The Red River is so named because-well its red. We are not very subtle here in the southwest. It is also the border between Texas and Oklahoma. I was approaching the Red coming back from Tulsa Oklahoma last week. Just as I went through Durant a scant 15 miles from the border highway 75 became a parking lot. I waited it out a good ten minutes then shifted into 4-wheel drive took off across the median and headed back north to Durant. The map showed Hwy 70 going east about 2 miles then Hwy 78 heading south across the river then east to Bonham, Texas which is about 30 miles east of where I wanted to be.
After I was going south on 78 for a while I asked Gwendolyn to take over. I have set my GPS to a female voice and named her Gwendolyn. She never gets upset with me (which I find quite unusual) but she is very insistent. I knew full well she would get me back to Hwy 75 the quickest way she could.
I asked her to plot a course home and the first thing out of her mouth was “Please make a legal U-turn.” She was going to take me back the way I came to Hwy 75. I ignored her knowing she would come to her senses in a short time. (This never works with any of the other females in my life.) She was quite insistent for several miles then silence (which is the usual result with all the other females in my life). I expected her to take me to Bonham but she had other ideas. Presently she said, “Right turn in 5.4 miles.” The road listed was CR4123-PEANUT RD. County roads are less than Farm to Market roads and more than a dirt track-a little.
So I turned right on Peanut road-then left on Kemp road-then right on I have no idea and right again on another I have no idea and so on and so on. I passed a weathered sign that said River Bottom Jamboree Every 3rd Saturday. Then an abandoned filling station/store right out of Bonnie and Clyde. The whole time I never saw a soul let alone another vehicle. I zoomed the display out and it showed the road continuing across the river and we were coming up on it fast. I rounded a bend in the road and found a wide gravel turn around, a bunch of trees and the river just beyond them. Yep, I thought, I have been punished. This is the end of the road and no way across the river. I wondered if Gwendolyn would get me back the way I had come or if I was destined to be lost forever in the Red River bottoms.
I pulled up into the turnaround and lo and behold off to my right was a bridge-a very ollllld bridge. In fact a former railroad trestle that had been turned into a one lane bridge. It was made of big old RUSTED iron trusses. The road across was slightly wider than my Jeep. But a pickup truck towing an airboat was going across so I figured I could cross it as well. So fearlessly I followed. The fearless part lasted about 5 seconds. The side rails were made from welded up oilfield sucker rod. Except not all of it was there. There were great honkin’ gaps that left nothing but air between me and the river below.
All of us have primal fears. One of mine is plunging off a bridge into a river, watching the water slowly rise in the car as I sink into dark, cold depths unable to get out. I needn’t have worried though. The fifty foot drop into the mostly dry riverbed would have splattered my brains all over the dash board. But, we made it across where another car was waiting patiently to cross the other way.
Gwendolyn took me into Denison, Texas and then on to the highway, which was running clear by that time. As I said, she never gets upset with me but I believe I have detected just hint of satisfaction in her voice since my trip across the bridge.