We are rolling west, trying to avoid the black storm looming. All of Oklahoma is laid out like a giant grid between the fields. We can see three miles, clear to the horizon. As the storm heads east we stay above it heading west and then south behind it to rejoin the trail. Racing across the empty plains playing dodge the storm on an endless grid of hard pack farm roads. Grain silos appear like lost cities on the horizon as we get pelted with golf ball size raindrops.
It hadn’t always been like this. This morning after the fog burned off our campsite it was sunny and warm. As we set off the road turned to a deep sand trail lined with flowers. We wrestled into the sand grooves and pressed on. My bike bucked right, then left, then right again until stopping sideways but upright across the trail. I looked up to see Samantha had done the same thing. We had a good laugh and pushed on again, surging between first and second gear.
The road had infinite variations. Mud brown and cracked turned to brilliant white, then white and wet and we left a muddy track through it. Then red hard pack with a fine pea gravel. Then dried up mud with hard ruts leftover from a wetter day, then a fine powdery earth, freshly graded and finally sand again.
After the storm passed incredible things began to happen. The white hot flat light turned to shades and made the wheat more golden and the road more red. The clouds tried to hold the sun back but it snuck through in rays that lit the fields in patches. Then the Red Tailed hawks appeared. They matched our speed flying low just off our right shoulder, escorting us through their territory. We saw more and more hawks as we went. Some spooked off the power lines and we saw their powerful talons before they tucked them in.
We came to another four way intersection. There are no stop signs because the likelihood of two vehicles meeting is so unlikely it’s not worth the paint. Some of them have a sign saying “Dangerous Intersection” which is funny b.c the reason it’s dangerous is there’s no stop sign and limited visibility. Most of them you can see for miles in all directions. Any traffic will put up an impressive plume of dust visible for miles. We slow at every one just to be sure.
The oddest thing is the houses we come to. Just normal homes, green grass, a trampoline, a chasing dog but so remote, so lonely, way, way out here on the empty Oklahoma plains.
We turn south again and spot a herd of something, moving fast across the freshly mown wheat. They stop. We stop. Not deer. Brown above with white racing stripes, antelope! Their pronghorns just visible as they fly across the open space. Just fast, so fast. They seem at home here.
It dawns on me that we have a clear view in every direction to the horizon. You can be truly alone out here and know it. Scream, sing, run around naked in circles, no one is within a horizon of this place.