The past few days on our cross-country motorcycle trip we've been traveling through the flat plains, where we can see all the way to the horizon. Today we started from Durant, OK, continuing to head east on U.S. 70. Immediately everything was more green and saw trees instead of flat fields of crops or grassland. Soon the road started gently rolling uphill and downhill, gently swerving in big sweeps instead of heading laser straight in front of us.
We turned onto U.S. 271, and the distant hills that started off as dark blue smudges started coming into closer focus.
We planned our route today using the Butler motorcycle map for the Ozarks, looking for the roads highlighted in yellow, indicating they're the best motorcycle roads with lots of scenery, twists, turns, and very little traffic. We hit the jackpot today and we both did a little happy dance when we saw the sign warning about 13% grades and twisting turns. Our type of roads!
We rode OK 1/AR 88 on the Talimena Scenic Byway a 54 mile winding road that climbs and then descends on a ridge through old-growth forests in the Winding Stair Mountains, with distant views at pull-outs spaced out along both sides of the road.
We didn't see a car, pick-up truck, motorhome, or motorcycle for the first half of the drive. Mike enjoyed twisting his way around the curves at his own pace while I twisted in my seat looking at the mountains, black-eyed Susans growing along the road, and scouting out the next photo opportunity.
The road winds near the top of Rich Mountain, the second tallest peak in Arkansas at 2,681'. We live at a higher elevation, but since our day started at around 500' elevation, we thoroughly enjoyed the 2,000' climb.
We caught our breath with lunch in Mena, Arkansas, a town of around 5000 people where we had to wait for a few minutes for the inevitable train to cross the road, and then finished our day by riding east on AR 88 and then U.S. 270 east to Hot Springs.
Before we reached Hot Springs, the odometer turned over to 4,000 miles. We hit 3,000 miles in New Mexico, and so far this trip we've ridden 1700+ miles. Guess where we'll be when we reach 5,000 miles on the BMW!
We're taking a break tomorrow, planning on sleeping late, visiting one of the hot springs mineral baths, and exploring Hot Springs. We'll be back on the BMW Saturday, heading toward Natchez, Mississippi. Here is the route from Durant-Hot Springs-Natchez