Start: Watonga OK
Finish: Oklahoma City, OK
Weather: 105 degrees, sunny
Bike Time: 6 hours
Distance to date: 900
Today I spent most of my ride contemplating cows. Have
I been in Oklahoma too long already? Every cow that I pass stops grazing and looks at me. Groups of cows all stop and look.
Cars whiz by ahead of me and the cows are unperturbed, yet they all lift their heads for the bicycle. I do not believe I possess any cow attracting pheromones, but a quick Internet search reveals that cows have reasonable hearing and very good eyesight, so there is something they either hear or see about the bike that attracts them. I am glad that I offer a distraction, their lives seem awfully monotonous, and it always feels nice to be noticed, if only by cows.
I was happy to leave dusty, swimmingpoolless, Internetless Watonga in early dawn light and strike east to Kingfisher on a stunning morning. There was a bright golden haze on the meadow, and, well, you show tune types know the rest of the soundtrack, which I hummed or whistled or sang outright across some of the most beautiful land ever conceived; wheat in the breeze, rows of north bending trees between the fields,
distant cottonwoods in the creek beds, night’s coolness lingering over the land.
Route 33 turned out to be a minefield of Historical Markers, and of course I was compelled to stop at them all. Turns out
this road parallels the northern edge of two separate Oklahoma land runs – the big one of 1889 and a smaller one in 1892, each of which used 98 degrees longitude as an east/west divider. This got me thinking about cartography. Dodge City, KS had many references to the 100 degree longitude line that runs right through that town and was an early border during the colonial settlement. The term ‘100 degrees longitude’’ made no sense
before the establishment of the prime Meridian in Greenwich, England, which was not until 1674, well after initial European exploration of the Southwest. By the time of the Oklahoma land runs, the meridians were well established, but it still baffles me how a reference point half way around the world was the basis for establishing boundaries between territories. One marker states that “settlers lined up along the 98th parallel before the land run”. I can’t help but wonder, who knew where that was?
After another incredible breakfast, this one at the City Cafe in Kingfisher, I emerged into the heat of 9:30 am and was hot and heavy breathing for the next 40 miles while the farms yielded to subdivision, the blacktop shoulders developed concrete curbs, and I was in the city.
Jeff and Jamie moved to a new house a year ago, a classic OKC ranch of the 1960’s era with sunken living room big enough for two sofas, a ping pong table, a piano and a trap set, indoor garden/fountain, wings of bedrooms, media room with 144” TV (I kid you not), three tier deck overlooking a pond, and an immense central kitchen where 16 of us all feasted on a taco spread. It is great to see everyone again, and to be back in Oklahoma. It feels like home, even though it is nothing like New England.
Cows are my biggest fans.