Saturday 21st July 2001, Clayton OK

At 10am sharp, we phoned Merrin at North Dallas BMW to find out whether we should check out of our Garland motel. He said we should be on the road by mid-afternoon, so we made plans to deliver the hired Jeep back to Enterprise, and left the Days Inn at 1pm. Our plan had been to head for Texarkana on I-30, and thence to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.

Both bikes were ready as promised when we arrived at the dealers. While we waited for the final bill to be prepared, we got talking to the owner of a white Moto Guzzi on the forecourt. “Why would anyone want to go to Texarkana?”, he exclaimed, “If you want to get out of the heat, head north to Oklahoma”. He suggested riding the ‘Talamena Trail’, 64 miles of twisty mountain road linking Talahina, Oklahoma, and Mena, Arkansas. 64 miles of cool, tree-lined, road, meandering through the Queen Wilhelmina State Park, overlooking some of the most stunning scenery that this region has to offer.

We needed no further encouragement. Pleased to be back in the saddle after a week’s delay, we headed north up highway 75 to Oklahoma.

The Moto Guzzi owner’s advice was sound. Talahina was about 4 hours ride from Dallas, and dark was just beginning to draw in as we arrived. Unfortunately, such is the popularity of this particular drive, that the few hotels in the area are booked solid every weekend. We were lucky to find a room at the Country Inn in Clayton. The kitchen staff had cleared away dinner, so we put together a picnic from the local grocery store and sat outside our room, drinking beer and listening to the deafening sound of a million crickets chirping in the warm and humid night air.