Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oklahoma City, Texas Panhandle, & Tucumcari

We bounced and lurched our way across the cement-slab highways of Arkansas and Oklahoma, pulling into the state park campground at Arcadia Lake, north of Oklahoma City. We were surprised to see long-term residents there, some of whom clearly don't take a great deal of pride in their wheeled abodes. Sort of an "almost homeless" landscaping scheme. But we scored a great site, very large and with water on two sides. The dogs loved this site because previous campers had apparently scattered food scraps far and wide, so Kinsey and Toby were constantly foraging for nasty old discarded food particles, and we were constantly scolding them. A vast mound of beans at the water's edge seemed particularly delectable. Vile beasts!

Facing west, we enjoyed the warm breeze coming off of the lake. But storms were a-brewin'... the middle of the night we were awoken by blasts of much colder air blowing strongly through our open bedroom window. I got up and closed the window, and we were just drifting off to sleep again when a very loud, very clear voice issued forth from the sky! "Attention! Attention! Attention! Atencion! Atencion! Atencion! Strong thunderstorms are in the area. Expect high winds, lightning, and hail up to 2" in diameter..." The voice continued in Spanish and French, also advising those with boats to take them out of the water. Minutes later the wind ratcheted up to gale force, rain began lashing the windows, and the sky flashing with lightning. We didn't know what to do other than pull the covers over our heads and wait it out. That was as bad as it got for us, however. No hail, and no really close lightning strikes. The storm passed and calm returned. We found out later that we were very lucky. A couple hundred miles due south of us, in Dallas/Fort Worth, the same storm spawned violent tornadoes. We watched footage of tractor-trailers spinning through the air like plastic toys. Scary.

The next day was unsettled, rainy, windy and cold,(and the weather sucked too!) It was an indoor day. My aspirations of riding the park's mountain bike trails were washed away. We salvaged the day by going out to the movies to see Hunger Games. We both enjoyed the book very much, and were interested to see the characters brought to life. Not disappointed, either.

So, we extended our stay by a day, mostly so we could ride the mountain bike trail. Although not technically challenging - Oklahoma is about as mountainous as a Walmart parking lot, the trail was well built with turn-after-turn-after-turn, some nicely banked. It was possible to ride very fast, sometimes sliding around the corners on both wheels! I rode first to scope it out, and got a terrific workout. I returned to report that the trail was perfect for Nancy, so we both went out on the section that I thought she would enjoy best, and she did.

From Okla-storma City we continued westward and into the Texas panhandle. 20 miles south of the interstate was Pioneer Park, a county-run park and campground on the Salt Fork of the Red River. We arrived to find that we would be the only guests other than the camp hosts! The hosts, Austin and Patsy, couldn't have been any nicer. They were friendly and talkative without being intrusive. We were told that we could take any site, and that the dogs didn't need to be leashed! It was great, and only $10/night! We wished that we had more time to stay there.

We had planned to play golf at the local course, but the wind picked up, and the last thing I need is for the wind to carry my slice into the next green. So instead we found a county road (in this part of Texas a county road might require four-wheel-drive, which is OK because by Texas state law every citizen is required to drive a large American pickup truck)...

...took Toby and Kinsey for a walk and a ride respectively, then went to the Wellington Activity Center, where we enjoyed several games of racquetball (MW 2, NW 1). If any of our camping friends ever find themselves crossing the Texas panhandle on I-40, it's worth heading down to Wellington to stay at this nice little campground.

We made one more stop before arriving in Santa Fe. Heading northwest from Wellington we got buffeted by strong, gusty crosswinds, the worst we experienced in two years of towing. When we turned more directly west it wasn't so bad, and we arrived eventually at a dusty roadside campground in Tucumcari, New Mexico. This park was cheap and convenient, occupied only by a scattering of aged trailers and a school bus, which appeared to be the living quarters of the reclusive young hosts. It was quiet, and with a nice view of Tucumcari mountain. Not bad at all.

1 comment:

  1. Moutain bikes, golf and racquetball! You guys came prepared this time around!