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Oklahoma Great Salt Plains

Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 6/5/2014

Even when traveling on pavement, Oklahoma is still one big ol’ state to try to cross. As I approach the town of Jet I can’t resist a quick “selfie” with a town who’s name shares my initials.

Following the morning’s photo-op, today is once again set aside for detours as I head to the Oklahoma Great Salt Plains and the Great Salt Plains State Park. The area is often crawling with children who are on the hunt for selenite crystals formed in part by a thin layer of saline groundwater that flows just beneath the surface. They look like dirty little bugs to me, the crystals, not the children, so they can be hard to find amongst the dirt. I have visions of finding some to bring to my daughters, but alas, it requires more work than I am willing to put in this morning. We will simply have to return as a family some day.

As I proceed to ride around the 41 miles of shallow salty waterfront, a small airstrip just outside of the park distracts me. It is hard to keep my eyes focused on the road as one classic plane after another takes to the sky. Each flown by enthusiastic retired Air Force pilots who are more than happy to play in the cloudless morning sky.

I reach the end of the park while the morning is still young. I decide to backtrack through a bit for a detour within a detour and enter the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge area.  While the area boasts over 300 species of wildlife I am presented with exactly zero! In order not to consider the detour a total loss I count the absences of sightings as a goose egg, count it as a bird, and continue on my day. I make a special point to pass through Buffalo, OK, in honor of my father-in-law who is an avid buffalo collector. It’s a small town, but it has fuel and a local rider stops to chat with me for a while before part ways.

I ride into Alva, OK, fairly early. The storms that I experienced back in Tulsa, complete with hail, are fast approaching. I choose not to repeat the soaking I received there and settle into another non-descript motel. I had hopes of heading to Red’s tonight for dinner; a local favorite, but instead choose to stay close by to avoid the impending storm. It’s not a whistle for a cab sort of town.

Tomorrow my goal is Colorado, so a good night’s sleep is in order.

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