Friday, September 19, 2014

Eureka Springs Arkansas - The Cliff House

The good news this morning was that, although it was overcast, there was no rain. The bad news was that there was also no WiFi. Cox had visited again yesterday and we had achieved the result I have come to expect of them. Another contributing factor came to our attention. It seem that the motel does have a guru who keeps the network humming but he was currently in jail.

Today was Red Rock Rally Shirt Day. Anyone who attended the 2005 rally in Kanab Utah (which I refer to as WWR0) put on their pseudo tie-dyed shirts. Unable to make a dent in the blog backlog, I wandered down to the office for biscuits, gravy, OJ and coffee.

One group headed out to the Burger Barn. Sandy and I have never taken this traditional ride and our record remains intact. Lanny and CheapB also headed out together. Knowing these two, they will be barnstorming no matter where they decide to go. Both ride hard and are extremely capable.

We decided to go to the Cliff House for lunch. Following us would be Zeke/Han, Phillip/Jaime/Caleb, Laura and Bass Man. I planned on a moderate ride. Our first stop was at the Murphy gas station in Berryville to make sure everyone had enough fuel.

It looked like Phillip was putting fuel in the saddlebag

Jaime needed to do some business at a Kawasaki dealer so we headed east on US 62 towards Harrison. We passed the spot just before Alpena where Sandy took that awesome sunrise photo when we were leaving last year. The trees on that ridge are quite distinctive.

Sandy's ridge near Alpena Arkansas

Entering Harrison, we were passed by a Harley. The pillion seat was so minimal that the passenger must really have been committed to the relationship to sit on it. We followed the so-called bypass around town to the Kawasaki dealership. Jaime did her thing and Bass Man tried to figure out why Laura's headlight/light bar wasn't working. We left there one for two. Regardless of lights, it was nice to have a token Vulcan with us at the dealership.

Minimal Harley seat

Kawasaki dealership in Harrison

Caleb figures he is ready for this

Bass Man looking at fuses

We left the dealership and headed east to 206, looping south back to Arkansas 7 and avoiding the city traffic we would have met going directly to 7. I led south on 7 at a moderate pace instead of the more aggressive speed that we would normally be traveling. This kept the group together and was much more enjoyable for me. Arkansas 7 is a very nice road with many curves and beautiful scenery. It took us south through Jasper and then up the long winding hill to the ridge overlooking the Buffalo River. When we got to the Cliff House, there were exactly the right number of parking spaces in the nearer lot.

Atypical (as opposed to a typical) straight stretch on Arkansas 206

Laura following us

More typical on Highway 7

Ground control

Winding up the edge of the ridge

Pretty things grow here

Perfect parking spot

The restaurant at the Cliff House wasn't overly busy so we were shown to a large table right away. Caleb wanted to sit next to me, an honour as far as I was concerned. He is a very well behaved young man, especially considering he is only four years old. Sandy and I shared a smoked ham sandwich that was quite tasty and excellent French fries. Caleb had a Nathan's hot dog and lemonade. Part way through our meal, another group that included Braz, Candi, Brandon and some others came in. VROC'ers are all over the Ozarks today.

Smoked ham sandwich and fries

Caleb tackling his hot dog

A popular local motorcycle loop


We left the Cliff House and headed along the ridge overlooking the Grand Canyon of Arkansas before descending the steep winding grade back into Jasper. Just north of town, we turned left on Arkansas 74, another twisty road in a land of twisty roads. We followed 74 until we came to Arkansas 43 and took that to 103 north. At US 412, we headed west until we got to a Conoco station near Huntsville. We encountered almost no traffic the whole way.

On 103, my GPS went nuts trying to divert me on every side road we came to, some of which were just dirt trails into the trees. It seems that the Via point I plugged in on 43 to force the route that way didn't clear as we went by so the Zumo was frantically trying to take me back there. Once I discovered the problem and manually cleared the point, all was well. Remember Skid's Axiom. Using a GPS is an art, not a science.

The Arkansas Grand Canyon

Arkansas 7 descending to Jasper

Another warning

Run-off ramp

The road went right

The road went left

Until it reached Jasper

We need to eat here some day

The start of Arkansas 74

The curves are challenging on 74

But the flow is nice

Great views

Hairpin turns

Some tar and chip on Arkansas 43

Out of one turn and into another

More typical scenery

At the Conoco/general store, I put the bike on the centre stand and checked the rear tire. It felt a little squirrelly on a few curves and I wanted to be sure the pressure was OK. It was, so I must have slipped on some loose stuff I didn't notice. In fact, the tire left ES with 41 PSI and was a very hot 49 when I checked it.

We didn't stop long. Soon we headed on west towards Huntsville. We bypassed the town via Arkansas 127, which took us to Arkansas 23 North. We rode into Eureka Springs and followed 62 back to the motel, arriving at 3:40.

Conoco on US 412

Caleb asleep in the sidecar at the Conoco

Back at the motel, a lot of people were planning on leaving tomorrow morning. Sherm loaded the Burgman on his trailer while, contrarian as usual, Tom M was just arriving from Kentucky. Mojo, a VROC'er from Minneapolis long ago, stopped by for a quick visit on his Harley. He is guiding folks up around Branson these days.

My knee was better today. The sharp stabbing pain had been replaced with a dull throbbing ache and the motion was better. If this keeps up, it will be in fine shape by the time I get home. Still, better a problem that comes and goes rather than one that settles in permanently.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting and waiting for food. Great smells were coming off the grill and smoker as HotSauce, Mitch and other assorted BBQphiles laboured for our eating enjoyment.

Sherm loading the Burgy

Mojo and his Harley

A gift after last night's bathroom fiasco

Coyote and Lucky Al

Waiting for supper

SQRLL and Red Rider

Razor and Flamekiller

Jaime, Phillip, Badger and Susan

Bass Man, CheapB and Lanny

Margot slicing onions with a machete?

Mitch supervising the beans

Butch and Teresa

Texas girls Debbie, Kay and Vickie along with Jason

J-POB and Big Dawg

Is the food ready yet?

Is Sherm considering ANOTHER bike?????

Finally, it was time to eat. I was at the end of the line because, as usual, I get sidetracked talking to others. It was Jamey T. (Rocky in my books) this time. Doesn't Rocky fit him nicely?:

Now somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon,

Supper was excellent when I finally got there. Mac & Cheese, beans with bite, brisket, pulled pork and ribs. Tiramisu and cheesecake for dessert (thanks Gambler clan). I only had two problems. First, I should have had brisket, ribs OR pulled pork. But it was all so good. Second, my hand shook a little and all the meat fell off my pork rib, forcing me to use a fork. I have really had a lot worse problems than these:-))

Look carefully at who is at the head of the line

The line is moving

Carnivore heaven

Master chef observing the reactions

Famed moto journalist poaches a rib

Southern Draw chowing down
(Am I a friend of Bill W?)

Coyote and Stewey were at the back of the line with me

Yes, it was a welcoming place

After supper came the raffle drawing. Thanks to ROK and others for the prizes. The ticket sales raised $1,313, which was donated to Eureka Springs Fire and EMS. Sandy won a $50 ROK gift certificate. Some others won many, many prizes and would not share. No sour grapes here, just empty hands:-))

Raffle drawing

With the number leaving tomorrow, it was mostly an early night.

I had gotten a call from daughter Heather before supper that son-in-law Tom had an altercation with a car on the way home from work and that his Suzuki C50 Boulevard had gone down. A second call advised that he was not hurt badly, had ridden the bike home and that the investigating constable implied that the other driver did not yield right of way in the traffic circle. Photos showed mostly cosmetic damage to the bike.

Stewey did take the official group photo before supper, which I'll share here for your viewing enjoyment.

Today's Route (151 motorcycle miles):

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