Longtime local ATV rider Tom Scates adds that he had quit drinking years ago because it gave him headaches, but has found a new vice to replace it.
"I don't drink bourbon or coffee anymore. ... My vice is my Rhino," Scates says with a laugh.
He is one of several members who ride (or used to ride) touring motorcycles. "My wife, I finally burned her out on that," he explains, "so I got to riding ATVs."
The newest club member, Elizabeth Edwards, is also a touring motorcycle rider. She and her husband both joined the club to have folks to ride with and to learn a bit more about the sport.
"We're new to four-wheelers, and we wanted someone to go out and ride with, and to learn the dos and the don'ts," Edwards says. "We're in our second childhood. The kids are all grown and out of the house."
One of the most interesting parts of moving to ATVs, she says, has been getting her husband out into the great outdoors.
"My husband is from New Jersey. They don't even know what the outdoors is up there. This week, he's in a class learning to use a GPS he just bought."
Along with being outside and doing something for the community, the club enjoys a good meal.
"We have a lot of cookouts. Sometimes we go to Sahara and grill steaks and whatnot. We had fajitas one night."
"We love to eat in this club!" Swigart chimes in.
"Yeah," Harris continues. "We have ham and smoked brisket ..."
"Sometimes deep-fried turkey-when we don't burn 'em!" a guy from the club interjects, sparking a wave of laughter.
Cofounders Swigart and Harris are pleasantly surprised at how quickly the club has grown.
"I didn't figure in three years we would have 75 people," Harris says.
"Eighty-six is where we're at right now," Swigart adds.
The club celebrated its third anniversary at the monthly meeting held this March. On the menu? Cake and punch, of course. This club never misses a chance to work in a good meal.
|QUALITY OF RIDING ||9.2 |
|Narrow, steep and challenging to wide, rolling and easy rocky trails. Lots of elevation changes and great scenery. |
|LOCALE ||9.4 |
|The Ozarks has an alluring mix of relaxed Southern |
style and lots of open, beautiful country.
|CITIZENSHIP ||8.5 |
|Members have diverse riding interests, ranging from young guys on sport quads to older ones on utilities. |
|RIDES/EVENTS ||9.2 |
|D-Day ATV Rodeo: something for every enthusiast. |
|PERSONALITY ||9.4 |
|The club is a fun-loving bunch that welcomes newcomers. However, good luck getting a word in edgewise! |
|OVERALL RATING ||9.1 |
|A cheerful club located in one of America’s most laid-back riding destinations. |
Place visited: Ozark National Forest
Club: Northwest Arkansas ATV Riding Club, www.nwaatvrc.freehomepage.com; 479/903-6390
Riding season: Year-round
Maps recommended: Boston Mountain District, Ozark National Forest OHV TrailMap;www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/recreation/OHV/boston_mtn.html
Area information: Ozark Tourist Center, www.ozarkvacation.com
Permits/licenses required: ATVs must be equipped with a spark arrestor and must be registered. No fee charged for trail access. ATVs are not allowed in established camp sites, and camping is not allowed at trailheads. "Nondesignated" camping sites available along access roads near trailheads.
Critters: Whitetail deer, turkeys, eagles, bobcats, snakes (water moccasins, copperheads, rattlesnakes), great blue herons
While you are there: Fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, horseback riding, caving Blanchard Springs Caverns, canoeing and kayaking
Road-trip CD: Johnny Cash's "At Folsom Prison"
Best local beer: Ozark Friesian Black Lager, Ozark Brewing Company (Fayetteville)
Digs: Lots of options in nearby Fayetteville; camping available at Byrd's Adventure Center, www.byrdsadventurecenter.com
Good eats: Lots of chain restaurants in Fayetteville; places in the Ozarks offer great meals for reasonable prices
Useful links: www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/index.html, www.ozarkfolkcenter.com, www.nohvcc.org