Monday, August 4, 2008

(Day 7) The Ozarks, a full dosage…

Thursday, July 10th, 2008
Day 7
Russellville, AR to Alma, AR

I was a little slow on the go again this morning. GPS data shows that I was moving at 8:24am, about an hour and a half after I’d like to get moving. Maybe it was because of this little fella:

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah… not really; this guy was fearless. Most squirrels that I have dealt with will run away before you can even make a move towards them. Not this guy; the fact that I’m 100 times bigger than he was made no difference. He was clearly interested in my oatmeal:

I’ve never seen a squirrel at this range. I could have reached out and grabbed him easily; at one point I thought he may even try to jump on me. What a jerk. He settled for a ball of oatmeal packages, took them up the tree and proceeded to shred them into 2000 pieces. Did I say I liked everyone I met in Arkansas? I’m sorry, I forgot this little nutsack. I guess the people in Arkansas are so nice that the squirrels have taken advantage of it. I will look for this guy the next time I’m in the Ozarks and may even purchase a nice .22 just for him.

Anyway, I saw these guys around the park several times yesterday, but didn’t know that they were riding:

…until the next morning. They were doing 600 miles a day moving towards Colorado. The guy I spoke with loved that trailer. I doubt I had enough luggage to fill up half of it…different strokes for different folks I guess.

Bam, scored a new bungee net at the local motorcycle shop:

I thought the story of my trip would maybe earn me a discount or some good advice…nope. I barely got a response. Kind of like this:

Anyways, moving onward and looking westward:

Obvious rain clouds, but luckily I had about 15-20 miles to travel due north to pick up the trail where the sun was shining:

If you like fast gravel/dirt roads, the Ozarks are chock full of them. Seemed to be the best area I came across for dual sporting on the east coast:

With multiple choices of terrain:

I was happy here:

Then comes the big story of the day. I’m trying to make this as brief as possible because I do not have any pictures (I do have video of the entire debacle, but I don’t have the software to edit it yet). Remember my GPS routes being off? They tell me at what point I need to make a turn, but they don’t really say which road/trail that I need to take. Imagine a road that splits into 3 and then eventually comes back together. That’s what happened here:

All three roads would have taken me to my next via point, so I chose the shortest. (Note to self, the shortest road will probably be the most difficult). You can see above where I had to turn around when the contour lines start to get really close together. To make a long story short, I fail to climb the mountain, drop the bike 3 times, almost make it to the top (where it would have been easy riding), turn around and come back. My second fall had trapped my leg between the ground and my bike. For a split second, I thought that this was where I was going to spend the night. But, luckily, I had enough movement to get the bike up enough to remove my leg and get out.

At this point, I wasn’t sure which way the real TAT trail went and I thought I had picked the right trail. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard about this section in the previous ride reports. My pride took a beating. It took a few more miles for me to convince myself that I had made a “shortcut” and that it was no big deal. But being so close to the top of that mountain and not making it still hurt. Not only will I bring a .22 for that jerk of a squirrel next time, I’m also going to bring a lighter load and conquer Pilot Knob.

Anyways, I retreat for now and hit the big wide fast stuff. They spend a lot of time maintaining the roads:

I finally come up to the Ozark café and they had my favorite on special:

Looking out from the café, I could have gotten a good picture of these two kids without a care in the world:

But, I forgot about the town drunk (the road maintenance crew up ahead told me about him, he was getting a nice 12 pack of Busch Light as I was leaving) driving off into my picture:

Oh well, here’s the road maintenance, we’re losing our trail, mile by mile:

Shortly afterwards, I meet Lloyd, Billie, Charlie, Lacy:

…extremely nice people from Missouri. I wish I had more time to talk, but I had to keep moving on. Once I exited the Ozark National Forest, things got a little more sketchy. Here is the famous Warloop Rd:

It does have a few drop-offs and rocky sections, but nothing the EXC was scared of. What was more frightening was the area around Warloop. Not somewhere I’d like to be changing a flat.

The laptop took a beating today, look at lower left corner:

But, it still worked. I found Alma and had a little mexican food:

I had 2 or 3 choices of hotel/motels in Alma. One looked like a trucker joint, the Days Inn looked like Saddam Hussien’s sons’ home (like it had been obliterated with .50 caliber machine gun fire):

Or the Comfort Inn:

I obviously chose the Comfort Inn. I changed all of my oil, washed some clothes and lived luxuriously…well, at least by Alma’s standards.

Today’s stats:

Tomorrow’s plan is to attack Oklahoma’s long and straight roads and find some cheap camping.

Total mileage: 1499
Daily mileage: 168
Wildlife observed: Turtles, deer, another dead armadillo
Favorite Sight: Ozark mountain tree filled range views
Favorite Scent: I don’t smell very well, nothing stuck out
Favorite Sound: “Today’s special is Fried Chicken…[something, something, something]”
Favorite Taste: The fried chicken, of course
Favorite Feel: Out running Charlie, catching a little wheelie.
Ailments: Bruised calf from boot still, hurt my pride a little bit, gas tank took big hit, burned hole in bag, banged up laptop.

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