Monday, October 28, 2013

Driving Miss Daisy on the Extra Sunday

Sunday's alright for driving. Yup, as a matter of fact, Sunday's alright for playing Miss Daisy. And, who would want to miss out on the conversation gems like extra Sundays, theories about ghost towns, missing windmills, and those friendly shotgun wielding Oklahoma folk? Not this rider, especially when I get to be a backseat driver. I, therefore, volunteered to be Miss Daisy.

My companions I mean the lovely ladies I accompanied talked about the concept of an extra Sunday. Apparently when you get to a certain age and lifestyle, days blend together and Saturdays turn into odd Sundays. Odd because nothing that usually happens on Sundays happens. What actually does happen on Sundays? I mean Donut shops still make donuts, coffee shops are still open (if we had any), and Wal-Mart still rolls back prices and rolls small shops out of the market. Of course, it comes as a nice surprise (or maybe a bad surprise if one had plans on the first Sunday) when one wakes up on the actual Sunday to realize there's an extra Sunday to enjoy. Or maybe it's a pre-Monday. A Monday everyone can love. A Monday where people can go have fun on their motorcycles enjoying nature...while polluting it. Hm, let me rephrase that. A Monday where people can take their motorcycles for a ride to nature and go hiking while picking up other people's trash. You'd be amazed which holes I've been in where there have been beer bottles and leftover gatorade bottles. Really people? The water bottles are much lighter to carry back when they're empty. But, I digress. It's nice that some people can blame having extra Sundays on memory problems that come with old age, but how do I get to write it off? Something to ponder on my extra Sunday.

For years, I've been wanting to do Ellenbrook's refuge tour partially explained in a book called Outdoor and Trail Guide to the Wichita Mountains of Southwest Oklahoma complete with a map featuring a little sombrero-wearing dude riding a donkey. If that doesn't add credibility to the adventure factor, then what would? I'm all about turning left at the cactus...until you find out that the cactus that was there in the 1970s isn't there anymore. Bummer.

Skeptical was my middle name when prepping for this tour. Especially after reading the route description. A tiny paragraph (I'm talkin' a two sentence paragraph) covered 75 miles of travel all on dirt roads. I thought the directions were sucky to say the least. Based on the route the donkey was on and GoogleMaps, I pieced together what I thought an accurate route description. I probably shouldn't make fun of Ellenbrook's sucky directions since I beat his sparse paragraph with a post-it note. Unfortunately, the ladies who were driving Miss Daisy had even less faith in my post-it note and brought a GPS.

"Where's y'all's sense of adventure?"
"It's out for pie."

Cruising the back roads of Oklahoma made Ellenbrook's sucky directions not so sucky all of a sudden while stopping next to thousands of sun flowers...then again those weren't mentioned in the map. The Post-it Note directions worked well...with the GPS. Turns out street signs aren't really used out in the boonies. And, if they are, it's for target practice.

75 miles and only one car seen. We passed more cattle on the road than cars. I warned #333 and #273 of their fate, pleading with them to stage a revolt and run before it was too late. Not sure they believed my facts to be on the level. Cows. People told me I lived in the sticks. I was tempted to offer a trade at one of the ranches. Figure I'd go back once I've found a nice way to market a neighbor who moves mailboxes at night.

This adventure gets travelers the closest they'll ever get (without trespassing) to Baker's Peak and Cutthroat Gap. Story time, yo: 

Cutthroat Gap is located next to Cut-Off Head Mountain. One leads to the other, I guess. In the spring of 1833, Kiowa warriors were off on a raiding mission. The remaining (mostly women, children, and the old) were attacked by the Osage tribe. The Osage unmercifully killed most of the Kiowas who were camped in the valley. The heads of the dead were cut off and placed in brass buckets throughout the camp. There's a nice surprise when one's looking for a cup of sugar. Among the dead was a chief who had led a war party attack earlier in the year on traders coming back from Santa Fe. They do say Karma is a bitch. From this raid on traders, the Kiowas allegedly stole silver coins ($10,000 worth back then). Legend has it that coins were still popping up in Cutthroat Gap years after the massacre.

Moving on a couple years, Baker's Peak gets its name from PFC Baker who was on a scouting mission from Camp Radziminski (historical marker picture from blog post Cold Springs...sort of) with another scout in 1859. The story goes that they found themselves surrounded by 200 Comanche and Kiowa warriors. Baker's companion was killed, and Baker sought refuge on higher ground (isn't that a Star Wars concept?) In a battle that lasted two days, Baker is said to have killed over 80 Native Americans. He was rescued by a search party from Camp Radziminski. 1 vs 200 sounds somewhat like an exaggerated bar story for the guys. I wasn't there, so I'll just give him the benefit of the doubt.

Ellenbrook's map went well (with the Post-It and GPS) until the water tower. Not to be seen were (possibly) the Taylor Ranch house, an old wooden windmill, a natural spring, and cemetery (I do love cemeteries!). Maybe they all got sucked into the Twilight Zone since Ellenbrook's excursion in the 1970s. Someone should have sucked the map up, too. Utterly confused about where the hell we were on Ellenbrook's map we trekked on. I now have Googlemaps homework. Does Googlemaps cover the Twilight Zone? It's Google, I'm sure it does.

Gorgeous Oklahoma scenery on the tour. Worth the trip even if the windmill, spring, and cemetery can't be found. Sucky directions and all, Ellenbrook's book is highly valued in my personal library with all of its trail recommendations and area history. I'll upload my Post-It note to the Facebook album. Happy pre-Tuesday!
This blog is brought to you by the lovely (biased opinion, we know) Stone Turtle – Lodging, a small family owned and operated hotel / lodging business near Lawton, Oklahoma, Fort Sill,  the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Meers and Medicine Park. Yeah, that’s right we’re a small lodging business close to all the awesomeness Oklahoma has to offer!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stop the car!

I recently went on a short Oklahoma road trip with some friends. Since there were so many of us without motorcycles, one of my friend's was nice enough to drive (car= hello dirt roads!). However, that doesn't stop me from making fun of my friend's car or his driving. Yeah, I'm a bad passenger driver; I just have to much fun riding shotgun. I think he had fair warning from previous trips that what happened would happen. While driving, I always tell him the cool things that we could stuff in the huge trunk of his car.

"Hey! That cute, white donkey with black spots would fit in the trunk of your car! Let's go borrow him!" 

Of course, we couldn't just put a donkey in his car's least not without a companion. I'm pretty sure we could fit at least three little donkeys in the trunk of his car. Or, one little donkey, one llama, and a miniature cow or maybe just a cat. Anyhow, there's a lot of room in his car.

As we're coasting down a dirt road somewhere in Oklahoma, my eyes scanning the dusty tree/fence line still hoping to see a camel or an owl (I'm not picky) and counting beer cans laying in the ditch, I spot something I've been hoping to find.

"Stop the car!"

Brake response on the first shout, I was impressed. Better than other riders,drivers, and people I know.

"What's going..." But I didn't hear the rest of my friend's question for
I scrambled out of the car and hopped into the dry creek bed on his side of the car. The only thing my friends could do fast enough was slide their attention from the right side of the car to the left side where I was busy. Amongst someone's household goods (if anyone needs a cheap coffee table and other furniture, let me know...), was a spool for wire commonly used in utility profession. I risked bug and spider bites to pick it up, drag it out of the creek, and examine its condition.

Looked good. Meanwhile, my friends were staring at me out of the car windows wondering what in the world I was doing. I smiled back all excited and charming. Although my charming smile probably looked more mischievous than anything else. I really need to work on that. I waved for my driver to come over to the creek.

"This," I said pointing to my newly found treasure, "would fit nicely in the  trunk of your car."


"It's cleaner than a donkey."


*Big Puppy Dog Eyes*

"Pretty please."

And so my new addition to Project (Color) Madness was loaded into the trunk of my friend's car for the duration of the road trip. It has since received a nice coat of paint and is my new coffee table on the porch. To think if I hadn't scrambled into the creek, I would have never seen the lucky horse shoe left in the cement creek barricade. Lucky for me; not so lucky for my driver. Probably the last time he'll drive for fear that next time it will be a donkey.
This blog is brought to you by the lovely (biased opinion, we know) Stone Turtle – Lodging, a small family owned and operated hotel / lodging business near Lawton, Oklahoma, Fort Sill,  the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Meers and Medicine Park. Yeah, that’s right we’re a small lodging business close to all the awesomeness Oklahoma has to offer!!