Somewhere along the route planning process I took a detour over to the familiar destination Procrastination. It really is a homy, cozy place where I feel right at home. Two minutes before I left, I remembered that I had no idea where I was going. I browsed through Google Maps as I laced up my pink shoelaces, remembered the road that was supposed to be Route 66 and called it good.
As I was waiting for my friend and his tag along, I remembered what I neglected to add to my application; a warning stating that I have a 5 minute wait policy. Although, I don't mind waiting a little longer for people who I know are coming so it wasn't that big of a deal. I had brought a book for just such a reason. Unfortunately, I brought one of E.M. Forster's books and I have the hardest time getting into his work. So reading short snippets (20 minutes) leaves me feeling confused and frustrated. The perfect way to start a ride. I should have brought the book on Buddhism.
Longer Saturday rides have been somewhat unorthodox in my life lately. It was nice to be able to cruise through small-town Oklahoma and see life for once. For once in a long while, I didn't feel as though I were a character in the Twilight Zone. If there's one thing I love observing, it's small-town life. We rode through Cement where the town folks were congregating at the gas station and car wash maybe catching up on the weekly happenings. Much nicer than Cyril where all we saw was the police officer waiting for some action. Cyril was kind of dead. Apparently they didn't get the notice that that's only allowed on Sundays.
Riding through Pocasset, I really didn't feel the urge to stop. I was actually a little confused because I couldn't for the life of me remember there being a Pocasset the last time I was on that road. According to my research, the highest population the little town of Pocasset has seen is 350 and that was many moons ago. The only building of potential interest to me was demolished in the 60s. How mean is that, the internet starts flaunting how cool the Minter Brothers Building was only to tell you at the very end that it's no longer there. What good does that do me? The gas station we passed was quite old. It looked like it should have been demoed in the 60s. A couple of gentlemen were standing and sitting around the gas pump shooting the breeze. I could almost hear them voice their concerns over the crops and their chuckles drift into the breeze of the chilly September morning. One of the younger men, gave us a nice wave; I recognize another rider when I see one. We left the town folk of Pocasset to their Saturday morning meeting.
When we finally got to a town I remembered as existing, we pulled over after passing some awesome smelling diners and a donut shop with the name of Paradise something or other. They weren't lying, that shop smelled like paradise. I can't explain why I didn't stop for a coffee and a donut. Sitting on Main Street in Minco was exciting. At least for me. My company didn't seem to find Main Street quite as fascinating as I did. Now, Minco's main street isn't something I'd write home about, although I guess I kind of am at the moment, but it's still full of life and energy. The small boutiques and antique shops were all open. They all had some of their merchandise displayed on the sidewalks with their doors propped open to let the cool, fresh-smelling breeze drift in to their stores.
Things I didn't know about Minco: the town was named after a great Chickasaw chief, Itawamba Minco. Minco had school, El Meta Bond College, from the 1890s to the 1920s. Meta Chestnut founded the school, which offered classes ranging from elementary to high school, determined to bring education to the frontier. Unfortunately the lovely school building was also dismantled. Minco even has a small museum on Main Street across from the Coffee Cup Cafe (that's my kind of cafe). The museum's not open every day so it'd be a smart idea to call and make an appointment (405-352-4480). The small town offered attractions such as polo and corn festivals back in the day. Polo in Minco, who would have thought? The town still hosts an annual honey festival. The 22nd festival is coming up this year. Judging by the last year's festival, I'm gonna assume 2013's festival will also be in December. The festival has grown over the years from nine booths to over 90. They have many crafters and made in Oklahoma products. I know what I'm doing in December.
Cruising past Minco through the hay fields, not literally of course - I'm not sure Blueberry would forgive me for such an off-roading adventure. The smell of freshly cut and baled hay filled the air. All my two minutes of map reading were doing pretty well until we reached El Reno where I wasn't sure which direction to go. Last minute lane change paid off, though. And, we found our way to
The GoogleMap imprint in my mind had started to fade, and since one of my friends had already been to Okarche, I let him take the lead.Upon leaving El Reno we cruised through the housing area surrounding downtown. At a four-way stop, I paused distracted (as always) by a building I spotted tucked around a corner. Meanwhile one of the riders continued on to the main road much to the amusement of two mean looking little Chihuahua-mutt gangsters who were monitoring the situation.
"Are those strangers on our beat, Bugsy?"
"Yeah, boss! yeah, boss!"
"Nobody comes through our place, see? This ain't the highway, see?"
"Lemme at 'em, boss! Ooh, lemme at 'em!"
"Get rid of 'em, Bugsy."
I'm not fluent in Chihuahua gangster, but I think that's a pretty accurate translation
The alpha male had his crony do his dirty work. This is where we experienced the potential wrath of the one-eyed dog and his sidekick. The hyper little dog "Yes, boss'd" the one-eyed dog and excitedly chased the Buell down the road. All the way to the next stop sign. Meanwhile the boss gave the rest of us "the eye" as we waited to see the fate of the Buell. Now I've seen a lot of different scare tactics in my day, but I think that was the scariest one yet. The rest of us sat back and watched with amusement as the excited, dim-witted crony skitted right and left barking excitedly behind the Buell. I was tempted to just turn towards the cool looking warehouse, but I thought it'd would have been a little unfair to send one rider through Chihuahua territory. So if one person jumps off the bridge, we all do. It sounds idiotic in hindsight.
All was then quiet and it was time for the rest of us to test the Chihuahua water. I slowly cruised by the evil-eye-giving boss and his crony expecting the same frantic welcome. Not an ounce of interest was given; I'll admit I was slightly disappointed. I guess Chihuahuas only dislike Harleys. We left the boss and his little sidekick to the mean street life of El Reno.
I have renamed (for the time being) Okarche the City of Dying Crickets. Enough said about that. Then again: I thought the name maybe came from the fact that there might have been an oak arch somewhere at sometime and the folks just couldn't spell, but the name comes from the words Oklahoma, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. You figure it out. Okarche had such a large German population that German was the official language in some churches and businesses.
Eischen's.The main reason for our ride. It's the oldest establishment in Oklahoma which is about as far as I read on whatever material of propaganda I learned of Eischen's which is probably why I missed the part where they only serve fried chicken. No burger and fries for this girl. No silverware and plates, either. It felt a little like I was eating at home and trying to skip the need for a dishwasher. But, give me some fried okra and some pickles and I'm easily assuaged. I was a little alarmed at just how many people like to eat without utensils as the oldest establishment in Oklahoma in a town of millions of dead crickets was pretty full. The serving sizes are decent, and I was able to pack some fried okra and pickles for a road trip snack. Didn't spend a whole lot of time in Okarche due to not wanting to face the wrath of the crickets.
All I could remember of the GoogleMaps directions was to take some horizontal on the map road out of El Reno, and turn off to the right on a county road before I-40. Finding the horizontal road was pretty easy since it was nicely labeled "Old Route 66." I love clear signage. But then there were no more signs and before I knew it there was I-40 directly ahead of us. The car in front of us decided to turn onto an unmarked badly paved road, so I did the same. When in doubt follow the car in front of you. I wasn't about to get on the interstate. I was willing to assume the road would lead us somewhere close to where we wanted to go. Still being curious to know where the hell we were, we pulled over and I let one of the riders pull out a fancy phone to determine our location. It turned out that we were on the right county road, so we cruised down the bumpy, grassy road as I prayed to keep my greasy lunch down. Cruising along on Route 66 is amazing. Maybe it's all the hype built up around it, but it gives a feeling of being part of the past. Or maybe I really do need to stop my Twilight Zone marathon...
The best impression, of the short stretch of 66 we rode, was a bicyclist we saw. At first I thought it was a cruiser taking a break due to the massive saddlebags, but as we got closer it became evident that it was a bicyclist not taking a break but pedaling steadily down the lonely stretch of 66 we were on. I was totally impressed by this rider. He had his tent strapped on to his bike and his fancier-than-mine camera hanging from his neck glued to his back by sweat. One could barely see his bicycle under all his gear. I think it's safe to say he was planning on seeing a little more of Route 66 than we were. Rock on, dude!
GoogleMaps never did mention anything about a spur, and due to a time crunch ( this would be that 'wife bit' in the rider application) we got on the interstate and cruised into the Red Rock Canyon where I enjoyed the rest of my okra and pickles. If I weren't so lazy I could pack road-trip food all the time. The only destination where I make an effort to pack food is Cookietown. Only because you can't go to Cookietown and not have a cookie. It's got to be against some universal law.
Have a wonderful week, and thanks for reading!
Pictures can be found on WGR Facebook page!