Thursday, September 5, 2013


     The morning finds our group growing smaller. Wes has decided to power through from El Reno to Nashville in one shot, roughly 700 miles. Chris helped him put on the new shift linkage and after we gassed up, we said our goodbyes. It was odd after a full week, looking back in my mirror and finding an empty spot where his bike was.
     Breakfast came in the form of a small restaurant tucked behind the lobby of a Ramada Inn. We tried, and failed, to blend with the locals. I was worried about what we would get but our food was excellent and cooked perfectly. Its nice when things like this sneak up and surprise you.
     THe main stop for the day is the Route 66 Museum in Clinton. This is an excellent facility. The horseshoe shaped walking tour chronicles the construction, heyday, and decommissioning of the mother road. I was especially interested in the diner and neon displays. There were several companies that made prefabbed diners and they had one on display. The owner paid for the purchase by depositing 10% of the daily revenues into a drop box outside that would be picked up later.
     I enjoyed the insight into the road we had been traveling all week. 66 is many things to many people and it seems more and more of it is disappearing. Time has been moving forward, driven by technology, advancements, evolution, etc. The mother road has been standing still, a snapshot of a simpler time before everything and everyone got into a furious hurry.
     I always wanted to see it, satisfy my obsession with the ravages of time on abandoned structures and the natural reclamation of the things man has forgotten. I didn't expect to be so enamored by the people, friendly and happy to see you. I guess as the road stands still, there are some who have chosen to stand with it. To them, I am grateful. They are keeping an important piece of our country alive. Get out and see it while you can.
     Fort Smith was just over 250 miles away from Clinton. We loaded up with gas and water and hit it, opting again to avoid the interstate. The Oklahoma back roads are scenic and you can travel at 65-70 with minimal interruption by small towns so it was a no brainer.
     Ken and I noticed city names that were familiar: Wetumpka, Enterprise, Eufaula. Alabama and Oklahoma had further similarities, both Eufaulas were lake towns. The water swallowed both sides of the road and the beauty helped fuel my second wind.
     It grew darker as we pressed on. Since setting up camp in the black was inevitable, we stopped to eat. The Eaton Hole served authentic home cooking and featured live music. The food was great and the portions large. It was a challenge to get back in the saddle.
     We soldered on. Fort Smith, like OKC, was much bigger than I was expecting. We managed to get lost more than once before swallowing our man pride and asking for directions. We found our stop and talked to a couple Sturgis bound riders. Lit solely by flashlights and lanterns, we set up camp. I was bushed and fell into a deep sleep, lulled away by the soundtrack of nature and the gentle talk of my companions.

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