Saturday, May 20, 2006

Conway, Arkansas to Hot Springs, Arkansas

I left for a ride yesterday morning headed to Perryville, Arkansas. There was a motorcycle festival at the Perry County Fairgrounds. I'm not really into mass gatherings like that. I don't have any desire to go to Sturgis or Daytona Bike week but I've never been to one of these events so I thought I would check it out. I left around 9:00 o'clock headed west on Arkansas route 60 toward Toad Suck Park. The park occupies both banks of the Arkansas river and on this Saturday it was filled with campers, picnic'ers and fishermen. AR 60 is another fun Arkansas road. I haven't met a bad road in this state yet. Traffic was light and the going was just slightly faster than the speed limit of 55 with no problems. The problems only started once I got to Perryville. The dozens of motorcycles cruising past the town hall square told me I was in the right place. I parked in the public library lot and walked around for a bit. It was in the low nineties and sunny so I began sweating profusely. I walked around, checked out the custom car show, paid way too much for a lemonade and headed towards the fairgrounds. I paid five dollars for the entry fee, walked around some of the vendor's booths searching for a hat to protect my bald head from the sun. I didn't have much to choose from and decided to risk it without one. Big mistake. I walked around for a total of ten minutes and decided to head back to the air-conditioned hotel. I was feeling pretty ill.

Today I got up with an unsatisfied desire to ride. I decided to leave the camera at home and just ride. It was slightly cooler this morning. The roads around Perryville looked interesting so I decided to retrace my route. Once into Perryville I headed down AR 9 south toward Hot Springs. What a beautiful road! This part of Arkansas is sparsely populated with well maintained roads. The route cuts through the Ouachita National Forest which is full of pine trees and gorgeous scenery to spare.

I hit AR 5 and followed it west into Hot Springs. I've been to Hot Springs before, it's a beautiful old town with an interesting history and several historic buildings, several of the old bath houses are now part of Hot Springs National Park. It's a great down town to walk around and spend a day. But not today, I was having too good a time riding. I did a pass through downtown and tried to find SR 70 out of town. One thing I've noticed about Arkansas is the lack of traffic signs. I'm pretty good at finding my way around but on more than one trip I've had to do some searching for the right road. The rest of the trip was uneventful. SR 70 is a three lane highway, with the passing lane alternating between sides. The traffic was exceeding the speed limit and the side roads just dump right on to the highway. It's a frantic road with cars making left hand turns frequently, with little notice. The rest of the trip up I-30, I-430 and I-40 were pretty much the same.

This ride was so much better than Saturday's. I did something I haven't done in awhile, left the tank bag, and camera behind. I didn't have a destination picked and it turned out to be the best ride I've had in a long time.

Miles - 161

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