Thank you so much for dropping by on my 59th birthday. To celebrate I did something quite different, riding north and then west. While little of it was actually new territory for me, I’d never been out this way on my bike. It’s a fairly simple box in theory: from SE 29th and Henney north to Jones, then west on Britton Road all the way to Sooner Road, then back home. Of course, the return half included a lot of zigzags just for fun, but the basic distance was 34 miles.
(Click on any image to enlarge the thumbnail.)
The ride up Henney to Jones is now routine, though pleasant enough. The tailwind was pretty weak, and turning left through town did not reveal anything new to my eyes. Out west of Hiwasee a ways the main road curves south, following more-or-less the railroad tracks. The route at this point is called Spencer-Jones Road and ends in Spencer, obviously. Where it banks to the southwest I climbed up the steep grade to continue westward on Britton Road. At one time there had been a nice shoulder, but debris, sand and greenery had taken it over. Still, traffic was light and road itself wasn’t that bad. It was a standard mixture of Mcmansions, old places and a few dilapidated structures. Here is the view of the North Canadian rolling north under Britton Road.
The far bank of the river is the wide flat farming land. I spotted this picturesque farm perched up on the far slope west of the river. Behind it is Midwest Boulevard. I rolled past the intersection and immediately found myself among a great many more cyclists and folks riding other kinds of expensive pedal toys. Lots of money out here in these parts, commonly called by its old name Wicher (or Witcher).
The SE corner of Britton and Sooner is outrageous. That’s just the front gate facing out onto Sooner Road. The other mansions are hidden out of sight here, with billions in old money scattered all around, several miles in all directions. Just a half-dozen miles southwest is a part of OKC once renowned as the single most expensive zip code in the US based on tax returns. I think it was eclipsed only a couple of years ago, and not by much. I suppose it was intentional, but there were no good angles for photographing the main house behind that extravagant gate without flying, but I assure you that what shows up in this image (left) is all one single structure.
Here is some more of that old money in a ranch just opposite that obscene mansion. I’ve been up and down Sooner Road countless times so it was the view along Wilshire that interested me. Lots of beautiful stuff in just the two miles back east between Sooner and Midwest, but nothing that the camera could capture properly. At any rate, I was ready for a break at Midwest Boulevard.
This tree seemed a perfect spot for my snack. Off to the right was a horse in a shaded yard that approached me out of boredom, I’m sure, but then kept back out of unfamiliarity. I sensed she was pretty old, too, because she didn’t move like a young mare. This part of the North Canadian Valley is popular with cyclists. I took a shot of Midwest Boulevard looking north.
Staying on Midwest Boulevard, I headed south. Where it crosses NE 63rd Street is one massive open area running along the river and spreading outward east and west, covering easily a dozen square miles. Lots of history out here, but some of it already crumbled into the dust and covered in foliage. But more building is under way. Where Midwest Boulevard crosses over the North Canadian, there was evidence of some million-dollar activity. First, there was an inexplicable brand new stone wall running on my right for a quarter mile or so. At the far end was the river bank, with some very expensive work taking place. I’m going to guess it is aimed at fixing the river course so that something can be built right on the banks. It’s possible they are simply going to widen it with another bridge, but I have to wonder what that stone wall is all about. There were signs of clearing and landscaping all around this bridge. Guess I’ll come back in a couple of months and check again.
Climbing up the far bank is a nice wooded area and pretty much the end of rural millionaire territory. As we approach NE 36th, there’s some lesser properties, some wooded and some as a site for dirt removal. It’s just two miles west to our “Mount Trashmore” (East Oak Landfill) over on Sooner Road, and we’ll see that on another journey, perhaps. It was visible from up on Britton Road, by the way. Here we have one old cemetery on the NW corner, and much bigger new one on the SW corner, and a new convenience store-gas station on the SE corner. Back behind is a huge open area that once served as an air strip. Nature conveniently left a long flat ridge running straight north-south. Just a half-mile down is some rougher areas with a horse pen and the “stall” an old concrete blockhouse that saw human occupation just a few years ago. On the right side is the old Mary’s Flea Market occupied almost entirely by vested vendors who have nothing anyone really wants.
Crossing NE 23rd puts me back in Midwest City itself and some more crumbling houses, behind which is a large open area where several military jets have crashed over the years. When Tinker AFB entered the Jet Age is when that old airstrip was closed and the bulk of hideous crashes took place up through the 1970s; this would be about the northern most extent of their approach for landing. Down a little ways we cross NE 10th and I cut left through some parking lots in order to cross a very busy street and into the system of parks built along Soldier Creek. On the right here is a picture of the exercise machine in Pecan Grove Park right off NE 10th. There’s a matching one with different fixtures on the south end of the trail system down near SE 15th, two miles away. The trails complex run mostly on both sides of Soldier Creek, and extend outward on the southern half where Barnes Park takes up a massive quarter-section and Regional Golf Course takes most of the other quarter section south of it. Thus, the creek and trail run down the west side of the park and golf course.
Somewhere around the golf course is where some Native American remains were discovered, going way back into prehistoric times. The trails are mostly asphalt. When some parts were washed away by the spring flooding, it was replaced with lots of concrete. Oddly, this wooden section survived just fine. A decade ago my wife and I lived in an apartment just across the creek near this wooden path structure. Bad memories because the management changed almost immediately after we moved in and maintenance became a joke.
Still, the park holds fond memories for me and it was nice to ride through it again while the neighborhood kids are at school. From there I headed east along SE 15th to Douglas Boulevard, south just a bit until I could turn left into the old Rhapsody Heights neighborhood and work my way east to my old Alma Mater, Carl Albert High School (1974). From there it was a smooth ride on the newish multi-use path along Post Road to SE 29th and a few more miles east to home.
Thanks again for dropping by to help me celebrate my birthday.