Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coast to Coast: Day 15: Amarillo, TX - Sallisaw, OK. Thursday, May 22, 2014

     I woke up at 3:00 am feeling ready for the 400 mile journey to the campsite along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border. I cleaned out my water bottles and packed up my motorcycle for the day’s trip. Yet only an hour into my ride, I was overcome with exhaustion.

     I thought for the longest time that my exhaustion was due to dehydration. That certainly was the case when i was crossing deserts, but I was now in the plains. I had been feeling very tired every day since I left Ohio. I was getting enough rest, so it couldn't be sleep deprivation. I was eating plenty of food, so it couldn’t be lack of energy, or so I thought.

     It wasn't until I pulled off the highway at an abandoned gas station and reached for a stick of beef jerky that I realized why I was getting so tired all the time. Beef jerky; Calories: 120. I scanned the nutrition facts label of my Gatorade bottle. Gatorade; Calories: 80. I had been eating a lot of food only to realize now that there was no energy content in anything I was eating. I was taking more breaks than I needed to and suffering exhaustion needlessly because I was eating the wrong foods.

One of the many abandoned gas stations in the west 

     Simple problems have simple solutions. I took my bike 10 miles up the highway to a gas station that wasn’t abandoned. I looked at the nutrition facts label of a few different foods when I came upon 250 calorie skittles. I grabbed a handful, paid, and munched down two of them.

     Within two hours, I was feeling on top of the world again, and better than most days on the road (except for the days I had a high calorie McDonald’s meal or a 72 ounce steak). The remaining 150 miles to camp was a breeze.

     The terrain changed in Oklahoma from the dry, desert looking atmosphere to the greener, tree covered, Ohio feel. It definitely felt more like home. The only unwelcome change was the bugs. There were no bugs in the west, but they were everywhere here. I didn’t care though. I was just glad to be somewhere that reminded me of home.

     I stopped in Oklahoma City. From the highway, it looked like the most average city in America. If I googled “City”, I’m sure the first result would be a picture of Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City: The most spectacularly average city in the United States

     I stopped in a parking space downtown and checked my phone. I was craving a good burger, and found Bricktown Burgers just down the street. Bricktown Burgers was well decorated inside, with various vintage signs covering the walls. I approached the counter, ordered a burger, and waited until they called my name.

     The burger they handed to me was just like Oklahoma City itself. It looked very ordinary. But when I took my first bite, I was transported to a world of juicy and fatty heaven. This was no ordinary burger. It was handcrafted by artisans of the highest skill, and I had the privilege of experiencing the greatest burger of my entire 19 year old life. I finished the whole thing almost before I could even taste it. Maybe Oklahoma was the same way. Ordinary from the outside, but full of hidden treasure. I just wish I had the time to experience it.

     That burger fueled me to the KOA campsite in Sallisaw, but I almost left the campsite in anger. I was there early at about 4:00 and went into the office. The owner was talking to another guy for a whole ten minutes while I was just standing in front of the desk where he was standing. After he had finished, I said at least three times that I wanted to pay for some detergent with my cabin, which he forgot. Then the phone rang and he was talking on the phone while his daughter of about 8 years rang up my detergent. To finish it all off, he forgot to give me my cabin key. I made it to my motorcycle when I remembered seeing the keys on the counter. I went back in, took them, and left.

     At the very least, after the phone conversation was over and he was giving me the usual camp instructions, he said firewood was $5. Then he realized he had pretty much ignored me for the last ten minutes and said:

“I don’t normally do this, but you can use the cut down trees in the nature walk for free firewood”.

     Damn straight.

My small masterpiece 

     The rest of the night went by much smoother. I did my laundry, then went to McDonalds (because you can never get tired of McDonalds when all you eat is beef jerky, candy bars, and Gatorade), worked on my journal, and built a fire. I took my first shower since I was in LA. The showers weren’t the nicest I had ever seen, but it never felt so good to be clean. I didn’t even care that I had no towel.

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