Bike Trip Day 13 – 8/1/11 – Watonga, OK to OKC, OK

Start:  Watonga OK

Finish: Oklahoma City, OK

Weather:  105 degrees, sunny

Bike Time: 6 hours

Miles:  66

Distance to date: 900

Contrived, yet true, my odometer turned over 900 miles as I entered my nephew’s Jeff’s driveway in Oklahoma City.  I have finished the first third of my trip – now for a few days of family fun.

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.

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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12 Responses to Bike Trip Day 13 – 8/1/11 – Watonga, OK to OKC, OK

  1. Len Gengel says:


    Keep up the wonderful stories, I enjoy your perspective on Midwest life!!!


  2. Paul Creeden says:


    Just 10 years after those Oklahoma land runs my paternal grandfather was rolling along the prairies in a Stanley Steamer touring car, built in Newton, Massachusetts. He went as far as the Rocky Mountains every year and back to set up John Hancock Life Insurance franchises in cow towns. You’re probably making about the same speed on your bike.


    • Paul –

      That is a great vignette. I am sure I am travelling on much better roads than he did in his Stnaley Steamer. There are many artifacts from the time of the land run here. I partricularly like the farms that have land run designation markers – still farming after all these years.

  3. Beg to differ. You have quite a number of big fans.

    There’s a book, THE ORIGINS OF FRANCE, by a man who used his biking across the country as his starting point for the material. He said that one understands the landscape in a different way when one does that, and that, obviously, one sees things that you would otherwise miss. Your adventures reinforce the point.

    Miss ya!

    • Jean Beaulieu says:

      Now that you’re in my 200-mile-diameter area for a few days, I need to strongly recommend a visit to the National Cowboy Museum in Ok City. If you’ve ever tied a kerchief around your neck and buckled on a toy six-shooter, if you’ve ever ridden a rocking horse or even a broom with visions of straddling Trigger or Champion, if you know who Gabby Hayes and Tom Mix are, if you’ve enjoyed a Zane Gray, a Charles Portis, or a Louis L’Amour novel, if you don’t really believe that there are a thousand different kinds of barbed wire, or if you now have an abiding appreciation of Russell and Remington and the history of the American West, then this museum is for you. Trust me! It’s a good one.

      Jean Beaulieu

      • Jean –

        I agree with you whole heartedly. I have been to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame many times. Sara Dobberteen, my mother-in-law when I was married, was the editor of Persimmon HIll, their beautiful magazine of Western Art. The place is OKC’s treasure..

    • Aw shucks, Chuck, good to know I fans. But I love that cows, as a class, appear to take note of me!

      I should read The ORIGINS OF FRANCE. It is true that the world looks so differnt at this speed. My ability to absorb and process it is just so much deeper.

      Miss you too bud.

  4. pat bringenberg says:

    You’re the best, Shorty!

  5. Sherri McCutchen says:

    Happy family time to nourish you for the next leg.

  6. John Mulqueen says:

    Must be great to travel in peace contemplating cows. I am jealous. Very mooo-ving. Keep up the great posts, John Mulqueen

  7. John Mulqueen says:

    Ha, corny I get it. Stay cool.

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