Jail Break, Mena, Arkansas, 2005
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Man, Machine, Mongrel, Makarov...

Mt Nebo & Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Arkansas
September 13-18

bulletRide Length: 1,835 miles
bulletRiders: The Chain Gang
bulletWeather: Pissing rain, Perfection, then HOT!

If any of you want a full-quality, full-resolution version of any of the pictures, send me an email.

Yes, any picture below is clickable for a larger version... Like I said above, full-resolution versions are available upon request...

This story originally started out live via my PDA and cellular phone from Mt. Nebo in Arkansas… where I had cellular service.  That quickly came to an end at Queen Wilhelmina since I had no service there.  If you want to read the original cryptic version I scribbled out using my PDA, you can click here.

OK... let's go...

Pre-Monday

I took off the TKCs and the 15-tooth front sprocket and went with the Tourances and the 16-tooth for the trip up.  The TKCs looked OK... but not great.  I didn't think they would have gone that many more miles... besides... most of this journey was road anyway... though, in hindsight, I think I would have liked to have had them on the trails... but then there was all that rain...

I think there needs to be a button on the motorcycle... press it once and you get TKCs and a 15-tooth up front... press it again and you get Tourances and a 16-tooth...

... I digress.

Monday

Odometer: 18,333

I took a vacation day Monday and spent some time preparing for the journey.  I got all of my supplies in order and had the motorcycle fully loaded and ready to go by sometime in the afternoon. 

Tools are always something we need on our trips, so I took a bunch of them...

... in addition, I had spare cables, spare levers, spare tubes, an air compressor, a patch kit, a water pump kit, blah, blah, blah... o yeah, and of course my Makarov 9mm.

Tuesday

It was a pretty uneventful ride from Houston to Palestine.  The plan was to meet Brewer, Thumper, and DAM in Palestine for breakfast at the Best Western Cafe.  I left Houston at 0-dark-thirty and rode 175 miles to arrive at an empty parking lot at 9:00AM.  Within a few minutes, the boys came barreling in...


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

After breakfast, we headed out for the haul to Mount Nebo... 


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

(Photo courtesy of DAM)

We stopped for gas somewhere in the middle of no where....

At this particular stop, DAM had had enough of his fan coming on because of the fork boots, so he corrected the situation...

After some drinks (non-alcoholic), DAM commented that his rear wheel didn't spin as freely as ours, so we set off to investigate the issue.  Turns out his wheel was not aligned properly, so he corrected the problem and off we went again...

Another thing needing fixing was his taillight.  I brought the parts from Houston, and he fixed it at the cabin (later in the story)...

Once we arrived at the Arkansas border, of course we stopped for the obligatory photo of the welcome sign...

Then off again...


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

Somewhere along the route, we had lunch at Burger King.  We also made a few stops to rest and snap a few pictures...

We eventually arrived at Mount Nebo near dark.  First, let me tell you the road up to the top was simply amazing--switch-back after switch-back on what seemed like a vertical climb.  Awesome!  Here's a blurb from their Web site...

Rising 1,350 feet above the Arkansas River Valley, Mount Nebo offers spectacular views. The mountain has been attracting travelers and settlers for over 100 years when a resort hostelry was operated on the mountaintop for steamboat travelers. In 1933, a portion of the mountain was chosen as a park site, and logs and stones from Mount Nebo were used by the Civilian Conservation Corps to construct many of the park's bridges, trails, charming Rustic-style cabins and pavilions. The park offers 35 campsites (Class B; 10 hike-in - no trailer dump station) and 15 fully-equipped cabins with kitchens. Fourteen miles of trails encircle Mount Nebo. A pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, extra large enclosed and small open pavilions and a ball field are available. The visitor center houses exhibits and a store. Please note that many private homes are also on the mountain.

The park is seven miles west of Dardanelle on Ark. 155. [NOTE: Highway 155 zigzags up the mountain and includes hairpin curves. Trailers over 24 feet should not attempt the climb.

It was nearing evening when we arrived, and the office had closed.  Apparently this happens a lot, because they have boxes outside with guest keys contained within.  We found the key, found our cabin, and unloaded our gear...


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

That about sums up the ride up... like I said--mostly uneventful...

Total mileage for Tuesday: 18,333-18,888: 555 miles

Wednesday

Rain Rain Rain! But, we rode in it anyway... 200 miles of it.

In the morning, I had to resolve a little issue with my Hyper-Lites.  Nothing major, but still an inconvenience...


(Photo courtesy of Brewer)

... then we said screw it and went riding!

We rode though Dover, Deer, Fallsville, Ozone, Harmony, Ozark, Paris, and then back to the cabin.... all in the pouring rain! Believe it or not, we actually saw Harleys out... in the rain... and they waved... Amazing on multiple levels!

Another thing we noticed... it seemed that nearly every roadside restaurant was closed.

Eventually we did find something to eat.  DAM says "Hello!"...

We made a run to the grocery store to pick up some supplies...

The rain did let up enough to let us snap a few pictures on the ride back up to the cabin...

We stocked the frig and DAM went to work on dinner... chili!

One thing Arkansas has is an abundance of walking sticks...

... interesting creatures... and they were everywhere.

I cannot say this creature is from Arkansas... she actually tagged along with one of the boys... and she's not mine...

Once again, pretty uneventful, but it was simply great to be out riding!

Oh yeah, this is me scribbling in the original report via my PDA...


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

I look mental.

Total mileage for Wednesday: 18,888-19,088: 200 miles

Thursday

It was my job to be security since I was on the hide-a-bed and had the 9mm.  Apparently I completely suck at that job because in the morning Thumper announces, "Who's here... There's another motorcycle out front!"  Sure enough, out front sat another red GS. I recognized it immediately... GSAtlanta.  He had set up camp out back, so of course we woke him up to get the story...

After getting the story from GSAtlanta, it immediately starting raining again.  Lovely!

DAM made all of us breakfast--eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast. After breakfast and cleanup, we finally got on the road at 11:00 AM... in the pouring rain... again.

We made it from the cabin to the drive way when we noticed DAM had a flat tire. He aired it up and it held air, so off we went.

Our first stop was at an old church in Paris, AR. Very old, very big, very pretty...

Next, we stopped at  Wal-Mart to purchase some batteries for DAM's camera. The next stop was... well... let's just say we made another stop...

Somewhere between the cabin and Eureka Springs it stopped raining. 

We made a gas stop somewhere along our route after the fantastic twisties...


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

Brewer spotted this dood at the gas station.  Brewer thought the guy had on a coon-skin hat... Nope... that was his hair...

After gas, a beverage and beef jerky, we decided we needed to go to Missouri.  Why?  Why not?

Eventually, we found ourselves at the Missouri border.  A bit anti-climatic... I expected more... but snapped yet another obligatory road-sign photo....

That was pretty much that, so we turned around and headed back to the cabin. 

We stopped at some little burger place and grabbed a snack to help us home...

While there, DAM also put a little air in his tire...

And somewhere else along the route, I composed a self-portrait...

As we made our way south via highways 23, 62, 21, 16 and 7 back to the cabin in Dardanelle, DAM and

It turned out to be a perfect day!  Beautiful roads, lots of twisties, lots of riding... just perfect!

Total mileage for Thursday: 19,088-19,407: 319 miles

Friday

Let me start of by saying, you can never have too many pictures of your motorcycle...

OK... on to the day...

We packed up all of our gear and headed out the door at some point in the morning.  Surprisingly, there was no rain.

While loading up, we had a convoy of scooters pass by our cabin.  Each was enthusiastically blowing the horn at us and waving frantically.  We waved back and thought, goofy young tourists...

... well, we went up to the office/gift shop to check out, and there they were.  Turns out it was not a bunch of young tourists; it was a bunch of older gentlemen out raising hell.  We took few photos... "Say Winnebago!"

We headed down the mountain and began our journey to Mena, AR.  I stopped to take one final picture of Mount Nebo...

... when I noticed this guy wanting a scratch...

Continuing on, it didn't take Brewer long to find us some dirt roads for our ride to Mena.  GSAtlanta had decided to take dirt the entire way to Mena... the rest of us did both dirt and road.  (You can never have too many dirt pictures...)

More of the same... (did I mention you can never have too many pictures of your motorcycle?... besides... what else is there to do while you wait for the group to catch up?)...

Finally we arrived at Queen Wilhelmina...

Here's a blurb for those of you who have not been...

Atop Arkansas's second highest peak, Queen Wilhelmina State Park reigns above the Ouachita Mountains. Located on the Talimena Scenic Drive, the park is as rich in history as in scenery. In the late 1800s, a resort hostelry named Queen Wilhelmina Inn, in honor of the Queen of the Netherlands, was built on Rich Mountain by the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad. Since then, two inns have replaced the original "Castle in the Sky."

Take a look at what we found in Thumper's rear tire...  Lucky!

After checking in and all of that, Brewer and I decided to go for a ride.  We rode from the lodge down into Mena via the Talimena parkway--a scenic drive which spans one of the highest mountain ranges between the Appalachians and the Rockies...

After tooling around in Mena a bit, we found some dirt on the way back to the lodge...

We also found some tourist stuff...

Let the excitement begin...

We were looking for something a little more challenging than simple dirt roads, so we explored a little side road when we stumbled upon this sign...

... note the spelling...

Obviously, I had to get a picture of it, so I hopped off to do just that.  Brewer said, "Someone is coming!"  So I go to hop back on the motorcycle, but Brewer says, "No no... get the picture first!"  Good call!

After the quick shot, we hauled ass back to the trail head and stopped for a laugh.  Brewer said the dood had long grey hair and was wearing overalls with no shirt... ("You sure have a pretty mouth...") 

We were in the middle of our laugh when Brewer noticed his rear tire was flat.  Crap!  And horrible timing too!

We decided it would be best if we got a little further down the road to avoid any run-ins with the crystal-meth-lab dood, so we went a ways and stopped to address the situation.

The tire had a puncture, but we weren't in the mood to change it in the woods with Methman hanging around.  Our plan was to air it up and go until it went flat again and repeat...

... when out of no where comes this big son of a bitch...


The last picture found on the camera next to the mutilated body...

I pulled the 9mm from the tank bag, but it turned out he was a friendly dog.  Just a big, strong, hyper friendly dog!

Then Brewer got on his motorcycle.  Oh shit!  The dog did not like this... at all! 

The big bastard started attacking the motorcycle... literally biting the front tire.  He was so strong that he nearly lifted the front wheel in air.  Brewer tried to get going, but there was no stopping this beast!

We needed to get away from him or else he was going to pop the front tire as well.  Finally I was able to put my motorcycle between the dog and Brewer's motorcycle... all while laughing my ass off... and Brewer was able to get away.

We hauled ass back to the park, but we had to stop a couple of times to air up the tire...

Crazy damned dog!

Arriving back at the park, we changed clothes and went to work on Brewer's flat.  We had lots of help and advice... all good 'cause we "got 'er done!"


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

The rest of the evening was fire, food, and fun!  That crazy sheep somehow found her way to the camp site too...


(Photo courtesy of DAM)

And that was Friday...

Total mileage for Friday: 19,407-19,555: 148 miles.

Saturday

We woke up at whatever time we woke up and headed downstairs to have some breakfast.  After shoveling in the all-you-can-eat buffet, we made plans to go for a ride along the gorgeous 54-mile route between Mena, Arkansas and Talihena, Oklahoma.

Everybody loaded up and off we went...

DAM... tell us about last night again...

We decided we needed to ride some dirt, so eight people from our group--Brewer, Thumper, DAM, GSAtlanta, Tayloroy, Bawolf, ZDog and me--took off to find some trails.  I took a bunch of pictures of the guys ('cause that's what I do), so here goes...

What an absolute blast!  As we progressed through the day, the trails we found increased in difficulty.  Taylorboy, who had not ridden his GS off-road did amazingly well.  Another surprise was that no one laid his motorcycle down, though I tried once.  Then there was the near 100mph head-on collision between me and Brewer... but that's another story...

Anyway, it was simply awesome.  I'll even go so far as to say that it was the best off-roading day I have had on the GS.  DAM and Zdog even captured me in action!


(Photo courtesy of ZDog)

(Photo courtesy of DAM)

(My steering head bearings and rear shock were in sad shape before this adventure... they are completely shot now!  Does TT make SHBs?  How much is that Ohlins shock again?)

We stopped to hydrate and tried to find some food...

... but we ultimately decided to eat at the lodge.

On the way back, Brewer and I stopped to take yet another obligatory roadside picture...

4 states in as many days!

The day ended with the giveaways and presentation of the donations.  The donations totaled $1,079 to Healthy Connections, who help poor children in Polk County secure medical and dental help.  Here are Jonathan and Steve presenting Bob Young, the Director of Healthy Connections, with the checks...

Club awards were also presented to Flash and Jonathan for all of their contributions to the Chain Gang!

Great work guys!!!

After the presentations, we walked up to the lodge to get something to eat.  In the parking lot we spotted this...

Drool!

After a meal and some packing, I went to sleep.

Total mileage for Saturday: 19,555-19,698: 143 miles.

Sunday

Brewer and I woke up early to head home.  We hauled our gear out to the motorcycles in the dark and drove down the mountain into Mena for some breakfast...

After eating, we blasted south to get home.  We stopped for gas and kept on rolling...


(Photo courtesy of Brewer)

Once we arrived in Palestine, TX, Brewer headed to Austin, and I headed to Houston.  I stopped once to look at a map, but that was it...

... I kept on riding.

Kinda fun was capturing my motorcycle turn over 20,000 miles... (I was too lazy to pull over)

It didn't take long for the temperatures to rise into the upper 90s... ugh.  What a hot, horrible ride after spending all that time on the roads in Arkansas...

Needless to say, I was tired when I got home.

Total mileage for Sunday: 19,698-20,168: 470 miles

Trip Total: 1,835 miles

Odometer: 20,168.

Monday

Today I spent 2 hours, 1 entire bottle of Simple Green, and half a bottle of Armorall cleaning my motorcycle.  It is spotless! 

Me... well, I find my face breaking out like a pubescent school boy from all of the dirt... not to worry though... the grey in my goatee I grew on the trip makes my age perfectly clear.

And, one last thing to think about...

Why did BMW make the red motorcycles so much faster than any of the other colors?

The end!

By the way, Bawolf also wrote a report, you can find it here:
http://sff.net/people/brian_a_hopkins/jailbreak/jailbreak.htm

A few more links here:

bullet Queen Wilhelmina State Park
http://www.queenwilhelmina.com
bullet Arkansas | Queen Wilhelmina State Park
http://areas.wildernet.com/pages/area.cfm?areaID=ARSPQW&CU_ID=1
bullet Mount Nebo State Park
http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/park.asp?id=5
 

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