The Highway 69 blues

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OK, so if you’re sick of hearing me rant and rave about the pitiful state of the highways in Oklahoma, you might just want to quit reading here. At least I make it easy for you. If you’re willing to take a journey through some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, while listening to me bitch incessantly about the highway being one continuing stretch of pain, feel free to join in and sing along.

Lake Eufaula, Okla.Lake Eufaula, Okla.

I’ve been with George across Oklahoma on 40 numerous times. I’ve been up and down Oklahoma on 35. I’ve seen a lot of Oklahoma, and up until we traveled the length of 69 from Venita to Denison, I thought of Oklahoma as a huge, dusty cow pasture. Little did I know that over in the Eastern part of their state, Oklahomans are hiding some of the most gorgeous country mankind has ever seen.

You pay for the sights with your lumbar health. Also, broken teeth, if you happen to attempt eating or chewing gum while traveling this road. I use the term “road” very loosely here. I believe I read somewhere (in my imagination) that highway 69 was never actually dug and set aside as a highway. It was originally the largest prairie-dog burrow in the world, and when the little animals were hunted to near extinction during the Great Prairie Dog Roundup of 1984, the gubmint appropriated their complex system of tunnels and made it a highway. This actually sounds so stupid it might be true.

I think in between the pot holes, there are some actual pieces of asphalt, so it does indeed qualify as a paved road. And when you get to Lake Eufaula, you have a paradise of green and blue to stare out at, if your eyeballs haven’t hemorrhaged out of your face yet.

The lake is huge. It goes on for a really long time, and it’s just so beautiful I can’t do it justice with words. The climate is temperate, the landscape is lush and it looks absolutely like nothing that comes to mind when people say, “Oklahoma.”

I was immediately in love with the area. I kept asking George, “Are you sure we’re in Oklahoma? There are cliffs and stuff.” Then I blacked out from whiplash caused by giant chunks of concrete, floating like glaciers in the rubble of what once was the road, slamming into the undercarriage of the Precious. At one point, George’s cries of anguish were so loud, an entire colony of bats were stalking us, waiting for us to roll the windows down so they could eat our faces off and stop the painful sonar blast of his sobs. This is possibly a filthy lie, and I really have no excuse, other than unintentional brain damage inflicted during the day-long spleen and spine jarring ride down the prettiest route in Oklahoma.

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We did end up getting a hotel room just inside of Texas that night. I obviously exaggerate the awfulness of the road, but George was feeling pretty beat up after fighting it all day. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Oklahoma, but until the state gets some infrastructure back up to par, travel it at your own risk. We lost the mounts to our grille cover and beat the hell out of a radiator that was already leaking – it may end up being a really expensive stretch of road for us.

It was neat, and it was new to me, and that’s really the best part of this job – I love to see things I’d never expect in a million years. Enjoy the view (if you can concentrate after having your brain slammed around in your cranium), and be safe out there.