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Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Trip

Tomorrow my wife, son, and I depart on a highly anticipated and long planned trip.  Although, there will be no motorcycling involved I having be looking forward to our trip.  We are heading to Washington DC for 7 days/6 nights.  We will attempt to see as much as possible in and around the Capitol.

I have booked tours of the White House, the Capitol, and the Pentagon.  I was unable to secure a tour of the US Treasury Building.  {I was hoping to arrange a "summit" in the Rose Garden, but my conservative views disqualified me. :)  }  We will visit the Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress, the National Archives Building, and the congressional chambers.  Neither House of Congress will be in session.
National Archives Building - photo take Oct. 2011 - Honor Flight trip
I will take my wife and son to the see many of the same sights my dad and I enjoyed during the Honor Flight in October 2010.  We will visit the well-known Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Korean War Veterans Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, The Washington Monument, and of course the World War II Memorial.
WWII Memorial - photo take Oct. 2011 - Honor Flight trip
Lincoln Memorial - photo take Oct. 2011 - Honor Flight trip
There are too many memorials and monuments we plan on visiting to list all of them.  We will make a special trip across the Potomac River to visit the Arlington National Cemetery.   While there we will visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watch the changing of the guard ceremony.  The Marines Corps War Memorial a.k.a Iwo Jima Memorial is located in the National Cemetery which we will also visit.
USMC War Memorial - - photo take Oct. 2011 - Honor Flight trip
Many of the Smithsonian museums are on our agenda.  Top on the list is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Air and Space Museum, Museum of American History, and the Museum of Natural History.  If time permits we will other museums of the Smithsonian.  We also plan to tour the National Cathedral.
The Washington National Cathedral - photo take Oct. 2011 - Honor Flight trip
We have been planning this trip for a long time.  We were waiting for Richard to get old enough to understand and appreciate the trip.  He is now a freshman in high school and the time is right.

I will be posting about the trip, the sights, and the restaurants.  Of course I will post plenty of photos.  I know this nation is not perfect and our government needs some housecleaning, but I am proud to be an American and I am looking forward to visiting the Capitol of the United States of America.
Washington Monument rises above the soundings - photo take Oct. 2011 - Honor Flight trip


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Texas BBQ in Ouaticha Mountains

A good ride and a good meal is hard to beat.  Mountain roads make for good rides.  Combine the Ouaticha Mountains with a transplanted Texan who know bbq and you have great potential.

The Ouaticha Mountains stretch from Oklahoma into Arkansas (or I guess you could say they stretch from AR to OK) and there are numerous great roads in and around the mountains.  The most well-known is the 50+ mile Talimena Scenic Byway.  There are other lesser known roads that provide great views and an ample amount of twists and turns.

US 259 bisects Oklahoma SR 1 a.k.a Talimena Drive and runs north ending at US 59.  US 59 parallels the Talimena Drive on the north side of the mountains from Arkansas until the US 259 intersection and then it turns north towards Poteau, OK.
Everyone is welcomed at the End of the Trail
Just about 3 miles north from the US 59/259 intersection sits the End of the Trail Saloon where Steve and Genise serve up great hospitality and awesome bbq.    Less than 15 miles from the OK/AR state line and less than 10 miles off the Talimena Drive the End of the Trail  Saloon is in the middle of some great riding.
Steve and Genise gave up wrenching on bikes in Texas for living the dream of 
owning a biker establishment - good decision
The word on the streets is that the ribs are awesome!  When I was there I tried the sliced bbq sandwich.  The sandwich was great.  The brisket was tender, flavorful, and juicy.  I am ready to return and try the ribs.
True southern goodness!
In the short couple of years they have been running the place the reputation has grown. 
Bikes fill up the parking area on the weekends
Treat yourself with a great ride through the Ouaticha Mountains and an awesome meal at the End of the Trail. You will be happy all the way home.

Tomorrow is 11-11-11, Veterans Day for us in the USA.  I will not post tomorrow because I am taking my WWII veteran dad to the Dallas Veterans Day Parade.  He and other Honor Flight vets are being honored with a Corvette ride in the parade and a luncheon at the Omni Hotel.  So, I want to say "Thank You" to all the brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.  I enjoy the freedoms that so many have fought and are fighting to preserve.  These brave patriots have provided freedom and security for all of us.  No words can adequately express my gratitude.
May God bless all of you who have served, are serving, and will serve this great nation.  Happy Veterans Day!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Add a scenic loop to your Talimena Drive ride.

Anyone that has been riding motorcycles for long in North Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas has been asked "Have you ridden the Talimena Drive?"  The national scenic byway is a well known road stretching along the top of the Ouachita Mountain in Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas for 50+ miles and is a favorite destination for bikers throughout the region.

I have ridden the byway several times, but until recently I had not ridden many of the roads north of SH 1 a.k.a Talimena Drive (in Oklahoma).  On a nice Sunday afternoon I found myself with enough time to add some miles to my trip to Mena, Arkansas.  The map I had showed two roads with the little dots denoting "scenic" roads that would take me over the Ouachita Mountains and back, putting me in Talihina, the town just west of the entrance to the Talimena Drive.
Running on top of the mountains the Talimena Scenic Byway is spectacular (photo take from Rich Mountain Fire Tower, one of the stops on the byway)
I approached Talihina, OK from the west on SH 43.  20 miles west of Talihina SH 43 merges with SH 2 for about six miles and runs across the Sardis Lake dam.  Instead of turning right on SH 63/SH 1 towards Talihina I continued straight on SH 2 towards Wilburton, OK, 19 miles away.  The road quickly begin to ascend up the mountain range.  We all know that mountain roads are never straight so I was able to use the outer portion of my tires' tread. :)
Other bikers enjoying crossing the Ouachita Mountains
At Wilburton, OK I turned east on US 270 and rode to Red Oak, OK (14 miles) where I turned back south on SH 82 and crossed the range again.  SH 82 is being repaved in small stages.  The new pavement is in great shape, the older portions are in good to fair shape (average road quality).  I passed a lot of bikes while on the road, they were also enjoying the ride.
Twisties on SH 82
Once again the fun mountain road allowed me to lean the bike through some nice curves.  17.5 miles later SH 82 intersects SH 63 at the northern edge of Talihina, OK.

Although sadly closed on Sunday I stopped and took a picture at Treats and Treasures - one of my favorite spots in the area.  It is an antique shop with an old fashion soda fountain.  I was really hoping to get a shake or coke float, but the shop was closed so I had to settle for a snack and drink at a gas station in town.
Great place to treat yourself to an old fashion shake or ice cream -
at the intersection of SH 1 and SH 63 in Talihina
The loop from the SH 1/SH 63 intersecton to Wilburton, Red Oak, ending in Talihina is 50 miles.  I am really glad I added the loop to my route.  I enjoyed the roads and the scenery.  If you are in the area plan on riding the loop before or after you ride the Talimena Drive.  You will enjoy it.