Oklahoma-the uphill state & The North West Passage

Trip Start May 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Panhandle Campground

Flag of United States  , Oklahoma
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

After the late start and bad weather, we chose to take the interstate I-44 which is over most of the original Route 66 - to follow the true route requires some real dedication and getting off the interstate for every small town, which we decided not to do.  After we crossed the state line into Oklahoma, we left the interstate at Vinita and headed due west on route 60.

We reached Osage Indian Reservation and after a quick consultation with the maps and guides, decided to break for the day here at the state park because as we suspected there is NOTHING between here and New Mexico but prairie grass and rolling plains. We intend to blast thru Oklahoma as quickly as possible so we did not even disconnect the Beast and Eagle for the night.

Early in the morning we set off from our spot and not even 100 yards down the park road a HUGE Tarantula was blocking our exit. Another vote for the camper.....  we bug spray it every time we camp! The Park Ranger assured us that they do not go after humans as there are plenty of bugs and although not deadly to us they do hurt very badly if they bite.

Following route 60 we headed for the aptly named North West Passage, (412) which passes thru the Oklahoma panhandle bypassing Texas (our own little political statement). The road was in pretty bad condition, and the wind had picked up to a 30-40mph headwind as we headed along the North West Passage. Oklahoma climbs from around 1000ft above sea level to about 5000ft as you enter New Mexico thru the panhandle, so it was not our imagination  that we were going up hill all the time. All this combined lead to a frightening gas consumption average of 4mpg!!! For the pessimists amongst us there should be feeling of impending doom. Oklahoma really is empty and on one particular 150 mile gap between gas stations (and signs of life) we ran out of gas!! The Beast holds 35 gallons of fuel and at 4mpg thats 140 miles........ ah? We began losing power and forward momentum about 3 miles from the next town, even though the trip computer on the Beast said we had 6 miles to empty. 

Brent was given the task of hitching a ride and hopefully returning with some gasoline. Of course Toby had asked Brent to join AAA more times than he could remember, which lead to an interesting discussion while we waited for a non axe murder to pass by. After about 15 minutes, some illegal Mexican immigrants (who refused to be paid for the ride) stopped an offered a lift. Toby was left all alone on the side of the road wondering if he would ever see Brent again. Thankfully he returned about 30 minutes later (via another Mexican immigrant) with 2 gallon water bottles full of gas - the service station he had gone to did not sell gas cans!! Using a paper cup as a funnel we managed reload the beast with enough gas to reach the town (barely).

We were pretty worn down after that episode..... talk about the wild wild west... and it was getting late so we decided to find somewhere to pull up for the night in the town of Guymon. It was the strangest campsite: 2 rows of spaces, close together in a completely featureless place. Not bad for a one night emergency but we were astounded to discover that the other 5 vehicles in the campsite were permanent residents... with decks and car ports and everything. Its was like "little trailer-park-hell on the prairie". Why anybody would want to live here permanently was beyond us, I mean anywhere in Oklahoma (or the rest of the country) would be prettier and less plain. The pictures do not do justice to how bleak the campsite was. As the night came, the thunder and lightning storms were added to the wind and the campground manager came round to tell us he was keeping an ear on the weather radio for tornado's (here we are again!!) and wanted to show us his tornado shelter. We began to worry that maybe all the residents were like us, traveling thru, but due to the uphill climb and unrelenting headwind were unable to continue...... some kind of weird twilight zone!!  

Needless to say, we were up and at'em the next day having survived another night in Oklahoma. The wind seemed to drop as we entered New Mexico and the gas consumption returned to normal.

Goodbye Okla-MFing-homa! 
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