Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ridin' Down the Trail

Since it's our Centennial year interesting things have been going on and this week we get to share in one of them.

Cattle Drive 2007...minus the cattle. It was hot and they'd all taken to the trees and I couldn't get there from here. But do go look at the link. And if you like cowboys and cowgirls...real ones...there were a lot there. Part of our Centennial Celebration the drive will end up in Caldwell, Kansas and has roughly followed the Chisholm Trail.

You could drive in from a gate on Route 66, but I chose to go from Fort Reno. It's a real fort..or it was. Still in use as an agricultural experimental station, and in the process of having the buildings restored. People still get married in the chapel but I don't think anyone is allowed to be buried in the cemetary. I don't know if it's on their site, but Black Jack, the riderless horse in President Kennedy's funeral was raised and trained here.

OK, so the lady at the visitor center said, "Go down the road that says you can't go down it. For awhile it will be paved, then it won't. You'll see a sign that says "wagon rides". Stop this side of the sign and wait." Simple enough. I got a bit distracted on the way. No, not distracted; attracted. So stops were made and pics taken. Like this somewhat secluded site

But at last I got to the sign and the wagon was returning with it's load of folks.
I clambered up in the bed of what, during the drive, is a chuckwagon. And it's a really authentic wagon but there's been some restoration done.

As we bounced and jiggled and shuddered on what appeared to be barely a worn path, I looked out across the horizon. And imagined how it must have been to come here when it all looked like that (without water storage thing LOL).

When sunflowers slapped you as you rode by them and the sound of locusts and horses snorting and snuffling as they ambled along were the soundtrack. Until you heard someone calling to their child. Or someone laughing. Or someone crying.

The horses, Dan and Pat, were getting rather tired of ferrying us city slickers but they gamely did as they were supposed to when our driver said quietly "Get up now boys" And perhaps they knew they were going to have a nice break with a bath before some evening festivities for bigwigs.

We arrived at the camp. It was getting on towards supper time and there were scents of meat being cooked over a fire. There were guys standing under the shade from a wagon cover, laughing and doing that punch-in-the-shoulder dance. And nary any cattle to be seen. Well not exactly true. You could see vague shapes and colors that didn't belong in the trees. The Oklahoma sun wasn't going to be beating down on them.

Today they'll be moving on north. And I wonder, if in this rather secret space, there just might be prairie spirits laughing because they were there when the fort was alive.


F said...

O Susan ... that is just grand!! Wish I coulda joined ya!!

Sara said...

Oh what a nice know if I lived close enough I'd have been with you on that! Sounds like it was just a great day!!!!

Sheri said...

I agree with the 2 above, sounds like a fun day and if I lived closer, I'd have gone with ya too! Doesn't it make you wonder how they managed way back then? Well, the women made it cause they had their knitting to keep them from going in sane!
Sheri in GA

Devorah said...

Oh wow! Thank you, I felt like I was there. What a lovely experience.

Susan said...

f, wish you could have gone too!

Sara, as I thought about the day it was rather a contradiction. Going much faster (internet) at home and then off to experience really going slow *G*

Sheri, I sometimes wonder if I could have done it. Maybe it's best that I don't know LOL Wish you could have gone.

Devorah, thank you. I'm glad I could make it real for you, since you so often do that in your stories of your city.