July 25, 2017, Mooreland, OK-
I have a penchant for finding lush canyons and small forests, in places that are mostly noted for being “featureless”. Nowhere is featureless. The scoured and glaciated plains of Kansas are punctuated by riparian arroyos, which offer a pleasant break for the distance traveler, as well as a hangout spot for local youth. One such is The Hollow, in Sedan, about which, more in a bit.
I decided, after breakfast with my cousin, Lisa, to forego the Oklahoma Turnpike and take US 166 across southern Kansas. My first stop was in Baxter Springs, which celebrates its tie to the Mother Road. Another shutterbug, a young lady, was quietly taking in the even quieter scenes of downtown Baxter, as I checked out “66”.
I had miles to go, as yet, so I left Baxter Springs, after about twenty minutes, continuing on through bustling Coffeyville. Sedan, though, called out to me, to take the right turn into town, where I spotted a sign for “The Hollow”. This town is known for its “Yellow Brick Road”. A couple of teen girls, very much owning downtown, at this mid-day, sauntered down the yellow bricks, not long after I took this shot.
Sedan also is notable for a museum dedicated to Emmett Kelly, a famed circus clown of the 1930’s-60’s. Emmett was a native of Sedan, so his statue stands in The Hollow Park.
Some elements of The Hollow are vintage Great Plains: There is the old St. Charles school house.
There is also the requisite gazebo, but with a pointed twist.
I can sit in gazebos for hours, but this time, forty minutes for lunch and contemplation were enough. I wanted to have a few minutes with the hollow itself. An iron ring, extracted from the creek, when the junkyard, which once occupied this land, was being cleaned up, is interposed between school house and gazebo.
The garden area of The Hollow is marked by ruins of the junk yard office, of all things. The boardwalk leads through the garden, and down to the arroyo, which has a waterfall, in times of heavy rain. There was no waterfall today, though.
This little spot reminded me of small crevices that I used to fancy my “caves”, when I was a little boy in Saugus.
Here, the official trail ends, but I am willing to bet that there are plenty of kids who have made their way quite a bit further north, along the creek bed.
My Sedan visit was capped by a salad bar and sandwich lunch, at Seasons Rotisserie, a solid little place, with a handful of regulars, three of whom had just returned to Sedan, from several years elsewhere. Two sisters, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, were on a road trip as an homage to their late father, who grew up in a small Kansas town. They were visiting several such towns, in Kansas and Oklahoma. I was glad to be able to tell them about The Hollow.
This part of Kansas is favourable with hunters, as is illustrated by this acrylic painting, on Seasons’ wall.
I later learned that there is a sizable property, Red Buffalo Ranch, that caters to outdoorsmen. If you happen by Sedan, the ranch is, no doubt, also worth a visit. I might check it out, one of these trips.
Arkansas City (pronounced the way it looks), saw me pass through, without so much as a by-your-leave. It was getting late, and I was concerned about checking in with my friend, J.E., in Enid, OK. He is hanging in there. I also wanted to stop in at Da Vinci Coffee Shop, as the owners were such welcoming hosts, the last time I was there. I needn’t have bothered. The owners weren’t there, and the baristas were a bit surly and suspicious of me and my out-of-state car. You never know who will greet you.
After several minutes talking with John, I headed further west, to Mooreland, which is just shy of the northwest Oklahoma cow town of Woodward. Mooreland Motel and Cafe is run by a tough, but gracious, grandma, who proudly showed me pictures of her “babies” and said she was closing for the night, so she could go be with them, and I would be the last guest to check in.
I think I like Mooreland, quite a bit.