This fall, while visiting the Crowley's Ridge Nature Center, I was admiring a large relief map showing portions of Crowley's Ridge. One area caught my eye toward the south eastern portion of the map, a national forest near the Marianna area. It had a couple of lakes and a road that resembled a 2 year-old child attempting to draw a piece of spaghetti. That's something nearing perfection in the eyes of a car or motorcycle enthusiast. It meets all the requirements for fun; Plentiful curves? Check. Scenery? Check. Relatively convenient? Check. Let's hit the road!
So we did. The map at the Nature Center and the state highway map gave a more rosy picture than was realistic. After ending up at a dirt road to a Confederate Cemetery (for history buffs a great find) and ultimately the Helena Police Station trying just to find the highway that would lead to the road, I should have see the big red flag waving wildly in front of me. If nothing else, I am persistent and would find this road one way or another. After a while longer of wandering somewhat lost, there it was... the road. It was one of the better roads, lined with trees and despite having virtually no shoulder it was still reasonably maintained and most of all beautiful. A good amount of twists & turns later and the road opened up to a lake area. That's when the gravel appeared. Thus ended the search for a good road that after less than 10 miles turned to gravel. My car isn't the kind you'd take down a rough gravel road, so after all that it was time to call it a day.
The entire day wasn't without something of note, a bit of good food at Ray's Dairy Maid in West Helena. Actually it's considered to be in Barton, but it's just on the outskirts of West Helena. Between the friendly staff and the good, home cooked food it was hard to go wrong with anything on the menu. The fried pies were excellent, and the variety of pies alone was a reason for the drive.
Between an interesting historical stop, some great pie and at least 10 minutes of good road made the day's trip worthwhile.