Monday, March 24, 2008

An Early Spring Arkansas / Oklahoma Stamp Trip

Throughout the winter, I have been on the lookout for a three day clearing in the weather. Finally, it came this past weekend!

My plan was to leave Paducah, KY taking a clockwise, southwesterly route across central Arkansas and on to Oklahoma, returning across northern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.
Day One - Friday, March 21st
Arkansas Post National Memorial

I left home Friday morning at 6:40 am headed southwest, arriving at my first destination near Gillete, AR, 342 miles later. The temps began in the mid-thirties and climbed thoughout the day. I made several clothing changes as the day warmed to the mid-seventies.

Settled by the French in 1686, the remote "Post de Arkansae" was the first permanent European colony in the Mississippi River Valley and played a valuable role in the long struggle between France, Spain and England for dominance of the lucrative fur trade.
Little Rock Central High National Historic Site

Ninety-Nine miles later, I arrived at Central High in bustling, downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. The brand new visitor center is located on the corner, near the high school.

On the morning of September 23, 1957 nine African-American teenagers stood up to an angry crowd protesting integration in front of Little Rock's Central High as they entered the school for the first time. This event, broadcast around the world, made Little Rock the site of the first important test of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision.

Little Rock Central High School The Arkansas State Capitol building is near Central High.

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs is a quick 56 miles southwest from Little Rock. I arrived around 4:15 pm. This is a somewhat tough site to visit on a motorcycle due to the lack of secure parking. I nervously parked a block and a half away on a very busy street, and walked back to one of the many bathhouses that serves as the visitor center.

People have used the hot springs here for more than two hundred years to treat illnesses and to relax. Both rich and poor came for the baths, and a town built up around the Hot Springs Reservation to accommodate them. Together nicknamed "The American Spa,” Hot Springs National Park today surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

From Hot Springs I headed northwest, riding some great roads in the Ouachita National Forest and the Quachita Mountains. One hundred thirty miles later I ended a very enjoyable first day in Fort Smith near 7:00 pm, after riding 680 miles for the day.

Day Two- Saturday, March 22nd Fort Smith National Historic Site

Saturday morning I began my day early, visiting Fort Smith National Historic Site and the National Cemetery.

At Fort Smith National Historic Site you can walk where soldiers drilled, pause along the Trail of Tears, and stand where justice was served. The park includes the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

Judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the "hanging judge," presided over the court for 21 years. While in this position, Parker sentenced 151 men to death by hanging (of these 83 were actually executed). In a territory noted for its lawlessness, his harsh but effective administration helped make the settlement of the West possible. Fort Smith National Cemetery

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Departing Fort Smith about 9:15 am, I rode westward 209 miles to Sulphur, OK to visit Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Unfortunately the National Parks office in the Chamber of Commerce was closed and I was not able to collect the NP stamp.

The “Peaceful Valley of Rippling Waters” appropriately describes Chickasaw National Recreation Area, known for its many mineral springs, cool water, flora, fauna, and wildlife. Here one’s mind may wander back in time to when the early American Indian came to this area to rest, relax at the water’s edge, and hunt for their food from the abundant wildlife.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City lies 86 miles northwest of Sulphur, OK. Arriving at the Memorial, I parked on the street, walked the solemn Memorial Grounds, paying particular attention to the visitor center. I can only say I was left with an overwhelming sense of “why”? How could anyone do such a thing?

Oklahoma City National Memorial honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were changed forever on April 19, 1995. The Gates of Time: Monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction - 9:02 - and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial.

168 chairs stand in nine rows, each representing a floor of the building, and represent the 168 lives lost on April 19, 1995. The field is located in what was the footprint of the building.Leaving the Memorial, I rode northeast 188 miles, through Tulsa, OK, continuing due east to Siloam Springs, Arkansas where I found a great steak dinner and spent the second night.

Day Three- Sunday, March 23rd
Buffalo National River

Sunday morning, 7 am, after a quick Hardy's bisquit and hot cup of coffee, I left in a chilly 32 degree, light rain. Riding two lane roads through the Arkansas Ozarks, I arrived in Harrison late morning. It was on southward to Marshall, AR to visit The Tyler Bend Visitor Center on The Buffalo National River.

The Buffalo National River flows free over swift running rapids and quiet pools for its 135-mile length. One of the few remaining rivers in the lower 48 states without dams, the Buffalo cuts its way through massive limestone bluffs traveling eastward through the Arkansas Ozarks and into the White River.

After visiting this site, I once again pointed my Wing eastward, riding through Mountain Home and Salem, turning north into southeast Missouri at Thayer.

The low temp for the day was 32, briefly touching 50 as a high in the early afternoon. I arrived home near 4:30 pm after riding 1,680 total miles for the three-day trip.

The superior rider uses superior knowledge to avoid situations
which require superior skill. ~Todd Ryan~ MTF Forum


  1. I envy your ability or desire to load up and haul ass at a moment's notice. I wish I had that determination.

    Joe F

  2. Wish I was young and could ride like that.

    Ted R