Sunday, March 14, 2010

Arkansas Diamond Hunting - Day 3

Last night was the time change so we lost an hour of sleep. As a result we decided to meet a little later for breakfast. At 9am we were walking across the street to Buddy's. I ordered the chocolate gravy but they were out of cocoa so I had to settle for plain gravy. It was OK but nothing special. The philly steak omelet was really good though.

After breakfast we all sort of broke up. Reagan had some office work to do, John and Lydia decided to hang out at the hotel and exercise the rocking chairs while I headed to Mt. Nebo. So I grabbed a few things from the room and headed out. The route to Mt. Nebo was simple, take Hwy 27 up to Nebo and then 155 up to the state park. Along the way I detoured down a gravel road to check out some acerage for sale. Never found the actual property for sale but enjoyed some great landscape down the 5 miles or so of gravel road that I travelled.

Once I completed my exercusion then it was back on Hwy 27 heading toward Mt. Nebo. As the road got more twisty my riding pace increased. When I got just outside of Nebo, the GPS took me down a backroad and I completely avoided the town on my way up to the park. The switchbacks going up to Mt. Nebo are some of the steepest I've ever seen anywhere. Make sure your bike is in a low gear and keep it under power or you just might find yourself falling over on the first right hander that's almost straight up.

When I got to the top, I followed the road until it ran out and then I got off the bike for a little bit to look around. It's a great scenic overlook and very peaceful. People don't seem to stay there very long. They just sort of pull up, look around and leave. It was almost as much fun to people watch as it was to view the scenery. Finally the chill of the wind started to bother me though and I decided it was time to leave.

Before departing I tried to reverse the route that John had sent me as the way up, which included going through hot Springs Village. Well somewhere in the conversion, the GPS got confusioned and tried to route me up to Alaska. Nope! That wouldn't work. So I browsed the map and figured I could take 155 down into Nebo, catch Hwy 7 south and then let the GPS route me back over to Murfreesboro when I got close to Hot Springs.

The ride down 7 was great when I didn't have cars, trucks and campers in front of me. Some quick passes usually took care of the slow moving traffic and I managed to straighten out a few of the twisties along that stretch of road. Definitely not a route I'd like to take with a group of riders as most passing situations were very quick with limited opportunities. Hwy 27 provided an equal number of twisties with far less traffic and law enforcement so that's the better route up to Nebo if you are coming from Murfreesboro.

I stopped in Hot Springs Village to fill up and then continued along my way. I was hoping to find a BBQ joint close to Hot Springs since I'd seen so many yesterday when riding into town. When I thought I was close to Hot Springs, I pulled up my Favorites and told the GPS to take me to the Queen of Diamonds hotel. Well it promptly told me to turn right on the next road which was another one of those rural neighborhood type roads. The farther down it I rode the rougher the road became. Finally the pavement disappeared all together and I was riding on a gravel road. Well I wasn't going to turn around so I pressed on hoping the road wouldn't get any worse. Luckily it finally turned back into pavement about 10 miles later and then I found myself pulling out onto Mountain Pine road and heading toward Hot Springs. So much for a shortcut I guess. In reviewing John's route I realized I would have needed to have to told the GPS to take me home, before I got to Hot Springs Village.

None the less, once on Mountain Pine Road I was again on his route and found myself on 270 and then exiting for Hwy 70 toward Glenwood. There was a BBQ joint right there at 270 and 70 but they were closed so I didn't get BBQ. I was less than an hour from the Hotel and it was after 3 so I just resigned myself to grabbing a snack when I got into town. The ride along US 70 was uneventful. In Glenwood it changed to Hwy 27 again and I knew I was only about 30 minutes away.

About 5 miles outside of town I saw the very distinctive head lights of a Spyder coming toward me and then I saw a pink jacket so I knew it was Reagan. I turned around and followed her back to the gravel road that I had explored earlier in the day. I figured she had gotten my text message and done some research. Nope, she just wanted to see for herself so we took off down the road. We explored all 3 possible routes and each time we were blocked by water crossings. The last of which wasn't too bad so I went ahead and checked the other side but found nothing. So we turned around and head toward town.

When we got to town we stopped at the Exxon so I could get a snack and Reagan decided to fill up. That's when I noticed her antenna had gotten damaged. Apparently she caught a tree or something while turning the Spyder around. Well, I headed back to the hotel with my coke and peanuts while Reagan went over to Sonic for a Cherry Limeade. I think Reagan will be investing in a cup holder soon, enough said.

Today's ride was great. I don't always get to venture out on my own when I'm traveling with a group so this was a change of pace. I was able to crank up the pace today and test out the Roadtec Z6 tires. Besides the front end still feeling "twitchy" I like the overall grip and think these tires may work out OK if the mileage improves. Otherwise, I'll go back to my tried and true Tourances that seem to do a little better on those gravel roads I kept finding myself on today.

I traveled 282 miles today over a 7 hour 14 minute period. Besides the stop at Mt. Nebo I really didn't stop anywhere along the way for any period of time. The treks down the gravel roads chewed up a lot of time, the first time down the property for sale road took 45 minutes by myself. The second time with Reagan we explored the various forks and that took an hour. Plus the 30 minutes I spent on a gravel road due to the GPS shortcut. That added up to quite a bit of time on gravel today and the tires performed well.

Tomorrow we are heading home, with plans to check out Reagan's old apartment building Nacogdoches and visit my grandmother in Lufkin along the way. So we will be getting an earleir start. Breakfast is at 6:30 and we'll be on the road by 7:30. We didn't find any diamonds this weekend but we did have fun and we have another place to come back to in our future travels.

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