Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, No. XXII: Wonders of the Middle Realm


April 9, 2017, Prescott- Yesterday, I wrote of the western third of the contiguous United States, which is where I have spent most of my time, since 1992.  Being from the East Coast, and preferring surface travel over flying,  especially when the weather is good, I have developed an affinity for the regions which many call “flyover country”.  The Great Plains and South Central regions may not have the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Mountain West or Alaska, but there is plenty worthy of spending one’s time.

The Rockies, of course, are the heart of the Mountain West.  In many visits to the heights of Colorado, I have felt most at home in Longmont, Loveland and Denver, where I have family.  Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls have helped make Colorado Springs another “feel at home” stopover.  One of these years, I will find my way to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Boulder, also, has welcomed me, several times, with wonders ranging from Pearl Street Mall, and Boulder Books, to Eldorado Canyon, which I hiked in the rain, whilst carrying an umbrella.  The Tetons and Yellowstone invite me back, as well, with visions of geysers and Grizzlies.

As the Rockies recede into the Great Plains, I find Spirit Tower (forget the name, “Devil”), Medicine Wheel, the Badlands, Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak), Scott’s Bluff and the determination of the Indigenous People of the prairie as riveting as any great mountain or canyon.  Little towns like Deadwood, Belvedere and Custer(overlook the name) (SD), Burlington, Granada and Walsenburg (CO), Wellington,Dodge City and Hays (KS) have been as welcoming as any place in the West.  There is, to my mind, a goodly amount of sophistication and culture to be found in Omaha, Lincoln and Wichita, as well.

Friends in Amarillo and Enid (OK) have helped make those cities almost necessary pit stops, on any eastward trek that takes a southern route.  Texas, like California, is a world unto itself.  I was captivated by the warmth I felt, across the state, from the great cities of El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston to small communities- Grand Saline, South Padre Island, Laredo, Marfa, Sanderson, Quanah and Temple.  There wasn’t much happening in Luckenbach, when I happened through there, but the locals were glad I came, anyway.  Revelations abound, across the Lone Star State, from the view of the Rio Grande’s confluence with the Gulf of Mexico, to Pedernales Falls, northwest of San Antonio, or the wild canyons of the Llano Estacado and the Trans-Pecos region.  My favourite museum section remains the Music Hall, at Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History, near the Texas State Capitol (itself an extraordinary edifice).  Then, there are the five missions in San Antonio- a very full day of discovery!

Oklahoma has no end of variety, but I will content myself with sending kudos to Lake Texoma and Lake of the Cherokees, Black Mesa(the state’s highest point, at its juncture with New Mexico and Colorado), Tonkawa and its monument to Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce, and the heartfelt, humbling memorial to the victims of Oklahoma City’s tragic bombing, in 1995.  Oklahoma City remains the only place where I have been mistaken for a county employee- being invited to an employee barbecue, as I walked by, on the way to the Memorial.

I will continue to skip the temptation to fly over, as long as the weather is not too harsh.


Tales from the 2016 Road: The Other Half Gives


July 3, 2016, Ponca City-  I spent about forty minutes visiting this spacious northern Oklahoma town’s three major landmarks, all associated with the oil magnate, E.W. Marland, and his family.

Prior to arriving here, I stopped at the roadside memorial to Chief Joseph, logistics chief of the Nez Perce, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.  The captive Nez Perce, native to Idaho, had been brought here, to Tonkawa, in 1877, and made to remain there, until 1884.  They were allowed to return to Idaho, then, and given the choice of becoming Christian and staying in Idaho, or retaining their old ways, and being moved to Colville, Washington.  Chief Joseph and his band chose the latter.  Below, is the photo of the memorial to him.


Memorial to Chief Joseph, Tonkawa, OK

Ponca City, in Osage country, has among the earliest ties to the petroleum industry in Oklahoma.  It is, nonetheless, among the state’s most spacious and well-appointed communities.  Here is a look at downtown.


Grand Avenue, Ponca City

City Hall is also strikingly modern.


Ponca City Hall

There are two homes, built by E.W. Marland, which feature prominently in Ponca City’s civic life.  Marland’s  Grand Home, built by him in 1916, now serves as the city’s cultural center and Indian Museum.


Veranda, Marland’s Grand House, Ponca City


Full view of Marland’s Great House, Ponca City


Original Marland Oil Company Flag Staff, Ponca City

Ernest Whitworth Marland had a sincere respect for the sacrifices made by women, on the prairie, and had this statue built, in their honour.


Pioneer Woman Statue, Ponca City

The Marland Mansion, where the family lived after 1916, is the centerpiece of a city park, and is maintained in the spirit of the early 20th Century.  I toured the grounds, as the interior is not open on Sundays.

The Marland children, George and Lydie, are honoured with statues, at the northern and eastern ends of the property, respectively.

The mansion itself was built in grand, European style.  Ernest was a generous man, and did not spare himself or his family of that largesse.



Marland Mansion, Ponca City

There is a wealth of flora on the grounds.


Rhododendron bush, Marland Mansion, Ponca City

There is an extensive walking trail around the grounds, which I did not have time to explore, given my invitation to a Fourth of July gathering, east of Joplin.

The pond, though, lends a serenity, and a wildness, to this most epicurean of parks.


Pond, Marland Mansion grounds

The park is a refreshing place for Poncans to gather, so in my view, E.W.’s largesse has had a good long-term effect.  Now, as long as we keep moving towards cleaner energy….

NEXT UP:  Christmas in July

The Road to 65, Mile 209: A Triangle of Towns, Part 3- Lewiston and Its Two Rivers


June 25, 2015, Lewiston, ID- This eastern half of the Lewis and Clark twin cities announces itself from a place at the foot of winding path, coming down a steep desert hillside.



Like so many Inland Northwest towns, Lewiston presents a charming and arts-oriented downtown.  Named for Meriwether Lewis, it has, as a centerpiece, Lewis and Clark State College’s Center for Arts and History361

Revolving art exhibits take center stage, on the first floor.  On the day I visited, the Sandpoint-based artist, Kelly Price, offered an astonishing array of Sacred Circles, making a very strong case for the interconnectedness of all things in the Universe and the security which may be found within an orb. Ms. Price’s exhibit clearly shows the universality of the notion that the circle, symbol of completion, is universally held sacred.  (As is my practice, no photos were taken of her exhibit, nor of the presentation of Scott Kirby.)


Scott Kirby, a pianist based in Boulder, CO, transitioned into painting scenes of the Great Plains, after an afternoon of drawing and painting with his daughter.  The flow of his art work certainly evoked a vibrant musical background.


On the second floor of the Center, lies a tribute to suffering and perseverance:  Beuk Aie (“Buckeye”) Temple.


The Temple was built by immigrants from Guangdong, China, who practiced a particular blend of animism and Buddhism, which called for this sort of temple to be used in worship.  It was housed in two consecutive structures, until 1959, when the second structure fell into disuse.  The sacred altar and relics were preserved by Mr. Ted Loy, a Lewiston businessman, until his death in 1981. They were then curated by his family and transferred to Lewis and Clark Community College, for safekeeping.

The Beuk Aie Temple also serves as a memorial to the 34 victims of one of the many shameful incidents of persecution aimed at Chinese residents in the Pacific Northwest:  The Deep Creek Massacre.  In May, 1887, the victims, all miners from Guangdong, were slaughtered by White miners in Wallowa County, OR, who then took the gold that the Chinese men had mined.  While the identities of those involved were determined by investigators from Lewiston, the State of Oregon, which had jurisdiction in the case, found no one guilty.  There is a memorial plaque on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, but there the matter has rested.


In fairness, the people of the Pacific Northwest have made enormous strides in White-Asian relations, and the major source of friction in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries was mainly economic.  Then again, isn’t it always?  Fighting over crumbs seems to be our wont, as a species.

My thoughts turned to the indigenous residents of this area:  The Nez Perce Nation, symbolized by their leader, Chief Joseph (“I will fight no more, forever”) and the Shoshone, symbolized by Sacagawea, the woman who guided Lewis and Clark through this then rough wilderness.

The confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers has been a key resting and gathering place for humanity, for thousands of years.  Now, a bridge connects Lewiston with Clarkston, WA, which I did not visit this time, as a walk along the Idaho side’s Riverwalk captivated me for nearly an hour, before it seemed time to head down to Lapwai, Nez Perce Nation and further south.



The people of this area feel a great connection to the Pacific, which both feeds, and receives from,these great rivers.


The Lewis and Clark Pavilion, at the northwest corner of the Riverwalk, honours the explorers and Sacagawea.  A sculpture with her likeness graces the entrance to the small kiosk.


I will come back through here, and spend more time in both Lewiston and Clarkston, as well as connecting with a Baha’i friend who I did not realize lives in Lewiston.

After having dinner at Donald’s Restaurant, in Lapwai, it was time to move through the salubrious mountains and canyons of western Idaho.  Hell’s Canyon would have made for some fine photos, but the traffic was horrible, so I went further, to Salmon River Canyon.


This trestle is one of seven built between Lewiston and Grangeville, to help move gold and other goods.


The area is among the most rugged parts of Idaho, which is saying quite alot.


The rest of the day’s drive was through more sanguine territory, from Grangeville to Payette, then east to Ontario, OR, and a rest at the Oregon Trail Motel.  The Beaver State’s Big East awaited.