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Submitted by OnlyinArk.com reader Deborah Skarda
My husband bought his first motorcycle in 1999 with $5,000 he won on “The Price Is Right”. At the time, I was elated with his good fortune but opposed to the purchase. Little did I know what a blessing it would end up being to us both.
Born and raised in Arkansas, I thought I had seen most of the areas of our state. But after riding on the back of a motorcycle, I realized I had only seen a small percentage.
From Boxley Valley in the Boston Mountains, to Arkansas’s highest peak – the majestic Mount Magazine, to the ridiculous curves of Push Mountain Road in the Ozark National Forrest, to the scenic wonders of Highways 7 and 23, riding Arkansas leaves you in deep awe and appreciation of God’s gift of nature.
Every time we get on the bike, even if we are only an hour from home, I feel like I am on vacation. It’s like all the cares of life disappear, and it’s just you and God and nature, and in my case, my husband, which allows for some quality time together.
A few years ago in late April, we took a ride to Fayetteville. On our way home, we decided to be adventurous, going out of the way through Kingston to Jasper. Unbeknownst to us, this detour would allow us the pleasure of experiencing the very best Arkansas has to offer. Around every corner and atop every hill, it was pure awe-inspiring beauty. In between Ponca and Jasper, we came upon a stately gate that read “Steel Creek.” It looked like it might be nice, so we decided to explore. The trees were still bare enough to allow wide-open views, and what we encountered on that steep slope down were some of the most breathtaking views my eyes had ever seen.
Our overworked, stressed, business owner brother-in-law mentioned interest in getting a trike. One day, I sent him a picture atop Petit Jean Mountain and he was hooked. He purchased his three-wheeled motorcycle and he and my sister now enjoy many relaxing rides with us. I don’t know if it’s because he thinks we are a little fruity or just not your typical, hard-core bikers (my husband Scott is a pastor), but my brother-in-law jokingly pegged our gang “The Skittles.” We ride for the fun, the fellowship, the peacefulness, the beauty of nature, and the great eats and sweets we find along the way!
My husband has been accused by his friends of only “riding for the food”! While that is just in fun, to be honest, we all look forward to the next delectable diner or café we find on the road. Two of our favorites are the Skylark Café in Leslie and the Ozark Café in Jasper.
I am the navigator of our “gang,” and with my handy smartphone/GPS/radar, we can find the most secluded shortcuts and untouched beauty spots without ever getting lost or rained upon along the way. Sometimes we head out not having a clue where we’re going and see what we might discover. One day while exploring an unfamiliar road north of Russellville, we came upon Hall Creek Falls. What a gem we thought we had discovered! But, after visiting with a camper from Oklahoma, we realized people from all over come to enjoy this little hidden treasure.
I am still anxiously anticipating riding the Talimena Senic Drive from Mena through parts of Oklahoma. We have been putting it off, waiting on the beautiful new lodge to reopen at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, but now that it is, we hope to make that trip sometime this fall.
I love warm weather and have often said I could live in Florida. But truth be known, I could never leave Arkansas and all of its natural beauty. Whether a biker, or simply a naturist, there is no better state to live in than Arkansas!
What are some of your favorite rides exploring the Natural State?
Cover photo courtesy of Arkansas Parks and Tourism.
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