Nov 9: On the road again...

Nov 9: On the road again...

[sent to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo group on November 9, 2004]

Hi, folks! It's been three months now since I left Minneapolis. My trip is 1/4 over already! But 3/4 of it is still ahead...

After two weeks with my parents in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I'm on my way to Texas! I had a great visit, but it feels good to be back on the road. On Friday morning I left Bartlesville and rode south to Owasso, where my cousin Tiff and her family (whom you may remember from the Halloween photo) live. I stayed with them all day Saturday and practiced my uncling skills. After so much time off, my knees are really objecting to the exercise. I took a long break on that first day and picked up pecans on the side of the road... in half an hour I got enough to last me a week or more. I'm getting really good at shelling them while riding. Mmm, pecans.

On Saturday we went to the Oklahoma Aquarium, which is a new addition to Tulsa. Tiff's husband Shawn thoughtfully drove us into town on the route he recommended I ride the next morning, but I'm afraid I was talking with the kids in the back seat and didn't pay enough attention! Sunday morning I thought I knew where I was going and so didn't look at the map and missed my turn and wound up going all the places Shawn had warned me away from. I found my way back onto the agreed-upon route just in time: there was Tiff with an electric razor I had left at her house!

I arrived at All Souls Unitarian Church (where I used to attend Sunday school and youth programs... remember Bill in Cincinnati? this is where I know him from) an hour late, but I was able to attend the second service and get some photos of the rather impressive renovations. I had hoped to meet an old friend for lunch, but she got sick at the last minute. As it turned out, I needed the extra time to get to my campsite for the night due to knee pain. I followed Tulsa's River Parks west to Sand Springs, then continued on roads to Keystone State Park.

On the road, I was passed by two thirtysomething cyclists with skintight suits and fancy mountain bikes. The man of the pair was disparaging yuppies as they passed. Then he looked over his shoulder and asked if I was going far, and I gave my usual response, "South for the winter." He laughed and said, "South is that way." (We were going west.) A few miles later I found them in the ditch: he had punctured a tire and was just leaving a message with his mother for her to come get them. He didn't have a spare tube, patch kit, or pump, though he swore he usually carries them. I helped him remove and patch the tube -- it was easy to find the holes because he had put goop in the tube that's supposed to prevent flats, and it was oozing freely from two holes. The patches didn't seal properly with the goop there, so the patched tube still didn't hold air. He insisted on giving me $4 anyway. I should have told him to "pay it forward," as Mike-in-Cincinnati did when he gave me two meals and a camp for the night, but I didn't think of it until I had already accepted the cash.

While in Bartlesville I had built a camp stove from two cat food cans, as my friend Bill in Ann Arbor had showed me. I bought fuel for it on Sunday and tried it out, and I'm very happy with it. So far I've used it to mainly to warm up the soup and oatmeal I previously ate cold. I experimented with cooking corned beef hash, but it left so much revolting grease on the dishes that I doubt I'll ever do it again!

Monday I headed south from Keystone Lake until I met up with OK-66 (formerly Route 66) and followed that southwest toward Oklahoma City. I stopped at the library in Bristow to verify that there was only one campground between there and Tuesday night's stop. By the time I pulled myself away from the computer, there wasn't enough time left to reach the campground before dark! The sun was setting as I stopped in Stroud to fill up my water bag in preparation for informal camping; the campground was still over an hour's ride away. I wasn't prepared for what I found: west of Stroud, there were no houses along the road, only barbed wire fences and no-trespassing signs. I wound up camping at the bottom of a steep embankment, where I was concealed from headlights ... but not, as I learned in the morning, from drivers in daylight!

Tuesday I continued along old Route 66, passing through Davenport, where I used to have a penpal, but I couldn't remember his name. I remembered that his parents owned a Route 66 souvenir shop, but I found two in town, so that wasn't a good lead. I'm writing on Tuesday night from Arcadia Lake in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City. My plan is to ride into OKC tomorrow, send this message, see some sights, and ride back out of town to the south by evening. Tune in next time to find out how it went!

By the way, those of you who read my October 31 sermon -- and in particular those of you who were lucky enough to see Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd speak in Minneapolis on October 27 -- may be interested in seeing the strings of Great Story beads I've been collecting and carrying around the country with me. I scanned them while in Bartlesville and put up a Web site to show them off. Enjoy! --Ben

Ben Tue, 11/09/2004 - 09:16

Election Day

Election Day

Uncle Bud and Aunt Margaret swung by late this morning on their way to Arkansas to visit relatives. Bud showed me around the inside of their camper, which is no bigger than a full-size van but has two beds, a kitchen, and a bathroom with shower.

After lunch, Dad and I voted; Mom had done so on Saturday. We went to a watch party thrown by a church member for church members, and we were glad we hadn't gone to the Washington County Democrats' party, because all our candidates lost and all the referenda we opposed were passed. But we had a good time at the party.

I was particularly glad to have a chance to talk with Persia and Amy, who are about my age. Amy went to BHS in Becca's class and had a younger sister in my class whom I don't remember. Persia has three kids and recently finalized her divorce. So far she's been able to continue homeschooling her kids, but she may have to start working soon to support them. She's been looking at communities like The Farm, which could prove to be a great way to share daycare and homeschooling responsibilities, among other things.

Ben Tue, 11/02/2004 - 00:00

Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts

Today I basically hung around the house and worked on the computer. I did get out in the afternoon to walk to the post office, and on the way back I picked up a bunch of pecans from the street. Yum!

After a pizza dinner, Dad and I gave a presentation to a local Boy Scout troop. Dad had invited himself to talk about his electric car, and he brought me along to talk about my bike trip. The scouts and leaders were an appreciative audience.

Ben Wed, 11/03/2004 - 00:00

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

This morning I biked to Jo Allyn Lowe Park to see the new Pathfinder tunnel to Colonial Estates, then to Albertson's to get groceries.

Mom and I drove to Pawhuska for lunch and then listened to a guided-tour CD that led us to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. We spent so much time (and money!) at the gift shop that we didn't get to do any hiking! Mom says the prairie is more interesting to look at in the summer -- another reason to visit here in warmer weather!

We were overdue for a visit with the Wellses, who have a passive solar home and an RV park outside Pawhuska. Don Wells explained to me that there's a crawlspace between the house and the concrete slab, which serves instead of ducts for the heat pump, allowing the entire floor to be warmed or cooled by the forced air. But they rarely have to use the heat pump because the passive solar works so well; in fact they usually have windows open in the winter, and Don says he regrets putting in so many windows!

They also showed us their new fifth-wheel RV and an old mobile home they're selling. Mom was interested in seeing the mobile home as a possible option for moving Grandpa cross-country. The new RV is so sturdiliy built it must weigh two tons... lots of solid wood and glass.

For our last evening before I leave, we had teriyaki pork chops and homemade ice cream, and we played Challenge Rummy.

Ben Thu, 11/04/2004 - 00:00

to Owasso, OK

to Owasso, OK

It felt good to hit the road again! Mom made a wonderful breakfast of teriyaki fried eggs and fresh-baked breadsticks.

I took Bison Road out of town, which meant Dad and I crossed paths on my way out of town and his way to work. From there I rode on Highway 75 for a few miles and then took "Old 75" all the way into Owasso. Outside Ramona I stopped to stretch my legs and wound up picking up pecans for half an hour!

I got to Tiff's house around 3:30 or 4, and we had a chance to catch up before the kids got home from school. The kids are really attached to me, even though they don't see me very often. I guess I'm a good uncle already! Mom swung by on her way back from a gig in Tulsa to drop off a Texas map she had found for me. It has detailed street maps for all the major cities! What luxury! Shawn had some friends over in the evening for a monthly poker night, and Tiff and the kids and I went into Tulsa for dinner.

39.6 mi

Ben Fri, 11/05/2004 - 00:00

Oklahoma Aquarium

Oklahoma Aquarium

Shawn was up until 2 or so with his friends, so we got a late start this morning. Breakfast wasn't until about 10, and we didn't leave for the aquarium until after noon, which pushed lunch back until after 3 and dinner to 8!

The Oklahoma Aquarium is less spectacular than Omaha's, but quite nice for Oklahoma. The shark tank is particularly well designed, though it was a little short on sharks today. Tiff says they've been gradually adding to the place since it opened.

After lunch at Sonic we went to a Krispy Kreme, my first. Then we watched Rat Race and, after the kids went to bed, Bean.

Ben Sat, 11/06/2004 - 00:00

to Keystone State Park, OK

to Keystone State Park, OK

I left Tiff's house around 6:30 or 7 with every intention of following the route Shawn showed me yesterday, but I must not have been paying close enough attention because I missed my turn and wound up going at least 6 miles out of my way, which meant that I was an hour late for church. Fortunately Justice wasn't expecting me until the second service. Instead of attending the service itself, I went to a discussion with some young adults that turned out to be on the subject of Democracy. It would have been a better topic for last month... we were all pretty discouraged and cynical!

After the service I went looking for Justice, but her mother found me and told me she had gotten sick and gone home. Faced with the prospect of going to Waffle House alone again, I decided to just sit at one of the church's benches and eat my snacks. While I was doing this, a man came over to admire my rig and told me the best way to get to Keystone State Park.

West of Sand Springs, I was passed by two thirtysomething cyclists with skintight suits and mountain bikes. The man of the pair was disparaging Yuppies as they passed. He asked if I was going far, and I gave my usual response, "South for the winter." He laughed and said, "South is that way." A few miles later I passed them; he had punctured a tire and was just leaving a message with his mother for her to come get them. He didn't have a spare tube, patch kit, or pump. I helped him remove and patch the tube -- it was easy to find the holes because he had put goop in the tube that's supposed to prevent flats, and it was oozing freely from two holes. The patches didn't seal properly with the goop there, so the patched tire still didn't hold air. He insisted on giving me $4 anyway. I should have told him to "pay it forward," as Mike-in-Cincinnati did when he gave me two meals and a campsite for the night, but I didn't think of it until I had already accepted the cash.

A few minutes after that, a biker zoomed past me the other way, then came back and said hello: it was the owner of the bike shop in Bartlesville, and he had recognized me! In camp at Keystone State Park, I tried out my new camp stove for the first time. The stove works great, but the windscreen is a loss. I'll have to ask Bill to remind me how his was constructed.

31.8 mi

Ben Sun, 11/07/2004 - 00:00

to Stroud, OK

to Stroud, OK

This morning I headed south on OK-48 until it met up with OK-66, which follows what's left of Route 66 from Tulsa to OKC. I got to Bristow around 1 and spent over an hour at the library. Although this will save me the trouble of visiting a library in OKC, it meant that the sun set while I was still in Stroud rather than at a campground.

I rode off into the sunset prepared with plenty of water for informal camping, but I wasn't prepared for what I found: miles of barbed wire and not a single door to knock on. I wound up camping in a deep ditch formed by a highway embankment.

43.8 mi

Ben Mon, 11/08/2004 - 00:00