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Old 05-30-2011, 02:39 PM   #1
Jamie Z OP
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Too much water; I'm headed for the desert.

In April and May of 2011, the Mississippi River reached and exceeded record flood levels. Above average snow melt combined with two major storm systems in April dumped huge amounts of water throughout the south and midwest. The result was unprecedented flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.



I work at a casino situated directly along the Mississippi River. In late April we were informed that the casino would be closing because of high water. Flood stage in Memphis is 34 feet. When the river stage reaches 40 feet, the casino becomes inaccessible. The predicted crest was 45 feet, then revised to 48 feet after even more rain.





Our last day of work was April 29. We were advised that our pay would continue for two weeks, and then management would re-evaluate the situation.

I found myself suddenly thrust into an unplanned and unrequested paid vacation with an unknown end date. It might be just a week or so, or it could be as long as six weeks. Only the river level would determine that.

With water everywhere around me, I headed for the desert.

A preview of the coming report:



Jamie
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Old 05-30-2011, 02:47 PM   #2
MikJogg
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Great,a new Jamie Z report !

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Old 05-30-2011, 04:44 PM   #3
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:55 PM   #4
doublen
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I was tired of the water and snow myself and made a run to Arizona. It was brutal getting there but worth it once I made it!
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:10 PM   #5
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:34 PM   #6
Jamie Z OP
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I left on a drizzly late Saturday morning. My plan was to ride up the west coast of Tennessee along the Mississippi River and cross I-155 into Missouri.

The first problem.



And then again.



And again.



Water was everywhere.







Finally by getting off the minor roads I crossed into Missouri.



Where the flooding was no better. They were preparing for the worst in Caruthersville.





The National Guard was there.





And it seemed Martial Law had been declared.



Much to the chagrin of some local residents.



I aimed to head west into Arkansas. More water.







At least I could cross some of it.



Though I didn't get far.



The folks on the ATVs said there was no point in trying to cross (I wouldn't have) since the road was washed out a few miles farther.

Mountain View Arkansas had been a planned destination for the trip my dad and I made last year. We didn't make it. I'd been wanting to see the local bluegrass musicians in the square.





A thirty-second clip of some of the music.



Almost dark, I rushed off to Barkshed campground in Ozark National Forest where I set up my tent next to a small creek and made dinner.







Jamie
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:31 PM   #7
cyberdos
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LOL. It's the SUCK MY CURFEW sale!

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Old 06-01-2011, 07:35 PM   #8
malibu_dan
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I'm in. I was wondering where ya' had gone!

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Old 06-01-2011, 08:09 PM   #9
scarysharkface
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That is one mighty river. Hard to comprehend just how much flooding there's been recently. Your pics do it justice.

John
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:57 AM   #10
Jamie Z OP
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I woke early with the plan to ride Push Mountain Road nearby. Good news, a road from the campground goes straight there.



Or not.



If I could get across this bridge, I'd be on my way to Push Mountain.



Or not.



What used to be a gravel road was now a hiking trail. Who knows if I could have made it through.

I rode the long way to get to the north end of Push Mountain Road.



Stopped in Calico Rock Ghost Town. They have an interesting walking tour with historic signs posted along several blocks.



And then what many consider the best road in the state.



I stopped in Big Flat for a break. I made a mental note that my clutch cable needed a bit of adjustment. A little too much play in the lever than I like. I'll take care of that next time I make camp.



Fantastic city park, though long past it's last maintenance.



Next stop, the Ponca put-in along the Buffalo River. I've been here probably ten times, but never have seen as many people as was here today. The parking lot was overflowing.



People were lining up to put in and float one of the last wild rivers in the country.







For lunch at the Oark Cafe, I set my GPS for the shortest route, not knowing what I might find. First these cool mailboxes.



Yeah, they spun around on the axle. I checked.

The road was fairly rough with gravel.



The road ended in the yard of a country shack. An older fella who looked incredibly like this guy walked down to my bike.



I asked him if the road went through to Oark. He told me it was washed out. "You 'member them mailboxes back there?" He motioned behind me. "Go pas' 'em and take the next road. That road'll take you right into Oark."

He was right.



Excellent food at the Oark Cafe.



I once owned and drove a hearse, so I couldn't resist stopping to grab the phone number of this one for sale.



Riding down the Pig Trail, WTF is that?



It's Hunt's Hotrods.



Located at the Humpin' Cadillac Ranch. It says so.



A few mountains heading into Oklahoma.



Oklahoma state welcome sign with my bike. A new one for my collection.



I made camp at the Winding Stair Campground in Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area. The place was deserted, and I rode around several times looking for a campsite protected from the wind.



I made dinner using my hard cases as a windblock.



Jamie
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:31 PM   #11
Jamie Z OP
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Another early day, the wind battered my tent as I packed it up. I got on Oklahoma Highway 1, known as the Talimena Scenic Drive headed west.





Along the way I found a little-used gravel road winding down into the valley. I followed it down for about an hour before turning around near this low-water bridge. I still don't know where it goes.



From a scenic overlook.



I came into Antlers, Oklahoma from the north on US 271. The town bills itself as the "Deer Capital of the World." Not the best place for a motorcyclist.

I stopped at a park on the outskirts of town. Like Big Flat, this was a fascinating park, but was overgrown and long in disrepair. It was home to this cool suspension bridge.



And these bizarre bathrooms made from what looked like old drainage ditches.



The picnic tables were falling apart and there hadn't been a lawn mower here for years. It's too bad, really.

Instead I went into town and stopped at the community garden to sit in the shade to make my lunch.



An uneventful and pictureless border crossing into Texas (I already have that picture) and then into Paris, Texas where signs led me to the Eiffel Tower. Damn it was hot. The sun was brutal.



I skirted around the southeast side of Dallas and stopped in Ennis for gas. My mileage was dropping like a rock. Usually my mileage goes up when I tour, but today and yesterday I was off by 10%. Could be the wind. Or it could be that small front sprocket I installed before I left.

Near Lake Whitney I searched for a place to camp. On one side of the dam was a $15 campground. On the other side, camping was free.



Once again, my Pelican windblocks.



Jamie
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:49 PM   #12
El Tee Dee
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We sure could use a couple inches of that water.
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:39 PM   #13
Laconic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Z View Post

Nice.
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Old 06-03-2011, 04:47 PM   #14
infoatnmmoto
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The entire city of Albuquerque was blanketed in thick smoke last night from fires on the AZ-NM border.
Bring some water, please.

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Old 06-03-2011, 07:52 PM   #15
achtung3
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Maybe you need a Motoboat instead of your Motocycle?

Enjoy the ride.
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