I know this is a Land Rover site, and if you only tune in read about my exploits in my Land Rover, I understand if you don’t go any further…but I went out in my F150.Continue reading “Southwest Oklahoma Expedition – January 2021 Part 1 (Post #590) 2/1/2021”
In all my 50+ plus years of living in Oklahoma I have never been to the top of Mount Scott. So this past weekend, I took off to see it. Mount Scott is located in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma. It rises to 2,464 feet above sea level and towers over the surrounding area. There is a three-mile long road that takes you to the top.
We woke in Picture Canyon. Erik and his team planned to return to Oklahoma City. We made a big breakfast cooking everything we hadn’t eaten so far on the trip. By the time we finished cooking eating and packing up Mr. Fisher and I had to change our plans too.
The trek up Black Mesa and back takes at least 5 hours. We had 7 hours of driving to get home. We had an hour and a half to get to the trail-head. The math put us in Norman around 11 PM or even later. That wasn’t really an option as I had to go back to work on Tuesday. So we skipped Black Mesa. I’ve been to the Black Mesa area three times and I haven’t made the hike yet. My next trip to the region Black Mesa will be my primary goal. I’m doing that first.
We headed to Campo, Colorado to get some fuel. We found a garage there with a mechanic, that’s something to put in the memory bank just in case. We fueled up and struck up a conversation with a local gentleman who heard we were overlanding and gave us a great suggestion for a route home. We headed south out of Campo looking for Road C. We headed east and soon found ourselves out on the wide open grassland.
Along the way we found a historical marker and stopped to check it out. Turned out it was a short cut for the Santa Fe Trail.
You can find it by clicking this map.google.com link.
“Santa Fe Trail Marker with Stone Posts”
The markers were for the Aubry Cutoff. From the sign, it was a way from the Mountain Route to the Cimarron Route on the Santa Fe Trail.
The sign was well weathered and really hard to read so I translated it for you.
“Francois Xaver Aubry was born December 3, 1824 near Quebec. In 1843 at 18, he left his home and moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he began working as a clerk for a French Canadian merchant company.”
“In 1846 lured by the talk of trade making money and adventure on the Santa Fe Trail, he gave up his job as a clerk and became a full-time trader. By 1850, Aubry had traveled multiple routes with the goal of finding the shortest sand-free path that provided adequate water and wood. In 1851 he found it establishing what became known as the Aubry Cutoff.”
“From 1846 to 1854 Aubry was among the business most influential merchants on the Santa Fe Trail. His caravans were usually large and his speed and reliability in getting goods to the right market ahead of others was legendary. The average length of Aubry’s trips was 37 days while other merchants would take up to 90 days to deliver their goods to Santa Fe.”
“Along with this mercantile reputation he developed a talent for individual travel. Aubry’s 730 mile trip on horseback from Santa Fe to Independence Missouri in the **** days…”
The rest of the sign is indistinguishable.
The grassland was amazing. I’ve never been so far away from everything. It is a truly wide open place.
There were other markers laying out the Santa Fe Trail.
We crossed in to Oklahoma.
We decided to head to the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site. I’ve never been but have wanted to go several times. The shortcut through Texas was really terrible. We battled the 18-wheelers hauling pre-hamburgers and pre-steaks at mach 2 on the roads throughout the panhandle of Texas. I’m pretty sure most of them should be arrested and thrown into jail for the speed they were traveling and the absolute utter disregard for other drivers. Seriously we were nearly rammed by two 18-wheelers going well over 80 mph. There’s no way they could have stopped if something happened.
We stopped in one these cattle towns and made some sandwiches and ate lunch. Every town had a silo like this one.
The Washita Battlefield National Historic Site is a real nice museum and was free! We stopped and watched an informative video about the event. We looked at the artifacts and read some of the interesting perspectives of the times. There would be a recollection of a white person and a recollection of a native person showing the two sides of the same event. Very informative.
We then went down the road to the actual site. The river has moved since the original event but with a little imagination you can put yourself there that fateful winter day.
We took the two lane highways home. I can tell you as we came back into civilization I actually longed for the wide open spaces of the plains. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we managed to get home without dying.
This is part two of the Capulin Volcano Northwest Passage. We went to meet Fall and were not disappointed. She was in full force on the Volcano with a North wind putting a chill on things.
Warning this is a huge post with tons of pictures.
We drove to the Volcano. We stopped and took the obligatory picture with the National Park sign for Capulin Volcano. We headed on to the visitor center and paid the admission fee to the cute Park Ranger. We then drove to the parking lot near the top.
We hiked to the top. You can see a mountain range in Colorado and Black Mesa from the top. There are well marked signs that explain the lay of the land. We were woefully unready for the active Cougar area. It was a relief to find out they were warning us about the big cats and not 60 plus year old women.
We left the volcano and headed to Folsom, New Mexico. We stopped for some pictures at the Folsom Hotel and felt the call of the old west in the sleepy little town. A picture in the hotel window alerted us to the fact the Hole in the Wall Gang once frequented the area.
We headed toward Des Moines, New Mexico to pick up our gravel road to the state intersection. I feel like now is a good point to caution you about the availability of gasoline in these remote towns. We knew there would be few options and keeping a full tank was a priority. We even brought extra Gerry cans and filled them when we thought the chance to fill up might be in doubt. If you are planning this trip keep in mind how many miles you have planned to drive. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to know what kind of range you can get on a tank of fuel when you are driving 20-40 miles per hour. This is where I learned the fuel gauge on the BWB is not very indicative of the amount of fuel in the tank. It is weighted a little heavily toward the lower end. That will need to be investigated again.
We stopped for a pit stop in Des Moines and then out on to the plain to see what we could see. What we learned about electronic maps and how they are incredibly incorrect. There were several times where a road was named wrong or didn’t even exist.
Erik remembered there was a more scenic route and we made our way to find it. Turned out to be a very beautiful canyon to drive through. The roads were labelled like highways but were made of gravel. The driving was not technical. If it had rained the night before it might have been much more challenging.
We made Oklahoma and turned toward the corner of the state’s monument. We found it up the road from the Black Mesa trail-head. We hung out a while and took pictures. We also planned our next stop. In lieu of Black Mesa State Park we opted for Picture Canyon in Colorado. I’m so glad we did.
We left out of the Black Mesa area turned North at the “dinosaur bone” and headed toward Picture Canyon. On the way we stopped to see a rather large tarantula. He became very friendly and crawled up the leg of one of Erik’s friends. Whole lotta NO in that for me.
We also turned back to see where another apparent overlander had taken an unmarked trail. By the time we got back to him he was already headed back to the road. He said there was nothing to see up there except a windmill. I didn’t want to seem like we were following him or wanted him to feel uncomfortable so we kept it short and went in different directions.
If there hadn’t been signs telling us there was a canyon we may have never found it. It is literally a canyon in the middle of the Comanche National Grassland. You drive on rolling hills and out of nowhere there’s a canyon.
We then took the hiking trail around the inside of the canyon. The history is awesome with several petroglyphs and an abandoned settlement. Pre-historic man used the canyon probably as a kill site for the millions of herd animals. They also most likely lived there. In the early 1900’s settlers tried to make a go of it by living in the canyon. Their rock house and most likely barn are still visible.
There are also caves. The caves are now caged off. The bats in the area are struggling to survive. The white-nosed fungus is basically Ebola for bats and scientist are trying to figure out what the cause is. Humans are one of the first culprits thus the cages at the entrances to caves throughout America.
We saw all the petroglyphs listed on the displays at the trailhead. It was a nice walk. We returned to camp and started dinner (seasoned chicken tenders, potatoes, rolls with honey butter). We ate and had some beers waiting for the big show. The big show was a completely dark sky with no light pollution. We could see the Milky Way and a bazillion stars. The meteor shower did not disappoint as well. We saw so many satellites we stopped even mentioning them.
We settled in for some much needed sleep after a long day on the trail.
I hope you enjoyed the galleries and I’ll post up the third day soon. Thanks for the retweets and forwarding the post.
Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering
I really wanted to get out on the trail this fall and I felt like it was my turn to plan and lead a trip. I looked for a non-OU-Football weekend and found two one in September and one in November. The initial inspiration for the Capulin Volcano trip was seeing a similar trip in OutdoorX4 magazine. We had some interest in the trip from several people in the Oklahoma Land Rover Owners group but in the end only two of us made the commitment to the overland adventure.
Mr. Fisher and I got the Big White Bus loaded and started out on a pleasant Saturday morning and headed to our rendezvous with Erik O’Neal and his Discovery 2 in Okarche, Oklahoma. Continue reading “Capulin Volcano and the Northwest Passage 2016, Part One (Post #564) 1/17/2017”
I got together with some fellow Oklahoma Land Rovers Owner members and went on a tour of the Oklahoma Adventure Trail. If you haven’t looked this up on the internet yet, you should. It will be the source of several trips for the Big White Bus in the coming year.
Nathan brought his “new” Range Rover. I was in my Range Rover Classic. John and Jayden were in their Discovery. And Erik and David were in the Defender.
John planned our trip and did a great job of mapping out some fun places to see and giving us a great tour of the back roads of Logan, Lincoln, Creek, Payne, and Osage counties. You will find the links to the map used to guide us. There were deviations from these maps but once you are out there you’ll realize why. Fair warning this is a picture heavy post.
We drove along the Cimarron River for a good stretch.
This is where we learned Erik lost his gas cap on his Defender. He made a “field expedient” cap out of some duct tape.
We detoured as suggest up to the town of Ingalls, Oklahoma. The town was the scene of what is called the “Battle of Ingalls”. The fight was between U.S. Marshalls and the Doolin-Dalton gang. You can read more about it on Wikipedia or on Legends of America. We stopped and took pictures of some seemingly old buildings, one of which seemed original to the time. We went down the street and to the site of the fight. None of the original buildings exist today.
We headed down the road and eventually turned North toward Osage County. The Oklahoma Adventure Trail lists the roads and the detours. Those detours were often buried in posts and therefore sometimes we didn’t know of a bridge out. Of course when you are driving a Land Rover a detour is not always a detour. In this case it was, the bridge was out over a very deep creek.
There were no shortage of bridges to cross. This one was a Works Project Administration job from 1940. They provide a nice break water that had a waterfall.
We stopped in Cleveland for lunch and fuel. We pulled into town on Hwy 64 and stopped at the Dollar General next to the McDonald’s. There was no way I was eating McDonald’s unless there was nothing else. Thankfully we saw Rosie’s Tacos when we crossed the lake south of town on Hwy 64. Yes, that’s a car port. Yes, that’s a trailer parked under it. Trust us. Erik made the first suggestion that he was going to take the gastronomic adventure and get some chow there.
That was all the suggestion I needed. I didn’t have tacos. I had tamales. Delicious. Their verde’ sauce was just the right amount of hot with flavor. I’d drive back there again just to eat the tamales.
My odometer rounded out to 237,000 as we pulled up for petrol.
So with both our tanks and our bellies full of goodness we headed for the Osage Tallgrass.
We got to Barnsdall, Oklahoma where we encountered the only oil well in the world located on a city street. You can see it if you navigate here. 36°33′41.93″N96°9′56.57″W
We knocked around a few more locations. Coming out of the Hulah Wildlife Refuge, at least I think it was the Hulah WR, John and his Discovery started having death wobble. We limped along until we got back to the highway going into Bartlesville.
Once stopped, we tried to sort out the issue. At one point John explained how we could deviate our path and call it a night.
John, “We can stay on the black top roads.”
David, the single gentleman of color in our group, interjected, “Why do they have to be ‘black’?”
I couldn’t help myself and had to add, “Because black top roads matter.”
Everyone laughed. It was the levity the trip needed after a long day on the dusty back roads and an unfortunate break down.
We tried swapping John’s spare when I noticed that one of the balancing weights was missing from the last stop. Getting the tires balanced is the first thing done to solve an issue with death wobble. Unfortunately that didn’t work.
With the daylight quickly waning, we decided to get the Disco into town. John knew of a grocery store at the bottom of the last hill going into Bartlesville. Once he hit the hill he put the Disco in neutral and coasted her down. We did some additional investigating which did not result in a solution to the problem.
We decided to head for the camp site as it began to get dark. When John was planning the trip he remembered a Boy Scout camp and lined us up with one of the cabins. Camp McClintock BSA.
Once we got the fireplace glowing it took the edge off the night and made for a very tolerable sleeping experience. David was the man when it came to getting the fire going, well done sir. Each person was responsible for their dinner and those who were cooking got started and we had a great discussion.
We spent the evening discussing cars we’ve owned, some sea stories from serving the Marine Corps, and even politics. That may have been the most civil political discussion I’ve ever been a part of. I pretty sure both ends of the political spectrum were represented. One theme emerged, no one was happy with how the country is being governed by the legislative and executive branches.
The next morning we cleaned up the cabin and went for a short hike to the suspended cable bridge. Very interesting.
We went across the creek to a pond on the other side. It was partially frozen. It didn’t take us long to start skipping rocks and sticks across. The ice and the debris we tossed across it made one of the coolest sounds you’ll ever hear in nature. You can read about it here and see a video about why you get that sound.
We hiked back to the cabin where we decided to part company. Erik and Nathan would take off for OKC and I would take John back to his Disco and get it up on the trailer his dad had left that morning to assist in recovery. After we got her up on the trailer we decided to take in a bit more of the OAT on our way home. we weren’t to adventurous being as we were alone and had no hope of a timely recovery if we got stuck.
We took a detour off the OAT to see “Frog Rock”. It over looks a nice valley and was in a very remote location. When I climbed up behind the rock to take a picture of the valley I accidentally found a Geocache. We left a note that we were there for the next person to find. We didn’t take anything and we didn’t leave anything either.
I’ll leave you with a gallery of the better shots. Click for full size.
If you are interested in driving where we drove John provided the following maps. We must say we didn’t follow them “exactly”. We took the roads that interested us the most and if there was water crossing we took it.
Once again and as always, thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.