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.

 

 

 

Tales of the 2016 Road: Death of An Altima

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July 10-12, Bethel, CT-   I got up fairly early, Sunday morning, as usual.  Somehow, I was a bit like a caged cat, pacing about, doing small chores, none to the satisfaction of Mom, with her plaint of “typical man”, ever in the background. My restlessness, though, had nothing to do with that.  I had had a vision of this being my Altima’s last ride and its being replaced by a small white or gray sedan. Besides,  I am no longer put off by anyone’s criticism, preferring to keep at a task until it is done to my own satisfaction.

The plan was for me to make it to York, PA and there, try to connect with a young artist, who has made Cherokee crafts, for several years.  I bid Mother a loving farewell, after eating the brunch she prepared, and the rain had subsided to her satisfaction.

The drive out, along the Massachusetts Turnpike, to I-84, was uneventful.  I stopped, briefly, at Framingham Service Center, and had no problem continuing down the road.  After a slow, but steady, passage through Hartford and Waterbury, I decided to pull off at Newtown, and fill the Nissan up with gasoline.  I would then go over to Sandy Hook, and pray for the victims of the horrific shooting of 2012.

When I tried to start the Altima, though, smoke began to rise from under the hood.  A generous young man gave me a gallon of coolant, which he said had “been left” in his truck.  I gave him some money for that, and added a fair amount to the overflow tank.

The engine continued to smoke, and I noticed that the coolant tank, itself, was cracked and useless.  A trio of motorcyclists came over and helped me push Altima into a vacant parking space.  One of them cautioned me against trying to take the car any further.  The Altima, and I, found his advice was sound.  Car wasn’t going anywhere, without a tow.

The AAA tow took me to the Days Inn at Bethel, then took Altima to its resting place, Sugar Hill Auto Service Center, on the west side of Newtown.  By then, I had contacted my sister-in-law, in Florida and my brother in Georgia, letting them know of the situation.  Facebook also learned of my challenge.  An hour or so later, arrangements were made for my purchase of another car, by Wednesday, and I made myself at home, in the comfortable second floor room at Days Inn.  Three days of continental breakfast, a walk to/from Target, for a few odds and ends, and catching up on my reading and writing, hardly constituted suffering.

The 2005 Altima, though, had endured enough.  The litany of engine woes, first taught me by my father, when I was 13:  Head gasket leak, valves bent, rings broken, engine kaput swam out of the auto technician’s mouth, at various points along our phone conversation.  He had spent two hours in diagnosis, on Monday.  Tuesday morning, I told him not to do anything further.  I would pay him for his diagnostics and for disposal of the Nissan.

The rest was due diligence on several cars offered by Danbury Auto Group.  After looking at several vehicles, online, and discussing with my best friend, I settled on a 2013 Hyundai Elantra.  It would be ready on Wednesday, so my relaxation continued.

Nissan Altima required quite a bit of me, financially, but it also took me to Vancouver, BC, once, to Reno and Denver, both twice. and to Southern California, about five times.  For an old car, going to the East Coast proved to be the last straw, despite my having had it serviced, just before we left Prescott. Mechanics tended to blame the catalytic converter and a “bad sensor” for the occasional check engine light.  I know, now, that it has to be more than that.  I am glad for one thing:  Its last journey took me to the place of my birth, and at least got me far enough away, that I had to stand on my own two feet, and not place an undue burden on anyone.  BF helped, immeasurably, and I will repay him.  RIP, my gray vehicle.

NEXT:  No York, but Plenty of Martinsburg