Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ozark Assault

It was getting pretty late in the day on Sunday as we rolled into Beebe. It was hot... and we were tired and startin' to make mistakes. It was time to find a spot to pack it in. Now for them what don't know... you do not ride in Arkansas at night.

Why? Bugs. That's why. Arkansas at night is like something out of the Old Testament. There is a fog of bugs that decends on the place like some sort of plague. When we blasted through the state on the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Tour we were stopping every 10 minutes to scrub the dead bugs from our face shields.
Even up on the mountains... we found clouds of mosquitos... were it not for deet... I dare say we'd've been sucked dry and left to rot up there. If you look at the two pictures to the left... you'll see the cloud of doom in the light... and the one below it... that's a pile of dead bugs the folks at the gas stations sweep up every morning. There were three or four of those piles at the gas station we stopped at.. and the girl wasn't done sweeping.

Anyway... from Beebe we decided to shoot up to Heber Springs to pitch a tent. If you ever need an out of the ordinary place to go and relax for a few days... find your way there boys. Its on a gorgeous mountain lake. Its a slow... simple town. Its perfect.

We set up Camp Cherolis... and settled in for wouldn't be an uneventful night. I mean really... what trip is worthwhile that doesn't involve sever thunderstorms?

All in all it wasn't that bad. The chicks at the ranger's station were hot... and we nearly got a contact high from all the folks burnin' herb around us. Coulda been worse.

We rolled out of Beebe early monday... heading into some angry dark clouds. It was the same ol' stuff for the first few hours. Lots of gravel roads... but the hills were getting longer... and the flat stretches were getting shorter. It wasn't long before we found ourselves in the Ozark National Forest riding maintanence roads and haul roads.

I remember we rounded this one bend... and the next thing we know... we're climbing up the hill from hell. Its a trail maybe 7 feet wide... huge rocks scattered all over it... big ruts... mud... sand... washboards... everything you can think of.

I have no idea what JAC did... becasue he was behind me. I just crack the throttle wide open and hung on. The KLX ate it alive. I got to the top... and waited... stunned... in front of a log cabin. Someone lived up there! I mean... we were 45 minutes from a paved road! probably an hour or more from any kind of store.

We road up... up... up... it just kept climbing... seemed like forever. And then... it opened up... and we found we could see for miles. No telling how many counties we could see from up there. These pictures of the view are not even from over looks. That just what we were seeing as we were riding around. We'd stop periodicly and take pictures.. just because... ya know... damn.

I particularly like these two pictures below. If you look at them full sized... you can find a cooling tower from a nuclear power plant in each one. The Picture on the right was taken about 15 minutes before the one on the left.

If ya find the tower in each picture... you should get a pretty good idea of the kind of ground we were covering.

A really bizarre thing happened up there... at one point.. all the trees around us disappeared.. and we found ourselves riding with insane views on each side of us. I couldn't help but get off the bike to look around a little... and that's when I realized I had 500 foot cliffs on either side of me.

Yeah... My feet got all tingly... cause I mean... dude this road was tiny. We were effectively riding the top of a ride that was all of 10 feet wide... with sheer drops on either side. A screw up here.. and they'd never find you... or the bike.

For the rest of the day we blasted through these mountain "roads"... hitting awesome creek crossings... and playing our favorite game... "splash your brother with you back tire". Its exactly what it sounds like... you find a big puddle and try to time it so you throw mud and water all over the other guy. Big fun!

The day ended at the famous Oark Store. The place has been in continuous operation since 1890. Its never been closed... not even when they updated the kitchen.

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