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Epic Road Trip #8: Oklahoma to New Mexico

The fishing lake I camped by was nice and quiet and I set out back on the road early. I made for the Chocktaw National Recreation Area which turned out to be a sweet stop. There was some great hiking and I replenished my supply of spring water I’d drank from Hot Springs.

There were some nice trails with good interpretive signs and lots of CCC masonry. Don’t know if I’ve ever felt compelled to take a photo of a shitter before, but I have now.

I also got a swim in which keeps the road funk in check. I spent a rough night in a Walmart parking lot. I was considering visiting a friend who was relocating to Norman and I thought there was more prairie to hike. The little splash of it I’d hiked in was really lovely after the poorly managed Ozarks and Ouachitas.

Turned out the prairie “trail” was just gravel road surrounded by dense shrubbery and Norman didn’t seem worth frittering 3 days over so I put some miles on. I drove up to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and there I found my prairie. Best prairie I’ve ever seen. So many wildflowers.

There was also a really scenic prairie dog town, some wilderness rock scrambling and awesome hiking. I visited the Holy City which is a WPA project of some stone buildings and arches and stuff where they do a sunrise Easter service. Quirky in the extreme. I also saw some elk.

I got some wifi at a Subway and found a site to camp (freecampsite.net is awesome by the way). It was a drive but I pulled into a municipal park on a lake just over the border in the Texas Panhandle. I relaxed woke in the morning to let it warm up enough to swim and made my way west.

I stopped to hike and “swim” again at Copper Breaks State Park. I hiked a short trail and went to the knee deep swimming area. They have a beautiful little lake but it’s reserved for the boats. Not worth the 18 miles and 3 bucks I invested in that side trek.

I boogied on down to Silverton where they had a little free RV campground at their municipal park. It was a charming little dying town I explored the next morning. Had dinner at a cute little diner and breakfast the next morning. The locals were bitching about illegals and I thought they could use some immigrants to fill their vacant storefronts and bring a little vitality before they become one of those ubiquitous historical markers about where a town used to be.

I backed track to Caprock State Park and took an arduous hike. I missed the fern cave I was looking for and took another wrong turn adding another 2.6 miles to a tough hike. You don’t expect a 600′ vertical climb and decent in the Panhandle but they’re serious about their erosion in Texas. Still not doing a damn thing about it as far as I can tell

I did get to finally see bison after missing them at Chocktaw and the Wyandottes. A local rancher saved them from extinction in the hopes of making desert tough beef crossbreeds. It’s the source stock for the Yellowstone herds amongst others

I learned this at a little museum Comanchero Canton Historical Museum. Has a nice collection of arrowheads and whatnot. The curator was nice but warned me about the crazy democrat governor closing down the entire state of New Mexico so it’s probably not worth visiting.

I was going to crash at Silverton a second night but the travel bug got me and I pushed on to another free municipal campground at Mule Shoe Texas. Got in late enough had to have Subway again.

I stuck around for church, my third time on the trip. Nice, nice folks even mentioned the sin of racism in Sunday School. Better then the harsh criticism of the new religion of Critical Race Theory I’d been hearing on the local airwaves. Had my first Chinese buffet in a year and a half and I was on the road again.

I pushed on to the Sacramento Mountains Lincoln National Forest. I missed my turnoff and I was glad I did. After turning around I saw some creature shamble across the road. I would have sworn it was a sloth if I had to say what it was. I looked it up the next day when I got some internet and it was a white faced coati. Pretty cool. Also saw some mule deer.

Found a cool site nonetheless even arriving after dark. The moon was so bright I took a little hike. The next morning I realized I was camping with a cow carcass. Our National Forest and it’s multiple uses. I hiked some closed forest service roads and cooked some lunch on the zip stove. No more campfires I’m in droughtland now.

I drove to the other side of the forest where the recreation areas are and met some nice campers and cooked some dinner. (I fried an onion and some canned chicken in margarine, which has held up for better then a month, with some white sage I found. Added water, chicken bouillon and powdered goats milk and instant mashed potatoes when it boiled. Pretty good).

Headed out early and did all the hikes at White Sands National Park. That 5 mile dune hike kicked my ass. Had dinner at Denny’s (yay WiFi) and had a mocha and browsed used books at a dying mall in Almagordo. I’m camped at a dispersed BLM campground now so I can watch the Lunar Eclipse. It cools off nicely so I think I don’t have to hide out in the mountains all the time.

Tomorrow it’s back into the Sacramento’s I think to hike the trail I saw coming out this morning and to nap in the cool mountain air. Not enough signal to upload pictures. if it doesn’t upload this post I’ll add some. Otherwise consider following me on the Book of Faces to see pics. Mike Trapp in Columbia Missouri. Goodnight faithful reader, I hope the super blood moon shines on you in peace and prosperity

Epic Road Trip #7: on to Oklahoma

I did some more hiking in the area and spent another night at the site on the Winona scenic drive. I drove into Mena and checked out that dilapidated and quirky town. They have a funky park with a spring and goldfish pond with some aggressive geese keeping an eye on things. There are howitzers and an old cabin. There is also a closed Studebaker museum that looks like a car dealership.

I drove back up to the woods and again easily found a dispersed site. The next morning I hiked 7 miles on the Ouachita Trail. It got a little overgrown three miles in and I was soaked. It’s a consistently well marked and well maintained trail and there are a lot more wildflowers in the west. Wild Bergamot, spiderwort and some I couldn’t name.

I then went to Queen Wilhelmina State Park and checked out this funky stone house built by a Harley riding union organizer in the 30s. They have an old train and some nice scenic views as well.

I drove down the scenic mountaintop road that becomes Oklahoma 1 at the state line. The national forest becomes National Recreation Area and there were a lot of overlooks and interpretive sites. It was fun even in the rain and I busted out the umbrella and checked them all out.

I drove into the next town and had carnitas in a Mexican place. I grabbed some beer as Mena was in a dry county. It was from an Oklahoma City microbrew and their pilsner had a lot of flavor for a pilsner. Pricey but worth it.

The free camping website found me a nice lakeside site west and north. I’m the only one here and it’s quite picturesque. Hopefully I’ll find some internet and post some pictures. Tonight I’m going to bed early.

Epic Road Trip #6: A Pause in Little Rock

I drove south out of Jasper and enjoyed the scenic drive. Went to Pedestal Rocks and gave that a pretty thorough look over. Lots of caves and pedestals and other cool rock formations. I drove to the next Forest Road and found a nice fire pit with a couple of wood piles. There was a drainage I couldn’t get the van through but after dinner I drove down to a flat pull off and had a quiet night.

Pedestal Rocks has a pit toilet so it was nice to camp close. I drove south on 7 and it’s really beautiful. I checked out a horse trail area but it was muddy and didn’t look like good hiking. I never did find a good hike so I searched for attractions and detoured south to Petit Jean State Park.

It is really cool. Nice well marked trails and a cool cave with faint pictographs. I couldn’t find the ones the sign said should be there. There was recent graffiti which is really sad.

I spent some time in Little Rock visiting friends and giving Cookie Monster a good airing out. I pulled all my stuff out and reorganized some. I took a day trip to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Had a nice local plant garden which was really superb with name plates. Always love that. I tried to climb the summit but got turned around.

Mostly I hung out with friends. It had been 10-15 years since I’d seen either of them but we all agreed we just picked up where we left off. We were all older but just as close. I stayed long enough to feel like a neighbor and not a visitor. So I was excited to get back to the woods.

Went south and West to the Ouachita National Forest. Tried to go to the Flatside Wilderness but the road had a big wash out. I was challenging it for awhile but it was getting real sketchy for a Dodge Caravan. I managed to get her turned around and was proud of myself for making the maneuver over definitely my most challenging drive in Cookie.

There’s no internet so I was glad I downloaded directions to not only the wilderness but the ruins of a CCC site. It was on Scenic 7 and it was cool old ruins. There’s a scenic loop road I’m camping on tonight. Probably built by those CCC boys.

Tomorrow I’ll finish the loop and look for hiking. There’s another CCC site down the road and a day use area. Monday I’m going into Hot Springs and get my Federal Lands Pass and visit my first national park.

Then I have to see where I’m at and where I want to go in New Mexico to choose my route across Oklahoma. I paused longer in Arkansas then I intended which has been nice, but as I told my friend Jay: I’m burning Spring.

Epic Road Trip #5: On to Arkansas

Been a little gap in the narrative. It’s been easier to make a quick Facebook post with a couple pictures to let people know I am safe and where I am at. But it’s raining and I don’t have a signal so it’s a good time to get caught up.

It was a fairly decent legitimate site at Pine Ridge. I drove down to the Piney Creek Wilderness area the next afternoon and there were lots of well maintained dispersed sites. I did a hike in the wilderness but couldn’t find the trail so came back. I had a controlled fall on some wet loose rocks which was a good reminder of the inherent risks in solo back country hiking. I’m pretty careful but you never know.

I didn’t want to take another hike so I headed south on back roads into Arkansas. I stopped in Fayetteville and saw an old friend. With short notice she was a great host and I got a hot meal and a shower and a chance to go to the grocery store for some goat cheese (a soft peppered one that is delicious) and local beer (Ozark Beer Company, Hardwork APA, it’s ok) and whatnot. I tried a couple gear stores looking for a Forest Service Map but no luck.

After Fayetteville I just drove on some long unpaved roads until I found stuff to do. I was heading towards Mills Springs Day Use area in what is mostly ATV infested woods when was stopped by a tree in the road. There’d been storms when I was in Fayetteville and there were a lot of downed trees. A couple in an F-250 with a camper shell were taking it apart with a hand axe. I got my full size one out but it was a little dull to their liking. We got the branch off and they were trying to pull it out of the way with their truck when the Forest Service arrived with a chainsaw and made short work of it. The couple was cool, recently retired marines who were 5 months into their cross country road trip. I told them about the water falls hike at Hercules Glen and they showed me a good campsite I stayed for 2 days.

I hiked both ways on the Appalachian Highlands Trail. A lot of poison ivy but pretty falls and a nice trail. There was a whole hillside that collapsed onto the trail which made it tough to get around but I navigated the edge until I found the trail again. Spent some time at the Springs area which was cool rock, maybe CCC era. There were some more modern additions maybe 1950s showing their wear and semiabandoned toilets, which are the very worst kind.

So today I drove out of the woods and came east and back into the forest. I’m south of Newton County I believe and there are some cool hikes I found directions too. My plan is to hike them over the weekend, between showers and then down to Little Rock for a couple few days to visit my old friend Jay and his wife.

It’s been smooth sailing and I’m hoping this part of the forest is in better condition then what I’ve seen so far. Well that’s it faithful reader. News from home is Smokey passed on and was buried by the other dogs in the backyard. It’s a sad thing, she was a good dog and had a lot of heart. She’d have liked all the cows I drove by today and barked at them all. Rest well Smokey, the cows will have to take care of themselves.

Newton County is as beautiful as I remember it. I did a couple of hikes near where I camped. Pretty decent trails, more ferns and wildflowers. Then I drove into Newton County and did a cool hike at a natural bridge site. There were a number of caves and pillars and such as well.

I then drove up to the Ponca Wilderness and hiked into Hemmed in Hollow. It was 2 miles of steep drop to get to the overlook to see the falls. It’s the tallest between the Appalachians and the Rockies but was hard to see from the overlook. I hiked out racing the dark and pretty much made it.

I then drove into the Buffalo Scenic River Area to park and camp. Drank a couple of the local APAs which are growing on me with some local jerky. I was bushed and slept hard. Came back to Jasper and will try to add some photos at the Subway with WiFi.

Categories: camping, hiking Tags: , ,

Epic Road Trip #4: The Glades

The deluge came and I managed pretty well through it. I did decide to head to higher ground, the Swan Creek camp trails were all flooded. I think it’s really called Bar K Wrangler Camp, by the way.

I camped in some high country which was nice. After a couple of skewer cooked meals I got a cast iron skillet and a new sauce pan, as well as a baking sheet. I’m keeping them in a messenger bag as cooking on fires leaves a lot of soot on the pan which is how I left my last set.

I took a glades drive and hiked some forest service roads yesterday. Feel like moving south has advanced the season seeing cardinal flowers and indian paintbrush and not the spring ephemerals that go along with morels.

Today I hiked in the Hercules Wilderness Area. I hiked about 5 miles in the morning at the Fire Tower trail head. Later I found a shorter trail to the waterfalls (Blair Ridge TH) . It was 3.8 miles and with what I’d already done a bit of a stretch but I’m glad I did.

Saw a hummingbird in a patch of cardinal flowers and the glades had lots of wildflowers I’d never seen. The creek water was cold but swimmable and the falls were incredible. Nice pools and water action. Met a couple of young guys whose excitement was infectious.

Saw my first copperhead. He was big but had a meal in him and was pretty chill. I got some good pictures and video and I’ll see what I can post. It was a long walk out. I went into town for fajitas and took a little detour to the Pine Ridge section of the National Forest because I didn’t want to drive all the way to the Piney Wilderness Area, my last stop in the Mark Twain nearly complete tour.

As long as I’m not actually parked in someone’s front yard I made a good decision. I am bone weary tired but the best day of the trip so far.


step one part 1

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Introduction:

I’ve had the great pleasure to get to teach the 12 steps of recovery, specifically Narcotics Anonymous over the past year or so. I am a treatment person not a recovery person so I do not usually presume. The Steps are supposed to be worked by a Sponsor. Someone experienced in The Program who has worked the steps themselves. For people with multiple challenges Recovery can be an arduous path and unique accommodations must sometime be made.

If an individual speaks only a foreign language or is deaf and only speaks sign both NA and AA graciously make interpreters available but only for meetings not to meet with sponsors. Using deaf as an example you also have the unique challenge of concrete thinking, translation, and lack of all reference even through metaphor for hearing. I just looked the steps on line(cyber recovery)¬† and translated. And its been cool. One of the most interesting therapeutic approaches I’ve ever tried. Has made me really have to understand the text.

Someone requested I write it down for them. I told them it would be a lot of work but it may be of general interest so I would share it.

Step 1

“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”

Not understanding the first step makes people use drugs. Addicts have other problems besides using drugs. People in NA can only help others by caring about them and living life as it is not how we want it to be or fear it to be. NA just focuses on not using drugs.

Using drugs makes you selfish and step one helps that. If we are powerless we don’t have to stick up for ourselves or try to do stuff we can’t do. When we used drugs we tried to hurt ourselves, not because we wanted to but because we were sick. Our sickness is because we can’t remember what has happened or learn from other people. We lie to ourselves and can’t see how things are. Sometimes people wait to make decisions until they’ve been clean awhile and they’re better. Recovery is confusing in the beginning and waiting to make decisions helps. We can’t do that forever as we get better in recovery if we want to grow.

We can’t give it up to God without understanding other addicts. We do what other addicts who have been clean longer suggest. We read, study, and ask questions when we can. We share with others so we don’t plan to use drugs. We try to understand we are sick and can’t get better alone. The most important word in the first step is We. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. We are not alone we are in a group in NA. We don’t have to do this step alone.

When we were using drugs we felt the strongest when we were making our biggest problems. Sometimes it almost killed us and ruined our life. We thought we were strong but we could just make people do stuff we wanted. Other times we felt weak and nervous. When bad things happened we would admit we have a problem and things would get better. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. Then we can keep getting better forever, unless we decide we’re powerful.

Most ask “Tell me how it’s done? Show me what to do. I am afraid to try.” In NA we see people like us who have gotten better. We wonder if they are like us how can they do good? They do things we don’t think people can do. As we get better we learn that how it was when were using isn’t that way anymore. We are no longer dazed by drugs. We have meetings to go to. We learn new positive thoughts.

We learn to catch ourselves and slow down before getting caught up in things. Almost anything, even important things can wait five minutes. Taking time to think doesn’t mean we can’t do some things. It helps us not to feel hurt. Sometimes we don’t have to do anything and we can give it to God. Then we think of good things to do, people to call, and good things happen when we pray.

Some things remind us of drugs. Sometimes it does and we don’t see it and we don’t know why we want to use drugs. Some people make us think about when we were kids or when bad things happened or like they are the cops and we want to get away. This keeps us from getting better. Learning more about what reminds us of stuff lets us change it. Intense anger, fear, or shame for no reason shows you have a problem. We have to give everything in our life to God. When we remember we are not in control problems go away. Without giving it to God we can’t get better and we will do what we used to do. Part of giving it up to God is remembering we made our lives small. We did bad things and bad things happened. We get confused because we did drugs and need other people to help us. All addicts feel nervous sometimes but they help each other.

We have to look at what we do in recovery. We do stuff for a long time and we don’t think about it. We don’t remember why we do stuff we just do it. The longer we are in recovery we can do things better. We ought to think about what we do especially the stuff we were doing when we were using drugs. They make our life like it used to be. We are afraid at red and blue lights because of the cops but we aren’t breaking any laws and don’t have to be afraid.

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had hoped to finish but will call this part 1. The steps can seem daunting but they are front loaded with length and depth. Most of it is really clear. Occasionally I am lost by a thought. In talking with a translator I was told “clarity” was the essential quality. I am curious of what people who know this material better then I think. I enjoy abstraction but its been cool to lay it down for awhile. In the concrete there is room for God but not a Higher Power. If the New York Times said God is dead¬† in the 60s for this exercise Higher Power is dead killed by vagueness and abstraction.