Friday, June 2, 2017

Muskogee, OK and Ozark, AR

We enjoyed our time in New Mexico.  It didn't take long to get to lower elevations, flatter land, and 60 miles worth of wind turbines on Interstate 40, 30 miles each side of Amarillo, TX.  There were up to seven turbines deep in some places.

There are references all along our I-40 route to the old historic Route 66.

This was our RV park in Alanreed, Texas.

A little country western humor.

The view looking west from Longhorn RV - pasture land as far as you can see, grazing horses, and if you look closely (very closely), you can barely see the windmills in the distance.  Trust me, they are there.

A closeup of the horse with the strange markings.

The choice of sunset pictures was difficult, all beautiful.

Oklahoma is in "tornado alley" and we wondered if this was planned or the result of an EF whatever.

We had a great weekend with our "Okie From Muskogee" friends - Mike and Shirley Wise and Dan and Jeannette Scott. We had hoped to also see Tony and Barbara Armstrong, but they left for KY and MI the day before we arrived, hate we missed them.  We have a history of playing dominoes with these folks and having great desserts between rounds 6 and 7 of Mexican Train.  That's Mike and Shirley in the background, Dan and Jeannette at the table with Rhonda, and an assortment of cookies on the centerpiece. 

We visited Dan and Jeannette's new home in Coweta and Three Forks Harbor (the marina Rhonda and I managed on the Arkansas River), attended our former church at First Baptist Muskogee, played a second game of dominoes, and had several good meals together. Shirley wanted a shot on the motorcycle but not to worry - we had her "contained" in the garage of the RV.

Muskogee is a neat town.  Their "thing" is to place guitars all over the city.  Here are a couple.

We moved on to Arkansas and made another effort to spend some time close to Branson, MO but the weather forced us farther south and we decided on Ozark, AR.

We have driven through Arkansas many times over the years but never spent any time in the Ozark or Ouachita Mountains.  We found a great deal at Aux Arc (Ozark, clever, right?) National Park.

Well, here's the history lesson and explanation: The origin of the word Ozark is French and comes to us from the early French explorers who first navigated and mapped the mighty Arkansas River in the late 1600's and early 1700's. They named the northern most bend in the Arkansas River as the Aux Arcs which translates as 'to the top arc' - the northern-most bend in the great river. The phrase Aux Arcs was spoken by non-French peoples (translation - Southerners) in a manner that eventually sounded as 'Ozark.'

The RV sites are huge, lots of tree cover, sits right on the Arkansas River adjacent to the Ozark Lock and Dam, and only $10/day for seniors with the National Park Pass (it's important that we remind ourselves of the advantages of being old).  Here's our setup.

I know I'm a bit old-fashioned, but it was nice to see most of the kids and teenagers out and about - walking, playing games, riding bikes, reading, etc.  No cellphones sighted (and yes, there was coverage).  Lots of family activities with all participating.

Lots of activity also on the Arkansas River.  We traveled this same river on "Help Me Rhonda III" enroute to and from Muskogee in 2008 and 2010.  Turtles and geese displaying family activities as well!

The view of the river from inside the RV.

Rhonda did not feel so well on this leg of our travels, so I got three good rides in for a total of 470 miles.  The #1 rated bike ride for Arkansas and also rated in the top ten in the country is the "Arkansas Pig Trail" - basically Highway 23 from Ozark to Eureka Springs, about 81 miles. The "Pig Trail" gets it name from 2 proposed sources - a shortcut through the country to University of Arkansas ball games OR the twisted/corkscrew tail of pigs (razorbacks).  The toughest part of the route is the first 19 miles.  After seeing all of the magnificent landscape out west the past couple of weeks, everything seemed awfully well, uh, "green." (And Rhonda was so glad to see "green" and water and not have dirt always blowing everywhere!) After Eureka Springs, I headed west through Rogers, AR for an RV part we needed from Camping World, and then back home.  Total for this ride - 217 miles.

There was lots of traffic on the roads for Memorial Day, but it was a fun ride with beautiful streams and lots of foliage covering the roads.

I rode the first 19 miles again another day but then hung a right on the #5 ride on Arkansas Highway 16, and then picked up the #6 ride, Highway 21, named "Ozark Scenic Highlands Byway."  I dodged heavy rain all afternoon, not good picture-taking weather.  Had another experience with "the law" on this ride - followed this white car forever on Highway 16 and the driver finally pulled over and let me pass.  Then he followed me forever until it poured rain on both of us.  I slowed down a good bit and waved him by me.  He tooted his horn as he passed, the rain stopped later and I caught up with him again and followed him some more.  He finally pulled over at a small post office, got out of the car with full police uniform on and waved.  Not sure if he was off duty in a personal vehicle or on duty in an unmarked car. Either way, let's just say that he was kind to me.  Total ride - 123 miles.

My third ride was into the Ouachita Mountains on the #22 bike ride in Arkansas - "Mount Magazine."  The view was nice but just not much of it, the roads were very rough,  and everything still very "green."  Total miles - 130.

So, we are in the final stretch toward home now, currently in Memphis, TN for four days.  Next post - Beale Street, Blues, and BBQ! 

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