Shamrock Tour® - Mountain View, Arkansas

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Chris Myers, Kathy Myers

We race toward the setting sun, darting from curve to curve along Arkansas' Route 14. A glance at the odometer verifies that the miles have really piled up since our departure from North Carolina. But the welcome climb into the foothills of the Ozark Mountains is reenergizing a couple of bottom-sides made weary by the Natural State's vertically-challenged eastern reaches.

Despite being burdened with stuffed saddlebags and two riders, the rock-steady Honda VFR800 Interceptor still responds adeptly, slicing through the winding corners with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel. Kathy, just plain tickled with the advent of any arc, prods me on with the raucous urgency of a Ginsu knife plowing through a Pepsi can. On one hand, her enthusiasm is infectious; the tabletop-flat rice fields we just spent the last three hours yawning our way across had become quite tedious. On the other, tempering one's enthusiasm far from home does prevent garnering yet another attorney for a pen pal.

It's been a long day, and the distance digits for Mountain View are ticking down. Known as the "Folk Music Capital of the World," this welcoming community of tidy, tan colored limestone buildings is the hub of our Shamrock Tour®. The town's square is the meeting place for jam sessions by talented pickers that gather nightly to play, share, and preserve the traditional gospel and country standards favored by generations of local residents. More than just fun-time tunes, these numbers mark but one aspect of the deep, folk roots that continue to nourish this close-knit enclave. Traditional community mores and handicraft talents so necessary for survival by the Ozark's early settlers are both embraced and perpetuated in Mountain View. As fans of old-time music, we'd like to stay longer and listen in, but the scores of miles already under our belts dictate otherwise. Unpacking and relaxing takes precedent as we still have many explorations ahead.

Earth's Works

Our base of operations at the Ozark Folk Center State Park and their Cabins at Dry Creek features comfortable rooms with semi-private patios, and the on-premise Skillet Restaurant is just a short walk through the woods. After a hearty, country-style breakfast, we're ready to roll. Though still carrying a slight chill, the September morning breeze refreshes as we climb westward on Route 14. The smooth pavement bores into the hardwood canopy like an asphalt Tilt-a-Whirl whipping left then right, sending a message to the brain for all hands on deck. I suppose we could opt for a gentler wake-up call - perhaps a guided journey to the center of the earth? The signs for the United States Forest Service's Blanchard Springs Caverns summon us from the road. And why not, since the opportunity to walk off the morning meal 200-feet underground doesn't come about very often.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the May/June 2010 back issue.