Thursday, May 9, 2013

5/9/13          Fortified with waffles, cold cereal and coffee, we pulled out from the TraveLodge under an overcast sky, a light sprinkle on the windshield, and turned north towards southeastern Oklahoma.

          I calculated our progress, twenty-five out of thirty-six points, two-thirds the way home, making excellent headway. We'll see how excellent when we get to the toughest hikes on our trip in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
         
          "After today, we'll be moving west," Dr. Bobo said.

           I checked our route guide. Yep, after today we travel greater distances between points, a hallmark of the expansive western US.

           We drove northward, left Louisiana, cut across the northeastern tip of Texas into Arkansas, through enough rain for the wipers to clean the windshield, northward to Cerrogordo, where we headed west to the Oklahoma border. A gravel road led us north again towards the Little River. The last 200 hundred feet required a bushwhack through brambles to a sand bar at the OK low point of 289 feet.
Dr. Bobo at OK Low Point.

            We headed farther east into the heart of Arkansas, towards another high point. Thick clouds blanketed the sky, held onto whatever moisture they contained. Y City, Needmore, Ione led us towards Magazine, near our next destination. The color green dominated our views. Abundant trees and grasses flourished in full growth, contrasted by patches of yellow, an occassional house with a manicured lawn, a barn or a failed business. Lifestyles appeared unhurried, rural, tuned to weather and seasons of planting and hunting, with commerce stretched along a curvy, hilly two-lane road for miles, little pearls of economy and social interaction on a paved string.

            The cloud layer thinned, puffy clouds hung in a baby-blue sky, shadows developed.

            Parked in the designated spot, we hiked the four-tenths mile to Signal Hill, the high point of Arkansas, on Magazine Mountain, 2753 feet, on the wide, gravel path. The light, cool breeze, under overcast sky, alleviated our need to steep in our own sweat.

           Down the trail towards the car, Primate said, "Hungry."

          Sandwiches, made from my leftovers of fish from Ralph and Kacoo's in Shreveport the night before, accentuated our view of Arkansas countryside from the picnic area near the summit. Persistent, small flies pestered us in a swarm, created the only negative aspect of our lunch break. Chilled beer helped keep the world in balance.

          Reminded of Horace Greeley's words, "Go west, young man," we descended from the mountain with Kansas on our minds, made our way to I-40 W.

          "Oklahoma," Dr. Bobo said when we crossed the border.

          "Bye, Arkansauce," Primate said.

           I realized I might never see Arkansas again. My first visit could be my last, no foreseeable reason to return.

          "We should look for places to stay mid-way to Kansas," Dr. Bobo said.

           A search on Dr. Bobo's laptop, map consultations and phone calls yielded no campgrounds. I got a suggestion to camp by a lake.

           "I found a campground in a state park just off Muskogee," I said.

           We veered off course, towards more state park camping opportunities. Clouds grew darker, haze thickened in the air, a drizzle became rain.

           "I hate setting up a tent in the rain," I said.

           "Let's get a motel room," Dr. Bobo suggested.

           We settled on an EconoLodge in Pryor for the night, covered 475 miles today.

           Low points - sixteen; high points- eleven.


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