#117 Talimena Trail and Wandering thru Texas

October 8, 2007
368 miles

RT to TX
Day 5

Today I head off on US270 in the direction of the Talimena Trail near Mena, Arkansas.

My first distraction: "Y" City. It's a bit out of my way, but when I saw the sign, I had to go. Makes me wonder if there isn't a whole alphabet of towns out there. Wasn't much to see, but there was a volunteer fire department to serve as a photo backdrop. Then I stopped to pay my respects when I saw this Scooter Graveyard outside Mena.
Mena has several prime photo opportunity sites. Back from the day when two pumps were for two grades of gasoline... Esso and Esso Extra.There were some old vehicles in the Studebaker Showroom
... I'm assuming they were Studebakers? I found the old Mena Train Depot right downtown where it belongs.The old police patrol car is parked at the old train depot.Leaving Mena to the west on AR88...follow the signs to Queen Wilhelmina State Park. View to the north from the Talimena Trail (AR hwy 88) to the west of Mena.Hwy 88 makes its way deeper into the Quachita National Forest and gains elevation to provide some nice views.
It's just the kind of road meant to entertain two-wheeled travel. Arkansas highway 88 turns to Oklahoma Highway 1 at the state line. The views continue on the Oklahoma side of the Talimena Trail. But today the skies turn threatening. There's not a lot (or any) shelter to be found until Hwy 1 meets US271 and takes you into the small town of Talihina. By the looks of these clouds it is unlikely I will be able to reach Talihina before the rain gets me. I use this scenic pullout to switch from my mesh to my textile jacket and put the rain cover over the luggage on the back seat. Good thing I did... The weather got real interesting less than a mile later as I start down the mountain.
First come the big drops, then strong winds, then a sold wall of water. Oddly, then the rain let up as I rode through a thick fog bank. Visibility was very limited as I made my down the twisty trail leading from the mountain. Fog soon gave way to rain as I learned that the heavy rain a ways back was nothing compared to the bucket fulls being dumped on me as I rode the rest of the way in to Talihina.
In downtown Talihina, I was fortunate enough to find covered drive through bank lanes next to a Subway. Since it was Columbus Day,a banking holiday, I took advantage of the protected area to park. I dismounted, shook the water off, left my gloves, jacket, and helmet dripping as I walked next door for a turkey sub and chips. I spent about 1 1/2 hours in Talihina watching the rain until it slowed up enough for me to take back to the road heading southwest to Texas.
Passing though Antlers, Oklahoma there's a couple of sites worth pulling the camera out for some photos.
Next to the Antlers train depot was this building being guarded over by a couple gargoyles.I don't think the person(s) that named this creek thought too highly of it and apparently couldn't make up their mind if it was more muddy or more boggy...About 15 miles south of Durant, Oklahoma... ...I crossed the Red River......which put me back in my home state of TEXAS!I'm sure everyone knows about the six flags that have flown over Texas...
Spanish, French, Mexican, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, United States
I arrive at my friend Jaqui's house in Lake Kiowa, near Gainesville, and spend the night then ride into Fort Worth the next day.

Now that I have entered into the great state of Texas, my riding style changes dramatically. I spend my time doing more visiting and a lot less riding the miles.

The next few weeks:
Wandering around Texas ... spending nights with family and friends in Lake Kiowa, Fort Worth, Austin, Goliad, Magnolia, Houston, Orange, and New Braunfels.

#116 If only I rode like a great, great grandma...

October 7, 2007
366 miles

RT to TX
Day 4

Sunday morning I decided to take my time and maybe even sleep late since there was no rush in move down the road. I want to ride the Talimena Scenic Trail, but I don't want to ride it late in the day while riding into the sun. I decided that would put me staying at the last place of any size on my route...Hot Springs.

So I took my time getting up and ready to leave Metropolis, Illinois. I made my way out to the motel lobby to find the coffee pot and saw I couple of the MTF folks I know having breakfast. I sat down to join them while I drank my coffee. Well, one conversation led to another and three hours worth of story swapping later, we finally were ready to pull out of the parking lot each heading our separate ways.

The two friends that I spent my morning chatting with...

Ardys Kellerman...a legend among long distance motorcycle riders.
She rode over 100,000 miles last year on her BMW R1100RT.
AND...she's a 75 year old great, great grandma from Texas.

...I wish I could ride like a great, great grandma from Texas!

And this is Sheila Winnie from Ohio. She rode over 126,000 miles last year on her Gold Wing. So anyone that thinks I ride all that many miles ... now you see that I have nothing to brag about!
However, I might take more photos when out on my travels!

I left Illinois to the east, took a quick turn through Kentucky, then headed south into Missouri on my way to Arkansas. This is where the Ohio River and the Mississippi River come together at the southern tip of Illinois.
Fort Defiance is located in the very tip of Illinois.
I saw a lot of cotton on the way from the fields to the gins.
Here's a field still full of cotton.
And here's a truck loaded with bales of cotton heading to the gin.This farmer was riding his tractor discing the stubble, but the way he energetically waved at me with both arms as I rode by, I think he might rather be out riding on a motorcycle. Made me think of a particular farmer named Terry up near Moonshine, Illinois.I crossed into Arkansas on US412 near Paragould.I arrived at the Days Inn south of Hot Springs near Hamilton Lake about 7pm, much later than anticipated. But the morning was well spent swapping stories with Ardys and Sheila.
Tomorrow: Talimena Trail