Day 1: Red Rock to Stillwater
Today we did not make our planned destination we got a late start and departed Newkirk at about 6pm on June 2nd.
When we got south of Ponca we hit a pretty big rain storm and even got a little bit of hail! We went South and met the trail at the intersection of OK 15 where we met our first road closure of the trip the second we got on the trail. We continued on. We met the other side where there was a locked gate, so it’s a good thing we didn’t try to go through.
So we continued to follow it and we stopped at Lake McMurtry and that’s where I’m writing this post from right now on my phone I love technology.
It is now the third and I’m cooking bacon. Waiting for the kids to get up life is good. I tried a little bit of fishing at lake McMurtry, but did not have any luck.
Day 2: Stillwater to Cleveland
Today went smooth had to make another stop at Walmart luckily there was one right off the way. Had to get a bike tire and tube for my bicycle I had a flat yesterday and today. We’re setup at the Feyote Creek rv ground. It was $9 no water or electric but with the solar were good.
The fridge froze up last night but sorted itself out today not sure what happened it got down to 30f and my bacon was solid!
The kids are getting along great playing together and being goofy goobers most of the time. We saw frog rock drove down some of the narrowest most rough roads I’ve ever been on haha everything is shook up, we bent the bike carrier I’m pretty sure.
The road to the graffiti wall was pretty, it followed close to the river with a rock ledge to the side opposite the river. We got to the bridge and were like oh cool the grafiti wall! When we looked at Osmand maps the marker was like 1/4 mile down the road hmm. We took pictures with that one then kept going and boom there was the wall it was pretty cool!
We also visited the town of Ingalls I guess some famous outlaw or something was there. It was kind of meh, some modernish buildings with faux faces on them to look like old time saloons or whatever.
Day 3: Cleveland to Grove
Today we decided to skip the dirt roads since the only thing we had to do was go visit my brother Mike and see one old bridge on the map. So we hit to the highways to make up for lost time we were a day behind lake McMurtry was not on the list of places to stay, we just stayed there because we didn’t leave Newkirk until 5 P.M. on Friday. On the way from Cleveland to Grove we stopped in Cleora, I managed to catch A single crappie lol.
Later on we left and made it to grove things were going well, we popped up the tent to let it air out and dry since yesterday I put it down kind of damp. Got the truck leveled up in Mike’s driveway and took the bikes off for a quick bike ride since the kids were cooped up in the truck sleeping most of the day, highways are boring lol.
The kiddos stayed inside in the spare bedroom they really wanted to sleep in a normal bed so I let them, I slept out in the tent as I don’t usually get to sleep in the tent alone and the weather was perfect, mid 60’s with the crickets chirping and dogs barking… can’t beat it!
Mike and I stayed up till almost midnight reminiscing about how non functional our family was when we were kids, all in all we had a great conversation. This morning I’m sitting here on the 5th typing this up waiting for my therapy appointment in an hour, then me and the hillbillies are off to start the trip again.
Mike told me about a place on the way back to the trail with a bunch of waterfalls, we’re definitely going to check it out on our way today. I almost forgot to mention bub had a bit of a tumble down the stairs and bumped his noggin his face is pretty scuffed up but he didn’t seem to have any kind of concussion or anything so that’s good.
Day 4: Grove to Salisaw, Kerr Lake
Monday, I am pretty excited today I missed work and didn’t really feel guilty about it. Me and the kids have been having a good time but you can tell on day 4 the trip is starting to wear on them they are starting to get grumpy and argue a lot lol. They h ave been really good up until this point but they haven’t really been bad. The waterfall place Mike gave the heads up about was well worth the stop and should be added onto the route if you ask me!
This morning we departed Grove and headed back on track to make some headway on the trail, we had a couple detours today, one road was being redone and the other had a house sitting in the middle of the track, in hindsight it probably didn’t track him doing the loop so it jumped the line down what looked to be an old road haha. I’ve been following an original version of the trail I need to make a post on the forum about the roads that were closed now if someone hasn’t already I was too lazy to look for a more updated version. Anyways. One we got back on the path it was some really narrow windy down into creek bed sharp rocks and steep climbs I almost had to use 4lo to get up one side. Once we got to the end of the road and got back onto a decently maintained dirt road my dash lit up and said tire was low, stopped after the next intersection and got out and looked sure enough I could hear the hissing of the air coming out of the driver front tire. Got that tire swapped out with the spare and did a quick walk around and heard the front passenger tire hissing, crap! I hit google “nearest tire shop” 60 miles crap! So we start hauling butt since we only had one spare we had to make it before the other tire went flat or we’d need a tow. Thankfully I saw the exit for Tahlequah surely there is a tire shop there, which we were only like 10 minutes into the drive. Sure enough google says there’s one! Thanks google!
We lost an hour there which we made up taking a highway diagonal out of there back to the trail about where we would have been if we hadn’t got the flats. Which worked out great because we made it to camp right at dinner time, Ahri made some chicken and rice from a dehydrated packet, those things are really starting to grow on me, I haven’t had one I disliked yet, they have all actually been pretty good and minimal cleanup. Caught A single bluegill on my first cast and nothing the rest of the whole 20 minutes. Though bub did learn how to use my spinning reel and got pretty good but no luck today.
Solar Panel is still working great though we’ve been doing A LOT of driving this trip, it’s definitely made a difference in fuel mileage, I was averaging 12mpg highway with just the tent on, with the panel tilted up to the same height as the tent I’m averaging about 15 on the highway and it shifts into 5th a lot less often. I think that about covers today, I forgot to mention Mike makes some badass chocolate chip cookies! Oh yeah the bike rack got bent all to crap on the trails from bouncing around, found an easy way to bend it back gonna have to tie it up to the rack the rest of the trip so it doesn’t bounce around and snap off.
Day 5: Kerr Lake to Cedar Lake
I didn’t do an update last night, we had 0 service so I’m typing this on Wednesday the 7th. Yesterday started as usual I got up before the kids, made some coffee while I enjoyed the peace and quiet for a short while until they get up and start saying dad dad dad lol. We hung out at camp later than usual so the kids played on the playground and I did some fishing for breakfast we had some sausage and egg breakfast burritos.
Later in the morning after my video meeting, we got things around and finally got on the road at about noon to make up for the missed time we took the highways yet again to hit the spiro mounds real quick since there wasn’t much to see as the building was closed and the mounds were fenced in, so we kept rolling.
After a while of worrying about getting back on the dirt roads, I finally made the decision to get new tires. So we rolled into Poteau on the highways since I was afraid to trail those Good Years anymore after having a double flat just the other day. So google found me a place in town with my size of all-terrains in 10 ply, bit the bullet on that one and rolled on to the worlds highest hill.
The worlds highest hill was neat, it had a pretty cool view but overall seems like an afterthought to all the cell towers and stuff on top with the site. The truck rode so much better with the new tires, didn’t bounce around near as bad, so that’s good. Later we rolled back on-trail and got on a pretty rough road south of Poteau. I noted in my journal that it was the closest thing to some of the mining roads I like to drive on in Colorado, it was fun a lot of stop and go and steep roads definitely had to use low gears down the grades.
We ended the day at cedar lake which was just below the mountain road we just rode in on, it was a beautiful campground, and was pleasant as long as there was a breeze, to me something smelled like pee, like the septic system somewhere was overflowing and rank with urine lol reminded me of when Rudy, Tyler, and I stayed at the KOA in Ouray ended up with a septic truck exhausting it’s sucker right into our site and our site we figured then was soaked from the septic tanks overflowing! Ok back on track, other than the smell on occasion it was a really really nice campground on a beautiful part of the lake with a fishing dock, swimming beach and pretty clear water.
Day 6: Cedar Lake to Hugo lake
Today went pretty well, and pretty not well at the same time, we finally got to get on a halfway difficult and slow trail, the bad I scratched THE CRAP out of my pickup. We started the morning off with French toast and slowly packed up, I got up at my usual 5 so I got up and had coffee made, camp packed and breakfast made before they ever got up, the French toast was delicious!
We spent the more time on-trail than we have the rest of the trip I think except day 1. It was the day for the Kiamichi Fire Tower, which is up at the top of Kiamichi mountain the highest altitude was 2300ft that I saw on Osmand. The trail up wasn’t bad coming in from the East just slow going nothing technical just a ton of like 6 inch rocks to roll over, unless you love bouncing around haha. Once we got to the fire tower the kids wanted to make Spam sandwiches, so I stayed there for a bit and made us all sandwiches after I climbed the janky thing took and some pictures. Then we got on the move because we knew the rest of the trip was going to be at-least as slow as the trip up which took an hour, and the way out was twice as far.
The road after the fire tower on the other hand, the Kiamichi Mountain road is mean on the West half, the trail got so narrow I almost touched both mirrors on trees, and they were folded in already, in some spots it was that tight. The truck got pinstriped all to shit I will definitely be spending a lot of time with a buffer over the next couple weeks getting those out. The back side had a few places that got kind of technical and really tested the airbags on the rear, since I hooked them together they articulate great letting them transfer air between the bags so it’s not trying to teeter on 2 wheels. It felt like it was never going to end, it was bad enough Ahri requested we stop somewhere and take a break (which I NEEDED and she knew I was stressed out) It took almost 2 hours to get out the other side, only took 1 hour to get up on the East side.
After getting the crap beat out of us on the fire tower road at 3mph we were exhausted and just punched into google the fastest route to Hugo lake, there were no other real sights to see in this corner of the trail so that detour got us back on track to make it to Turner Falls Tomorrow, where we have reservations. Not ready for this trip to be over, this is going to be a more common thing I’ve had a blast the kids have had a blast and they are so excited for Turner Falls!
We ended the day at Hugo lake where we set up camp and roasted hot dogs on the fire after that some s’mores and just sat by the fire and chilled and just talked about stuff while Owen played Animal Crossing. I’m typing this under the stars on a beautiful night listening to some jazz, just kind of processing the trip realizing tomorrow is the last day.
Tomorrow were going to look at some cool bridges and stuff so come back and check!
Day 7: Hugo Lake to Turner Falls
The last day on the trail was today, it was a fantastic day, the kids got along great, we got to do the longest portion of the trail yet and best of all everything went smooth as butter. It tried to storm on us when we got to just get a slight drizzle not even enough to get anything wet.
The day started well we got up I don’t remember what I made for breakfast, but I do remember I was out of coffee so first stop on the way I was getting some lol. We departed and got on the trail pretty quickly and we drove it for just over 3 hours with no hiccups at all, the ride was smooth on the new tires, no detours, and best of all no more narrow trails, I’m going to be buffing the truck for a month. We found some old tunnel bridge and an old metal arched bridge that were on the list but at this point it was 2pm and IF we got on the highway now we’d make it to turner falls by 5 which has been our goal for setting up camp so we all had time to relax and visit, I really enjoyed this time during the trip because after a day or two the kids really started to open up and talk just about normal everyday stuff, and just reminisce about the day and how much of a good time the kids are having which made my heart feel full. I really needed this trip but I think the kids ended up enjoying it more than I even did haha and I loved it.
So we hopped on the highway and hightailed it to turner falls, we were all hungry and hadn’t eaten out the entire trip, and I was tired of cooking and didn’t feel like wraps, I let the kids pick where we were going to eat and we were going to sit down and enjoy a meal in the AC and not have to cleanup after. They picked mexican which I was all for we know how I like my tacos lmao. I got a taco and the kids got enchiladas and we all cleaned our plates which is unusual for me or my kids. After our relaxing lunch we were back on the road to Turner falls.
When we finally arrived upon first look it was pretty cool but once we got checked in and they told us where the primitive campsites are I was like whaaaaat. It’s way way back in the boonies, like half a mile from the waterfalls and too steep of hills to ride our bikes there, so we couldn’t set up camp and ride down, so we drove the truck back once we found out how far it was. We tried to find the big 77 ft waterfall, walked all around where it said it was on the map but couldn’t find it finally we gave up and went back to setup camp. We stopped at the small shop there on the way back to get some Hershey’s bars for s’mores later and I was informed even way back there in the boonies the kids have to wear life vests to swim in the 18 inch deep creek. I was like oh ok Ahri is 12 lol, when we got back I let Owen get in but I was holding his hand the whole time just incase a park ranger came down or something.
Overall the camp was kind of meh, it was the only one I got bug bites that are still making me very itchy a day later when I am writing this, we had a scout camp right after we got back so I didn’t have time to write in here last night. The entire primitive area was dirt, no grass no gravel just oklahoma red river silt so it was super fine and got everywhere, kids couldn’t roll around in the grass etc.. As a whole it was kind of a let down experience, I’d have rather stayed at a KOA or a Corps of Engineers campground. One of these days I’m taking them on a trip where were only boondocking which is where the solar will definitely come in handy. Back to the camp, it was overall alright and next to a pretty creek with the sound of the small waterfalls down the way to ease you to sleep at night if you could hear it over all the partying college kids in the site next to us, I’m starting to sound like an old man haha. It was also the only camp site I got the bug bites at, I might have mentioned that earlier but crap its itchy!
Final thoughts, the trip overall was a fantastic experience and the kids said nothing but good things about it and said they are ready to go on another one! I couldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did without them they were pleasant and kind 95% of the time. We made our own chill playlist on pandora during the trip which is a collection of jazz and chill beats which was Ahri’s Idea, Brockbeats and Phoniks were a couple hits with them here’s a link to the playlist. We’d play it for a while before bedtime to wind down. I had an amazing time, the weather was great, a little warm during the day but once the sun went down it was perfect.
The kids warmed my heart every day I’ve never seen them so happy and positive for so many consecutive days, even on vacation usually they are ready to go home by the end but these trips they and myself could stay and keep going, but alas we have bills to pay lol. We’re going to be doing the western half of the trail in the fall hopefully, but I think we’re gonna do trips like this every few months. I had such a good time I don’t think I could even go on trips by myself anymore, the solo trips were fun, I really enjoy not having any agenda and just winging it with no one else to worry about upsetting, but the time’s I’ve traveled with friends or the kids have just always hit different. Welp I’m gonna wrap this post up, I got so much to do and get cleaned up, wish it’d stop raining so I can mow the grass grew like a jungle while we were gone lol. WOW I started writing a lot near the end haha the more the trip went on the more I felt like my old self less anxious, less worried, and a lot more understanding and patient, especially with the kids.