I Rode Out Hurricane Irma, So I Thought I'd Ride Out to the Ozarks, With a Bit of Route 66 Thrown In

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 1/2crazedbikr, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    This report is being written after the fact, because I am too lazy to stress about writing a ride report while I'm out on a road trip.

    My friend, (who prefers to remain anonymous, I think he used to work for the CIA or something) and I had been planning a decidedly non-epic, lazy, stress free ride up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, for months. We would average maybe 150 miles a day, finish riding early in the afternoon, and spend the rest of the afternoon, and a little of the evening, drinking, farting, scratching and telling jokes and lies around the campfire. Actually Mr A. doesn't drink much, if at all, but I planned to drink enough for both of us.

    Plans and reservations were made for the first few nights along the Parkway, (I wanted it stress free, remember?) and I busied myself on days off with last minute maintenance on my trusty 2015
    V-Strom 650, so I wouldn't have to worry about any mechanical issues far from home.

    Mr. Anonymous would be riding his Harley so of course we weren't concerned about mechanical issues on his part...

    So plans were set, preparations made, and all we had to do was await the final days until departure...

    And then along came Hurricane Irma, the bitch, and she had different plans.

    Screenshot_20170906-162152.png

    Sadly, the next few days were spent watching National Hurricane Center forecasts, trying to make sense of spaghetti models, and European models (not the sexy kind), while it became more and more certain that the "Cone of Uncertainty" would involve my neck of the woods, that being the St. Johns River outside of Deland, Florida.

    I battened down the hatches on "Dixie Dreamer" our nearly ancient 58 foot houseboat, brought everything I could inside of the boat, and lashed down the rest.

    Actually, I didn't batten down any hatches, they're very heavy and can take care of themselves, but I thought that sounded very nautical, and ride reports are all about impressing people, right?

    The worst of the storm was forecast to hit around 2 am, so I laid down early to get some sleep, as I knew it would be impossible during the worst of the storm and I was still indulging fantasies of leaving sometime the following afternoon.

    By 8 pm the wind was howling, the boat was regularly hit with 60 mph gusts, and I knew I was in for a long night. Shortly after, I heard the loud reports of transformers blowing and the lights started to flicker. I ran to the panel and started switching off breakers to anything electronic, hoping to prevent damage from a surge. A few seconds later the power went out for good and I was plunged into darkness.

    By then the boat sounded like the inside of a bass drum during the finale of the 1812 Overture. We weren't rocking too badly as I was protected by large boats on either side, as well as the nearby shoreline, and I had the Dreamer trussed up to the pilings like a hog. Still, we were constantly jerked back and forth, first to the limit of one dockline, then another.

    I spent a miserable night, like everyone else in East Central Florida, listening to the driving rain and feeling the effects of the battering wind. My 88 year old Dad in Orlando wanted me to keep in touch so I texted him every couple of hours until 230 am, when we'd both had enough and just wanted to try to get some sleep. But sleep was not to be had. I went outside every hour or so to check my dock lines and readjust them as the river steadily rose.

    I gave up trying to sleep at 430 am, put on my foul weather gear (that's nautical speak for my motorcycle rain suit), and went outside into the storm. A friend a few boats down had his running lights on and was racing his motor. I was afraid his mooring lines had given way and he was trying to keep his boat from drifting away in the near hurricane force winds, so I offered to help. His lines were intact, but for some reason he felt it was a good time to exercise his engine in the middle of a hurricane. He hollered some unitelligible explanation, lost in the wind.

    I walked down the dock, leaning into the wind and driving rain, checking on the other boats in the marina. Most of the other liveaboards, having better sense than me, had headed to dry land (or another state) to weather the storm. As a grey and blustery dawn broke, I could see that, other than some popped zip ties on some of my canvas, there was little damage to my boat or any of my neighbors'. One nearby boat broke it's moorings during the storm and started to drift away. Fortunately it drifted to a nearby seawall and was secured before too much damage could be done.

    It was obvious by now, however, that although the storm had done little physical damage, other than uprooting trees, the St. Johns River had flooded and was still rising.

    20170912_082115.jpg
    "Dixie Dreamer" After Irma. The St. Johns Had Flooded and Was Still Rising. The Dock is Visible Six Inches Below the Surface About 24 Hours After the Storm. It Would Keep Rising For Weeks.

    Exhausted but happy to have sustained little damage, I worked the rest of the day trying to get the boat back in livable condition, putting everything back where it belonged and cleaning out the fridge.

    An early riser, I resolved to get up at 4 am the next morning for an early start. Miraculously, the weather had cooled after the hurricane, almost down to the high 60's, and a cool breeze blew down the river, banishing the subtropical humidity. I fell into bed, bone-weary, at 8 pm as the sun set, looking forward to a good night's sleep after almost none the night before. Unfortunately, as the sun faded, so did the nice, cool breeze. To nothing. Without electrical power the boat felt ovenlike as the heat radiated from the walls and upward through the deck from the 80 plus degree water.

    Once again sleep eluded me. I tossed and turned and eventually dozed off sometime after midnight. My phone alarm went off at 4 am, a cruel joke. I almost threw it in the river. I finally dozed off again, and struggled mightily to get out of bed at 630. Stumbling out to the kitchen, I boiled some water for instant coffee on my camp stove, and tried to scrape together some motivation to leave. My wife had the sense to ride out the storm on dry land, but she and the rest of my family were without power. Everyone's world was in a turmoil, and I was supposed to go on vacation? It not only seemed wrong, it bordered on the surreal.

    I spoke with my wife, and she urged me to go, as I knew she would. At about 10 am I finally began wading down the dock through the dark river water, ferrying my gear out to the trailer housing my bike.

    20170912_082005 (1).jpg
    Severely Lacking in Motivation, I Waded Through the Dark Water, Ferrying My Gear to My Bike.

    Multiple trips later to my bike later, I was finally ready to go. With mixed emotions, and nearly lacking any desire to leave, I finally straddled my bike at 11, hit the starter, slipped the clutch, and was on my way.

    Zig zagging to evade fallen trees and debris, I slowly made my way out to the main road. As I came to the first traffic signal, cars were stopped, cautiously treating the intersection as a four way stop. The signal was dead. I rode the next 70 miles down SR 40 and SR 326, passing dozens of traffic signals. All were dead. Power was out across the entire area. Downed trees were everywhere. Nearing I-75 outside Ocala, traffic came to a standstill, about a mile from the Interstate. It took me nearly 30 minutes to travel that mile. This did not bode well for traffic going north. But as I spied the interchange, I saw the reason. Every gas station, and there were many, had lines dozens of cars deep, spilling out onto the roadway.

    This is going to be another long day, I thought.

    Fortunately, as I finally merged onto northbound I-75, traffic was extremely light, as I suspected it would be. Southbound was another story however, and it was bumper to bumper, with dozens of convoys of power trucks and tree trimming trucks streaming into the beleaguered Sunshine State during our hour of need. And they all needed gas.

    I had fueled up a couple of days before the storm and so left with a nearly full tank. As I rolled north on 75, I contemplated just how long it might take me to find fuel. Since the storm was forecast to head up the Tennessee Valley and then further east, my buddy and I had altered our plans from riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, to riding the Ozarks, Ouachitas and parts of Route 66. We would even plunge far westward into Oklahoma in a quest for the perfect onion cheeseburger. So I would meet him at his home in Arkansas. But as I headed west on I 10 two hours later I knew I shouldn't push my luck too far on the fuel situation.

    With at least eighty miles of fuel left in my tank I pulled off in Live Oak and headed to an enormous convenience store with at least 60 gas pumps, all of which had lines snaking and merging and eventually spilling out onto the main road. After dodging and weaving my way between cars I realized no one was pumping anything! Apparently the tank was empty and all of the cars were waiting for a tanker truck in the parking lot to disgorge it's contents into the station's tank, whenever that might be.

    Taking a gamble by losing my place in line I headed back on the road, and after passing six other gas stations with long lines I snuck the back way into a Super Walmart and only had eight cars in front of me. By now it was nearly 2 pm and my patience and energy were wearing thin. While waiting I booked a room in Chipley, Fl, 160 miles away, at a nondescript hotel I had stayed in the year before on my way back from Alaska.

    After paying over 90 bucks for a 60 dollar room I headed west on I 10. I rolled into Chipley, exhausted, at 4:30 pm after making just over 300 miles for the day. So much for making it to Arkansas that night! I'd had big plans to live large and head to the local Waffle House for a patty melt, but after downing a double Jim Beam and taking a long hot shower I never made it past the bed. I called Pizza Hut, paid 25 bucks for a 15 dollar pizza and had it delivered. That damn Irma had kicked my butt for sure, and was still kicking it, 2 days later!

    Governor Scott had been all over TV for days, issuing stiff warnings to merchants that "price gouging after the hurricane will not be tolerated". Well...I don't know if there was any gouging going on but for sure nobody was giving anybody any deals!

    Not much after 7:00 I fell into an exhausted slumber for the first time in days...

    I needed a good night sleep. The next day would be close to 800 miles, and much of that on back roads.

    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #1
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  2. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    Day 2, Sept 13th, 2017, Chipley, Fl to Mr Anonymous' house, somewhere deep in SE Arkansas, 800 miles give or take...

    Lots of state lines, cold pizza, love bugs, and a beer-quest induced tip-over.

    Well rested for the first time in many days, I hit the Interstate by 5:45 am and hurtled westward into the darkness. A slight chill filled the air, welcome after hours spent in stifling heat waiting for gas and in the heavy traffic of the previous day. Making good time, I made it to the Alabama line before 8:00, and for the first time, felt I was making some progress.
    Alabama sign.jpg
    Reaching the Alabama Line, I Finally felt I was making some progress.

    As I continued westward on I-10, vague feelings of guilt I had felt about leaving began to be banished by the sunny sky, light traffic, and the sound of my faithful Strom churning out the miles beneath me. Long lines of cars, utility and tree trucks continued to stream past me towards the jurricane affected area in the opposite direction, but ahead of me the traffic was nearly nonexistent. Soon I was crossing both over and under Mobile Bay through the I-10 tunnel.

    I craned my neck to see the massive bulk of the mighty Battleship US Alabama, a familiar landmark in these parts.

    Turning off I-10 onto North US 98, I immediately saw another, less familiar sight:gas stations without long lines. As I had hoped, the extra traffic streaming into Florida was limited to the Interstate, and my problems with access to fuel were thankfully over.

    Passing quickly through the bustle of Mobile, I soon found myself travelling down a four lane divided concrete slab, bisecting remote piney woods that seemed endless. And, almost before I knew it, I had another state under my belt this morning as I crossed over into Mississippi.
    Mississippisign.jpg
    Another State Line Crossed This Morning, and it's Barely 9:30!

    Continuing north on 98, and then on US 49, I continued to make decent progress. I stopped for a well deserved roadside break and some leftover pizza about
    40 miles north of Hattiesburg.
    roadsidepizzabreak.jpg
    Quick Roadside Pizza Break, Living the Dream!

    Back on US 49, I soon picked up I-20 at Vicksburg and stopped for a quick pic of the twin bridges over the Big Muddy...
    mississippibridges.jpg
    Twin Bridges Over the Mississippi at Historic Vicksburg. The I-20 Bridge is on the Left, the Old Hwy 80 Bridge is on the Right.

    More to come soon...

    1/2crazed
    #2
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  3. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    :lurk:drink......More please.
    #3
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  4. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
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    Day 2, continued

    Before leaving Vicksburg I shot a pic of the historical marker commemorating the siege of Vicksburg, a crucial battle and turning point in the War of Northern Aggression.

    (I mean, uh, the Civil War).
    20170913_151724.jpg
    The Siege of Vicksburg, From May 16-July 4 1863

    With the loss of Vicksburg, the Confederacy was essentially cut in two, with the Western half unable to provide any support to the Eastern forces. The Union also now had complete control of the Mississippi, which was the equivalent of a superhighway for shipping.

    Heading west on I-20 into the heat of the day, I soon exited onto back roads, riding through the forests and agricultural regions of northern Louisiana and finally made it to Arkansas.
    20170913_171224.jpg
    Arkansas, the Love Bug State

    The rest of the afternoon was spent fighting the lady in the phone (my gps), and the entire Love Bug population of Florida, which had apparently been sucked up by Hurrican Irma and transported 1000 miles northwest directly into my path.

    This was my third moto trip to Arkansas and I swear on the previous trips I never had an encounter with a single Love Bug. That afternoon I made up for it.

    20170914_111658.jpg
    Love Bugs (Thank God They Don't Bite)

    Legend has it the cursed little bastards were imported into Florida in the 1960's by scientists at the University of Florida to combat our mosquito population. They utterly failed. The only thing they combat is the bumpers and windshields of every vehicle in Florida for the entire summer, which in Florida is from March to the end of November.

    I hope they fired those scientists. Some other folks at U of F did redeem the university's reputation during the same decade, though, when they invented Gatorade.

    You'll notice from the photograph that nearly all of the squashed bugs are at the top of the windshield, which is really more of a wind deflector. It also does an excellent job of directing bugs onto my helmet and upper body.

    As I alluded to previously the remainder of the day was spent fighting with "the lady in the phone" over the directions to Mr. A's place. Having been there several times I knew where I wanted to go, and therefore I resisted when she tried to pull me from my chosen path. However after a couple of episodes where I was absolutely certain I was right and it turned out she was,in fact, correct, I finally surrendered to the only remaining female influence on this trip and listened to her and followed her instructions verbatim. Just like I do at home, right honey?

    The only other instance was when, late in the day, vague tendrils of doubt were intruding into my consciousness. Finally realizing what my mind was trying to tell me was that since Mr. A does not drink alcohol that I had no idea if he had any beer in the fridge! After 800 miles spent battling heat, Love Bugs and the "Lady in the Phone" I just had to have a beer or six when I got there. I pulled into the next convenience store I came to and after searching the store came to the mysterious conclusion that they did not, in fact, sell adult beverages! Sacrilege!

    Despondent, but knowing I did have a fifth of Beam stashed in my pannier for just such an emergency, I strode out to my Strom and exited the parking lot. In my emotional state, I hurried and didn't notice an oncoming vehicle in time and had to stop quickly on a huge incline at the edge of the parking lot to avoid a collision. Putting my foot down, my boot met with nothing but air and my bike fell to the right as I was ignominiously ejected in the same direction. With no bruises other than to my ego thanks to my gear, I brushed myself just off as two young bucks helped me get my bike back upright.

    On my way again shortly, I finally made it to Mr. A's house, (albeit with some very dubious directions from my companion in the phone, but I digress). After a firm handshake and back slapping all around, Mr. A. directed me to a fridge full of Bud Light as he slapped some ribeyes on the grill. Soon we were ensconsced on his front porch, feet up, watching the hummingbirds flit around his feeder, drinking cold beer and enjoying the heavenly smells of beef fat dripping on hot coals.

    Life is good.

    Tomorrow, the real fun will begin as we ride the twisties through the Ouachita and Kiamichi mountains of western Arkansas. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #4
  5. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Joined:
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    Sarasota, FL / Sylva, NC
    I hate luvbugs,
    ...you probably know about using fabric softener sheets :deal

    I got hammered by Irma pretty bad, and I’m planning a run out to MO/AR this Spring to spend some time in the Ozarks. So naturally interested in your RR. Thanks!
    #5
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  6. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

    Joined:
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    Burleson, Texas



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #6
  7. GregDavidL

    GregDavidL Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
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    225
    Excellent report. Fabric softener sheets are amazing for the bugs.
    #7
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  8. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
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    Deland, Florida
    I never heard about the fabric softener sheets but I just figure after I did the Dalton last year it will never look the same again!
    Plus she'll be getting plenty of other hard use on the Trans Lab Hwy this summer. Hope Irma didn't abuse you too badly. And yes, lots more to come on the Ozarks.
    Ride Safe!
    #8
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  9. GregDavidL

    GregDavidL Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Oddometer:
    225
    From what I have read, the sheets act as a micro fiber abrasive and the softener lubricates. They really do work amazingly well.
    #9
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  10. oldtouring B

    oldtouring B Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
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    Al Ba Jerky. NM
    Being a former Floridaian, I had good success with hydrogen peroxide to remove the dead love bugs. Saturate a soft cloth and hold in place. The little bastards just bubble loose!

    Really enjoying your RR. I did 6 days in the Ozarks in September.. looking for your take on it.
    #10
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  11. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
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    Day 3, Sept 14,2017 Mr. A's house to Winding Stair Campground, Southeastern Oklahoma
    Old firetrucks, twisty roads, a winding staircase, and walking sticks...

    Both early risers, dawn was just breaking as we began to make our way westward on US 270. Fall colors were just beginning to appear on the hillsides as we made our way through Hot Springs, Arkansas. Peaks became visible in the distance and soon we were among the beautiful Ouachita Mountains.

    The Ozarks always get all the publicity, but the Ouachitas of western Arkansas are every bit their equal in my opinion. It's likely, because of their close proximity, that when in the Ouachitas many riders assume they are in the Ozarks .

    Though technically they are different mountain ranges, the riding experience is identical: miles upon miles of lightly traveled twisty mountain roads, bucolic valleys filled with hay fields, pastures and horses, and tiny hamlets sprinkled every fifteen to twenty miles. The riding is in fact, every bit the equal of the much more popular (and thus more crowded) Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.

    Another difference between Arkansas and North Carolina is the temperature. The elevation is far less in the Ozarks and Ouachitas, so the temperatures are naturally higher, sometimes much higher.

    With the thermometer well on the wrong side of 90, we came to an interesting stop Mr. A had been telling me about, the "Lum and Abner Museum" in Pine Ridge, Arkansas. Beginning in 1931, the "Lum and Abner Show" was an immensely popular radio show based on life in the nearby town of Waters. The show proved so popular that the town changed it's name to Pine Ridge after the fictional town of the popular show. Admission to the museum is free, donations accepted, and was filled with Lum and Abner collectibles, along with thousands of period antiques.
    20170914_124024.jpg
    Lum and Abner Store and Museum, Pine Ridge, Arkansas
    20170914_130358.jpg
    Inside the L&A Store

    Outside were the original Pine Ridge Post Office, long since moved inside the store, and the now defunct Pine Ridge Fire Department, complete with a 1957 GMC fire engine, which still runs. "At least it did a few years ago", said the Lum and Abner proprietor, Postmaster, and one time Fire Chief. "It only gets about 4 miles to the gallon so we couldn't afford to operate it anymore". It's for sale if anyone's interested.
    20170914_124704.jpg
    The One Time Pride of Pine Ridge, Arkansas: Post Office/Fire Department
    20170914_131306.jpg
    What a Beauty This Old Girl Could Be in the Right Hands!

    More to come!

    1/2crazed
    #11
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  12. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
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    Day 3, continued

    20170914_131351.jpg
    More Eye Candy for All You Fire Truck Junkies Out There...

    We soon bid good bye to Pine Ridge and continued west on Ark 88, holing up in a Subway for a late lunch and to get out of the heat for a while. Subways are a favorite of mine on a motorcycle road trip, the subs are reasonably priced, come with fresh vegetables, and hold up reasonably well if you want to bring one to your campsite for an easy dinner later. I practically lived on them on my way to Alaska and back last summer. And virtually every town with more than 500 people seems to have one squirreled away somewhere!

    Refreshed and reconstituted, we made our way north on Ark 88 out of Mena. Soon the road began to increase in elevation and to include the twisty bits the region is known for. S curves and switchbacks met us as we made our way along the aptly named "Skyline Drive". Scenic overlooks are numerous and we stopped at many to ogle the scenery. Finally we decided to have fun and just hauled ass. Here is one of the overlooks.
    20170914_151418.jpg
    Overlook on Skyline Drive, Ark 88 Outside of Mena
    20170914_151541.jpg
    Another Overlook of the Kiamichi and Ouachita Mountains on Skyline Drive, This One Sans Bike

    After dozens more twists and turns we came to the Oklahoma line where the road is then called the Talimena Parkway.

    20170914_155334.jpg
    OOOOOklahoma Where the Wind Goes Screaming Down the Plain...Plain, What Plain???

    We stopped for a quick pic, of course, and began to look for our campsite for the night at Winding Stair Campground.

    At this point it is worth mentioning that on a previous mototrip I had traveled the entire breadth of Oklahoma (albeit on I-40 as we were super slabbing it to get out west), and on that entire ride I saw neither hide nor hair of any mountains anywhere in the Okie state. So I was pleased and somewhat surprised to find we were in the midst of some beautiful mountains, known as the Kiamichis. Named after the native Kiamichi people, these mountains are ancient. Once as tall and jagged as the Rocky Mountains, time and weather have worn them down to their present height of a maximum of 2,500 feet.

    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #12
  13. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
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    Day 3, continued (soon to become the Night of the Walking Stick Bugs)

    Apparently the "Lady in the Phone" still had some unresolved issues after our argument on the way to Mr. A's a few days ago, because she was very reluctant to show us the way to Winding Stair Campground. After pointing us in the wrong direction more than once I finally silenced her for the duration and we did like guys are supposed to do, plunged onward without asking directions.

    We finally found it a few miles down the road right where it should have been and arrived to find a beautiful, nearly deserted campground. We rode slowly around the campground to find site after site with views of nothing but trees, smack dab in the middle of the most beautiful mountains in Oklahoma. Okay, the only mountains in Oklahoma...but one reason we chose this campground was because it is known for spectacular views and we were finding none. Finally near the end we found a beautiful site on the edge of a dramatic drop off with a beautiful view to die for.

    The site next door was, of course, occupied but with a couple of middle aged bikers who I just knew would love to have company next door. After all, bikers are friendly folks right? Well, these were the exception. When asked, they told me in no uncertain terms that when they are on vacation they are trying to get away from their 10 grand-kids and want nothing but peace and quiet. Oh well. We picked a nice site at the opposite end of the campground where at least we wouldn't have to hold our voices down.
    20170914_192641.jpg
    Winding Staircase Campground, Talimena Scenic Drive, Oklahoma

    We busied ourselves setting up camp and it was at about this time we noticed the place was nearly overrun with walking sticks. Not the cute, thin little 2 inch guys we have in Florida, but pencil thick, 6 inch long, corn fed walking sticks. Disgusting little bastards, but at least they don't bite!
    20170914_193026.jpg
    Walking Sticks, Everywhere! Yucch!

    Building a fire while trying not to trip over the stick bugs, we eventually were able to kick back and eat our subs. A few ice cubes had miraculously survived the afternoon ride from Subway, so naturally I put them to good use with a couple of shots of Beam.

    Shortly the sun set and the stars came out: beautiful, as we were far from city lights. Before long, we were both getting tired after a long day on the bikes so we decided to call it an early night. As I brushed my teeth and stowed gear by camp-light dozens of stick bugs swarmed the bright white circle on the ground. As I crawled into my tent, a quick look overhead revealed dozens of the creepy creatures on the mesh exterior of the tent. None had made it inside, fortunately. Unfortunately for my buddy, three or four had made it inside of his tent and he could be heard squashing and cursing for the next several minutes.

    Beautiful campground, but I will forever remember it as the "Night of the Walking Stick Bugs".

    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #13
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  14. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

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    Day 4, Sept 15, 2017 Winding Stair Campground to West El Reno, Oklahoma
    A beautiful sunrise, a Hateful Hussy, and the quest for the Ultimate Onion Cheeseburger

    The Winding Stair Campground is known for beautiful sunrises, so although Mr. A and I love to sit around a campfire in the morning drinking coffee until well after daylight, we made an exception and walked over to the picnic area which has a beautiful overlook. The mountains of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma are often enveloped in a thick haze which can make afternoon photography difficult, but which I thought lent itself well to these sunrise pics...
    20170915_080943.jpg
    Sunrise Over the Kiamichi Mountains, Winding Stair Campground, Eastern OK
    20170915_080624.jpg
    Another
    20170915_080652.jpg
    Last but not Least...

    As I finished shooting pics of the beautiful sunrise I was trying to think of what picture could possibly capture the essence our brief stay here...

    And here we are!
    20170915_075816.jpg
    And Finally, a Lasting Tribute to These #@&&##??!!! Critters

    It wasn't hard to find one, a quick 360 revealed a dozen of the little bastards within 10 feet of me...

    Leaving Winding Stair behind us, we enjoyed a thrilling ride through the twisties on the remainder of the Talimena Scenic Drive until we dropped down onto the plains of Talihina, Oklahoma for a bite to eat at where else but the landmark "Hateful Hussy Diner".

    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #14
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  15. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
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    Day 4, continued
    20170915_112008.jpg
    The Hateful Hussy, Talihina, Oklahoma

    Well known by locals, who are willing to endure long waits for a table at times...

    20170915_112037.jpg
    Witness These Two, Who by Appearance Waited a Little Too Long

    After a phenonemal breakfast, and more food than I had eaten in the last two days, we headed out into the hot sun to begin our quest far into west central Oklahoma in search of the perfect onion cheeseburger...

    But first a few more pics from around Talihina
    20170915_112301.jpg

    I'm a Sucker for Interesting Looking Buildings

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    Beautiful Combination of Flagstone and Brickwork on this Furniture and Appliance Store, est 1949

    More to come...

    #15
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  16. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    Day 4, continued

    A few parting shots of Talihina, OK
    20170915_102808.jpg
    I'm a Sucker for Murals, Too

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    Looks Like This Mural Graces What May Have Been the Local Jail, Back When Talihina was a Frontier Town

    20170915_102532.jpg

    At a gas stop a couple of hours later, the battery light came on, on my buddy's Harley. Thinking he might have a loose battery connection he spent the next 30 minutes tightening them up...

    Just then an old guy in his late 70's pulled up on a Yamaha V-max and we started to chat.
    Me-"That's a great bike. I had two Yamaha Ventures with pretty much the same motor."
    Him-"Oh, it's not worth a crap, whenever I go to pass someone, the rev limiter always kicks in at a hundred and thirty"- as in miles per hour.

    Wow! Guess he's either really lucky, or a whole lot better rider than I'll ever be.

    Mr A's battery light stayed on so we started to beeline it to Oklahoma City to find a Harley Dealer...

    20170915_140312.jpg
    'Murican Flag Mural in Calvin, OK

    Along the way we stopped for this pic in Calvin, OK

    By the next gas stop his battery light was off, so thinking that tightening the terminals had solved the problem we pressed on-wards towards our Rendezvous with Destiny at Roberts Grill in El Reno.

    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #16
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  17. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    Day 4, continued

    We had a bit of a history with Roberts' going back to 2012 when, on an 8,000 mile western road trip from Florida, we stopped there for dinner while staying in El Reno for the night. Planning for the trip, Mr. A had found a write-up online that played them up as the "Inventor of the original onion fried hamburger" and, "A Route 66 favorite since 1926". We all talked about them so much that we had convinced ourselves to expect a massive establishment with lines out the door and tour buses in the parking lot.
    Following directions from the "Lady in the Phone" even way back in '12, we were a little surprised when she routed us to a rather seedy and rundown part of town, and much to our chagrin, her guidance left us right in front of, this.
    20170915_175020.jpg
    The Incomparable Roberts Grill, El Reno, Oklahoma

    In spite of the tiny cafe appearing to be less than a paragon of gustatory excellence, the three of us (Mr. A's wife was with us on that trip) nonetheless strode inside, in search of the perfect onion fried cheeseburger the restaurant was supposedly so famous for. Sitting at the tiny counter, with at least a dozen flies buzzing around the rundown eatery, we were nonetheless pleasantly surprised to see a steady stream of locals coming in to pick up sacks full of steaming burgers while we waited for our orders to arrive.

    When our cheeseburgers arrived, I must admit they were excellent. I could see why so many locals bought their dinner there. I could also see why so many of them didn't eat inside. The food was great but due to the flies and generally rundown look of the place it has been sort of a running joke between us ever since.

    So when Mr. A and I were planning our trip to western Arkansas and Oklahoma, I naturally suggested another foray to Roberts Grill, just for old times sake, and a damn good cheeseburger to boot.

    We rolled up to Roberts Grill once again at 5 pm after a long day on the road. It was deja vu all over again as we sat down at the corner and ordered up our burgers. I swear I recognized some of the same flies from 5 years ago as they buzzed around me, eager to get reacquainted. The burgers were just as good as they were five years ago, and the locals still streamed in and out grabbing their food to go. We ate our cheeseburgers and reminisced about old times, but needless to say we didn't linger.

    So if you're ever in El Reno, OK, and you're looking for some good burgers, I can heartily recommend Roberts Grill. Just make sure you order it to go.

    With our destination checked off and stomachs full, we proceeded to ride 10 miles or so down Route 66, The Mother Road, just as we had when passing through the area in 2012.

    Merging onto I-40 west for a few miles, we stopped for the night in the El Reno West KOA.

    Stopping for gas and some cold beer, I again suffered from what was to become a recurring plight on this trip.

    They didn't sell beer!


    I don't know if we were in a dry county or because most of the employees were Native Americans so they didn't want to sell firewater or what, but after riding in 90 degree heat all day, I just wanted some cold beer. Oh well, they did sell ice though, so at least I could have my Beam over ice.


    More to come,

    1/2crazed
    #17
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  18. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    Day 5, September 16, 2017 West El Reno, OK to Catoosa, OK.
    Route 66, Painted Buffaloes, The Yukon, Round Barns, Vintage Motorcycles and more...

    The El Reno West KOA we stayed at is affiliated with the adjacent Cherokee Trading Post and as such there were many Native American themed photo ops around.

    Here are a few.
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    Painted Buffalo at the Campground
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    This Really Cool TeePee
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    Another Painted Buffalo (I just can't get used to calling them bison)

    We had now officially begun our Route 66 phase of the trip and the next few days consisted of putzing leisurely along the Mother Road and stopping for pics whenever we felt like it.

    More to come...
    #18
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  19. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    Day 5, continued

    Last summer, I completed a somewhat epic, solo Key West to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and back motorcycle trip. Oftentimes, when I'm out riding with little else to occupy my mind, I will daydream about that ride.

    So imagine my surprise when at mid morning I happened to see this sign! Just over 4 days riding and I'm back in the Yukon all over again! Took a lot longer than that last summer...

    20170916_113335.jpg
    Back in the Yukon Again! Yukon, OK that is.

    Okay, so it was Yukon, Oklahoma for all you hair-splitters out there. But it was totally unexpected and pretty darn funny at the time.

    And they did have this hoppin' beer joint that sells really OLD beer
    20170916_113912.jpg
    The Outwest Pub, Yukon, Oklahoma. Home of Old Beer!
    20170916_114423 - Edited.jpg

    And I never did see Garth anywhere.

    Leaving Yukon, we continued eastward on Rte 66. Many towns along the highway like to play up their location on the Mother Road with projects like this nice mural in Bethany, OK
    20170916_120300.jpg
    Rte 66 in Bethany, OK

    More to come...
    #19
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  20. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Deland, Florida
    Day 5, continued

    We soon came to this modern, but nonetheless iconic Rte 66 attraction in Arcadia, OK, Pop's 66. Selling over 700 varieties of soda pop and all sorts of Rte 66 memorabilia, they have become a destination in their own right.
    20170916_123654.jpg
    Pop's 66, Arcadia, Oklahoma

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    "Hey Joe" Root Beer and a New Addition to My Shot Glass Collection

    I sampled this great root beer and added to my shot glass collection before we hit the road again.

    We soon came to another Route 66 must-see in Arcadia, the world famous "Round Barn". Built in 1898, it's oaken timbers were soaked in water until pliable, then banded together and forced into a mold to create the domed rafters. It has become the most photographed attraction on Rte. 66 and is the nation's only truly round barn.
    20170916_132535.jpg
    The Round Barn, Arcadia, OK

    More to come,
    #20