May 4th, 2013
I wake up and have a breakfast of homemade banana bread and eggs. The mother takes my laundry for me while the father helps me to plan a route to avoid the incoming storm due tomorrow. They drive me to the Goodwill store where their daughter works so I can replace the beanie I lost in the rush yesterday and also add some layers of clothing to my wardrobe. I get an employee discount and end up spending 73 cents instead of 80. I say my goodbyes to the girl and then go back to their house to finish packing. Pam and Dennis are so sweet to stand outside and see me off even though it is freezing out. Today is much colder than yesterday and once again I feel an urgency to get going to try and outrun the storm.
The sky is dark grey, ready to burst. Cold wind begins slowly piercing one layer after another in search of my core. There is nothing I can do but get as far south today where the weather should be a bit warmer. I’m disappointed to miss out on the Ozark Mountains of Missouri but no matter what I do I’ll be missing out on something. I can immediately notice a change when I cross the state line into Oklahoma, but unfortunately not in weather. It seems like a much poorer place here; trailer parks, abandoned buildings, decrepit homes, overgrown lawns, weeds growing out of cracks in the street. I find it much more beautiful of a place though, with the tons of tiny back roads twisting and turning every which way, throwing me off at every intersection. I find myself on the side of the road with the map out more often than ever. The beautiful thing about this is that the friendliest people will stop whatever they’re doing to help me out with directions. “Welcome to Oklahoma, this is home.” one man told me when I commented on how helpful everyone here is. Hearing this gives me an inkling of understanding of this state; everyone is part of one big family, they may be poor but they’re there for each other.
With luck, I ride the whole day without anything but a drizzle of rain. With even more luck I find quite a big piece of metal stuck in my tire and pull it out without a puncture. I feel grateful and wonder when the inevitable flat will come. It is getting close to dark and I am happy to be able to move on. It proves difficult to find a good spot and I settle with trespassing behind a fire station. I drop my bike for the third time on this trip when the kickstand sinks in the muddy ground. I’m stuck holding the bike, trying to figure out how the heck to keep it standing. Resourcefulness kicks in and I put my shoe under it and go about unpacking, one shoe on and one shoe off. I set up my tent in the twilight, having once again waited until the last minute to find a camp spot. On the positive side, it is about 10 degrees warmer where I now am and it was well worth it to get this far. I spend the night enjoying the first “warmth” I’ve felt in the outside world since Utah.