The Eclipse (Post #650) 4/12/2024

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Unless you just crawled out from under a rock or came down from a cave in the mountains you probably know there was an eclipse on April 8th, 2024. I told Mr. Fisher and our newest add on Mark Obermiller that we had to go see it. So…we did.

Let’s talk a little about comms first. All three of us got our GMRS licenses prior to the trip. Mr. Fisher splurged and bought several radios.

First was the Midland GXT1000X3VP4

My personal experience with it? Battery life A-. We used them while we were driving for 6 hours. The knock on it was the battery life indicator showed full, right up to the moment it died. That’s pretty disappointing. Sound quality, B-, they were scratchy at the beginning of each transmission. We didn’t really test how many “far’s” it would work but a mile they seemed to work okay. Three pack for $99.00(US). That’s an inexpensive option.

The Second was the Rugged GMR-2 Plus

Mr. Fisher used this one when his other died. It took him a bit to program and his main complaint was getting it setup. We also were broadcasting on Channel 19 privacy 19. But on this radio the display showed channel 19 privacy 10. Not sure about that. Two for $150.00(US)

We’ll have more to say about these and others as we get further into GMRS. Almost all the options for GMRS radios are made in China. There are some made in Japan.

I did fiddle-fart around a little bit and didn’t bother to secure a campsite. Thankfully my friends at Fort Towson were hosting a Eclipse Watch Party. They consider me family, mostly because I visit them with my 1820-1840 Cherokee living history presentation.

We started out on Saturday morning. Mr. Fisher had plotted our route and I fell in behind him and Mark. Our first stop was Lexington Wildlife Management Area. This is a public hunting and fishing area in Slaughterville, Oklahoma. If you watch my videos, you may have seen a sign in my shoppe. Look for it next time. I have a creepy Slaughterville story, so ask me some time we are around a campfire.

We saw some fun stuff along the way including this moderate sized snapping turtle. Which apparently I can’t add a photo of right now. Thanks Google Photos, good work.

We drove around visited the Lake. My camera didn’t record while we were at the lake. Bummer cause we had some fun stuff to say.

Mr. Fisher’s remainder of his route had us weaving through to the Atoka Wildlife Management Area.

The wind was blowing pretty hard 20-25mph with gusts to 30mph. We looked around a bit to find a campsite. We started where you see above but also went down to the lake shore but the site was too windy. With Mr. Fisher and Mark in tents, that wasn’t ideal. I went around to the opposite side of the lake but there wasn’t a suitable site over there either. We’ll be back to this site another time.

We setup camp and had some delicious sirloin steak, fried potatoes, and yeast rolls. Dessert was cookies. We had some adult beverages and started a small fire. We were expecting storms and they did not disappoint. We had a nice gust front hit us and then the rain started. I ducked into the F150 and they to their tents.

We rode out the weather which turned out to not be all that impressive. Considering I’ve slept through two near misses with tornadoes, once outside Kansas City dressed for 1750s living history where I slept in a wickiup and the second I was in the back of the Big White Bus at American Horse Lake, this one barely rates mention.

It was my turn to lead so I used Gaia to map out a route. I didn’t have as much trouble mapping as I did when I tried to use the PC. At this point, if it doesn’t get better I’ll probably cancel. I need to try the Overland Bound app.

We had a mostly uneventful second leg. That is until we were traversing what we call a “jog” in the road. This one made a right and then an immediate left all on a 10% or greater grade. There were some brick-sized rocks. Mark must have caught one just right because it separated and cut the tread on one of his Wrangler SR tires. Not necessarily rated for “trail” running but I didn’t think they would fail.

Without a spare we got back on the pavement to avoid another incident. We didn’t have another tire and it was a Sunday so better safe than sorry.

We arrived at Fort Towson and setup came while I found my friends and said hello. We cooked dinner and got setup for the night. They had a nice spread and we had some delicious food. Homemade cinnamon rolls really finished the night off right.

We were tasked with parking duty. We had a good time and welcomed everyone. I shared some fort history to those who hadn’t researched it themselves. All in all we parked around 75-100 cars and roughly 375 people came to watch.

The clouds were sparse early but built up more and more as the day went on. It was looking like we weren’t going to see the eclipse. But just as one of the guest said the parting of the clouds would occur and just in time.

There are no words to describe the eclipse. It was in the top 5 events I’ve ever attended. The light right before the eclipse was eerie. It was like an old Argon street light. Such a special event. Seeing the ring, seeing the solar prominence, it getting dark right in the middle of the day. Birds stopped singing, a tree frog croaked, basically nature thought it was night. I said “so cool” about a dozen times during my video. Like I said, there were no words.

The fort staff set off a cannon during the totality.

They say the next one is in August of 2045. I’ll be 80 years old. The path will go right through Oklahoma. If I’m still residing in Newcastle, I’ll only need to drive 75 miles to be in the center of the totality.

I hope you enjoy the video. I know it is a bit long, but it was a big weekend.

Like and subscribe to the blog and the YouTube channel if you see fit. I would really appreciate it.

I have a Patreon account setup if you would like to help with the cost of keeping this website up. Okierover Patreon.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering (of F150-ing if your Land Rover is in a shoppe).

Southwest Oklahoma Expedition – January 2021 Part 2 (Post #591) 2/2/2021

If you missed Part 1, jump over to that post and catch up (the link is after the break). Or don’t, this is still a free country, more or less, depending on who you ask. What follows is Day 2 of the Great Southwest Oklahoma Expedition! See there, this trip just got more awesome the more we drove!

Continue reading “Southwest Oklahoma Expedition – January 2021 Part 2 (Post #591) 2/2/2021”

More Bears? (Post #578) 5/9/2018

Bears?

When did bears become a thing in the first place?

Actually I’ve known the bears were back for a few years. We were down in southeast Oklahoma around 10 years ago and all the trails had bear warnings.

These aren’t grizzly bears, they aren’t even brown bears, they are black bears. Think of them as smaller man-sized bears that, like there ferocious cousins, will kill you if you are stupid. Imagine the scene from The Revenent but the bear is smaller.

When in bear country, read that as Oklahoma and Arkansas, you should always take bear precautions. As always keep your food up high, make plenty of noise when hiking trails.

Apparently there are many misconceptions about bears. Some people think taking a selfie is a great idea. There was a recent news story about a bear enthusiast who was killed along with his girlfriend while trying to take a selfie with a grizzly bear. I call that natural selection at work. It’s just dumb.

In the unlikely event a bear charges to attack, you should aggressively fight back against the bear, according to the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Do not attempt to “play dead” during a black bear attack, the agency says.

Good to know. I’m pretty sure after fighting a bear for 5 to 15 minutes I might appear to be “playing dead” but trust me I’m laying down because I’m out of shape and need a rest. I may have also run out of bullets. Maybe I will give a class on defending yourself from a bear attack by fighting like a rabid ninja turtle.

That quote from above is from KFOR who posted a news story about the increasing population of bears in Oklahoma. The heat map is a good start but be aware if you are on a river bed you can encounter bears.

Mountain Lions and Big Cats

I for one am much more afraid of our mountain lion population in Oklahoma. They have been seen all over the state, even in semi populous areas like the South Canadian River south of Norman and north of Newcastle Oklahoma. I recently saw the carcass of a small mountain lion in the median of highway 62 a mile and a half north of the river. I emailed the Oklahoma Wildlife Department and it was gone the next day. The OWD has had a stance in the recent past the denied the existence of big cats in Oklahoma. It’s hard to deny when you hear one at night.

So if the ice storms, tornados, earthquakes, prairie fires, bears, and mountain lions don’t get you, feral hogs just might.

Don’t even get me started on Bigfoot!

To wrap up,

  • bear selfies are a “hard no”
  • take bear precautions when camping east of I35 and up near Black Mesa
  • while less likely to be encountered, mountain lions are out there and they will mangle you too
  • feral pigs have a mean streak a mile wide and there is no daily limit

I feel better that I have provided this very valuable public service announcement.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering

Capulin Volcano and the Northwest Passage 2016, Part Two (Post #565) 1/19/2017

Day Two

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.

Panoramic view of the top
A panoramic view above the 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.

Capulin Volcano Part One Here

Capulin Volcano Part Three Here

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering

Capulin Volcano and the Northwest Passage 2016, Part One (Post #564) 1/17/2017

Load Out

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.

Day One

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”