© Steve Russell

November 4. 2007

We dropped the Casita and headed out to explore the nearby mountains. I believe I said these were part of the Ozarks. Technically, I do not believe that is the case. These mountains are called the Winding Stair Mountains, the reason for which I have not yet learned. They run generally east-west and are certainly very near to the Ozarks; so most people would probably consider them part of the Ozarks.

I must tell you that these mountains are the equal to anything I saw in Missouri or Arkansas. In fact, I would say they are better than any I have seen on this trip. If you are ever touring the Ozarks, do not miss these mountains. They are fully timbered with pine and hardwoods and the color is beginning to change. There are more opportunities to see these than those in MO or AR. It was somewhat hazy today, so the long distance vistas did not come out well. For those of you taking notes, the scenic highway shots were all taken along the parkway-like Oklahoma highway 1, entirely within the Ouachita National Forest.

We all labor under stereotypes, false impressions, and misconceptions of various kinds. Some people have this idea of Minnesota as only a frozen wasteland with mosquitoes in the off-season, which we know is true, but only mostly so. I had my own impressions of Arkansas, which proved totally wrong. When I thought of Oklahoma I thought flat, dry, and lots of oil wells. I’m sure it has plenty of that, but I never would have dreamed the state harbored such a beautiful area in the southeast corner.

While I had been in Oklahoma on at least a couple of occasions, at least one of those times was to land at an Oklahoma Air Force base on a cross country flight from Kingsville, TX, when I was in the Navy. The other may have been driving through from Kingsville to Michigan on Christmas leave back in 1968, probably at night. Neither of those occasions would have given me a complete or accurate idea of what the state had to offer.

Once again, I am amazed at all the diversity and beauty in this country. I do not believe it is possible for one person to see all the remarkable things in a lifetime. But think of how much fun it would be to try.

My GPS tells me I am 693 miles from home as the crow flies, but I have driven approx. 1545 miles to get here. Wherever you go, there you are!