We had finally reached the last day of the 2018 ES Reunion. The weather has been as good as I can ever remember and it looked like today would be no exception. A few of us headed over to The Gazebo for a final breakfast buffet and said our goodbyes to Donna and company with promises to see them again next year.
I asked the question about how there were two Best Westerns within a half mile of each other and was told that there were originally three. That was in the day when franchise protections were not as strict as they are today. These two were grandfathered and remain today.
Stonewall and Lanny were heading out on a spirited ride through southern Missouri. I offered to lead a ride around the War Eagle/Rogers/Pea Ridge Battlefield/Beaver loop, also known as the Round Beaver Lake loop. Beaver Lake is another man-made reservoir made by damming the White River and the ride around it is about 80 miles.
Joining us today were Magellan, Duck, Zeke, Paul, Ice Cream, Hancock and famed moto-journalist Teri Conrad. We left ES south on Arkansas 23 and then turned right on Highway 12 through the tiny community of Clifty.
The first part of the journey (America, anyone?) took us to War Eagle Mill. This has always been a traditional stop. Some people bought a few of the unique items but I passed on the Jack Daniels Whiskey Praline Pecans this time. I met a local who described a few new roads that I put on the bucket list for next year. Magellan and Duck opted to stay for breakfast.
As we were leaving War Eagle, I had an incident which made me doubt my riding awareness. I led back up War Eagle Road to Highway 12, where we were going to turn left towards Rogers. I looked right, looked left and pulled out. I saw in mirror that Teri had not followed and there was a white pickup truck right on my bumper. Had I failed to see the truck and pulled out in front of it? I moved to the right shoulder and waved it by. The truck was followed by a green Subaru Outback with the horn blaring. How had this happened?
Teri shed some light at our next stop. The right was clear when I pulled out and she was about to follow me when the two vehicles came around the curve at a high rate of speed. The truck slowed safely but the lady driving the Subaru was on a cell phone and ended up putting two wheels off the pavement as she tried to get slowed down. That explained her anger at me because she was driving distracted.
Everyone, just hang up and drive!!!!
We continued around Beaver Lake to Rogers.
In Rogers, we followed the streets north and turned right on US 62. I was disappointed to see that G@D's BBQ was no longer in business. This had always been a great lunch stop on the route.
US 62 used to be a two-lane road right past the Pea Ridge Battlefield site. Then, a couple of years ago, they built this new four-lane road parallel to the old one. Our first time through after the change, I couldn't find the access road. No sign. It was now signed even if the GPS was still confused so we pulled in for a visit. Zeke and Ice Cream had National Park passes that covered our entire group.
It was 88 F as we continued along US 62 through Garfield and Gateway. We turned off on Highway 187 towards the spot known as Beaver, Arkansas. This consisted of one large building, a couple of small houses and a single lane suspension bridge. We stopped for photos and talked to a dual sport rider from Oklahoma.
Highway 187 brought us out on Arkansas 23 north of downtown Eureka Springs. We had no desire to go through Saturday downtown traffic, so the plan was to take a shortcut up to Passion Play Road. It would have worked if I had not missed the turn and taken the next road by mistake. The GPS showed that it went right through to Van Buren but the GPS does not describe the road conditions very well. When we reached a single lane bridge that said "Pavement ends", the rest turned around. Sandy and I continued another mile as the road got progressively narrower and then someone driving a 4WD the other direction suggested we might want to turn back. We did, and then had to contend with the downtown traffic after all. My apologies to the group, who had grown concerned about us.
We filled the bike with relatively cheaper US gas on the way back to Stonegate. Once there, we started packing our suitcases and I pulled the car down to load them. Then we took it out and filled it as well, stopping at Subway on the way back. The Stonegate crew was doing a fish fry for us but I am not a big fish fan. The rest of Hot Sauce's BBQ was also there, as were numerous desserts. I went totally nuts and had some desserts.
I got a text from Sherm that said he had reached the Arizona state line at 8:13 Central Time (6:13 AZ Time). He may be getting older but he isn't slowing down any.
After a few vehicles were moved, Zeke brought his open U-Haul trailer down to load his Wing onto. I was going to drive it up the steep ramp but Rainman offered to do it instead, since his legs were longer. Several of us spotted him but he executed the move perfectly. As Zeke started tying down, I brought my rig down and loaded our bike. This is a one man show for me since my trailer is more friendly and I do it regularly.
The last night is always the saddest, but plans were already underway for the 2019 Reunion. Our room is reserved and, bar flood or fire, we will be here. After making the rounds and saying goodbyes, we went to bed with no idea of where we would be going tomorrow. DuQuoin, Illinois was an easy day's drive and we didn't have to be there until Wednesday.
Today's Route (81 motorcycle miles):