After leaving Amarillo, we drove north by northeast to avoid serious winds along Interstate 40. Which was fine by us, because we love traveling the back roads. But as the flat, brown plains of Texas morphed into the rolling hills of western Oklahoma, I started to get concerned about gasoline.
The problem wasn’t that we were going to run out before finding a gas station. The problem was running out before finding a gas station that we could fit into. The Toaster is a “gasser” as opposed to a diesel, and too many times we come up to a station where the diesel-only pumps are designed for big trucks, but the gas pumps are cramped and fit only for smaller vehicles.
So I’ll pass by several small gas stations before finding one where we can pull in and out without getting stuck for a long time, waiting for other vehicles to move. On the back roads, many gas stations are so tight that we don’t even have a chance to use them.
So when we came to an ancient gas station at the junction of Oklahoma routes 33 and 283, I took advantage of the empty space to pull in. The pump was from the pre-digital era and I had to hand my card to the woman inside to hold while I filled the tank. Afterward, Julie came out with a vintage Cherry Mash chocolate candy, and as I wolfed it down before pulling back on the road, I looked around and thought “How did we end up here, at this moment?”
Oklahoma as never been on our bucket list, but this was the second time in a year that we intentionally traveled there. Last year, we passed through on our way to see the total solar eclipse. This year, we wanted to use up a membership at a resort, that we paid for in 2017.
But otherwise we had no destination. No tourist sites, or natural features we wanted to see. Just a place to hunker down as we planned our summer, that’s not as hot as Arizona. Just like trying to find a gas station, this is part of our routine now. Life on the road.
Near Depew, we plugged in for the month and I immediately set up the computer and started working. It wasn’t as hot as Arizona, but it was humid. Our temporary home site was surrounded by oak trees and lakes and trails. Very green, and according to the locals, infested with ticks. Julie had slathered Peanut with Advantix, and we would spend the next few weeks checking each other for the little bloodsuckers.
We reconnected with friends from last year, and shared an anniversary dinner with Mike and Deb Elkins, whose anniversary was only a couple of days before. They even lent us their golf cart. It was great to get to know them better.
In between working, we explored the little towns on Route 66. I never asked the locals what they thought, but to us these towns looked decrepit and a bit sad, their glory days of being on Route 66 or the rail line, long gone.
But when we explored Tulsa, we were surprised by its wealth and vibrant art culture. On one trip, we accompanied Mike and Deb to the city’s Friday Night Art Walk, where many of the art museums opened for free.
Mike told me that for years Tulsa had been treated more like a backwater town compared to Oklahoma City, but voters had approved a proposal to spend more on improving infrastructure and economic development. Now the city was overshadowing OKC as a cultural center.
But mostly when I wasn’t working, we spent the time relaxing. Listening to the growing chorus of cicadas as the summer heated up, watching the sun set over the low hills, chatting with our new friends and, as the evenings progressed, being thoroughly entranced by the dancing fireflies. Life on the road.
Our month was up, and after one last sunset and an amazing Independence Day firework show put on by the resort, we went to bed excited for the next leg of our journey.