Yesterday, while riding my daughter around, I decided that since today was going to be such a nice day (relative to what we have been having, weather wise) that I’d go on a ride to a part of the state that I haven’t really spent much time in — the Delta. Since I’m still relatively new to motorcycles, I figured I would make my first solo distance run an easy one. So looking around Arkansas.com, I found the Grand Prairie Loop and figured why not.
Today is also my daughters first day of school for the 2018-2019 year and all summer she has begged me to take her to school on the bike, so I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and take her with me when I leave in the morning.
After dropping her off at school, I headed out, back across the Arkansas River and east out of North Little Rock on US-165 the first stop was the Plantation Agriculture State Park just north of Scott.
After a very thorough education on cotton and the life of cotton farmers in Arkansas over the last few centuries, I get back on the bike and travel a few miles down the road to another one of our state parks — Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park.
One of those places you pass by 100 times and never stop at, I decided to finally give it a go. It wasn’t too terribly hot yet, so I hiked the mile or so trail out to the mounds and the boardwalk. It was neat learning about the mounds and how there used to be a major city almost 1,800 years ago where I was standing.
If you decide to go on this hike, make sure you wear sleeves or wear plenty of bug-spray — there are swarms of mosquitoes and other nasties on the boardwalk and they will chase you down — but I digress. The park was really neat and informative and a nice diversion from the road.
By now, you are probably wondering why I didn’t just video the ride instead of typing all this out. Well, even if I were to have made a video, I still would have typed most of this out, but the reason there is no video is after I had left the house and gotten a downtown to drop my daughter off, I noticed that I forgot to screw the GoPro into its mount. It’s a wonder it hadn’t fallen out prior to then, but I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I just put it in the saddle bag and went on. I’ll probably do this ride again in the early autumn, and I’ll make sure to get some good video along the way.
Leaving Toltec Mounds, I head southeast on US-165 to England where the route turns due east. I follow 165 for a few miles, seeing nothing but endless fields and farm buildings on either side of me until I reach my next turn, AR-13. I turn north heading for Carlisle and, as expected, see more of the same. I’m beginning to think this route was planned by the tourism board to give these small towns some sort of life, because honestly, there really isn’t much to see along the way.
Reaching Carlisle, I turn east again on US-70 towards De Valls Bluff, a sleepy little town on the banks of the White River where I stop to rest my back for a few minutes. But the road beckons and the day is getting warmer so I hit the road again, west on US-70 then south on US-63 to the Rice and Duck Hunting Capitol of the World — Stuttgart. For everyone NOT from around here, they pronounce it stutt gart. So don’t try the German way or you may get looked at funny.
After a quick drink stop in Stuttgart, I head southwest on US-79 towards Pine Bluff. A long and straight stretch of newly paved road greets me once I’m in Jefferson County. I barely notice the landscape change from farms to trees as I approach the Arkansas River again — this time crossing it to enter Pine Bluff.
Bypassing the city to the east and to the north on US-65B, I make my way to Regional Park where I stop and walk around and check in with the wife. At one point in my life, I lived in Pine Bluff, but I never had been to this park before. It’s a nice park, with sports, golf, camping and even a nature center. The original idea was to go to a little burger stand called Rich’s which is across the highway from the park and have a small picnic. But after showing up only to find out they were on vacation, my picnic turned into an extended rest period.
The drive home from Pine Bluff was an uneventful 40 miles or so up AR-365 back to Little Rock. I decided, before I went home, to head over to the Airport and see if I could do any plane spotting while I was in the area. I wasn’t disappointed as I got to see a few regional jets and a 737 land, 2 C-130’s do touch and go maneuvers, and another regional jet take off. Quite a nice end to a relatively uneventful, albeit educational ride. But the heat was on and I had to scoot. I hit the road towards home, going under the airport taxiway and into downtown where I turned north and headed back home.
Like I said above, I will probably be doing this route again — if not for my own wanderlust, but I think it’s a great route for new riders to get used to long rides without the stress of sharp turns or tall
hills mountains. Personally, I felt the scenery was ok, but you could easily grow bored with all the farms during the first stretch. Once you start heading back from Stuttgart, the scenery becomes more varied and lends itself to keeping you awake and alert. So yeah, hop on the bike and give this route a try. It’s a solid C+ in by book, if for nothing else the great State Parks along the way.