A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Frazier Park


Ulysses, Kansas

After viewing the imaginary Santa Fe Trail and nearby cow mountain we arrived in the town of Ulysses, home of 2000 volleyball Olympian Sarah Noriega.  I only mention that because of the sign coming into town and I find it fascinating these little midwestern towns producing notable individuals.  Last year we rolled through a no stoplight town of Moran, Kansas that was the home Debra Barnes Miss America 1968.   How cool is that?

This park had a fee of $15 for a night which included water and electric hookups which we don’t need.      I walked around, read all the information I could find and there was nothing about how to pay.

There were nine sites.  

I came back to let Beans out for a walk which she felt “oh hum” about and wanted back in.
I would go check out the reported showers to be had.

It was a one room affair that men and women shared.  There was a lock on the door in case you were wondering.  Look at that shower curtain!  Brand new; you can see the folds.
When I returned the woman with a trailer was leaving site number nine which was on the end near the lake.  I took this as a sign to stay and pulled in.  Maybe someone comes around and collects fees.

This shower was a push button one like at Ute Lake.  That was the only similarity.  The push of a button lasted twice as long, the water was almost too warm and the flow was a full-on gentle luscious spray.  Nothing like the torture I endured at Ute Lake. 

Beans was still not interested so I walked over to view the nearby lake by myself.

My goodness, just how toxic is this water anyway?

Obviously contaminated geese.

No one ever came by to collect.  We left early the next morning.  
It was then I saw the sign on the way out.
Campers Pay Here at Golf Shack.
The sign was turned around, not visible when pulling into the camp area and easy to miss when leaving the camp area.  It was too early for the golf shack to be open.
Thank you Frazier Park.

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Santa Fe Trail


We left Rolla for Hugoton, Kansas sixteen miles away to the east.

We spent the afternoon recuperating from the long drive at Spikes...

...which appeared to be at one time an RV Park.  All 15.4 acres is for sale.
I only share this stay for the fact that we were treated to a spectacular lightening display that evening.

The next morning we turned to the north on Highway 25.  Midway to our next destination the historical Santa Fe Trail crossed our path.  We stopped at the historical marker.
It’s out there somewhere.

Some plaques describing what went on here long ago.

Jedediah along with his companions were on their way to Santa Fe in May of 1831 completing maps of routes he had scouted out before in his travels.  He went off in search of water and never returned.  Weeks later it was learned of his death by the Comanche (misspelled on the plaque).  His body was never found.

I direct your attention to this part of the story.

Wasn’t a problem for the women though. 

I have come across points all over the west where the pioneer trail - Oregon, California, Santa Fe, etc. - passed through but most always there is no sign of it anywhere.  A couple times there were wagon ruts if you looked closely.  

- Time to play Pretend -

I walked across the highway and there it was, The Santa Fe Trail!
Pretty cool.

- Pretend time is over -

We continued on and I could see on the far horizon it was totally black.  
What can that be?

Cows!  The land was covered with cows.
The road veered away and we never got any closer to see millions of cows.
Poor photo I know.  I should have held it sideways but still you wouldn’t be able to see all the cows.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Lets Be Stupid!


I had found through my camp apps there was another grassland nearby with three places to camp.

Cimarron National Grasslands.

We would go to the first one at the bottom.

Directions were vague so I used the satellite image to get there.  Just take County Road 16 north from the highway.  There was no County Road 16 sign but we found it.  Now turn west at the landfill.  There was no landfill.  But we found the road west anyway.  I paused at the cattle guard.  “Hmm...well we’ll go for a ways.”  I have backed out of places farther than what I could see here before.  No worrys.

Just where I could not see the road anymore in the above photo there was a Y.  Going straight on to the site looked as if it hadn’t been traveled in COVID times.  To the right was more traveled.  I turned only because I could see a possible camp site.  In less than a hundred feet I felt the left front tire bog down into dustbowl silt.  “Oh fecal matter!!”  I stopped, put it reverse and with some effort on the part of the motor we pulled back.  STUPID!  You can see where the tire sunk.  I backed up to the Y and didn’t even bother to make a three-point turnaround.  I just kept backing up all the way to the cattle guard.  
“That’s it!  We’re done!  Let’s get out of here.”

Eight miles back on unmarked County Road 16 all I could think of was what if?  We turned left on the highway for ten miles and rolled into the small town of Rolla, Kansas.  
I didn’t even give the other two Cimarron Grassland sites a thought.
We stayed behind a derelict looking old Co-Op building.

In the city park across the road.
I’d have the second one read: Stand Clear of Flying Cows.

This is the high school track behind where we parked.  Rolla has a population 384.  The town I lived most of my life in northern California had a population of ten times that and the school track was dirt.
I only mention this as I had to run on the rutted thing when I went through my jogging and running phase in the ‘80s and 90’s   Shameful.

The last comment on the blog comments fiasco.  

Since I made the changes so everyone can comment this new format has no ‘reply’ beneath the comment you leave.  So if I want to answer a question you pose it appears I have to do so in a stand-alone comment.  Not only that but if you want to know of a reply I give it appears the box for you to check is no longer. 

 So I don’t know what to tell you. 

  Anyway, thank you J for following along all this time as a lurker.  Happy that you can comment now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Shopping in Two States


Boise City, Oklahoma and Elkhart, Kansas

Here is another attempt at capturing the windblown dust across the highway while still in Oklahoma. Reading books about the dustbowl years it was a constant battle for the farmers and ranchers trying to keep the dust out from their homes.  They would hang blankets over windows and stuff rags and newspapers into every nook and cranny they could find yet still the dust got in coating everything inside with a fine layer of dirt including their meals they set out on the table.

I have a fine layer of dirt all over everything in the RV.  I thought it was because of my cat.

In both Boise City, OK and Elkhart, KS was a Moore’s grocery store.  The only grocery store.

Both Moore’s stores took great pride (after all, its in the name) in stocking their shelves making the canned goods look like little soldiers in formation.  You couldn’t help to not be impressed.

Elkhart sat just over the Oklahoma/Kansas border.  The town’s city limit was the state line.

I had stopped at the Dollar General in Boise City.  Inside was chaos.  It was as if someone had picked it up and gave it a good shaking then set it back onto its foundation.  When I walked into the store in Elkhart it was the complete opposite.  Very neat and orderly unlike most dollar stores.  I saw a woman working on the shelving and had to comment to her how nice the store looked in comparison to the one in Boise City.
“I used to be the assistant manager in that store.  It was like that then.  I applied for the manager position for this store when it came open.”  We talked some more and I learned that the manager position was salary.  The assistant manager position was hourly.  “I made more money over there in Boise what with the overtime and all.  Here I end up putting in as many hours but wind up with less money.  Not the best of moves.”  I had to add that now she has more responsibility too. 
“Yep, you got that right.”  

More on the comments thing.  

It seems be to be working okay now.  I found the fix by Googling the problem (of course) and came across a thread from 2019 when some were having the same issue.  My settings have been the same ever since Blogger made that huge makeover several years back.  Maybe it was 2019?  There was no problem with comments on my blog until that day just a few days ago when someone, I think Barbara, mentioned how bright the comments box now was.  Somebody in Bloggerland in Googleworld just couldn’t leave things alone as they were.



After some research I made some changes to the settings which may or may not eliminate problems people including myself are having with leaving comments to the blog.  Let me know if this is better.  One of the changes may spew forth a bunch of spam crap.  If so, I will have to make another change which will only allow followers to the blog to post a comment...if I understand it right.

Why Google cannot leave things alone is beyond me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Across the Panhandle

 After twelve days at Rita Blanca National Grasslands we reluctantly left.  

In not too many miles we crossed over into...

The wind was picking up speed but was at our backside pushing us along.
I tried to get a picture of the dust blowing across the highway.
No luck.
Somewhere along this road four pronghorn came galloping in from the left.  I slowed down and watched them cross right about where that first telephone pole is away from me.  Without missing a beat all four ducked down under a single strand of electrified wire strung along at the right where the vegetation begins.  The wire was all but invisible yet they could see it while running full on.

Victims of the Dustbowl 

An old Chevrolet six-cylinder used to power the water well pump.

And just like that we were in Kansas
The Oklahoma panhandle is only thirty-four miles wide.

Yesterday I had a short post about needing help with my inability to leave a reply comment on my own blog due to some change Google made.  I think I figured out what the problem is and now just need to find a way to work around it.  I removed the post.  
Sorry D about that causing a brief coronary attack for you.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pronghorn-friendly Fencing


Over the weekend there was a small gathering of Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife personnel at the picnic area of Rita Blanca Grassslands Thompson Grove.  It turned out to be a workshop about existing fencing and the effect it has on pronghorn antelope movement.

I was able to get one of the handouts which these photos are from.

By pulling up the bottom strand of barbed-wire the pronghorn are able to scoot beneath the fence.  The gap needs to be at least 18 inches and secured with a twist of wire.  Land owners erecting new fencing should do so with the bottom wire being smooth and not barbed.  In some cases the bottom strand is removed altogether and replaced with smooth wire.

If being pursued by a predator the pronghorn will follow the fence line to the corner and finding themselves trapped try to jump over or get entangled going through the barbed-wire.  So special attention needs to be made at corner posts when modifying the fence.  Coyote have learned to use fence corners to their advantage when hunting. 

Some pronghorn can jump the fence but most choose to go under.  There were some photos of failed attempts of each method but I didn’t think you would want to see them.  Sad. 
The pronghorn quickly learn to use the fence modifications. 

If the rancher chooses to remove existing fencing altogether he needs to remove the fence posts too; if not removed the pronghorn will think the fence still exists.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

“It’s Okay, I Called Triple-A

(for my followers outside the U.S triple-A is an auto insurance company that provides roadside assistance)

One morning when I woke up and looked out the window I found we had some new neighbors come in during the night.  After awhile they had popped the hood, bonnet for you UKers.  Problem.

Two young women. The one in white is the Jeep owner.

Myself along with another woman camped nearby got involved.  That is in itself a whole other story where the girl eventually didn’t even want to try to help herself saying “That’s okay, I called triple-A.”  Fine.  We left them to their problems.
Later a tow truck from Dalhart thirty plus miles away finally arrived.

This is Goober, the tow truck operator.  He is what this post is about.

First thing he does after getting out from the truck is grab a two-gallon can of gas and empties the can into the Jeep. He never asks the girls what is the problem, try starting it or check the battery to see if it is dead.  Nope.  Two gallons of gas should do it.  Then he gets a portable battery pack out and sets it by the battery. He still has NOT checked the battery to see if it has any juice.  The woman who helped learned from the girls that the headlights come on.  I had checked the battery and it read 12 volts.  Goober connects the battery pack has her try to start the car.  Nothing.  At this point it seems he has exhausted all of his knowledge and calls in to headquarters for help.  “Aw...I got a Jeep Wrangler here and...”  Someone there tells him what to do.  Goober crawls underneath where the starter is.  After a bit of lying in the dirt he calls out to the girl to try and start the motor.  It turns over.  Another try and it starts.  Happiness all around.  He explains to the girl there is a loose wire at the starter and shows her in case it happens again.
He leaves and the girls are all smiles preparing to leave.

I can’t stand it any longer.  I go out there before they pull away.  Jeep girl sees me coming and steps out.
“It was just a loose wire on the starter” she informs me.
“Yeah, I heard.  I just can’t believe he didn’t fix it for you.”
“Oh that’s okay. I’ll get it fixed in town.”
“He said the connection at the battery was loose too.  At least let me tighten that for you.  You don’t want to be dealing with that too in case it doesn’t start again.”
“Is it safe to do so while its running? I don’t want to turn it off.”
“It’ll be fine.”
The other girl asks “Will it take long?”  
While I am checking the battery connection Jeep girl’s phone rings.  “Oh that’s okay, someone here is doing it for me.”
I ask “Was that the tow truck guy?  He gets on down the road and thinks to himself Gawrsh, maybe I should have tighten those wires up for her.” 
She says it was him thinking that.
I just muttered “Unbelievable”.
I did ask if she felt comfortable with what he showed her to do with the starter underneath as I really didn’t want to crawl around in the dirt since they both believed there will always be someone out there, somewhere, somehow, to help those who are unwilling to help themselves.  
She said she did and I sent them on their way shaking my head as I walked back to the RV.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

People Are Strange

After one full day having Rita Blanca all to myself (Rita Blanca is where we are; not a lovely Hispanic woman I met) I woke up the next morning to find someone had rolled in during the night parking right over the way from us.  If you recall the size of the parking area here you might wonder why as I did.  He had all the windows blocked off and for the three days he was here I saw him only twice and that was to go to the pit toilet.  Imagine holing yourself up in a tin can for three days with no view outside.

One of those days the white van squeezed in next to him during the night.  Must be friends.  Nope.  White van left and red van guy never came out while white van was there. 

People usually came for one night then left the next day.
This one here it seemed setting that roof-top tent up was more trouble than it was worth owning.
It was a young couple with four boys probably all under ten years of age.
That poor woman!

Those that got away without my getting a picture.

Only one young couple from Pennsylvania camping out of a pickup truck with a homemade camper shell stayed longer than one day.  They did their laundry while here stringing up three clothes lines for the laundry to dry out.  This amazed me as there is no water here.  Not only that but they took showers too by setting up a shower tent and using Solar Shower bag. How did they bring that much water with them?
This wasn’t strange.  This was impressive.

Only one person has stayed in a tent.  Nice looking woman, close to six feet tall and thin as she was tall. 
Not strange either.  Bold and self-assured to be out alone tenting it.  I admired that.

One guy pulled in, parked down on the far end, then sat there half out the driver’s side and proceeded to give himself a marine-style jarhead haircut first thing before setting up camp which he never did.  
With the haircut completed a hour later he drove off.

An old guy came in a pickup with camper.  It was late in the day.  He got out and looked around.  He ambled off looking here and there.  He wound up making a complete survey around the whole area. Maybe close to an hour passed before he returned and got back in the truck.  I could see him consulting maps, smartphone and tablet.  After a half hour of this he drives away!  There was about a half an hour of daylight left.  There is NO place else around here to stay for miles and miles!

The best of the lot though deserves a post all unto itself.
Come back tomorrow. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Beans Gets Stuck in a Tree

On one of our patrols of the picnic area Beans got it in her head to climb this tree.  

Nothing unusual and I let her climb. 

Up on her perch she had a nice view but her cord slipped had down into a crack in the wood.  The more I tried to flip the cord up and out the tighter it got wedged in.  Now she was stuck, not having any slack on her end.  What to do?  I had no choice but to leave her and rush over to the RV for something to reach the cord with.  I grabbed my hiking stick and the stool from the back of the RV to stand on.  I hurried back.  By now she was none too happy.  After several failed attempts I finally was barely able to push the cord up out from the split.  I nudged her in the butt telling her to come down.  She meowed with displeasure and scrambled down to the crotch of the tree where I was able to lift her out. Now the other end of the cord was stuck.  I unhooked the cord from her harness and carried her home much to her relief.

The spilt the cord was wedged in.

The other end of the cord has a small bell on it and that was wedged in between this bark and the tree on the other side.  With no less trouble and effort than getting a cat out from the tree I was finally able to get the cord out when the bark broke free and fell to the ground.

Back inside she was all sprawled out on the table.

Well that was exciting huh Dad?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Rita Blanca National Grassland


Three miles south from the Texas/Oklahoma border.

We turned off Farm Road 1879 onto this dirt road for a mile...

...and arrived at our destination.
This is it.  You park here.  Nowhere else.

Essentially it is as the sign shows, a picnic area.
It is managed by the Forest Service and one can stay here for fourteen days.
We might just make the most of that.

Waddaya think Beans?

Looks good Dad.  There’s no one here.  Lets go explore.

Rita Blanca means ‘little white river’ in Spanish.  Turning the natural prairie land into agricultural land eventually proved to be a costly mistake.  Tilling the soil and removing the natural grasses of the plains is what created the infamous ‘dust bowl’ conditions of the 1930’s.  The U.S. Government has slowly bought back unused abandoned farmland and restored the eroded soil to protect the grasslands.