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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Socorro Days

Slept in yesterday but made it out to Escondida to see the re-enactment of the Battle of Valverde fought in 1862. Though the weather man said the temperature was to reach 61, it never got above 50 and at 10:30 in the morning it was even colder--windy and raw. John Taylor, a professor at the Tech here and author of Bloody Valverde, said the weather was much like it was on Feb 21, 1862 when the actual battle was fought. I will not bore you with the details of the battle but, if you would like a couple of good links for very short description of the battle and pictures of Ft Craig as it looks today, you may like to check out these. They have even more links if you are a Civil War buff or just interested in that aspect of the War which took place this far West. It was quite a surprise to me and Bill two years ago when we came across the Fort. http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/socorro/fort_craig.html



I wondered why the re-enactment was not held at the original site of the Battle rather than Escondida--seems that the old Fort is too fragile and the actual battlefield is owned by Ted Turner, himself a Civil War buff but apparently it is really difficult to access the site--which is true, having been there. I'd never seen a re-enactment and John Taylor's narration was very interesting but, since the actors came from Ca,NM,Az, Co and Tx there was a certain lack of coordination--perhaps more realistic than we can imagine, since the NM volunteers under Kit Carson at Fort Craig, spoke only Spanish and the officers did not. Apparently, this was a problem in many of the Western campaign events. Glad to have seen it but don't think we'll rush to another--as a matter of fact we skipped last night's small event on the Square and today's Battle of Escondida. But I'll tell you, there are tons of interested people and many who spend beaucoup monies to have authentic uniforms as seen amongst the spectators. The older gentleman in the fancy uniform, not on the field is the great-great grandson of a man who fought for the Confederacy at Gettysburg--another in an even fancier uniform had a great-great grandfather who took part in Pickett's Charge. After the show we went to Socorro Springs Restaurant and Brewery for lunch and met a youngish man--40's maybe? and his pre-teen son. The traveled down from Michigan on Friday night specifically for the re-enactment. His great-great-great grandfather was in this specific battle at Ft Craig. The man's memoirs have been published and in them he says he and his comrades could not understand why retreat was sounded since they were beating the Confederates handily. What they did not know was that elsewhere on the field the Rebs had captured over 200 Union soldiers. Which reminded me of the memoir I've read of an infantry man in the Union forces who fought at many of the big battles and who said once a battle began you knew who was in front of you and who on either side but other than that you had no idea what was happening in the battle! Well, after lunchand taking leave of John, our pony-tailed Techie waiter, we went to the Capital Bar to have a few Guinesses and ran into a native Soccoran--Becky. 35, divorced but engaged to a career Army guy in Afganistan who retires in a couple of months. He's from a small town outside Watertown NY--she has visited there and been to Al Bay but really does not want move there for the same reasons that I'm not sure I could relocate here--know no one, don't know how the locals react to newcomers etc, etc. She's had an interesting life--she's one of 20 battle councelors for the Red Cross--she's been in Afganistan among other places --helping combatants in the field cope with being far away while life goes on for better or worse back home. Also arranging for deployment home in emergencies etc. She works 9 months on and then 3 months back home....don't think I could do that. In the meantime, the barmaid, Linda is from Saratoga Springs and went to St Peter's High School, now defunct, for a year before leaving for the public school. She's been out her 25 years or so. Her Mom lived in Deming so she moved out here with her young kids--one boy was 10 and as a 20 year old moved back East--he hated it here--but the two babies are New Mexicans through and through. Came home early and watched the Olympics til bedtime. We spent this morning in the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge after having decided to spend another night here. Before leaving the motel we met another couple from the East--Bolton Landing! They are hanging around for a couple of days and them moving on to Tucson. We talked about continuing to Arizona but decided it would be just a jaunt in and back out and we'd like to explore NM, a new area of Texas and a new area of Louisiana so we will continue here. The other traveler having breakfast was from Minnesota but he is on his way back. At the gas station met a man who thought he was far from home, Illinois, until he saw our plate. He, too, headed back home but wishes he could stay away another month!The Refuge was as always serene and restful, but since we were an hour later than two years ago, there were no deer to greet us at the visitors' center and, since we are just about a month later, many of the migratory waterfowl have started on their way North. Still there were plenty for us to enjoy--Canada geese, sand cranes, snow geese, another crane, roadrunners, hawks, ring-necked pheasant though not a mountain lion, which we would have loved to see. Then back to the Brewery for lunch of wonderful steak dinner--I saved half of mine to eat for supper tonight. Jason was our Techie today and he is the apprentice baker so I told him he will appear in my scrapbook as Jason--the tiramisu guy. He liked that. Then back to our room, since we decided to spend one more night here. Bill watching the Canadian-American hockey game--which has been really exciting. While we were eating a lady breezed in and asked Jason if they were going to have the game on. He said sure--seems she and her husband are on their way to Chicago but wanted to stop somewhere and watch the game--so out to the car she went to tell him--yup, we've found the place! LOL Now that I've finished this, I'm going to do the bills since tomorrow is the 1st and then I'm going to read. Tomorrow we are going by way of Truth or Consequences to Las Cruces and then back up to Alamagordo. We'll probably stay there tomorrow night if I don't find too many things to explore in between--in which case we'll stay in LC. After all, we are in no hurry and have no place we have to be. Life is good! Hugs to you all! Kathy and Bill--the happy wanderers

Friday, February 26, 2010

Blue holes, Desert snow flurries and Coronado's Bridge

My gracious, I thought I left my car back home!! Look at John Dillinger, making a run for it with his bag of nickels! Call Socorro and make reservations for the next two nights!! Okay, let's head down the dead end route 91 to Peurto de Luna ( what does Peurto mean? ) and find Coronado's Bridge must be a natural arch! Found the town, what is left of it, ten miles out through some really beautiful mesa country surrounding the Pecos River Valley. Continued past what ended on the map ( with good reason ) until the road turned narrow and was hard pack rather than pavement--nope, turn around. And there on Coronado Road--a hysterical marker and a few pieces of what looked like old railroad ties--450+ years old--I think not! And so back to Santa Rosa after admiring the small church in the old village. Past what must have been the advertised Blue Hole, it sure looked blue, and is supposedly used for scuba diving! Who knows.? The Comet Restaurant had been recommended by the Curio Shop owners in Tucumcari but we weren't in the mood for more Mexican so had gone to the Sante Fe Cafe--Took Route 54 south with Dona Katrina and Don Guieliamo looking straight down the long, unwinding road to Vaughn---so many motels--but there is nothing for miles and miles out here so anyone on the road at night will stop in Vaughn! Dom Guilly and his cigarello cuts quite a pose, don't you think? He's actually doing quite well--an occasion cigarello and no cigarettes. Hoping to quit for good this time--hope he makes it. In Duran, where there is NOTHING, we met the train--Race you to Carrizozo! Saw three antelope but no more and no deer despite the same old five point buck sign posted throughout the country! ( Bill says a serious hunter should just park near a sign and wait for the guy to show up!!) To say nothing about the lack of buffalo. There is something so relaxing about the colors and serenity of this country. I love New Mexico and Arizona, too. But could I live here where I know no one? I certainly could not trade the boonies of Vermont for the very REAL boonies of the West. Bill, of course, could live in a hut 1000's of miles from anyone! NOT ME!!! He said back in Peurto de Luna that the house he lived in in Nepal were like those stone shacks--RIGHT! Soon, I wondered if we'd taken a wrong turn somewhere--the road before us looked like we were entering Montana--of course, NM is desert meets the Rockies country! Speaking of which, we suddenly found ourselves in the twilight zone--40 degrees and snow flurries in the middle of cacti and other desert vegetation. As our road spilled onto the valley floor that is mostly the Alamagordo Proving Range I started to take shots of the puppy dog rolling around on the floor clouds. Stopped in Carrizozo at the Four Winds Restaurant which was pretty empty. We had cheeseburgers--well, Bill had a hamburger with green chili sauce--which we haven't had since we left home. Tasted pretty good, too! Then on to Rt 380 West which we had taken eastward two years ago. Past the Valley of Fire, which is composed of lava flows and looks like scorched Earth; past Trinity Site and across the Rio Grande, which was unbelieveably high into San Antonio, the home of Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton Hotel Chain. In his youth, he rented rooms in his parents' farmhouse to travelers. Bet Paris has never seen this place!! LOL Took the little side road the 8 miles to Socorro. Saw a couple of roadrunners and a couple of quail along the way. Checked into the hotel and just vegged for awhile. We are supposed to hook up with a friend from home sometime during our stay. He works for CREL and is on assignment out here for three months. Called my Aunt who is 87 and lives in Pine Plains, NY. She is feeling claustrophobic but has power and is comfortable though it has been snowing since Tuesday. Called my sister, surgery went well. She is bored but not in pain. Has to stay off her foot for two weeks--this will entail a three month recovery period--she will gradually add weight throughout that time. Betsy called us!! Power was out for five hours last night so DirectV in my room wouldn't work. It is hooked up to a DVR there and that goes out of sync and has to be reset--had to give her directions on the process. The important stuff you know. Bill has gone out to eat and Bets just called again--but she needed to speak to him. I asked why, what's wrong--oh, nothing --she needs directions to Barre Auditorium. I said I think I can help you there! God!! Check this website out for our plans for tomorrow. www.socorronm.gov/pdf/battles_event_schedule2010.pdf
We've rented the room for two nights, since this is the location of the Basque del Apache Wildlife Refuge that we loved so much and spent a whole morning exploring two years ago. Don't think we'll do the VLA again, but who knows. I think we will return to Alamagordo and the White Sands, as well as Eagle Ranch--my favorite pistachio orchard and winery --to load up on nutsy goodies. I won't order them online because the shipping and handling is outrageous. Also there is a winery in TelaRosa that I skipped last time. If we go to Roswell on our way East, I also want to stop this time at the Peter Hurd museum. He is an artist married to Henrietta Wyeth--yes, one of THE Wyeths. They moved out here from Pa apparently. Well, Bill got mad at me because this whole process takes so long and he got tired of waiting to eat--it's only 6:30 now and he left at 6. I'd wanted to try a nice restaurant which won't be available tomorrow night but he's gone off to Billy Bob Thornton's HangOut--gross! Guess I'll just snack tonight. Well, until tomorrow and the Battle results--Civil War and others--good night. K

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Enchanted, Mystical, Wonderful New Mexico

Upon checking out this morning, Sara, the manager noted that we are Elite Diamond customers, which means we have stayed in Choice Motels 40 or more times last year. She was so thrilled about it that she awarded us with an additional 1000 pts..So the motel managers have also been given these vouchers, which is nice. I asked where Cadillac Ranch was and since it was on the way West we made a little jaunt to the muddy field, which we did not walk across, to see the ten cadillacs sitting at a slant along old Rte 66, which was still a frontage road of I 40. As I stood there in amazement a flock of Canadian geese flew so low over my head I could almost have touched them. They were flying northeast so I guess Spring is sort of coming. The weather report is not good West of here though it keeps changing--from either 22 inches of snow to torrential rains. At any rate I think we are going to head south sooner than planned. Certainly, no Taos this year either. For the moment, however, we returned to I40 headed for Tucumcari which I wanted to see just because I remember my parents talking about it and I like the name. We stopped in Vega--advertised on a billboard as the first cousin twice removed to Las Vegas. They certainly mean Las Vegas, NM and NOT Las Vegas, Nv!!! LOL What a time in Rooster's! Sat at a table with an older fellow who was born and raised here and whose mother ran Rooster's as a restaurant 55 years ago. I have not a clue how these rural type guys have the humor they do--but quite a breakfast. For one thing the cook was the waiter and since he was making heuvoes rancheros for our tablemate we had a wait to place our order. In the meantime, the old fellow pulled out his cell phone and called an insurance adjustor--I don't know how fast I was going--road was glazed --wasn't looking at no speedometer--couldn'ta been too fast my truck has a dent but the other guy's didn't have a scratch. Got off the phone and said when he called his agent the girl gave him this number to call--he said to her-why that's right down in Hereford Tx--how'd you know that,asked her--whall it says 863 and that's the call numbers for Hereford--oh, says she. Then he continued : She is probably one of those buck and a quarter secreteries! The cook was able to get away for a minute and in broken English asked what we would like. Bill wanted to know about the chili con queso--I said no--you won't like it--that's cheese. Since he couldn't get anything without cheese he opted for 2 pancakes as I was having. When he returned to the kitchen our pal said to Bill--thought you were from Vermont---I am, said Bill--Whaaaat, and you don't like cheese that's like a boy from Texas not liking steer!!! Soon his meal arrived and he sat for awhile until the cook came out with coffee for us--apologizing for being slow but Amanda--you know Amanda?--no we don't!--well, Amanda was supposed to be here at 10. It was now 1020. With that our table mate said Am I supposed to eat with rubber gloves or something with a large guffaw. Oh, I said, thought you were waiting for it to cool--nope, no implements. With that Amanda showed up, much to cook's relief. Followed shortly by a guy with a hat--Our man greets him with hello, what you been up to--thinking? Hell, no, says new arrival can't do that--just gives you headaches and confusion! With that the young couple in the other corner got up to leave and our man says to the young guy--hey can you see if you can get some of these shirts--bought this over at Shilby's and it cost $40! Young guy says I'll see what I can do--our guy says no, laughing, can't get them any cheaper --I'ved tried. As they left, he says to us--don't know if he works there, even. With that hat sits down and Amanda appears from the kitchen with the cook, who is sweating and can finally take a break. Oh, says hat man, New Girl--hi New Girl! To the cook, New Girl got a name? Amanda. Well, hello, Amanda. With that his phone rings and he informs us all that it is probably a very important call--with a grin! Talking about heifers doing it faster than cows, good day for it--sunny --tomorrow won't be. Makes an appt and hangs up. Somehow the cook gets questioned about how many girls he has working there which somehow led into how many wives he has. Only one but she's his second. Our guy--married 65 years to same women--hat man--45 years ditto but he was only 13 when they married --very young and ,I added, an arranged marriage at that to which he agreed. Another call came in--Not much says hat--was going to procrastinate today but decided to put it off. When he hangs up--announces great job I have putting my fist up the cows' rear ends. Breeder asks Bill-no checker on the breeders--our guy says don't let him fummox you--he's a vet. By this time we were all finished eating--another young man arrives and our guy tells me in an aside--that's the patron. And so our redneck comedy hour came to an end and off we headed along old 66 to Adrian--where ,just as our guy warned , we'd either get on I40 or go into a ditch. We passed on the ditch. Arrived in Tucumcari--our guy also told me how it got its name..Seems long ago an old Navajo Chief was looking over a bevy of very pretty young squaws. Not being able to choose just one he turned to his braves holding up two fingers and said " TWO! Come Carry! " We stopped at the last of the many curio teepees that used to dot 66 in the West. Nice couple going to Las Vegas, Nv for a souvenir show and convention--worried about the oncoming storm so hoping to get past Flagstaff tomorrow--that's a long haul! Bill drove up the road, as I walked along taking pix of all the old motels that date back to pre-Interstate. There are lots of murals in town, too but we wanted to move on to Santa Rosa, where we are spending the night tonight. The navigator chose a route using the play map--a one page map of the State showing all the scenic drives. We would drop south about 25 miles and then turn West directly into town. About 15 miles out I took out the real map and discovered that part of the chosen route is gravel! After the rains and snows they've had we didn't want to chance that--so we made a zig-zaggy " U " down one side of the first wind farm in NM and up the other side. No sooner had we turned the corner out of Tucumcari we had a total change in topography--I mean from flat long views to mesas in every direction--within minutes and maybe a mile. It was unbelieveable. Even more amazing is that in every direction, once the pre-cursor baby cumulus clouds had passed, we were surrounded by heavy,lowering clouds that showed intense verga rain. At least, we think it was verga, it certainly never rained on us. We stopped in Fort Sumter to see Billy the Kid's grave. There is some question as to whether he was even killed by Pat Garrett much less buried here. I choose to believe that they were at the Matthew home and a gunfight ensued and Garrett killed the Kid and he is buried here. Looking over the wall of the cemetary at the cattle and long views I thought--this is sure a long way from Brooklyn, Billy Boy! My Bill is so full of funny remarks--as we passed through a part of Ragland where all the houses were decrepit huts, he quipped " And here we have the historic district of Ragland!" As we were trying not to fly off at a tangent to the sharp curve in the road he laughed and said " They are f****ing nuts out here--this is a passing zone!" And as we moved along rte 84 between Fort Sumter and Santa Rosa after passing through the 1938 bridge that I thought the tractor trailer in front of us was going to trash, I developed a new road game called Tumbleweed. Points are given for driving so that the tumbleweed is pulled under the car by the wake you leave behind; for running over a tumbleweed; for driving so that the tumbleweed rides along the length of your car; but the most points are given for capturing a tumbleweed and carrying it for several miles on the front of your car. Then bonus points are given if, without getting out of the car, you pull over, pump the brakes, back up and hit brakes hard and in the fewest manuveurs dislodge the tumbleweed and watch it tumble away. We got the big points plus bonus. The truck in front of us flattened one beyond recognition and shot it off to the side and another truck going in the opposite direction pulled one in and under himself from the rear. Such fun! And with that we arrived to find that the Route 66 restaurant on my Tucumcari postcard is really here and that there is yet another legend to the Tucumcari name. Big chief going to die--to warriors eligible to succeed him but his daughter Kari loves one, Tocom but hates the other, Tonopah. Big chief says you must battle to death and whomever wins is chief and gets Kari. Tonopah kills Tocom with his knife--Kari, who had hid as they fought, leaps out and knifes Tonopah to death, then grieving commits HariKari ( I just couldn't resist !!!) with Tocom's knife. Big chief is led to the scene, unable to bear it, he plunges a knife( kari's I think) into his heart and as he dies he utters " Tocom-Kari" The scene of this Native American tragi-comedy is the present Tucumkari Mountain--of which there are several shots-one of which has a lovely trailer in front of it--all of which show its use as an antenna laden pin cushion. And so the day ends--in Mountain Time so now my TV shows are two hours earlier out here....I think I'll just read. Take care all. Not at all sure which way we are headed tomorrow--Albuquerque--what a spelling--or Socorro--no one knows--but " The Shadow Knows" Oh, I'm silly tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I can see for miles and miles and miles!

Amarillo by evening West from Weatherford! And so we are--in Amarillo this evening--but let me tell you of our adventures in between W and A! Got up too late for motel breakfast so we went to Jerry's which is a local diner type place. There were clocks on one wall a la those travel agencies that show the time all over the world but these told the time for several Oklahoma towns--none too far apart, either. Oklahoma City said 8:30 while Weatherford, Hydro, Clinton and Elk City said 11:30. I asked why the difference--waitress said the folks in OC are backwards and always behind--the Cook said that's how those rednecks tell time! An old guy(Bob) came in a sat at the counter with another equally old bird. Guy next to me asked Bob, who's that you've got with you there? Bob said, I don't know his name. They looked like brothers to me. Took a picture of the Mustang outside--they've come a long way since they first appeared--thought my friend, Glen, might enjoy it. Also the Ford truck with the great dashboard on the street in Guthrie and the fancy Ford car at the Chisolm Trail museum shots are for Glen's enjoyment as well.Despite the fact that the desk clerk thought we were a little cracked to follow back roads to Amarillo we did try to take old 66. Unfortunately, Oklahoma hasn't done much to keep the road up and it basically is a frontage road or access road, depending on where you hail from, along the side of I 40. Many places are blocked off and are decaying so we finally bit the bullet and went with the flow of trucks on the Interstate. As we traveled West Bill commented on the lack of trees. There is very little water in this part of the OK although there was remnants of snow on the ground. Apparently there had been snow a couple of days before we reached Weatherford but it swung south below us so we never encountered it in Guthrie or Weatherford. The soil in this part of Ok is almost blood red and the winter wheat is turning a beautiful emerald green. As we approached Sayre and passed the exit I noticed that the Washita Battlefield National Monument and the Black Kettle Museum were just about 21 miles north of us. The next exit was 21 miles West and Bill did not want to backtrack. I also had not noticed the Cheyenne Heritage Museum until too late. So I amused myself by noticing as we crossed into Texas that the land was now a tan color and it was gouged out by arroyos and dry washes. Very little agriculture initially and shrubby gray-green vegetation. Periodically, irrigated fields of chocolate brown, dotted by beef cattle and necklaced with huge irrigation systems appeared. Then back to the deeply graven land with sinuous double lines of trees making large loops along the banks of streams, even almost dry dribbles. There is so little water here that the only place you find trees are along the running water or in deep ravines where water is trapped. Sure makes it easy to find a body of muddy, shallow water. In time we came to Shamrock Texas and for no particular reason but that we wanted a break and liked the name, we decided to explore it. Well, we found a gem of a museum in a 1928 hotel Rogers which was a hopping place on Rte 66. Each of the rental rooms was a little exhibit and in each were priceless items totally without security, upstairs and down with only a little old lady docent sitting in the front parlor, and I think, occasionally dozing off. No fee!!!! We left a donation--how could you not? Two Esty organs made in Brattleboro, another Organ from Chicago and a pianoforte from NYC. I cannot imagine the value of those things alone! Of course, they weren't easily carried off but they could be damaged and other small items could be taken. While in Shamrock we also saw an art deco building, for which there was a billboard on the Interstate saying that " you've seen it in the movies!" Doesn't look familiar to me! Will google Shamrock and see what I can see. Before leaving it was necessary to take a shot of another wonder of the world--the tallest municipal water tower in Texas!!! Then we were on our way and then came to Grove where another billboard announced the largest cross in the Western hemisphere. Obviously, they don't know about Effingham or if they do, they are betting the traveler going by does not. They are certainly the same size. Maybe if they added a lightning rod or radio tower! After looking out over huge expanses at distant grain elevators and wind farms we reached Amarillo and our motel. Went out for dinner immediately to Jorge's Tacos something or other--Grande? Very good food--the chile con queso to die for--reminded me of the batches I used to make at my friend Normand's when we had impromtu gatherings of the two of us and whomever we could roust on the phone. Norm made chili--very piquante or tacos and the cervaza would flow. Good times! I miss him always. I fell in love with a pouty senorita with ruby red slippers. The conversation and laughter in the filling up dining room was warm and relaxing. But now we are back for the night. Watching the news about the storm hitting at home. I hope Betsy is safe--she worked yesterday and today. Hopefully, she decided to stay with friends in Lebanon or White River rather than drive in it. She's off tomorrow. My sister in Saratoga is scheduled for surgery tomorrow in Albany--I hope the roads clear enough for her to get there. Winter certainly took its time to reach the NE. Well, must go--the navigator and chauffeur have to consult on the route into New Mexico tomorrow. I am hoping to see Tutumcari--I just love that name. Also I want to call my sister. So happy trails to you all--saying a pray for the safety of those in the snow storm area! Good night for now--the Brown-Ponds

Amarillo by evening

West from Weatherford, Oklahoma. Got up late this am and so stopped at Jerry's for breakfast. Regular diner with several clocks on the wall a la the time all over the world--only they were for Oklahoma towns--Oklahoma City which said 830, Weatherford, Hydro, Clinton all said 1130. I asked why the difference. Waitress said people in Oklahoma City are always behind and the Cook said that's how the rednecks in OC tell time! Old guy came in with another old bird--guy next to me said who's that with you--Old guy said " I don't know his name!" Sure looked like brothers to me! Although the desk clerk seemed to think we were odd balls for wanting to travel back roads, we tried to take Rte 66 but OK isn't very good about marking it or even keeping it open--many parts are blocked off and left to decay. Also the old road really is just a frontage road or access road, wherever you come from you use one term or the other, to I40. So finally we bit the bullet and went on the Interstate. There are really no E-W roads out here --they zig-zig into and out of 40 so it was the best and least stressful to just go with the flow of trucks once more. Bill pointed out that trees were getting scarcer and scarcer the farther West in Oklahoma. Indeed, that was the case and certainly once we entered the most Western reaches and the East side of the Texas panhandle that became even more the case. The rows of trees reminded me of the fields in France where there is suddenly a double row of trees lining the long driveway to some far off maison. Here, though the trees marched in two sinuous lines like a pair of snakes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apparently, not Tuesday, either!

Hi guys, This is going to be fairly short tonight--tired,tired, tired and hungry! Haven't edited today's pix at all so there will be some really poor shots etc but the slideshow goes pretty quickly I think. Also, if your aren't into really ornate architecture today may not totally please you, although the latter part of the day was spent in the Chilsolm Trail Museum. We were planning on going to the Capital Printing Museum today but it is only open Th-Sat! Thought then we'd go to the American Banjo Museum but Oklahoma City stole it as well as the Capital from Guthrie.Wonder if it, too, disappeared in the middle of the night??? So, remembering how much I loved the town last year on a one block walk and lunch at Katie's I convinced Bill, wasn't hard he loves walking, to walk around town and see all the beautiful buildings--many from the 1800's, several just before Statehood and a few right around that time. The Blue something or other Saloon had a young fellow named Tom Mix tending bar before he moved West to Hollywood and worldwide fame. He was born up north near the Kansas border. Went into a drugstore for some Ibuprophen and the tables inside the door filled with middle aged men--the Coffee Club--the young girl behind the fountain told me. She was reading a Larry McMurtry book one of the fellows had brought her--he always brings her books. She looked to be a college girl and they were father and grandfather types. One guy was mentioning that New Orleans book--Dunce of Fools or some such--I asked him if he liked it--said he read it three times and loves it. I told him I just could NOT get into it. He says its the way NO is--hmmmmm--maybe I'll have to try it again. After walking for blocks we headed due West and stopped in Kingfisher--birthplace of Sam Walton--and stopped at the Chilsom Trail museum. I love the way they say, all but four of Mrs. Dalton's children were lawabiding, without actually mentioning the Dalton gang--took me a minute to figure it out. Took the shot of the outdoor prison cells because this is what the corrigible block looked like in Yuma but they didn't have the full thing there two years ago. B ought myself an unusual stone ring in the gift shop and off we went to Weatherford which is where we are spending the night. Bill went out to a sports pub for dinner and brought me back a delicious salad which I just finished and ribs, which are getting cold. I stayed in--sometimes I just need that bit of down time for myself to read and to write in my own journal and just be alone. I'm sure he likes the break, too. Off to sticky fingers, y'all! Til tomorrow. KandB

Monday, February 22, 2010

NEVER on Monday!

Woke and up by 7 am this morning to a cold and cloudy day. The Five Nations Museum was to open at 10 so plenty of time to March with the General, perform a leisurely toilette and enjoy a relaxed petit dejeuner. Took our leave of the manager, Doreen, of the Comfort Inn after telling her once more that she and her staff have been the best we've had so far. And how much we enjoy meeting the people on our trips--that while scenery is fabulous and museums are educational, the people make the trips--interesting and friendly all across this country. Then off we went to the Museum, which was rather small but fascinating. I had forgotten that Oklahoma really was Indian Territory in that when settlers moved into the West and wanted that land those Indians were sent to Oklahoma and land was taken from the Five Nations to set up other tribes, the Sac and Fox, the Iowa, etc. Also, the curriculum at the Cherokee Seminaries was the same classical education Anglos studied-Latin,Greek, math and science etc, taught by teachers recruited from Mt Holyoke and Yale etc. There was no courses on Indian language, customs or culture. They recognized the need to assimilate and so they did not pass on their own heritage. It was interesting to see some of the equipment from the schools including a pyramidal contraption that held many flatirons, keeping them all hot for the girls to iron their clothes, linen etc. And a wonderful clock--the top face of which told the time but the bottom face showed the month, day of the week and date. And then there was the attempt to make two states out of Oklahoma--one of the Nations and the other of the Anglos. It would have resulted in 4 Democrat Senators and Teddy Roosevelt didn't like that idea, nor did Congress. Hence, though they were promised this arrangement if they would give up their communal ownership of land and allow it to be broken into political districts allowing eligibility for Statehood, the Five Nations were let down once more and Oklahoma entered the Union as one State with two Senators. It was also interesting to hear how the different tribes treated their black slaves after Emancipation and the end of the Civil War. Freedmen of the Seminoles and one other tribe were allotted the exact same land as any other individual--both of these tribes also freely intermarried with the freemen and women. Two of the others allowed limited land ownership and the Choctaw, I think, would not grant any land to the freedmen, since they outnumbered the Indians and they feared a shift in power within the Nation. The more things change the more they remain the same. Some people are surprised at the ownership of black slaves by Native Americans but slavery did not start with Black men and women in the American South. Warring Indian tribes in the East made slaves of men and women taken in battle. Black tribes in Africa made slaves of defeated enemy tribes and Indians in South America did the same thing. Black African slave traders provided the Black slaves of the American south in barter for rum and molasses. For these Southern Indians who lived the plantation life it was natural to have the same slaves their white neighbors held. And when they were forced to move West they took their slaves with them. As a result these black men and women had masters whom some revered and others hated, for just as the white masters, some Indians were cruel and others extremely paternal. No matter the right or wrong of it--this was a way of life, a fact of life in that time and place. I remember when the beer drinking Professor Gates told, I think, Jamie Fox, that his ancestors were slaves of Native Americans he was totally floored. Unfortunately, a new art exhibit was being installed on the second floor so I was unable to see Willard Scott's ( not the weatherman! ) beautifully sculpted wood carving called UPROOTED. His Exodus at the Cherokee Heritage Center was so beautiful and I'd seen some of his other work last year in Wewoka at the Seminole Council House Museum. We left and headed for Okmogee and the Creek Council House Museum--the Muskogee Nation and Creek Nation are one and the same. This was 42 miles almost due West and we moved right along on Rte 16 only to find that the Museum is NOT open on Sunday OR MONDAY! Oh, well. Retraced our steps a bit and headed to Bristow where we found a pizza buffet. We didn't know that's what it was until we went in--Mizzo's is not a chain with which we are familiar. But for 7.50 a piece we had an all we could eat buffet of various types of pizza and a really fresh and varied salad bar as well as a dessert pizza bar. Filled more than half my plate with fresh veggies and indulged in three slices--but they are slivers, which is not a problem since you can eat as many as you want. I DID have a small slice of chocolate chip for dessert. Then we continued through Shamrock and Drumright ( having already passed through Beggs and Slick to reach Bristow). Drumright was quite the place---down a steep hill and back up the other side made the Main Street--the walkers in that town are in great shape! The "i" in the town's welcome sign is an old fashioned oil derrick--for this was certainly a one-time boomtown. As a matter of fact throughout the day we saw homes with an oil well and tanks in the back yard--wonder what the rules are for an oil well for one's own use? Of course, it is crude and needs refining before use--but is it like generating electricity back home and selling it to the grid? As usual, I had to take pix of the old buildings--in all their art deco glory--some of which pre-date 1907, therefore, pre-date Statehood. Can you imagine--my Mom and Dad were kids when these States joined the Union? Sort of like those of us, who remember Hawaii and Alaska becoming States! So strange. Finally we arrived at the SleepInn in Guthrie. Today is the anniversary of the demise of our Cobalt in Tulsa. and day after tomorrow will be a year since we ate lunch at Katie's in Guthrie. But for tonight we ate lightly at the Boneyard--where I had salad and soup and Bill had a steak sandwich. Tomorrow--with luck, since snow and an ice storm are predicted!!! --we'll visit the newspaper museum and maybe the Territorial Museum before heading to Wethersfield, or something like that, for the night. Guthrie was the first Capital of Oklahoma and so is rather steeped in history--it was settled in one day in the Land Rush made so famous in the movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kiddman where they fell in love for real.....Don't remember the name. But now I'm tired so will have a Bailey's, check the TV and look at my new book on the 5 Nations. Staywarm and take care, all. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

rainy day and it IS Sunday!

But it didn't get me down! Actually, I woke with terrible pain in lumbar and hip regions! Bill massaged it forever and I could at least move. Then, for the first time in several days, I marched 10 minutes with the General. Since the rains were torrential and the museum did not open until 1PM we took the morning to do housekeeping and bookkeeping chores as planned. We watched Remember the Titans--a ten hankie movie, if ever there was one--at least for me--no Bill tears! I just adore Denzel--he's a Fordham boy, you know! On Letterman one night he said, in regard to ivy league, " Well, we Fordham boys say if we need a Harvard man, we'll hire one! "Letterman liked that being a Ball State grad himself! Then at 1PM we went up the hill to the Five Nations Museum only to find that,despite both brochures which said it opened at 1 pm on Sundays, they've changed their hours and are CLOSED on Sunday. It was 48 degrees and rainy and windy so very, very, bitterly cold. We walked around a bit and took some pictures but quickly sought a restaurant for lunch. Found a hole in the wall--greasy spoon and it was--on Shawnee By-Pass. But the food, once more was good. Small salad with puckery good home-made creamy Italian dressing. Bill had hot hamburg sandwich with brown gravy, green beans cooked with bacon and seasonings that made it taste like collard greens, and half a can of kernel corn, I swear! I had a pork chop ( after I ordered it I realized it was going to be breaded and fried and it was!!! And quite salty) and the other half a can of corn! Cannot wait to get to the real South for my lovely sweet tea but this was okay once I added a cup of sugar! The best part of the meal though was our waitress, Maggie. 21 years old she has a 3 year old daughter, Kay-Lee Gray Effridge! Kay is Maggie's mom's middle name; Lee was her dad's middle name, he died in 2002; and Gray was her mother's maiden name! Kay-Lee is in the 97 percentile for height but the 13 for weight and Wick is giving Maggie some hassles. She is upset--she feeds her child, she loves her child and the doctor says the baby is doing fine. Though not married she is with Nathan Clint Effridge and they are talking of having another baby--they are hoping for a boy whom they think they'll name Ethan Clint! Maggie was just so effusive and friendly you just couldn't help but like her. Also, though they are young, she and Nathan are going to do all they can to make a go of it--they've had their ups and downs but both love their lives and their child. Listening to the level-headed Maggie and looking at the picture she'd proudly whipped out of Kay-Lee, I cannot help but believe they will. We've had students who've started this young and made it so it can be done. Let us hope so--one thing I know --Maggie hates being stereotyped as the typical 17 year old girl who has had a baby and has no interest or ability to be a Mom. She hates when someone says you're 21 and you have a 3 year old. She says you can see them doing the math and sometimes they'll even say--oh, you were 17! I told her to say really nicely '" yes", and then acting impressed continue "you're really good in math! " That will shut them up. Well, having finished our meal, through which this conversation took place, and the business picking up we paid our tab and came back to our room. Bill is watching a hockey game and I'm going to watch Night at the Museum 2, which I've carried cross country from Netflix. The dancing pairs are competing tonight at 6 CST so I'll finish up just about on time. Oh, yes, came across the receipt from the hardware store in Grove--so if you'd like a name for my Cherokee man there--Odes Allen! I bet it is pronounced Otis! Well, hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods--it sure isn't here. Have a great afternoon--K and B

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Oh-see-yo = hello or more accurately, it is good to see you! Another easy day today--since we planned to only see one museum and travel only a few miles. Though overcast it was, at least to us, warm--56 degrees. Our room in Tahlequah was, as usual, very nice but the young lady at the front desk was sooooo incompetent. When I asked about an upgrade--being an elite customer of over 40 stays per year--she assured me that they had given me that when I reserved by phone with Choice Privileges. I said, no, that is my senior discount, not an upgrade. She made no further response and I knew she had no idea what I was talking about. Too tired to care I let it go. Later in the evening Bill couldn't get the remote to work and I suggested he go and get batteries. She gave him another remote, which also didn't work. Then she came to the room and said she HOPED she could figure it out--she did finally. Still later I realized that the message button was flashing on both phones, though I KNEW we had no messages--no one knowing where we were. I would not have cared but one phone was on the nightstand near my head and I knew I wasn't going to sleep well with a eletronic flasher in my eyes all night. I tried everything--pushing the flasher--didn't budge; retrieving messages but I needed a passcode which I did not have; dialing the front desk and asking--OMG!!!!!! She suggested I dial my own room number, which I did---got a busy signal! So I stuck the phone under the bed--where it probably is still located and moved the desk chair between me and the other extension. I was annoyed but figured these were minor events and being tired I was probably just irritable. Well, I was well rested this morning when I asked her for directions to the Cherokee Heritage Center--Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation, for pete's sake--and this is the biggest tourist attraction in town. You guessed it--she had not a clue--not from here--no one around who can tell me--so sorry! I asked how long she'd been working here--a month! I suggested she take notes on what she didn't know and find out for the next guest. I also sent Choice Privileges a review of the staff. UGH!!After several wrong directions and turns we finally figured out where the place was--the turn to the road just two blocks from the motel!! The day from there was just fine--being old birds we only paid for one of us into the museum--55+ers get a two-fer! So $7.50 instead of $15.00! Nice. The Museum is made up of three main parts ( not including the gift shop, of course) the main museum with its Walk of Honor as its entry courtyard with busts and other monuments commemorating famous Cherokee who also were influential in the protection and promotion of Cherokee life and culture. John Ross is the only one who's name comes to mind--he was the Chief during the relocation of the tribes--we passed his home in Chickamunga two years ago but did not visit it. I bought a biography of him and will have to add it to my Goodreads to-read bookshelf. Also within this courtyard are all that is left of the Cherokee Female Seminary that was located on this exact spot and burned to the ground in 1887--three brick pillars. There are several pictures within the museum entrance of the school, including one of the first graduating class of 1850 something, I think. The second part of the facility is a recreation of a typical Cherokee settlement of the 16th C--pre-European contact. And the third is a typical Cherokee Village of the 1890's Nation prior to Statehood, which occured in 1908, I believe. Will Rogers was born in Oklahoma Territory and his father and grandfather were political figures in the Nation--but you knew that from our travels to Claremore and Oolagah last year. And so we began in the Museum--the exhibit focuses on the political maneuvering that took place and the reactions of prominent men, both white and Cherokee to it. But it actually starts with the original interaction between the Indians and the Europeans who moved into their territory---a huge area, as we shall see. Succinctly put--the white man brought many new and more useful items to the area--plows, wool cloth, axes, knives, petticoats --that appealed to the Natives to the point that they gave up many of their claymaking of pots, their weaving of baskets, the arduous task of pounding flint to make knives and arrowheads and axes etc. The whiteman asked for deerskins as payment for their new tools. Soon the Natives were learning how to make some of these things themselves and they wanted a cut of the market. Also the whites were demanding so many deerskins in payment --12 for a petticoat--the most " expensive" item, ladies--that the men were having to go farther and farther to find the deer--as the herds were being decimated. This began to cause hardship for the families because the men were now away for long periods of time. Soon added to this roiling cauldron of unease the white settlers, who were increasing in number began to covet the Indians lands. Now these Tribes are called the Five Civilized Tribes because, being Woodland Indians they were not nomadic. As a result, by the time Europeans arrived they had settlements with municipal buildings if you will, a government with laws and provisions for equal representation of men and women--actually this was a matriarchial society and women were quite powerful--an educational system, language though unwritten, quite extensive. As a result there were quite prominent members of the tribes and some, by 1837, when Andrew Jackson started the whole ball rolling that would result in the horror of the Trail of Tears, were living in rather nice brick homes with elegant European furniture and clothing. These were not aborigines living in teepees or tents or huts--though there were some primitive log cabins among the less affluent. So my hardware man the other day was right--they haven't lived in huts for a long time--LOL Anyway, Andy decided that the Indians had to go and he and Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. This was neither the beginning nor the end of the issue. This link gives a wonderful one page synopsis of the whole deal www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html. Chief Justice John Jay ruled the Act unconstitutional but Jackson's retort was " Jay has passed judgement now let him try to enforce it!" Andy really give much creedence to the balance of powers concept. By 1838 some of the Tribes had relocated to Indian Territory but many had not--and so armed troops marched into their homes and herded them into stockades waiting to be driven on foot to Oklahoma. They were given no time to gather any belongings so many walked only with the clothes on their backs. Winfield Scott and begged the tribes to relocate--he said he'd seen enough death in the wars he'd fought and he did not want to see their slaughter. Another Federal officer whose name escapes me--after seeing a pregnant woman bayonetted to death and other Indians killed by whites who saw no wrong in the murders--requested to be relieved of duty and he was. One Nation who voluntarily moved West--the Choctaws, I think, arranged for food and provisions to be available at points along the way only to find that the men they paid left the food in the summer's heat to spoil. One pioneer who saw the masses of Indians moving in a quiet procession prodded along by state militiamen on horseback said it was though civilization had returned to the dark ages. No sooner had the tribes left their homes than the white inhabitants looted their homes, in some cases moving into them, in others destroying them. White inhabitants were expanding not Westward but Southward and as the Trail of Tears progressed 25 million acres of former Indian land was available to plant cotton and provide work for slaves. And we have the unmitigated gall to condemn Hitler as though Andrew Jackson and his cohorts were any less monstrous. These people had everything taken from them, they died at the hands of brutes who killed them as easily as if they were ants beneath their feet and others died of starvation, disease and simple weaknesses of the very old and the very young. They were not allowed to bury their dead--they could cover them with a blanket if they could give one up. Today modern descendents cover their dead with blankets before they bury them in modern coffins to commemorate that horror.One Creek chief, in chains, marched the entire way upright, looking straight ahead--he was 84 years old!!! After this overwhelming exhibit it was a relief to move outdoors for our tour of the Ancient Village with our guide --the beautiful, Feather! --who greeted us Osiyo. The village was built in 1967 based primarily on contemporary journals of people who saw the villages upon arrival to this country and sketches they left. Although there has been much archeological material unearthed since then there has not really been any updating of the original work. Feather says that there is renovation going on and it was evident as we walked about and that the intent is to update the Village to represent a 17th C village rather than a 16th C one. She spoke of a stick game--pre-cursor of LaCross--which involved the use of two shorter sticks with much smaller cup and a ball the size of a golf ball made by wrapping a nut or small stone with leather and sinew much as we construct our baseballs. The " game" was actually a war maneuver practice and as such was quite rough---if one's sticks were lost or broken one could hold the ball in one's mouth. But all was fair in getting the ball--hitting in the head, the mouth, the stomach--anything to make you drop the ball. The object was to get the ball down the field the length of a football field--though she's heard of one over a mile long!--sometimes longer depending on the number of participants. Once down the field the goal had to be circled and then the ball hit in. Only males played and some died and many lost teeth--but it was better than having the tribe beaten in battle. Today the girls play the boys--they've added another twist--a post with a fish on top that needs to be hit by the ball--in addition to goals..If you hit the fish your team gets five points and other points along the height of the pole as long as it is above the black line. These points are in addition to the single point for a goal. The men still use sticks but the women can use their hands--BECAUSE they were too MEAN and VICIOUS when they used the sticks. Also the men have to be a little gentler with the girls--they can push them but not shove really hard for example! Feather also told us of the blow guns and how they are hollowed out at the nodes where they are blocked--these are made from a type of reed. She showed us the arrows that are used and explained their structure--she then blew a dart and hit a stuffed rabbit with a deadly blow. She spoke of the weaving of baskets and the fact that they are double walled. She explained the shaping of arrow heads and the formation of a good bow from some wood they call ironwood but is not the same we have here. The construction of winter homes--the little dome shaped smaller structures ----and summer homes with the reed covered patios. Wood twigs are stacked between two walls of clay which is fired by the simple method of making fires inside and outside the new structure. We came to the stomping ground the center of which has a fire which burns 24/7 throughout the year--an eternal flame. This because it is believed prayers are carried to the gods on the smoke of the fire. The central area is surrounded by seven pavilions--for each of the seven clans. When a ceremonial time comes the head man of the village would approach the fire, singing and dancing, followed by his wife who was not allowed to sing. BUT on each leg she wore a leather girdle on which were sewn hollowed out turtle shells filled with small pebbles. Each of these musical instuments weigh at least 20 lbs!!! Behind her alternating man, woman, man, woman etc the rest of the village joined the singing dancing line--mimacing the actions and sounds of the lead man--that is to say--all dancing as he danced --men singing--women playing accompaniment on the appendage supported turtle shell rattles. AND THIS WENT ON ALLLLLLLLLL NIGHT!!! and it started in the morning.....children fit in where ever. It was here that we came across Jaime--calmly sitting with a young puppy in his arms. Feather's fiance. I wondered why he had not started the dance for us to follow him--we had a nice laugh--another couple and their little girl was in our group--so we could have had a mini demonstration--yes? At this point I asked Feather--as the puppy was being fawned over--if she was from Tahlequah. Indeed, she is and her family's association with the Center dates to its opening in the '60's. Her uncles, grandfather, father, brother, grandmother and she either have worked or work at the Center.Her grandmother was one of the original basketry instructors. Soon we progressed to the Council House--again seven sided with a fire--also kept burning--in the center. Usually the house would be eight sided so that each clan had a side and then the eighth would be the entrance wall. In front of the entrance, inside, stands a post. If the inner walls are painted white--the village is at peace---if red, at war.Although there was a Chief and a secondary Chief--one acted in peacetime and the other in wartime---there also was a woman--The Best Beloved--who had the ultimate decision making role. When a man married into a clan, his children became members of his wife's clan and he moved into her home. Her brother was responsible for teaching the children the ways of the clan and he had nieces and nephews he taught in his own clan. During meetings he sat with his clan. He was allowed up to three wives but any wife could divorce him simply by putting his things outside the home and she then could live with whomever she wanted. He could not initiate a divorce. The woman had control of her own property with no input from him. Pretty progressive! And so our guided tour ended. As we left the village a group --obviously a school group arrived. I asked where they were from and one wise guy said rehab! turns out they were from an alternative program for Cherokee boys who have gotten into trouble too much in school. Feather had a bit of a problem trying to explain but Bill and I helped her out by telling her --oh, we recognize them--Bill taught vo-ag and I had all levels of 10th grade science. The boys were fun--I said how old are you guys? 16?17? They were surprised and really were quite neat kids and it was obvious to them that I had their number but found them amusing and liked them. I said I taught you guys for 30 years--I've got you covered and we all had a good laugh. Boy I miss those boys-! They were always my real favorites--no meanness, no cattiness, just high spirits, trying to act grown up. Then we were on our own to tour the Adams Corner Rural Village--developed with and supported by money from the guy who owns the Tennessee Titans Football team. His grandmother was part of the Trail of Tears and the village is named for his mother. From the Center we headed back past the Comfort Inn and Chilies, where we ate last night to state route 51 and a neat little Mexican Restaurant. Then onward to Muskogee past the Grand River, the Vertigris River and canal system and across the Arkansas River into town. The Arkansas, like the Platte is just full of mud flats but becomes a raging maelstrom with Spring rains. Our desk clerk here, Sonia, is the complete opposite of the disaster named Crystal of last night's experience. So wonderful that we moved our stuff in and then decided to extend our stay for a second night. In addition, I gave her one of my 1000 point vouchers--Choice Privileges will give her 1000 points because I found her so helpful. Now my fingers are numb, my brain is numb and I'm ready for TV. Tomorrow the Five Civilized Nations Museum which opens at 1--so time to reorganize the car, do laundry, and plot the next leg of the trip. Don't know how to say good night in Cherokee but I'll find out tomorrow--so for now--sweet dreams, all. The almost Native American Okies from Vermont

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Canadian Ranger sings

"Way down yonder on the Indian nation, ride my pony on the Reservation, in the Oklahoma hills where I was born!" So sang Hank Snow, from Nova Scotia!!! amongst others. And so after the slowest start of our trip--left the motel at 10:30 am!! ---we headed for the Cherokee Nation. We followed I 44 West once more knowing that this was the best bet for coming upon a Welcome Center where we could gather brochures and plan our exploratory route. One of the ladies said she thought the cut-out fellow, who apparently gives tours in Tahlequah ( told you I had it wrong this morning! LOL But still, make believe the e is not there and it becomes Tahlquar) looks like Gene Simmons of Kiss! She made me promise not to tell him she said that if I meet him! Of course, I had to buy some things in the gift shop--I'm such a tourist!!!!! Got all organized and off we went exiting 1/4 mile down the road at a Miami exit ( sorry, guys, but it is Myama out here! ) Took rte 10 back east a bit and then 10 headed south. There are so many tribes here, most relocated from the East and everywhere there is something to remind you. Heading to Grove the land is flat and range like with a variety of beef cattle breeds. Spring River is lovely but for the most part things are just pleasantly snow free. By the end of the day the temperature had reached 60 with intermittent raindrops. Grove, itself, is quite a burg--3rd street is really the Main street of downtown but Main Street is the newly built up fast food chains and Walgreens etc but no Wal-Mart--that is farther down the road in Jay. We ate at a neat place with cowgirl types as waitresses--real not make believe--truly what one imagines cowgirls to look and act like--they were in tees and jeans and sneaks but there is just a way about them. Friendly and happy and pleasant and welcoming and down to earth--not beautiful necessarily but just beautiful people. Bill had wonderful ham steak meal and I had breakfast even though it was 1 pm --but I hadn't eaten yet and that's what I wanted. A flapjack and a huge and I mean huge sausage pattie--homemade and delicious. Conversation around us--the waitress' experience in the local hospital where a lone gentleman's wife is currently a patient. The waitress said her Dad is quite prejudiced and didn't like the fact the doctor was a foreigner but she was happy the Doc saved her life and it didn't matter to her that he wasn't from Oklahoma. Then the music ( country, of course) stopped and the girls without any self conciousness and seemingly without thinking just started singing --not really together or even the same song--then the one girl realized the music had stopped and laughed because she'd just started humming when it got quiet. Fun. Left there and Bill went to the Bank of Oklahoma to get his nickels and we went into the hardware store to get something to clean the windows and more batteries for my camera. The guy told me not to take his picture so of course I had to. We started talking about our plans and I realized he is Native American which brought a real grin to his face--a Cherokee. He wanted to know what I wanted about the Cherokee Nation. I became a bit self concious because I didn't want to sound patronizing or condescending. I said I wanted to see the Nation to see where the Cherokee had lived and ran their Nation. Tahlequah is a restored Cherokee town and he said that with minimal time available it was a good place to start and that there was much to see in Oklahoma but to start there and go from what I see there. At one point he said " We don't still live in huts!" I said, oh, no I never thought that. Then he laughed and said" Some of us even have Condos " and Bill said" and some even on the Lake" Then I knew he had accepted that I was honestly trying to understand the culture and history of the people--and I called them the people --knowing that is what the Natives call themselves. With a wink, he said, and we are getting some back with all our casinos. I was so happy that he had relaxed and we left friends. I even asked him which of two ways he would advise us to take to Tahlequah and he said down 10 all the way--I had thought to take 20 out of Jay but he said no, go to the headwaters of the Illinois River and so we did. Which brings me to Hank Snow's song because when we left Grove and headed south we indeed rode the hills on the reservation. The cliffs overhung our car in places and though I should know what those rocks are it escapes me for the moment. I DO know, however, that those light colored strata are softer than those above them and that they will and are eroding first which means there is much rock fall and that some day those cliffs will have collapsed but that is long in the future. Also on the way out of town I stopped at Walgreens for the aforesaid batteries and picked up a bag of York peppermint patty pieces. The lady on the register asked if I'd had them before. Said no--so out she whipped her own personal bag for me to taste them and make sure I liked them enough to buy. Can you imagine anyone at home doing that??? Arrived here at 430--ate at Chilies and will plot our siteseeing in Tahlequah and environs tomorrow before moving off to Muskogee, most likely for the night. An easy day, but as usual filled with wonderful encounters with local people and sights new to our eyes. Will give you your Cherokee history lesson tomorrow night! LOL Hope you are enjoying the ride. Goodnight, all! KandB

Sunshine Came Softly

Oh, what a beautiful morning and yes, what a beautiful day. Sunshine surely came softly to our window today and we bid farewell to Rolla. Before leaving the story of the name should be told--as is often the case in the Midwest its history is intimately tied to the railroad and Westward expansion. Although the first settlers arrived in the area around 1818 and the first house was built within the present city limits in 1844, the town was not officially surveyed,laid out and named until 1858. The founder of the town wanted to call it Phelps Center since his house sat in the middle of the new Phelps county ( his name was Bishop--go figure!) Another guy thought Hardscrabble would be appropriate--if that says anything about conditions here a century and a half ago--give or take. But the guy who won out wanted it named after his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The others went along with him as long as they didn't use that " silly spelling"! Hmmm, so Rolla was born and we now know how Raleigh is to be pronounced! Once more the adult stores and Christian belief system baffled me. We took I44 and saw the Adult Mall we'd seen on old 66 last year and this time a store and church cheek by jowl--one stop shopping, I guess.Continued along I 44 to Springfield--home of Brad Pitt!--where we went to the Wal-Mart we'd patronized last year. Picked up laundry stuff, room deodorizing spray in fresh linen scent, and healthy twigs, sticks etc--nuts, meat sticks( marginal) and dried fruit, oatmeal bars and water. We then continued through town to old Rte 66. Last year we'd followed it from St Louis into Oklahoma but, having done that and wanting to make up time, we stayed on the Interstate. This stretch isn't terribly slow either since it actually follows State Route 96. Nonetheless, there are many of the old stone buildings in various states along it. Have no idea why I was so taken by the Angus except it was so great to see animals out in the open and no snow! Actually, a balmy breeze out of the Southwest raised the temperature into the 50's and sunshine warmed us more. Heaven! Soon, we came through Albatross, Sleeper, Avila , Halltown across an old truss bridge to what is left of Spencer--a Phillips 66 station with unbelieveable gas prices ( not open anymore! Shucks!) --and into Carthage with its magnificent City Hall. Last year they had scaffolding and workmen on the roof--all done now. It was much warmer this year walking around the lovely square with its buildings dating back into the 1800's. Most of the storefronts are occupied, though certainly not by the original businesses. But the tiled entries are intact and one store has a showcase with tiled walkways on both sides going to the doors and a tiled walkway behind it between it and the main window. This forms a great semicircular pathway to and from the sidewalk--a great roller skating loop. Oh, I used to love Sundays when you could go from the rough sidewalks with their bumps between pavers into a smooth tiled or marble alcove of a skyscraper entry way. Wonder if kids do that still? Probably skateboards now! Went into old Kresge's with its marvelous bowed windows and chatted with our friend, the weaver who studied in Sheffield England and now teaches fabric arts with private students and runs this basically used junk shop--bought a Patsy Cline LP for Bill and the Barbra Striesand --Barry Gibb LP that I never got when they made it. LOL Have always loved Babs--we're the same age and were growing up in the City at the same time--of course, she was busy getting famous and marrying Eliot Gould and I was thinking I'd be a doctor. She and Christopher Walken still sound like city and she has always kept her Nephrititi nose---LOVE THEM! The we stopped by MacMorrow's to see if the Sentimental Redneck was there this year--nope but the dark,dingy hole in the wall did not disappoint--an older guy who once was stationed in Plattsburg with the Army but never crossed the lake to Vt. He HAS been to Ct, though! When Bill needed to use the loo, he opened the door and this guy was on the throne--come on in, he said. So in Bill went to use the urinal. Guy said "recycling!" and Bill allowed as how they were, indeed, " Green". Later someone played a song on the jukebox that was almost symphonic though the singing was rock or whatever they are calling it now--all in all, though I haven't a clue who or what it was, it was really quite nice. Out of nowhere he declared--" that's pretty long hair!" A younger guy came in after being at the tax preparer and he asked how it went--young guy " they bent me over". Haven't heard that expression in forever. The man next to me grew up in Muskogee and identified himself as an OKIE from Muskogee, laughingly saying I must have heard that one before. We chatted about the Cherokee Nation and he told me how to pronounce Tahleghada ( I know that isn't spelled correctly but the map is in the car)--anyway, ignore the "le" totally. He said his name is in the Cowboy museum in Oklahoma City and I asked why. When he was in school and the FFA they were building the museum. If the kid donated a buck toward its construction his name would be carved into the donor wall--he did but he's never gone to the museum. I said,oh, you have to go, it is a wonderful place. He said "I've never been back to Muskogee"--I didn't ask why--"and THAT is 150 miles from here!" It is funny--when you get farther West 150 miles is like driving around the corner. Well, after a few Guinnesses we bid our fond farewells to the locals and the barmaid, an Osage Indian from Washington State and continued to Joplin. After a terrible meal at Applebee's--very unusual--we retired to our room at the Comfort Inn. I took a nap and woke in time to see us take the Gold in men's free skate. Then watched the news and the weather forecast of rain? a wintery mix? light snow? Who knows--it is like Spring at home--every so often winter tries to make a comeback but you KNOW he hasn't got a chance. It is surely overcast but it is supposed to be in the 40's. It is a laid back day--almost 10 and impending " Tiger Speaks" broadcast and we haven't begun to pack or dress. Not going too far today anyway and just need to decompress a bit. Until tonight--hugs to you all--K and B

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stream of Semi Conciousness

My cell phone knows we have been in Central Time since we entered Indiana but the computer does not! Did I happen to mention the potholes in the Pa highway as we approached W. Va or those around Columbus, Ohio that would rival that found in the Daytona Speedway? I expected Indianapolis to be shroaded in black since the Colts lost the Super Bowl ! There was nary a plane landing, taking off or stacked up in Pittsburgh, Columbus,Dayton, Indianapolis or St Louis. Seemed really strange as the skies are usually filled in those areas. Did you know that if you do it right you don't even see Pittsburgh, Dayton or St Louis from the Interstate? Also, having belabored the issue of truck traffic I failed to mention the shower of ice that descended on us from a Weller truck entering the highway as we crossed into Indiana. Shortly before a strange knocking had begun in the area under the hood on my side. When we saw the ice we decided that's what we must have heard---the icy debris off other trucks. Soon, however, there were no trucks in our vicinity--a rarity--and yet the knocking continued. Stopping at the next rest area---fortunately only a mile onward--Bill debarked into the slush, and icy cold 2 inches deep water in his sneakers to inspect the situation. Nothing, until I suggested he check the wiper and well and sure enough--the ice had finally broken off the wipers and was trapped in the well and at 65-70 miles an hour just kept sliding back and forth--knocking against the end of the trough before sliding in the opposite direction. Happily, an easy fix. Bill's neck is red today--as he hoped. He sat with his back to the sun coming through our room window yesterday afternoon, drinking his Miller High Life as I caught up with our saga. Said he needed a redneck to go into Oklahoma! Hah. Does anyone besides me remember Bing Crosby singing Sam's Song with his son, Gary? Who else can sing Gary's part??? Ah, well, I don't remember all the words anymore either! And lastly, as daylight comes, I am happy to report there is no new snow on the ground though it feels chilly in the room. Today Bill cannot declare as we board G-5 the intergalactic Pontiac " It sure looks white out today!".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

West? South? Which Way is Up?

Slept incredibly well last night--must be all the stress exhausted me more than I realized. I really am a bundle of nerves on these roads in this weather. My sister and I rarely use Interstates and even when we do, we get off periodically to allow her to relax away from all the truck traffic. As you can see there are tons of them --they far outnumber the cars. Although I didn't take a picture, just west of Pittsburgh there most have been an accident or something on the Eastbound lane. The traffic was backed up for about three miles and there were two lanes--every so often a lone car or SUV would appear among the behemoths.......so scary. Even though most of those guys are incredibly good drivers and unbelieveably considerate we have so far had at least four incidents that kept us on our toes. Yesterday's was a car who almost caused a pileup but today an empty flatbed cut us off in the passing lane--Bill says the guy misjudged how fast we were gaining on him--so what --on a slippery road it doesn't matter. Then we were already halfway past the rear wheels on a truck who suddenly decided he wanted to pass--again--used brakes and dropped back and let him go--that time we were passing him and visible to him. The night we were going back to the motel from Bob Evans in Breezewood a tractor trailer was coming across our road and headed right into us--we would have been T-boned--he never stopped but Bill gunned it and we got by him--I don't think he could have used his brakes, he would have probably jack-knifed. Awful--he just came through his stop sign. Of course, Bill is not a big help either. At an intersection I all of a sudden realized he was looking both ways and trying to judge when it was clear to make his left turn--I said you have a red light, you know--guess what? There were THREE red lights--one at pedestrian height right in front of us and two suspended above us--he saw NONE of them! Just like two years ago when he made a left into an oncoming lane in Chloride instead of going on the other side of the divided highway and last year when he went through a stop sign without seeing the oncoming car in Tulsa. I just don't know how that happens--but it sure doesn't make me feel terribly secure. Of course, there is no way I would drive on these roads with trucks but that isn't where he gets flustered--it is in towns and cities--I can handle them--though I just don't like driving any more at all. So I take a deep breath, try to see for him and get sick to my stomach. But enough about stress. What was today like? As I said the weather report was not promising at all for our planned route to Oklahoma so we considered going south out of Indianapolis to Louisville, Nashville and on to Little Rock before turning Westward again. The plus was that we would be south of snow and at most would hit rain ( albeit freezing ) if any precipitation at all. The negatives were that we would take a longer time to get to Oklahoma and would be farther south than we wanted to be since we hope to explore the Cherokee Nation. We decided to see what the weather was like once we reached Indianapolis--where the sun came out and the skies turned blue with hardly a cloud. So we opted for the old I 70 to St Louis. As soon as we left Indianapolis the sun disappeared and it all got gray and gloomy but no snow! And so it went --and warmer besides--28-30 degrees--a regular heat wave! As we entered Illinois we were greeted by the same humongous cross that I took a picture of last year--the lady from Missouri in the next car was leaning forward in her seat taking the same shot! LOL This is truly the Heartland---farms as far as the eye can see. I wonder if they are all members of the same family--like the Rainvilles in Northern Vt or the Howes in Chelsea? Arrived in E.St Louis and kept on I270 the circle around the city until we reached I 44. Last year we followed old rte 66 from this point but hoping to make up time we opted to continue this mad dash through the midwest. I really hate that--we miss half the country to get to warmth--another reason why I don't like traveling in the winter. I WANT to see the Air Force museum and the Wright Brothers sites. I WANT to check out Vidalia--the earliest capital of Illinois. Just among many things we just blow by. Ohio, Indiana and Illinois are so ignored because I'm always going somewhere else--someday I want to make them the destination! And so we crossed the Mighty Mississippi--which definitely was more the Big Muddy with huge Mud Flats today( does the Platte mean anything??)--into Missouri. We had hoped to make Springfield but realized we'd done over 400 miles and 8 hours of travel and were tired. Rolla looked like a good stopping point--106 miles from St Louis and 11o miles to Springfield. And so, here we are--after noticing the dichotomy of billboards for JESUS and huge crosses and God Bless America banners with ads for ADULT STORES, GUN SHOPS--none of the Capitals mine!!!--in the Quality Inn in Rolla, Mo. It is 9:30 and Bill is going to bed. We've had Pizza Hut pizza for dinner---delivered. I'm going to see if there is anything on TV or read, whichever is more exciting--ha! Tomorrow they predicted nice weather before rains and snow return on Friday.. So I'll keep out my sunglasses and hope that the day will dawn and remain as nice as today ended--with a sun so blinding that I could not read the exit signs as we faced into the West. And ,a first on this trip,--a lovely sunset! For now, time to change into a nightgown and get comfy. A demain. The Wandering Duo

Chapter 3 The Hellatious Day

What a crappy day!!! A few minutes of sun and pretty farms as we left Breezewood, Pa but then temperatures between 19 and 22 degrees and wet roads, snow so thick it was like fog and spray from innumerable trucks that made visibility impossible! It was obvious from the snow accumulations between Breezewood and Pittsburg that we'd made a wish move to leave the road early yesterday. Took the same picture of the bridge over the Monongahela River I'd taken last year and then on into West Virginia for a minute and across the Ohio River into Ohio. We had stayed in Cambridge, Ohio on our second night last year and it is 3 and 1/4 hours and 209 miles farther East than Breezewood, so we are about half a day behind our trip in 2009. As we moved through Ohio it became obvious that the day before had brought an incredibly windy, wet snow storm into the area from the NorthEast. The trees and any other vertically oriented structure were plastered for their entire height with snow, making stands of all different kind of trees appear like clumps of white birch. Neither Pennsylvania nor Ohio stint on road salt--at these temperatures the wet roads should have been sheer ice but instead they were splashy, puddle ridden --as though a torrential rain had just passed through. Having few opportunities to take any long range pictures I amused myself with strange place names like Lover and Eighty Four. Listened to the 40's station on XM Sirius radio and sang along with Bing Crosby and his son, Gary, Billie Holliday, the Andrews Sisters etal. I'm sure Bill was thrilled but I HATE these trucks and snow and ice and I'm a wreck. I wouldn't be out here but he doesn't want to miss Vt Falls so off we go into scary winter travel. I could always throw up instead!!!! I did relent after awhile and tune into NPR where we listened to the author of a new book about Ken Starr's investigation of Billy-Boy. I really like that Gross lady who does the interviews but I'm afraid I just could not tolerate a discussion of Autism with Diane Reeves so we agreed to radio silence for a bit. As we entered Indiana a CONVOY of highway salt trucks/plows came onto the Interstate setting off further alarm bells in my already high alert system. After all, a tractor trailer had already decided to come into the passing lane as a car who'd decided we weren't passing fast enough cut onto our right and then out in front of us just as the truck was pulling in front of us---I just closed my eyes and waited....happily Bill was able to just let off the gas, the car pulled to the left and the truck went back into the right lane. We pulled in behind him and have no idea where the idiot went. A few miles later I looked over at an entrance ramp only to see a flat bed canvas covered off the road: the cab askew and the trailer flat on its side.... And then as we exited in Richmond, Indiana where I'd called ahead for a reservation the windshield began to ice up when we sprayed it to see. Yes, indeed, time once more to call it a day. This time at 4 PM--as we made our way to the motel I felt like the road and the holy roller church opposite the driveway looked incredibly familiar. Barb and I stayed here on our way back from Montana in Nov of 2007!!! Remember the Canadian geese on the lawn and the strange way to get back on the Interstate--almost dangerous!!!Unloaded and wasted no time to go out to eat at Frickers where they were having 35 cent wings night---oh, yes--sooooo good with Guinness. Last year we were in Oklahoma for Mardi Gras and the bartender had beads for all and the vibe was very festive---not at Frickers---no indication at all--too many WASPY types and not enough French Catholics!!! LOLBack to the motel where, once more, it seemed I could not connect to the Internet. Both times --here and in Breezewood--it was a network problem, not my computer. But in both cases, very frustrating. It did give me a chance to think about the push by Pa and Ohio to make coal the fuel of choice--as once it was, before the pollution ( remember those great inversions? Or the heavenly black smear on one's washclothe at the end of a day walking in NYC? ) made everyone demand scrubbers and other choices that were less harmful to the environment. Now there are these clever billboards---ELECTRI ( all bright and illuminated) city ( small, dark and grey) and the message--you can't have it without coal....-----Coal the green fuel......Coal an old friend with a new look! And then a TV ad about a guy in Wyoming who works for a power company out there and talks about the large deposits of coal in the Powder River Valley.....Well, everything old is new again and with new technology it probably is an answer to oil dependancy --and will satisfy those afraid of nuclear power and those who have a zillion reasons why they don't want pinwheels on THEIR ridges! Thank goodness this attitude didn't prevail when all those power lines and phone lines were strung so unattractively --or we'd still be using candles and smoke signals! Oops, the foregoing was just an editorial note--subject to feedback,naturally! LOL It also allowed me to watch the men's short program in figure skating though I missed Prochenko--but I'll catch him Thursday for sure. All in all a stressful day that ended well though with apprehension since the weather forcast is confusing though never very encouraging. Goodnight all!

Chapter 2 Old Man Winter Has His Way

Having looked out the window of our room in Binghamton last night, at around 7PM, and seeing our car as the only one in the whole parking lot, felt a little eerie at first! But it was, after all, Valentine's evening and, by 9, there were several more--three of which were from Ontario. By 10, it had snowed and the cars were covered. Refusing to think about it, I retired at 10:30 (Bill, having long since--at 8:30!!! But I did get a lovely card--and I didn't get him one. Sigh) Slept fairly well, woke at 6ish but fell back to sleep until 7:30. Marched with the Sargeant for ten minutes; ate my Grape-Nuts Trail Mix in the room, coffee in the breakfast room and then down the road we went. Storm watch but we had sunshine and little traffic most of the way. Near Frackville, Pa there was about a four mile long ridge to our West and a beautiful wind farm almost along the whole thing---white pinwheels against a beautiful blue sky. Unfortunately, with the trees and our low slung car I was unable to get a really nice shot of them. Soon we came to Scranton and Wilkes -Barre, both of which are so terribly congested and built up. Many of the names brought back memories of the coal/steel industries that were once the backbone of this local economy--Steamtown, steel furnaces ( right after I was born in Washington DC--certainly before I was a year old--my Dad worked in Pittsburg on the electrical controls of the big Bessemer furnaces. He told me all about it but being young I only half listened and would now have to take a tour to hear only part of what he was able to share.) , coal mine tours, Anthracite, Minersville. I LOVE Ravine! A friend once told me that living in Chelsea, Vt led to great depression in its residents because it was in that valley that never got any light. Wonder what the state of mind is of the residents of Ravine, Pa???? I also love the tunnels built to go through the mountains, such as Blue Mountain. Incredibly smart people--no bravado here--why terrify by going up over the heights or along a precipitous ledge--go through them! YES!!! Must have been those miners. Although this was at least my third time taking this route westward, I forgot that one has to leave I81 and travel local rte 11 and through the town of Middlesex to access I 76. So, though I'm a great Navigator--ahem---we had to BACKTRACK--a few miles ! BUT, to my credit, I did recognize the intersection at the off ramp as we flew by~~~ Must have been a St Albans deal. Rumor has it that there was no North exit on I89 because the town poohbahs wanted folks to pass through town so they'd spend money there--probably why two Interstates connect through a small town! Very unusual. So back we went as the sun disappeared and fingers of a frontal cloud edged toward the East. As we snaked along I 76 through the seemingly unending ridges that bound us on either side and on through the Tuscarora Tunnel, the snow began. We stopped at the Sideling Rest Area for gas as the snow quickly thickened. Although we were well short of our stopping point at this exact time last year, it seemed sensible to call for a reservation and make it a day. Travis, in Albequeque, said it was clear and 50 degrees there ( hence there is some hope we'll see warmth sometime ). He made our reservation in Breezewood, Pa --11 miles down the road. So, as visibility diminished and roads became slick we arrived at 2 PM -- a really early stop. After moving into our room, tried to connect to the Internet but no success. Went to the office and connected but it lost back in the room. Called several pizza places but nobody delivers in Breezewood! At 3:30 ventured out to Bob Evans--rib-sticking plain food at a reasonable price: bean soup ( watery, but tasty) , garlic toast , some of which I brought back for later, and Pot Roast stroganoff. Nothing on TV, no Internet so read Sunday's and Monday's papers. Bill asleep by 8:30. Note to self--Bill farts--don't forget the scented travel candle next time!!!

Old Man Winter Has His Way

Just testing to see if I can blog and then copy to an email! More later.

Sunday, February 14, 2010