9.28.2006,9:03 PM
Day Twelve: Road to Somewhere
Clayton, NM to Fort Cobb State Park, OK

Miles: 362
Started: 11:15 am (so I slept in…..) Arrived: 6:00 pm
Weather: the sun was warm this morning, but the wind was danged cold! I almost regretted removing the insulated liners from my jacket and pants.

I used the maps in the KOA directory to map a route to Oklahoma. I searched for a park with a lake. After debate on which state park as a destination, I chose one that was in the ‘middle’ between Clayton and Fort Worth: Fort Cobb. Google maps predicted an approximate six hour ride over ~355 miles.

Time to pack up and ride.

I learned quickly that unloading the bike and gear takes half the amount of time to pack and load. Actually? A quarter. Thinking to myself that setting up camp for more than one night is more reasonable than only one night. But reason doesn’t always prevail.

The ride on Hwy 64 and 84 into and across northern Texas is relatively uninteresting. The terrain is flat, the horizon flat, and the scenery flat. The earth is flat here.

Almost as if a magical line divides Oklahoma and Texas, hills and rolling green horizons greeted me. My route veered off Hwy 84 and east on Hwy 152. From Pampa, I headed south and then east on I-40. Riding the longest stretch of Interstate since leaving Texas the first day of the journey, it was with relief when I exited back onto Hwy 152 and east. This is indeed a scenic route: rolling hills of plowed red earth, cotton fields, cattle and farm homesteads. The contrast in colors, the green hills and trees, browns, yellow leaves, white cotton heads and the rich deep red earth was a feast for the eyes as my head turned side to side as I rode.

Getting late in the day, I eagerly watched for signs of Hwy 146, my turn off to Fort Cobb. Finally turning south, I followed signs to the park and proceeded to take a wrong turn just before the park entrance. A gigantic structure in stone closely resembling a fist with a finger pointing to the left, I interpreted that to signify “Turn here.” I turned left and realized shortly after I rode a few hundred feet on the high causeway of Fort Cobb lake that the sign was the shape of the state of Oklahoma, which has an expanse of narrow land at the top pointing west.

Emitting an audible “D’oh!!” inside my helmet, I settled in for the ride along the causeway; there was no place to turn around on this road, not even a U-turn if I were brave enough. Searching the terrain at the end of the causeway road, I located a relatively level expanse of close-cut and clear grass on either side of the road. Perfect; this is what this bike is for.

Looking for vehicles ahead and behind me and planning my turn, I rode off the right side of the road onto the grass and made a perfect wide U-turn, riding back on the road in the opposite direction without falter. Looking quickly to the right, I noticed a sign explaining all the trucks and milling coveralled and hatted men: OSU Experiment Station. At the end of the causeway is one of the many branches of the Oklahoma experimental research stations. All the small plots of crops reminded me of the similar research station in Oregon where I spent many days presenting progress on my own research conducted at the land grant university in Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University (the ‘other’ OSU).

I smiled with the realization that was almost a decade ago, another chapter of my life. And rode on.

Exhaustion was creeping in fast, I realized, as I parked in front of the closed park office. No one home. I mounted and rode down the park road, looking for a spot indicating a place to camp. I found several RVs along the side of the lake and pulled in. A quick survey while inching along in first gear located a fairly level spot underneath two trees, where I pulled alongside and backed the bike in. It took a few tries to find a spot where the bike could lean safely rather than stand upright. After several precarious attempts on this trip to park the bike, I realized the sidestand needs additional shortening. My fellow riders in Utah agreed.

Exhausted, hungry and stiff, I unloaded and set up camp in just 18 minutes this time. I had a system developed and was on a roll. Standing back to survey my spot, I smiled with contentment and relief. Nice shady spot with the lake in the background, Whee stationed right outside my tent door. It felt like second home.

Returning from washing my face, amazed at how such a small effort can refresh after a long ride, a neighbor in the RV behind me offered me a tall Styrofoam cup filled with ice and a can of Coke. I expressed my sincere gratitude; I was thirsty after sucking the last water out of my Camelbac. I ate the last two small peanut butter cookies hoarded in my tank bag and regretted not picking up something more substantial to eat for the night.

The couple behind me ‘adopted’ me the next day. Their hospitality was typical more than uncommon in most of the people I met on my journey. And I’ve discovered that people are curious about a lone woman riding a very strange motorcycle and want to hear stories.

I arrived and set up camp just before the sun set, so I grabbed the camera and headed down to the water for a few photos. Walking on the dock between the moored boats, I spotted a building at the end that I had not seen from the campsite. Inside was the aroma of coffee and a few shelves of packaged food. And a chest freezer with ice cream!

Nose sniffing the air like a hungry dog, I said, “I smell coffee.”

“Well, the last of it is in this man’s cup, but I can make another pot. You want some?”

“Oh, yes, please! Thank you!”

I found a frozen ham and cheese sandwich to microwave and chatted with the two men in the store while I sipped hot coffee. Excusing myself, I walked out to the dock and captured a few shots of the sunset over the lake.

I sat inside at a table, reading my book, relaxing and no longer feeling like a starving lost mongrel. When the doors were being locked, I walked back out on the dock and spent some time gazing at the half moon and the light reflected on the water, listening to the silence broken only by the gentle slaps of water on the boats. I expected I would sleep quite well tonight. I smiled watching the still surface of the water interrupted by hundreds of fish jumping and thrusting their hungry mouths up to catch insects. The lake is lively after the sun sets.

I graciously refused an invitation to join folks by their campfire, explaining that I was tired enough to hit the bedroll at 8:30 pm.

I climbed into my two sleeping bags after making a pillow with two shirts and my towel, zipped up and quickly fell asleep.

A restful end to another day on the road.

The Night

Somewhere in my dreams I hear coyotes yipping. Not quite awake, I ask myself where I am.

Am I back on the ranch in Oregon? Do they sound close to the sheep? Should I wake and get up to yell down and scare them away from the pastures?

Where am I?

My neck hurts. That’s right; I’m in a sleeping bag and a tent. Somewhere not in Oregon. I can listen to them yip without concern.


I hear owls hooting back and forth at each other. Am I home in my bed, listening to them out my back window? Where are my pillows?

Oops, can’t toss and turn too much in the confines of these two sleeping bags.

Slowly turn, gather my makeshift pillow. I detect no wind. Other than the four-legged and winged creatures of the night, all is quiet here.

All is well.

Slip back into unconciousness……….
…and dreams.
posted by Macrobe
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