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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

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

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