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Kickin It Down The Cobblestones — Medicine Park Wi-Fi

February 27th, 2015 · Tags:Cities · Coffee Shops · Wi-Fi

 

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When I reviewed the 2014 Triumph Thunderbird a few months back on the ride from Fort Worth to Columbia, Mo., one of my criticism was about the bike’s stealth. It hardly makes any noise, and anyone can tell you “loud pipes save lives” for motorcyclists.

 

But the silence has grown on me. It’s golden. It is nice to be able to listen to music on the bike with tiny earbuds and no need for speakers that blast the neighborhood. But I doubt quiet bikes will be trending any time soon. It is so much fun to let your presence be known …

 

And yet, the other day I was enjoying a little hole-in-the-wall mystique of Medicine Park, Okla., after a two-hour ride over from Sulphur, Okla. when the place was invaded by loud bikes. As much as I love bikes, and the people who ride them, it definitely changed the atmosphere of the place. Just sayin …

 

Fun Rocket

 

 

What a cool place. Almost every building in town – retail, public, residences – incorporates the plentiful, homegrown cobblestones into their construction – red granite cobblestones, unique to the Wichita Mountains. Quite photogenic. Rustic. Vintage. Pity it was winter, albeit a very nice day … there is a great swimming hole in the middle of town, at one of the river’s widest points. The same river that made the cobblestones. Medicine Creek, that pours into Lake Lawtonka.

 

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Overlooking the river at the aptly named Riverside Cafe, I took the advice of my waitress, an accountant from Puerto Rico also working two jobs, and had the catfish, corn on the cobblestone … er … cob and fried okra. Nice.

 

But no Wi-Fi!?!

 

When I asked around, pretty much everyone agreed the coffee shop in the heart of town had the only Wi-Fi … but alas they were closed. And their hotspot required a passcode.

 

 

So I strolled around and played tourist. I met one of the nicest guys ever in the little mountain bike shop who told me all about the place, the best trails for riding, the mountain, the busy season … etc. Oh, and he mentioned the coffee shop for Wi-Fi. A couple of young ladies over at The Old Plantation restaurant said that kids from Texas crossed over the border to swim in the river, especially those from Wichita Falls, Texas … which had been suffering from a drought. The ladies said the coffee shop was good for Wi-Fi …

 

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There is a cool outdoor stage near the post office, adorned with several posters promoting music festivals for rock, country and other genres. I bet the place is crazy during the busy season.

 

I had never been to Medicine Park before, although I had been close. Had I only known …

 

Medicine Park

 

Years ago, one of my favorite camping buddies and I had camped at the nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge — a buffalo reserve boasting 500 head. Ha … after several shared substances and/or adult beverages around the camp fire … pretty sure a buffalo really walked through our camp. I digress …

 

Wichita Mountains

 

More motorcycle stuff. Also within striking range of Medicine Park is Mount Scott, rising 2,464 feet, where I encountered beauty, tourists, some laid back bikers on cruisers and revenge of the crotch rockets … You know, the really obnoxious guys on bikes who zip in and out of track doing 120+ mph or so … endangering everyone around them. A rocket pack was in line just two vehicles behind me on the descent of Mount Scott, the slow … almost treacherous, looping road around and down the mountain … I could hear their impatience grow at every curve with the howling of their engines, as I enjoyed the scenic, relaxed and yes silent cruise down the mountain on my bike. Finally one of the punks whipped around two cars and then me and almost hit an oncoming car head-on on the very narrow two-lane. His buddies either had more sense or just didn’t see their chance to pass. He waited for them at the bottom of the hill. I waved, smiling when we got to the bottom. I had wisdom they did not – the knowledge that they could have left the mountain one minute sooner or five minutes later and not had to deal with the mellow likes of me, leading the parade down the hill.

 

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That morning, I hit several Oklahoma towns which I had heard of, but never seen. Durant and Duncan, Okla., seemed nice enough. I spotted a sign promoting downtown Duncan and took it (the exit, not the sign). Downtown had “nostalgic movie set” written all over it … As I passed the old theater, I spotted someone sitting at a table in what looked like a funky little coffee shop. I pulled the Thunderbird over, figuratively speaking, and went in. Did I mention it was Sunday? This coffee shop — The Merchant — and the adjoining theater also served as a church for a congregation of believers, and I had crashed their pre-worship rituals — testing the mikes, tuning the guitars, practicing vocal duets, etc. Most of the people didn’t pay me any mind …. except for one young gentleman, about 15. He was polite and inquisitive … and I shared with him that I had pulled over because I saw the coffee shop … and he said welcome, and fired up some nice brew … and said it was on The Lord’s House.  Praise the Lord … they had Wi-Fi.

 

Church

 

I appreciated the offer for free coffee but dropped some coin in the jar anyway. What a cool little surprise …. Several others in the congregation eventually warmed up too and invited this leather-clad stranger to join them. However, not that it is wrong, I detected a slight theological difference in their beliefs, and I knew I would stand out. I hate to be a deterrence. Plus, I had not reached my destination yet. So, I rode on.

 

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Earlier that same morning, the Oklahoma countryside was covered in fog. I had to slow down to about 50 m.p.h. to see, although luckily I had the Sunday morning backroad to myself. Only a few miles out, I encountered an empty shell of a building on the side of the road. It had to be an old basketball gym. I couldn’t resist, and explored. In it’s current state, the building could serve as a great set for an episode of The Walking Dead. Among the junk – a child-size stuffed rabbit toy … some old computers … furniture pushed into a circle around the remnants of a recent campfire. Hmmm … it smelled as if I was not alone. The essence of skunk was nearby, so I didn’t linger. Just a quick look … enough to remind me of the glory days of basketball so long ago. If not for the skunk, I am sure I could have smelled the popcorn …

 

Late that day, I returned to the Chickasaw cultural center that is Sulphur, Okla., and went to the white man’s cultural center — McDonalds. Mickey D’s in Sulphur has about the best Wi-Fi in the tiny town. And lo and behold, as I slurped a strawberry, chocolate, vanilla shake, I heard another motorcycle pull up. Not too quiet. Not too loud. This bike was just right … a black Harley Davidson with a biker-ish couple on board. Later, I saw them park their french fries at a table near me. Ha! I knew the guy. It was Jeff, a new friend I had met on “The Dirty Gig” in Sulphur. We exchanged pleasantries … and a french fry (when he wasn’t looking). I accepted his invite to join on their ride, and after our Happy Meals, we cruised back to the highway, over to Ardmore, Okla., and a scenic overlook of Turner Falls. What a great end to a great day, as the sun dipped, taking the temperature down with it. Nice guy. I now have a tradition, I suppose. I have ridden with two clients from “The Dirty Gig.” Both guys had names pronounced the same — Jeff and Geoff. I guess I will ride with anyone named Jeff … no matter how they spell it.

 

Know what I sayin?

MED Pond