The Jake Brake and Tenkiller Lake

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Sunday afternoon we made the 160 mile trailer pull from Cossatot Reefs to Tenkiller Ferry Lake. It was almost all back-country blue highways, exposing us flatlanders to basic mountain trailering. The route took us through the Ouachitas, and while they are a 90 pound weakling as mountains go, I did get some practice with the engine brake on the Red Sled. Also known on big rigs as a Jake brake, this is a nice feature to have in mountains. It takes some of the load off your truck and trailer brakes. Jacobs brakes ™ restrict the outflow of exhaust gases, slowing the engine’s rpms, which slows the truck without downshifting or touching the brakes. Employing the trailer’s brakes very lightly keeps the Airstream from trying to climb the truck’s back. Therein lies the skill of mountain descents, a skill we must master to thrive in the Rockies.

Aside from the mountain excitement it was a beautiful day. Along those bumpy, hilly, winding back roads we passed some of the greenest pastures you’ll ever see, many dotted with cattle. Kat wondered aloud if the views of distant mountains were something the cows appreciate. We can all ponder that.

Despite moving over a hundred miles north spring seems to be merely continued, not prolonged. Dogwoods are scarce up here, but the redbuds are common and are about where we left them in their bloom cycle back at the Cossatot. Hardwood leaves appear much the same. Perhaps the Great Plains will offer different flora, thus making my comparisons imprecise.

Tenkiller Lake is huge, wind-swept, and deep blue on sunny days. Our chosen campground, Strayhorn Landing, might be an early victim of the Federal budget Sequester. There are 40 campsites here with potentially over 200 people. The money is there for camp hosts, rangers, a waste operator who threatens big fines for using his dumpsters, plus grass cutting and weed-whacker guys. But the funds are not sufficient to open the main shower & toilet facility (which the camp’s signs say are closed until March 31). This leaves two uni-sex bath/toilet combos to serve all 40 campsites. I suspect laziness in action, but it could be a Lt. Flap (think Beetle Bailey) has been put in charge of this part of the Federal budget. Then it could be I’m just a conspiracy junkie.

If I had a Congressman, I’d write him.

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