We also welcome two new Members Of Household(MOH), V-Strom Crowell and FZ6 Ellis. V-Strom is Tony Crowell's new Suzuki 650 adventure style V-twin and will share duty with his Honda ST1300 sport tourer. FZ6 is Sherri Ellis's new Yamaha ride, replacing her 2002 Kawasaki Ninja 500 who has found a happy new home.
March 2005, Mt. Nebo State Park, Arkansas
Stacie and I attended the 6th Annual Fools On a Hill Motorcycle Campout and Rally on March 2005 at Mt. Nebo St. Park just outside Dardanelle, AR The Park is perched atop a 1850 ft mountain accessed via an extremely steep and narrow road consisting of mostly severe hairpin switchbacks. Traveling this road is like climbing a spiral staircase! We arrived around 4:00 pm on Friday via Stacie's Chevy Blazer since I was unable to ride due to a recent shoulder injury. I had seen the rally advertised in the Arkansas and Texas HSTA newsletters. Since Stacie and I enjoy camping and we were both suffering from serious cabin fever, having missed a planned road trip in February, (RTR) and my annual Bike Week trip, we decided to go camping with a bunch of our good friends. No, it turns out we didn't know a soul at the rally but since the event was advertised for bike nuts only we knew we would be among friends, and I was not wrong!
We met our first two friends at the registration building, two riders on BMWs. I asked if they were with HSTA group, no, they had not heard of HSTA, they were with the Lone Star BMW club. We would learn that Stacie and I and our hosts, Ann and Mario Caruso were the only HSTA'ers attending. Most attendees were BMW riders with either Lone Star or the DFW BMW club. Other bikes included Moto Guzzis, a Kawasaki Voyager, a Triumph, a Gold Wing 1800, a Hawk GT and a Valkerie. Mario rode a Yamaha YZF and Ann a Suzuki GSXR with most of the riders from Arkansas. Most were veteran riders and several frequent Motorcycle campers but all were hard-core motorcyclists!
We wasted no time picking a spot and setting up camp and then walked around introducing ourselves to the others in the group. Although the campsites were spacious enough, the campground was small, only about 25 sites, and occupied the crest of the mountain with several sites, including ours overlooking the cities of Dardanelle and Russellville several hundred feet below. At night the lights of the city were quite a pretty sight.
There were several small tents already pitched with bikes parked alongside. WE went around and introduced ourselves to several of the group as more bikes began rolling in. One was a tricked out and great sounding Moto Guzzi piloted by Ray King and pulling a good sized trailer stacked high with firewood! We met numerous friendly bikers, including hosts Ann and Mario Caruso. All were clearly hard-core motorcyclists and everyone single one we met was friendly Mario is the author of a popular book about Arkansas Motorcycling Roads. In addition, he and a few partners, also present at the event, run a motorcycle safety training school.
After everyone got to know each other the topic of food came up, in fact I think I might have brought it up!Mario had an answer; he had spotted a Mexican place at the base of the mountain in Dardanelle. Everybody headed down there for the evening meal. Interesting place and good authentic Hispanic food, not just Mexican. I tried some items I had never heard of before. The young waitress' English was not great but I gathered that they were Salvadoran. They restaurant was obviously pretty new and the kitchen staff was not quite prepared to handle our party of 17. Everyone's meal s came out two at a time, in order of seating position. No one complained about the wait however due to the enjoyable conversation.
I tried the pupusas (a Salvadoran version of corn tortillas with a fried pork and cheese filling), very good and filling for just a buck and a half. The difference from the usual tortilla was that they were seamless, flattened spheres of corn about a half inch thick instead of flat and folded. How they got the filling inside I don't know but I sure did enjoy them. In addition I ordered steak quesadillas, the best I have ever had! It seemed like everyone enjoyed a good meal
Back at the campground, everyone gathered around a large fire ring at the edge of a steep bluff overlooking the valley and town 1900 ft below. A nice warm fire was soon blazing and we all talked about motorcycle adventures for a few hours until the long day began to catch up with those who had traveled far and most started heading for the tents although I believe a few stayed up late, conversing with the spirits.
Not to late into the night a cold front moved in, bring rain and high winds along with a drop in the temperature to about 43 degrees. The temperature was not unexpected but the rain and steady wind must have made it feel colder than it really was. It was a chili night for several off us with light weight sleeping bags! The next morning I learned all about Thermarest sleeping pads. Several of the group had them and all claimed they had been quite warm all night long while the air mattress Stacie and I slept on provided no insulation.
After coffee and breakfast, the group discussed plans for the days lunch ride. Ann and Mario had a nice route mapped out for the bikers to one of their favorite out of the way lunch spots. The destination: the Oark General Store & Café, established in 1890 and listed on the "Register of Historical Places in Arkansas". The café features a home cooking type buffet and all the catfish you can eat. While Mario led the riders on a 200 mile twisty and scenic route to Oark, Stacie and I made a quick stop at the Wal Mart in Dardanelle in search of a pair of Thermarest pads. Not found but we picked up a pair of 5.98 foam pads and a warmer sleeping bag for Stacie. WE then hopped onto I-40 for a quick run to Clarksville where we caught AR 103 which would take us to Oark. What a great road, toooooo bad we're in the SUV and not the VFR! Switchbacks almost as steep as the ones leading up Mt. Nebo but much smoother and wider. We arrived about 10 minutes ahead of the bikes and had a look around and a nice chat with the owner/manager of the store. The riders soon arrived and about 20 of us sat down to a delicious meal. After lunch there was lots of talk and picture taking outside and then the group headed down 103, the Blazer last. It was not long before Ann, riding sweep on the GSXR was out of sight and we did not see the bikes again until we got back to Dardanelle where the group stopped to place an order at a Bar B Q place for the evening meal.
The bikes were put on the stands and everyone began gathering around the fire ring where preparations were underway for a real bonfire. More riders had arrived and some had delivered some more firewood. As the dinner hour approached, Ann and Mario headed down the mountain to fetch the Bar B Q ribs and fixings and the fire was started. The couple soon returned and we sat down to another delicious feast. Great tasting, meaty ribs, plus baked beans and salad, a cold Guinness and a blazing fire all on a picturesque mountain top with a bunch of biker friends. It truly doesn't get any better! Well, maybe. The night grew darker and the stars and above and city lights below shined brighter as the wind grew colder and the fire blazed higher and our group of friends huddled a little closer as the conversations got more interesting and personal. To ward of the chill a switch from Guinness to Knob Hill seemed in order for me while a few others had some damn fine scotch, which I sampled as well. An outstanding evening on top of Mt. Nebo!
And how did the additional camping gear work out? Well, Stacie and I were both snug and warm, she in her new sleeping bag and me using the two old ones doubled up. The foam pads maybe added to the warmth but offered hardly any support. My back was killing me! I got hardly any sleep that night and was glad when the first rays of dawn appeared so I could get up and relieve my aching back! Some new gear will have to be acquired before our next camping trip. Hopefully that will be soon but for sure we will be ready for next year's Fools On A Hill. I enthusiastically recommend this event to anyone who enjoys camping and riding and the company of hard-core motorcyclists.
APRIL LUNCH RIDE 4/23/05
Meet at McDonalds in St. Francisville at 8:30, ride at 9:00. Tentative plan is to explore our Happy Trails, or the Feliciana back roads, plus maybe a few in South Mississippi. Lunch destination TBA. The goal is to explore and evaluate some local routes and discuss a possible future Louisiana HSTA event to compliment our December Cajun Christmas event.
ART OF THE MOTORCYCLE MEMPHIS, TN May 13-15
Several members will visit the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Pyramid in Memphis on Saturday, May 14th. The plan is to ride up to Tunica, Mississippi on Friday the 13th (yikes!) and stay at the Holiday Inn Express, (662)363-0030 4250 Casino Center Dr Robinsonville, MS 38664s. I am not sure if the exhibit is drawing big crowds or if another event is coinciding but we were unable to find any reasonable room rates in downtown Memphis so we opted for the Tunica Casino complex instead. If you like to ride, gamble or look at art then join us!
STAR 2005 LEXINGTON, KY
A bunch of us will we heading up a day or two early taking the "long way" to Kentucky and ride some great roads on the way up there. Check the website for details coming soon and make plans to join us.
KEEP IN TOUCH! firstname.lastname@example.org and my telephone number is (225)635-3171.
and Ride Safe,
UPDATE: Major rehab for bike and rider progressing well. Doc says shoulder is 80% healed and gave go ahead to ride. I put 120 miles on the SV650 this weekend. Woo Hoo!