the lot. Loading the bike went smoothly, although a well known VROCer (who shall remain nameless) was reported as saying that he worried when I loaded motorcycles in a trailer. Hey, I' haven't hit anything I wasn't supposed to yet!!

Loaded and ready to go

Flash and kopperhed zipping up the Jeep

Southern Draw loading Jason's Harley

There was an Email from Sherm. He had decided to stop in Amarillo and was waiting for Lanny, who had taken a detour on the way so that he could say he had ridden in Kansas. If he gets this done, he won't ever have to do it again. I don't really mean that the way it sounds. I like Kansas. It keeps Missouri and Colorado from colliding.

It was chili night at Chez HotSauce. He used leftovers to make the chili, which was nice because it allowed us to get packed and not have to worry about going out for supper. The chili wasn't as hot as the infamous batch at Suches, Georgia in 1999 that earned him his nickname but it did have substantial bite. Mr. Sauce's motto is "If you ain't sweatin', you ain't eatin'". I had some with shredded cheese and crackers and washed it down with a protein shake, a V-8 and some water. A quart of milk would have been nice. But the frozen cream puffs and key lime pie took some of the edge off. This Canadian boy isn't a big fan of heat and Sandy can't handle it at all, but when in the south..........

Milk, that's the ticket

Ice Cream and Sharon made a quick visit

We spent the rest of the evening quietly visiting with the reduced crowd. Again we wondered where the week had gone. But we are booked back here for the same time next year. The motel people were great except for the WiFi, which we hope they will get that sorted out over the next twelve months. We said our thanks to Condi and JR for the great job they did organizing this again. And to HotSauce for feeding us one more time. By the way, the pain in my knee is almost completely gone.

After our final round of farewells, we retreated to our room about 9:30. I had a bit of time to blog but, no surprise, the WiFi was down so I read a few Kindle pages and hit the sack.

Today's Route (107 motorcycle miles):

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