We had a great time in Hot Springs but are excited to get back on the road. It is going to be another beautiful day on this amazing retirement adventure. Our path today will be through the Ouachita National Forest, climbing the Winding Stair Mountains and across the Talimena trail, then down across northeastern Texas to Waco.
The Ouachita National Forest covers 1.8 million acres in central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. We are the only ones on Arkansas 298 this quiet morning. Winding though the countryside we start seeing evidence of the December Ice Storm. Piles of branches and the fresh cut, downed trees that we had seen yesterday now make perfect sense. On December 5 and 6, an ice storm, consisting of freezing rain, sleet and light snow caused significant tree damage and closed many roads across portions of the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.
Beautiful, but glad we missed that.
In Mena, AK, we follow the signs to the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Almost immediately you understand that this is going to be amazing. For all who pay Federal taxes, I thank you. This country is beautiful and accessible to me today, only because of the years of dedication to making and maintaining highways and parks.
The Byway extends 54 miles along the mountain ridge.
As we ascend up Rich Mountain to 2681 feet, we quickly realize that the cloud ceiling today is about 1900 feet.
Well, it is good that we have the internet. Here is how is should look.
Going to plan B, we exit the Byway and head for Texas. We jump off the Polar Vortex, the temperature is 73 degrees.