Oklahoma and Kansas
I crossed into the Northeastern part of Oklahoma. In fact, the easternmost town in Oklahoma (the way I went) is called Westville. Go figure! There must be a story there? There turned out to be a story with the photo below as well. I pulled over to take a picture of this old service station in Westville. While taking the shot, a woman in a car stopped behind me and called out, “You know what that is?” I told her I did not. She told me that this was the very first Citco gas station in the United States. She said, “It is a damn shame. It has been sitting there falling apart for the last 30 years and the town won’t do anything to preserve it.” That is a damn shame.
From Westville I headed further north to Honey Creek State Park for the night. It was getting mighty hot now that I was out of the mountains, but finally there were fewer mosquitos.
I continued west through northern Oklahoma passing through more towns with abandoned places.
This was a strange assortment of buildings right by the railroad tracks.
The square building was a weigh station. Inside the small round building was a couple bicycles and some old washing machines.
I then rode through many miles of flat farmland.
Well, it was probably only farmland for many generations previous to this day. Now it was oil and natural gas land. The poor farmers probably never expected the onslaught of trucks and intrusion of equipment right on their property. But if you don’t own the mineral rights and a discovery is made, kiss your peaceful kingdom goodbye.
Unlike Westville’s misplaced name, Jet, Oklahoma seems to understand where their name comes from.
I went to have a look at The Great Salt Plains Lake just north of Jet. On the way I could see vast areas of salt beds from afar before it turned to water, but the road leads to get there leads you to the actual lake. I would have preferred the salt flats.
The only evidence of the salt at this location were small layers along the shore.
I came across another former service station near the lake.
I went to examine the pump to try to figure how much gas cost when this place closed, when I found a guest living within. A Black Widow! I had never seen one before. The abdomen is about the size of a fingernail. So cool! I wish she had stuck around for more photos, but my lens hit the web and she scurried off.
The last photo I took in Oklahoma may help you understand that the ride is not always pleasurable. In fact, I can probably expect a brutal ride from here to the Rockies.
I plowed through the heat and the churned up rocks from many a passing semi truck and made my way into Kansas. Kiowa is the first town I passed through. I later found out a historical fact about Kiowa that I’ll get back to in a bit.
I saw a sign for the Stockade Museum in Medicine Lodge, KS. When you enter the museum there are various artifacts from dinosaur bones to items from the pioneer days. Within the walls of the museum was an old stockade taken from the basement of the local courthouse. And there is this old homestead moved from a nearby location.
What the sign directing me here did not mention was that the museum was adjacent to the former home of Carry Nation who sparked the temperance movement to ban alcohol before prohibition.
This petite woman began her campaign by smashing up bars with rocks before she moved to her trademark hatchet. The first bar she smashed up was in Kiowa, KS.
From Medicine Lodge it was a straight shot west toward Dodge City some in extreme heat.
I stopped for gas and lunch in a town called Greensburg. I asked if there was a place to sit inside. The woman behind the counter said, “Not since the tornado.” Hmmm. There was a strange looking storm on the horizon. I could tell I was clear of it, but it was a bit disconcerting knowing this was tornado alley. I’ll have a slice of that good weather please!
While sitting outside the gas station and having some chicken, a large woman and her friend pulled up in a golf cart. Her friend went inside and the large woman stayed put. She said hi. I said that’s a strange looking storm over there. Which way do they usually head? She said you never can tell with the storms around here. “Ever see the inside of an F5?” I knew then, she had a story to tell. I said, “I don’t think many have seen one and lived to tell about it.” She said “You’re looking at one!” In 2007 Greensburg was wiped out by an F5 tornado. That’s as big as they come. She told me she was in her bedroom when it hit. It sounded like a train ripping through her apartment. She crouched down and grabbed on to her bedroom door handle. The tornado ripped the roof right off and lifted and lifted this 300lb. woman from the ground. With her feet pointed up, she said she turned to see her ceiling taking off into the sky. Then she said it ripped her pants right off and she could see into the center of this monster where it was calm and you could see the sky in it’s center. How she survived is amazing. When it was done she said her knuckles were black from holding on to the doorknob so tight. Amazing!
Those two boxes on the right are shelters to lock yourself in, in case another tornado comes for a visit.
From there it was a straight shot to Dodge City where Wyatt Earp began his tenure as a lawman.
There isn’t really much left from the days of the Earp’s here in Dodge City. It was long ago. They have a re-creation of Front Street on Boot Hill that you can pay to visit, but that’s about it.
What this area is now known for is cattle and beef. And if your eyes don’t let you know about it, your nose certainly will.
Enough of the smelly hot plains. It is time to get some fresh Rocky Mountain air. Colorado here I come.