Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Talimena Drive

Destination: Talimena and Back
Miles Logged: 350ish

Okay, so things are getting a little (understatement of the year) disorganized. But, I guess the shoe fits.

This ride was awesome! Even though I was expecting something better. I guess I've been watching too many YouTube videos of Deals Gap (aka the Dragon's Tail) and was expecting something of the sort. Nevertheless, it was still pretty a great way to spend a Monday.

It was Labor Day weekend and after some brainstorming, a rider buddy of mine and I came up with a great idea. We thought it was the perfect weekend to do the Talimena Scenic drive. So my friend came up from Louisiana with his lifted pick-up truck and his bike on a trailer. I was currently chain-less due to the fact that somewhere between the 20,000 -24,000 mile mark, my stock chain began making awful noises. The racket it was making, it sounded like my sprockets were missing a couple teeth. So since my friend was a little more mechanically inclined, we tackled my chain/sprocket problem with only a couple minor complications. Two master links later, we were ready to go.

Due to the distance from his tailgate to the ground, he had to pull into a ditch to be able to use his ramps. I felt my heart stop as Blueberry began to lean a little too far to my side as we gently rolled it up the ramps. I used the only tie-downs I had, some heavy-duty tie-downs left over from my old man's army days. We trailered the bikes up to Talihina. Depending on how you drive from the Lawton area (the route and the speed) it can range from 4-6 hours. Got a kind of late start and took a right instead of a left (taking a detour over Lake Texhoma- awesome lake, by the way). It may have been my fault. Right seemed like the logical direction according to Oklahoma signage. It's all Oklahoma's fault. Sounds about right. With our little detour, we made it up to Tali around 2:00ish. The rider from Eufaula (I always want to say U-fa-lu-fa) we were meeting in Talihina was already there waiting on us. After grabbing a bite at Pam's Hateful Hussy Diner --is that a name or what? Definitely my kind of place-- we filled up our bikes and found a parking lot to unload the bikes.

Talimena Drive
Hwy 1 from Talihina, OK to Mena, AR runs about 60 miles one way. Almost guaranteed to see many bikers since the Talimena (hopefully not all are prone to my blonde moments and get the name at once) route is pretty well-known.
The Talimena Drive takes about an hour one way. Time flys as you're going through the curves and before you know it, you've reached the end. Lots of bacon in Mena. I had the pleasure of having my debit card declined in Mena. Thank you, USAA. Thank God for Discover card since someone never carries cash mainly because someone never has cash.

From Talihina, we all went our separate ways. I headed back to Stone Turtle Ranch, and the boys went back to their homes. I loaded up my heavy-duty tie down straps, the finance book I packed for the trip and never read (it's the thought that counts), and rode back to Lawton around 6:00. I ended up taking the back highways since I didn't take a map and GPS/cell phone use is beyond my capabilities. No smartphone for this rider. The original plan was to take backroads up to the interstate that eventually goes through OKC, but somehow that just didn't workout. The road from Tali to McAlester is pretty awesome. From McAlester to Ada seemed to take forever since that's when my pack really started feeling a little heavy (it probably weighed a good 30-40 lbs). It was like a ruck march- just not. The ride was definitely enjoyable since there was still sunlight to enjoy the views, the curves, and the towns. From Talihina to Ada it's about 125 miles. It was shortly before Ada when I started to get worried. My gas light was blinking furiously and it was getting dark very fast. Once I got to Ada, I wasn't worried. I've ridden through there enough to know my way around. I also knew that I wanted to head to Chickasha and not Duncan because the darker it got, the more I was begging for the nice, fast interstate. I was wearing down on my 11 reserve miles by the time I got to a small town that had fuel. I stopped in Allen, and all they had was 87. I grew up near a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I know the quality of the gas usually sucks. So low-fuel and darkness be damned, I continued on to Ada. I stopped in at their bigger gas station, got gas, and looked for a payphone since my cell phone had been roaming for a while. It was my luck that the payphones weren't working. I had been expected back home an hour ago with three more hours of traveling to go. A gentleman at the gas station offered to let me use his phone. I must have been some sight for a stranger to offer me his phone. I was so glad to make it to Ada, I could have cried. Anyways, from there I got on Hwy 19 and went up to Chickasha before getting on the interstate. I pulled into a gas station just as they were closing. I was able to talk them into staying open 5 more minutes so I could refuel. Thank you! At that point, I was happy to see an interstate. Finally made it home by 11:00p.m. passing only two black cows on the side of the road. That s-curve by Stoney Point Rd always has cattle out at night. 
Over all, my adventure was a blast. And, Hwy 19, even though it may not seem frequented much, actually has a pretty decent amount of traffic on a Monday night.

More pictures can be found on WGR's Facebook.

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