Day 4 – Oklahoma Wind, Gas Scare & Giant Tires

We finished yesterday off at another Motel 6, in Van Buren, Arkansas.  It was also very nice and had several cool, stylish touches, including a built-in booth with table, vibrant touches of orange and yellow and a faux-wood floor.

Van Buren is a very short drive to Fort Smith, which is a city on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  We were eager to hit the road this morning, so we ate a speedy breakfast at Waffle House and took to the road.  Two things we noticed right away were a) I-40 in Oklahoma is very windy (at least during this time of year) and b) there is a lot of large road kill.

Wind and Gas

The day was uneventful except for some neat sightings near the freeway and a particularly nice rest stop.  There are several wind turbine fields along I-40 in Oklahoma. That should tell you how windy it can get.  Because we are spending most of our time in the car, we could only feel its influence from the way the car was thrown around and how our gas mileage plummeted.

Oklahoma is generally flat, so you’d expect your gas mileage to increase.  Not the case today!  Driving through Arkansas, where there are hills, we got 37.4 miles to the gallon on one of our tanks (using 87 octane).  As I write this, we are about 45 miles from Amarillo and we just about ran out of gas.  Considering we average more than 300 miles to a tank, we were quite surprised when the gas light came on after only 289 miles and upon fill-up, we took a GALLON more than usual.  Our gas mileage barely broke 29 mpg.

Fun Things Along the Road

We stopped at the Texas Visitor Center right outside the McCllellan Creek National Grassland.  It was very cool – miles of grasslands with dry creek beds carved out every quarter mile or so.  The dogs ate their meat meal here and Fred got to go for an in-cage walk.  As we gazed about, waiting for the dogs to finish eating, we noticed how it really felt like “the west.”

Fred supervises while the dogs dine at the Texas Welcome Center.

Fred supervises while the dogs dine at the Texas Welcome Center.

The cotton fields near the highway are also quite the sight to see.  They look whiter than snow.  At one point, we saw what appears to be cotton in its harvested form, jammed together in shipping container- sized bales.

We did not realize what they were until we were nearly past them traveling at 75 mph) so the picture is not the best.

We did not realize what they were until we were nearly past them traveling at 75 mph) so the picture is not the best.

Not fun was the state trooper that caused traffic confusion but he did enable us to grab a photo of the flat terrain.  He was going less than 40 mph when the speed limit is stated as 75 mph.  It’s awkward to blow past a cop at twice his speed so we cautiously passed him before ramping it up again.

A nice picture of the sky and flat terrain; taken while braking hard behind the state trooper.

A nice picture of the sky and flat terrain; taken while braking hard behind the state trooper.

We passed a truck carrying HUMONGOUS tires.  Tires aren’t really my thing but these were awe inspiring.  We think they’re probably for mining equipment or some super big dump truck.  Check out the tire ‘hairs’ in the picture.

Big tires being transported somewhere outside of Amarillo, TX

Big tires being transported somewhere outside of Amarillo, TX

Notice the fine bristles on the surface of the tire...I wonder how much larger they are than regular tire hairs.

Notice the fine bristles on the surface of the tire…I wonder how much larger they are than regular tire hairs.

I’m wearing shorts in November!

It was 79 degrees today in one of the cities we passed through. While the car was pretty cool at the time, the sun rays would shine through the window and heat up a localized area of my body.  I also had the warm laptop on my legs, which wasn’t helping.  It was pretty uncomfortable.  In any case, I’m currently wearing shorts and a short sleeved t-shirt, something I would likely not be doing if we were back in Manchester.

We noticed the temperature change not just from the warmth, but from the bugs.  Aside from the random warm days that brought out disturbing hordes of lady bugs, the bugs left Manchester several weeks ago.  Well, flies are still out here.  I don’t know if the insect population changes here over the course of the seasons.  Maybe winter just starts later….

This was not intended to be a picture of the sunset; it is a picture of the incredible bug splatter, all acquired today.

This was not intended to be a picture of the sunset; it is a picture of the incredible bug splatter, all acquired today.

Two years Ago, in Amarillo

We stopped at the I-Hop in Amarillo in January 2012 during our road trip to California.  In the picture below, note the winter coat and salt-encrusted vehicle.  We’re very glad to be making this journey while it’s still warm.  We passed on the I-Hop this time in order to check out the chili at Waffle House.  We ate fast and hit the road.  We want to reach Moriarty, New Mexico before calling it a night.

The car during our stop in Amarillo during January 2012.  Burrr!

The car during our stop in Amarillo during January 2012. Burrr!

 

This Waffle House had a sign prohibiting firearms inside as well as a smoking section.  Two things you would not have seen in Manchester, CT.

This Waffle House had a sign prohibiting firearms inside as well as one directing patrons to a smoking section. Two things you would not see in Manchester, CT.

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