I arrived on a Sunday night and hid from the showers in a Tulsa Best Western for two nights, breaking my traveling streak of no hotels; can’t complain about the microwave and coffee maker though. By late morning on Tuesday, feeling a little boxed-in since my Monday spin through the recommended “center of action” in Tulsa … well, simply had none, I said, “Screw it,” in a more vulgar way, “I have rain gear!”

I rolled the highway north to Salina, Oklahoma through the drippity-drops and found my way to the next little red flag ‘via-point’ icon on my GPS and was again on my dirty Trans-Am way. I was a little tense about water-crossings, especially with a few days of rain that had coated the trail ahead of me, but fortunately I had only a handful of giggly-mud splashes – the fun kind where you hold your feet out in front and spray muddy-water waves with a smile.

Just before the Oklahoma/Arkansas border, mid-route, I ran into a Trans-Amer rendezvous; a beemer and KTM Adventure coming from the east and a 1200 GS rider on his way back home to Fayetteville, hot on my Kenda tire-track from the west. The guys gave me some “think twice before you cross solo” locations like Demo Road west of Helena and the infamous Tubby Bottom in Mississippi (Lat:34.886483, Long: -89.096005); places bogged down with mud or filled up with water that I’ll have to locate and evaluate.

(ADVriders: Ted aka TCourdin, MrPerez and Dale aka DirtNap)

The land got greener as I push into eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas. The trail was made up of farm-to-farm roads scattered with mobile homes, moto-chasing dogs and Baptist/Methodist/Lutheran church after church next-door to church. There was the random mowed, painted and lawn-ornamented Ozarkian villa, but most of the dwellings exemplified the classic, “You know yer a redneck if you have five cars on yer front lawn and none of ‘em run,” joke.

I had quite a few fuzzy friend close calls with squirrels, deer, chickens, those damn tire-chasing dogs and butterflies. I already had feathers blood-glued to my rim and headlight and began screaming “No spokes, no spokes!” when I’d startle a flock of fluttery little birds into flight. Here, unlike Colorado the beef were barbed in, which may have attributed to their calmer-cow demeanor, even though like Colorado, I saw more of them than any other life form.

“You know yer a redneck if you’ve got confederate flags painted on yer barn doors 'n pinned up in yer windows” … now this, I did see.

The next night I bandited a Devil’s Den campsite with the rationalizing thought of being able to afford my new expense of oil to feed my, now fairly consistent, 1,000-miles down a quart oil-KiLleR. I did just begin to use the Rotella variety as suggested by a fellow ADVrider forum member (yes, I did sign up under my super-old GrlStar handle). After scaring three deer while on a b-freakin-utiful trail run through the damp-green Devil’s Den foliage, red rocky tracks and by the cloudy-blue streams, I now know where the “high-tail it outta here” expression comes from, first-hand.

(Devil's Den Trail running morning beauty)

I showered-up and rolled on to the next via-point GPS flag and had a cool morning 30-something mile ride into Mountainburg for gas. I got back on track and continued down a redneck trail of rutted roads and car corpses until the ruts got bigger, the trail got thinner and I had to momentum it through a pretty slimy mud-ditch to find out that the other side was either a dead-end or washed out trail.

Since I base difficulty on experience, “Could I bust that on my X?” analogizing my KLR with my lately-disowned favorite-ever dirtbike, the Honda CRF250X, I decided that the answer was “hells no,” and turned around. The path was called Warloop and there were no detectable tracks; car, motorcycle or ATV, so I figure it may have been a directional error too, somehow … being that I do have a GPS.

I went a roundabout paved-way to the community of Locke suggested by a truck driver who spied me map-reviewing on the side of the road.

“Ya know there’s no stores er anythin’ like that up in there,” he advised.

I snatched up another via-point flag on the working-weatherproof-wonders GPS and rolled on my rocky way. It’s neat to notice the trail differences state-to-state, region-to-region; sand, dirt, red, white, wet, dry, rocky, rippled. I continued on my way rising and falling through the Ozark National Forest when at around 3-o’clock I stopped for lunch, looked at my watch and realized that I didn’t feel like camping on the side of the trail. I looked at my Map Maps U.S. moto-map and saw the Hot Springs National Park. Since I can always go for a good soak, I did a cartwheel, hopped on the next southerly paved road and b-lined toward the thermals.

I slowed through Russellville looking to find a bottle of red wine on my way, but was unable to detect a liquor store. So I spotted the staple Wal-Mart Supercenter and stopped to pick myself up a fine bottle of $3-dollar wine. But before de-gearing I asked the teenage basket collector if indeed the Pope Country Wal-Mart sold vino … a lesson learned from the OK bible corral.

“Uh, usually, but not this one, he replied. I, of course, questioned the reasoning.

“This is a dry county,” he informed me.

“Damn, the whole county?” I exclaimed, provoking a shocked smile. “I’ve never been to one of these before.”

Obviously the U of A I just passed surly doesn’t make a twinkle of the party school list, to the dismay of their marketing department, I’m sure.

So now, I’m sitting here happily wine-ing myself under a big moon that’s reflecting on the lake water and silhouetting the pine trees. I’m on a camping peninsula listening to the smooth rippling water on the Ouachita Lake. I was directed here by a “spirit” store owner … still in the bible web … who’s also a fellow trail-runner, Pike’s Peak marathon contender and complimentor of the Gnarly Head red Zin from Lodi I selected. No bias here, but the best reds – minus a special Italian Amaroni I had – just come from the Golden State.

Looks to me like it’s about time for some good ol’ drunkin’ night time skinny dippin’!

(Sunset reflecting on Lake Ouachita through the pines)

Check out some pictures >>