Saturday, June 09, 2007

Summer 2007 Tour - Day 01

Day 01
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Longview, TX to Sallisaw, OK
335 miles

“Are you headed to California or something?”

Shocked, I turned from packing the bike to see a man regarding me from an open motel room door. Was my California-ness that obvious? “No, but why do you ask?” I replied.

“Well, you’ve got SO much stuff!”

I smiled and dropped into my *happy motorcycle-tourer talking to strangers* mode. “Actually, I’m headed to Montana.” (When you have no real destination, always define it as the furthest point on your route from where you are presently located. It gets the best response. )

His eyes bugged. “Montana! That’s pretty far. Are you riding alone? You must have a black-belt or something?”

I laughed a little and decided it was better not to answer those questions. After finishing my pack job, I waved goodbye to the man and continued my dash north on US259.

I found my first real curves of the day just after the Oklahoma border. US259 wound it’s way through farm fields and into the beginnings of the Ouachita Mountains.

Lately I’ve gotten so accustomed to long mileage days that when I have a short one (and yes, 330 miles is short!) I have to force myself to pause and find things other than pounding miles to fill my time. I find that rivers are often very photogenic. Also, you usually have to park off the bridge and walk back down the road to find a good vantage point.

I left US259 in Smithville to make my way into Arkansas on OK4. In planning the trip, I hadn’t thought much of this road, merely using it as a likely connector. OK4 turned out to be a fun rollercoaster with tight turns and beautiful scenery.

I had a quick lunch in Mena, AR before turning onto AR88, the Talimena Parkway. The initial ascent to Queen Wilhelmina State Park is one of my favorite parts of the parkway. This segment is very twisty, with steep climbs and stunning vistas.

There were lots of motorcyclists out today, including one group coming the other way consisting of a black Multistrada, maxi-scooter, and GL1800 that I recognized from passing back in Broken Bow, OK.

Passing back into Oklahoma, I started to get some rain drops. I considered stopping to pull out my waterproof gloves, but decided against it. It was so warm…the rain was welcome and my unlined leather gloves would survive and dry out quickly.

It always amazes me that, in this part of the country, it can be bright and sunny, but raining.

More pictures of the Talimena parkway from my last trip there can be found here:

I found some serious rain during my descent into Talihina, OK. Large raindrops pounded my helmet and my hands felt like they were swimming in my gloves. I turned north on OK82 and hoped to soon outrun the storm.

Fifty miles out from my destination for the night, I was still getting rained on intermittently. I had intended to try out my camping gear, but prudently decided to get a real roof over my head.

I laughed a little while checking into a motel at the obscenely early hour of 5:00. Not quite knowing what to do with myself, I listened to the thunder and watched TV while rain pelted the parked R1200ST. I got wet from bare head to bare toes as I walked to dinner in my Teva sandals, lightweight convertible pants, and heavy motorcycling jacket.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I continue to ride north, crossing the *motorcycling-mecca* state of Kansas.

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