I would like to take a moment and express my heartfelt concern for the people of Quapaw, Baxter Springs and others that were hit by the recent tornadoes. Our trip on Route 66 took us through Quapaw and will be included in this series but due to the recent storm outbreak I wanted to share that our thoughts and prayers go out to all who are suffering because of this disaster.
We stopped in front of the weathered old post office in Niotaze, Kansas. The dilapidated white building brought to mind a simpler time. A time when this small, quaint place was important. We noticed a Harley Davidson motorcycle under the carport of a house across the street begging to be rode on this wonderful spring afternoon. Its owner forced to ride the lawnmower instead.
The weather was perfect. The wind had a pleasant chill to it. Normally, I don’t tolerate the cold but this was refreshing when partnered with the warmth of the early evening sun. I was also decked out in a sweatshirt, and sweatpants. If the temperature had been any colder I would have donned my helmet.
I enjoy riding sans helmet. It allows me a fuller experience. I love the feel of the sun on my face.
We made our way quickly through Caney, Kansas. Caney is close to the Oklahoma border. Mike and I have a tradition that started when we were younger about state border crossings. Well, any border crossing, actually. We got to the leaving Kansas sign and began our ritual. Arms in the air with jazz hands (not spirit fingers), singing dootooly, doo, dootooly, doo (ala Wayne’s World dream sequence theme) over and over until we have passed the welcome to Oklahoma sign. This time Mike added a Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive disco move to the mix and wiggled the bike a little. I joined the disco moves. I was even brave enough to add a couple of extended leg moves aka kicks while dancing with my arms and body. We were both laughing at the pleasure of our choreographed border tradition.
The sun was still very bright in the sky. The wind however was getting crisper with the coolness threatening the disappearance of our warm beacon. It was not very long before we were in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It was around 7 in the evening. Hunger had set in for both of us. We noticed a Golden Corral and swung in for a much needed meal. We were delighted to discover that the steaks we got at the buffet were tender, juicy and very flavorful. The cook had gotten our steaks perfectly medium rare, which was an absolute treat. We were surrounded by tables full of families with small children. There were two precocious little girls seated to the left of us. The face of the older of the two girls was framed in a delicate cascade of bright yellow gold curls. They were not the intentional kind, forced to be by curling iron or brush. Her little sister had a short do of light brown fluff. They were with their grandma and great aunt. Mike and I both reveled in the excitement of having finished that part of our lives and began contemplating our new role as grandparents with joy.
When we stepped out of the restaurant the sun was working on its departure from the sky. The air was getting colder. I grabbed my leather jacket and gloves out of our saddlebag. I forgot to leave my gloves off in order to put my helmet on. This time it didn’t matter I was able to put it on and snap my chin strap together with gloves on. That was a first for me. We jumped (not really, we mounted in an awkward, uncool, and definitely old person way) on the bike.
There was a deep brownish gray haze growing in the sky towards the west of us. Traffic was fairly light as the sun was setting. As I looked behind us to the east, I witnessed a beautiful sunset. There was a diamond, cross pattern of clouds with a radiant neon pink, orange swirl in the center of one of the diamonds.. I wish I was brave, and experienced enough to have snapped a picture of it.
The haze began to build as we drove further south. The luminous scene showed that there were a few grass fires on the left of us. There was even a minor section along the highway on fire. The flames licked at the pavement and moved fast through the dry grass. The fire deep in the hills behind the highway was intoxicatingly stunning. The smell was richly sweet like the smoke that comes from the smoker when Mike smokes meats.
The sun had finally set just before we got to Tulsa. The transition from light to dark was highlighted by the range fires. Shifting focus from visible smoke to the increased intensity of the red-orange flames. The flames dissipated from sight as we entered Tulsa.
We got a room at the America’s Best Value Inn. We were surprised at the time when we finally got to our room. It was only 9 o’clock. We were ready for a break. Our bodies were wore out from the road. We savored our tiny respite.
To Be Continued . . .