I had planned to get up early and leave the house by 7:30 a.m.
I’ve always been a late starter as sleep is about my favorite state of being. Didn’t get out the driveway until after 8:30 a.m.
I’ve got 5 locations to visit today that I routed via Google Maps, and transferred in sequence to my Garmin GPS, now mounted on the bike. I’m talking about K&N MOTORCYCLE’s “PASSPORT OKLAHOMA”, which routes all partakers through 20 diverse locations spread across much of Oklahoma. The awards are beyond cash prizes, as I’ve been finding the planning and the ride interesting. Until last Friday, I didn’t know Oklahoma had a town called “Chattanooga”, where I filled my Beemer with the only gas they had, 87 octane.
First stop was the “American Banjo Museum” in Bricktown, just south of downtown Oklahoma City. The trusty GPS dropped me right in front, and only had to detour the construction barrel that shifted me over a lane. Since it was before noon, there was no one parked right in front of the building (which was designated for scooters and motorcycles ONLY), so taking the required snapshot for proof with the bike and banner in the pic was a piece of cake.
Speaking of cake, the next stop was Meers, home of the Longhorn Steer burger. The ride there gets you to see the beginning of the Wichita Mountains at which Meers is at the north end of them. The menu, printed like a small newspaper, contained a couple of stories that would fill your time while waiting on your burger being cooked. I watched a pie-pan of onion rings go by, so I forgo ordering those…. I hate leaving food behind, I don’t need them anyway. I commented to the fellow at the adjacent table about feeling the floor move while the wait staff move around. He told me to watch myself when it rains, as the old wood floor becomes really slick when it is wet. I guess they may have to move some tables around also, from the holes in the ceiling tiles. As the article in the menu stated, the meat does not have to be seasoned, as it and the green stuff complement each other well. Back outside, I get the camera and take the required photo of my bike, and about 6 or so adjacent American Iron bikes that were not there when I arrived.
Heading south, my tummy filled momentairly, I wind through some of the park with its 45 mph limits until I cross US-62, where I stop in Cache (another name in Oklahoma I didn’t know of), run my hand in a recent puddle in a gravel parking lot, and use it to clean the gnats off my face shield, then settle into the journey south. An hour later, the bike’s tank is approaching empty, but something else is needing emptying, so start looking for a gas station. That is where I run into Chattanooga. Since the tank wasn’t fully empty, the 87 octane pumped in would mix with the 91 already in there and come up with some value in-between, probably about 88.5 or so. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I didn’t expect the engine to complain since I was barely using the throttle. Going to the Hackberry Flat near Frederick this was going to involve some 16 miles of backtracking once completed as the next location had me going back east to pick up the next location. I also should have checked my GPS’s “avoidance” settings, as it took me the shortest way 2 miles north to get to the location, straight up a sandy, dirt lane. The first mile wasn’t bad, as I could wander left to right and find the easiest path for the bike’s narrow tires. The 2nd section was a 2 track section that started through a section of mud. Ugh. Fortunately, it wasn’t over 2 bikes in length, and after wallowing through without dropping it, the packed sand on the 2-track allowed me to still do about 30. The rain here was recent, as water was still in various ditches, and could be seen on bare soil as puddles on farmer’s fields. Gravel road to the left about 200 yards, dumped out on asphalt right at the entrance to the Flat. The facility is only open on a Saturday per month and other special occasions, but got the mandatory picture next to a great sign. I rode out going south on an asphalt road that took me back to the main east-west roadway, and found this road and the dirt road were just a mile apart. “Avoid Dirt Roads” I need to plug it in to my GPS. Other bad news; 105 miles to the next turn, going north on I-35, later finding out I was about 30 miles from the Texas line.
I think I plugged in Gene Autry town rather than Gene Autry Museum when entering my locations. Going back east off of I-35, I see a sign pointing up a gravel road to the museum. I ignore it, ’cause it’s gravel. I travel past what seems to be the “Dollar General” truck distribution center, then the GPS says I’ve arrived. Where? I don’t see what I want. I take a random road (alright, the ONLY road) across the tracks and up the hill through the trees, and there is the Museum, across the intersection from where I am. Simple mistake, easy fix, I’m out of here.
Apparently I have the GPS set at “Shortest Distance” rather than “Fastest Time”, since returning to I-35, it has me turn right about 1/4 mile before the entrance ramp on a parallel 2 lane OK highway and catch I-35 some 8 miles up the road, of which 5 of those miles was stuck in a no passing lane. Once on, everyone else is going lickety-split and suddenly they are sedate. Two patrolmen have cars stopped within a quarter-mile apart on the shoulder. Then everyone remembers their frantic pace. Overall, I was happy with my sedate pace of 3 or 4 over, as I spotted somewhere around 10 officers, 8 of ’em on the two lanes, a lot of them traveling in pairs.
The Toy Museum in Pauls Valley I really screwed up, as I was on the west end of town where it said the Action Toys were. Huh? I got out Passport book and entered the address into the GPS and it took me downtown. THERE IT IS! And that side of the street is filled with cars parallel to the sidewalk. Did I miss a spot? I circle the block on the brick pavers, and no, there are no places to stop and take the picture. I can park on the other side, however. With the sun in my face, I was concerned about getting a good image of the bike on THIS side of the street, and the Museum’s sign, in the shadow on the other side of the street, but the electronics in these new digital cameras are hard to beat, and a good image is what I got! Hurrah! It is a hair after 5 p.m. and I call my wife to say I’ll be another couple of hours. It definitely is getting warmer and my mind is getting mushy, am I through for the day? Nope, the GPS still has a route for me to follow since I didn’t plug-in my home as the last destination.
Another hour to the last for the day, the Oil Museum in Seminole. Nothing strange about this destination except the GPS saying I have to do a U-turn, after my final turn going east, in 13 miles. Huh? Twelve miles. Oh! When I get there, I have to do a U-turn. It was right, a divided highway, and the museum is on the other side. It was closed, so I parked in their driveway next to the locked gate, backed up and shot the bike and sign to get both in the picture in a somewhat similar scale. Fill up with 91 octane across the highway at the Shell, and enter ‘Home’. Jumped on I-44 at Stroud and stayed away from the crowds wanting to do 85 into the back of semis going side by side up the hills.
I got home about 7:40, 11 1/2 hours after leaving home, doing 565 miles. I was tired, and it still took a while for sleep to kick in. Now, I have to do this two more times, once of the 2nd quartile of the state, then the 4th quartile. For those not into math, the quarter of the state defined NorthWest of I-40 & I-35, and the other quarter opposite, SouthEast of I-40 & I-35 with Oklahoma City being the origin of the grid. I think each may require a night’s stay while out there.