Johnny Clark and his wife Vickie are driving to Morgantown, W.Va.
They love to travel to Oklahoma's “obscure” games. The '99 game vs. Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., '02 at Alabama. And now to the home of that lovable Mountaineer.
The thing is, once they get to Waco, Texas, they will still only be halfway there.
The Clarks retired early from the gas station business in Ardmore. Johnny wanted to enjoy retirement by a beach before he “couldn't actually enjoy it.” So, Johnny and Vickie found a way to save some money and retire early.
At the young age of 52, they moved to Mexico — 1,685 miles south of their former doorstep in southern Oklahoma. On Nov. 7, the Clarks began their adventure from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, up through the east coast of Mexico into Texas then onto Tennessee, where they stopped at Graceland and the Grand Ole Opry before driving to America's east coast. The drive is roughly 2,800 miles or 47 hours straight through.
That probably wins the “I've come the furthest” T-shirt for any Sooners fan this year.
When the Clarks originally bought the game tickets, they thought it would not only be an extensive road-trip but a marquee matchup. With the Mountaineers' four-game slide, the Clarks said they're just excited. They didn't always get to enjoy the college game day atmosphere when they were in the gas station business.
Back in '99, when they drove to the Notre Dame game with “Stoops Troops” written on their car, they closed their gas station at 6 p.m. Friday, drove straight through, picked up a niece in Chicago and arrived in South Bend about noon for the kick.
“I nearly fell asleep during the game,” Johnny said, “And it was an exciting game, but I was just so stinking tired.”
The Clarks are living the good life in Mexico, though there have been adjustments. Puerto Escondido is located along the Pacific Ocean. The sea creates natural air conditioning, and salt covers everything, making skin soft and outdoor water faucets rusted. With an average temperature of 82, the Clarks get by on the sounds of the ocean. When they left Oklahoma, they sold everything. They now own a house on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
“It's not a resort town,” Johnny said. “It's a bunch of old hippies and Canadians. There's not a total of 200 (Americans). They don't take dollars and they don't talk English. And I don't any Spanish. I still don't know how we get by, but we do.”
The biggest change, though, was how Johnny followed the Sooners. He used to be a season-ticket holder. He traveled to the Sugar Bowl in 2003 in New Orleans. They always had enough points to get Red River Rivalry tickets. But they gave them up when they retired.
No TV station in the deep south of Mexico carried the Sooners.
“Completely went cold turkey,” Johnny said.
He missed two seasons before he found out that if they bought cable from a Canadian television company, he could watch Oklahoma football.
“The two main places they broadcast from are Detroit and Seattle,” Johnny said. “Because of the success of the Sooners, they get picked up. I only missed the (second) game, which (was) on pay-per-view anyways.”
He also listened via satellite radio to Oklahoma's play-by-play man, Toby Rowland. Johnny tweeted Rowland during the UTEP game: “Listening to the Sooners and the ocean waves crash below. Life is good.”
During the third quarter of that game, Rowland read the tweet over the air and laughed, “That sounds like a country song.”
The only problem? Sometimes Johnny has to walk around his beach-front deck to get a signal.
This weekend, the signal won't be the issue for the Clarks. It's the temperature. It's supposed to be in the 40s by kickoff.
“We're going to be in long flannels and bundled up,” Johnny said. “And I'm sure the West Virginia people will be shirtless.”
This trip, nothing's written on the car windows. The Clarks have been wearing their OU gear everywhere. When they got out of the car in Nashville, a guy yelled, “Boomer Sooner.”
The words put a smile on Johnny's face. It's been a while since he's yelled the words on game day.
“I can't wait to yell it out over and over,” Johnny said.