Day 6
October 6th, 2009
Super 8 Motel
Guymon, Oklahoma

After a good good nights sleep, I was up early and loading the RT.  When I finished I went back in the lobby and took advantage of the "Continental Breakfast" offerings, which in my case was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toast.

I eavesdropped on a conservation between 2 ranchers from Montana in town looking at some livestock, and a guy that sold janitorial supplies.  I learned more about horses in 15 minutes, then my previous 54.

It was 6am and the sun was still a hour away.  "I can't wait for it today, gotta get going," I told myself.  The rancher then turned his attention to me, and with Fox News on the TV, the subject turned to politics.   I can say he was no fan of Obama.  "Well look at it this way, we're all gonna get free healthcare soon."  I knew that might make him snap, but I figured it would be fun to watch.  And it was.

"look here, I'm riding East, so I better get goin."  I left the dining area and went back to the room to make sure I didn't forget anything, but that would be no guarantee that I wouldn't.

I fired the RT up about 6:15, it was still very dark and cool.  Winter was closing in, I could feel it in the winds.  The Midwest has the worst weather.  Hot summers, cold winters.  It's hot where I come from, but at least we have temperate winters.  Not so if you're from Iowa; there you're going to be hot in summer and freezing in winter.  There are no rebates for suffering through a hot summer, just snow and blizzards.

I had a sweatshirt under, with leather gloves.  I was getting really tired at how stiff the Alpinestar gloves get in cool weather.  I could barely get my hand in.  Traffic lights were on flash and it only took a few minutes for me to clear the city and continue  riding east on 412.  

The route today is another complicated custom route.  I did proof read the route a couple of time before downloading.  I was confident in it, and turned the entire day over to the Zumo.

It was mostly trucks on 412 this early in the morning.  I held my own in the dark as the sky lightened in the East.  Soon as I had enough light to see the shoulders from a distance I went to 70-75 mph.

The sky in the East was turning a brilliant orange.  The Iphone told me earlier a cloud bank was 50 or so miles away, and in the growing light I could see the clouds.  I didn't complain, because I'd had better than good weather up to now, except for the wind, which suddenly was absent.  "Going to be a tough sun shortly, so I better get ready," I pulled off to a open area and put the Oakleys on.
​Sunrise on U.S. 412, east of Guymon, Oklahoma.
U.S. 412 through the Oklahoma Panhandle is a long, tough ride.  Not much to see, open and straight, the best you get is a dip into a low spot on occasion.  Because I've enjoyed cool Fall weather this tour I had many options available with the electric windshield.  I could ride with it low to feel the wind, and when I tired of the noise I could go high with it.  Summer tours I don't normally have that option, too hot for a high screen, and Fall Tours in New England too cold for a low screen.  But a Fall tour in the Southwest?  I had perfect weather.  Over the miles of this trip I was getting spoiled to the ultra quiet cockpit of the RT.  I could ride hours on end and get off the bike and not feel like someone had just beat me.  So it was on this morning, I jetted east on 412 at 70-75 mph with the screen high, and my mind on automatic.

By mid morning I was in Woodward, where the Zumo, following my program, took me off 412 to U.S. 270 South.  It was not the most direct path to my intended stopping point, but that was ok, I just wanted to ride across the state on some true backroads.

I came to Watonga, my intended stopping point for Day 5.  "Well, I made up the lost ground, but no time to celebrate," so I kept riding East.  I left the town on SR 8, one of those "true" backroads I mentioned.  "Just a few more miles and I'll take my morning break."   It was cloudy and cool, temps in the low to mid 50s according the ambient temp gauge.

SR 8 did not have the best tarmac, it was rough and bumpy.  I saw tractors in the fields, and farm trucks going and coming.

After 230 non stop miles the RT needed gas, and I needed a break.  It had been productive morning, so when the speck of a community known as Loyal appeared, I decided to stop. 

I pulled in a gas station/store and parked the RT at a  87 octane pump.  "It will have to do."  The other pump was diesel.  There was no card swipe so paid the owner/attendant cash.  In Loyal you pump now, pay later, "ain't seen that in the longest."
​Taking a break in Loyal, Oklahoma
 The little store was operated by a wife and husband.  He took care of the islands and service bay, and she ran the store.  I went in, bought a Mountain Dew, Fig Newtons, and cheetos.  I had no service for internet, but I did have a cell signal and called Debbie at work and reported in.  A small TV on a satellite sat on the counter, tuned to some game show.  The store also rented DVDs, and the rack sat across from me.   Most of the movies on display I'd already seen.
​ "Most of the movies on display I'd already seen."

The lady asked me, "so where ya headin?"

"Ozarks tonight, but final goal is North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains to meet friends."

"I bet its beautiful there this time of year"

"you have no idea.  Ya know in all my travels, and places visited, I dunno if the Blue Ridge this time of year ain't my favorite, not to mention the riding, which is the best in the East."

She had been pretty in her day, but life out here had taken its toll over the years.  "what makes it so nice?"
"Something about those old mountains, green valleys, and all the colors; reds, lemons, orange on the trees.  I never tire of it.  I've gone there every fall for the last 9 years, if I had all kind of money, I'd buy a cabin there."
"Sounds beautiful, I guess I'll never see a Fall like that.  This time of year is harvest in these parts, we can't get away."  As a tractor pulled in for off road diesel.
"I see ya have satellite TV, so I reckon ya got internet?"

"Yeah, but its dial up"

"Dial up?"

"Don't laugh"

"I'm not."  But it was hard not to.  "Look here, take my card and visit my web site, I have all kinds pictures of Fall back East, - New England and south in the Blue Ridge, if you like that sort of thing, but you'll need broadband, or alot of time."

"time is one thing I have around here"

It had been a long break, so I wished the couple luck and got back on the road.  Places like Loyal are the reason I ride backroads as much as I can.  You're not going to have that kind of conversation in a mega interstate con store.

Back on the road, I continued riding east, the day was drab gray, and still cool.  In Dover I went to SR 74C.  The town was a few buildings and stores but not much else.  I didn't see any people when I came through.  When you find yourself on a ride like this, following a custom route created weeks ago, you begin to wonder if its a good idea to put so much faith in technology.  I felt like I didn't know where I really was.  Yes, I had carefully planned the ride with atlas and software, but that was a long time ago.  Where am I on the map right NOW?  Where am I in relation to Tulsa, Oklahoma City?  When I look at my atlas several times a day, I know those things
​The loneliness of Dover, Oklahoma on a cool, Fall day.
I checked and rechecked these routes, they are good.  Just follow the GPS, and you'll wind up in Eureka Springs, Arkansas," I thought as I made a right turn and then left through the town.

The route T boned into U.S. 77 and I followed it south to Guthrie, the fist city of any size I'd seen since leaving Guymon.  The landscape was also changing, with more green underbrush and trees. 

After losing time getting through Guthrie, I went to SR 33.  I was still riding east, but this route was significantly more active than anything of the last 200 miles.

Unable to remember where 33 was in relation to everything else, I finally couldn't take it anymore and broke off in a video store parking lot in Cushing and got the atlas out.  Not that I was lost, I just wanted a look at the big picture.  

"Dang, I thought I was south of Oklahoma City but I'm really north between there and Tulsa? Ok it makes sense now."  I kept seeing signs for OC, and kept thinking, "I'm going way out of the way, I must've dropped a waypoint in the wrong place, and now I'm going miles out of the way."  But in reality I was right where I needed to be, the ride I created in my study was unfolding just like it was suppose to.

I made a quick gas stop at a Love's Truck Stop and continued on.

With my stride already broken, I decided on lunch.  Because I was behind and needed a WIFI connection, I chose the Mcdonald's down the street.  I was getting off the bike, when a man on the way out said, "Don't bother, the power is out."  Didn't say how it went down.  I left there and rode a half mile to KFC, where I went in and ordered the baked chicken meal.

On the way in I met 2 construction workers, who must have went to the same McDonald's earlier, "Man, hard to find a place to eat in this town," one spoke out to me.

Before eating I went to wash the swine flu off my hands, but the hand blower only blew cool air.  I hate those things, give me old fashioned towels, they allow me to dry my hands and open the door.  This time I had to contort to get the door open without getting my wet, but clean hands dirty.  In the dining room I just pulled a wad of dinner napkins to dry them.

Finally I sat down to eat my chicken, but felt a cold wind.  They not only had the AC on, but a ceiling fan!  I stood up on the chair and switched it off.  I wanted to read USA Today while I ate, but had NO signal at all.  "A town this size without even a Edge?"  Not only that, I had NO signal to use the phone.  "What a waste of time this town proved to be."

Now that I knew what was going on, I got back on SR 33 and picked up U.S. 412 again to swing around Tulsa.  The route is one of the rare toll roads outside the Northeast, but it was only 25 cents or something.  "They're gonna make me pull off to the side, take my gloves off, and dig out a quarter?"  Didn't seem worth it.

The traffic around Tulsa was more then I thought it would be.  It would have been nice to have the Zumo wired so I could hear the instructions and not have to look down.  I tried that with some small headphones, but couldn't hear anything over 30 mph, and I didn't think it worth the trouble for a booster, and  helmet speakers to accomplish that, so I just glance down at the screen.

U.S. 412 looped me around Tulsa into Arkansas.  Near Siloam Springs I ran into a spotty rain, but nothing serious.  I figured I needed more intel, so ducked into a McDonald's to get a look.  I ordered a apple pie and Dr Pepper, and went to a booth.  Once again no signal of any kind.  Not even the WIFI.  "Something ain't right."  I rebooted the phone and wa la!  A signal! 3G and WIFI!  When it comes to computer stuff, a restart solves a lot of issues.

Radar indicated a mass of rain to the south, but my route was going to be Northeast, and out of it.  I put notes in the Iphone and sent my son a text message- "in Arkansas almost done for the day, tell your mother I'll call her later."  I checked my checking account and saw I was way under budget for the trip.  "I've spent a lot less then I thought I would up to this point."  My first inclination was camping in KOA, but since I was so far under budget I could splurge on a motel.  I knew Motel 6 had a unit in Eureka Sprins, and decided that would be my final goal.

I almost lost my new Oakleys.  I moved to a quiet section of the dining room to get out of the noisy area I was in (kids).  When I rose from the table I realized I didn't have my glasses.  I looked around/under the table then went back to where I first sat-nothing.  My heart sank.  I asked around but nobody saw them, a lady suggested I try the manager and when I did he pulled them out from the counter, I was greatly relieved.
My middle age memory plays tricks on me.  I was concerned enough to mention it to my doctor, who told me it was normal.  "By your mid 50s, your long term memory is fine, but the stuff you use for short term is a little different, the brain doesn't make it as well.  You might forget where you put your keys, but in Alzheimer's you don't even know what a key does.  Short term at your age is common, you just have to work a little harder, and associate things."  I pray I never have Alzheimer's.  I think back on my life, especially the last 10 years, and to have no recollection of any of it would be awful.  It would be beyond sad.  I take comfort none of my immediate or extended family ever had the problem.

So on a tour I live in fear of losing one of the big 4- wallet, glasses, camera, Iphone.  I keep all 4 zipped in different pockets on the Roadcrafter, and I constantly use my hands to feel for them.  I'll walk from the bike to the front door and check my pockets.  Uncle Phil has his camera on lanyard around his neck, I'm going to follow suit.

The ride up to Bentonville was not good.  It was congested and chaotic, and I was glad it was only a few miles.
I've been through Bentonville on various other tours and never liked it.  Wal Mart has the city busting at the seams, straining the infrastructure in all kinds of places.  The city is trying to play catch up, but I don't think it ever will.  It hasn't in the 8 years I've been coming this way.

I was making a left turn at a light in Bentonville, following GPS directions when I was cut off by a pick up also making a left.  Each of us had circle green, and couldn't decide which side we wanted to pass the other on.  Because we were both aware it was not a big deal, we just couldn't get on the same page.

I went east on U.S. 62 and left Bentonville behind.  Traffic remained thick on the way out.  The sun was beginning to poke through the dark clouds, and it lifted my spirits.  I knew 62 to be a nice road for leaning, but accepted the fact I wouldn't get any in, because of the traffic.

One thing I did find out on this tour, was Fall in the West is not the big deal it is in the East.  I was beginning to see homes decorated for Halloween, churches with Fall Festival announcements, volunteer fire departments with their haunted hay rides, and various pumpkin patches.  In the Southwest that stuff is rare, but I guess when you don't have trees, it takes a little of the fun out of it.  Halloween lasts a month in Prattville.  Back in Norfolk, in the 1960s, we got excited about 3 days out.  Time sure has changed.

​Celebrating Fall in the Ozarks.
Surprisingly the traffic did thin out in the hills, and I was able to enjoy the last 20 miles.  I reset the suspension, trimmed the screen down, and got in some good leans.  I stopped for several photo ops, and generally enjoyed the late afternoon run into Eureka Springs.
​Ozark Mountain Valley.  Fall color was still several weeks

I found a run down, creeky old house near the highway and stopped to check it out.  Birds flew out the back when I stuck my head in and scared me.  I guess that's what I get for being nosey.
Because it was Halloween time, I found this haunted house
on U.S. 62.

The city is a definite tourist trap, but that didn't bother me.  I was in the mood for it.  It was after Labor Day, the place had settled down.  The Ozarks were still several weeks away from Fall color, so I was in between peaks.
The village is mostly what you find along 62, so I scouted things coming in.  The checkered flag popped up on the Zumo letting me know I'd reached the end of the custom route.  

The Motel 6 was on the far end of town and it was almost dark when I arrived after a 515 mile day, the exact as Day 5.  Only a few cars were in the parking lot.  After registering I backed into a ground floor room and unloaded.  It was getting cool so I turned the heat on low.

I unloaded and set up shop.  "I'll take a shower when I get back from supper."  I rode a mile to the Forest Hill Family restaurant, the sign advertising the ribeye special the final selling point.

A young lady came for my order, "what ya gonna have sweetie?" 
"Bring me that ribeye special baby." 

"How ya want it cooked?"

"medium well"

"what kind of potato?"

"baked, butter on the side"

Not much was going in the Family Hill so I brought my toys in, including the atlas.  My plan was just to auto route to Nashville, spend the night, and then the Blue Ridge the next day.  My guess from present location I was about a thousand miles away from Cruso, North Carolina.

My original idea was to spend the night with Uncle Phil tomorrow, but he's already in Cruso, so going to Nashville would mean a hotel room, there are no campgrounds.  "So why not just spend the night home tomorrow?   Nashville and Prattville are both on the way."  So I went to the Iphone, (has GPS) and asked for a route to Nashville and another to Prattville from Memphis.  No matter which way I went, each meant a ride to Memphis, from there I'd have to make a decision.  The difference was about 80 miles longer to Prattville.  "I didn't think Nashville was that far from Memphis."  Going home equals a extra 80 tomorrow, and another 100 to Cruso the next day.  What is 180 miles on a 5,000 mile ride?  So home it is!

"I called Debbie and gave her the news.  "I'll be home tomorrow night, and then on to the Blue Ridge the next morning."

"ok good, but I'm suppose to meet Mike and Beth at mother's for supper tomorrow."

"Don't worry about it, I can't get there before 7 or so anyway, home is 700 miles from here."

"rained most of the day here, and continuing tomorrow"

"yeah I saw that, but it'll move out before I get there.  I'll see you tomorrow night ok?


The waitress, who was wiping a nearby table asked, "was that your wife?"

"ohhhhh so you were listening in?"


"but yes it was"

"how long ya been on the road?"


"I bet she's excited you're coming in"

"well yeah, me being the model husband and all"

"Oh please"

The ribeye was tasty, and hit the spot, but I skipped desert.

After supper I remained at the table and put notes in and looked over pictures. She asked me-"take any good pics today?"

"I think so, here check em out"

"So ya did,"

I left the server a 5 dollar tip, and returned to the motel.  I cleaned the screen on the RT, and took a shower.  Went to bed with the TV on and caught up on the news.  The healthcare debate was still raging.  I set the Iphone to wake me up at 6am.  I wanted to be on the road at first light.  "A long ride home tomorrow, better get some rest," and shut my eyes.