A friend and I were supposed to go on a bike trip to Nova Scotia. Life got in the way. Before I knew it, it was too late to head that far north. I had been saving this week all summer. Now here it is getting to be fall and I have no plans. Because of a recent vacation policy change, the saying around the office was "Use it or lose it." Problems like these are what one of my friends call "First World Problems." They're truly the best kind of problem to have.
An excess of vacation could mean only one thing. ROAD TRIP!!!! When? Where? With whom? For how long? These questions would have to wait for work to wind down a bit.
By mid-September, work slowed down enough for me to realize that fall was quickly approaching and that I needed to make a decision soon. I poured over maps. Because the weather was starting to turn cooler, I knew that a trip south made the most sense -- but how far?
A conversation with one of my riding buddies included riding the Blue Ridge Parkway. "Eh, Maybe? I've ridden is several times." "Helen, Georgia?" "No, I was just there this spring." "The Ozarks?" "That's it!" The Ozarks. The Ozarks were the perfect recommendation. It is a region of the country I knew nothing about, had never visited, and the weather was still quite warm.
The next questions to be answered were when and with whom? The two were closely tied together since most folks can't just pick up and leave on a moment’s notice. One friend who wanted to go who still hadn't been able to replace his motorcycle. Since he was in the market for a used bike he needed time to find the right one. Another friend wanted to go but couldn't go for the entire week.
At some point in September I realized that if I were going on this trip, I needed to set the timeline independent of other factors. I chose the second week of October. This gave me time to close out a project at work, and I had hoped it would leave enough time for my friend in search of a motorcycle to find one. It wasn't the case. This was to be a solo trip. Planning became much simpler.
Five days off of work combined with two weekends gave me nine uninterrupted days to ride anywhere I liked. Additionally, I figured I would leave after work on Friday to visit my Dad in Southern Ohio.
With rough plans and schedule in place, I ordered the new Butler Maps Ozarks motorcycle-specific map. It would tell me where all the hot roads were. Prior to ordering this map I was studying Google Maps, atlases, etc. I didn't see how I could ride one specific region for nine days. I found a parkway called the Natchez Trace Parkway. It runs from outside Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. This would be the perfect path to reach Arkansas.