A cold front dumps steady rain on the campground throughout the early morning. By 8:00 I shake dry tenting supplies and greet the sun with a salutation while staring at traffic on I-40. The campground road passes a Cherokee Trading Post where I get my first glimpse of buffalo. I’ve always associated this majestic beast with big box states like Wyoming and Montana, but apparently wild ones roam in Oklahoma, too.
The only two I’ll see are penned up near the highway rest stop anchored by a gas station, Subway sandwich shop, and Cherokee trading post gift shop and restaurant, where I struggled to find something edible last night.
I pause by the pen and wonder what these buffalo, who I nickname Buff and Buffy, think every morning when they greet the day. Here’s how it went down that morning:
Buffy: Morning dear, hungry for breakfast? How about the pancake special at the Cherokee?
Buff: Uck, not that place again!
Buffy: Sweetie, come on, it’s either pancakes or a Subway sandwich. And, please, fix your fur. It’s looking matted in the back.
Buff: I’d rather drink motor oil.
Buffy: Or that. I’m sure the gas stand has it, but otherwise we’re really pressed for choice.
Buff: I wish one of those trucks whizzing down the highway would stop and pick us up. Could really use some airing out in the prairie. I wonder if Mitch and Juanita are still roaming around Foss State Park. I bet Billy Bison has been born.
Buffy: Billy the calf must be eating grass by now. We should bring them something, maybe moccasins from the trading post?
Buff: Well we can’t just hop over the fence like antelope and glide through the door. We weigh like 1,000 pounds. Talk about a bull in a china shop! Someone’s gotta let us outta here. Hey—what the hell is that?
Buffy: It’s a guy from New York! I recognize the license plate. And that bike… it’s one of those blue rental bikes!
Buff: From New York? On a bicycle? This loser's gotta be a bleeding heart liberal, tree hugger and animal lover. He’ll let us out of here for sure.
Jeffrey: Are these… buffalo? What the hell are buffalo doing in Oklahoma?
Buff: Hey buddy, unlock the gate, let us out!
Jeffrey [reading sign]: Oh, this is the state animal. I didn’t even know Oklahoma had buffalo. Poor things, trapped in a pen overlooking I-40 and a gas station in Calumet.
Buff: Yes, exactly! Let us out of HERE!
Buffy: I don’t think he can understand us. Mister, PLEASE, help. We yearn to roam free and see our friends!
Jeffrey: Well, have a good day guys. About 45 miles to go to Clinton.
Buff: NO, NO, NO… DON’T GO, UNLOCK THAT LATCH!
Buffy: Please, sir, HELP US!
Buff: COME BAAAAAAACK!
The road west follows old Route 66, the subject of my next post. Ancient asphalt, which could have been laid by the order of Egyptian pharaohs, is pitted and cracked beyond belief. Concrete band-aids fill yet fail to fix the damage. Repairs have hardened into disruptive layers that jolt bicycle wheels.
The ride to Weatherford is straight forward and unimpressive. At Lucille's Road House I indulge in a 1/3 pound patty with my choice of three premium toppings: jalapeños, guacamole and sautéed mushrooms. Onion rings are included as a side and so is a beverage. I choose unlimited refills of sweet tea. Menu price: $7.99. Can’t beat the taste or bang for the buck anywhere in America, so just stop looking and make your way to Lucille’s.
At lunch I notice on Google Maps that just two miles north is an ominous-sounding intersection called Dead Woman Crossing. It’s already after 3pm and I’ve got at least two more hours of riding to Clinton, but I’d detour if there’s a sign to mark this bizarre place. Would be a great addition to my Instagram feed, right?
I ask the wait staff for some info about Dead Woman Crossing, but I’m told there is no sign—only folklore about the name. No way I’m diverting time and energy without the promise of a photo op.
Route 66 from Weatherford to Clinton parallels the interstate where a convoy of big rigs rumble along I-40. The road is straight, slightly hilly, but offers no scenery. I’m getting pretty tired of Oklahoma. I coast into a Motel 6 in Clinton just as darkness falls. Luckily there is Braum’s next door and my dinner and dessert plans are set.