Day 1 – May 4, 2007
The day started relatively uneventful. I was about an hour behind schedule having decided to give myself an extra 45 minutes of sleep and a quick stop at hayseed’s house to say goodbye.
About 7 miles south of Bellevue on 287, I spotted a sign for Hopewell Cemetery. I wonder if this is where Walt got the picture for his cd cover.
I crossed the Red River close to noon (11:41am). Signs told me that OK is celebrating its centennial, 100 years as a state. I stopped to visit my grandparents at the Fort Sill cemetery (Dixie, Bill). I finally exited 281 on a familiar stretch of highway that used to take me home to Elgin. It is weird to think that all those years I lived there that all I would have had to do was step out my front door to a highway that could take me all the way south to the border of Mexico or north to Canada.
The tiny little smoke shop just off the exit and before Porter Hill where all my friends in high school would go to get cheap cigarettes is still there. It’s now the tiniest casino on what must be the tiniest Indian reservation. And, Dolese is still there changing the landscape; mining rocks and crushing sand.
The old house looks worse each year. I drove along the lakeside, looking at the back of the house. I am surprised to see the porch still stands. I followed the dirt road down to the water. The lake has changed so much that there is no longer water in the part of lake that I would wake up and see every morning. The spot where my grandfather would put me on his shoulders to walk us through the water to the island where we would fish is now bone dry.
I stopped in next town, Apache, for an indian taco. One of these days I’ll learn to make fry bread so I can make them for myself. Then I will not have to wait to have one once every ten years…about as often as I get back there.
OTHER TIDBITS: Binger, OK is the home of Johnny Bench. In 5th grade, my softball coach nicknamed a a teammate, Vickie, Johnny Bench because she was catcher and he called me Pete Rose because of my head first slides. I need to look up Red Rock Canyon in Hinton, OK.
KANSAS SUCKS – Kansas state line
My evening turned really thrilling as I closed in on the NE state line. By the time I hit Smith Center, I was in the middle of storms threatening tornados. Thanks to a kind citizen who, unbeknownst to him, lent me his metal car port allowed me to avoid the hail though it would find me later.
Unable to find a way around or a safe place to stop, I decided to continue northeast. The route took me toward the storm I’d just let pass but another one behind was threatening more tornados. I drove as slow as possible so I wouldn’t catch the hail and severe weather but the storm was also slow. By the time I reached Lebanon, KS, I had caught the storm again. Now going north toward Red Cloud NE, I found myself in the hail. I turned back around to wait it out at a county road further back. The radio was calling out a tornado in Riverton, 20 miles west of Red Cloud. I knew I had to keep moving forward if I wanted to stay ahead of the tornado filled storm. A trail of storm chasers past by so I tucked in behind them reasoning that they were racing to a storm but would not be putting themselves in a direct path. It didn’t keep me out of the hail but it did get me past the storm. The hail was good for the mere fact that I got mad and forgot to be scared.
NEBRASKA STATE LINE
I reached the campground just after 10:00pm and happy to have a sturdy structure to ride out the storms as they caught up to me. I like the little cabin.