Fall in Oklahoma. It's not New England, but the oaks and a few other trees are showing off some color, and we're happy with that.
We were parked for a week in Big Cedar, at a small mom and pop kinda place, Big Cedar RV Park. The sites are all grass, level, with full hook-ups, and mighty close together when the place is full. Fortunately, that rarely happens, so we were comfortable with open space around us. Their dog, Rusty, has the run of fields, trails and the many open spaces in the park and Honey got to play with him many times a day.
|Big Cedar RV Park (and cabins)|
Mena, the closest town with a grocery store, is about 30 miles away. We chose this location to be near the Talimena National Scenic Byway that runs from Mena, AR to Talihena, OK. During our first RV trip, in the 19' rented Cruise America, we drove the Talimena in midwinter, in the fog. We saw absolutely nothing but the silohettes of black, bare, crooked, stunted trees on either side of the road as we traversed the high ridge. At the time it felt like a scene from a Harry Potter story. Since then we've wanted to return to see what it looks like with leaves, and see what we missed from the overlooks.
|The Talimena National Scenic Byway|
|One of those bare, gnarly, spooky trees in full leaf.|
The views from the many pullouts reminded us a lot of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Forest as far as you can see. It's a fun drive, especially in a car, and with no fog. Lots of elevation changes requiring low gear for trucks and RVs. The whole drive probably takes a little over an hour, or more if you stop a lot for views and pictures.
On football Sunday, Honey and I ventured south to Broken Bow Lake and Beaver Bend State Park. We approached from the north on 259, but all the signage seems to be oriented toward folks coming up from nearby Texas. We had a really hard time getting oriented, or finding a visitor's center of any sort. The main road through the park, Alternate 259 was washed out at the Mountain Fork River, (no forewarning) so we stopped and poked around there.
|Many large trees washed to the side of the river|
Obviously the river can be much higher and more powerful than it was that day. The banks are lined with colorful rocky ledges that were fun to climb around on.
On several other days Honey and I took hikes on the nearby Oachita Trail, a 223 mile single track, maintained trail through the wilds of eastern Oklahoma. She's getting to be a real good hiker. If I let her off the leash, she'll stay close to me on the trail, and if she does wander off just a bit, she comes back to a whistle or an easy single call. I think she's a little nervous about being in a big new place, and so she stays close for security.
The trailheads for the sections we hiked were on the east and west sides of 259 less than a mile north of Big Cedar. The trail has no major elevation changes in that area, it just meanders and rolls through the woods, much of the time running along or across various streams. Sometimes the path is very rocky. It is marked pretty clearly with blue hatches on the trees and there are back-packer campsites every five miles or so.
Our wildlife sightings for the hikes included a smallish black bear crossing the highway and this large walking stick in her fall wardrobe.
Now it's time to confess one of my guilty secret pleasures. On quiet, rainy days or late at night when I can't sleep I secretly search the internet for Bigfoot reports from wherever we happen to be and peruse videos on YouTube. Weird, I know. And the funny thing is, I've never been one of those people who reads the Enquirer in the grocery store line, but this feels a lot like that. The only person I talk to about it is my son, who would also love Bigfoot to be real.
Anyway, now the secret's out, and here we are in the midst of an area with one of the highest Bigfoot incident reports, in Oklahoma at least. We are parked in the middle of that dark orange county in the map below. That's La Flore County where there have been at least 23 Bigfoot reports.
|Retrieved from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization|
Now to put that in perspective, here's a map of the frequency of Bigfoot reports in the US. You can see there are areas where there are more reports than in rural eastern Oklahoma, such as Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, western Pennsylvania and Ohio. But this swath of territory running north to south through eastern Texas and Oklahoma has a pretty high count.
|Retrieved from Oklahoma Skeptic website|
Although Honey and I did our best out in the backwoods of the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area, we are sorry to report that we failed to hear, smell, see or capture a blurry video of Bigfoot. We'll try again in Florida.