call Oklahoma “the calm before the storm” because some of our toughest times were yet to come. The Texas panhandle and Interstate 40 were behind us. Now our plan was to cut through Oklahoma in a straight line on secondary roads, then north again along Old Route 66 up to Joplin, Missouri. Along the Oklahoma stretch, we did a lot of night riding. Both the horses and I liked the cool breezes and low traffic.

Bridges were always a challenge to contend with. As we rode up to the bridge on the North Fork of the Red River, it looked a little longer than most of the interstate bridges we had crossed thus far. This concerned me because it meant that we were exposed for a longer period of time to the trucks and cars passing within two to three feet of us at high speeds. We were riding with traffic, which meant these vehicles would come up behind us very quickly and very close. There was no room for error or for indecision. It was very hard to maneuver or to turn around if need be, so once we were on the bridge, our best bet was to keep moving forward.

The sun was just coming up, and it was still a little dark out. Maybe we had become too accustomed to these interstate bridges. Or maybe I was too preoccupied with the upcoming rest stop, because without thinking, I rode into a very dangerous situation …