September 30, 2005




Start: Little Rock, Arkansas
End:
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Miles: 276 miles
Route taken: Route 10 west to Route 71 north to Route 64 to Muskogee Turnpike, exit at
Tulsa.

 

        My time in Little Rock was brief and that is probably for the best since there wasn’t much in the town for me to see.

        It served as a stopover, a place to rest for the night and then keep on moving.

        That is the feeling I get however, when I am in this part of the country. Whenever I cross the Midwest I have a decision to make as to which boring, flat state I am going to choose.

        Arkansas is more of a southern state than a Midwest one and really serves as a warm up act for the monotony that awaits me as I cross into either Oklahoma, Kansas or Texas.

        Those were my three choices and none of them really appealed to me.

        This is a part of the country that has never appealed to me.

        When you get past the beauty of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico there is a barrier before the next scenic drive.

        The wall of drudgery is the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

        Those states represent the gray of America. They are long stretches of nothing and to get to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, or Louisiana one of prior states must be traveled.

        Though parts of all of those dreary states have highlights within them the overall mass of land is flat, unimaginative and depressing. It was like God started in the east, got to this part and slapped up some cornfields and called it a day, needing the rest in order to create the majestic western part of this country.

        For shear tedium, Kansas is the worst, followed closely by Nebraska. The two states are twins of staleness, working in tandem to up the suicide rate in the country.

        Prairie lands, corn fields and barren land make up both states with an occasional wild flower, which gives you momentary hope, but also makes you suspicious that it is a mirage.

        Oklahoma has the worst roads. For a state with several toll roads they might need to hold a bake sale, because the money they are raising from the pay highways isn’t being used to improve their thoroughfares.

        There is a stretch of Interstate 40 in Oklahoma that has bumps every 30 seconds for at least 10 miles. When I was on that highway I was jostled so much I thought I was going to have to buy a kidney belt.

        The state highways and two-lane roads aren’t any better. They are choppy as well and speeding only exacerbates the problem.

        Texas is brutal just because it is so long. Drive from the Louisiana border to the other end of Texas and you think you have recreated the pilgrimage made by our forefathers to the west.

        South Dakota has the badlands and the Black Hill Mountains, but those are more tourist destinations and not direct routes to ferry you across the state.

        North Dakota is equally as flat and windy and the same length as South Dakota but puts you further north than most people want to go.

        When I left Little Rock I took a back road that split the Ozark Mountains and the Quachita National Forest.

        It was a pretty ride with glimpses of the Arkansas River along the way and mountain ranges on my left and right.

        Knowing I was in Oklahoma was pretty easy. The mountains were gone and the wind started pushing me around a bit on the road. It wasn’t anything serious and with Tulsa about two hours away, I pressed on through the gusts.

        To get to Tulsa efficiently, you have to take a toll road. I got on the Muskogee Turnpike and bounced all the way into the city. There was one stretch where the roads had been given fresh blacktop, but only one of the two lanes received the facelift. One lane for 10 miles created quite a back up and all I could do was take deep breaths and wait it out.

        When I reached the city limits I found a motel that was near the interstate. I checked in, got to my room and was unpacking the bike when I noticed the clouds thickening up. The first drops of rain hit me as I was locking up the bike. I was contemplating taking a little putt around town but the weather told me I wasn’t going anywhere.