Go West Young Man! part 7

Posted: December 11, 2020 in Life and Memories, Motorcycles, My view of the world, travel

Dodge City

As we started down the highway toward Dodge City, I remembered it had been a couple of days since I paid attention to personal hygiene, and as I thought about it, a brilliant idea popped into my head and I started paying more attention to the fields we were passing. A couple of miles later I spotted my quarry, and as we bumped across the cattle crossing into the field, the large, galvanized stock glistened in the morning light as the cattle grazed nearby. This livestock tank was about thirty inches deep and maybe twenty feet across, perfect for my bathing plans. The cool water felt good on my skin as I quickly scrubbed off the grime of the last two days. As I mounted my trusty old twin cylinder steed, feeling fresh and clean again, it almost seemed the cows were glaring at me with disdain as we got back on the highway heading toward Dodge City.

I felt a small amount of excitement building, passing through this old cowboy country, the miles ticking by on my odometer as we neared Dodge, for I was a wannabe cowboy at heart and carried current copies of “The Old West” magazines in my saddlebags to prove it. Dodge City is an historic cattle town best known for cattle drives, Boot Hill Cemetery, the Long Branch Saloon, Front Street, Bat Masterson and TV Sheriff Matt Dillon. As we rode into town atop our two wheeled steeds, we felt sort of like a couple of modern day cowboys fresh off the trail…which was sort of true. Of course there are only tiny remnants of the old west left in this modern city, but we spent a few hours searching them out as we visited Boot Hill, the Long Branch replica saloon on Front Street and absorbed historical marker around town, soaking up the flavor of the old west. Soon, however we left Dodge and turned our noses east toward home.

We noticed clouds building in the sky as the afternoon passed and as we wound our way through Greensburg we spotted a marker and decided to visit the world’s largest hand dug well, which was large enough to have stairs winding down to the bottom…it was impressive, indeed. A couple of hours later we neared Pratt and decided to pitch our tent at the county lake park, our only choice for rough camping unless we wanted to camp next to RVs, which we didn’t. We had gotten wise and acquired provisions in Dodge City before we left so we wouldn’t be forced to gnaw on wood or dig for grubs or even eat something similar to the fare from the night before, I recall not being able to decide which would be worse. After the sun went down, we doused our fire and turned in for the night and as usual I went quickly to sleep. Sometime after midnight, I was awakened by a pounding rain that drummed upon the rain fly of the tent. Initially I was concerned that the waterproofing of the tent might not be adequate, but as the rain continued to hammer the tent we realized that it was remaining dry inside so we went back to sleep. Waking the next morning, I grabbed the door zipper, opened the door and stepped out into morning sunlight and into inch deep water. As I jumped like I had been shocked, and splashed away from the front of the tent I stared back at the little pond that had formed under and around the tent. I remained in awe of the cheap little dome tent as we ferried our sleeping bags and pads out of the tent across the “pond” because, despite all the water surrounding the tent, the inside still remained dry. What a great little tent.

Back on the road we had about 100 miles of generally flat cropland to travel through to get to Wichita, another familiar sounding western town that was large enough to have plenty of pawn shops to scrounge through. Whenever Earl and I traveled, one of the things we enjoyed doing was visiting pawn shops, digging through the castoffs of other peoples lives. We usually were on the lookout for camera equipment, firearm related items and trinkets for our wives, as tribute in hopes they will allow us back in the doors when we return home. We wandered around Wichita for a couple of hours then we decided to point the bikes in the direction of Oklahoma. As the waning afternoon sun rested over our right shoulders we reached the Cimarron Turnpike, a four lane toll road that transects the northeastern part of Oklahoma from Enid to Tulsa. I dug out my change to make sure it was handy and we took off toward Tulsa. As the sun dropped below the horizon I was following Earl along the turnpike when suddenly some giant grey bird swooped into my peripheral vision and before I had a chance to duck, its right wing passed within a few inches of my face as it continued on across the road to God knows where, apparently oblivious to my presence. All I know is I whooped and almost pooped my pants from the fright of this bird’s appearance that seemed as big as a truck, but was probably a heron or crane. The rest of the journey down the turnpike was uneventful as the night grew darker and darker around my headlight and it was close to 9pm when we pulled in to a state park a few miles west of Tulsa. As I wearily closed my eyes against the fatigue of riding days on end I quickly fell asleep.



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