Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On the Road to BMW MOA rally - Enroute Day #1

Tonight I'm comfortably settled into a Hampton Inn in Clinton OK. Yes, on the road....again! I managed to get out of the house this morning at 6:15, and thankfully overestimated how long it would take to get to Clinton, since I added a couple more stops on the fly getting up here. As I headed north on I-45, my original plan was to cut over to Italy, TX on I-35E, get some AMA bonus points along that route and then cut over to Ft. Worth and up 287 toward Wichita Falls. But I realized that route gained nothing. It was shorter, but probably slower and there were no points or stamping opportunities along that route until I got to near Clinton. BUT...if I stayed on I-35E straight up to Oklahoma City, then west on I-40...yes, it's all interstate, but it's faster AND I could gather a couple of NPT stamps along that route.

Today brought some nice and not-so-nice memories. First, along SR-22 west of Corsicana, a Scissortail Flycatcher flew right across the road, right in front of me at eye level. Wow! That's the first time I've seen one. It's the Oklahoma State Bird, and this was a fine specimen. Then, just a little while later, as I headed north on FM-55, what I think was a Summer Tanager flew across the road in front of me. It was more orange than a Cardinal would be, and had no black markings at all. A male cardinal has darker red wings and black on its face. Ah, the things we can see from the seat of a motorcycle! I was on my way to Italy, TX, worth a point in the AMA Grand Tour, and in the same town is a giant caterpillar, also worth a point. And if I go straight up I-35E I'll pass right by the Dallas Zoo, with its giant giraffe out front...worth another point.

Well, got Italy, got the caterpillar, but getting that darned giraffe wasn't so easy. Guess that zoo does a booming business in summer, because police cars had so many roads blocked off, it was impossible to do anything but ride past it on the feeder road. I had hoped to just pull over near the entrance, but that was clearly overly optimistic on my part. So up to the next cross street, and I can only turn left or go straight. Turning left would work, so that's what I did, then turned left again on the feeder road headed the other direction. But the next cross road was blocked and turned into a pedestrian way. I had hoped to just get back on I-35 and take the photo from the shoulder...risky, but I had noticed that the shoulder is very wide at that point. But wait! Here's a gas station, directly across the Interstate from the giraffe. I zipped in, pulled into a spot in front of the C-Store and got a pretty good photo. Got the photo but now I can't seem to get back onto I-35 going north. The next two crossroads were blocked by police. So I had no choice but to go about 3 miles south along a surface road until I found an intersection that would get me northbound on a feeder road and ultimately back onto I-35 headed north. What an ordeal! A bonus presented itself along I-45 earlier in the day as I headed to Corsicana. A giant fishing pole! So I stopped and got that photo to add to my collection.

The not-so-nice part of the day was a horrific accident on I-35-E in Denton. Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions, and it was very hot as we crept along, one car length at a time! Eventually we were merged into one lane and as we got up to the accident, we could see the carnage. Many ambulances and firetrucks, and it looked like at least one 18-wheeler and two cars were involved. It appeared that for whatever reason, one 18-wheeler went off the shoulder on the right, flip and tumbled down the embankment to take out at least one vehicle on the feeder road. It was ugly! EMT's were working on one victim on the ground, and one car was flipped upside down and another EMT was crouched down beside the open window of that car, so the driver was still inside.

Whew! That behind me, I could pick up speed and catch a breeze. Next stop would be Chickasaw National Recreation Area. I'd been here a couple of years ago, but didn't remember it being so far off the interstate. I passed up a gas station thinking I'd stop there on the way back to the highway. That decision was made thinking the park was in the first town, Davis. Boy, was I wrong! And the next gas station wasn't until I got to Sulphur. The low fuel light had been on for nearly 50 miles! I pushed that tank of gas farther than I'd ever done before. Of course, it's nice to know that 1) my motorcycle unfailingly gets 50 mpg; and 2) there won't be any surprises.

Okay, so got the stamp, and continued north on I-35. At The City, I had to make a decision about going into downtown for the OK City Memorial stamp. A clock check made my decision for me, since it was about 4:15 PM and I would be getting to the visitor center close to closing. It's not real handy to get to, since parking is on the street and it would entail walking a couple of blocks or more.

Roadside America website says there are two giant Indians in Clinton, one at Cherokee Trading Post, the other at a car dealer. The Trading Post came up first, so I got off the interstate only to discover that the large indian is no longer there! But there's a giant Indian Chief head over the door of the store, so that seemed to work. Then....the very next exit was a KOA, worth a point. It was an easy grab! The car dealership is just a mile or so from the hotel so I'll grab that in the morning.

Tomorrow: Washita National Battlefield, some AMA Italian and Big Things points, and Sidney NE for the night.

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