By Ben |

[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