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Day 24: Wichita Falls, TX to Waurika, OK

39 Miles - Headwinds Continue, Crossed Red River and Entered Oklahoma, Waurika Truck Stop - March 15, 2011

Texas Sunrise Very early, I arose and took advantage of the Red Roof Inn's continental breakfast. Look at that sunrise ... orange, mauve and purple. :)
North Texas Scenery In Wichita Falls, I turned on Highway 79 and it was a repeat of the past two days: Me traveling northeast, winds blowing hard from the north. Yet another headwind. Sigh.

The sky was gray. The scenery, unimpressive. Dreary days like this often get me down.

Byers, Texas

Byers, TX

Those winds slamming into me kept me slow throughout the morning. 8 or 9 mph was common, with 10 or 11 mph as the highest cruising speed. Somehow, I hung in there.

I pepper-sprayed a loose dog who showed some aggression in Dean, Texas*. In a supermarket in Petrolia, Texas, an older man told me about how he'd been sober from alcohol for 30+ years. Eventually, I made it Byers, population 517. Nothing exciting happened there, but I did take this picture.

* - That was the only time I used my pepper spray canister on this tour. I'm not sure if I got the dog in the face or eyes, but he immediately backed off when I squirted it, as if the sound was enough. From this point, I had ten to twelve more dog experiences, but most weren't a big deal.

Red River Bridge

Red River

Highway 79 seemed to go on and on, or at least it seemed that way. The headwind was chipping away at my mental toughness, and I was only 25 miles into the ride.

However beyond Byers, I noticed a slight descent for a few miles. I knew why - I was coming closer to a major river.

Red River

The bridge's pavement was in rough shape over the Red River. Upstream, the river wasn't as large as when I crossed it three years ago in southwest Arkansas. I did place the bike on the metal ledge and I gazed at the river for a few minutes.

Oklahoma - Four States Completed, Six To Go! Oklahoma State Line

I did have one positive motivating factor today: the Oklahoma state line. Crossing into a new state was cause for a celebration! :)

I hadn't been in Oklahoma since January 2010, when friends and I hiked to the top of Black Mesa, the Oklahoma High Point.

Waurika, OK

Truck Stop Food

Waurika, Oklahoma

I biked four miles past the Red River and turned east on Highway 70. Good news! My northeasterly route was now finished, and I'd bike mainly east for days across southern Oklahoma. As I cruised two more miles into Waurika, that northerly wind was no longer a menace.

At Waurika, I had a prolonged break at this truck stop with a restaurant inside. I ordered their special - some kind of burger with green chili, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, a bread roll and pineapple cobbler.

Sitting there, I had a decision to make: The next motel (that I knew of) was 50 miles in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Did I have it in me to ride that distance in the afternoon? Sure, the wind was only a crosswind now, but it had taken its toll on me. I felt grouchy, a little more beat-up than usual. I looked outside and the sky seemed even more dark and gray. I just didn't feel good about it.

But how could I stop so soon? I had only gone 39 miles! I hemmed and hawwed. I called a friend to explain my situation. Then I felt lethargy kick in, and I knew I was done. I decided to stay in Waurika for the night.

A-OK Motel

Hampton Inn Towel

A short distance from the truck stop was the A-OK Motel. Nothing special. Nothing bad either. But much pricier than I would have liked for a Tuesday night in an insignificant southern Oklahoma town.

I was down that I checked into a motel so early; the athlete in me was so upset over this sub-par day. Yet I also knew I needed to accept that today was a rough cycling day, and these kinds of days inevitably happen. Just take it in stride.

Before turning on the shower, I placed the floor towel down. It turned out to be a Hampton Inn towel! Ahhhh ... I thought of Tom and Patty with Racing For Cancer from Day 11 and laughed. I wondered how they were doing. Every time I saw a Hampton Inn, I thought about Tom and his generosity in buying me a hotel room. :)

Waurika, Oklahoma A photo of the Waurika water tower behind an auto dealership.

By the way, I only stayed in short walking distance of the motel and truck stop, located at the junction of Highway 70 and 81. The actual town of Waurika was two miles west and off the highway.

Kid I napped and watched TV for hours. Then I returned to the truck stop for another good meal.

In the table next to me was a father and son from Texas. I had actually met them earlier, when I briefly stopped in front of a catfish restaurant a mile north of the Red River. They were in a shabby Lincoln Continental that was pulling a large motor boat. The father asked for directions to Lake Texoma, which at the time I didn't know. Well, hours later we recognized each other in the restaurant.

We talked about my ride, but I was more interested in what they were doing. It was spring break and they were looking for good places to boat and fish. They spoke of a nearby reservoir and planned to go to Lake Texoma before the week was over.

I regret I didn't catch the boy's name, but he told me about his interests in hunting and fishing. He showed me pictures of his hunting prizes and one of him holding a massive three-foot-long fish. Amazing! I was so proud of him and encouraged him to keep up the good work. It turned out they were also staying at the A-Ok Motel.

In retrospect, I suppose "on paper" this would be considered a tough day, but maybe it wasn't. This kid brightened my evening. I also met other friendly folks at the truck stop, including two waitresses and a truck driver from Madill, Oklahoma. If you're ever in this area, I do recommend the Waurika Truck Stop's home cooking style food in the restaurant. :)

Food My meal: Beef brisket, texas toast, french fries, baked beans and more of that pineapple cobbler! :)
Oklahoma Gift Afterward, I wandered on the other side of the truck stop. Check out those rocks in an Oklahoma-shaped container. I liked that!
Oklahoma Sunset

Oklahoma Sunset
The day started with a Texas sunrise, and the day ended with a Oklahoma sunset. Not bad!

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