Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 5/29/2014
No Rest for the Wicked-but Plenty for Me. Soon, the beauty of the Illinois River gives way to what will be the rest of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma I expected after reviewing the maps; hard packed dirt roads that crisscross the highway back and forth extending the journey in an effort to stay off pavement. I oblige for a while before choosing to give in to the asphalt in order to save time and get to New Mexico. It is one thing to ride off-road for pleasure and yet another to ride out of simple stubbornness. I would rather make time now to enjoy detours later. After all, this is the reason I am on a dual-sport and not a dirt bike.
While I am not as taken by the flat treeless views that Oklahoma has in this area, I cannot help but admire the spirit and creativity of its residents. It’s a “paint your house any old darn color” attitude accompanied by hard-hitting political opinions posted proudly in the front yards of virtually every resident!
You need to have grit to live here. Harsh, dry, windy conditions are one thing to pass through, it is quite another to put down stakes and create a life and raise a family out here. The Dirty 30s, or the Dust Bowl, that ravaged this area is a thing of the past, but the resilience that it planted in these residents is still strong. Just being amongst them in this land makes me want to work with my hands and plant things, although I do not know if I would be strong enough to stick it out for the long haul. I tip my helmet to their cowboy hat wearing strength!
This part of the trail can be limited in the way of rooms. Regardless of your required level of amenities, motels are often booked solid in the middle of Oklahoma. Oil companies buy them out to house their migrant crews. I had heard rumors of this prior to my arrival so I was prepared, although the motel in Enid, OK, connected to a strip club was not exactly what I had in mind.
It worked out well, however; apparently it is a favorite among the oil crews in the area. I decline any offers to join them “next door.” I settle into my room with a “sandwich to-go” and a beer. I am fast asleep before anyone returns so any noise is lost on me entirely. Amazingly, they are all completely gone in the morning and I awake in an empty motel, with the exception of the owners. I skip breakfast and hit the road. Even on pavement, there is still much of Oklahoma to cross.