Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain

Newly improved badge on the grille of my Caddie.  Tee hee!

Wahooooooooooooooooo!  Pink Hair has left the building and is on the road again!

I just set out on what I reckon'll be about a month long jaunt around the northwest United States and man I love the smell of asphalt in the morning!  I'll be spending about a week in Logan, Utah helping my pal Bruce with his ongoing house building project and then I figured as long as I was in the neighborhood, I'd head on up to Mount Vernon, Washington, to see me dear old mum.  Plus, of course, a lot of meandering in various and sundry states along the way.  I've got my state magnets all dusted off and ready to go.

I decided to adopt a northerly heading for the first leg of my trip.  I've spent very little time in either Oklahoma or Kansas, and there seem to be plenty of interesting things to do there from what I've read.

On my way out of Texas, I stopped northwest of Fort Worth in the little town of Decatur to check out a tiny complex of buildings built in the late 20s, each completely covered by a patchwork of carefully arranged petrified wood pieces.  There's a gas station, a restaurant and even a tiny motor court (where legend has it Bonnie and Clyde overnighted a mere week before their deaths) all decorated with an elaborate and intricate veneer of billions year old wood.   It's actually quite beautiful and quaint combined with the angularity of the 20s era architecture. 
I had some lunch in the cafe and was treated to some prime people watching in addition to the delicious homemade yeast roll that arrived still warm from the oven.  For my entree, I selected the chicken fried chicken (which is really just fried chicken, isn't it?) and I mention this for a reason.  You see, I've done some reading up, and apparently Kansas is the epicenter of skillet fried chicken.  As many of you know, I'm very passionate about fried chicken and I plan to do plenty of field research on that topic in the next few days.  The unremarkable meal I was served at the Whistle Stop ended up being a fine opportunity to collect an all important baseline reading, one which would help define the endpoints of the fried chicken nirvana scale.  Actually, I think if I'd followed my initial instincts, I would have fared better with my meal - I should have just skipped the lunch menu and walked directly over to the pie case, pointing to the slab that called my name most loudly  There were some mighty good looking pie on display, but alas, I couldn't eat a single nother bite.

Not long after concluding my late lunch, I found myself barreling along in Oklahoma, headed towards a place called Turner Falls that I'd made sure to include on my itinerary.  And just in time to take my daily walk!  Perfect.
When I got out of the car, I was elated to find that there was a chill in the air I hadn't really expected - it had been in the 80s when I'd left Austin that morning - thank goodness I'd managed to outrun the torpid spring heat, even if only for a little while.  I grabbed the camera and set out on a hike along the stretch of river that runs the entire length of the park. I guess since it was a cold Monday evening in late April, I was the only visitor hankering for a ramble.  And I sure love having a place like that to myself!  I visited the spectacular Turner Falls at one end of the park and then spent some time exploring the rambling ruins of an old stone castle that faces the river - hand built as a vacation home by a University of Oklahoma professor and his family beginning in the late 1920s.
There wasn't much of anything left to see but the crude structures themselves, but as I wandered around, I couldn't help but be tremendously impressed with the effort it must have taken to build all those crenelated walls.  The complex of structures bites deeply into the side of a steep hill facing the river, and can only be reached by climbing up a long winding set of stone steps.  It must have been HELL to haul all that rock and mortar up the hill to satisfy a whim.  And this is the 1920s, remember, when you couldn't just go to Home Depot and rent a crane for the week.  I salute you Dr. Collings!
I got back to the car just as dusk was starting to fall, well satisfied with my hike.  It was absolutely beautiful, I had the place to myself and it was cool and brisk with golden sunlight poking through in places.  Lovely!
Just as I emerged from the woods, I spied a place that surely must be in heaven and not merely Oklahoma: Fried Pies Motel!  Well, actually, it was a tiny cafe specializing in fried pies which had unfortunately already closed its doors for the evening (no motel in evidence that I could see) . I put on my best woe-begotten look for the young girl that unlocked the door to tell me I couldn't come in.  It made my lip curl to see the long list of fillings, hand painted on a sign board above the counter.  I feel pretty certain I'll be back to Turner Falls before too long - let's just hope the fried pie ladies are still around.

I hopped on the interstate, dreaming of fried pies, and drove toward Oklahoma City.  Since I'm a bit of a weather geek, I decided to stop in Norman, Oklahoma for the night.  It IS tornado season, after all, so what better place to pass the time than the capital of Tornado Alley?  Great. Now I bet I dream of a tornado made of fried pies!  Sweet dreams indeed.

1 comment:

Trent said...

I love your badge!