I got up and hung around waiting for the 11am phone call from Stacy's mum who was kindly waiting an hour away at the dealers to pick up my parts. We looked at fixing Stacy's starter motor on his 1970's truck but time still dragged. At 11:15 Stacy phoned his Mum to check all was well, it wasn't. The order would arrive BETWEEN 11am and 3pm not AT 11am as we had originally been told the previous day. So I waited some more. Luckily Judy didn't seem to mind sitting in a car park and waited for the part quite happily, lovely lady. At 12:30pm the wrong part arrived. Clearly other solutions were required. I was on a tight time schedule and although I loved staying with Stacy I had to move 'today'.
I had been mailing some other adventure bikers using the Horizons Unlimited website (wonderful place!) and one of them suggested welding the offending part. I took a close look and diagnosed no few problems. The part was the size of a small button and was clearly a case hardened metal composition, this was going to need an outstanding welder. I spoke to Stacy and he assured me that despite the area looking as if we were on the set of the Waltons, if you knew where to look, excellent craftsmen could be found. Stacy made a call and we rushed to see a friend of his who owned the most excellent workshop/piece of land/house/canyon. He was really busy when we arrived producing some props for a Hollywood film being made in the area. The film was about a local welder who made sculptures and was also involved in drug production (apparently the smell of making amphetamines is identical to that of a chicken house! and Arkansas is the US's hot spot for production). When we arrived I discovered that as well as making the sculptures for the set Billy Bob Thornton (the film star) was being taught to weld at the same place and as time was of the essence the part would have to be fixed now or not at all. The guy turned out to be as close to a fabrication genius as I have ever seen, he used a huge tool called a plasma cutter to cut a hole in a hardened piece of steel no more than 3/8 inch across. He then welded it to the base piece and voila, job done. It took only 3 minutes and would supposedly get me at least as far as Stef and Jon by nightfall (in fact it never broke and was replaced over 1500 miles later in Colorado by a new piece).
I left Stacy and Inger at 3pm and rode for 4 hours through some stunning country, I would love to have taken photos but stopping wasn't possible. Although the clutch was 'fixed' I really didn't expect the makeshift repair to hold for long. In 130 miles I used it only three times and arrived safe (if a little deaf) at 7pm. It turned out that extended road riding was not a good thing on a tuned XR400 with a loud exhaust, seat like wood, knobbly tyres, and a motorcross helmet!!
By the time I reached Stef and Jon they were pretty glad to see me. They had discovered that small town America wasn't the best place to get stuck for a few days. The good news was that the 7 litre pickup they had rented to head to out to Tulsa for the day was air-conditioned and had comfy seats! We entertained ourselves all night by seeing how many things we could do that night without getting out of the truck. Answer: in a land of drive-through, everything!! You don't even have to get out of the car to get money out of a bank!
The bike shops in Bartlesville are closed on Mondays so this was the first chance we'd had to go and get some much needed top up oil and the tools that we were missing due to them being with Dave. The bike shops did not however stock the tyre that Jon needed as his rear was almost shot. He'd fallen foul of his decision to buy a European bike instead of the regular Japanese variety again. After some essential bike maintenance was completed, we were left wondering what to do with our afternoon. Clearly walking anywhere was out of the question after the previous day's sweat-fest, so we hatched a cunning plan. The map showed that Tulsa was a mere 50 miles to the south of Bartlesville down highway 75. Tulsa, we figured, had to be a happening place as we'd heard of it before, and the waitress in the restaurant the previous day, when asked what there was to do in Bartlesville of an evening, said 'go to Tulsa'. We were convinced...
Clearly we were going to need some means of transport. We had the bikes obviously, but they were scarcely any more comfortable than walking in the heat, so we decided to rent a vehicle for the day. Jon got on the phone and managed to beat the rental company down on their price for a truck for the day. We could have had a car for a little less cash, but frankly it would be rude not to at least try and fit in with the crowd, so a truck it was to be.
We first thought we'd go and see what was in downtown Bartlesville, which took all of two minutes as there is precious little. So armed with our chariot of choice (Ford F150 pickup) we made a break for Tulsa a little under an hour south. On arrival the signs were good, tall buildings aplenty making a downtown of considerable proportions, traffic, all the makings of a genuine city. We found somewhere to park and set off on foot in search of points of interest...of which there are none. The guy in the general store even said as much when asked what we could see in the centre of town. He advised us to go to a particular area that had a few antique stores and the like (we tried, but couldn't actually find it), but said there is literally nothing in the centre of town worthy of note. Guess what? we went to another mall! We followed this with a deeply exciting trip to an electrical store then set off back to Bartlesville thoroughly disappointed with Tulsa. It was with some relief that we greeted Dave later that evening as it meant we could get going again in the morning