After a Cliff Bar and a cup of coffee, we packed up and headed out of Eureka Springs fairly early this morning. Brian had come across an Arkansas road map for bikers yesterday and found a couple of interesting looking places that he wanted to try. (Who knew that bikers and MINI’s would like the same driving routes… guess it makes sense… twisty, back roads with scenic places to stop…. maybe MINIs and bikers should hang out together more often!) The roads that he wanted to try eventually intersected with the Scenic Byway that I’d read about…. so it sounded like a good plan.
Our first stop was at the War Eagle Bridge & Mill. The mill actually still works… which is pretty impressive… Brian and I have been to a few other mills and most are no longer working. They had corn and a couple different kinds of flour for sale. Brian loves checking out the machinery and figuring out how it all works. He keeps trying to explain it all to me, but I just keep thinking how I would get my hair caught in something and kill myself. I leave all that to him and I wander around and check out the different kinds of jams they have for sale. My father-in-law likes weird kinds of jam, so we’re always looking for something new for him.
Up on the third floor was a restaurant and outside is a huge steel bridge, cleverly named, War Eagle Bridge. The bridge looked pretty cool with the mill in the background, so Brian and I waited until there was a lull in the traffic (it’s a one lane bridge!) and then took Posh over the bridge to pose for a few pictures.
We opted to skip the restaurant (beans seemed to be a big thing on the menu… ick) and headed off for the rest of our biker approved dive. Arkansas is just really pretty to drive through… all the rolling hills and pretty farms. It is really pretty to visit in the fall when all the leaves are changing. There weren’t a lot of places to stop or much to do other than enjoy the scenery. (That was okay with us, that had been the plan, really.) Finally, we came to the Talimena Scenic Byway.
According to the website, “The Talimena Scenic drive winds 54 miles along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest (pronounced Wash-i-tah). If you can resist stopping to enjoy the many vistas and attractions along the way, the route takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to drive. A leisurely drive can take all day.”
It took us about two and a half hours to get through. Along the way we stopped and climbed the Fire Tower on Rich Mountain… I would recommend climbing the tower if you are ever on your way through. There are some really great views from the top. Brian wasn’t thrilled with the construction of the tower (he’s always looking at how things are put together!), but I’ve actually climbed much creepier towers (with Mom!), and I thought this one was pretty good. Admittedly, I’m not really afraid of heights…
The first 6 or 7 scenic overlooks were great and exciting… we stopped at each and jumped out to peer over the edge. The hills and mountains had a blue color that didn’t seem quite believable. I’ve heard the Ozark/Arkansas mountains described as “blue” before, but didn’t really grasp that, yes, they really look blue. Even standing there, looking out over the valley my brain kept trying to convince me that they’d been photoshopped.
As the day got hotter and muggier we started just pulling up to the scenic overlooks and kinda leaning out of the car… yup, pretty… keep rolling. As long as the car was moving there was a nice breeze. The Scenic Byway finally came to an end and we were in Oklahoma by then. The Byway was absolutely beautiful and I would suggest you visit if you are ever in Arkansas…. especially in the fall… I’ll bet it is AMAZING in the fall!
Once we left the Byway and headed into Oklahoma….. things got dull…. super dull…. mind numbingly dull…… How long is Oklahoma?! And what happened to the cell signal? I couldn’t even message Mom! Ugh.
The sun began to set and I decided that we needed a photo of Posh with the sunset. Of course, as soon as I decide that, we hit work zones and then a residential area. Just as we were about to lose the light, I spotted a field and a wide shoulder. Brian pulled over and I bailed out to take a few photos. (Thank goodness he watches the road for me and keeps me from getting run over! “Car! Car, Stephanie! Get out of the ROAD!”) I finally got my shot of Posh and the sunset and we headed off to our hotel. Another exciting day full of daring photo shoots…. Survived!