Well, not really. It was more pain than nightmare. And it has a happy ending.
Jeffrey decided on an early start, planning to pedal 94 miles to Elk City, Oklahoma. Google Maps suggested a quick way to link up to old Route 66. Soon after sunup, we were whooshing along smooth pavement. Then the pavement ended.
This packed earth wasn’t bad. But after two miles, it changed to this.
Sometimes we spun our wheels on pebbles. Sometimes we had to plow through soft sticky mud.
We turned onto Elm Street. We thought Elm Street would be . . . you know . . . a street. Paved. Frequented by humans. Nope.
It took us an hour to make our way through six miles of this stuff. When we reached pavement, Jeffrey could hear the tires hiss. Mud and sand was solidly packed between our all-weather fenders and our Schwalbe tires, and was oozing out the sides.
In this part of farm country, there were no trees by the road. So no sticks. Jeffrey slid his fingers under the fenders and dislodged as much mud as he could. He emptied one of our precious water bottles to wash some of the mud off the machinery. He wiped his hands on the dewy grass and kept going. A few miles later, he spotted a tree and picked up a twig to spare his fingers. Every few minutes, more mud would dislodge into inconvenient places and we’d stop so he could de-gunk some more.
On one stop, we met Guillermo, who’d come from Spain (Balboa) to bike Route 66 from Santa Monica to Chicago.
Guillermo had some questions for Jeffrey about road conditions in Oklahoma and Missouri. Then each moved on.
After 10 miles of stops and starts, we came upon the Cherokee Trading Post outside Geary. Jeffrey spotted Tracy near some machinery, and asked to borrow a hose and spigot to clean our vehicle’s works.
Tracy said truckers often ask for water to wash their trucks, and Tracy’s boss has to draw the line somewhere. Tracy decided that a tricycle pedaled from NYC to western Oklahoma was on the good side of that line. He gave Jeffrey a hose and access to a hot water tap. Jeffrey hosed off the mud so the Sprint 26 ran properly again.
So much for an early start.
Jeffrey drank down a 500 calorie quart of sugary soda (no ice!) from the trading post. (He gets no sugar high; he burns 500 calories per Ride hour propelling man, kangaroo puppet, machine and kit.) While he refueled, our vehicle attracted a lot of attention. When Jeffrey answered a passerby by saying that we live not far from Donald Trump, a young tattooed man muttered that he hates Trump. A nearby woman, who took Jeffrey’s photo with the Sprint 26 “for my daughter”, said she supports Trump.
Then Bo spoke up.
Bo, a Cheyenne, said his church welcomes everyone and helps everyone in need. When he learned the reason for the Ride, he asked who named as a deity a particular politician with European ancestry who purports to decide who can enter land originally settled by the Cheyenne and other First Nations. On this point, Bo and Robin (another First Nation citizen whom we met a few days ago) are on the same page. Bo handed Jeffrey $10 for the purpose of Jeffrey’s choice; it is going to Human Rights First.
Some sights along the way:
Scavengers, or large birds of prey, attracted to some road kill:
Now for the happy ending.
When Jeffrey arrived in Clinton, thirty miles short of our intended destination (thank Nancy for convincing Jeffrey to get off the rough roads and out of the blazing sun and call it a day), motel housekeeping supervisor Maria called out to him.
She was very excited about the Ride, and invited Jeffrey to come to a vegetarian Mexican dinner with her (Durango), Jessica (Guatemala), and Efran (born in the USA, grew up in Jalisco).
Maria said local people are very accepting of immigrants, and that this is not necessarily true in other parts of Oklahoma. She said that due to low oil prices, the once-busy motel where we are staying is nearly deserted. She spoke of corruption in Latin America and of the responsibility new Americans have to our country. She echoed what immigrants always have told Jeffrey: they want their rights, and they also want to shoulder their responsibilities.
After a delicious dinner, Maria dropped Jeffrey at the motel. Later she returned with gifts for Jeffrey and Nancy. I’m modeling one of them.
Was that not a happy ending?