What should we ride this year? Well last year Jerry showed us some dual-sport promotional material from Arkansas so we decided to start with that. Here is where it took us…
First stop- Devils Den State Park. We started down I-49 to then slither across some smaller highways. We stopped by Natural Dam just before we set our sights on cam and it was cool, but I sort of expected more… After we took our selfies and posted on our favorite social media platform, we headed for camp. We paid for our camping spot, hauled in our fire wood, scavenged for Bud Light, and started the story telling. Matt and I stayed up later than the rest of the team. We were still working on that 24 pack when I heard a rustling in the leaves. I didn’t really think twice about it but then realized that it sounded more like scavenging than rustling. So I turned my headlamp on, turned over my shoulder to get a better look, and… SKUNK!!!!!! I jumped up to run while trying to tell Matt that I saw a skunk. He was slightly slower to react and finally realized that I was serious. Luckily Pepe Le Pew wasn’t interested in spraying Matt as she elegantly wandered off to the neighbors.
Next stop- Ponca. We took our sweet time getting up the next morning. We finally got packed up and had our stomaches set on the nearest breakfast joint where we had an entire breakfast buffet at our disposal. On the way to Ponca we stopped by White Rock for a while. White Rock was neat and you could see forever. We also munched on some famous pie at the Oark Cafe. The pie was good but the waitress was a B****! I grabbed myself an Oark sticker and we set off. Ponca was in our sights and when we arrived there was no where to stay. We rode from camp site to camp site, and even tried to convince some fellow riders that we could stay with them, but they didn’t agree. So, we headed towards Harrison in hopes for a real bed. Little did we know that Harrison was being infiltrated with the retired folk who couldn’t find rooms in Branson. We were able to slip into a Motel 6 all while getting the gospel recited to us by a 20 something year old kid who was as high as a weather balloon. Apparently he’s traveling around the country spreading Gods blurry word. He didn’t have any shoes on and wanted to shack up with any willing soul. We also found out that the Chinese place next door had free ice cream, decent grab rangoon, and very fresh sushi. It was a great day of riding but the dust was unnerving, but none of that mattered after a hot shower.
Next stop- no idea (and this turned out to be a really big problem). We had only planned the first 2 days of riding so during breakfast we decided to ride a route from last year. After the decisions were made, coffee was drank, and egos were refilled we headed south to Jasper and then continued to hug the Buffalo River. Even through the dust this route was fun as it consisted of some nice gravel with a side of tarmac hairpins. I also had the chance to put my video skills to the test.
Somewhere around noon we decided to stop and eat right along the river, but before Don got hungry he decided to go on a short adventure of his own. He had found a little trail that looked to be “not so bad” and told us about it at lunch. He didn’t know it yet but he had found our true nemesis of the ride. Lunch was successful and our subconscious couldn’t stop thinking about this “not so bad” trail. We spoke to a local and he basically said, “I wouldn’t go that way if I were you, maybe on an RM 250 but not those big bikes”. But, we did it anyway. I mean, how bad could it be? He showed us a map of where the trail led and although he hadn’t traveled it he seemed pretty sure.
Next stop- exactly where we started. We continued along this trail that was most definitely not suited for big loaded down BMW’s! Don seemed to be scooting along just fine on his 690 but Matt and I had to pick up our bikes several times. We definitely should have turned around in the first 100 yards of mud, giant rocks, more giant rocks, sand, logs, and water holes. It got to the point where we were committed and I kept thinking that it can’t get much worse. We eventually approached the river where we somehow managed not to sink our bikes. After the dramatic crossing we continued on, to a end. A mother f’8ckin dead end. We stopped for a minute to gather our thoughts. Matt and I realized that our aluminum side bags looked like they were used for target practice to prepare for the upcoming high striker contest. We had destroyed our bags, but we had to laugh that the dents were almost identical. As you might have guessed, we turned around and luckily found some hikers to ask for directions. They pointed, slightly explained the trail, and also said that it’s not too far back to the road. We continued on and it was hell. This was the beginning of money loss, JB Quick Welded parts, and bikes ridden without break levers. Don also watered the local greenery with radiator fluid but finally, finally 4 hours later we were out, right back to where we started… We had basically completed a big, expensive circle. We didn’t have much time to think because Don’s 690 was donating radiator fluid, so we turned in the direction of the highway and continued on. We found some second-rate cell service about 15 miles later so stopped to repair Don’s bike. The first try didn’t work so we tried again and by this time it was getting dark. It was good that the second try worked because we had run out of ideas, JB Weld, sun light, and the will of survival. The only liquid that we had left over was an orange vitamin water, so Don dumped the orange juice into his radiator and we buzzed down the highway, dodged some deer, and finally made it back to Jasper. When I finally hit cell service near Ponca I had received a text from Jerry with their location. We rolled into camp, changed clothes, and went to eat. Day 3 was now a nightmare of the past.
Next stop- Kansas City. We made our way up through Peel, AR and rode the Peel Ferry just for fun. Highway 160 might be the best motorcycling road in the state and we had tons of fun. For lunch we stopped at the famous Smith’s restaurant in Bolivar (for more pie of course), and made it across the finish line at a decent hour. Even with the carnage, it was an awesome ride.
Time to plan next years ride.