I have been working on the book the NWA Democrat-Gazette is printing on the history of high school football in Arkansas. Everyone is going to want it. And, you can pre-order it now by calling our circulation office. You will save $10.
I have helped track down pictures from all over the state over the last six weeks. Sometimes, I had to drive to pick them up.
I needed to go from Norfork (where I now live) to near Cass a few Sundays back to pick up some items from Steve Outlaw, the older brother of John Outlaw. Steve said he had photos of John at his cabin on the Mulberry river between Cass and Oark. There isn’t a great way to make that drive. Well, it’s gorgeous if you take the most direct route. There are no 4-lane highways and there are gorgeous vistas. Just go slow and enjoy the scenery and I did for almost four hours.
So off I went in my Silverado pickup truck. I have a rod vault on the roof of my camper shell that holds three fly rods. They are rigged up and ready for action. It’s pretty cool to always be ready to fish if you get some time. These are three long tubes.
Remember that and that they look a little like the rocket launchers that hang from a helicopter gun ship. My truck looks bad ass, but isn’t really. I’m a fly fisher. Kind of lame.
I drove on a 100-degree afternoon from Norfork, to Harrison, then took 43 down to 21 and just before Ozone, turned west on a forest service road that is just about one lane wide and dirt. Not a bad road. But it’s narrow and curvy, but pretty flat. There were six miles of it before you hit the black top at Oark that’s 215.
I came across a one-land bridge over the Little Mulberry and parked in the road blocking my path were about 10 or 15 bikers, all of them standing beside parked Harley Davidsons. There was no place for me to go. I didn’t realize it but they were thinking there was no where for them to go, either. They were parked side by side in twos. I had come six miles on a dirt road and couldn’t back up. I thought, “They’ve got me.” But, they were thinking I had them. Who knew?
You are in the middle of no where. There is no cell service. I was worried. They could take anything I had, if I had anything. I thought my Orvis ball cap was a dead give away that I’m not capable of harm.
But they were in a panic. I just didn’t know. They were fearful of driving their bikes on that dirt road and didn’t know how far it was to 21. They were on a big circle route on 23, then 215 and then 21 back north through the Ponca/Boxley valley to 412.
None of them had on shirts. They had mostly leather pants and a few had vests. There was lots of long pony tail hair and long beards.
They signaled for me to get out for a talk. Oh, boy, here I go.
The leader walked to me and said, “Hey, we are lost, dude! What you got in the tubes? You rule here, right?”
I said 5 weights. That’s what my fly rods in the silver tubes are.
He said, “Oh, wow, you could wipe out all of us. And, you can take out a herd of deer, right?”
Well, I said, “I don’t know about that.”
OK, on to more important stuff, “How far is it to 21?” I said 6 miles and the road is OK. Would I let them by? Sure.
I guess I did rule in that valley. I pulled out my Delorme book with the county by county topo maps. I don’t go anywhere without them, whether that be Arkansas or Colorado.
The maps rule, not me. I showed them what was in front of them on the Delorme maps and all of the bikers were excited. They were no longer worried about dirt road or lack of cell signal that knocked out their GPS tracking.
One by one, they shook my hand, in their own style and pulled me close for a pat on the back. I gave them the same hug back. They were kind of sweaty and nasty. But it was the best hugs I’ve had in awhile.
Boom, off they went on either side of my truck in a big roar, with a fist in the air as they passed me. I was still standing beside my bad ass white Silverado. And, I was on to Oark and Steve’s place. And, I didn’t have to fire any of my missiles.
My heart beat slowed down. What was I to worry. I rule this valley!
There is nothing like being alone in the middle of nowhere in the Ozarks. It’s fun, but it’s different at the same time.
If you have a better story than this, I want to hear it.