Day 18: Shamrock, TX to Clinton, OK
Distance: 82 miles
Climbing: 1,600 feet
For more photos, be sure to check Flickr.
What’s the first thing Anurang does when he gets back to San Francisco? He sends me an e-mail with a copy of the weather forecast for today. Hazardous weather, that is. He knows how I love to panic about stuff like that.
However, I already knew that the forecast was bad, and I had already prepared by getting my fenders out of the storage for spare tires and spending half an hour putting them on my bike (I also changed my rear tire, just to be extra safe). Now, if putting a rain jacket on can forestall the rain for a couple of hours, putting fenders on the bike is enough to guarantee at least one really nice (if somewhat humid) day.
And that’s what we got.
Don’t worry, though – I’m still panicked, because the forecast for tomorrow is even worse than today’s was. And I don’t think the fender voodoo is good for more than one day.
Still, let’s focus on the positive: Today was great. The wind was pretty strong right from the start, but as it was coming from the southwest, and we were heading mostly east, it gave us a good push. I had a quick ride with a group that included the Arnolds, John Welch, Jim Meyers, and Lon almost to the Oklahoma border (Lon dropped back to fix something with his wheel, possibly a leaky tube). After stopping for a quick picture at the border (I’ve never entered Oklahoma on a bike before), we rolled into the town of Erick, where we were greeted by Harley and Annabelle Russell of the Sand Hill Curiosity Shop.
This was quite a treat. Harley used to play guitar for Charley Pride and others but has retired to his hometown where he and Annabelle peform for Route 66 tourists in their shop, which has almost nothing for sale but is crammed with memorabilia and cool guitars. I asked about his Roy Smeck signature Gibson (only 52 made) and he also pointed out a rare Martin signed by Mike Longworth among others. Harley didn’t know that Mike had died, though. No ukuleles in the “shop,” either.
He can really play, too. I took a Quicktime movie with my camera and, if I’m feeling ambitious may try to upload some of it. They gave us coffecake, juice, maracas, and tambourines and performed part of their “Mediocre Music” show, which mainly consisted of “The Wabash Cannonball” and “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.
After this, I rode with Franz for quite a bit. He’s a strong rider and I had to work a bit to keep up with him (or at least not slow him down too much). We chatted about how beautiful Oklahoma is and how cool the road itself is.
Very soon, we were on one of Lon’s favorite sections of the historic concrete pavement. This part is closed to cars and quite overgrown with trees. Unlike the parts of Texas we’ve been through, this part of Oklahoma has lots of trees. Also, many wildflowers, horses, and whimsical mailboxes. Best of all, it’s very green. Hard to imagine what it must have been like during the Dust Bowl era.
The trees section was interesting (though I had to walk a few parts because it was just too overgrown), but what I really admired were the sections that have been keep just as they were in the 30’s (beautifully done concrete with gently rounded curbs) that now function as frontage to I-40 (which we never had to ride on at all today). I can’t decided whether it reminds me more of a nicely shaped French pastry crust or like a Hot Wheels track. And the red Oklahoma dirt gives it a slight reddish tinge. I asked Franz, and he said it was kind of… taupe. I’ll have to take his word for it.
As we crested one hill today, both Franz and I were struck by how damned beautiful the landscape was. Who knew Oklahoma was so pretty?
I visited two different Route 66 museums today, too. One was in Elk City, and is a sort of commercial venture. I didn’t care for it too much. The other is here in Clinton and is run by the state of Oklahoma. It was a lot more interesting for me, with a lot of information on how the road was constructed, among other things.
Thanks to the helpful winds, Franz and I actually beat the van/trailer to the motel today, which is a first for me in 9,000 miles of PAC tour riding. So we went and checked out the Clinton Route 66 museum rather than wait around. I figured I’d better go to both museums because I knew what the first thing Lon would ask me would be when I saw him at the motel:
“Did you go the museum?”
I had the right answer.