Sunday, November 15
Into Oklahoma at 10:31, concrete slabs ticking under my wheels, shaking the car a little bit, still overcast with strange bluish clouds turning to gray ahead of me, a very streaky sky up ahead. Not your usual big high sign "Welcome to Oklahoma" but a large old weathered stone slab alongside the road, all I could read was Oklahoma. Passed by Grant, Oklahoma. Soper and The Soper Assembly of God, the Soper Cafe, the T2 Store and Cafe. I seem have somehow gotten on US 70 west so I change my plans and continue west to Texas 22.
These days I carry more cards than a crooked gambler.
Texas line to Okemah to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Flat country, trees going up straight with tiny branches with leaves or pines, trees with limbs going in strange twisted directions. Not much in the way of houses, a couple of tin roof shacks, 3 horses out in a field. A small town in the middle of nowhere, all rectangular buildings, Caddo, Marsh Grocery, Rex 2 Theatre, Craigheads. There's a big Welcome to Caddo arch on the way out.
US 75 north at 1:35. Standard limited access highway, 2 lanes, grass median, petty much flat territory, concrete slabs, speed limit 70. Tushka city limits. Lots and lots and lots of rolled bailed hay. An apparently abandoned house. A brown wood house with green roof. Another house down on its luck, the prototypical "Okie" house.
Atoka city iimits. A long stretch of businesses, the Choctaw Casino. Down and out abandoned buildings fallen into disrepair, the Brand N Iron Restaurant, the city hall just a square cement building, Colgate Antiques browns Funeral Service. US 75 is now one lane each way, concrete slabs often patched and bumpy, now smooth tar. Empty empty country, not a house in sight, solitary trees in a field, fields on either side, woods or lines of tree in distance, an abandoned silo out by itself in a field, another abandoned building, the Canadian River, the John C. Blaylock Memorial highway, newly tarred, no lines, just markers for where they will eventually be painted. Horntown. An old man or woman walking down the road, back to me, gray hair, bundled up. Open country, 65 mph speed limit. Welcome to Atumka, home of the famous "Sucker Day." Lots of stores closed forever. A large brick building totally abandoned, I-40 at 5:11. I-40 west at 1:30. Temp 58. Concrete slabs bumping underneath me, speed limit 70. US 62, Oklahoma 27 at 1:39 temp 58. Creek Nation Casino, one-armed bandits and very small cafe, a bunch of trailers hooked together.
Okemah, birthplace of Woody Guthrie. I cannot find the statue to him that supposedly is here or any other sign of him other than a ragged banner left from a Woody Guthrie folk festival. I suddenly realize there is an interesting similarity between the lives of Shakespeare and Guthrie. Both of them had fathers who at one time had been leaders in their respective communities but had fallen upon hard times by the time their sons were teenagers. I talked to Burrie and learned more details of his meeting with Dave Kearney. Goodbye Okemah at 2:09.
I get a waffle, eggs, bacon, and coffee at the Roadhouse Diner off I-40 and take Exit 181 south after entering the Kickapoo Nation. US 270 east to the Pawnee Expo Center, Tecumseh, Stillwater, the Citizen Potawattamy Nation 3:37. At the Tecumseh City Limits it begins to rain a little. Once again I have to turn around time again; somehow I left 177 and wound up on 3W heading east. I get back to 177 and take Texas 19 to Pauls Valley and I-35 after waiting at a crossing for a long train of BNSF boxcars. I get $1.859 gas at Valley Express but, for some reason, the pump quits after $17.32, short of a full tank, 9+ gallons. Then I stop America's Best Value Inn at 5:10, 55 degrees, raining a little bit. Odometer 110623.
It's a bit of a strange room. Instead of the bathroom being at the back, it's your left as you enter, sink in an alcove outside, with noisy refrig and a microwave, then the main room with the bed, two side tables and lamps, one unplugged, TV, a small bench for suitcases, desk and chair, armchair.
At 7:00, I go to the Happy Times Diner for an open beef sandwich with mashed potatoes. It’s too cold to go to the Walmart for anything but I plan to hit it tomorrow.
Monday, November 16
1979: "The sun was shining through a metallic sky from the middle,
the focus, of a horseshoe of clouds that ringed the horizon. It was very menacing."
Pauls Valley to the Texas line
Up at 9:00. On the road at 9:35, temp 58, odometer 110624, kind of misty, totally gray, wipers on intermittent. I-35 to Oklahoma 29 west. Not a lot of traffic on 29, 2 lanes, pretty good shape, no verge. Trees apparently growing away from the wind. Any car coming the other way kicks up a storm of moisture. 10:09---$300 at a bank in Elmore City. A dead water pump out in a field, a totally featureless gray sky, a couple of shacks facing each other across the road, one of them with tv antennas. A bunch of black Angus out in a field, Salt Creek, pretty much flat (as usual), 6 big fans, only one moving, some kind of power station? It's a roller coaster road, with a fair amount of trees, not exactly a woods but they're reasonably close together. Getting a bit foggy, not too bad--I can see at a distance but it's clouded over in the distance. Lake Fioua. Not much of a lake, just saw grass and weeds. I fight the urge to go a little bit and a little bit faster and a little bit faster. Triple Creek Ranch, a sign with an area pointing off to Ekowah. Welcome Bray City Limits. Only one house in sight. A fair amount of traffic going the other way, a lot of big rigs kicking up road spray, a shack with a bigger house next to it. It gets foggier then clears, Marlow at 10:34, the Home of Joe Dial (at least I think that's what the sign said), Wild Horse Creek.
I reach route 81 at 10:52 after the Sassy Sisters Boutique, get trail mix and flavored soda at a Dollar General. Then to County Road 7 to Lawton at 10:58. 70 mph, no way I'm going to do that. I-44 at 11:24 around Lawton. The Biff W. Burgess Highway, Fort Sill, Comanche Nation Casino.
Then to US 62 west at 11:27. Concrete slabs, speed limit 50, the western suburbs of Lawton, one floor houses in various states of repair, a group of larger houses that look like barracks, houses that a very similar to each other. To my right, there's a fence with 3 strands of barbed wire on top of it, nothing much behind it, to my left, row after row of tract homes, all very similar. Quanah Parker Trailway, speed limit up to 70. Something that could actually be called a hill to my right, with towers and things on top of it. Crater Creek. Oh my god, there are actually got low hills covered with large boulders ahead of me, a pleasant sight. Leaving the Kiowa-Apache-Comanche Reservation. A very large jet bomber in a small park welcomes me to Altus at 12:22 temp 65. 62 is a solid tar road through farming country, plowed up to right, yellow stubble field to left. Bitter Creek.
I feel like I'm on a Woody Guthrie album cover, telephone lines as straight as the road, flat in all directions. An old house.
The clouds are higher and brighter. I pass 2 businesses closed forever, 2 blocks of rectangular business buildings, big farmers store with harvesting and other farm machines, the American Gypsum Plant, Turkey Creek, the sun breaking through the clouds occasionally, a tiny tiny patch of blue in the clouds ahead. Here it is totally completely flat, not a tree in sight anywhere except way off to my horizon to my left one or two. The cloud cover interesting--I can see for such a far distance, light colored clouds with dark grayish cloud above them stretch out across the sky, something it would be impossible to see in the east, without so much of a view around you. The town of Gould, a small town. Another abandoned building, Corinth Baptist Church, lots of boarded up buildings. The sky is interesting, pretty bright to my left (WSW), the sun trying to get out, several very small patches of blue in the clouds; to my right, 45 degrees of ahead, it's pretty damn dark along the horizon; I am running between two fronts. Hollis at 12:59, temp 70. Midway Motor Salvage, an abandoned house, Corner Salvage abandoned, more abandoned businesses (one with a sign that just says Thompson), the New Beginners Outreach Ministry at the corner of 62 and 39, an abandoned brick building on the other corner, United Shop, a Baptist church past an abandoned building, another abandoned building next to a roofing company, 4 or 5 abandoned buildings in a row, an entire block. The center of Hollis, rectangular buildings, many abandoned. Texas at 1:06.