2013, Trip Nine, Dec. 16, Christmas in Santa Fe and New Year’s in Flagstaff

Oklahoma City, Monday Dec. 16

Along Interstate 35 in Kansas and Oklahoma, we saw numerous raptors, (black with white bellies) individually, perched in trees and on fence posts. We thought, oh, maybe these are jayhawks. But no, Wikipedia says jayhawks is a term assigned, for unknown reasons, to a band of outlaws going back to the Kansas-Missouri conflicts around the Civil War. Eventually it lost some of its negative connotations and now is the mascot name for the Kansas state university teams. So, since we are not birders, we have no idea which birds we were constantly seeing.

Another minor tidbit. Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame coach of the 1920s era, is memorialized at a rest stop along the Kansas Turnpike. We thought, wrongly again, that he must have been born in Kansas. Instead, he died in 1931 in an airplane crash a few miles from the rest stop. Icing on the wings caused the crash and lead to airplane innovations to reduce the issue in the future.

Rockne was a Norwegian immigrant to America who worked to gain enough money to go to Notre Dame. He began school there at age 22, was a football star and chemistry major, and later came back to coach. He is credited with popularizing the shift and the forward pass in football and still has the winningest percentage of any Division I college football coach.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a Dunkin Donut at the rest stop. We just had to pop in and have a donut to keep them in business for any return trip we make along this route.
In Oklahoma City, we spent two hours at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. (I wonder what one must do to include the term “National” in a museum title?) Started back in 1955, it now has over 200,000 square feet of display space.

End of the Trail sculpture by James Earle Fraser at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

End of the Trail sculpture by James Earle Fraser at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

They have a replica of a frontier town with full size buildings. The museum has special exhibits, currently they were displaying art from members of the Cowboy Artists of America and the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. Boy, the prices of some of the items exceeded our annual budget. One saddle was already sold for $74,000. Numerous paintings were over $10,000 and many of them sold. I thought maybe I was in Santa Fe, given the prices.

Entrance to rodeo display at National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Entrance to rodeo display at National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

The museum collection includes numerous items from Frederic Remington, Charles R. Russell, Albert Bierstadt and other early American artists. Contemporary painters have work displayed, some of the figures in the paintings just leap out and seem to be right in the room with you. The landscapes of the West are to die for.

Other display areas include firearms, rodeo, western movies, Native American crafts, and several halls of fame. Two hours were not sufficient to see everything, we did pretty much skip the firearms section completely.

Moon rise over parking lot Oklahoma City

Moon rise over parking lot
Oklahoma City

Our final experience was with the Oklahoma toll roads. We had to take one to reach our hotel. Exact change only. $1.15 which they tell you when it is too late to exit the road. BUT, at the cash payment booth the toll road has installed a $1 and $5 bill changer so you can get coins to pay the toll. They have an “EZ Pass” like system but evidently it does not have reciprocity with other states like Kansas, Texas, EZ Pass, etc. But MN is no better, their local program is unique to MN also. So much for encouraging travelers. Lets just heavily tax the hotel room rates and forget about any services for visitors. (So much for the rant and rage.)

Ed and Chris 10 pm.

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