Joined: May 2013
Location: North Georgia
There would be no fording of the Mulberry River on the TAT today.
Ozark to Adair, OK
The skies were cloudy and threatening as I headed into the White Rock Wildlife Management area of the Ozark National Forest. I was soon off the pavement and into the woods enjoying the scenery when I rode down an embankment to what appeared to be a creek crossing. As I got closer, I realized that this was no shallow creek that the Toad was capable of fording. Instead, it was the Mulberry River, running high and fast, several feet deep across the trail. It did not matter what anyone was riding, there was no way to make it across the river today. Using the GPS, I was able to backtrack and loop around to Highway 23, which would have a bridge over the river. Following the highway north to the town of Cass, I found a forest service road just across the bridge that allowed me to head back to the west and intercept the TAT. I did not know it at the time, but detours would be the theme for the day’s ride. Actually, I did not mind this at all, as I found that trying to calculate detours was challenging and fun. Once back on the forest service roads, I was treated to some great riding. There were a few rocky uphills and one steep and narrow downhill that was similar to riding down a staircase, which made me appreciate the small size of the Toad. The trails were not crowded like the day before, and I am sure the fact that it was Sunday morning had a lot to do with it. As I buzzed down the trails outside of Mountainburg, I noticed people unloading their horses out of two trailers for a day’s ride. I always slow to a crawl in situations like this, hoping that I will not spook the horses or draw the ire of the riders. This strategy seemed to work today, as the horses generally ignored me and the riders waved. Less than a mile down the road from the riders was a ROAD CLOSED AHEAD sign. Oh well, slowly ride ahead and check to see if there is any way around. Not today, heavy equipment and a fence blocked all routes around a bridge that was being built. It was time to find a way around another obstacle. Unfortunately, I had to ride past the horses again, and I am a sure they were wondering what I was up to by this point. I soon found another forest service road that roughly paralleled the one that is the TAT. The idea was to follow this road until I found another that crossed and headed south, allowing me to intercept and get back on the TAT. About five more miles in, I found such a road and took it. The GPS showed that I was less than a mile from reaching the TAT when this road too was blocked and closed by a logging operation. It was time to backtrack and try again. I eventually found a road that allowed me to get back down to the TAT, but the detour was a long one, over 12 miles total. My first detour was around 11 miles, so the additional 23 miles traveled meant that I was going to have to look for fuel before my planned stop. No problem, I thought, the town of Mountainburg is coming up, and they will certainly have a gas station there. Well, they did, at one time. The big Conoco truck stop on I-540 was now closed. I backtracked back into town and asked a fellow outside a building where the nearest gas station was. He pointed to the top of the next mountain down the highway. Five miles later and about an 800 foot climb in elevation, we had our fuel, but the Toad had to earn it.
After meeting Donna for lunch in Lincoln, Arkansas, it was time to cross over to Oklahoma. On the smallest back roads, there is often no welcome sign or anything to signify that you have crossed over to the next state, so the only clue is that the license plates on the cars that you see parked have changed. If someone had just dropped me off in this area, I would have never guessed I was in Oklahoma. This part of the state has lots of water and vegetation. The TAT runs alongside the Illinois River for awhile, and you will see people swimming and rafting and enjoying the natural beauty of the area. My brother-in-law Skip and his wife Frances from Tulsa met us in Adair and escorted us to an RV park outside of town. Once set up there, we followed the cryptic directions of the park owner to a”secret” steakhouse at the Salina Raceway. For whatever reason, the steakhouse was closed, so we joined the rest of the town of Salina at the “Pig ‘N Out” Barbeque for burgers, the only game in town.
232 miles traveled today. 1,551 miles total on the trip. The Toad still lives.
Forest Service Road, Western Ozarks