Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Land of the Onion Burger

We headed off to Western Oklahoma looking for Route 66, but found onion burgers.

Windmills near Weatherford
Our sixth installment of Two Wheel Oklahoma featured a stretch of the Mother Road from El Reno to Weatherford, Oklahoma. Along this route we discovered some thriving communities, proud of their history- and their fried onion hamburgers!

The best I can tell the onion burger became popular during the Depression years. Restauranteurs searched for ways to make their expensive meat go further. Onions became a popular choice as filler because they were cheap and helped keep the burger moist. Eventually customers became accustomed to burgers with onion fried in, and the practice continued even after good times returned. Today the city of El Reno holds an annual Onion Burger Day each May and fries up a 700-pound burger. But onion burgers aren't the only thing to see.

Traveling west through Oklahoma the road flattens out as you approach this part of the state. The open prairie and red clay soil spreads out in front of you like a wide, rolling ocean. Your first hint of the desert that lies ahead are visible on the horizon. This is the highway that Steinbeck and Kerouac told us about.

Steinbeck fans will appreciate a stop we made near the town of Bridgeport. An unusual bridge seen in the movie Grapes of Wrath is located there. It spans the Canadian River and is made up of 39 steel truss sections. These sections are shorter than most and known as a pony truss- thus it's called the Pony Truss Bridge. There are several theories on why the bridge is built that way, but whatever the reason it's been catching the eye of passersby for many decades.

Further up the road we discovered the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford. This was a real treat because they have a great collection of aviation and rocketry memorabilia. General Thomas P. Stafford, an astronaut and native of Weatherford, helped found the museum in 1981. They had to kick us out to lock the doors. We finished the day riding around the nearby wind farms that dominate the local horizon.

Riding these relatively flat roads isn't for everyone. In fact, some people downright hate it. Others see it as a kind of highway-speed meditation. I find there's a certain calm about locking down the throttle and heading across the plains. I just wish that darned wind would calm down.

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Two Wheel Oklahoma

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It's a Travel Show

Two Wheel Oklahoma is a television travel show featuring the motorcycle rides of Brad Mathison and Rex Brown along the scenic highways and backroads of Oklahoma.

Each episode highlights a stretch of road or historic route and explores unique destinations along the way. Tune in three times a week on the Cox Channel.

We hope you'll come ride along.

Brad and Rex: co-hosts of Two Wheel Oklahoma