"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Tuesday, June 25th

    I had emailed the Visitor’s Center prior to my arrival. A nice lady named Jan, who I unfortunately did not get to meet, was helpful to me in many ways. Dodge City has a trolley tour gives a comprehensive overview of the city’s history. Jan gave me my pass for free, which was an unexpected blessing.

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    Being the humble person that I am, I tried to show my comped pass to as many people as I could. They needed to know what a big deal I am. :queenie

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    I was really impressed with how well Dodge City has transformed itself into a tourist destination. There’s not a major metro area close, but they still have been able to attract visitors from all over. The visitor’s center had a steady flow of traffic and the parking lot for the Boot Hill museum was consistently filled.

    I was a bit chagrined, however, to learn that their official slogan was the same title that I had been planning to use for this post weeks before my visit.

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    No need to change it, I guess. Great minds think alike. :thumb

    I’m going to do something a little different in this post. Instead of going step-by-step of what I did that day, I am going to try to tell the story of Dodge City in chronological order. We’ll see how this goes:
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  2. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    A number of nomadic Native American tribes were the first people in the Dodge City area. Where the buffalo went, they followed, as the animal was their source of food, clothing and even fuel for their fires (buffalo chips).

    The first European incursion into the area was by the Spaniard Francisco Coronado’s expedition in 1541. East of Dodge City a large cross stands, commemorating the first Christian service in the interior of the continent. The Spaniards were the first ones to introduce the horse to the Native Americans.

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    There wasn’t a permanent European settlement in the area until Fort Dodge was constructed in 1865. It is five miles to the east of modern day Dodge City. It was constructed to protect the people and goods traveling along the Santa Fe Trail. At this time, the railroad only went to Hays, Kansas. Anything west of there had to move overland.

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    By 1872, alcoholism at Fort Dodge had gotten out of control. The commandant mandated that alcohol could no longer be sold within five miles of the fort. An entrepreneurial Canadian named George Hoover got a wagon load of whiskey, measured out exactly five miles, set up a few boards and started selling alcohol. It only took a couple of weeks for other shops to be built nearby. This became Dodge City.

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    The tracks of the Santa Fe rail line reached Dodge City in the same year. It was at this point that the city boomed due to the trading of buffalo hides. Before Europeans arrived, the number of Plains bison is estimated to have been around 100 million. For comparison, there are an estimated 25 million whitetail deer currently in the United States.

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    They were hunted to near extinction (only around 1,000 remained) over the course of just a few decades. A successful day’s hunt could net a hunter $3,000 in today’s numbers. Seen in that light, perhaps you could say that it wasn’t just the hunters who killed the buffalo. Eastern demand was just as responsible. (More on this in my upcoming post on Hennessey, OK)

    As there were lots of people with way too much money and absolutely no law and order, chaos ensued in Dodge City. To deal with rabble, experienced lawmen were brought in, such as Wyatt Earp.

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    Gradually, order began to arrive in Dodge City, though not completely. The lawmen patrolled the “civilized” area north of the railroad tracks, where no firearms or brothels were allowed. But south of the tracks, chaos still reigned supreme. The Boot Hill Museum has recreated the Main Street (north of the tracks) during this era.

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    Boot Hill was where burials took place for people who didn’t have the money or clout to be buried at Fort Dodge. People who “died with their boots on.”

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    A fun anecdote about this area was that the conductor of the city’s “Cowboy Band” used a pistol as his baton. I don’t really like to stereotype, but doesn’t everyone know a trombone player who looks exactly like this?:

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  3. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    In my last update about Wichita, I mentioned that it was a final destination for drives of Texas longhorn cattle. That changed in 1876. The longhorns brought a disease that infected the local Kansas cattle. Accordingly, the Kansas legislature progressively moved the line where the Texas cattle where permitted to the west. With the movement of this line in 1876, Dodge City became the closest destination to get Texas cattle on a train to Eastern markets. This caused the city to boom like never before.

    A year later, Dodge City had 16 saloons for only 1,000 people. The most popular was the Long Branch, which is recreated at the museum.

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    I had a great conversation with the bartender and the piano player as I sipped on a sarsaparilla.

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    They agreed to do a period correct “no smiling” picture for me, but I ruined it by including the Bud Lite tap in the frame. I’m such an amateur! :fpalm

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    “Doc” Holliday came to town in 1878. He was a dentist during the day and played cards at night, taking advantage of fresh paid, low skilled cowboys. He is still sitting playing cards today:

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    Until 1885, Dodge City was the destination for the Texas cattle drives. No other city had this designation for longer. For this reason it is referred to as “Queen of the Cowtowns.”

    It was not just the cowboys who would keep the cattle in check. A longhorn steer would usually establish itself as the leader of the herd. Some longhorns were so good at this that they were shipped back down to Texas to lead subsequent drives. There is a wonderful sculpture of these longhorns called “El Capitan” which pays them tribute.

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    A unique site in the city is the “Home of Stone” which was built in 1881.

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    I received a fascinating guided tour and learned all about the home’s history. It is unique in that it has only had two owners. By 1965, it had already been sold to the county to become a museum. Because of this, it never really fell into disrepair and still maintains its original charm and character.

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    One of the original cranberry glass doors.

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    Well-cut exterior walls:

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    The final resident had one request when she sold the house: That the original master bedroom be dedicated to telling the story of pioneer women. These unsung heroes are perhaps the party most responsible for the survival of western culture on the harsh plains. It was the perfect place to take a picture of my wonderful guides.

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  4. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    A Spanish style Catholic Cathedral was built in 1915.

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    The mural of the crucifixion is unique in many ways. It was created to with many Kansas elements mixed in. The character in the foreground has Native American features, the horse is a Pinto and a prevailing southern wind is blowing through the scene.

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    Dodge City was the setting for many Western movies and TV shows all throughout the 20th Century. The legend of the place and personalities has almost seemed to grow stronger as time wears on.

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    In 1960 a good friend of mine served as the honorary marshal:

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    Today, Dodge City is still a “Cowtown.” With numerous feed lots and packing plants, beef is still the main driver of its economy. Refreshingly, the city seems to take pride in this fact. The trolley tour even drives right through a feed lot.

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    Additionally, coming into town there is a “scenic overlook” featuring a feed yard. I’ve been a lot of places, but I’ve never seen that before.

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    Alright, I’m going to jump out of the chronological storytelling back to my regular style. I hope that didn’t feel too “academic” from the reader’s perspective. Given the depth of history of Dodge City, I felt like it was appropriate for the post.
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  5. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    The picture

    I definitely knew the picture that I wanted to represent Dodge City: The recreation of Front Street at the Boot Hill Museum. I knew that it might be a tall task to get Annie into the museum, but I tried really tried hard. I spent hours writing emails and making phone calls, but I could not get it done. I never heard a solid “no,” but I never got to talk with someone who could authorize it.

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    However, the picture I wanted was not really available anyway. There is lots of construction going on, so it is not possible to get a good view of Front Street. The angle would have been something like this.

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    I was a little disappointed, but I think I still have a few good options. The “El Captian” sculpture photo is pretty good. I also like the town sign picture I got:

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    I don’t think I was supposed to be up there, but I’ll do most anything to get the shot I need. :-)

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    I headed south out of town feeling like I had experienced Dodge City to a thorough degree. I’m so glad it was included in the song.

    Oddly enough, this stretch was possibly the most time I’ve ever spent in Kansas. Though it neighbors my home state, I’m usually just passing through on the way to somewhere else. It’s kind of like Nebraska, except with the thermostat up a few degrees and much less gluten-free.

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    (Annie is in tire tracks in the photo above. I didn’t just ride into a field.)

    Perhaps the only thing I can say negative about Kansas is the quality of their gasoline. You could say they put the “um…” in “premium.” I had a consistent drop in my efficiency (12-15%) with just about every tank of gas in the state. There is no ethanol labeling law in the state, so they can mix in any amount of alcohol, Mountain Dew or apple juice without posting it on the pump. There’s no way to tell what you are getting. Fill up in Oklahoma if at all possible.

    I found a free campsite for the night at a place called Clark State Lake. It is an unexpected oasis in the middle of a dry, flat area.

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    I accidentally took a road that was closed to get to the camping area, but it was a lot of fun.

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    Nothing says “I’ve Been Everywhere” like cold beans in a tent. :thumb

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    Wednesday, June 26th

    I had a terrible night, mostly due to a two hour battle of wits against a local field mouse. Ultimately, it ended in a draw. Though he was not able to successfully infiltrate my tent, he feasted on a multitude of strategically placed food items that I left as distractions. Well played, little mouse.

    Groggy and stiff, I loaded up Annie and headed south. The next border would be our next area of exploration: Oklahoma.

    19 to go!

    Stay wild, everybody

    BA
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  6. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Realtime update: I'm currently enjoying the hospitality of @KingFishman in NE Louisiana. I still have a lot to catch up on: Hennessey, Texarkana and Shreveport are all complete. From here I will be heading down to Ferriday, my next song place. Since “Louisiana,” the state, is mentioned in the song, I will be doing some exploring down here. This will probably include some time in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. After that, Houston will be up. More to come!
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  7. interceptor1972

    interceptor1972 Been here awhile

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    That was an amazing write-up about Dodge City! I'd always had plans on visiting the place after my colleague told me about it (she's originally from there), but after reading your story, I'll definitely be going there in the near future! World class, as always!!
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  8. WYO George

    WYO George witness protection file #7236

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    I once had a sarsaparilla at that bar in Dodge City, but that’s been 25 years ago so I can’t say if it was good or not.
  9. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer Supporter

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    I took 50 out across KS a few years ago. It was 107 when I got there. I had my camping stuff with me, but wimped out of the heat in a cheap hotel.

    Also your statement, “Today, Dodge City is still a “Cowtown.” With numerous feed lots and packing plants, beef is still the main driver of its economy. Refreshingly, the city seems to take pride in this fact.“ struck me as a little amusing. Some of the most fragrant stockyards I’ve ever ridden by are the ones southeast of Norfolk NE!

    Ride safe! I sure enjoying reading along..
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  10. jhansen

    jhansen Rider

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    Great pics of Dodge City. I'll be first here to warn you about the weather that is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next few days, there is a 90% chance of a storm spooling up and soaking the Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Houston.
    ZCZC MIATWOAT ALL TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM Tropical Weather Outlook NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL 200 AM EDT Wed Jul 10 2019 For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico: 1. A broad low pressure area located over the far northeastern Gulf of Mexico is producing widespread but disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Environmental conditions are conducive for development of this system, and a tropical depression is expected to form late today or Thursday while the low moves slowly westward across the northern Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon. This system could produce storm surge and tropical storm or hurricane force winds across portions of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Upper Texas coasts, and interests there should closely monitor its progress. In addition, this disturbance has the potential to produce very heavy rainfall from the Upper Texas Coast to the Florida Panhandle. For more information, please see products issued by your local weather forecast office and the NOAA Weather Prediction Center. * Formation chance through 48 hours...high...90 percent. * Formation chance through 5 days...high...90 percent. Forecaster Pasch

    Forewarned is forearmed. Be safe.

    Roughing it with WalMart Beans too.
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  11. jhansen

    jhansen Rider

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    Spring, Texas

    Latest and greatest from the National Hurricane Center
    https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT2+shtml/110543.shtml

    Good luck with the weather.
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  12. bar-low

    bar-low ''son of the wind''

    Joined:
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    Happy Birthday a day early!!
    Your resilience, courage, strength and honor are extremely noticeable in your travels..
    Hope to see you personality someday ..
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  13. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    It's a nice ride from where you are. Make sure that when they are giving out badges to the kids on the trolley ride that you ask for one too. :-)

    Tell the truth: Did you spell sarsaparilla on your own or did you have to google it. That word is crazy!

    It's all about wind direction. Those ones on 275 can be brutal when the wind is from the north. :-)

    Good looking out. Thanks. I changed my route and am in Texas now. More info ahead....

    You don't have to go to exotic places to have a great time! There are lots of great things to see on The Plains.

    Who leaked this!? My publicist!? She's fired! Wait...that's my Mom...
  14. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Two Bikers Walk into a Quilt Shop

    No, that isn’t the beginning of one of my insufferable jokes. It is the beginning of my experience in song place 74 of 92, Hennessey, Oklahoma. In this post we knit together some new friendships and are patched up by the generosity of strangers. Let’s get on with the sew!




    (deepest apologies for that intro)

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2019 (cont.)

    Somewhere around Buffalo, Oklahoma



    Oklahoma!

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    Though Oklahoma, song place 70 of 92, had already been crossed off of my sign, I still had some work do to in the state. The Verse 2 location of Hennessey was still in my sights. Additionally, I wanted to see and do some more things to help me understand the state at large.

    Places mentioned in this post:

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    My first activity in the state was to rescue another wayward turtle making his way across the road. I got a video this time. :thumb



    I camped out at a library in Woodward, editing my video of “Everywherepardy.” I was taking my time as it appeared that doing so would allow me to make a new friend. I had been contacted by local inmate, @vt700guy, who lives in northern Oklahoma. Initially it appeared like our schedules wouldn’t overlap as he was on a trip to the mountains. Fortunately, he was headed back this day and soon passed through Woodward. This was how I met Rocky and his son Ryan.

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    They had invited me to stay with them, but shortly after meeting them I had some major reservations. I don’t harbor much prejudice when it comes to race, religion, gender, political affiliation or preferred orientation of toilet paper roll; but attached to Rocky’s Kawasaki Versys X300 was a furry red flag:

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    Someone with any affinity for monkeys must have some deep deficiency of character, right? I was fully justified in that moment to begin fearing for my life. But though I thought I may end up beaten and robbed with my remains hastily dumped into the Cimarron River, I really needed a shower and Ryan seemed pretty cool. I decided to follow them towards their home in Meno, Oklahoma.

    :-)



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    We made a stop at Gloss Mountain State Park, which was absolutely beautiful. It was a real surprise to see such unique rock formations jumping out of the flat, arid plains.

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    I had a great time getting to know Rocky, his wife LeeAnna and Ryan. If any family could claim to be a “motorcycle family,” it would be them. Indeed a two-wheeled conveyance was essential in their story. According to Rocky:

    “LeeAnna and I met when we were 15. I knew who she was but had never “met” her until my 1989 Honda NX125 threw off the chain in front of her house while she was standing outside. I was trying to show off. :lol3 We continued to date all through high school and got married and bought our first house together at just 20 years old. I always tell her she has to “tolerate” all of my riding since it’s literally what I was doing when we met. She is an amazing person and I’m a very lucky man.”

    Well said!

    Their daughter was out of town while I was there, so they offered me her room. I took the option of the garage, as it was not your standard garage.

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    It even had its own wifi router and air conditioning. Annie, I think we’re home!
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  15. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Thursday, June 27th

    Pretty much a work day.

    I got a post published in the morning and made some Swedish pancakes for Rocky and Ryan. Rocky teaches 6th grade math, so he has some well deserved time off in the summer.

    I had an upgrade for Annie that I had been waiting to install. After seeing the dash-cam system from my Davenport guide, Dale, I had been considering getting one for myself. My Mom bought it for me for my birthday and it shipped to Joplin. I’d been carrying it around until I was in a biker’s garage, as I new I would probably need some extra tools to get it installed.

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    Rocky was a big help and I’m pretty impressed with the job that we did. It is powered through one of my top mounted rocker switches:

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    The front camera is mounted just below Sonic:

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    The rear camera is by my license plate:

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    The control unit fits into the battery cover in the frunk:

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    And the “lock” switch is up by the start button.

    This system will record constantly, always overwriting the oldest file. Hopefully I will just use it for storytelling purposes, but it could be very useful in case of an accident.

    I figured I should chose an “epic” first video to share:

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    :-)

    They treated me to a great steak supper that night and continued to make me feel so welcome.

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  16. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Friday, June 28th

    Hennessey Day!

    I’m always really excited to visit a song place, even more so now that the finish line is in sight. My hosts had worked to temper my enthusiasm a bit, as Hennessey is not exactly known as a tourist destination. Their webpage “boasts” about the town having two banks, but I was unsure about what made the place unique. Still, I told Rocky that we were going to have a great time and something special was going to happen.

    Rocky lives pretty close to Hennessey and we had a nice ride there. On the edge of town, he captured the first of many photos he would take for me.

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    A geographical fact made me feel at home almost immediately. Hennessey is located on US Highway 81, just like my hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska.

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    We stopped into the Memorial Park which has a statue of Roy Cashion. When he was just 17 he was a member of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders.” In 1898, while fighting in the Spanish-American War in Cuba, he was killed in action.

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    His memorial statue is the oldest outdoor memorial in the state of Oklahoma. Picture from 1901 below, courtesy of the Hennessey Library.

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  17. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    On the way into town, I had seen that Hennessey is home to the largest quilt shop in Oklahoma. As I’m always searching for the things that make each song place unique, visiting the quilt store was a no-brainer.

    Rocky thought he might have a connection for us and he made a few calls. The daughter of one of his co-workers, Dani, works at the shop. With this information, we rode to Prairie Quilt and boldly went where no biker has ever gone before.

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    The first lady we talked to was very friendly and I told her briefly about why we were there and that we were wanting to talk to Dani. A call went to Dani’s office that there were “two men here to see her.” She bravely responded to this strange summon and began showing us around the shop.

    “Which one is the clutch?”

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    I learned so much in such a short time and was perpetually impressed with what I was seeing. This was a lively, bustling place, full of bright colors and even brighter personalities.

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    The store has been steadily expanding, growing beyond their initial two story storefront. They have had to purchase the building behind them, which they now use for quilting classes and retreats.

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    It was a fascinating building, which had been a livery stable earlier in it’s life. The hitching hooks are still embedded into its exterior walls:

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    A fun small world experience was meeting Matt, the sewing machine mechanic. Rocky taught his son in school this year.

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    By this point, I was a mixture of impressed and perplexed. Isn’t main-street, small-town America supposed to be on the decline? How does this business exist that has such a specialty focus, that employs 26 people in a town of 2,000, that is buying up main street property like a game of monopoly, that gives spontaneous tours to wayward motorcyclists…surely I was missing something.

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    I was fortunate enough to meet the missing piece to the equation: The owner, Randa. (pictured with Dani below)

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    I had a chance to tell her about my trip, hopefully giving sufficient explanation for why there were two bikers stinking up her beautiful place of business. She seemed glad that we had come to see her store and asked me to write down my address for her. She was going to send me a quilt!

    Consistent connoisseurs of this quality publication, will note that this will actually be the second quilt we have acquired on this journey. I was given one in Marne, Michigan (Page 7!) way back in July 2017.

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    (….and you must say, I look dashing in it.)

    Whatever this journey costs me, it will be nice to know that I will at least end up +2 quilts. :thumb

    Randa seemed like she was really busy, so I didn’t get to talk with her as much as I would have liked. They brought down a special Oklahoma quilt for me so that I could have some pictures to commemorate the visit. Everyone we met there was just amazing.

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    Sorry about the biker sweat on your quilt!
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  18. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Dani recommended that we eat at the cafe next door, a place called “Annie’s.” When I heard the name, I knew that’s where we would be going. It, too, is a unique business in many ways. The front is set up as a cafe, but the rear is a flower shop where you can build your own arrangement.

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    This storefront was originally a bank. They have done an outstanding job of preserving some of the classic architectural elements while still making it feel warm and inviting.

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    Our waitress was the store’s owner. Her name is Anna, but her family calls her Annie. I had to ask if she would take a photo next to this story’s most hearty heroine. How often do you get a triple-Annie? Unfortunately, I caught her with her eyes closed. (…but Annie’s headlight was off, so it works.)

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    She, along with the rest of the staff, were very friendly and helpful. It was the perfect stop for lunch.

    …but it would get even perfect-er!

    Randa, the owner of Prairie Quilt, came in with her husband, Jerry, and grandson, Chris. This gave me a chance to ask her some of the questions that had been brewing in my mind. Her story is incredible and I will try to summarize it effectively:

    She had a life changing medical condition which eliminated her ability to commute into Oklahoma City, where she was managing a business. The owner of a fabric shop on Main Street was looking to retire, so Randa bought the space. It was initially supposed to be mostly for storage as she intended to do trade shows. But bit by bit, room by room, employee by employee, it transformed into its current state.

    I am definitely not doing this story justice, but it is a true tale of perseverance, creativity and faith. She should definitely write a book about it! To top things off, Randa paid for lunch for all of us. It was a pleasure and an honor to get to meet her.
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  19. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    We ran around to capture a few more images after lunch:

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    My final stop of the day was to the library. I’ve been in dozens during my trip (I’m in one right now!), but this one was unique. It is housed in the old Hennessey school, making it the largest rural library in the state of Oklahoma. After meeting Ruth Ann, the library Director, I became convinced that it is the friendliest too!

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    She set me loose in the room which houses most of the historical items for Hennessey. It was a lot of fun to go step by step through the town’s history. They have done a great job preserving their past.

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    I have so much more to say about Hennessey, but I only have so many words to use. I came into my visit with marginal expectations which were easily blown away. The people here were helpful, creative and so friendly. I’m thinking of taking up quilting, just so I have a good excuse to come visit again. Thank you, Hennessey!

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  20. swedstal

    swedstal Open heart, open mind, open can of beans

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    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Rocky had left town earlier in the day, as Ryan had a baseball game in Enid. I missed a couple of innings but still arrived in time to see him hit a ground ball grand slam. We continued on to one of Rocky’s favorite places in Enid: The Enid Brewing Company. This business is owned by his friend, Justin, who gave us a great tour of his place.

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    They are situated in a beautiful old building right on the old town square. Justin has big plans for his business, hoping to open up a restaurant on the second floor of the building.

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    I can’t wait to come eat here sometime in the future. For now, it is just Justin’s drum practice room:

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    The beer was outstanding (though still having a ride in front of me limited me to one) and I had such an enjoyable evening there. Annie even left with a new sticker on her trunk lid.

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    I see bright things ahead for Justin’s business. My only concern is that they may run afoul of child labor laws…assuming those exist in Oklahoma.

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    :lol3

    As we were preparing to leave, a quartet of nice folks came to ask some more questions about my trip. This happens pretty much every day, but this conversation felt a little different. They weren’t just asking about the trip, they were curious about the person who was taking it. I really felt like I connected with them, even asking them to pose for a photo for me.

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    They returned inside and I continued making myself ready for departure. What happened next must have looked like a robbery by knife-point to those observing from inside the brewery.

    Two of them, Jeff and Dayla, came back outside. With threatening overhand grips, they each thrusted folded dollar bills in my direction. Seeing the exorbitant amounts, $100 and $50, my fight or flight response kicked in and began taking evasive maneuvers. To no avail. It was clear that I was not leaving without accepting their generosity. What could I do? What could I say? Sometimes “thank you” just seems so insufficient.

    It is a peculiar experience to cry inside of a motorcycle helmet. Even if you have a free hand, it is not possible to reach up and wipe the tear away. I followed Rocky back to Meno with a single tear resting on my cheek until evaporation finally took it away. This gave me plenty of time to contemplate how it had gotten there and what it meant.

    What. a. day.
    simbaboy, scudo, Dirtleg and 25 others like this.