Cincinnati to Texas, Day 3: Springfield, MO to Wichita Falls, TX (July 29, 2014)
I finally was able to log a full 8 hours of sleep. That made it a little bit easier to get my butt peeled out of the bed at 4AM. It’s a good thing, too. We had a very long day ahead of us. I packed up everything but the cats and loaded it all into the Jeep. I’ve got a bit of a “system” going here.
Putting the Cat BACK in the Bag
Squeak knew what I was up to. He ran away from me a little bit, but seemed to know that I was going to win in the end and just let me pick him up. He complained a bit as I put him into the carrier, but it was pretty uneventful. Missy and Junior, however, were going to be a bit more of a challenge since they refused to run into the bathroom and be cornered. They kept running under the beds. I sent Linda and the dogs out to the Jeep and I started by turning the beds up on their sides, eliminating their hiding places.
And there they were, packed into the corner like a couple of surprised cockroaches. When I moved toward them, they fled in different directions. Missy once again tried to get behind the dresser. I moved it a bit so that her only escape was in reverse and I was able to grab her and put her into her crate with little more fuss.
Junior was huddled in a corner. He growled and hissed at me. When I reached for him, He darted across the room, paying no attention to where he was going. He got trapped in the same wedge that missy did. He struggled a bit, but I was able to load him up with no injuries to either him or me!
I will try to get some pictures of the process for tomorrow’s entry. It really is rather comical.
Los Banditos Gasolinos
We headed out and got our coffee and then hit the road. About 50 miles down the road, Linda signalled that she needed a potty stop. As a general rule, I don’t like to stop for only one reason. Try to combine the things we need to do so that we don’t waste a lot of time stopping and starting. So, I decided to fuel up. I put 9.534 gallons in.
HEY WAIT! 52.5 miles divided by 9.534 gallons is 5.5 MPG. WTF! We have been averaging 8 MPG for this whole trip. If I had gone that distance at our average economy, I would have used 6.6 gallons.
OMG! Someone STOLE Three gallons of gas overnight! Geez! I probably would have given the people $10 for gas had they just asked me. What is this world coming to!
For the rest of the day, we never came anywhere close to that mileage…and we got the worst mileage of the trip today!
Nah. Not gonna do that. Everyone always quotes that musical when they drive through Oklahoma. As if it’s the only state that has wind sweeping down the plains?
We crossed into the state and could tell right away that the highway was a toll road because of the sparseness of exits and the general good condition of the highway. One thing that concerned us was that the speed limit was set to 75 MPH with a minimum speed of 50 MPH. There were several times yesterday that we went below 50. I set the cruise control for 6o MPH and we started truckin’.
Oklahoma’s toll roads are a little different from the ones I’m used to. You pay a flat fee based on the number of axles you have (we have four) and if you get off at an exit, you get a partial refund of the toll. Strange, but I guess it works, right?
Well, we finally had our first breakdown in the Jeep. Now, before you all go buying me AAA memberships, I’ll tell you that it was something that was a little iffy to begin with, and I was just hoping that it would make it to Texas before it failed. It was the brake light combination switch. This happened once before a few years ago when the factory original brake switch failed and started doing the same thing. So, I went over to AutoZone and bought one. It also came with a lifetime warranty.
The switch has multiple functions. It handles turning on the brake lights. It handles the shifter interlock that prevents you from moving out of Park without your foot on the brake. It also tells the cruise control computer when you touch the brake pedal so that it can cancel the cruise control.
The brake lights worked just fine. The shifter interlock is a nanny device and I have considered disabling it on more than one occasion, so I didn’t care that it wasn’t working for that. However, being without cruise control for the remainder of the trip was NOT acceptable.
So, we got off the highway in Claremore, OK. We got fuel and made a potty stop. I also located an AutoZone. We drove over there and I removed the switch. Thankfully, it required no tools, either. I went into the store and swapped it out for a new one and we were back on the road in no time with cruise control that was even more reliable than it was before.
Making the Grade(s)
Wow. I-44 in Oklahoma is hilly! We went up some hills that were very long. The grade wasn’t horrible, but I think one of those hills must’ve been three miles long! Pulling the weight of our trailer up that hill slowed us waaaay down. I had to manually downshift the transmission in several places to keep from falling below 50 MPH. We just KNEW that some officious cop would swoop down out of nowhere and bust us for going 48 MPH or something.
Red Dirt Diaries
The earth in this section of Oklahoma is very, very red! Nothing compared to the beige/brown colors in Ohio or the tan colors of West Texas. So, Linda did a little research online. We discovered that the dirt is red because it’s got a lot of iron in it. Basically, about 200 Million years ago, sediment was deposited by rivers in the area, and because it was fresh water, there was a lot of oxygen in the water. This caused the iron deposits in the sediment to rust as it accumulated. It eventually turned into shale and was worn away and mixed with the rest of the soil, giving it the characteristic red coloring.
Just north of the Texas border on I-44 is Fort Sill. This is the Army base that I went to for Basic Training back in 1993. While I wound up leaving the service after basic because of some medical issues, I have a lot of fond memories of that place. For me, it was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing again when we chose this route.
Then, when we were passing the exit for the main gate, I saw something. It keyed a memory in me that was 20 years old. I had one of those bizarre movie-style flashbacks and remembered that this was the place that they took me to load me on a bus when they were sending me home.
It was amazing, especially since I had not thought about that location at all (not even once) since I left there, and seeing that parking area just threw me into the Wayback Machine.
Once we got on the final stretch of I-44 in Oklahoma, it was clear that this part was the red-headed stepchild of the toll road system in Oklahoma. The road is sparsely travelled and is in terrible shape. Thankfully the work crews were out and actively fixing it. There were times when there were no other cars visible. This is an Interstate! Wow. I was really amazed.
We Made It! Well, Kinda.
We finally crossed into Texas! I wish I could report that our journey was over, but we still need to cut across the top of Texas and into New Mexico so that we can meet Tracey and Mark at Carlsbad tomorrow evening. That’s another 350 miles! Then, we will cross into Texas for good and drive the final 100 miles to our new home.
We finally made it to Wichita Falls, Texas! I had been wanting to get a final weigh of my trailer before we left Ohio so that I knew what I was hauling. It’s a good thing I didn’t. We stopped at a scale here in Wichita Falls and I discovered that the trailer weighed about 8500lb! That’s 1500lb over the max weight for the trailer, and 3500lb more than the Jeep is rated to tow! Oops.
Had I learned this prior to leaving, I probably would have unloaded some things and left them there. I never would have discovered that the Jeep was able to tow that much weight, albeit with a (drastically) lowered top speed. I’m not gonna sweat it; it made it this far with no problems – I expect that it will do just fine for the remainder of the trip. I don’t plan to ever tow that much with the Jeep again, but it sure is nice to know that it can do it in a pinch.
We found the Motel 6 in Wichita Falls. Wow. This place is a dump. However, it’s got a fridge to keep our stuff cold, and it’s got free wifi, two beds and working AC. That’s all we need. We’re just here to sleep….and for me to write blog entries.
Miles Driven today: 434.8
Total Fuel Consumed: 60.59G
Total Fuel Expense: $200.72
Average Fuel Cost/gal: $3.312
Average MPG: 7.18
Whole Trip So Far:
Miles Driven: 1064.8
Total Fuel Consumed: 137.57G
Total Fuel Expense: $460.03
Average Fuel Cost/gal: $3.344
Average MPG: 7.74