August 23, 2015 Sunday

TAT Shak Dover, MS

Today is day 6 on the TAT, it’s rained every day. Not constantly but on and off thunder storms, this might be normal for summer in the south. It’s Sunday and at about 2:00 we arrived at the TAT Shak, a single wide trailer in the hills of Arkansas. I’m not sure but we are either in the Ozark Mountains National Park or nearby. As I write this we haven’t met the owner yet but the place is setup to be a stopping point for TAT travelers. When we arrived nobody was around but the door was unlocked so we decided to have an early day of rest and park for the night.

The TAT Shak has no beds except for a raised plywood platform in one room and cots in another. Jonathan declared that this qualified as camping so tonight we sleep inside, nice. The only problem with the TAT Shak is no cell service or internet connectivity so I typing this up as I sit on the porch and will upload it when I get a chance.

Let’s get caught up.

Thursday morning we awoke at the Cross City RV park with our tents setup on the grass. It was a nice night with no rain and we all slept well. About 8:00 the propitiator, Jim came by to collect his fee. He said he never had campers before and seemed glad to have us and hear about our trip. He was carrying a bag with three biscuit and sausage sandwiches, still warm. Yum. No need to make breakfast.

We rode though the day with off and on showers and threatening clouds overhead. The non-paved sections were muddy and slippery requiring full concentration. The riding was tough and technical but Jon and Weston didn’t let that slow us down, it was full speed ahead all day.

As we neared the end of the day we looked at the map and saw some state parks around Lake Granada so we deviated from the route to check it out. The first place was obviously for RV campers, we pulled in and the camp host read the rules; only two tents per space, $20 per space and we would need two. Oh, and no camping on the grass. Really? The only other choices were the concrete RV slab or gravel driveway into each space. He told us to ride around and pick a space and come back to pay. We jumped on the bikes and bee lined it for the exit.

I noticed another Mississippi state campground on the other side of the lake so we decided to check that out. I wasn’t holding out hope because I figured the same rules would apply but we went anyway. This place was really different, when we got there it seemed abandoned. There were some camp sites near a boat launch but no outhouses or facilities. There were two travel trailer campers parked but they seemed vacant. There were absolutely no people which seemed strange for a Friday night. We picked a camp spot back in the woods near the boat ramp that had a fire pit and dilapidated picnic table. The whole thing was a little odd but it was getting dark and starting to rain a little so we set up camp. Near the picnic table was a telephone pole with a electrical box, we lifted the lid and to our surprise there was an electrical outlet with power. Weird, but we were not complaining.

Had a nice sunset over the lake.

We were wrapping up our evening routine of getting a fire going and cleaning up from our dinner of canned chili when a pickup truck came blasting down the gravel road to the boat launch, then another and another. Eventually about 8 cars and trucks arrived and there was an instant party going on. We figured oh yea, Friday night time to party at the old campground so much for a peaceful evening.

After a while we realized maybe it wasn’t what we thought because there were a number of small children with the group and they weren’t really all that rowdy. I was at the picnic table watching the action through the trees when I saw some kind of full moon looking glowing thing rising through the trees, what? It took a few minutes for us to realize they were launching Chinese Lanterns, these paper thin balloons with small fire sticks underneath that when lit fill the bags and they lift into the sky. Cool, Jon and I walked over to see what it was about. Soon after we arrived one of the guys came over and explained they were having a memorial for a friend that died and the were launching dozens of these in his memory. He handed Jon and I each one and we launched them for Zach and said a little prayer. After an hour or so they wrapped it up and left, the park was back to it’s creepy self and we drifted to sleep.

Launching lanterns.

Jon launching one.

Saturday 8/22/15

Granada MS to Heber Springs MS 309 miles

We managed to get coffee and oatmeal before it started raining at our camp site. We hurriedly packed and were on the road by 8:30AM with full rain gear on. No showers for these boys.

Crazy ivy taking over all the trees along the road.

We came across this honest to goodness Juke joint. Jazz and Blues. Man I wish we could be there at night to check it out.

Of course the boys wouldn’t be able to get in.

It wasn’t long before we crossed into Arkansas and came across signs for TAT riders to stop and sign the log at the TAT Stop in Tranton, AR. Of course we had to stop so we arrived a little after noon to sign the log. As soon as we pulled up we were greeted by Percy Kale, Glenn Kale and Al Faust. I hope I have all the names correct, they were super happy to see us and very welcoming. We went inside the building to sign the log book and there were other family members in the air conditioned building waiting to greet us. The said there is not much to do in Trenton on a Saturday so they all congregate at this old store front to hang out and hope to meet some TAT riders and hear their tales of adventure. I love it. They said they don’t have visitors every day, only a few times a week. Our arrival made everyone’s day so we sat around, sharing stories and having fun.

When we signed the guest book we noticed that a few days ahead of us was Ed March on his C90. Really? Wow, for those of you that don’t know I’ve been following his travels around the world for years. He’s ridden his little 90cc Honda all around the world with incredible tales of adventure. I even bought his DVD and supported his cause online. Now here he is only days ahead of us on the TAT, how cool would that be if I got to meet him?

As we were getting ready to leave the TAT Stop we all posed for pictures. Every year they collect pictures of all the TAT riders that stop and make a book. I’m looking forward to being in the 2015 collection.

Before we left they warned us of a section 13 miles down the trail that could be really hazardous mud if it has been raining, Wait, hasn’t it been raining for days? I asked him, you mean like all this rain? He said yep, I recommend you go around that section. Well, as you know Jon and Weston would have nothing to do with that so we thanked him for is advice anyhow. He laughed and asked me to post in my blog how it went.

Off we went into the mud. When we go there they were correct, mud, water, ruts and slick AR slippery snot. We jumped up on our pegs, picked our lines and gassed it. Before we knew it we were through with some close calls but no tip overs. From what I hear this is good practice for the difficult sections ahead of us.

Deby’s been wondering how we are eating. Don’t worry mom, everything is fine.

Gas station fried chicken and Coke, yum.

The day’s riding was probably 80% non paved which was nice except for more mud, ruts, and miles of deep loose gravel sections. Fournately the loose stuff was fairly straight so we determined that 50mph, on the pegs with weight back worked best and we made good time.

At one point were on a lonely stretch of road and one of the only vehicles, a pickup truck, of course, was ahead of us when we saw a small puppy in the road shivering and totally soaked in the rain. What? Did that truck just dump the puppy? Of course we had to stop and Jon picked up the shivering dog to see what he could do. We noticed the pickup truck stopped and was turning around, we weren’t sure if this was a good sign or not being in the back woods of the Ozarks it could mean anything.

We rode some more and started getting hungry so at one of the gas stations we bought gas station fried chicken, hmmmm, but it was really good! Yum.

When the truck arrived we noticed it was a state wildlife officer and he passed the dog and maybe because he saw us stop decided to turn around to help. We chatted and he said he thought it belonged to one of the houses we passed and volunteered to return it. Nice, I hope.

Nice grassy section of road.

Back to the ride we were continuing Northwest. As it started getting late we looked for places to camp, which evidently is not a common pastime in Arkansas. The map has a place called Ferry Lake and indicates camping in the vicinity. We stopped for gas in the rain and checked our smart phones for campgrounds, they showed a KOA. Ok, good enough, probably hot showers, a club house to escape the rain and WiFi so I could catch up on the blog. We rode through rain and as it was getting dark we arrived at Used to be a KOA campground, now it was an RV park. We pulled in and didn’t see anyone so we followed old signs with duct tape over the letters KOA to the campsites. They sucked. Large rock gravel RV parking spots. With no choice we setup our tents on the rocks, heated up chili for the second night in a row and exhausted after 300 miles of hard riding we fell asleep.

Not the best camp site.

Them’s storm clouds commin’

Sunday August 23, 2015 Heber Springs, AR to the TAT Shak.

We woke up and after some determined searching found a shower house with toilets and hot water, men only, which seemed strange to me but so does a lot of things in the Ozarks. Never one to pass up a hot shower we showered and starting to pack up camp when some guy in a golf cart drives up, the only person we even saw during our stay there, weird. He said, “we don’t allow tents to camp here.” A little perturbed at the whole situation I said, “well that does it, we’re leaving.” He drove off, I’m not sure he had any official capacity so we finished packing and left. For the second night camping was free, nobody asked for money and we couldn’t find a pay station.

We rode south in the rain to Beebe where we would catch the TAT where we left off. We have a rule, evidently, that once we leave the TAT we have to return to the exact same spot to continue on. It was almost 10:00 when we reached our spot and continued in the rain. Along the way we found a family style breakfast spot with 8 or 10 pickup trucks parked out front. Seriously, not a car in sight. I figured this would be a good place so we stopped for breakfast. Jon and I had the Goose Hunter special and Weston had the Rambler Omelet. There was a ton of food including biscuits and gravy, we couldn’t eat it all but it made up for no breakfast and two nights of canned chili.

By 2:00 we arrived at the TAT Shak .

More healthy eating at the TAT Shak.

Ok, the battery is getting low, and the mosquitos are getting me as I type this on the picnic table so I’m going to post this and call it a night.

Still having fun, and we are finally drying out a little. The weather is perfect with a record low forecast for tonight and low temps in the 70s tomorrow for riding. , nice.

FYI, more pictures are here: https://donnh.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/ADV-Dual-Sport-Rides/2015-TAT

Donn and sons