Cheeky Monkey, the name of our 4Runner, is purring like a kitten heading east is cutting through the gentle rolling hills towards my niece’s home 50 miles south of Oklahoma City. We were greeted by my niece Candace, her husband Joe, three daughters (my grand nieces), one rambunctious boy, and an ark load full of various species of animals when we pulled up the dirt drive resting our front bumper to the fence of the first paddock. The atmosphere was a healthful mixture of chaos and love. The girls are all smart wonderful teens and the little boy’s energy has an endearing charm.
After an early dinner of barbeque at the Trails End café in Wynnewood proper and a quick tour of all the farm animals, Sharon and I gave all our blessings and love and they returned our good wishes along with a warning of rain. The sky seemed to be building up an aggressive wall of bruising looking clouds to the north, the exact direction of our next late night stop three hours away.
Within an hour the clouds began to let go their payload with a vengeance. The combination of pounding rain, darkness, road construction and the blinding light from oncoming vehicles had me very concerned whether I was on the road or not. I elected to slow down to 30 mph and activate my emergency flashers. This menacing storm continued until we skirted past the south end of Oklahoma City when the thundering thumping sliding erupted forcing me to the side of the expressway. I looked at Sharon while pulling over exclaiming it can’t be…a flat tire….I just purchased these tires new a week ago!!! Once safely off the lanes of traffic but still on the pavement I surveyed the damage in the light rain. Sure enough, the right rear tire was flat, disfigured, and steaming. Fortunately the pounding rain had retreated but evidence of its return hadn’t. I quickly found the changing tools, dropped the spare from beneath the rear cabin, jacked up the axle, removed the flat, installed the spare, and lifted the flat onto the roof rack for future repair. The fortune part of this exercise was the changing tools were all there and the spare was good.
Returning to my pilot’s seat rain soaked and muddy, the rain began to pour again as we continued our trek to the Price Towers in Bartlesville, OK. The original ETA at the hotel was about 11PM but the delay of the weather and the tire change had us pulling up in front of this Frank Lloyd Wright designed high rise at 1AM. We were welcomed by a friendly disabled night clerk getting us efficiently checked in and up to our 12th floor beautiful room. After a shower I joined Sharon beneath sheets for a well deserved rest until the next mornings light.
The next day the hotel gave us our complimentary tour of the Price Tower and a bit of back ground on both FL Wright and Mr. Price, an oil pipeline fabricator tycoon. This 19 story high rise is the only “skyscraper” designed by Wright that was ever constructed. True to form, the office tower was never quite functional and for many years lay dormant until a conservancy took control and began using it as a hotel/museum/arts center. But even with the disfunctionality stigma, the Price Tower is a gem for Bartlesville.
After the tower tour, I had to find a tire replacement after learning my new flattened tire was unrepairable. With the new tire on the rim and the old tire strapped to the top of Cheeky, we made our way towards Memphis but stopped about half way to camp in the Ozark town of Eureka. Unfortunately the rain poured steadily forcing us take refuge in a cabin with a kitchen and an inside Jacuzzi tub. If you can’t camp…then go for luxury.