Are you wondering why I have that annoyed, almost pissed-off look in my eyes? That’s because, for the third time in two weeks, it’s snowing on me. It’s not like I’m way up in the mountains of Colorado this time, either; I’m in southern Nevada, barely an hour from Las Vegas, and June is only three days away. It should be sweltering here. But, no, instead I’ve managed to stumble into yet another late-May winter snap, and now I’m getting snowed on. Again.
ENOUGH WITH THE FREAKING SNOW ALREADY!
The idea for a cross-country trip started coming together a few months ago, when Victoria got a nice promotion at work that required us to move from DFW to her company HQ near San Jose, CA. She grew up in the area and still has family there, and we’ve been wanting to move back for some time now, so things worked out nicely. I was unable to find a new job in CA before our mid-April move, so I just quit and am now unemployed, which isn’t all bad. We trailered the Ninja 250 out to California with us when we moved, and I’ve had lots of free time to ride it out and explore the numerous twisty roads surrounding the Bay.
Anyways, the FZ1 got loaded up with camping gear and parked in a friend’s garage prior to our leaving Texas. She waited there for a few weeks until Vic and I flew back to DFW for another friend’s wedding, after which Vic would fly back to CA and I would hit the road. I had sketched out a rough route and noted the locations of various campgrounds, but nothing was really set in stone. I had certain roads on my to-do list, like 550 and 141 in Colorado, and US-50 across Nevada, and I wanted to visit a bunch of the national parks through CO and UT. I had no job to rush back to and had all the time in the world (well, as much as Vic would let me be away for), and so my goal was to take my time, enjoy myself, not miss anything along the way.
And with that, we’re off...
Day 1: Sunday 5/15/11
272 mi - Map
Euless, TX to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK
After a few glasses of water and some aspirin helped chase away the hint of a hangover from the wedding party then night before, Vic and I set off for my friend Blizz’s house, where the FZ1 was stored. After getting everything squared away and secured on the bike, we all headed off for a group lunch with my good friends from FWMR at Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell.
The FZ1 (with topbox) crammed into the back of the garage. George and Blizz have *a lot* of toys.
Loaded up and ready to roll. Odometer reading at departure: 24040.
Hard Eight: Mmm, BBQ.
A group shot with the contingent of FWMR who were able to make it out to lunch.
We stuffed ourselves silly and wasted a few hours BS’ing over lunch, and then it was time to leave. Vic and I had our goodbyes, and she headed off for the airport for her flight back to CA, while I jumped on the freeway and headed north for Oklahoma. Dave (giving the Versys a last-minute shakedown in preparation for a cross-country trip of his own) and Nick (on that *other* naked bike) rode with me for a bit up to the Red River crossing.
Dave and Nick at a gas stop in Decatur.
The first bridge spanning the Red River west of I-35 is the Taovoyas Indian Bridge. The roads heading north to it from DFW are fairly entertaining, and the bridge itself is way out in the middle of nowhere on a 2-mile straightaway dropping down into the river valley. Needless to say, everybody who goes there obeys the posted speed limits at all times.
At the bridge, I said goodbye to Dave and Nick as they turned back south. My destination for the night, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, was still another 100 uneventful miles into Oklahoma. Once there, I detoured off the main highway for a few miles to ride to the top of Mount Scott, a small peak that rises some 1,000 feet above the surrounding plain.
A section of the paved road that climbs to the summit of Mount Scott.
View of Elmer Thomas Lake from the summit.
Oklahoma Hwy 49 winding through the prairie. I had to dodge some longhorns in the road shortly after taking this picture... hey, it is a Wildlife Refuge!
I made it to Doris Campground, at the edge of Lake Quanah Parker, at about 6PM. After unloading and setting up camp, I sat down to record the deeds of the day, and as I was typing the date into my phone, it struck me: May 15. Mom’s birthday. Check phone - no service. Crap! I could run back to Lawton, 20 miles away, and call her from there. However, just south of the campground is a small peak called Little Baldy Mountain, and the campground map shows a hiking trail leading to it. Crossing my fingers, I set off. Arriving at the summit a short time later, I check my phone again, and thankfully I have a few bars of reception! I’m able to call Mom to wish her a happy birthday and avoid the dreaded “bad son” label.
Looking up at Little Baldy Mountain. There’s cell phone service up there!
After calling mom (and Victoria!), I sit down to admire the views of Lake Quanah Parker at sunset and eat the Subway footlong that I procured at my last gas stop.
I was able to scramble back down the mountain and back to my campsite before it got too dark. Full and tired (we had partied until closing time after the wedding, and I didn’t get many hours of sleep last night), and happy that Day 1 of my trip went pretty much as planned, I climbed into my tent and passed out.