I think Maggie was as surprised as I was on seeing a circular sidewalk, landscaped with funky art, that led nowhere off to the side of the Western Star RV Ranch in Liberal, Kansas. -- Photo by Pat Bean
- I saw turkeys alongside the road when traveling Highway 83. — Photo by Pat Bean
“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein
Travels With Maggie
After rising early, drinking my cream-drenched coffee while posting my blog, catching up on e-mail and reading the New York Times online, then waking and taking my dog, Maggie, for a walk, I decided to get a few extra miles on the road this day.
I did just that – making it from Vernon, Texas, to Liberal, Kansas.
Vernon lies along the route of the former Great Western Trail and millions of cattle passed through the town during the late 1800s. Liberal lies along the route Coronado took in his search in the mid-1500s for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold.
The distance between the two historic cities, if you take Highway 287 west to Childress and turn north on Highway 83, is 261 miles. It was an eye-opening journey.
The landscape was mostly occupied by agriculture fields with an occasional oil rig plopped down in the middle. Sometimes the pump was rusted and still, sometime rusted and pumping.
The flatness of the land was broken by stumpy hills whose summits looked out for miles and miles to an almost endless horizon.
A multitude of birds were out enjoying relief from the high winds that had dominated the outdoors for the past several days, during which I had mostly only seen turkey vultures. This day I identified robins, great-tailed grackles, house sparrows, mourning doves, meadowlarks, red-tailed hawks, horned larks, rock pigeons, Eurasian collarded doves and even a half dozen wild turkeys.
Then there was the dinosaur near Canadian, a funny name for a Texas city I thought. A bit of internet research after I had settled in for the night told me the town was named after the Canadian River. Since the river’s headwaters are in Colorado, that left me wondering where the name of the river came from.
I’m still wondering about that, but I did learn more about the dinosaur that sits on a prominent Mesa for the viewing pleasure of Highway 83 travelers. The 50-foot brontosaurus was created by artist Gene Cockrell and named Audry after his wife. You can see a picture of the long-necked creature – the dinosaur not the wife – at RoadsideAmerica.com
I laughed when a huge RV overtook and passed me towing a fancy barbecue smoker with all the works. Then I wondered where those folks were going to settle for the night and if I could finagle an invitation to dinner. The rig disappeared over one of the hills, however, and I never saw it again.
Almost before I knew it, the miles were behind me and I was hooking Gypsy Lee up at the Western Star RV Ranch on Highway 54, five miles outside of Liberal.
The park had a a circular sidewalk, leading nowhere and with funky landscaping art, where I took Maggie for a walk. A patch of sickly grass with stickers, however, lay between it and the graveled RV area.
Poor Maggie got a sticker in her paw. She stopped, lifted her foot and demanded with a painful look that I Remove the nasty offender! After it was out, I then got the toasty brown-eyed look that said Carry me to the sidewalk.
Of course I did. She’s the boss, or so my kids are always telling me.
I also shared the red beans and rice leftovers from the night before with her before we settled down to watch an episode of Castle on my DVDs. She got a doggie treat and I got some peach yogurt to eat as we watched.
As my travels go, it was just an ordinary day. But I loved every minute of it.
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