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  • Thomas Curran

Monroe, OK to Clinton, OK

May 14 to June 7

OK, OK, I know, it’s been forever since I blogged but I have been posting a ton on FB and IG so it’s not like you’ve missed me that much, right? So much has happened since Monroe I don’t even know where to begin! I’m def not doing a day by day in this post but I’ll hit the high lites, good stories, bad stories and some stuff in between. And lots of good pics!!

I guess I’ll start with my last walking day with Wink. We left Prague pretty early with a goal of getting to a town I will not name because I don’t want to be vindictive. It was about 18 miles or so away and it was hot outside. This town had two motels – one that had burned down a few months earlier and one that had been closed due to unlawful “adult” business activity. I think you know what I mean. So, we didn’t have a motel option so we went to the police department to ask where we might be able to camp. Now, I have had tremendous success doing this in the past. Cops and firemen have always been very helpful. But, in this particular town which rhymes with Checotah and, oddly enough, is spelled exactly the same, they were not so helpful. In fact, they were the opposite of helpful. When I told them my story and asked if I might be able to camp anywhere in the town or behind the PD or FD, the answer wasn’t just a flat NO. It was this – “You cannot camp anywhere in the city limits. We recommend you walk to the truck stop outside of town and figure out where you’re going to sleep tonight. They won’t hassle you there.” No joke. That was their answer. They basically kicked me out of town or, should I say, strongly encouraged me to leave. Like I was Rambo or something! “They drew first blood, not me.” So, on that incredibly hot afternoon, we hoofed it out of town. Our only option at that point, since there were no churches or public land offerings on the side of the highway, we had to go another 13 miles to a legit campsite at Lake Eufaula. By the time we got there, Wink was a mess. He could barely walk. He was limping and panting and I couldn’t get enough water in him. I felt horrible. We set up camp and got to bed early. The next morning, no change. He wouldn’t budge from the tent and when he finally did get up to go to the bathroom, his limping was worse. So, after many phone calls, etc. we had a rescue plan. Rachel and Sean Vogt are Courtney’s sister and brother in law and they live in Plano and they are big time dog people. Rachel drove 4 hours to Lake Eufaula and picked Wink up, got him back to Plano and to a vet. Conclusion – vet said absolutely best idea and put him on bed rest for 4-8 weeks. So, now my dog is near Dallas and I’m in Oklahoma. Ugh…

I marched on thinking of ways to get Wink back to California but first I had to deal with some more crazy weather. Lindsay was meeting me in Prague, OK a few days later so I had to get there and start to sort stuff out. The day I rolled into Prague Lindsay arrived just a few hours later and we made our way to the Capron home. Lindsay had stayed with them on her first journey across the US then again on her way back and, apparently they like her because they invited her and I to stay. The Capron family were true road angels for me. Our first night was wild. The storms were raging outside and there had been tornado warnings all day. Into the eve the warnings became more serious but most of the activity was west and north of us. At 5 am the following morning the tornado sirens started blaring. I was out of bed, dressed and had my phone, journal and GPS device in hand and was ready to get the hell down in that shelter. But, no, the Capron family watched it on TV…they seemed to understand what we were watching on the weather channel and didn’t seem too worried. Then, all of a sudden, they stood up and said, “OK, time to go down there. Let’s go. Quickly.” I was like, “Oh shit! This is happening!”. So, outside into the pouring rain and down into the shelter went me, the entire Capron family (maybe 5 of them), Lindsay, two dogs, 3 horses, a cow, 8 kittens and a few hogs. OK…everything after dogs is exaggeration but there were a lot of breathing souls down in that cellar!! It was pretty wild. The thunder and lightning seemed to be directly on top of us. I had never seen rain like that. Mix in the eerie tornado sirens and the whole thing was completely surreal. But it was so short. Maybe 5 minutes, maybe 10. Then, it was all done. Everyone went back upstairs and most just went back to bed. I was so wide awake there was no way I was sleeping! I made a cup of coffee and went to my room.

Me, deep in the tornado shelter

So, after learning that nobody was hurt and no damage was done by the tornado that did touch down a few miles away, I was kinda glad that whole ordeal happened. That was a crazy experience! I don’t want to do it again but I’m kinda stoked that I got to live through that adrenaline rush and oddly exciting fear.

Lindsay and I only got to walk 1 day due to the storms but we had a hell of a fun/weird/crazy day out there. We were not walking with my cart, Alexa, because we were going to get picked up and brought back to the Capron house that night. So it was just the two of us and our water enjoying the road of no shoulders. At one point a big black pick up truck was coming towards us super fast and he wasn’t moving over at all. In fact, he was kinda scooting closer to the edge of the road. Lindsay started to give the “slow down” gesture as we moved onto the grass but he wasn’t slowing down and he was real close to the white line. As he got closer and as Lindsay continued to give him the slow down gesture, we could see him through the windshield yelling at us and being irate. He flew by, inches from Lindsay, which, apparently pissed her off because she immediately turned around and gave him double birds. Whoops. At that the guy slammed on his brakes and through his truck in reverse and came barreling towards us. Lindsay grabbed her phone and started recording the incident. He stopped about 15 feet from us and got out. This guy was in his 60s, clean cut, red USA t-shirt under an unbuttoned long sleeve dress shirt that was untucked. And under that shirt on his hip was a gun and on that gun was his right hand. Out comes the gun as he said, “You just made the biggest mistake of your life lady!” to which Lindsay replied, “What are you gonna do, shoot us?”. “Maybe!”. My hands were way up in the air and I just kept telling the guy that we’re just walking, we have every right to walk here but my words were drowned out by their argument. “I’m recording everything and calling the cops right now, sir.” Yes, she said sir, many times. He put the gun away and slowly backed up and got into his truck and drove off. I couldn’t believe it! Lindsay looked at me and said, “Wow. I am so sorry! Guess I shouldn’t have flipped him off! In Massachusetts that’s just what we do! I flip someone off, they flip me off then we go get a beer. That’s why we’re called Massholes. It’s how we do things.” My reply, “Put those birds away. Tape ‘em down. Cut ‘em off. Whatever you gotta do but don’t do that again!”. Then we laughed and swore we wouldn’t tell anyone that story. But, here I am, telling that story.

On my way to OKC I stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I saw a guy sitting in the little cafe with a back pack. I asked where he was headed and he said CA. I said, “Me, too!” He replied, “I know. I know who you are. I’ve been following you on FB and figured we’d meet up at some point.”. That guy was Will Smith and he, too, was doing a trans-con from Florida to Santa Monica. We had a nice talk and I made my way out. I am walking faster than he is because he’s doing a lot of nature photography and taking his time. A few days later, just outside OKC, I met two sisters who were going from San Diego to Virginia on bikes. What a great week for meeting trans-con crossers!

Me and Will Smith…a different Will Smith

I made it to OKC a few days later and Courtney flew out to visit for a few nights. During that time I made my plan to get Wink home. I rented a car in OKC, drove to Plano to pick him up and then drove all the way to CA, dropped him off, flipped a u-turn and headed back to OKC. On the way I stopped in Phoenix to visit my dad and step-mom for a night. That was really nice. I used to see my dad a lot before I left but they moved to the Phoenix area in May. It took me two more long road days to get back to OKC where I stayed with one of the Capron daughters and her husband. Oh, and I got another tattoo in OKC. Sorry mom.

In honor of my 1200 miles on the road with Wink.

I was finally back on the road!! Minus my co-pilot Wink but walking westward. It’s been 6 straight days of walking and I’m getting in some pretty serious miles. The walk has definitely been different this past week. I’m on Route 66 now and that was kind of a milestone for me. It always represented about the halfway point and a massive change in scenery. Where I had been walking through trees and woods for the past 3 1/2 months I now found myself in wide open plains with a few signs of desert life starting to show. I’ve seen a few cacti and a few scorpions on the roads and lots and lots of snakes. The weather has been weird. It’s hot. Really hot. And super humid. And, like before, sudden storms come and go and, when they come, they are fierce but they don’t last long. It’s very hard to predict the weather and the forecasts are not super dependable. This makes planning hard. I don’t mind rain at all. It’s actually not bad walking in it. But when you get rain down here you have a pretty damn good chance of also getting thunder and lightning and that I do not walk in. And since I never quite know if that’s going to happen, I never quite know whether I should walk in the rain. Case in point – before Prague I stayed at a campground in Pine Creek. It was nice when I arrived but, late that night, without being forecasted, a massive thunderstorm came through and lasted most of the next day. I didn’t get back on the road until 2 pm. My goal that day was another campground about 15 miles away. No big deal…easy 5 hours. But when I got there…no campground. Nothing but a run down neighborhood that was not stealth camp friendly at all. A very nice couple who lived in a really cool RV back at the campsite came out and picked me up and let me sleep in their RV because we had another night of massive storms. Then they drove me all the way back out to where they picked me up the next morning and I made my way to Prague that day. Great people.

So, I’m in Clinton, OK and yesterday I celebrated my halfway point. Although I know it’s not my exact halfway point (impossible to get that down to the exact mile) it’s pretty close. Give or take 50 miles I’d say based on how I route home. It was a good feeling to really let the fact that I’ve walked halfway across a continent set in. I look at the map with my walking line and truly can’t believe I’ve walked it. Pretty crazy!

I’ve loved walking Route 66. There are so many awesome bits of Americana on this highway that I’ve heard about forever and seen in movies and now I get to see them up close and at a nice, slow pace. I’m about 3 days from the Texas border and a two weeks from Amarillo then about a month to Albuquerque. More on all that another day…

Call Guinness! I found the world’s largest dandelion!

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© 2020 by Thomas Curran

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