Friday, March 12, 2010

Arkansas Diamond Hunting - Day1

Since last summer, John and I haven't been able to take a trip with girls so that's what we are doing. The trip has been in planning for a few months, making sure the dates were OK, that we could find a place to stay, and so forth. A lot of planning for a 4 day trip.

Last weekend I started getting the bikes ready. Now that Reagan has her own scooter I have the privilege of prepping 2 bikes before a trip. And it was determined that she probably needed a rear tire. Wild West didn't sound too confident with the tire change since they didn't have the tire in stock and didn't know how much the work would cost since they hadn't changed a tire on a Spyder before. So I decided to do it myself.  OK, the tire change itself was reasonably easy, balancing it was only marginally harder as I had to get a longer steel rod from Lowes. The challenge was in getting the belt tension set and aligned. I bought a tension gauge from Napa and later discovered they had sold me the wrong one but I had damaged the gauge so I couldn't return it. I ended up using the "twist the belt 90 degrees" method of measurement. Then when I went to torque the rear axle nut I discovered my torque wrench didn't go to the desired 96ft/lb setting. I tried it without the torque wrench and just couldn't seem to get the belt to reliabily line up. After purchasing a torque wrench that went to 150ft/lbs I was able to quickly and easily align the belt in a matter of minutes. During the tire change fiasco I broke her CB antenna so had to replace that. And there was also a new windshield to install which was quick and easy, once we got the right size for her.

My bike also needed some work as my back tire had worn the tread smooth in the center. So I didn't want to risk getting up to Arkansas and then needing to find a rear tire. This time I'm trying a set of Metzler Roadtec Z6 sport touring tires to see if I can get better than my 9 ~ 11K miles with the tourances. The tire changes went pretty smooth with the exception of breaking the tire pressure monitor strap for the rear wheel. Since I didn't have a 17" hose clamp available, I just put the tire on without the monitor. When I get the new clamp, I'll break the tire down and reinstall it.

This morning finally arrived and we were scrambling to pack as that chore had been ignored all week due to work and bike prep. To top things off my stomach was very upset from last night's trip to BJ's Brewhouse where I had embibed in a few of their in-house stouts. Honestly, it wasn't a hang over, their beer just messes me up. Everytime I drink even one I feel horrible the next day. Hopefully this time I'll remember not to drink their in-house brews from now on. So we get things packed and get out the door by 7am. Great, we were supposed to be at Avalon by 7am to meet John and Lydia. Well I eventually get there and we have a nice leisurely breakfast.

By 8:30 we are on the bikes and leaving the Exxon at Dairy Ashford. The plan was to ride the 59 HOV lane into town, then follow 59 on up to Nacogdoches. That's what we did with a gas stop along the way in Dibol at the new Chevron on the south side of town.  Once we got to the north side of Nacogdoches we took 259 north to Henderson where we took Hwy 43 toward Marshall. We ate lunch in downtown Marshall at Central Perks. It was probably the best grilled chicken salad I've had in a long time although I was nervous most of the time due to the abundant amount of antique stuff they had for sale. Luckily Reagan refrained from expanding her collection of antique  items and we left only $20 lighter than when we had arrived.

Upon leaving Marshall we headed north on Hwy 59. We stopped in Jefferson to get gas for Reagan and then took 49 out of town to find some twisties. We took FM 248 to Bivins, and then 43 into Atlanta, TX where we met back up with Hwy 59 which took us into Texarkana. Now, for those readers who aren't familiar with John's navigation, he does not like the interstate highway system. It's a route of last resort as in, all other paved roads have been blown up or flooded and the only possible way to get somewhere is via the interstate. So when got to Texarkana we rode through town instead of taking the interstate loop around town. It probably only added 5 or 10 minutes to the ride though and it put us on Hwy 67 which parrallels I-30 for a spell.

When we got to Fulton we turned north onto Hwy 355 which is a nice 2 lane road with plenty of sweepers and the occasional 30mph sharp curve thrown in for a change. This led us into Mineral Springs where we picked up Hwy 27 and went through Nashville, AR toward Murfreesboro and the Queen of Diamonds Inn which would be our hotel for the weekend.

Overall we travelled 371 miles over 8 hours 51 minutes. The pace was anything but rapid, most of the time we were doing 5 under the speed limit. Even with the strong head wind I managed to get 40+ mpg at today's speed. Normal driving seems to yields numbers closer to 35mpg for me. This was a fun switch.

Reagan likes her new windshield and is happy with her handle bar risers (Good since I cut off the original bars). But like any motorcycle enthusiast, she's got a few more things that need tweaking. A top case for additional luggage capacity and definitely a Russell Day Long seat with a back rest. Maybe if we get the order in on Tuesday, she'll get her seat before we leave for Milwaukee in May. Definitely before we leave for the BMW rally in July.

Tomorrow I think we are going to hunt for diamonds in the field. Maybe we'll find a really big one that someone will pay us lots for. Then I could get everything Reagan wants for her bike plus a few other perks for it like the new Garmin Zumo 665 GPS.  That better be one big rock!

No comments: