I was heading home on I-44 through southwestern Missouri after an interesting mixture of both sadness and pleasure over the Memorial Day Weekend. The main purpose of the trip was the memorial service in Southern Illinois for my aunt who had been killed in a car accident. At the same time I took advantage of the holiday weekend to do some local touring and also to get reacquainted with that side of the family. Touring and memorial over, it was time to head home.
Long-distance driving and I are nearly synonymous with each other. When I am not actually flying somewhere I'm in my car heading down the road less traveled. Returning home on this day from the Midwest I recalled that US Highway 75 led directly from Tulsa, Oklahoma in to the heart of Dallas, Texas where it is more popularly known as Central Expressway, feeding traffic in to downtown from the northern areas of Plano, McKinney and Allen. Mapquest indicated that this would be the shorter drive versus continuing on the I-44 turnpike to Oklahoma City where I-35 would roll three hours south towards home.
Why not? I had two days off from work after the drive to recover so after one last fill-up in Tulsa, I quickly found the exit for US-75 and turned south towards Dallas. It is always interesting to me on road trips how picking up the last major highway towards the destination reinvigorates the mind and the body, as if signaling the approaching end of a long haul and the nearness of familiar things, family and friends. It also helped that the "Indian Nation Turnpike" stretch between Henryetta and McAlester posted 75 Mile Per Hour speed limits!
I may never take that particular route again.
One reason and two words: small towns. Once off the turnpike and on to US-69/75 it wasn't the small towns themselves that I had a problem with as I enjoy seeing all aspects of the country whenever I travel. It was the absolute set-up for failure represented in the fluctuating speed limits as each new town approached, announcing for all who know better than some of America's finest are out on patrol. One town after another, with the speed limit dropping from 70 to 60 to 50 to 40 before a stop light signaled the center of town, only for the speed limit to crawl back up to 70 barely a mile beyond the intersection.
The break in speed was aggravating but cops lined up on the side of the road as if they working lemonade stands was what did it for me. And I didn't get caught once. Not only did I know what to look for but actually saw it in all the cars around me with local tags towing the line to the tune of 3-5 miles below the posted limit. That said enough about how things are in these here parts. The drive was smooth and uneventful and the scenery, especially as I rolled through during sunset, was spectacular. Oklahoma is a beautiful state only I was ten hours in to a nearly 13-hour haul and, with daylight waning, I was wanting to get home.
Next time, unless I'm going to Henryetta, Oklahoma on purpose, I'm just gonna stick to the interstates.