Mountains, Music & Motorcycles - A Day Late?

My good friend Mark and I decided to take a day off from work and attend the Mountains, Music and Motorcycles festival in Mountain View, AR. last Friday. The festival was scheduled for 3 days with the opening on Friday. The web site said the event begins at 8:00 AM. We didn't discover until it was too late that the event starts at 8:00 AM Saturday and Friday was set aside for the riders to tour the many byways and back roads in the area; the music and festivities were not scheduled to start until 8:00 PM! We arrived Friday morning a little after 10:00, not on Harleys, but in BFT (my Big Ford pickup Truck) and I had $60 in my pocket. For once, I wasn't a day late or a dollar short.

This little gathering started six years ago with no budget and totally dependent on volunteers. The first year 350 motorcyclist showed up. Last year an estimated 10,000 motorcycles attended! It is free to the public, features many family-friendly activities and is a major fund raiser for the March of Dimes. For those who know what these are, the event offers a bug run, poker run, bike show, biker games and two free concerts, numerous vendors and a biker church service that was attended by 500 bikers last year in the city park amphitheater.

Mountain View town square honors those from
the town who have given their life in
defense of our country.
I've blogged about Mountain View previously so if you hadn't figured it out before now, this picturesque little town is one of my favorite places in Arkansas. Situated in a valley in the mountains next to the Ozark National Forest, it's Ozark heritage is heavily evident in the little businesses surrounding the town square and the friendly, open nature of the people who live there. With the numerous festivals held here throughout the year, the many antique and "hand-crafted goods" shops, and with it being the "Folk Music Capital of the World," it's easy to find one reason or another to visit just about any weekend you can get away.

The drive to Mountain View from my home is an hour of beauty driving down 2-lane curvy blacktop roads. You need to be careful you don't drift into the wrong lane while looking at the scenery or hit a deer or possum or racoon, all of whom seem to have a frequent urgent need to go from one section of woods to another by crossing the road. I think they gather around at night and brag about how many times they safely crossed and talk about their friends who tried one time too many. If you watch closely, you'll see buzzards sitting patiently in the trees.

Little country house of worship
Along the way, we passed an old, rural white clapboard church with a bell tower. For me, there's something about country churches like this. There was a time in my youth that it was I who toiled in the fields of the family farm deep in the sandy lands of east Texas and it was I who attended a little country church with "salt of the earth" people; people who often as not never made it past the 8th grade, but possessed dignity and honesty and virtues that are sadly missing today. I had to stop. It reminded me of a poem by Thomas Gray.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

The rare White Breasted Ozark Mutt dog!
After stopping and talking to the watchful "guard dog" next to the church, we made our way on in to town; a town that should have been bustling with the activity and sounds of hundreds, if not thousands, of motorcycles. It was strangely quiet. At the town square, instead of motorcycles and riders everywhere, we saw maybe 2 dozen. There were a number of folks walking around, but we were able to find an open parking spot right there on the square. We decided we were just a bit early so we would pass the time by walking around in the shops, seeing if they had something we couldn't live without.

Mark looking for something he can't 
live without.
When we had both grown weary of browsing, we agreed that if you can't find what you are looking for in these shops, then you don't need it. We found everything from bottled sarsaparilla to a 1,000 piece Woodstock festival jigsaw puzzle to a small, galvanized wash tub which Mark had been hunting high and low and on the internet for with no luck until now. In some cases, one person's junk is another person's treasure and this was certainly true in a few of the stores. In other cases, one person's junk is just junk.

This picture frame came with instructions.
I was wearing my USS Kitty Hawk cap because I've found it helps me meet other people, mostly guys who were also in the U.S. Navy. We start talking and find out if we ever served together or in the same area or occasionally have an acquaintance we both know. This time I ran into GySgt Bryce F. Lockwood, a retired Marine who served on several navy ships and is the only marine survivor from the attack on the USS Liberty by Israelis in June, 1967. Even today, almost 45 years later, it is still a hush-hush incident that is rife with intrigue, secrets, and cover ups. GySgt Lockwood was awarded a Silver Star for saving the lives of several other crewman even though he was severely wounded when a torpedo struck the ship and exploded just 8 feet from where he was. He went on to serve for several more years until his injuries caught up with him and he was forced to take a medical retirement. It was an honor to meet and talk to this American hero.

Arlene and Marlene celebrating their 
"50th" birthday.
After a while, we stopped for lunch in the local Mexican food cafĂ© and the fare was actually pretty acceptable - had better, but had worse a number of times. There were 4 older ladies sitting in the corner, having a grand good time and 2 of them were wearing bright colored hats and boa's around their necks. When their food came, they held hands and prayed. When we left, I couldn't help but stop by their table to find out what they were celebrating. Turns out the 2 dressed up ladies were Arlene and Merlene, twin sisters celebrating their, ah hum, "50th" birthday with their 2 best friends of so many years that, "we can't even count that high." There wasn't an alcoholic drink on the table, but there sure were a lot of laughs between those 4 ladies!

I had heard of a small community a few miles outside of Mountain View by the name of Bothersome. It didn't appear on any maps, but with a description of the location I found on the internet, off we went. I didn't really have a choice of going there or not - with a name like Bothersome, it was beyond my control. With my truck's GPS and a Roads of Arkansas map book, it wasn't too hard to find the little road where we turned off the main 2-lane road. It started out as old blacktop, but quickly degraded into gravel and then dirt. We pressed on. And then, smack dab in the middle of absolutely nowhere, the "road" became a 2-track mud pit running into standing water. I don't know how deep that water was, but I'm pretty sure I saw a decent sized catfish swimming around in it. It was the end of our quest. I had to back up about 50 yards to a turn-around spot and go back the way we came. It bothers me that I can't say I've been to Bothersome.

Elaine and unidentified customer at Kinfolk BBQ.
Returning to Mountain View, we found a much larger contingent of motorcycles had arrived. The vendors were getting set up and things were starting to happen. It was also hot, with the temp in the upper 90's and very humid so after a bit more walking around, I purchased a "Mountain, Music &; Motorcycles 2011" event t-shirt; we stopped in at the Kinfolk BBQ shack, purchased an iced coke and sat in the air conditioned eating area chomping crunchy ice for a while. After eye-balling some of the motorcycles and a tour of the vendors to see what they had for sale, we made our way back to BFT and found a note under the windshield. "Please move your vehicle by 4:00 PM to make way for the dancing area." Well, it was almost 4:30, we felt like we had seen all of the stuff that was to be seen so far, and we didn't feel like waiting around until 8:00 PM in the heat to watch the band so we decided it was time to head home.

From beautiful factory bikes to homemade 

We didn't get to see what we thought we would, we didn't get to visit the site of Bothersome, but we did see some cool motorcycles, a bunch of cool old junk in the shops, and we got to miss a day of work. That's a good day in my book!

This bike was heavily chromed and in
 the sun, wow!
I was very careful not to tip over the first one!