Clarksville, AR to Tahlequah, OK – 197.3 miles
We were up at a reasonable hour this morning but, as is becoming the norm, didn’t get on the road until late. As we were devouring the complimentary breakfast, we noticed there was coin laundry at the hotel and couldn’t pass up the idea of clean unmentionables.
We rolled out of town around 10:30 and were immediately involuntarily immersed into Arkansas’ annual sellathon. Now, people like to say that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, but sometimes that ratty prom dress that saw a little too much dirty dancing and those bald tires off your truck really are just trash. We ran the gauntlet through town avoiding thrifty shoppers hoping to make it onto the Antiques Roadshow and made it back to the trail.
The Ozarks welcomed us with clear blue skies and the occasional puffy cloud. We continued through the forested dirt roads where challenging climbs, steep descents, and hairpin curves made sure we kept our focus. On two occasions we encountered “road closed” signs and of course drove right past them with our only thought being “I wonder what we’re in for this time.” The road crews had blocked the path with gates and large piles of dirt because it had washed out in places. I’m sure it did a good job keeping cars out, but they didn’t plan well for chicks with boots and dirt bikes.
We dropped out of the forest and emerged back into rolling farmland. The gravel roads were becoming more familiar and we fell into the rhythm of the hills. We stopped for gas in Hector, AR which wasn’t far from the Oklahoma border. The crossover into the new state was uneventful, but we celebrated the promise of our first cold beer in days. Chicken farms lined the roads as their distinct odor lined our nostrils. One particular farm caught our attention as hundreds of foul smelling fowl were roaming about. It looked like a mass jail break. Chickens were escaping from their huts and proudly perching themselves on anything they could find.
The road continued along the largest and cleanest river we’d seen in a long time. It led us to Peyton’s Place campground where we finally put to use the gear we’ve hauled all this way. The lady at the register informed us this is the Illinois River and it does not start in that state, end there, or really have anything to do with it. We checked in and pitched a tent, then cracked open a can to sit under the stars with.