About two weeks ago three of us took off to visit a specific road; it starts with one of those great signs that anyone looking to put their driving or riding skills through their paces is thrilled to find. It looks similar to the one at right. The sign I was looking for was at least past the minimum for making it "worth the drive." How do I calculate the minimum? It's a simple formula. The higher the number of miles on the sign, the more likely it is to be worth driving to get to that starting point.
We had a great trip getting there. Highway 25 leading west into Batesville, AR is entertaining through Strawberry, AR and has some shady areas where the trees give you a canopy of relief on a hot summer day. Batesville is a nice town, with a variety of restaurants to stop in for lunch or dinner. We chose to stop for lunch at Elizabeth's Place, located downtown. It's one of those great places that let you stuff yourself silly on very good rolls to begin with, so when your Quiche lunch special arrives, you're already mostly full. I think the club sandwiches were a little better than the Quiche. It's a good place to stop for a light lunch, and the old renovated building makes for a casual, quaint setting.
We moved on through to Mountain View, where we turned north on Highway 5, leading up to the wonderful road I'd remembered from summers past... Highway 9.
But alas, it wasn't all that glorious anymore.
If you care remotely about the paint and windshield of your car, or if you're a motorcyclist and like to keep your bike upright, I encourage you to avoid this highway for now. The highway department has decided to "resurface" the road. In this case it was clearly done by the very lowest bidder, and they wanted to pocket as much as possible. It's covered in loose gravel and chat 90% of the way, both directions. I'm not sure if their plan is to let this settle a bit then oil or pave over it, but for now it makes for miles and miles of misery. We took a turn on a mystery road just to see if we could get around the mess, but ended up at a dead end (i.e. another actually worse gravel road.)
After grumbling our way through to Melbourne, AR, we stopped to regroup, refuel vehicles and ourselves. To console ourselves a bit, we made our way back home through Highway 25 up to Ravenden and Highway 63, where the fun comes to an abrupt halt as you pass over the river.
It was still a fun trip, and I'd recommend most of the route as overall good roads. Watch your speed on Highway 25 as homes are close to the road and animals roam freely, sometimes into the road.
(Thanks to The Motorcycle Tourer's Forum for having just the kind of picture I needed, sounds like they had a fun/painful ride!)