Heading West

While I was on Day 2 of the KATY Trail ride, Keith, Joanette and Bill moved from Babler State Park to Bucksaw Campground on Harry S. Truman Lake, near Clinton. Our campsites were right on the lake, with great views. After completing my KATY ride, I was looking forward to couple of recovery days.

View from our site toward Harry S Truman Lake

We spent the next two days resting, doing a little sightseeing and having dinner in Clinton.

We took a ride into Warsaw for supplies and stopped by the dam at Harry S Truman Lake. I learned a new word, tainter, as in tainter gates, which are radial arm flood gates used in dams and locks to control water flow. Named after Wisconsin structural engineer Jeremiah Burnham Tainter.

This will not be the last time on this trip that we will see tainter gates.

After our two days of rest, we headed toward Bartlett, KS to spend a couple nights with our first cousin Jeanne Eck and her family. Jeanne’s husband, Herschal, and some of her boys play guitars and this stop gave Keith the opportunity to play some music. I don’t play or sing.

On the way to Bartlett, we routed through Joplin to stop at a Petsmart to pick up some cat food for Mouse. On the road, again, our route took us about 250 feet from the Tri State Marker, the point Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri all meet. Now, as a kid and teenager, I probably passed within a few hundred feet of this point, while traveling on I-44 back and forth to Neosho from both Tulsa and Oklahoma City. We had family in the area and Neosho is the home of the National Camp Meeting of the Church of God, my family’s church while we were growing up.

Anyway, I, and apparently Keith, had never stopped to see the marker. So, since we were so close and had the time, we stopped to check it out.

Our stop at the Eck Family farm was filled with music, food, lots of it. In fact, Joanette and I made 84 tamales and, from scratch, refried beans. Jeanne contributed mexican rice and a fresh corn dish made with corn, cream cheese, peppers and I don’t know what else. We did make it a group effort to assemble the various filings into the masa dough. With all the help, getting the 84 tamales ready to steam went very fast. Now, I do not regularly use lard, but traditional tamales and refried beans call for it, so this was not a particularly heart healthy meal, but it was delicious. Sorry no pictures, I was busy making tamales.

After dinner, around the campfire, it was music time.

Keith is in the foreground and Herschal center back.

The next morning, Bill was walking Mouse and he had a couple of very curious friends.

On Sunday morning, Jeanne, Herschal and the family, including my Aunts Silvia and Maxine all headed to church and Keith, Joanette, Bill and I packed up to head to Keystone Lake, near Tulsa. This was to have been the opportunity see my stepmother’s family, but recent exposures to COVID19 by two different family members made that unwise. So we were on our own.

Our choice for the Tulsa area campsite was Brush Creek Campground, at the base of the Keystone Dam. This is a small Corps of Engineers run Campground, right on the Arkansas River and just a short drive into Tulsa. Since we were not doing family things, we had time for a couple of bike rides on Tulsa’s impressive trail system.

Our first ride was on the River Parks Trail along Arkansas River. The trails along the river are on both sides of the river, but we elected to stay on the Eastside. It has been really nice to ride with Keith and Joanette, as they have gradually increased their ride distances. For the River Parks ride, we drove to near the southern end of the trail and rode back north. At the Gathering Place, we switched to the Mid Valley Trail and headed up that for a short distance before it was time to return to the truck. When I went to Horace Mann Junior High in 7th and 8th grades, my walking route crossed and paralleled this path. But of course, it was Mid Valley Railroad back then, a line that went from Hope, Arkansas to Wichita, Kansas

This ride ended up being 19.18 miles. StravaLink: https://strava.app.link/5iwL2LUxrab

The next day, we had a mission oriented ride. We would drive to San Springs, Chase Community Park, and ride along the KATY Trail. Remember, even though Oklahoma was not in the railroad name, the MKT (KATY) did run through Oklahoma. Our destination was in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, Coney Island.

When I was a kid in the early 1960s, Dad would take us to Coney Island, a hot dog shop in the Tulsa World building in downtown Tulsa. This was a special treat for me. First, it was quality time with Dad, who as a long distance truck driver was away a lot, second the little coneys were great, a little hot dog and bun, topped with chili, cheese and onions, if you wanted. The store moved from its downtown location to the Brady Arts District in 2015. But, they have lots of pictures of the old place on the walls. It was a stroll down memory lane for me. Keith was probably too young and does not remember these stops with Dad. And anyway, he has memories of another coney chain in Tulsa. The round-trip ride back to the truck was 20.57. The Oklahoma KATY Trail is much shorter and far less interesting than its Missouri cousin.

Strava Link: https://strava.app.link/jlqGzZbzrab

We did get in one social event in in Tulsa. The four of us had dinner with my teenage years girlfriend, Patty and her husband, Phil. Bill and I try to see Patty and Phil each time we are in Tulsa. I have fond memories of Patty and her family. We dated for most of my high-school years. I had asked Patty to choose a restaurant with outside seating, so we met at the Waterfront Grill, right on the river in Jenks. It was a perfect evening for sitting outside on the patio. I think the highlight of the evening was this little dessert.

After our 4 nights in the Tulsa area, we headed to Guthrie. We would see Aunt Maxine again, visit Summit View Cemetery, where Keith and John have many relatives buried, including, Mother, maternal grandparents and great grandparents, as well as scores of aunts, uncles and cousins.

On the way, we stopped for gas, and while I filled our tank, the others found a photo op.

Kids!

Our visit to the cemetery was short, but we did stop at the graves of my Grandmother Busbee’s parents. I must have seen it before, but I don’t remember it and I am quite certain that is not a 1930s vintage headstone, so it may have been replaced at some point.

I looked for an opportunity for a nice bike ride and found something very special for me. The others weren’t interested in a ride, so I rode solo. We stopped in Edmond for breakfast with Aunt Maxine, Sarah and Charisa. Aunt Maxine’s idea of breakfast is a two course variety. First, eggs, potatoes and biscuits and sausage gravy. Then, when you think you are done, out come the pancakes. Since I knew the routine, I was very sparing on the first course, so that I had room for a couple of the pancakes on the second.

At Aunt Maxine’s

After breakfast, we drove to Stars and Stripes Park, on the shores of Lake Hefner in NW Oklahoma City. When we lived at NW 65th and Portland in the late 60s and early 70s, they were building this park just up the street from us. So, on the way to the park, we drove by our old house.

We were living here when I graduated from high school in 1971

Once I was dropped off at Stars and Stripes Park, I had mapped out a ride that would circle the Eastern and Northern shores of Lake Hefner on the Bert Cooper Trail and then use the Hefner-Overholser trail to Lake Overholser, along the east shore and then onto the Oklahoma City River West Trail. I spent a lot of time on, in and around Lake Hefner in my high school years, so there were lots of memories.

When I was in Oklahoma City, I spent far more time at Hefner than Overholser, but I do remember a field trip to the Lake. Both Hefner and Overholser are reservoirs for the Oklahoma City Municipal Water District. There is a canal connecting the two and today, there is also a bike path, mostly Class 1 (Separated) and a little of Class 2 (striped bike lane). After afew miles I was on the bike path along the Eastern shore of Overholser.

Both Lakes Hefner and Overholser are fed by the North Canadian River and when I lived there, that river ran through Oklahoma City, just south of downtown. Today, a 7 mile stretch has been dammed to create a multi-use recreation area. This area is called the Oklahoma River and Boathouse District, although still a part of the North Canadian. I have always been amused by the name. Something called the North Canadian is actually a couple of thousand miles south of Canada.

Ferris Wheel along Oklahoma River

At the Eastern edge of downtown, the river turns to a north-south orientation and runs through the Bricktown. When I was young, this area was mostly light industry, manufacturing and low income housing. Today it is an entertainment district, with a sports stadium, various restaurants and night clubs and at its edge, the Centennial Land Run Monument, which celebrates Oklahoma Territory being opened to settlement in 1889. Which, is where I met Keith, Joanette and Bill, after my ride.

Strava Link: https://strava.app.link/NLEG0pI0rab

We drove back to Guthrie and planned our departure. The next day Keith and Joanette were heading southeast to Broken Bow and Bill and I were headed west toward home. We were ready to be home, so I booked one night stops at RV parks along the interstate in Amarillo, Albuquerque, Holbrook, AZ and one final stop at White Tank Mountain Regional Park, west of Phoenix. Of the four, only White Tank is memorable. High desert vegetation, saguaro cacti, palo verde, Ocotillo, teddy bear and barrel cacti, countless trails and a beautiful night view of the Valley of the Sun make this worth coming back for sometime.

From White Tank it was only a four-hour drive home. We arrived home midday on Wednesday and are settling into home life, until the urge to hit the road hits us again.

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