Cowboy Museum, Oklahoma City - 23 JUL 2010

The hour plus drive from Fort Sill to Oklahoma City looks like this: And this:
Or this:With several hours before my flight home, I headed over to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.I was surprised at the size of this famous James Earle Fraser image. Having seen "The End of the Trail" in many forms, I had little knowledge of its' history. He made the first model in 1894 and then, this 18 foot plaster version was made in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.Tinky Winky poses with Marion Morrison (John Wayne):
Here's something I never imagined seeing, Ronald Reagan holding Tinky Winky...wonder if he's rolling over in his grave?

Traffic Hazard - 17 JUL 2010

Todd picked me up at the airport the other day. His friend Richard was in the car and they brought my little dog, Rudy, with them. Rudy and I were in the back passenger seat. We were at a stop light when Todd realized the gas station we wanted to stop at, was on this corner, 500 feet away and he needed to move over one lane. To my right was a small airport parking lot bus/van. I told Todd, "Here, I'll just hold Rudy out the window and he'll distract them so you can move over." It was a warm day and the bus driver had his windows open. As soon as Rudy was in the window, we saw smiles and heard cooing sounds as the driver and several passengers found Rudy adorable. Richard & I made hand signals, requesting permission to cut over, and received happy approval. Todd said, "Not only did it work, I can't believe it worked so well!"
Yes, my dog has a face that will stop traffic.

Wichita Mts Wildlife Refuge - 11 JUL 2010

Located next to Fort Sill, this 59,020 acre Refuge hosts large native grazing animals such as the American Bison, Rock Mountain Elk, White-tailed Deer and Texas Longhorn Cattle. Caught this mailbox fish on the way to the Refuge:
As part of a wildlife reintroduction program, 15 bison were brought here in 1907 from the New York Bronx Zoo. The herd is maintained at 650 by yearly auctions.
The Texas Longhorn is considered a significant cultural and historical resource. A 6 year old steer can have horns over five feet, tip-to-tip. Other animals that have been reintroduced to this area include: prairie dogs, river otters and burrowing owls.
All the local elk were killed off so the Rocky Mountain elk were used for reintroduction. A controlled hunting program keeps the herd at 800 elk and the deer around 450.
Prairie dogs are considered a keystone species. This means they affect many other organisms in an ecosystem and help to determine the types and numbers of various other species in a community. I thought this little guy was so cute eating a crust of bread until I read the sign that said not to feed them, people food as it can make their hair fall out. Since they don't drink water, salt is not good for them.
We also visited the Museum of the Great Plains. TW rides the horns. Tinky Winky found a large reading buddy:They have a recreation of a trading fort build to exact scale. Can you find TW in this photo?
They also have a nice lily pond.Driving around town (Lawton) we found this sculpture in front of an AT&T store. It's titled: Wireless

Showmen's Rest, Hugo, OK - 10 JUL 2010

I set off on a 4 hour drive across lower Oklahoma in search of a Circus Cemetery in Hugo. This land has ranches not farms, as denoted with decorative iron work. The country side is littered with oil pumpjacks as seen in the background here:When I was in Missouri, I was noting the variety of wildlife based on roadkill...skunks & raccoons. On this drive I counted 3 raccoons, 2 skunks, 1 turtle and 7 armadillos. When I was driving around Texas in1995 (covering 4,000 miles) I only saw one dead armadillo, so my conclusion is they either move faster in Texas or people drive faster in Oklahoma.
The good news is the live animal count was 3 turtles, a vulture, a fox, 2 young raccoons (at Ft Sill) and a large family of skunks. I found Gene Autry Oklahoma but was too early to check out their museum.
Without planning, I came across Fort Washita which was established in 1842 to protect the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians.
Pictured here is the South Barracks built in 1849. The Ranger told me, the rocky path on the left, was the first road ever built in Oklahoma and it went all the way to the Red River.
This is the newer West Barracks built in 1856 but burned in 1917.
This mailbox tells a whole story:
Don't ask, don't tell...oops, too late.
Finally, I found Mount Olivet Cemetery, designated Showmen's Rest. Even though it is not a very large cemetery, it took me 20 minutes to find the circus area as I first turned left and it was on the right. Also know as Bull Rider's Reprieve, I first found these interesting headstones:


The Showmen's Rest area is surrounded by these elephant markers.

She's holding snakes:
There had been some rain and just before returning to Lawton, I saw this rainbow.

I experienced the most bizarre optical illusion…the road stretched out for miles, and the sun was bright making the atmosphere ripple off the hot pavement. I was the only car in sight from any direction and in the distance I saw something strange crossing the road. It looked like a giant black snake, but it was undulating up and down just like a worm, not slithering like a snake. And it was large! I slowed slightly, being mesmerized by the vision, wondering what animal I was observing. As I slowing passed, I had to smile and laugh…not one animal at all but a whole family of small skunks moving closely together bouncing up and down as they walk, giving an undulating affect.

Finding Geronimo's Grave - 09 JUL 2010

I learned that Geronimo is buried at Fort Sill. One of my students gave me detailed directions using an aerial map, but it still took me a long time to find it...located on the back acreage out in the middle of the artillery ranges. This was one of the few signs posted: Then I had to cross this single lane bridge (and yes, you need to line up the wheels with the planks):
First I found the Otipoby Comanche Cemetery.




I flagged down the only other vehicle I saw and found my quest was behind the next clump of trees. The rain which had been lightly falling on and off during my search, turned into a down pour just as I found the cemetery. They didn't have spell check so the sign reads exactly as follows:
"APACHE INDIAN CEMETERIES - The roll call of chiefs, warriors, army scouts and families buried here include the most famous names in Apache history: Geronimo, whose daring band performed deeds unmatched since the days of Captian Kidd: Chief Loco of the Warm Springs who stood for peace: Chief Nana, the original desert fox. Chief Chihuahua of the Chiricahuas: and sons and grandsons of Mangus Colorados, Victorio, Cochise, Naiche and Juh and such noted scouts as Kaahteney, Chatto, Kayitah and Martine. Here also lie 12 of the 50 Apaches who were U. S. soldiers and scouts at Fort Sill. Linked with these men in the Indian Wars was a legion of Army greats - General Crook, Miles, Howard, Crawford, Gatewood, Lawton, Grierson and Leonard Wood. This cemetery on Beef Creek was established in 1894 by General Scott. Related cemeteries nearby are the Chief Chihuahua plot 1/4 nile north and Bailtso plot just south across the road. South Mangus and Domeah and, white interpreter George Wratten are buried in the Post Cemetery. Fort Sill, Oklahoma"
Once the rain slowed to a sprinkle, I took my camera and umbrella and went looking for Geronimo.
This was a nearby bush:
I headed back to the main part of the fort, to check out the museums. Inside the Old Post Guardhouse, erected in 1873, for a short time it was the holding facility for Geronimo.
This seven man bed was where the guards slept.
Children posing for the camera:
Part of Artillery Park: Atomic Annie - M65 Cannon capable of firing a nuclear device. The first and only nuclear shell to be fired was in 1953 as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests in Nevada.Inside the U.S. Army Field Artillery Museum:

A piece of the Berlin Wall:
Poor old Wind River...with a sign that reads: "Army Mule ca. 1930 - One of the last Army mules in regular service, Wind River was sent to a taxidermist after his death. Normally, taxidermists only mount big game or trophy animals so there was no form available for a mule. The taxidermist used what he thought was the closest animal, a zebra. That is why Wind River looks so unusual."