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)

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