Thelma and Louise Take On The Ozark Mountains

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Every summer for the last 9 years, Tyree and I are sure to take a few day-trips on our two-wheeled beauties.  Sometimes we rolled out with an agenda in mind, most times not.  Over the years they progressed into the Thelma & Louise adventures, matching shirts and all.  On numerous occasions we had talked about taking off on a multi-day adventure, but summers always filled quickly, never leaving any opportunities.  Finally, during the late 2017 winter months, we penciled in two adventures into our summer ’18 calendars that were non-negotiable: Colorado over July 4th with our boys (more about that later) and a T&L only adventure to the Ozark Mountains during the 3rd weekend of July.

And so, on Thursday, July 19th, 2018 we put our kickstands up for an adventure we won’t soon forget.

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1st Official Destination: Warsaw, MO for a late lunch and an ice-cold beverage.  We happened upon Dam Restaurant, adjacent to a swinging bridge and decided that was our place to stop.

As we chatted with the regulars and enjoyed our meal and first beer of the day, they kept track of a storm cell that was building just northwest of Warsaw.  A lazy, no-rush afternoon, turned into an afternoon with a slight sense of urgency attached to it due to the oncoming storms carrying 70+mph winds.  The locals hurried us out the door (truly…  they nearly forgot to tab us out before we asked) and with well-wishes being shout-out behind us, we headed south, just barely 20 minutes ahead of the storm cell.  To the folks at Dam Restaurant, we appreciated your hospitality and desire to keep us safe. 

People are good.  

There was only one time where we thought we might not beat the storm due to a brief jaunt west of Springfield to avoid the backlog of traffic heading south.

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But, we made it in to Branson safe and sound, left our bikes at the hotel and headed out for BBQ and beers at Gettin’ Basted where we waited out the storm before leaving our mark on the Branson strip.

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Friday, July 20th | Weather forecast: 115 degree heat index.

7:30am: Breakfast at Belgian Waffle and Pancake House, where the staff are absolute dolls.

“You girls are hot!  Like, not hot/hot, but hot/hot!” 

After a few conversations with our waitress we found out that she and another employee are referred to as Thelma & Louise.  Of course, we had to have our photos taken with the local T&L before we departed for our FULL day on two-wheels.

Thanks, Belgian Waffle House for a WONDERFUL breakfast and conversations.

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First leg: Branson to Peel, Arkansas so we could take the ferry!

If you are in the area, this route is a must out of Branson. Rolling hills, incredible views and curvy roads the entire 44 miles.  And as always when traveling into mountainous areas, plan for almost double the time as a straight path may take you.  Lot’s of gear shifting (and FUN!)

As we waited for the ferry, we struck up a conversation with a guy who just happened to hail from Plattsmouth, NE, only having just recently moved to Arkansas.  Small world!

After a brief wait, we boarded the ferry and off we went across the lake to begin our afternoon, and very dark evening, in Arkansas!

 

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Thanks to the recommendation of our new buddy from the ferry ride, we pointed our headlights towards Cliff House Inn in Jasper, AR, which overlooks the “Grand Canyon of Arkansas”.   The stellar views, and what appeared to be a breeding ground for giant butterfly’s and hummingbirds, this stop certainly didn’t disappoint.

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A quick bite to eat and an iced tea (hello dry counties in over 90% of the State) we headed out.  By this point in the afternoon it was well over 100 degrees.  We were one of FEW outside, which provided us the opportunity to own the roads.

Our route took us straight south on 21 to the D&J Country Store where we sought out water and air-conditioning for a few minutes.  The hotter-than-satan’s-lair weather conditions, while straddling a boiling hot motor that is working double time thanks to the terrain… well…. you get the idea of what we looked like at this point.   Thanks to the cashier we received the recommendation to head back into the national forest to Country Road 4400 and take a left.  Literally saw ONE car in the hour we were in this part of the forest.  It was perfect.

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Once we were satisfied with our County Road playground, we headed on West to find a major road and happened upon the bottom end of the Pigs Trail.

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Typically this part of the Pigs Trail is JAM PACKED with tourists and locals.  This day?  Crickets, man.  My phone tells me this photo was taken at 4:54pm and it was well into the 115’s for the heat index.

Tyree missed riding the Pigs Trail byway the last time we were in Arkansas, so we for sure wanted to hit it this time around, but to be honest: it wasn’t that thrilling after the day of switchbacks we had explored already, all thanks to taking the roads less traveled.  Ah-may-zing. 

Fun (?) side note: lower left side of my windshield you can see the remnants of something that most likely didn’t make it out alive…

It was at this point in the day that we were becoming cognizant of the time and sun placement and knew we needed to be making our way out of the national forest and back towards Branson.  So, we left with the destination of Eureka Springs in mind.  Surely we could get there, eat dinner and take a semi-scenic way back into Branson?!

Surely…

A wrong turn (but gorgeous byway) took us 30 miles out of our way but we took it as a challenge and headed to Eureka Springs anyway.  We NEEDED A BEER and a BURGER something fierce by this point and so around 7:30pm, we rolled into the Cat House Lounge, a favorite amongst bikers.

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The beer was welcome and the belly laughs abundant, which was most likely due to a combination of part heat exhaustion and said beer.  We mapped out a perfect little route back into Branson, via NW Arkansas and Branson West to get us back to our hotel … And then we bounced.

For the mom’s reading this, you may want to skip ahead to after the map photo.  We know that even though we are both 37 years old, you’ll want to scold us after this… 

MapQuest had a mind of it’s own and we found ourselves deep into the Ozark Mountain and forest terrain welllllll after sundown.  Do I dare mention there were no stars due to a slight overcast and threat of rain? It was black.  Sheer black.  A 60-75 minute ride ended up being about 2.5 hours of:

  • white knuckles
  • outward laughs from the nerves and the stupidity
  • three one lane bridges that we prayed were not actually one plank bridges (it’s a thing and there are a few down there)
  • a few tighter than expected curves because where we were, road signs weren’t a thing,
  • thigh squeezing/butt-clenching
  • a lot of down shifting
  • forced relaxation to navigate curves fluidly
  • a few stops to say “you good?”
  • quick eye glances towards the ditches for wild animals
  • quick glances back to what you could see of the road due to said curves with no warning road signs
  • internal thoughts of what the news channels would say about us if we really did go off a cliff… with our Thelma and Louise shirts on…
  • a few morbid chuckles about that, because come on.  That’s actually kinda funny.
  • deep breaths and verbal reminders to take it all in and enjoy the journey, regardless of the fact that we couldn’t see a damn thing
  • out-loud verbal affirmations of “Girl, this is AWESOME” to “Girl, you are STUPID” and back.

…and when we finally saw the lights of Branson and navigated our way confidently towards “home” we breathed a sigh of relief, relaxed our clenched butts, laughed at ourselves, thanked the man upstairs for the guiding hand, praised our common sense of taking it easy and laughing through the journey and recapped what an incredible experience that actually was.

I only hope that someday we can retrace our steps and actually experience those incredible less-than-traveled roads again, but in the daylight, preferably.  I can only imagine the absolute beauty those bridges and cliffs held.

Maps do not provide justice for the type of curves and elevation changes you can expect on this route.  Top notch! 

Uh, especially between Eureka Springs and Branson. 🙂 

Saturday, July 21st | Still Hot As Hell

We didn’t have any set plans for Saturday other then slowly making our way towards Nebraska.  We had a few points of interest and an idea of where we were going to end our evening, but didn’t set it in stone.  And so after a 50’s inspired diner breakfast, we set out to play in the Missouri National forests.  We did several pass-through’s and loops, a few backtracks, and even found ourselves in a one-lane valley where a local farmer coming out of his farm ground gave us a friendly head nod as he rolled on by at a leisurely 15 mph.

Thanks, buddy, for letting us take over your road for a short period of time.

After we played all morning on those incredible roads, we landed ourselves in Ozark, MO around 2:00pm for a Bloody Mary and a few beers at Back Home Brewing.  I mean, it was our vacation and we just spent the last two days in mostly dry counties.  We were due a few. 🙂

And then realized we had literally made ZERO headway towards home.  Like… at all.  HA!

And so we made the executive decision to hit the ever boring Highway 13 for 136 miles to Warrensburg, MO for a brief beer stop on Pine Street (apparently the stomping rounds for all Central Missouri State University kids) before heading on to Weston, MO.

Side note: make sure you take all the back roads North of Warrensburg towards Excelsior Springs (Highway 10 to 92)and then into Weston, MO if traveling that way.  Those roads were insanely gorgeous.  Had no idea there was such beauty in that part of Missouri.  NONE!

Weston, MO is a community pulled straight out of a Christmas Hallmark Movie.  It is so quaint and full of charm with it’s little shops, restaurants, wineries (Pirtle Winery is housed here) and bars.  I cannot wait to go back and spend an entire day there.  Seriously, folks.  Explore it online (here) and then go pay it an actual visit.

We had dinner at the Tin Kitchen, a southern smokehouse, walked up and down the main drag to do a little window shopping before landing into O’Malley’s Pub to end our night.  O’Malley’s is a series of 3 vaulted limestone cellars, with the main bar located in the lowest level.  They had an Irish band playing on Saturday evening and we seriously could have stayed all night listening to and enjoying the show.  Such a cool bar and community!

But, we still had a 30 minute ride ahead of us to Atchison, Kansas where we had last second booked a hotel for the night, so back on the bikes around 10:30pm for the last part of our journey.

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Bright and early we woke and set out for breakfast at a café about 60 miles northwest-ish.  Upon arrival it appeared the whole town was closed up and dried out, so a quick call to Tyree’s mom:

“Whatcha doing?  Any chance you want to make us breakfast?”.

And so on we went another 60 miles, with a quick stop to Tyree’s grandpa for a quick good morning hug and on down the road to her parents house where we enjoyed a warm and made with love breakfast with her family.  A walk down memory lane for Tyree as she gave me a tour of the neighboring communities, her high school and finally a stop at Peru State College where she completed her undergrad.  The town is literally a college, a small grocery store and a bar/grill.  So, naturally, we stopped to enjoy one last vacation beer before taking on the last leg of our journey home.

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And so the Thelma and Louise multi-day adventure concluded and with a happy heart and giant smiles on our faces as we split ways at the highway 32 interchange.

Thanks, Tyree, for an epic adventure.  Lot’s of memories were made down in those trees.  Happy to have you by my side for so many fun events.

Cheers to many more!

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A note of acknowledgement to the victims, survivors, families and workers of the Duck Boat accident in Branson on the evening of July 19th.   The storm that we outran, unfortunately, did not dissolve before hitting the tourist town of Branson.  Our thoughts and prayers were with you upon hearing the news of such a tragedy, so close in proximity to where we were.  May you find peace and understanding in the days to come.

Memorial Weekend, the MURPH Challenge and some Yummies!

Grimmy’s Tuesday feels:

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The good ol’ Midwest went from freezing to blazing in 5 seconds flat!  And that meant Memorial weekend had a lot of this…

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And this…

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Friday of Memorial Day I got to spend time with my girl, Claire.  And by time spent, I mean packing up her SHIT so she could move.  I have seen Claire through I don’t even know how many moves, and I swear that girl has enough clothes to last a year without laundering, and hangers to fill even the Kardashian’s closets.  Girl…. You’re lucky I love your butt.   We worked our tails off from mid-Friday afternoon until well after 9pm before we decided a Jeep ride, dinner and beers were in desperate need.

Saturday was 1.5 million degrees.  What the heck even was that?  I don’t know.  I don’t care either.  I spent it shopping, cleaning, donating, cooking and baking.  It’s called staycation vibes and I was loving it.

Key Lime Pie Recipe Link

Cosmic Brownies Recipe Link |   Guys.  This recipe.  The chocolate ganache frosting.  This was the treat of the week at Walkup Wood Products.  Sinful.  Gooey.  Magic.

Drool.

Sunday, Clint and I cruised out to Catfish Lake Restaurant for some beers and grub.  What an adorable little craphole with amazing food.  Clint ordered escargot as an appetizer.  After digging through the cheese and gallon of butter I was able to find that cute little bite and enjoy it.  Clint, on the other hand, ate it, as served, in its full glory.   Cheese and garlic butter have its place… apparently, this restaurant believes it is in your arteries.

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Bellies full, we motored on…

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… And found ourselves at Heron Bay to close out the night with some friends and their buddies.   I will take beers on the river any day.

Let’s talk the Memorial Day MURPH.

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You can read about the origination, purpose, and goal of the MURPH here.

The MURPH workout in its true form (in sequence):

1 Mile Run

100 Pull-ups

200 Push-Ups

300 Squats

1 Mile Run

While wearing a 20lb vest or body armor

Variations of the MURPH include removal of the vest, splitting the movements into sets, dropping to knees on push-ups, splitting the workout into partners etc.

I wanted to challenge myself to the max, so chose to do it on my own, with a few variations.

  1. I did not wear a vest (I think there were only 3 who did out of the 75+ who completed it at my gym)
  2. I ran the first mile at an even pace, preparing myself mentally for what was to come.
  3. Split the middle into 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 squats | 10 times through.
  4. Used a band for assisted pull-ups to help remove some weight, but still maintained a strict hand grip and only progressed to heavier bands as the reps increased
  5. I only did 30 of my 200 push-ups on my knees.  I have a thing about completing full range motion push-ups.  I get pissy when I drop.  Real pissy.
  6. Finished with the mile.

That last mile.  Woah.  Legs were jello for a minute before I got my pace settled back in.

Guys, it was effing awesome.   I cannot wait to do it again, and I will for sure be watching my time this go-round.  I am a little competitive in non-competitive events.

Organized sports for me = gross. 

Gym organized events that equal camaraderie and support and all-in-it-together mentality?  YES! 

My competitiveness is within just me and that is what I am loving about this new gym I call home.  It’s made me so happy.  That’s another post, for another day, but know… it’s one of those things that makes you want to talk all day every day about, but don’t, because you don’t want to be that annoying guy, so you go on loving it and kicking its ass every day with other people who love it and kick its ass everyday too.

Yep.  That kind.

Here’s looking at you, Edge

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The rest of Memorial Day Monday was spent soaking up the sun, AC and ice cold beverages at the Sejhaur’s with a little side of washers.

 

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Cheers to you, Summer 2018 and your happiness… and random 2pm middle of week texts from one of your bestest to meet up at “your” bar.

Summer (and this guy) are looking mighty fine.

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CHEERS!!!!

A GalPal In Need | Brittany, the Artist Behind Saoi Photography

My favorite photographer and someone I’d consider a solid acquaintance as we’ve stayed connected over a period of 8 years is currently in need of support.  Brit of Saoi Photography, has in the past week been diagnosed with a brain tumor in her left frontal lobe.  In a matter of days she underwent surgery for removal, tests for the tumor were sent in (benign) and now she begins the many weeks of recovery.

brittany

As many small, private business owners know, it isn’t an option to miss work “unplanned”.  As Brit’s sole income is based on her artistry and vision, it comes without saying that her work is currently sidelined during recovery.  And without work, no income.  Without an income, finances become a struggle and medical bills pile.  Brit is not only a photographer but also a mom of two handsome little dudes.

brits boys

Brit is surrounded by folks from all walks of life thanks to her work but also her hobbies and interests.  She is a free-spirit, music-loving, hipster without being hipster because she is cool without the trendy classifications kind of chick.  Her vibe attracts her tribe, truly, and she has a kick-ass one.

Some of which have set up a Go Fund Me account for her to help with the costs associated.  If you are so inclined, please help by clicking HERE.

Her guy has a pretty sweet lineup of well-wishers as well and if you want to chime in, send something fun his way, or just follow along, on IG by clicking HERE.

Any and all can help this gal.What drew me to Brittany so many years ago is how relatable she is.   She’s someone that I knew would fit in with my crew and our personalities and I just KNEW I had to have her for our wedding.   And so began our history.

What drew me to Brittany so many years ago is how relatable she is.   She’s someone that I knew would fit in with my crew and our personalities and I just had to have her for our wedding.   And so began our history.

First our engagement photos:
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Then our Wedding.  This gang is full of nuts and I knew she’d fit right into our non-traditional vibe, and she did!  And she survived!  That is a true testament to her character, especially with those bad influence boys.

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And Family Photos in 2013

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Brit’s photography style has evolved so much over the years and it has been incredible to watch her artistic eye develop and change as she became more aware of her own styles and ideas of art.  I can’t WAIT to be in front of her lens again soon.

PLEASE, do yourself a favor and check out her webpage, Facebook and Instagram (<-all live links) for her work.  Give her a follow.  GIve her support.  She’s incredible.

And again, if you feel so inclined to give this galpal a helpful hand, please visit her GoFundMe account.

 

Cheers!

 

 

Arkansas 2017 | Bikes, Blues and BBQ

Dear Arkansas,

You are stunning.

Love, Me

September 20-24th | 2017 Annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally in Fayetteville, Arkansas came and went.   And in the 10 years that Clint and I have been going on big motorcycle trips, this one wins for the most unique, challenging and entertaining of adventures.

Wednesday

We packed, we loaded, we headed out.   En route with us: Tyree, Cole and Tyree’s brother, Clint S., riding my Clint’s old bike.

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Part 1, 2 and 3:

Uneventful.

  1. St. Joe with fumes to spare for fuel and to hook up with Erika and her trusty Jeep.
  2. Harrisonville for some grub at The Garage Burgers and Brew
  3. Gas station just 90 miles out of Fayetteville for a top off of the tanks and some much-needed hydration thanks to the cool and crisp 95-degree fall weather.

Part 4:

24 miles out of Fayetteville… the true adventure began.  As we pulled away from a small connecting community I noticed we were down half of our crew.   Over the course of a handful of minutes, slow riding on a four-lane waiting for them to catch up, a mid-traffic exchange between Clint and a friendly caged passerby we found out our trio were landlocked due to a bike malfunction.   A phone call exchange once stopped at an exit ramp we came to realize that the bike Clint S. was riding was unfortunately beyond any type of repair, and in addition to that major breakdown, Clint simultaneously had a gear shifter malfunction that caused him to have to get creative with some RPM timing and shifting.   So, with nothing any of us could do but make it to our destination, our half of the crew (Clint, Tyree and I) limped into Fayetteville while the other half (Cole, Clint S. and Erika) went on their own adventure of locating a Uhaul.   I should mention that during the Uhaul hunt,  ColeMan’s engine and oil light also came on, but that took third place in the line-up of current issues adventures.  Surely just over-heated, ya?

Totally.

Fast forward several hours and the second half of the trio made it into camp with one functioning bike, one Jeep and a trusty Uhaul with the untrusty bike, John made it in from Eastern IA and Clint fixed his bike issue.  With the crew together and camp set up, we all settled in for an evening of ice cold beers, conversations, and a little hackysack.

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Nothing but smooth sailing from here on out…

Or something like that.

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Thursday

The Uhaul had to go.   Thanks to our buddy Vern, the Uhauled bike found a temporary resting place in his garage in Oklahoma, so Clint, Erika, and Coleman took off in the AM to take care of that ordeal while the rest of us went cruising the beautiful Arkansas landscape.

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We set out in a general direction and ended up landing on Devil’s Den Road.   If you are looking for a lot of curves and switchbacks, add this short 23 miler to your list of roads to find.  Bonus: a few miles outside of it we found Backwoods Beer/Goods where we stopped for a 6pack and to finalize lunch plans once back in Fayetteville.

With the entire crew back together early afternoon, it was high time they got some open road under their belt.   With Erika riding bitch with Clint and Tyree with John (her bike went to her brother since his was having a sleepover in Vern’s garage), we set out towards Devils Den Road so they could experience those curvaceous 23 miles.

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Lean with it, rock with it…

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We had to visit our friends at the trusty Backwoods One-Stop-Shop for a cold brew and a view of the landscape before deciding to head down to Dickson Street for some grub, evening entertainment and of course, more beer.

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But ColeMan’s bike had other plans for us.

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Come to find out, he wasn’t holding a charge.  A little over an hour of being side-lined, some battery swapping and fingers crossed, we made it back to camp where we hunkered down for the night and enjoyed some entertainment courtesy of the Mr. BBB’s contest and odd camper sales pushing from an equally as odd salesman.

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My fear was these weirdos tipping the camper over and us getting stuck purchasing it.  She was a pretty little penny for not being able to stand up in it.

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Friday

I’ll spare you the details of the events from the evening prior through the course of 18 hours, but there was a lot of diagnosing, replacing, tearing apart, putting back together, test runs and the like before succumbing to a motorcycle repair shop to get Cole’s bike back in running order.

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Erika’s Jeep for the win, take TWO!   While ColeMan and Tyree set out on their “bring ColeMan’s bike back to life” adventure, we set out on our own towards Pig Trail Scenic Byway.

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The view on this byway never disappoints.

We, of course, stopped at the lookout point for a few beers and photo opportunities.  What we learned from our 2016 trip is that if you want a beer at any time during your time out on the road, you must bring it with you in your saddlebags.   Bars are non-existant and convenience stores are hard to find.

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PBR girls. 

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Somewhere out there is a photo of me with some random dude at the scenic overlook.  I had wandered away from our group to take some videos of bikes coming out of a curve and he asked me to take a pic with him.   All I know is he was from Iowa, coincidentally.

So, if you find that photo roaming around out here in the interwebs, lemme know, k?

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After a short delay descending Pigs Trail due to a motorcycle accident, we landed in Ozark, AR for the #1 Rated TripAdvisor BBQ joints,  Rivertowne BBQ!

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Delicious grub.
Amazing sweet potato fries.
Sweet and savory BBQ sauces.
Big Appetites.
Belly’s full.
Bliss.

At this point, we were into the mid-afternoon and knew it was time to head back up towards Fayetteville.  The LAST place you want to be after nightfall is in the Ozark National Forest area, let alone any backroad in the depths of Arkansas.  You are just asking for it, on many fronts.

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Back at camp we reunited with the Sejhaur’s and headed on down to the famed Dickson Street.   Let’s give THREE cheers for Erika’s jeep now, shall we?

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You guys… I don’t know if I need to apologize, try to explain what is going on here, or just let you come up with your own elaborated story.   Apparently, this means #BBB17, or something.  I don’t know.

Whatever.

It’s Clint and John.

No one ever quite knows.

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Dickson was a street.   With bikes.  And Vendors.  And Bars.   And people.   We met up with some Omaha peeps (hey, Adam) before heading back to camp for the night.   The majority of the group was definitely OVER it by this point in the day.  Peace out Dickson.  Maybe we will try you again another day.   Also, can this happen when we are there next time?  I feel bad for whoever’s bike this is, but that’s legit!

Hey Progressive – I don’t see Flo helping out.

What gives?

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Saturday

Up and at ’em by 7:30, we made our great campground escape for a hot breakfast before heading up to Eureka Springs for the first half of the day.

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Beautiful backroads, quaint little Eureka Springs for beers at The CatHouse, good company, a few random stops for souveniers and a group photo before Erika packed up and headed back to Des Moines.

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Please note Clint’s facial expression.

Now note mine.

What is that?

#nerdingit

Meanwhile, is Cole trying to look like a badass, frozen in fear, or just holding one in?

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Bonus points for rocking the Pirtlefest shirt.

Take off 10 for the Husker shirt.

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What a GREAT day Saturday turned out to be.

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Mid-afternoon we headed back to camp to allow Erika to pack up her belongings to get back to Des Moines.   The rest of us headed to lunch where we inadvertently ran into Adam Sandoval and Scooter on his Mission: Thank You tour.  Click HERE to find out more.

Tyree didn’t know who he was and asked a question that perhaps gave that away.

I say she was just humbling him a little.

😉

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Saturday evening consisted of campground cleanups, cold beer drinking and lawn mower pulls for a low-key end to our adventerous Arkansas vacay.

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Sunday

Time to head home.

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What’s this series of three photos with someone pushing me back you ask?   Just adding some flare to our Sunday departure by nearly running straight into that pole you see in front of me. Listen – the sun was GLARING, I couldn’t see anything and instead of taking the sidewalk path like we had taken over the course of the last three days, I wondered why no one ever went straight.

That would be why.

And thanks to the incline behind me, I had to be pushed out by some folks standing by while the rest of our crew snapped photos and laughed at my expense.

Hey, what can I say?  Just adding to the adventures.

Wait, wait.  What is this photo about?

Like I said… Just adding to the adventures.   Mere seconds after getting assistance from my near decapitation, my front tire went down and Fix-A-Flat had to come to the rescue due to a leak in the tube.

Seriously guys.  This trip.

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Tensions were a bit high for me at this point because I had little control over the front end.   Looking back, I am thankful for my dumbass move of nearly running into a pole in the campground because I think it was during that incident that my tire went all the way down and had just been a slow leak up to that point.  I had forgotten that on Thursday ColeMan asked me if my front tire was a little low… but we dismissed it.

And so we forged on.

The Kansas City outskirts provided us a stopping point for some fuel and drink and to check the tire pressure.  All was looking good!

It was also here that Tyree and I switched riding situations and I hopped on the back with Clint, and she hopped on my bike to finish out our journey home.  She needed to stretch out after being the bitch on back for the entire vacay and I am sure she was itching to get some miles in, even it was just interstate miles.

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This provided me the opportunity to take some videos and stupid snaps of our journey home.  And check work emails.  Cuz work goes on, vacation or not.

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What a crazy adventure we had.   Hands down the most unique trip I’ve expereinced in the years we’ve been going on large motorcycle trips.   Omaha was certainly a happy sight to see with everyone accounted for and all safe and sound.

 

Cheers to #BBB17 and to the many trips yet to come.

 

 

 

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Life Lately – A Glimpse Back to August and September 2017

Summer 2017 flew by like all summers do.  But for those who liken summer to just the months of June, July and August are selling themselves short.   Why stop at August?  Because school starts up again?   Hellooooo… who lives for the week when there is always a weekend?   September is always an extended summer month for this girl and it’s been slammed full of awesome. Plus, let’s just note the horrid temps we’ve been having lately.   Mid-90’s at the end of September?

 WHAT WAS THAT?!

Let’s take a step back in time.

{August}

The first part of the month was Jessica’s annual girls trip to the Ozarks with a few newbies along for the ride but minus a few previous attendees who were unable to make it.  The Ozarks trip looked quite different than years prior (recap of previous years here and here), however, you can guarantee fun was had, drinks were ingested, a few belongings were lost at the bottom of the lake and a hangover or two may have happened.

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Thanks again, Jeff and Donna for opening up your home to us.

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August 11-12th

Clint officiated a wedding in Red Oak, IA the second weekend of August so we headed down on the bikes Friday the 11th to help with rehearsal.

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Added bonus: one of the best meals we have had in a long time courtesy of the Red Coach Inn Lounge.   Had NO IDEA their food was so legit.  I take back my Red Roach sentiments.  *shoulder shrug

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The wedding on Saturday was absolutely gorgeous and everything went off without a hitch!

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And I, of course, loved every second I got to hang with Sara’s cute little fam.

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The entire month of August provided a lot of two-wheel time.   The number of sunsets captured was pretty spectacular.  This particular night we were just leaving The Twisted Tail after dinner and headed straight into the sunset.   I can’t get enough!

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Mid-August we had the opportunity to take my in-laws to dinner and we picked out the Driftwood Inn and Blair, NE.   The views during our pre-dinner drinks and appetizers were enough to make me want to go back for another evening cocktail anytime!   If you head that way, be sure to check their hours and give yourself plenty of time.  The seating is limited, the days and hours are limited and the wait time to get in is long, but clearly, worth it.  The place was packed!

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HOLD THE PHONE!

Did you know Clint has an award-winning truck?  At some point in August, we popped over to a car show with this man-manipulated beast I lovingly call Mater.   Listen, it’s apparently a thing because it was quite the conversation starter.  All I know is it’s a former dump truck (I think) that he put a box on.   It won best unfinished.

To me, it wins the title of “just another one of Clint’s unfinished projects”.

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And then around came my 37th birthday weekend.   Plans?  What plans?   Friends, let me tell you, August hit me like a ton of bricks!  I was out of the office traveling every day for over two weeks and facilitated 17 orientations where I was front facing students, parents, and administrators.  That’s a LOT of people and questions… and repeated answers.

So, I started to make plans, I didn’t like them, I changed them, I didn’t commit to anything, then I committed, people were busy, and then I uncommitted from it all because dang it… I just didn’t want plans.   None.  So, that’s what I did.  Whatever the hell I wanted on a schedule that didn’t matter if I was late or early too.

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And it was glorious.  

I got a solid long run in at my fave Zorinsky Lake and then we put some more miles in on the bikes.   Two-wheeled therapy, beers, dinner, and a nightcap to watch the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight at Tyree’s.   It was absolutely perfect and what I needed.

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And let’s not forget about this ooey gooey bowl of sweetness!  She makes every day a great day! ❤

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And then Tuesday the 29th hit and all of a sudden I’m 37.   THIRTY-SEVEN!   And super proud of it.   If you are one of those who keeps aging backwards… yo.   Stop it.  Own it!   Look at all the cool things you’ve experienced in your life to this point.  The things you’ve learned.   The mountains you’ve moved.   I proudly state my age.  Who gives a shit anyway?   Life friggin ROCKS!

The day started with getting absolutely SPOILED by my INSANIANCS and a 6 pack of beer from Jordan L.

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{Ok for real.  The number of people who actually thought I drank that bad boy at 5:30am after posting it on FB was a little ridic.   5:30am is a bit early don’t ya think?}

I mean clearly, I waited until the more respectable hour of 10:30am to crack it open.  #duh

 

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Thanks to Kelly for the extra steps in making my morning start off just right.  Look at that load of goodness.

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And the day of happiness continued with fresh out of the oven muffins from Bridgette, lunch with my mama, Dave and Gabe, goodies from some very special co-workers, flowers from the hubs, a hand-delivered cookie from Jess, love from the cat and sushi dinner to close out the night.

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37.  

You fine.

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{September}

I am still continuing working on my photo taking skills and fortunately for me had two more incredible test subjects.  Check out a few sneaks below!

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Pirtlefest Preps started happening on September 2nd and lasted through September 16th.   The weekends preps consisted of truck repairs, hole digging, pole barn cleaning, cabin sweep, human fooseball construction while also consuming a fair amount of food and booze.

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Friday, September 8th was Clarinda’s homecoming and my beautiful cousin was part of the Homecoming Court.  I made a last minute decision early that morning to take a 1/2 day off work and make my way to Clarinda to see her in action.  Fortunately for me, I caught a gorgeous sunrise on that two-wheeled beauty.

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And speaking of gorgeous!  Megan- red is your color!

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No trip to Clarinda would ever be complete without a stop to see Kayla and fortunately for us, Nicole stopped by and joined in on the fun as well!

An afternoon of beers and besties?  YES, PLEASE, ALWAYS!

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I timed my departure to coincide with the sunset.  The backroads of Iowa never disappoint, so there I sat, by myself, no traffic, the only sounds coming from the low grumble of my bike and the chirps of bugs, watching the sunset ever so softly until it disappeared.

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You all know how I feel about finding time to reset and self-reflect.   For me, the best time to do that is on the bike at sunset with nothing but miles ahead, miles behind and the only sounds heard are from the bike and my own thoughts.

Be comfortable being by yourself.  Get comfortable having hard conversations with yourself.   That’s where true growth begins.

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Saturday the 9th was the annual Scroggs memorial run out of Clarinda, so instead of heading to the farm to continue helping with the Pirtlefest shenanigans, I took off on the bike BACK to Clarinda to enjoy an afternoon of riding.

The weather was perfect, the miles long and the company a treat.

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Sunday, September 10th marked 6 years of marriage.

Killing it!

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Monday, September 11th marked my first day back as a playing member of the Nebraska Wind Symphony.   It had been 6 years since I had touched my clarinet and 11 years since I played repertoire that challenged me. I was a member of NWS from 2004-2006 while still living in Clarinda but left the group during a transition period in my life and then actually left music altogether in 2011 when I stepped away from teaching.  Joining the music world again had definitely been on my heart for the last year. In fact, my Christmas present to my Gr’pa Goecker last year was a written promise to see what I could do about becoming a playing NWS member again… and Monday the 11th I fulfilled that promise. He’s delighted as he’s certainly been the one to consistently bring up how he wishes I still played.  It’s been GREAT to be back… but I’ll admit the Monday evening 7:15-9:15pm rehearsals are an adjustment for my 4am Tuesday alarm clock.   Ouch!!

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Mid-September brought some changes at work.  The details are unnecessary, but the love I feel for my colleagues and the future of my position is promising.  Thanks to many special people for helping lead into that transition and through the changes yet to come.

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And with that, I’ll leave you be.   We’ve got Pirtlefest and an Arkansas trip to round out September, but those adventures certainly deserve their own post.

… Oh, the stories and photos to share!  🙂

 

Cheers!