As written in a letter to her sister upon the return from their 1952 honeymoon trip.
Submitted by Guy Cooper for reprint in Thunder Roads Magazine OK/AR.
We got a rather late start for our trip – 4:30 pm on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, May 24, 1952. It really made no difference, though, as we had no definite destination, having decided beforehand we would ride where our fancy took us, but primarily to see the mountains in our home state, Oklahoma and the Ozarks of Arkansas. We traveled on two Indian vertical twin Scouts.
Hovering rain clouds decided our course Saturday, at each crossroads we tried to avoid the stormiest looking clouds and this way escaped any rain until we reached Okmulgee where we spent the night.
Sunday morning found us up, bright and early, riding to Henryetta, where we attended church. On smooth highways, with clear skies overhead we rode to Robber’s Cave State Park near Wilburton, OK. There we found many attractions besides the remarkable cave; the lake with its’ boating and swimming; riding stables; and old stagecoach trails and brindle paths; which were a challenge to our riding ability. The effortless handling and good performance of our motors over the winding roads afforded us so much enjoyment that we stayed longer than we’d intended and missed seeing the Choctaw Indian museum near Wilburton.
We set out the next day for Talahina, where Charlie replaced a broken headlight lens incurred on the brindle path and asked the natives about roads. We heard of an abandoned fire trail leading right across the top of Winding Stair Mountains and Skyline Drive. After one fellow advised against it, saying it was impassible in his car we were determined to take it.
Up Highway 271, we rode it for about nine miles, then we stopped at a small grocery and bought provisions. Then, above the rocks and dirt pushed aside from the highway construction, we could see the faint trail – just two tracks. Except for the two ranger stations, we saw neither house nor sign of habitation from the time we left Highway 271 until we reached Highway 270. We climbed both lookout towers.
On all sides for distances as far away as 25-35 miles (we learned later from the map) we could see endless mountains covered with green, dotted here and there with lighter patches, until they faded out of sight into the hazy blue horizon.
Those first few miles before we reached the ranger stations were really a challenge to both rider and machine. Rocks, steep hills, and unexpected turns all acted to keep us alert every minute.. The road, at the first ranger station became slightly wider and less difficult to travel, although throughout the whole trip we seldom drove above second gear.
It is hard to convey to non-riders and those motorcycle riders who never go off the pavement, the sense of exhilaration one feels at traveling a trail like this; the thrill as one cracks the throttle and the machine responds with a surge of power; the glorious sense of achievement as one gains the summit of a particularly difficult hill. That drive roughly 30-35 minutes was, to us, the best part of our trip.
At Highway 270 we traveled north to Heavener, Oklahoma, where we spent the night. The next day we looked for a Treasure Cave listed on the map we’d obtained (by the end of our trips we both had every packet bulging with maps supplied by obliging filling-station attendants.) We drove for several miles, only to be told that it had been abandoned some twenty years ago. So we decided to cruise on into Hot Springs, AR. The excellent roads and beautiful scenery really made us appreciative of the advantages of traveling by motorcycle.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wacaster, at the Harley-Davidson shop there gave us a warm welcome. After visiting a while with them, their daughter, on a Harley 125 showed us around Hot Springs. The town is built between tow mountains and has many scenic drives, complete with hairpin turns.
The following day, in rain, we rode to Little Rock, AR. Being somewhat disheartened by the damp, gloomy weather we confined our riding there to “bench riding” at the Indian, Triumph and Harley-Davidson shops. I might add here, that I wish every driver of automobiles or motorcycles, who thinks it is safe to drink and drive, a view of the wrecked motorcycle in Davis’s Triumph there – it was caused by a drunk AUTO driver (now up for manslaughter) swerving on the wrong side of the road, killing one boy and seriously injuring another. By chance we met “Tex” Wolf, veteran endurance and Jack Pine rider and spent a friendly half-hour visiting with him.
We went on to Fort Smith the next day, and received the warmest reception of our whole trip. Mr. and Mrs. Quin Winters and Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Winters, at the Harley-Davidson shop really outdid themselves to entertain us. Quin has some interesting movie films of endurance runs and field meets, after which they took us to dinner. They showed us around Fort Smith, insisted we spend the night with them and gave us a merry sendoff after breakfast the next morning, all of which left us with a warm spot in our hearts for a couple of swell fellows and their wives.
Cruising up Highway 71 through the mountains of Ozarks, we took some side trips, to view the beautiful Lake Fort Smith, and Devil’s Den State Park, then on to Fayetteville, Springdale, back west through Tulsa until with regret, that our trip was over, we saw the city limits sign of Stillwater.