Farewells and Forward Looks

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December 31, 2017, Spring Hill-

We’ve had two successive nights of dining out.  Friday night found my SIL, her good friend and me at Bonefish, in nearby Brooksville.  Last night, the guys’ treat, was spent among a raucous crowd, at Brian’s Place, in Hernando Beach.   I don’t mind raucous- it’s a sign of life being lived to the fullest.  The food was excellent, in both places.

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Yesterday also saw a visit to my SIL’s horses, at a lovely ranch in Weeki Wachee, about four miles from here.

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The piney woods and white sand don’t phase the equines much.  I wonder about how summers are for them, but horses are good at finding shady spots.

It’s been a fine ending to an up, down and back up year.  I lost Uncle George, Doc Manzer,  a few high school-era friends and friends’ parents, and feisty little Tank, the blessed companion of a good friend.  I found SunFlour Bakery, Local Jonny’s,  Cupcakes and Cravings, Coney Island Diner, D’s Diner and Rosati’s Prescott franchise. Explorations included Philadelphia’s downtown, Brandywine, Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, Lexington (VA), Falls of the Ohio, Paducah, Spur Cross Ranch, Prescott’s Wolverton Mountain and two segments of the Maricopa Trail.  Job sites were tough (the first half of the year) and challenging, but supportive (the second half).  One or two friends turned aside, but many others came along.  This Blog Site changed its name, and grew its readership.

I grew, internally.  My friendship with a fine woman has deepened, spiritually.  I saw my son off, on an adventure to the land of his birth, and witness, with great pride, his maturation.  I am exploring another financial opportunity; carefully, mind you, but with more confidence than I have felt in quite some time.

2018 is a few hours off, for us.  I will begin the year on a bus, headed for Phoenix, and on to Prescott, by way of Tallahassee, Montgomery, Birmingham, across Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.    It’ll be a bustling five months of work, in the same supportive environment as before our break, coupled with a concerted effort at the aforementioned financial opportunity.  Travel-wise, a Presidents’ Day visit to Orange and San Diego Counties; back East, at school year’s end, via Colorado, Nebraska, Chicagoland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Ontario and Montreal, thence to Massachusetts  and Philadelphia.  Returning via eastern Virginia, across the Old Dominion and the Carolinas, and the Knoxville area, before hopefully getting back to Prescott, in time for the Fireworks.

Fall should see us doing it all over again, at Prescott High School, and at this time, next year,  I will be enjoying yet another holiday-just not sure where.  Whatever happens, it’ll be a doozie!

The Next Thirty-three

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December 3, 2017, Prescott-

My readership is fairly tired of me right now, so maybe this outlandish title will be a coup de gras.  Let me explain further, though.

Last weekend, my best friend and I were discussing the concept of aging.  I am a Baker’s Dozen years her senior, so the notion she raised- that humans could live to, let’s just say for now, well over 100, as a matter of course, is mentioned in the Bible.

I lost another friend, early this morning, who was 83.  By the same token, I have lost friends  who were 13, 18, 22, 37, 38 and 62, among many others.  My Mom’s first employer was 105, when the Call came.  It’s a most individual state of affairs.

I have a few, perhaps presumptuous, notions about my own future.  So, I am quietly formulating plans for the next 33 years, putting me exactly at 100, when those plans are up.  It’d be nice to share a lot of that time with BF, even given that we are both highly independent creatures, and are not co-dependent.  It’d also be nice to be absolutely of service to my family and to the wider community, again not being on top of either.  I am a human, not a drone or helicopter.

You know it, readership!  Trails and travel will always beckon, whether with my dear friend, with others in a group or alone.  Health and harmonious living, whether in my own place or in an intentional community, is the foundation of these plans.  Earning my way will never be taken for granted- as the eldest of five, I am hard-wired to do my share, and to look out for those I love.  That number has grown, drastically, since the days when we happily lived in a relatively small house.  It was cozy and it was loving.

So, 67 is with me, for slightly less than a year.  It will take me back east, twice (Late December and June), to BF’s, and other friends’ homes, whenever they need me and to various places around this beloved Southwest and thereabouts, when the call comes.  It will take me to work, and hopefully, not to task.  I will seek its aid, in making certain that I grow in love and that no one gets short shrift.

The “next thirty-three” doesn’t feel like such an outlandish theme, after all- if one year at a time.

Day of the Dead

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November 2, 2017, Prescott-

Hispanic families, in Mexico and elsewhere, observe this day as a way to honour their departed ancestors and strengthen the ties between this world and the hereafter.

As I looked out the window, this morning, I swear I could see Penny’s image, and that of her father, looking back at me, in a tree across the way.

Some have gone on, this past year, who had roles, large and small, in my life.

Uncle George Boivin, one of my last surviving father figures, gave me a paving stone from Boston’s old Scollay Square, which was transformed into Government Center, when I was about 12.  He was ever available, when I was in Colorado, to set me straight, in the difficult  2 1/2 years, immediately following Penny’s passing.  His mind was sharp, until the end, and those doll houses live on.

Al Tercero served our American Legion, at the post and district level, for over 30 years.  Now he is in what we call Post Everlasting.  The Honour Guard he helped establish is still the finest in Arizona.

George Marchessault, also a Past Commander and Honour Guard stalwart, stayed true to the Legion code and was ever present at our gatherings, on almost a weekly basis, until his last illness confined him to rest.

Bea Cronin, a grand-aunt’s sister-in-law, was always outside watching the Saugus High football team, from her back yard. There was an open door and welcome to the kids who knew her sons, and to us, her far extended family, when we were in the neighbourhood.

Ivaloo Mac Vicar was always in the hall, when I was passing to classes in seventh grade, admonishing us boys to WALK down the stairs, ONE step at a time.  She made it to the Century Mark, and a bit beyond, as did-

Evelyn Porter Anderson, who gave my mother a shot at success as a hairdresser and cosmetologist, in the uncertain days after World War II.  She never stopped doting on the five of us, until blindness and infirmity kept her confined to her last home.

Bernis Hanlon taught me, in fifth grade, to rely on my own wits and to start building  layers on my thin skin.  It took twenty more years for that lesson to really stick, yet less time for her next life lesson, appreciation of fine drama, to be absorbed, six years later, when she was the  High School Theater Advisor, who didn’t mind my being on the periphery of that club’s efforts.

Firuz Kazemzadeh was a high-level scholar of the Baha’i Faith, and one of our most accomplished mentors, serving in so many capacities, legal and educational.  His was always a bright and friendly face, at national and international gatherings, as well as at “our own” Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, held annually in Phoenix.

So many others have come and gone- and some day a person or two will write of my time on this Earth.  There is much to do, as yet, so let it not be too soon.

 

The Mogollon and Their Brief Haven

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October 12, 2017, Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM- 

There are few places in the world that can claim a heritage that is chronologically brief, yet historically enduring.  I had the pleasure of being in such a place, this morning.

The Mogollon people lived in this rugged area for about 25 years, starting around 1200 AD.  Then, for reasons that may have ranged from drought to encroachment of other peoples, they left these cliff dwellings behind.

Here are several photos of the four inhabited high cliff caves, and the legacy of their only known inhabitants.  Note the charred ceilings and carefully built stone apartments.  I began by crossing this foot bridge, over a tributary of the Gila River.

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The hike was 1/2 mile, up moderately steep switchbacks.  It took me about twelve minutes to get up to the dwellings.

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Once on top, I passed by a cave that was never inhabited.

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At cave 2, I was greeted by a volunteer docent, who explained that the community was organized into apartment units, with a common area for dining and religious gatherings.

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Cave 3, the largest settled area, is accessible by ladder, as it was in the Mogollon’s time.

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The curious T-shaped window afforded a broad view of the adjacent cliffs and a narrow enough egress, in times when cook fires were errant.

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Note the remaining soot on the ceiling.  It is dated from the 13th Century.

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This ladder is a Twentieth Century replacement for the log ladder, used by the Mogollon.

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This is an example of the apartmental structure, in Cave 4.

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The area below was a common gathering place, also in Cave 4.

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Here is the eastward view that greeted the Mogollon.

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Here is an apartment in cave 5, which is not accessible to the modern visitor.

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Few pictographs remain, in the dwellings themselves, but here is one.

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As with all parts of the mountain west, the Gila Wilderness has had its share of fire.  This is an area which burned in 2011. The gentleman at lower right, and his wife, are involved with the Everett, WA Botanical Garden, which I visited in 2015.

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The Mogollon seem to have borrowed some construction techniques from the Ancient Puebloans, further northeast and from the Salado people, to the west.  Their ultimate fate remains unknown, though they seem to have made their way northward, after abandoning this site.

NEXT:  Silver City

Two Corners of Enchantment

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October 24, 2017, Prescott- 

Whilst returning to this Home Base, in late July, I chose a route through the Oklahoma Panhandle, and into northeast New Mexico.  Bypassing the town of Clayton, I headed towards Folsom, a ghost town of sorts, whose approaches took me through some Badlands and the Cimarron Mountains, which eventually took me past Capulin Mountain- a National Monument where I hoped to stop for an hour or so.  Monsoon rains removed that possibility.

Here are a few views of the territory between Black Mesa, OK and Cimarron, NM.

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The area south of Black Mesa is high desert, and full of rugged, little-traveled BLM roads. The rock formations, as elsewhere in the Southwest, seem to have petrified beings hanging about.

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The pine-clad ridges took over, just northeast of Folsom.

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So, too, did the monsoon rain.

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I found Folsom not showing many signs of life, but several signs of history.

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Below, is the former Folsom Hotel.

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I briefly stopped in Cimarron, and later in Taos, which will each be places to revisit, in their own right, at a later date.

Here are two photos of each.

The St. James is Cimarron’s premier hotel.

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Taos is known for its art and for upscale accommodations.  I like the down home aspects of the place.

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My goal was to reach Prescott by the following morning, so I did not tarry in Taos, as tempting as it was.  I did briefly stop at another gem, not far from Taos:  Rio Grande Gorge.

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Fast forward to October 11.  I passed the eastern Arizona towns of Safford and Duncan, heading towards AZ Rte 78 and US 180, which would lead me to Silver City, in New Mexico’s southwest region.

The Gila Wilderness lies between, and is every bit as rugged as the areas described above.

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I found my way, that night, to Tammy’s Cafe, in tiny Cliff, NM and a local man named Justin regaled me with stories of ranch life and the opportunities it availed, for random exploration of early American ruins, many on private land. Tammy’s had good food, as well, although the wait gave Justin nearly an hour to spin his yarns.

NEXT:  A continuation of this month’s trip to New Mexico:  Gila Cliff Dwellings

Besh Ba Gowah

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October 11, 2017, Globe, AZ-

The Southwest is as abundant with remembrances of the past, as anywhere on Earth, and perhaps more than many places.  The various cultures and civilizations that came here, long before the Athapascans, the Comanches, the Utes, to say nothing of the Spanish and other Caucasians, will perhaps never be well understood.  I see, however, that in many ways, these distant ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai and Rio Grande Puebloans are mirrors of ourselves.  Visiting the Salado ruins at Besh Ba Gowah (Apache, for “Metal Camp”), I saw a carefully planned, apartment-based community, which relied on knowledge and cultivation of high desert plants, having drawn on the practices of the Huhugam and others who came here, well before the 11th and 12th Century heydays of the Salado people.

Here are a series of photos of the excavated and unexcavated ruins, the upper and lower gardens, of Besh Ba Gowah, lovingly restored and maintained by an appreciative City of Globe and its citizens.  I am not commenting on all of the individual photos, hoping that you may draw a sense of the vastness of this complex.

Entry to Excavated Ruins:

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The Excavated Ruins:


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Unexcavated Ruins:

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Arizona Gray Squirrel, a bit mottled by the dryness.

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Upper Ethnbotanical Garden:

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Lower Ethnobotanical Garden:

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Look closely, and spot a smiley face:

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Besh Ba Gowah, and Globe as a whole, are nicely placed between Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson, making this stunning area a natural place, in which to enjoy a Fall day or three.

NEXT:  The Further Glories of the Gila Wilderness

 

Arizona’s Miami

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October 11, 2017, Globe, AZ-

This old copper-mining community, near and in competition with, a town called Miami (pronounced my-AM-uh), was, in times long gone, a gathering place for foragers and for farmers.

I spent a fair amount of time in each town, today.  Starting at a small chapel in a canyon called Bloody Tanks, where a former professor of mine was born, some eighty years ago, I noted the fervour of the copper miners of Miami.  This chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, has the full protection of the townspeople, regardless of their individual faiths.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Bloody Tanks has an interesting tributary of the Gila River, which itself figures prominently in my planned stops of the next day or so.  It’s dry here, as the big river is, around these parts.

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Miami was very quiet in midweek.  It seems the majority of the town’s business, these days, is conducted along Highway 60, which runs clear across the Southwest.  Miami’s downtown, what there is of it, is largely a series of antique shops.  It would be a nice place to rejuvenate, but I prefer to see that revival run by locals- as is happening in Superior and Globe, on either side of the Cobre Valley.

A revival sparked by the Apache spirit would be a fine one.

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The “can-do” spirit of people like Manuel Mendoza also does this town proud.  There are many who have carried on, based on his example.

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After looking around downtown, I took a ride along the hill to the south of town.

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From the south, one gets a good view of Miami’s extant copper mine,

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as well as of ‘M” Mountain.

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Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament is the town’s most prominent church, highly visible from the south ridge.

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Miami’s hills will, no doubt, draw me for further exploration.  It was time, though, to head on over to Globe’s tribute to its indigenous past:  Besh Ba Gowah.

 

 

Vignettes, but No Pictures

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October 11, 2017, Silver City-

I am intending to get to bed shortly, so as to wake up in time for a 2.5 hour drive to Gila Cliff Dwellings.  So, there will be no photos of Besh Ba Gowah or the Gila Wilderness, for a day or two.

I do want to mention a few people I have met, over the past two days.  There was a little girl, about 3, who expressed concern about the bandaid on my left facial cheek.  I have it to guard a sun blister that is slowly healing.  No explanation was needed, but her concern was priceless.  Another little girl greeted me this morning, as I went to my car for an item.  She was pleased that I was on vacation, like she was.

At the Slow Food Prescott meeting, last night, I was able to invite three couples to our upcoming observance of the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth, on Oct. 22.  It takes a lot for me to offer invitations, and two of them were accepted graciously, with the third being rather hesitant, but taking it anyway.  More importantly, a Convergence event was announced at this meeting.  It will be held from November 10-12, which I can attend for at least two days- and with some negotiation and calendar tweeking, three days.  There will be an all-nighter, on the last night, ending at 8 AM, 11/13.  Work the next day, of course, will keep me from that part.

When I got to Superior, I had to bang on the window to get the resident manager’s attention- no doorbell, and the phone is in the office.  It took ten minutes, but I got in my reserved room.  Tonight, in Silver City, my initial room had a dead magnetic strip, and a broken faucet handle in the bathroom, so I got a different room and a discount on top of a discount.

At Tammy’s Cafe, in Buckhorn, NM, this evening, the grill was overloaded, so it took several of us close to 40 minutes to get our meals.  The staff, though, is incredibly energetic, attentive,  and gracious.  No one is idle.  The food was marvelous, worth the wait.

In the meantime, I had a lengthy conversation with a young ranch hand, named Jason, who gave me a wealth of information about Gila Cliff Dwellings, Casa Malpais (in Springerville, AZ) and various cliff dwellings on both private and county land, between Silver City and Springerville.  Tammy, the cafe owner and one of her waitresses were also full of information on the prehistoric remnants of the area.

It’s always a good day, when I feel open to connecting with new people.

 

 

Colombo

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October 9, 2017, Prescott-

Synchronicity leads to triage.  A meeting that I cannot miss, tomorrow night, has delayed my brief jaunt over to Gila Cliff Dwellings, until Wednesday morning.  This will be just fine, though it takes me away from other meetings, Wednesday and Thursday nights.  As long as I’m back, to take care of a key task on Friday, it’s all good.  Besides, driving down and over to Superior on Tuesday night, after the gathering, will be easy enough.

Now then:  Today is celebrated by those of  Italian descent, across the United States, as Columbus Day..  Others among our countrymen point out that Columbus’ track record, with regard to the Indigenous people of the Caribbean Basin and Rim, was hardly deserving of special honours.

A contemporary of Columbus, Bartolomeo de las Casas, himself a defender of indigenous peoples’ rights, says of the Admiral :  He was “more than middling tall; face long and giving an air of authority; aquiline nose, blue eyes, complexion light and tending to bright red, beard and hair red when young but very soon turned gray from his labors; he was affable and cheerful in speaking […] A forgiver of injuries, [he] wished nothing more than that those who offended against him should recognize their errors, and that the delinquents be reconciled with him.”

Columbus did concur with slaughtering cannibals, among the Caribs of Dominica, after seeing graphic evidence of their torture of both Taino and Spaniard.  He reported, but did not practice, the sexual enslavement of young Taino girls.  For this last, and other “crimes against the Spanish”, his opponents, Bobadilla and Roldan, sought Columbus’ removal. Although Roldan later reconciled with Columbus, Bobadilla persisted, and eventually saw to the Admiral’s removal and imprisonment.  Much of the present-day condemnation of Christopher Columbus comes from “evidence” cited  by Bobadilla, who was himself a severe persecutor of indigenous people, though his own rule over Santo Domingo proved ineffective and was, therefore, very brief.

Having said this, I am not sure what merit Columbus has, for the honours heaped upon him, as “discoverer of America”.  He never set foot on American soil, other than Puerto Rico, which has its own history and sovereignty, separate from that of the United States of America.  He was, by his own admission, not the first European to set foot in North America (having visited Iceland and heard the descriptions of “Vinland”, from that country’s residents).

Like many of our holidays, Columbus Day has become about us. In this case, it has become about proud Italian-Americans  marching in parades and honouring their rich heritage.  That heritage includes, among other things, the fact that our hemisphere’s two continents are named for one of Columbus’s contemporaries:  Amerigo Vespucci, a cartographer.  Columbus himself is honoured, decently enough, by places being named for him, from the capitals and largest cities of Ohio and South Carolina, to Canada’s westernmost province (albeit by way of Lewis and Clark having named the Columbia River after him).

People change at a glacial pace, so I expect Columbus Day, and the parades, will be around for some years yet.  It doesn’t much matter, here in Arizona, save for the banks and post offices being closed.  We tend to pay more mind to those important to this area’s heritage.  So, by and large, the sensibilities of Native Americans loom larger, and Columbus is more a figure of curiosity and of academic study.

The Hollow Brings Fullness

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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Some elements of The Hollow are vintage Great Plains:  There is the old St. Charles school house.

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There is also the requisite gazebo, but with a pointed twist.

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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.

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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.

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This little spot reminded me of small crevices that I used to fancy my “caves”, when I was a little boy in Saugus.

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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.

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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.

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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.