When asked what that strange cloud was forming to our right on Route 66, our guide calmly told us over his walkie-talkie that it was typical of what are often the early stages of a tornado.
“Usually when I see that kind of formation, when I’m leading a bike group I quickly head off in the opposite direction,” Gary Fleshman coolly advised from the pilot car.
Drive partner Mark Richardson and I glanced nervously at each other and my foot pressed a little harder on the accelerator of the 2015 Nissan Rogue.
In the last two days, we had seen much evidence of the devastation these twisters wreak on the lives of people living along the old highway that passes through Kansas and Oklahoma on its way from Chicago to Santa Monica. This was only our third day on the Nissan Altimate Rogue trip and we were planning to complete the 4,000-plus kilometres by late Saturday so we decided not to hang around to see if it matured into a fully-fledged tornado (though we later learned it did not).
This stretch of the decommissioned national highway is perhaps the least interesting so stepping on the gas wasn’t going to deny us any memorable experience. The drive up and down the hills that make up the longest single surviving stretch of the old highway – 60 kilometres – through the Calumet area was a back jarring experience. The surface is bumpy and noisy to say the least, hence our guide’s pet name for it – the chiropractic highway. He claims to need more than one visit to his local practitioner after each bike trip.
The strange cloud formation had long disappeared in our rear view mirrors by the time the Canuck-driven convoy of Rogues and Altima sedans crossed the South Canadian River half an hour later.
Clinton, Oklahoma, welcomed us to a super Route 66 museum. If offered much to look at in terms of relics from bygone years when the route was the best road west. I liked the old hippy VW campervan, which was the transportation of choice for the long hairs seeking peace and free love on the west coast in the 1960s. My search continues for the tackiest tourist souvenir. Mostly good taste was on display at the museum.
Onward to Texas. In Shamrock, we stumbled across Ramone’s House of Body Art, the body paint shop featured in the animated Cars movie, cunningly disguised as a café and museum.
Wednesday, we press on for Albuquerque, New Mexico. So, it’s goodnight from Texas!
Follow Keith on Twitter @ChangeGears
Learn more about his journey by searching #nissanroute66