Fort Washita 2011 (Post #255) 4/6/2011

Once again I had a great weekend with my friends at Fort Washita.
The weekend started a day early and with me packing the Range Rover with my 1820’s kit. I kissed the wife and started out of the neighborhood and out of the 21st century in route to the 1820s. I decided the best course would be all back highways. Time was not a factor so I decided to see some parts of Oklahoma I haven’t seen before and take a long lazy drive south.

I started out of Norman along Highway 77. This was the main North-South highway before the Federal Highway Administration started building “the interstate”. I passed through Noble, Oklahoma. My wife finished high school in Noble and lettered in 3 sports there. I also passed through Slaughterville. You may have seen the Slaughterville sign that mysteriously found its way into my garage 25 years ago.

The next town was Lexington and on the north end of that town the site of the Camp Holmes Treaty.

The actual site is over there, somewhere.
We have reenacted that event at Fort Washita back in 2005. I portrayed one of the two Cherokees that attended that event.

This site also has a marker for the South Boundary of the Land Run of 1889.

I turned on to Oklahoma Highway 39 and headed east. The town of Lexington is here at this intersection. I snapped a picture of the now defunct Dairy Boy. Great sign and look at what it was like in the “olden days”.

I then entered into the post removal homelands of my son-in-law’s tribe, The Citizen Pottawatomie Nation.

OK 39 takes you out passed the Joseph Harp Correctional Facility and the Lexington Wildlife Management Area. Which sounds nice until you find out it is a public hunting ground. Famous for how dangerous it is to hunt there due to the number of hunters during the various seasons.

I turned off OK 39 and on to OK 102. This highway takes me through Wanette and what I hoped was a fun stretch of back roads to Byars. I was right. It was great.

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An old single lane bridge crosses the South Canadian River between Wanette and Byars. It was really fun. My wife hates…HATES…these old trestle bridges. The south bound highways and roads when they crossed the rivers of the southern half of Oklahoma were on bridges similar to these. There is a great panoramic picture in the Cleveland County Abstract offices of a couple of artillery units out of Fort Sill stopped on the trestle bridge south of Norman. My hometown of Newcastle has an old trestle bridge that is one of the signature icons of the town.

Well enough of that, back to the drive! I crossed the bridge and headed into what is left of the town of Byars. it is a textbook example of a Oklahoma town that has seen much better days.

I snapped a quick picture of a bar there in town named GiGi’s. I had a girl friend in high school who is a friend of mine on Facebook and I know she will like the pic.

I left the Byars on OK 59 on my way to OK 177. OK 177 is a long straight stretch through peach country. Stratford peaches are famous in Oklahoma. That weird metal hand with the butterfly statue is on this stretch.

I then passed through Sulphur, Oklahoma. This is the home of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Its a nice attraction for the town and for the Chickasaw Nation. I continued on to Dickson, Oklahoma and on to OK 199. OK 199 takes us into the town of Madill and on to Fort Washita.

I could feel the transmission when I pulled in to the Fort. I know there is something not right in there and I’m sure before the year is over I will need to get her into the transmission shop.

I was now at the Fort and I started my weekend with a walk passed the now burned out ruins of the former barracks. You have seen the post that announced the fire there. I got the scoop from the superintendent about the fire. Three drunk kids set the fire by lighting a roll of toilet paper and tossing it into the bathrooms on the west side. It didn’t take long and the entire structure was gone.

The next day one of the kids had a guilty conscience and ratted out the others. Two of the kids took the plea deal and the third who reportedly has family money is fighting the charges and going through a trial. I hope he goes to prison. The estimate to rebuild the barracks is around 1.2 million dollars. The state doesn’t have the money to replace it and probably never will. I’m a bit surprised that there was no insurance on the structure but that is a policy of a state agency. The communities are rallying around the fort and donations are rolling in. I’m sure it will be a few years before the jars of coins collected by the elementary schools will add up to a building. Its sad that stupid kids could be so careless and destroy something so many people loved.

I proceeded to plug my self in to the 19th century. I sat and watch my friends scrape hides and cleaned my musket.

The weather cooperated nicely and was beautiful all weekend. We made dinner and shared stories and played a new gambling game. It consists of 9 tiles number one through nine. You roll a pair of dice and with the number rolled you knock over tiles. For example if you roll a 7 you can knock over the 7 or a 5 and a 2 or 4 and 3, etc… It was fun.

We woke and had a great breakfast. We proceeded to scrape hides and then got all dressed up and wandered over to the sutler’s row. The attendance was very good. At times the guys had 30-40 people watching them scrape hides. We wandered around and got our pictures taken a lot. Its normal for us to be stopped every few yards for people to take our pictures.

After the crowd left we started on our Saturday night feast. We try really hard to have a period meal and enjoy¬† foods you don’t normally have. This year was roasted corn, green peppers and onions. We had squash and sausage and Cornish hens. We also now have a new favorite wine, Beaujolais.

I am certain we would have drank 4 bottles if I had brought four. Unfortunately we only had one bottle. So we wiped out the last of the port and red wine and the Beaujolais. We then started on the beer we brought. I had my fill of all of it and went to bed fat and happy.

Sunday morning dawned and we packed our things and headed out. I decided to take a different route home. Without a radio it was a quiet drive. The only sounds I could hear were the tires on the highway and wind coming through the windows. For some reason the sunroof would not open all the way. It was open for the entire trip down but for some odd reason it was behaving exactly as it did before I fixed it.

I took OK 199 to OK 99 to the outskirts of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. This is one of my favorite Oklahoma town names. I then took OK 22 to OK 7 and back to Sulphur. I took OK 177 to OK 29 through Wynnewood. I then went on to Elmore City and took OK 74 north toward Maysville, home of Wiley Post. I lived in Maysville for a short time when I was working nearby Lindsay, Oklahoma. I decided to take a drive passed the old apartment. It did not bring back any fond memories.

I blew out of town with the 30mph tail wind. I took OK 74 to Interstate 35. I decided my fun was over and joined the rat race on the interstate. I got home and unpacked the trusty Range Rover.

Each time I get her home I remember something else I need to work on. With my son about to graduate from high school the weekends are busy with activities. The grass will need to be cut soon and I still have not fixed the mower.

Last year I managed to hit some debris and bent the cam shaft on my Honda push mower. The part is 30$(US) and who knows how many hours tearing down the engine. I’ve never done small engine repair but I either take a shot at this repair or buy a new mower. A new Honda 21 inch is around 300$(US) so you can see my dilemma.

Well thanks once again for reading and Happy Rovering.

Another Great Drive (Post #173) 4/7/2010

I drove my wounded BWB to the reenactment this weekend. But only after buying about 70$(US) in fluids and maintenance items. She ran great.

The drive down was mostly uneventful. Well mechanically speaking. I-35 is in a terrible state. There were two cross overs for bridge repair and road maintenance. One of which closed my exit to highway 70. So I was forced to go five miles further south to the next exit. This was a nice detour. Scenic highway 77 (77S).

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It was a basic two lane road that went by Lake Murray. It was a wonderful windy stretch. The road and the beautiful weather made me wish I was in an Austin Healy 3000, or at least in the drop top Jaguar XK8, or whatever, that was in front of me through the windy bits.

Eventually it dumped out on to highway 70, which I took eastbound toward Fort Washita. After I stopped for an extremely over-priced bottle of Coca-Cola which tallied 1.75$(US) for a 16oz bottle, which in a normal store could have bought me at least 2 liters of Coke. But at the convenience store at the corner of 77s and hwy 70 it was the price for a 16oz. I shant be stopping there again.

So back on the road again it was getting on toward evening and the wildlife was out in force.
I witnessed:

  • A buzzard eating an expired dog on the side of the road, wicked
  • A deer drinking from a pond, surreal
  • A rather pretty coyote with a very red coat (if it was a fox, it was a huge fox)
  • And several hawks

As I pulled into the Fort I could hear the front end and she was making a sound that I’m sure I will have to investigate soon. Sort of a grinding CV joints need lube sound. Or at least that’s what I told myself. I got into the fort just as the sun set and by the time I got unloaded it was mostly dark.

I took the faithful BWB back to the parking area and let her rest for the weekend. She deserved it. Don’t she look great with that back drop!

I had a good evening conversing and having a few Boddington’s. I bedded down in the cabin with my friends. The evening respite was interrupted several times.

First was a very annoyed wasp banging against the single pane window in her vain attempt to escape the warmth of the cabin. Little did she know that it was below 40 degrees F outside. In any event she was very loud banging the glass.

The second was a strange vibe I was getting from outside the cabin. I got up to relieve bladder of several cans of beer. With the landscape lit up like daytime with a partial moon and clear sky the quiet night was interrupted by a murder of crows kawing and fussing at a hoot owl who was singing away.

In Native American lore all animals have some sort of meaning. Owls to the Cherokee are often witches depending on the type of owl. Crows and ravens have been associated with the Raven Mocker. Which is the most feared of all demons in Cherokee tradition, it had the power to consume a dying person’s soul in order to sustain its own life. To my friend’s tribe, the Pawnee, the are both bad medicine. So the night passed for us with a certain eeriness that was very unsettling.

Saturday passed with us talking to the public about the time period we were portraying (1820-1840 frontier fur trade) and the way of life of those peoples. We fired up some coals and started our dinner. Steak, sweet potatos, wild rice, cheese and wine.

It goes without saying that it was wonderful. Cody abandoned us for an alleged skirt. Between Matt and I five steaks is a bit much, but we were determined not to waste anything. We had our fill and spent the rest of the night sitting on the porch of the little cabin having some beers and enjoying the beautiful evening.

I packed up the Range Rover and prepared to make an early start to catch Easter services with my family. I got on the road as the early morning light was making its way up the sky.

You may remember I stopped int he same place last year and photographed my 2003 Land Rover Discovery (RIP). The rest of the drive home was a good as the drive down. I was pleased to see the Range Rover hasn’t lost any of its get up and go. I caught myself several times driving 90 mph as I passed trucks and dodged the chug holes and ravines that I-35 has in it these days.

I think with some front end work, the viscous coupling and the bushing project finished the BWB has another 10 years in her for sure.

I would encourage you to visit the historical sites in your state and support the people who volunteer to bring the past to life with their own brand of living history.

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Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

Go ahead tear it up (Post #127) 2/5/2009


I know you have felt like this at least once when you were driving. This last weekend I was once again reminded that kids and luxury automobiles do not mix. Sunday was the Alameda Bowl II at our church. It is a “friendly” game of flag football between the staff of the church and the youth group. Apparently it also is between the staff and ANYONE the youth group can find to play. This year the kids chose to invite several prominent members of the Norman North High School football team, several of which were Division I college recruits. It didn’t matter as the youth group lost once again.

Instead of playing football, my children chose to sit in RovErica’s Range Rover and “watch” the game. What they actually did was play with all the knobs and switches in the Range Rover and listen to the radio loudly. From this we had a dead battery, a broken seat adjustment switch and a broken air register. Was there any remorse? None that I could detect. I’m sure I can fix the seat switch and I’m pretty sure Drew said the air register was just “punched down into the vent”. I hope that really is the case.

what does a parent have to do to get it into our children’s heads to “take care of the things you are given”? The immediate answer is “Are you stupid, why did you give your kids have a Range Rover Classic in the first place?”
That’s a valid question. But it doesn’t address the original question. Everyone one of you have seen this phenomenon. Some rich kid gets the car of his/her dreams and proceeds to trash it or worse wrap it around a tree. I have been treated to the classic cliche’d story in every year my kids have attended high school. Rich kid gets a brand new Mercedes when they get their license. With in a month they have another new Mercedes because they “totalled” the other one. Why does this happen? What is the magic phrase or lesson that most parents fail to convey to their children that prevents them from destroying the things they have?

In my case, the problem may be that I let RovErica drive what would lovingly be called a restoration on wheels. Giving a “classic” car to a kid is an automatic recipe for disaster. Unless that kid was made to get their hands dirty they do not appreciate all the work it takes to keep a car that needs 2500$(US) a year of work done to keep it on the road.

When I was a kid, if I wanted to drive my car, (that I bought) I had to make sure it ran. If it was broken I had to fix it. If a part failed I had to buy the replacement. Or at a minimum ask for help if it was above my head. I did not do that with my kids. I don’t think very many fathers require their daughters to work on their own cars. I know there are exceptions, but as a general rule the gals go without basic automotive knowledge.

My girls can jump start their own cars. My girls can change their own flat tires. THEY DON’T change them, they call dad, but I know both of them can change their own tires if required. They both know that cars require oil changes. Erica waits for dad to do it for her, my oldest gets her oil changed every once in a while in her cars. Both of my girls know there are fluids that have to be checked and levels have to be maintained. My oldest just buys new cars when the old ones start to have troubles. My youngest doesn’t check her fluids, EVER.

I now have my son, Diet Mountain Drew, learning to drive. In six or seven more months my niece will be learning to drive. I have a third and fourth chance to change the culture and require them to maintain their own automobiles. But will I? I think I have to in both cases.

My son is well, a male, someday to be a man, and if the psychologist are right he will marry someone like his mom. My wife, their mother, knows absolutely NOTHING about cars. I say nothing, she knows they need gas and you use a key to “start” them. Beyond that, how the car gets her to work is purely magic. You see her daddy didn’t require her to know any of that.

So with Diet Mtn Drew and the Jazz it will be imperative that they know how the cars work. Drew for his “manhood factor” and because Jazz thrives on independence. She will someday be on her own and her special circumstance will require she be even more independent than my oldest turned out to be.

Which automobiles will the last two spawn drive? That is still to be determined. Diet Mtn Drew is contemplating the Disco for his car, but who knows.

So wish me luck, as I train the next two drivers to appreciate the automobiles.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

February 13th, 2003 (Post #22)

February 13, 2003
Whooo Hooooo
Off road driving can some times be done ON ROAD. Near my home they are widening an intersection from the quaint two lane county section-linesque road to the behemoth 5 lane with traffic light.

There are several level changes between the old road and the new road beds. They are sharp and should not in a normal car be taken at more than 10 miles per hour. While driving home with my family from a school function the other night I learn that the Big White Bus can get it’s tires off the ground. Did I say we were going 30mph and decellerating.

The snow had fallen the day before and this day it had melted enough to flood the lower sections of the road construction zone. Fog had rolled in and obscured my vision to a few hundred feet. As normal we transitioned down a gentle slope. Great fun, the kids loved it. Then I saw the other transition point. A 15 foot wide puddle that we quickly learned was a foot deep. Water came up on the hood and then we hit the HOLE! and as we came out the other end the ramp up on to the new road had a nice lip on it and we all came out of our seats. My wife and kids screamed, RovErica hit her head on the roof and all the tools and equipment in the back reordered itself. Great fun!! We all settled down and had a big laugh.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sir Issac Newton.
The opposite action is the creaky and growning the Big White Bus now makes when the suspension is tested. A simple turn into the driveway presented me with new sounds of creaking and growning. It seems the suspension will be the first thing this Spring I will need to look at. It has passed the radiator cooling problem by a few points to take the lead in requiring my attention.