. . . Sailing on a summer breeze / Skipping over the pavement of tarred stones. [With a nod to Harry Nilsson.]
For much of today, we had a brisk NE tailwind. We avoided dirt roads altogether, rolling 84 miles from Clinton, Oklahoma, to Shamrock, Texas. After all the ups and downs, we climbed 800 feet (250 meters), to 2300 feet (700 meters) above sea level.
Housekeeping: You can donate to Human Rights First through rideforhumanrights.com . You’ll see on the site that so far we have pedaled 1116 miles (1808 km). We carefully read and deeply appreciate every blog comment, Facebook remark, and personal message. They keep us going. As you can imagine, after biking all day and writing an illustrated essay each night (paid columnists get days off, but not us!), we can’t respond individually. Know that we love you all.
A hayfield outside Clinton, Oklahoma. We rolled through clouds of small non-biting flies; Jeffrey donned a head net (courtesy of thoughtful Nancy) to keep the flies off his face.
Red soil and red rocks emerge everywhere. The bubble at the bottom is the Sprint 26’s fairing.
Canute is one of the tiny Oklahoma towns along old Route 66 that seem to have had the life beaten out of them. No mistaking the southern influence here.
Trisha runs a taxi service. She and Adon were fascinated by the Sprint 26. Trisha listened to Jeffrey talk about how our U.S government doesn’t help asylum applicants to exercise their right to seek refuge, and said, “It’s not fair.”
The Route 66 Museum is in Elk City.
The world has come to Oklahoma! This sign was outside Sayre.
We would not have thought that the invention of the shopping cart would be such a point of pride.
Trace, 6’4″, a rising high school senior who lived most of his life in Japan (where his father was a phys ed instructor, sports coach, and geography teacher on a U.S. military base), drove with his mom to Elk City, where they saw us and thought Jeffrey was a disabled military veteran, until they read our sign. After they drove home, Trace rode out on his bicycle to find me. He did! We biked together for several miles and talked about bikes, touring, careers, law, philosophy, and human rights.
Calvin – a cousin of Sgt. York of World War I fame – pulled up in his tractor to check on Trace. Calvin is on the local school board. He listened politely to Jeffrey’s description of our mission, then stated firmly that he has no problem with people coming to America so long as they are “legal”. Jeffrey satisfied Calvin that asylum applicants are following the law and need our help to do so. Jeffrey didn’t get into a deep discussion with Calvin about how immigration law is a matter of whim and not “natural law”, and how notions of “legality” crumble when one considers (e.g.) America’s wealth, worthy foreigners’ desperation, and innocent people brought here as children who know no other home. Jeffrey did refer to the law’s lack of common sense, an example being the difficulty of getting temporary farm workers, which has put some farmers out of business; Calvin said he got Mexican farm workers years ago who had (or they convinced him that they had) green cards and doesn’t know how that works today. Jeffrey and Calvin agreed that in some areas – immigration, and Oklahoma road maintenance – the government falls short. They talked, listened, found common ground, shook hands, and departed friends.
Miles more of bumps, gravel, sloppy blacktop patches, tooth-rattling tire tracks cut into asphalt, more dog incidents (one with Trace, two after Trace left us), a last Oklahoma historic marker . . .
. . . and wonder of wonders, Jeffrey let me out of the bag so I could climb this pole!
Our first 14 miles of Texas roads were similar to Oklahoma: good bits, bad bits, horrible bits. We made it to Shamrock, an oil town on the skids. Here’s the parking lot of our motel. We’ll do our bit for the local economy and move on.