For over seven months now, the dreaded COVID-19 has spread its pandemic illness almost totally over planet Earth.
Depending on how the virus has altered your life, my guess is you have spent an incredible amount of time under your home roof environment. This home-bound feature of your life has probably led to many random thoughts about anything and everything.
Yes, dear readers in Our Town and far beyond, that mental wander has, at times, overtaken me, too, but I found some relief from my brain boredom recently with my favorite self-treatment.
Road trip experience.
My bride, Lady Debbie, and I decided we just HAD to get out and about, so we took my trusty pickup to the open road. I did research our proposed trip ahead of time, trying not to just “wing it” by driving out our driveway, and heading off into the sunset. I did notice many places I wanted to see were closed due to that previously-mentioned nemesis, COVID-19. Several sites unavailable to see, but, fortunately for us, certainly not all sites!!
So, off we were, headed initially north, then west, then northeast, before heading back to Our Town. Entire length of adventure; three nights away from Our Town, and our two boys, Spanky and Tux, our faithful, four-legged family members. They haven’t progressed to be Road Warriors – yet??
Several stops in northwest Oklahoma on our way to Wichita, Kansas. Two of the OK spots are our dear friends’ hometowns, Medford and Burlington. Both places are true symbols of Americana, and my bride and I enjoyed spending a few minutes in each location. We took several photos to help us remember our brief visits. Also, among the stops were Wakita, and the Great Salt Plains Lake area. Small (population 400) Wakita, was made famous when the movie “Twister” was filmed there in 1995, and the movie makers destroyed some of the rural community during the making of the iconic film. The Great Salt Plains Lake, near Jet/Cherokee, is a large (8,690 acres) area in Alfalfa County, which was created years ago by a dam constructed on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River. My bride and I saw the specific location where the public is encouraged to dig selenite crystals from the dry lake bed, and you may keep the crystals. No, we didn’t participate in the digging exercise, readers in Our Town and far beyond.
Our next road find was in the Barber County, Kansas, town of Kiowa, just north over the state boundary from Our State. Stretched across Kiowa’s main street was a massive American flag, held high by a pair of huge construction cranes. This is patriotism in its finest form!
We chose a three-night downtown hotel stay in Kansas’ largest city (population 382,368), Wichita. The city is easy to navigate, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time this recent visit. Our Wichita highlight was touring Botanica, the Wichita Gardens. It consists of 17 acres and 28 themed gardens, located in the northwest section of the city, close to downtown. Of special interest there is the Butterfly House, full of the free-flight, beautiful creatures.
Our path back to Our Town took us southeast through Arkansas City, then into Our State, and huge Osage County. Shortly after entering this extremely rural area, we drove on the gravel roads of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, administered by the Nature Conservancy. This is such a beautiful, serene place, filled with gentle rolling hills and hundreds of wild bison, among other numerous wildlife. We then traveled into the neighboring town of Pawhuska, just outside the southern edge of the Preserve. We attempted to eat in the famous Mercantile restaurant, owed by celebrity Ree Drummond, but the wait time was too long for our schedule. We did, however, spend plenty of our $$$ in her unique gift shop, located on the same level as her busy restaurant.
Well, the brief adventure away from our home (aka, nest-of-rest), completed, as we pulled into our familiar driveway. Remember, I told myself, our next planned outing is only a month away!
Robert Breedlove is an Oklahoma State University news-editorial journalism graduate, and a former newspaper (including News Press) reporter. He resides in Stillwater, and has for most of his life.
He has been a contributing writer to various media over the United States for years. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.