Come onnnn! Let's get this show on the road!
"Hush, Wylie. I'm trying to pack the bike. We're already late."
Ah! You have ears afterall!
"Oh shut up."Escape from Workhatten
Work late, commute long, come home tired, and that's the day. They pile up like a mountain of stinking offal until the insides turn sour and we become sourpusses. We can't even stand ourselves. Neither can the others. All work and no play is unhealthy and destroys the intellect. Our brains become soft and we move like zombies.
What is this, a horror story?
"Okay, okay. You're right. Let's forget the zombies and move on."
We -the bike, the gear, myself and Wylie- got a late start Saturday morning. Eventually we made it to Ed's house and took care of the the most important thing: drank coffee. Ed put the aluminum tank panniers from his KLR on the Whee and, I suspect, was giggling inside: 'She'll never be the same after touring with these boxes.
' He was right, of course. Tease.........
The boxes and luggage rack were repacked and I stepped back to admire the work: there was left over space....... Oh. My. God. I'm in love. I knew, though, that the empty space would be occupied at some point during the trip. We would have to wait and see. At least there was space to stow away the layers of clothes as they were shed. Forecasters boasted that the temps would rise, but I never believe anything they say. Or write. We'll see.
We decided, against my nature, to slab it north. The steed was capable, but the will to do nothing but auto-pilot prevailed. Navigating the escalator of tarmac to I-35, we headed north. On auto-pilot. No voices in the head, no songs in the helmet, nothing but an occasional blink-blink of the eyelids. I barely remember anything but a growing urge for drink and food a few hours later.
Just north of Gainesville we found the usual road fare: Cracker Barrel. I don't even have to look at the menu; I know the three things I usually eat on the road and they have bottomless iced tea. And I can shed a layer or two.
Feeling now a bit more revived, we debated where to go. We had nothing on our trip menu, no itinerary, no destinations. Just get on the road and go.
"Yup," I says.
"Yup," I says.
"Sure," I says.
Let's go.Where we going?
"I don't know."Whatta ya mean you don't know?
"I don't know."Why don't you know?
"You ask too many questions, Wylie."
.I'm not 'Wylie'. I'm Coyote!!
"Yup, you sure are, Wylie."Hey!
I didn't want to ride on Hwy 82. I've ridden it too many times. I wanted something different and new. We decided to skip the border north into Oklahoma and ride east north of the Red River.
OK Hwy 70 is a nicer road; less traffic, more rural, smaller towns. I became interested in riding and shut off auto-pilot. Just east of Kingston is part of the Lake Texoma dragon. Really, look at Lake Texoma on a map and it looks like a blue decrepit dragon with arthritis: one leg here, the other there, tail twisted, it's head leaned back and with frizzy scales, blowing bubbles up towards Tishomingo. A twisted dragon with a bad hair day. We rode over its face and it didn't even care. But it gave us the opportunity to see the lake from the northern shore.
The day was now hot and muggy. The kind of day where the sweat doesn't evaporate from your skin, and your clothes and gear stick to you like flypaper. We left rural Oklahoma and entered the big semi-rural town of Durant stuck in between the seventies and ninety's with vehicles from the 21st century crowding the main street. Rural Oklahoma is very different from rural Texas, but I can't say I like one more than the other. I like them both. Just for what they are. And what they were.Hey, look at that horse on fire!!
As we turned at the intersection in downtown Durant, I pulled off the road onto a gravel area and stopped. I needed to shed some hot gear and replenish the fluids that escaped my skin and soaked my clothing. We also wanted to check out the two horses standing on the sides of the roads oblivious to the bustle of traffic.
The corner of the main and side street there is dominated by a rearing stallion in a blaze of fire. Standing more than ten feet tall, his hooves and head paw the skies with flames of red, orange and yellow spiraling up from cool dark hind legs and tail. It is a magnificent statue and commands presence. You can't help but stand there underneath, looking up and wondering if those hooves are going to come down on you and smash you into the ground.
Across from the bikes was a more pleasant and docile horse. Another painted pony (I refrain out of respect from calling the fire horse a 'pony'). This one was also red, but its colors and pose more domesticated. After the fiery stallion, this one was almost boring. A contrast between power and strength and domestication: "Hold it right there! I'll take that pose".... snap! Frozen in time wearing abstractions.
After tearing off the knee-hi MX socks, the long-sleeved shirt, and peeling off the leggings over the UnderArmors, the mesh jacket and MX pants felt darn good. Along with a bottle of water guzzled down. Checking the time we decided to head towards our camping spot for the night: Robber's Cave State Park
Back on the bikes we headed east again along Hwy 70 towards Hugo, turning north to Antlers and pick up Hwy 2. We were back in pastoral rural Oklahoma again: rich red soil, green grass, cattle, horses, and peace. My face inside the Fishbowl wore the semblance of a smile and the lead tiredness slowly began drifting away in the wake of the humming engine.Hey! Everyone is waving at us! We're a parade!
"I guess it's like a parade. But it's called 'reciprocity,' Wylie. We smile and wave at people and they wave and smile back."Everyday should be a parade.
Boswell is a small town, if that. But everyone outside and in their vehicles waved and smiled at us. For a moment in time, we rode through their lives and we felt we knew each other. I liked that.
Time shed its meaning as we turned north on Hwy 2. Towns were further apart, smaller, less people and more trees. The ground rose and rolled under us, and we leaned the bikes side to side, matching our wheels with the winding motion of the tarmac. We were finally getting into mountains. Old mountains. But mountains nonetheless. Mountains make me smile.
Back on auto-pilot, but this time the pilot was alert and absorbing the views, air and wind. Thick blue-gray clouds were piling up to the north and threatened rain. Maybe we would make it and set up camp in time. Maybe not. It didn't matter.
We slowed while riding through Clayton. I could see the allure of that small town. Not to live, but to stay nearby for several days while riding, fishing or hiking. The local LO pulled out behind us and followed us through town, but we were barely riding the speed limit and didn't look threatening. We passed through with no incidents.
I nodded at Hwy 1 East, knowing that it leads to Talihina and the Talimena Skyway. But I suspected we would visit that road at some point on our meanderings.
Now we were on the lookout for the entrance to the park. We were both getting tired. My back was sore from riding on less than good suspension. And something was snoring behind me.
Two signs for Robber's Cave State Park pop up on both sides of Hwy 2. Ed pulled into the one on the right and he hesitated, unsure if that was the right turn. I nodded him forward and we wound up and around to a camping area and the headquarters/store. I barely peeled myself off the bike and resisted falling down.You've turned into a weenie.
"I'm sore, yes; but also very tired and hot. But I'm not a weenie!"
I wanted a cold bubbly soda and an ice cream; the cure for everything. I found them both inside. The park staff were pleasant as pie, telling us that the campground next to them was full. BUT...... there are spots available next to the river down below.
"They're primitive; no electricity. The water spigots are scattered and there's just one restroom building."
I looked outside at the RV's stacked together like leggos and replied, "That's fine. We'll take one of those."
After paying our fee for the night, we donned the gear and back out we went; down the windy road, across the highway and onto a track with potholes and ruts. Carefully -potholes and a blown rear shock don't mix- we navigated the obstacle courses down onto a gravel and dirt track along the river and found a spot.I stake thee as my spot!
"Yes, Wylie, we're camping here."I'm not Wylie. My name is Coyote!
"Yes, it is."Why does Coyote Master call me 'Wilbur'?
"Because you are."What? Hmm....I'm going to pee on the corners of our spot.
We started setting up camp, and I keep thinking, 'I sure am liking these panniers......' Even down to the base layers, there was still some room in the boxes.
The tent was set up and I was heading for a Time Out: laying on the mattress and bag pad eating Advil chased down with a cold wet bubbly Diet Coke. Ed went exploring. And our watch shadow kept an eye on the place from his throne.You sure took a long time to tell this story.
"It's your fault. You can't decide on who you are."Huh? I'm Coyote! Like Coyote before me, and Coyotl before them.
"Don't get all Aztec-y on me now, Wylie."I am I-Am-Many!
"Yeah, many of...."Hey!!!
And then it rained........