Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19, 2010 – Day 14 Done with OK, onto AR and The Highway 7 twisties

McDonalds was calling me early this morning and in my haste to depart I forgot Days Inn provides a free breakfast. Crimoney, I could l have had my Grape Nuts Flakes fix!

I’d left Broken Bow without discovering what lay behind the name of the town and no one in Poteau seemed to know either. All sorts of fantasies cropped up in my imagination, mostly having to do with Jeff Chandler and Kirk Douglas messing around with Indians in old black and white westerns. Maybe the fantasies are better than real life.

I’d decided it might be a more interesting ride if I avoided the Fort Smith area so I kept to the OK side and headed up route 59 through Stillwell.

Just a short distance out of town I encountered what looked like a minor competition going on between three churches. All were located within a block of one another and it appeared their marketing strategies were designed to more or less trump the next guy. In this case they were having at it via the old fashioned but probably still effective medium of reader board signs.

Further on I came upon an interesting road sign and was tempted to follow it. Turning onto “Greasy” I was disappointed to find it was no longer paved and taking the name of it to heart I returned to highway 59. You never know who might be lurking down that road...

I’d started the day’s ride with my now-familiar swamp cooler vest at full soak but the rapidly growing heat was evaporating the water quickly. It was also time to gas up so I stopped at a station and went to the rest room where I saturated the vest again. I also bought a bottle of water and when I returned outside I noticed Green Girl was now surrounded by a group of similar bikes. When I’d parked she’d been the only bike in the parking lot and now she was barely visible. There were a lot of women hanging around too, and although I looked hard I couldn’t see any of their guys. Yeeowww! Biker women! A whole flock of them and they had me surrounded!

Actually they were a great bunch of gals out for a group ride just for the weekend. According to one of them they all belong to the Sisters In Spirit, a group of women riders from Arkansas. We had fun kidding around and I was invited to ride along with them if I wanted. Too bad but they were going the opposite direction so I declined and headed back north on my way again.

The country side I was riding through was easy on the eyes and I enjoyed it very much. There were lots of nice homes and farms along the way and even the ones on a lower scale were well kept. It always amazes me how much effort is directed at keeping such enormous laws trimmed; it was the same last year when I rode through the mid-west.

The intense heat was being adequately managed by my swamp-cooler vest but my gloves were way too hot for comfort. I was wearing a pair of perforated leather summer gloves by Rev’It but they really weren’t up to the task so I stopped at the Rainbow Kawasaki dealership and voila, they had just what I wanted in stock. They’re made by First Gear out of all sorts of good things; goat leather and gel pads for protection, woven nylon for ventilation. As soon as I got back on the road I could feel the difference, no more hot hands for me!

The ride continued north on 59 past Westville and Watts where I stopped to photograph a house that had fallen in on itself so uniformly that it almost looked like it was built that way. It evidently has been that way for a long while as the lawn around it is kept trimmed. I wonder if someone still lives there? Would you knock on the roof?

When I reached the intersection of West Siloam Springs my GPS sent me eastward on 412 for a few short miles through the Ozark National Forest, then turned me north again onto 71. All of this sounds a bit boring to read but the ride was interesting to a point; I had to share the road with a gazillion other bikers all intent on seeing the same stuff. This made for a monumental traffic jam – it was Saturday after all – so the going was slow and hot.

There are an amazing number of tourist facilities along highway 62 between Garfield and Berryville, some specifically catering to bikers. I had it in the back of my mind to avoid tourist attractions as I don’t like paying double for the same bed that’s just a few miles further down the road.

I found the small town of Alpena Pass interesting so I parked Green Girl and walked around a bit. At one point I was taking a picture of an old building and noticed a young man standing a half block away waiting for something. I couldn’t tell what it was so I continued to frame and focus and generally mess around for way longer than I should have. Finally I snapped the shot (which turned out like crap) and walked further along towards another building. It was then I noticed the young man continued on his way directly in front of where I’d been fiddling around with the picture. What a nice gesture on his part, most people would have barged right on through but he waited patiently for
me to finish.

          Alpena Pass main drag                                 

Alpena main drag looking the other way...'s everywhere, even in Alpena
Imagine what it was like when it was new

Once I got clear of Alpena the traffic diminished and a few miles later I reached Harrison, the last big town I would see for awhile. I considered staying there for the evening but it was still fairly early and the beginning of highway 7 was right there so I kept riding. Highway 7 was the reason I’d come so far north, it stretches for miles in a twisty curvy fashion bikers love and traffic heading south was very light.

As is my habit I like to stop and take pictures and often this necessitates pulling a U-turn so I can go back to something I’d passed. Green Girl weighs quite a lot more than what I’m accustomed to dealing with so I’m probably overly cautious when it comes to U-turns. This proved to be my downfall this afternoon, I’d just rolled out of a very slow U-turn where there was enough room for an 18-wheeler to turn but I let her front tire get just slightly off the pavement and that was that, off into the sticker bushes we went.

Well, not exactly the sticker bushes maybe but it was enough of a drop off that I couldn’t get her back up on the road. I felt a bit like ‘brer rabbit as the more I fiddled with her the further down the slope I went. At least I hadn’t dropped her so that was good but riding her back up to the roadway was going to be difficult. I tried slow-walking her by feathering the clutch and throttle but her street tires refused to grab hold in the tall grass. I was just about to give her the gun and hope for enough momentum to carry me up the slope when a couple of kids stopped their car and offered to help.

I told them I thought if they’d push and help keep her from toppling over I’d be able to ride her out, and that’s exactly what we did. Kids these days, who says they’re bums? I thanked them and asked if I could take their photo for the blog, promising they’d be famous. They agreed, I did, we shook hands and I was back in the game.

I continued the ride down 7 until it occurred to me the motels might be filling up fast with all the bikers in the area. With that in mind I began to look for potential stopping places and much to my chagrin the nicer ones looked to be fully booked. The others I figured it best to pass on as I don't know if all my shots are current.

Then good old Garmin & Co came to my rescue and pointed me in the direction of the Russellville Motel 6 where I am currently ensconced. There’s a great hamburger joint just up the road called Butcher Boys so I had a tasty dinner of burger, fries, & diet cola.
Have you hugged your cow lately?
Butcher Boy's girls fixing my dinner
Back at the motel I discovered the &#@!! vending machine is on the fritz so no soft drinks, there’s no palatable drinking water on the premises, and it seems there’s a strip joint across the road which when I checked in looked like an abandoned building. At ten o’clock sharp whoever the hell began playing over there only has one talent, that of making loud BOOM BOOM BOOM noises! I can only hope the air conditioner fan overpowers their racket.

I wonder how loud the fire trucks would be if I…no, that’s not good thinking, I’ll just go to bed.


  1. All I can say is that it's a good thing those biker women were headed in the other direction. Somebody might not take too kindly to you hookin' up with such rowdy crowd. A very eventful day!