Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’
Posted on June 4, 2010 - by Nadia
Cumulative mileage: 56
Thanks to Billy Mock, I was able to end my shakedown ride back at my tent at the KOA in Clayton, NM. The ride itself went well. I found and fixed a couple of kinks – my right crank worked itself so loose it about fell off. I put it on better. I got a flat tire riding around town yesterday. It was just a tiny hole, and I patched it, but those new patches are air seeps, so it was flat again this morning. Loath to jettison a tube so early in the ride, I filled it up and it lasted the entire ride. I’ll do that until it gets old or I get a hole worthy of a new tube. Tomorrow I’ll begin the ride west toward Springer, New Mexico, on I-25. It’s 180 miles away, with a stretch of dirt road, so could take three or four days.
Posted on June 4, 2010 - by Nadia
Ina K. Labrier waved from under the apricot tree that shades her turquoise blue front porch. “Thanks for visiting. Have a good adventure,” she called to me. I got on my bike and rode away from the ranch house that was once the center of life for the sprawling 101 Ranch. The 101 is gone, and so is Ross, Ina’s husband, who bought the core of the ranch, but at 92, Ina K. rides herd on memories of old Kenton.
I spent several pleasant hours with Ina in March, sorting out Josie’s family tree. Our branches are entangled, as might be expected in a town that started small and isolated and has only gotten more so. Josie’s sister Roselind married Henry Jones, the 101 Ranch manager, in about 1886, the year Kenton became a town. They had a daughter, also named Roselind, which is confusing to novice genealogists, though not to Ina, who uses her middle initial K to differentiate between herself and her mother, also Ina. Rose Jr. married one of Ross Labrier’s nephews and some of their kids are still around the Boise City area (Boise rhymes with “Voice.”)
Last time I was here, after we’d hashed out the family tree, Ina showed me the china she brought to Kenton after she married. She had her mother’s china as well, and I scrambled to the top shelves in her kitchen to bring down pieces of each set to compare the patterns.
There is a certain optimism in the classic floral patterns – roses, with details of yellow and blue and gold trim — an optimism in bringing such delicate ware to the rough and tumble high, dry prairie.The plates say, This is Kenton, a place to put down roots and make opportunity. As if to prove it, in 1884 residents installed a 30-mile telephone line that served ranchers up and down the Dry Cimarron valley. The population grew, the town had a ball field, horse races, two stores, a lumber yard. Its social dances drew people far and wide. The triple whammy of the Dust Bowl, the Depression and then World War II, drained the young people away. Today, Kenton’s reported population of 116 seems grossly exaggerated. Simply sixteen feels closer to true.
Asa and Fannie Mae Jones tend the Kenton Museum, a cut stone building packed with the remains of an earlier day – barbed wire, egg scales, arrow heads and lots of old photos. I had visited the Joneses at length in March, so I stopped by the museum to say thank you to them. Asa, true to his cowboy past, was wearing a fancy white shirt with pearl buttons and had already greeted a group of South Dakotans on a men’s retreat, making it a big day already. Fannie Mae was baking cookies for a funeral. She’s the history buff, he’s a dinosaur footprint and artifact hunter, but Asa tells his own tales of Kenton’s past – versions that often provoke a questioning glance from Fannie, but they tell well.
I stopped and said hi, but I couldn’t hang out and chat. The day was shaping up to be a scorcher. Billy Mock, a rancher and sweetheart of a guy gave me a ride to Kenton so that I didn’t have to ride 100 miles on my first day. Billy was raised on a homestead about halfway between Kenton and Clayton. Today he oversees 11,000 acres on six separate parcels, but he still found time to drive me 50 miles out of his way first thing in the morning.
I gave Asa, Billy and Ina each a card with my blog address, and they were all thrilled to see the photo of Josie, but each had the same words for my blog: “Honey, I don’t use the computer much.” Kenton is on a highway. It’s narrow and lacks shoulders, but it goes where people want to go. It isn’t a superhighway, information, or otherwise.
Posted on April 21, 2010 - by Nadia
View Oklahoma elevation in a larger map
Oklahoma rises. You wouldn’t know it driving across the vast tilled fields in spring time, but imperceptibly the plowed prairie is building to the crescendo that is the Rocky Mountains. The lowest point in the state is Little River at 289 feet above sea level. The highest point is Black Mesa at 4,973 feet above sea level. Near Black Mesa, Oklahoma begins to assume the geological affectations of its neighbor New Mexico. In the northern part of the panhandle the Cimmaron River has etched a meandering path through an impressive green valley studded with stands of cottonwood trees. From on top of Black Mesa there is no doubt that a river below has sculpted the valley, but there’s no water in sight. The Cimarron runs, if it runs at all, several feet below the surface, which leaves both the cattle and the landscape thirsty.