Having crossed back into Central Time, the sun didn’t come up until past 7. I was happy because even if the sun comes up at 6, lots of shops still don’t open until 8. With the sun coming up ‘later’, I could go to the gas station to fill up my water, important considering the next place wasn’t for 35 miles at the town of Elkhart. Upon hearing what I was going to do, the lady in the gas station seemed shocked. She asked me if I could make it the 35 miles to Elkhart in a day and also let me know that I was crazy. I’ve had lots of people surprised, but few have been that bluntly honest.
Leaving town and going south took me through an area very similar to that I had passed the previous day in Colorado. There were a couple of small drops, but it was basically flat and I was passing farmlands with wheat. Apparently the area gets 11″ of precipitation a year and most of the farms are watered through irrigation. The sprinklers that I’ve seen in lots of fields are apparently motorised and move themselves. They must take the water from the rivers as every time the road dropped, the creeks or rivers were nearly all completely dry.
I arrived in the town of Elkhart and again had to change my tube. Another one of my Park Took Super Patches had failed. They’re convenient for quick fixes, but at least in this cold weather don’t seem to hold that well. I went to the library to use the WiFi to contact the company I bought my tent from to try to sort out a solution. After basically being told to be patient, I asked the librarian, Ms Smith, if she had any suggestions on how to get to Stratford. She mentioned that she grew up there told me the best roads. I asked her if she knew anywhere to camp and she gave me her parent’s address and said it should be OK to put my tent up there. I thanked her and rode out of town.
Leaving Elkhart I had crossed into Oklahoma, but not being on the main road didn’t see a sign showing the border. The 35 miles through the Oklahoman panhandle looked very similar to the ride through Kansas. The rivers and creeks were all empty again and were the only time the land wasn’t completely flat. It meant that I got through quite quickly and before long found my way in the town of Texhoma – a concatenation of Texas & Oklahoma, which made me think of what other border towns would be called.
I stopped by the grocery store to get some tortillas and asked for directions to the address in Stratford. I had typed it into my GPS and it had shown a location just next to the Texan border which I knew was wrong. A group of guys in their late teens or early 20s standing next to a car were happy to give me directions and seemed in awe of me for what I was doing. It turned out that the place I was looking for was indeed in Stratford and so 20 miles down the road.
I crossed into Texas, my 29th state overall and 5th in a few days (NM, CO, KS, OK, TX). The road to Stratford was fairly busy but had a nice shoulder so I made good time and got to town just after the sun was setting, number 4 in a row.
I found the Smith’s business which was on 1st Street, meaning it was very close to the main road through town as well as a railway track. The problem was, the shop closed at 5 and it was just before 6 so they weren’t there. I was working out what to do when a pick-up truck pulled next to me and asked me if I was OK. I asked him if he knew where the Smiths lived and he said “Of course, follow me.” I jumped back on my bike and rode over to their house. I knocked on the door, introduced myself and explained the situation. They asked me what they were expected to do and I said that I was just looking for a place to put my tent up. I was told that behind their shop would work the best and they wished me a good trip. I thanked them and left.
With their shop being next to the train line and a main road I wasn’t completely sold on the prospect of camping there. As it wasn’t dark yet, I figured that I should try a couple of houses not by the main road as I always had their shop as a backup option. I looked around town for houses with Christmas lights and found the Blair residence.
The Blairs place not only had Christmas lights, but also festive music playing. I knocked on the door and was greeted by Earl. I explained the situation and he said that of course I could camp in front of his place. I thanked him and went outside to put my tent up.
A few minutes later, Earl came outside and said that he’d just heard the weather forecast for that night. It was going to be cold and windy and he didn’t think I should camp. He told me that he would rather I stayed at the motel nearby and offered to pay. I was bowled over by his generosity and gratefully accepted. He showed me over to the motel, helped me check in and then showed me where I should get breakfast the next day. I thanked him profusely and we parted ways. I went into the motel room in awe of the events that had just transpired.
Riding in Oklahoma
Riding in Oklahoma #2
In the motel