On Day 3, we faced a dilemma. We were supposed to spend almost the whole day driving across Oklahoma and through the Texas panhandle. It had been rainy in Oklahoma the previous day, and the temperature suddenly dropped. There were many warnings to stay off the roads if at all possible. But we were supposed to meet up with Mike’s friend from grad school, Danielle. She lives in Oklahoma and because of that, we don’t often get to see her. She was coming up to meet us in Oklahoma City, and we didn’t want to cancel. In the end, we decided to stick with our plan and see what happened.
The morning didn’t start out too badly. There was some frozen rain, but not much. All of the trees were iced over but the roads weren’t in bad shape.
I almost forgot but at the last minute remembered that we were going to pull off into a corner of Kansas to add it to our list for the 50 States Project. We made a very slight detour and gained another state.
Then we got back on the road through Oklahoma. We drove through both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and found them to be strange. They were both huge, flat cities, with very little in the way of tall buildings. Both of them just seemed like a series of strip malls and highway exits. We just drove through them both, so maybe there is a more “city-like” part to them that we missed.
We met Danielle for lunch at a great Mexican restaurant (Ted’s Cafe Escondido), and this was definitely the highlight of the day. The trouble started after we left. I quickly realized that the roads had iced over.
I was driving over one of those small bridge/overpass things the first time I felt the car skid. You always see signs indicating that these bridges freeze before the rest of the road, but before this I had never really noticed it. Mike asked, “What was that?” “The road pushed me!” I said, indignant. I realized it was because the bridge was frozen, and I started slowing down for the bridges. Of course, we were already going well below the speed limit but I started slowing to maybe 25 mph on the bridges to avoid another skid. And I was surprised at how many there were. Oklahoma is as flat as a pancake, but apparently they need quite a few drainage overpasses.
Then we started getting stuck in traffic due to accidents. We were stuck for more than an hour before getting detoured because of a tractor-trailer truck accident on one bridge. After that we continued our slow way into Texas, passing several car accident sites. Once again, outside Amarillo, we came to a dead stop for more than an hour. We opened the car doors and saw ice covering the ground, at least as thick as my finger.
Eventually we crawled into Amarillo and decided to stop there for the night, which was not the original plan. Unfortunately, everyone else had already had the same idea. Every hotel we tried in Amarillo was booked. I called around to at least 10 hotels and we stopped at a few as well, with no luck. Eventually we decided to keep going until we could find a room.
The only good thing was that almost everyone was off the road by this time, and we didn’t see any more accidents. Mike drove while I searched for upcoming hotels on my phone. At last, after about 20 or 30 minutes, I found one. We finally got off the road in Hereford, TX, very relieved.