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Old 11-08-2014, 08:01 PM   #1
bsheet2 OP
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Late Autum Smorgasbord - OAT+ NW Arkansas

It was cold... We stumbled into the late autumn predawn morning on Nov 1 to strap all our gear to the bikes. There were no clouds and no large cities near by. So the Oklahoma sky reveled all the beauty of the heavens. Not a sight I get to see very often these days. We downed that last gulp of coffee and trudged out to the barn where our trusty steads awaited. In 30 minutes the gear was on, the bikes warmed up and as we pulled out you could see the dawn starting to brighten the eastern sky. As we eased down the gravel driveway I felt the cold trying to find its way through my riding gear. But after pushing my collar up a bit and tuning in to that familiar crunch of knobbies on gravel, I just smiled. That electrical charge of excitement and anticipation at the start of a ride was coursing through my body. We were ready for this!

We started this ride near Perkins, Oklahoma only a few miles from where the OAT (Oklahoma Adventure Trail) goes through. So we were on gravel roads almost immediately. And on the OAT and rolling not long after. We cruised easy since it was still pretty dark. But in short order as we turned down a section heading west, we topped out on hill to a beautiful sight.

Awesome way to start an adventure ride !!

The motto for this trip was "Minimum Plan - Maximum Flexibility". My brother (Roamineye) had purchased the tracks for the TAT. Plus we had the tracks for OAT. Thanks sooo much to those wonderful folks who put together and share the OAT tracks. Plus I had some tracks from the SLAP rallies done in past years. We used these to patch together a sort of loop that looks like this.

The green segment is from the OAT. It linked us up to the TAT going backwards from Oklahoma and through Arkansas. Then we planned to follow some of the tracks from the SLAP rallies around through northern Arkansas. As you can see this is a bit of a smorgasbord of routs pieced together. The idea was to just head down this route and see where we ended up each day. If we wanted to branch off and explore something, so be it. If time started running out, we would just jump on pavement and head back. Mileage wise this route should be very doable in the 7 riding days we had.

Will see if I can get day 1 up tomorrow. Roamineye will be editing my posts to add in his pictures and thoughts. So any given post I make for a day will change as he edits it. Watch for his additions.

bsheet2 screwed with this post 11-19-2014 at 03:41 PM
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Old 11-09-2014, 03:45 AM   #2
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Day 1 - Perkins to Salina

The big air conditioner was on as we headed out on this first day. Our thermometer read 26 degrees F at one point. But I don't think that was accurate. There was no frost , so it was maybe hovering just above freezing. As soon as the sun came up it started warming up and we had a gorgeous day to start the ride.

Cimarron River


We worked our way north-east up the OAT. There were 3 of us:

Roamaneye riding a DR650 he calls DR Dirty.
Myself riding a WR250R.
And C riding a BMW800. This was C's first adventure ride and he was pumped. Not sure he has even joined this forum yet. So I will call him C.

C's rig looks sort of like the time machine from the of movie 50 years ago. We gave him a good bit of grief about that big round item strapped in front of his tail box. It is his tent!

The Oklahoma roads were dry and fast. No drama on this day. Just fun riding.

Some wild turkeys. There were about a dozen. But I could only get these two in a pic before they hopped off the road.

We went by Frog Rock.

Roamineye on the left. bsheet2 on the right.

Then we linked up with the TAT and cruised through the Tall Grass Prairie. A dramatic terrain change. Just beautiful! We would now make our way south-east on the TAT headed for Arkansas.

Headed into the northeast Oklahoma hills.

We made it to Salina and made camp on the lake just before sundown. About 200 miles for this day. C had fun figuring out how to work all his new camping gear! His tent is one of those self erecting ones that just pop open. It was more fun watching him re-pack that thing and then figuring out how to strap a 3 foot diameter flat piece of gear onto that BMW.

A very nice sunset.
Some Jack Daniels, a camp fire and story telling rounded out the evening. Nothing spectacular on this day. Just a really fun riding on a beautiful day.

bsheet2 screwed with this post 11-09-2014 at 07:59 AM
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Old 11-09-2014, 02:27 PM   #3
bsheet2 OP
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Day 2 - Salina Okla to White Rock Moutain Ark

It is off season starting in November and most the camp grounds around the lake at Salina were closed. We found one a few miles from the highway after asking around a bit. It was a nice campground. Lots of trailers there but likely being stored. Most people were gone.

We crept out of our nice warm beds as the sun came up. Had coffee, packed up and rolled in to Salina for a nice cooked breakfast. When camping out in cold weather we enjoyed getting a good cooked breakfast to jump start the day. This became a routine for us. It made for a slow start. But it sure is good. This fit well with our philosophy of "minimum plan - maximum flexibility".

Our original thoughts were to make Natural Dam in Arkansas on day two. But we got further than planned on Day 1. So we just let the day unfold to see where we end up.

We headed out after breakfast on good gravel roads. And soon made this old bridge across the Illinois River (in Oklahoma) near Tahlequah.

The Illinois is a beautiful river. Lots of places along here that rent canoes. Lots of camping places,

From the bridge the road just follows the river for about 10 miles and then heads on east for about another 20 miles though nice twisty hills. This is one of my favorite sections. Fast gravel and dirt sections through really nice scenery. Just cruise along about 40 or 45 and enjoy.

We thought we would be too late for the fall color. But there were still some around.

We departed the TAT route to go over to see Natural Dam. This was a track I had found from one of the SLAP rallies. Turned out to be a fun less maintained road. We came to pretty impressive mud hole. And looked it over a bit before diving in.

Turned out to be a piece of cake.

[Roamineye] Here's a short video of me crossing. Like bsheet2 said - not a big deal, but you never know what the bottom of these things will be like.....

But this river crossing stopped us cold. It looked too deep and rocky to try on fully loaded bikes. So we had to route around.

We got to Natural Dam about 1 PM. Interesting rock formation that causes a natural pond in the river.

We had some lunch and considered our options. We had a good bit of time left to ride. So we headed aback to the TAT and would try to make the campground at White Rock Mountain.

The TAT starts up into the Ozark Mountains and the scenery is just beautiful.

We tried to go up War Loop Road but a tree blocked the trail. It looked like this tree had some help getting onto this road. I was bummed out. Everyone who rides the TAT though here mentions War Loop. We routed around.

After routing around War Loop we started up White Rock Mountain Road. This must be a forest service road . It is rock and dirt. Great road! Slowed us down as we wound and climbed up the mountain. This is another of my favorite sections. For some reason we did not get any photos through here.

Well we thought we would make the camp ground . But the sun started going down We had no idea how much further the camp ground was. The we topped out on a section that was pretty level and there was a clearing. So we just pulled in and made camp. Found out the next day we were only about 3 miles from the camp ground. But our little clearing was just right. Lots of fire wood and no one around. Perfect! A bit of Jack Daniels and beef jerky and we were literally happy campers. Minimum Plan - Maximum Flexibility !

bsheet2 screwed with this post 11-18-2014 at 09:40 PM
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Old 11-09-2014, 05:08 PM   #4
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very nice - OAT-TAT-SLAP-TAT-OAT hopefully with no SPLAT

Great Idea to piece this together, thanks for posting.
That'L do Pig,, That'L do
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Old 11-09-2014, 06:58 PM   #5
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Yes, no SPLAT is good . LOL>

bsheet2 screwed with this post 11-10-2014 at 08:46 AM
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:54 AM   #6
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Warloop Rd.

I rode Warloop Rd. the first week of Oct. and ran into this fallen tree and a fallen log across the road as well. I was able to pile up rocks to get across the log, but could not get through the fallen trees. I was however able to get around the fallen trees by entering just to the right of the gate and fence on your left, and going about 50 yards through the woods and back to the road.

I do have the coordinates stored if someone local could get there with a chain saw? Would sure be a big help for those traveling alone.
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Old 11-10-2014, 08:46 AM   #7
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War Loop Road

Thanks for that info on War Loop Road. I guess we were not adventurous enough to push through. Our loss!
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Old 11-10-2014, 06:31 PM   #8
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Day 3 - White Rock Mountain to Searcy

Day break on top of White Rock Mountain. A great camp site. Maybe a bit too much Jack Daniels.

We actually had cell service and checked the weather forecast. The weather gurus had been predicting a nasty front and lots of rain. Well this AM they were saying it would hit at midnight of this day and rain all day the next day.

We were in front of it currently so figured we should head east and try to stay in front. See what the day brings..........

Breaking camp. Roamineye on left. C on the right.

The road on White Rock Mountain

We didn't have far to go to get to the camp ground on White Rock Mountain. NIce looking camp ground. Even looks like they may have some decent cabins to rent.

Some views from the camp ground.

We eased on down the road. Sweet!

White Rock Mountain Road finally played out. I hope we have more like that!

A bit of a drama emerged here. C announced he was low on fuel. He had not filled up back at Natural Dam ???? We checked the electronic gizmos and they advised the nearest gas was at Oak. Right on our route anyway. We told C he would have to push his bike to Oark if he ran out of gas!

We made Oark at about 8 AM. And..... They were out of gas! But.... A tuck was on the way. Should be there in about an hour. Well, we wanted breakfast anyway. So we had some breakfast.

Words of wisdom from Oark Arkansas.

While we were waiting Roamineye took the chance to try and get his low beam working. His high beam worked fine. But the low beam, horn and one grip heater were not working. I tried not to comment that this was very curious on a motor cycle owned by and Electrical Engineer! But could not resist...

Well about the time we were giving up on the gas truck arriving, he pulled up. About 11 Am we were able to roll out. A nice looong leisurely breakfast. We did get to chat a good bit with the young couple that ran the place. Great folks! Good food! You gotta stop here if you come this way.

The day continued. We soon were off on gravel roads again and climbing up another mountain. Nice riding!

We topped out on Pilot Point. It was a nice ride to that point and we were enjoying and not taking pictures till we made that summit. And stop at the summit was well worth it. FYI, there is a sharp Y near the top that is obvious when going west to east. But you may miss it going east to west. We took the left of the Y since it was looking rough and still climbing to the top.

There was a pretty impressive stair step on the way up. But if take a line on the far right side and plow through the tree branches it is a piece of cake. I did not get a pic of that beauty. But here is what some of the rest looks like.

Some shots from on top of Pilot Point.

We made Pilot Point about noon. Way up here we had good cell service. So we checked the rain forecast. Was not looking good. That big nasty rain storm was bearing down on us. Rain to start tonight and last all day tomorrow. We did not relish breaking camp in the rain and then riding in rain all day the next day. Just so happens we have another brother who lives near Searcy. So we made a strategic decision. Ride the dirt till about mid-afternoon. Then hit the pavement if we have to and check in at the Bro's house. Watch the rain from his nice dry porch. Think about how to deal with the rain tomorrow.

Change in plan decided, we headed out.

Roamineye coming down from Pilot Point.

We eased on down the road. It was sublime riding. But we were slowly working our way out of the mountains and into the foot hills. Lots of forest.

About 4 PM we hit the pavement to my brother's house. We made it there just after sundown. Had to dodge a few deer!

They had a feast waiting on us and after a nice shower, we had nice fire going in the fire ring outside and drinks all around. Based on the quantities of empty bottles accumulating I think we all gathered we would sleep in a bit in the morning see what the rain was doing and figure it out from there. This just sort of eased in to this path without really talking about it.

A great finish to an outstanding day!

So how does the rainy day go??? Tune in to day 4.

bsheet2 screwed with this post 11-12-2014 at 06:33 PM
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:40 PM   #9
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Day 3 added

Day 3 finished . Days 4 -7 yet to come.

Roamineye will be adding some stuff to my first 3 days So if you are following this, relook at the first 3 days to see what he might add. I think he has a bit of video.
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:14 PM   #10
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Very nice ride so for sure. You guys know how to travel. I was with you the whole way! Looking forward to more. Nice country, thanks.
The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by bsheet2 View Post
Day 3 finished . Days 4 -7 yet to come.

Roamineye will be adding some stuff to my first 3 days So if you are following this, relook at the first 3 days to see what he might add. I think he has a bit of video.
Enjoy your RR bsheet. NW Ark. is amazing, looks like a fun DS tour.
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:37 PM   #12
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Looks like a great ride so far, keep it up!!
DR650 and ST1300
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:55 PM   #13
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Thanks for the kind words. Will get to more of the report soon.
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Old 11-13-2014, 06:40 PM   #14
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Day 4 - Searcy (Pangburn, really) to Jasper

Hello, all! Roamineye here. Looks like it's my turn to contribute to this ride report.

I think I can speak for the other guys when I say that the anticipation of getting out of a warm, soft bed and finding cold and rain lurking outside was enough to keep us in bed much longer than usual. But aching bladders and the smell of coffee brewing finally mobilized us. To our surprise, the rain hadn't started in Pangburn, but radar showed a huge blob of green running from south Texas to Michigan, moving slowly to the east. The leading edge was only about 20 miles from us. There was no routing around it, as our route from this point took us back to the northwest. We WOULD be wet by day's end.

After coffee and some serious ride strategizing, we took our hosts to breakfast in Pangburn. It was the BEST (only) place in town, and served an excellent breakfast.

We had decided to abandon the unpaved parts of our route to Jasper, since bsheet2 and I had had unpleasant experiences on the northeastern portion of the OAT during rain in OK, and expected the roads in AR to be similarly muddy and slicker than 20-weight owl s&*t.

Our first twenty miles or so was dry, though the clouds were constantly threatening, and heavy fog hung in the valleys.

I have to say here that even though it's a bit sacrilegious to take a full day of paved road on an adventure tour, the secondary highways in AR are pretty amazing. The hills and curves make for a great ride, and I think we all wore our chicken strip knobs down to nubs. As bsheet2 said during one of our stops: “there just aren’t any bad roads in Arkansas!”.

When we did finally ride into the rain, it started slowly and grew heavier as we rode further under the storm. There were waves of moderately heavy rain that slowed us a bit, but generally we were able to maintain the speed limits – which normally maxed out at 55 mph.

Here's a 2.5 minute vid of part of our rainy ride:

One of our priorities during these rides is to ensure that we find a place to grab a fresh supply of Jack Daniels before we stop for the evening. We have to find a place every day because we buy it in small bottles to avoid carrying open containers the next day, and to avoid carrying the extra weight. This has not been an issue on previous rides, since it seems that most towns that have gas stations also have liquor stores. Arkansas is a different animal. First, not every town has a gas station, and second, a large chunk of Arkansas is “dry”! Being unsure about where we would be camping that night and whether it would be in a wet or dry county (relative to alcohol sales, not weather – weather we were sure would be wet), we began an almost desperate search for a place to score our evening’s relaxation and therapy. We had decided earlier in the day to take a small diversion to tour Blanchard Springs Cavern, northwest of Mountain View. Luckily, there was a small store nearby, in a “wet” county, that was well-stocked with the supplies that we needed.

Turns out that the cavern was closed on Thursdays, so we missed out on that opportunity to dry out and warm up. But it was a beautiful ride through that part of the Ozark National Park.

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Old 11-14-2014, 06:08 AM   #15
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There Is No Such Thing As Bad Weather

There is only bad gear.

At least gear that is not made for the purpose at hand. I was a Scout leader for 10 years when my boys were young. The above was the saying that the troop had. Went right along with "Be Prepared"! When you get out in the elements it can be very surprising how quickly you can get in trouble. On a hot August day I saw some teen agers come close to hypothermia while canoeing a river when a thunderstorm hit. Who would have thought.

What Roamineye did not tell you about Day 4 was that he and C were wearing water "resistant" riding gear. They found the limits of that gear on Day 4.

They froze their a$$'s off ! With constant rain and temps around 48 to 50 F combined with the wind chill going 55 to 60 mph....... They were soaked through and cold. Very cold.

On the other hand I was dry and warm. I was leading since I had the GPS. The twisty roads were a blast to be riding , rain or no rain. So I was merrily cruising along oblivious to their suffering. Since they never pulled off wanting to warm up, I assumed they were wet but ok. LOL, not the case. When we got to Jasper it was 3 cups of coffee before Roamineye quit shaking. C could not feel his feet.

On our last trip where we had lots of rain, Roamin eye did not have knobbies on DR Dirty. After that ride he declared, "I will NEVER do another adventure ride without knobbies!" He had knobbies on this trip.

In Jasper he declared, "I will never do another adventure ride withour good rain gear!".

Listen up folks. Invest in good gear!

Not quite sure how C was feeling at this stop. That was an ominous look.

One of the reasons we pushed on to Jasper on this day was to set us up mileage wise was to get back on schedule. I hate being bound by a schedule on these rides. This part of the route is the tracks I had found from the past SLAP rallies. We had used some of those tracks getting to Natural Dam when we detoured from the TAT. Those guys lay out some NICE routes. The roads so far were less improved than the TAT and fun to ride. I did not want to miss the route going to Jasper. Oh well, gives me a really good reason to come back and ride NW Arkansas again!!

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