by Trip Hilliard

On Thursday, April 28, 2005, five of us set out for a riding trip from Tyler, Texas to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and back. The participants:

  
    

Thursday, April 28, 2005:
The trip started out with a stay over at Tyler State Park near Tyler, Texas. That evening everyone met at my house in Lindale and we traveled to Tyler State Park together. We stayed in the Red Oak tent camping section. The weather was mild although somewhat humid. After pitching our tents, we traveled to Mineola, Texas for a burger at the East Texas Burger Company. Then, it was back to camp and discussion about the route we would take the next day to Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas. This was our planned stop for the next night. Tyler State Park turned out to be an excellent place to camp for the night.

Friday, April 29, 2005:
The next morning, we were up and packed for travel about 8:30am. After checking out of Tyler State Park, we headed North to Hawkins, Texas by way of Highway 14. Hawkins is called the pancake capital of the world. So, we decided to stop at a local cafe and see if it was true. After eating a pancake filled breakfast, we headed North on 14 until we reached Highway 37. At 37, we continued North through Winnsboro, Mt. Vernon, and Clarksville, Texas. Highway 37 took us on into Oklahoma where we stopped for fuel in Idabel.

All morning it had been cloudy but no rain fell. Once we traveled through Broken Bow, Oklahoma, the rain began to fall. We stopped to put on our rain gear and continued on our quest to make it to Queen Wilhelmina State Park. At about 1:45pm, we arrived at Queen Wilhelmina. Since the State Park and Lodge are on top of a mountain and rain was in the area, the fog was so thick that visibility was confined to about 10-12 feet! It took us twice as long to travel up the mountain on Highway 1 due to the dense fog.

When we arrived at the lodge, we decided that it would be best to not camp, but stay at the lodge. We were told there were no rooms available, so we traveled down the mountain to Mena, Arkansas and stayed Friday night at the Sun Country Inn. After drying out a bit, we ate dinner at a local Mexican food restaurant, then headed back to our rooms to shine up our bikes. The weather the next day was expected to be clear and warmer.

Saturday, April 30, 2005:
We woke up to partly cloudy skies, but the sun was showing through at times and the forecast called for a clearing as the day went on. We packed up and checked out of our rooms and headed to a place called "Grumpy's" to eat breakfast. Grumpy's was recommended to us and turned out to be an excellent choice for breakfast. We got on Highway 71 out of Mena about 9:00am headed for our goal for the day...Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

We figured it would take about 4 hours to get to Eureka Springs. Our travel that day took us up Highway 71 to Waldron, then North on Highway 23 (The Pig Trail). Highway 23 travels through such towns as Ozark, Huntsville and then on Northward to Eureka Springs.

At about 1:15pm, we rolled into Eureka Springs ready to fuel and eat lunch. We stopped and ate at Sparky's, which we all enjoyed very much. Then we headed downtown to park and walk around for a while. Eureka Springs is a unique town. The buildings in the downtown area are built on the side of hills with winding streets and quaint shops lining the whole area. It's a shoppers paradise. After doing some shopping, we decided to eat some ice cream and then start our trek back to Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Our goal was to get back and pitch camp before dark.

We left Eureka Springs around 3:00pm and made it back to Queen Wilhelmina about 7:15pm, plenty of time to pitch our tents and eat dinner at the lodge restaurant before they closed. We purchased some firewood (wood gathering is not allowed in the park) at the lodge and built a fire at our campsite before retiring for the night. That night the temperatures dropped to about 45 degrees which made for a very cold, but clear morning on Sunday.

Sunday, May 1, 2005:
We decided that we would take it easy a bit on Sunday and not get up so early. We ate breakfast at the lodge around 9:30am and headed down the mountain for home around 10:30am. Gary decided that he needed to get home quicker than we did, so after we traveled westward on Highway 1, we bid farewell to Gary at Highway 1 and Highway 271. The rest of us decided to circle North by Wister Lake and go through Heavener, Oklahoma before heading home.

While in Heavener, we stopped at the Rhunestone Park located there. Dale and Rodney traveled with Curt and myself until we got back to Mineola, Texas. There, Dale and Rodney split off and traveled back to Dallas by way of Highway 80. Curt and I traveled on to Lindale and Tyler where I arrived at home around 4:30pm.

All-in-all, the trip was an excellent ride and tested my ability to ride in rain and thick fog. Highway 23 is always a fun road to ride and Eureka Springs is a town everyone must visit. While there, be sure and buy a quilt for your wife. Summary: 3.5 days, 950 miles, $170.00. Thanks to Curt for some of the pictures.



Leftover Pictures:







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