|In we went and found a bull sale in progress. Making ourselves
comfortable in the bleachers amongst black hatted cowboys ~ the real thing
~ we got more entertainment then we bargained for. The bull's they
were selling were rodeo bound. To show their spirit and bucking
ability they were
coming out of chutes with riders doing their best to stay aloft. As
an extra bonus, in the ring with these cowboys and buckin' bulls were
| Apparently in the stands was at least one "talent
scout" looking for the coming year's rodeo clown roster. Once the
bull had done his thing the auctioneer would start his fast calling.
Prices, including the bucking horses ranged from $200 to $13,500.
|We continued our walk taking in some of the shops, the Stockman's Hotel
where many notable personalities have stayed including Bonnie and
Twice each day they herd Long Horn
cattle through the streets of the Stockyard so we were there to take
On to Billy Bob's Bar which was once a barn but is now billed
as the world's largest honky tonk.
|The old barn's auction ring is
now used as a bull-riding arena within the bar and a mirrored saddle turns slowly over
the dance floor. Billy Bob's 100,000 sq ft closes down at 5:00 for
an hour to prepare
for the night's show ~ including a headliner (didn't recognize the name)
and the indoor rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum didn't start until 8:00 so
rather than sticking around for three hours ~ when we had already seen
plenty of buckin' ~ we drove to the east side of Arlington (between Fort
Worth and Dallas) to the Lone Star Park horse racing track complex.
night they were running quarter horses ~ a first for us. The big
difference between quarter horse and thoroughbred races is distance.
Quarter horse races are much shorter (250-450yds) and most are run in a
straight line making pole position not as critical. While watching,
we had a very lovely buffet dinner. Again our betting was for the
most part on note pads ~ Terry's final total down, Sherrie's up.
|The darkness, the rain, construction zones, busy traffic, and
signs showing many lane options all played a part in leading us to being
in the wrong lane in Dallas and we found ourselves entering
downtown. We turned a corner and Terry said in a quiet astonished
voice, "There it is." Before us loomed the Texas School
Book Depository Building and the grassy knoll of Dealy Plaza.
The road kept turning. Making turns to get ourselves back on the
freeway, we found ourselves driving over the same route that JFK's
motorcade took passed by the Depository Building, down the roadway and over
the spot where a bullet took the life of President John F. Kennedy forty
years ago (less 14 days). So many times we have seen that spot in
pictures and on tv played over and over and over again. It was
rather unnerving to have it come unexpectedly upon our senses. We
got back on the freeway and into our room without further incident but
with quiet reflection.
November 9, 2003
Not having to check out of the hotel, we spent a lazier morning than
usual. In the early afternoon we drove back to Dallas, taking the
same exit we accidentally took last night. Being Sunday, parking was
||The sixth floor of the
seven storey Texas School Book Depository Building now holds a
Museum to the memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Very well
presented. Exceptional. An audio-tape tour takes one and
a half hours but a self tour reading information boards, viewing
over 400 pictures, artifacts, charts, four films (totaling 45
minutes) as well as two preserved areas of the building, most
notably the sniper's perch at the sixth floor window, can take
whatever time one is prepared to give. We were there for over
two hours ~ remembering an era, a week, a day, a moment in
|The presentation follows
JFK from his election campaign through his 1000 day presidency,
through that fateful day and its aftermath, with the arrest of Lee
Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby's shooting of Oswald while millions
watched on television and touching on the many conspiracy theories -
some of which are still alive today.
|The time left us exhausted. We left the building and walked for a
bit and took pictures of the controversial grassy knoll where some believe
a fourth gunshot was fired; of the police building and the big gray doors
that Oswald never did exit; and the Depository building itself with the
sixth floor corner window left a little open.
|We walked to a little log cabin which stands apart against the
modern glass skyscrapers. The log cabin is like many that were in the
area of early Dallas. In 1839 Tennessee Lawyer John Neely Bryan
chose a high bluff and shallow ford on the Trinity River as a site for a
trading post. Finding Indians scarce when he returned in 1841, he
began a town, installed a ferry and called the place Dallas.
| In the
1840s, the Republic of Texas opened its Central National Road which drew
settlers to the Dallas area with liberal land grants. Margaret
Beeman came with her family from Illinois and her already prosperous
father staked his claim about eight miles from Bryan's town. At age
fifteen she met Bryan and they married in 1843 and became parents of six
children. Bryan tried his luck in the California Gold Fields but
came home without increasing his fortune. He donated ninety-eight
city lots for a courthouse and county seat, sold his ferry and remaining
interest in the town.
The little log cabin was on the land that would become the site of the
new courthouse which is now known as the "Old Red Courthouse"
built in 1890-92 in the Romanesque Revival Architecture style from
Arkansas gray granite and Pecos red sandstone.
Finally we walked over to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Monument - which
has to be one of the ugliest and least meaningful structures we have ever
laid eyes on.
Tired and desiring some "down-time" we
returned to our accommodations,
had a bit to eat and did some journaling.
November 10, 2003
The breakfast room is just off the lobby of the hotel. As we ate
we watched as police, uniformed and plain clothes, plus a police dog came
and went through the lobby. Most of the officers were leaving the hotel as we
made our way up to our room. Looking down the hallway on our floor,
we saw a police officer escorting a woman - with hands handcuffed behind
her back - to the elevator.
Going north from Dallas, we crossed into Oklahoma at
burst into a rendition of "OOOOOklahoma ..."
First stop, as usual was at the Welcome Centre where we picked up a map
and brochures on both Oklahoma and Oklahoma City. A few miles down
the road we pulled into a rest stop to have a picnic and play a hand of
cards, but, the wind was picking up and getting chilly, so we had a quick
picnic and forgot about the cards.
Checked into accommodations on the outskirts of Oklahoma City near the
State Fair Grounds. The hotel offered a "happy hour" which
we attended along with other guests. It was about 6:45 when we drove
over to the State Fair Grounds to see some of the World Quarter Horse
| Most people who have watched a rodeo know of
barrel racing, where a rider has to
|| keeping the barrels race around three separate barrels
placed in the arena in a triangle formation ...
standing and getting the best time is the aim of the competition.
Top place finishers share in $10,000 prize money plus receive ribbons, trophies
and embossed leather jackets.
| We had not previously seen Team Penning
which is most exciting to watch. The object of
the competition is to have three horse mounted riders cut three similarly marked
calves from a herd of thirty, drive them, and only them, to the other end of the arena
and into a pen ~ all within ninety seconds.
The fastest team to pen three wins the championship and shares in
$56,000 prize money and takes home fancy trophies, gifts and embossed
leather jackets. A most enjoyable evening.
|As we walked back to the car, we saw that
the sky was clearing and although there was a breeze, it felt warmer.
November 11, 2003 - Remembrance Day
(Veterans Day in the US)
We left the car at the motel and took the tourist trolley over to the
Oklahoma Stock Yards.
| Unlike the one in Texas, these yards do not
cater to tourists and are more representative of the every day cattle
industry. Working our way over to the auction ring, we climbed up
the stairs to the catwalk which allows potential buyers an opportunity to
preview the cattle being auctioned.
|| Dotted through the pens are
little shacks in which cattle brokers do their paperwork. At the
appropriate time, cowboys on foot and horseback herd the cattle down a
maze of alleys to the auction holding pen.
| Just before entering the
ring they are weighed and then they enter the ring on the left side. The auctioneer sits on
a podium along with two record clerks.
| The broker stands
in the centre below the podium and behind a chest high guard wall while
handlers (each with their own guard wall) open the entry/exit doors and with flagged
whips move the sale cattle around the ring and then out. A very
|After crossing back over the cat walk, we asked a couple of fellows
about the process. The older of the two, a 70-something gentleman,
told us that the brokers represent numerous ranchers (sellers) and once
the cattle are sold the lighter ones, usually stay around Oklahoma and
Texas to be
grown out to about 600-800 pounds at which time they might show back up at
the auction again. The heavier cattle, he said, were usually
transported to the corn states - Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska "where
they are finished off (grown to full weight), processed and put on the
meat counters of the grocery store where the little misses buys it and
takes it home to cook." With amusement at such a sexist
statement we listened as he talked about how he liked Canada (above North
Dakota), but doesn't like North Dakota or Kansas. "I'm on my fifth
wife and she's ailin'", he said. "One of these days I'll get
around to retirin' and maybe get up there to Canada
We had a chance to take a quick look through one of the western wear
shops (too quick to buy although prices were attractive) before catching
the next trolley into the heart of the city.
|Transferring to another
trolley, we viewed part of the city which was quiet on this Remembrance
Day and disembarked at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Before April
19, 1995, this two-block area was a workplace for hundreds of
people. The Memorial honors the victims, survivors, rescuers and all
those affected by the April 19, 1995 bombing.
||A reflective pool has replaced what was once NW Fifth Street. At
both ends of the pool stand massive "gates of time".
east gate represents 9:01 on April 19 marking the innocence of the city
before the attack. The west gate represents 9:03, the moment all was
changed. Across the pool a field of 168 empty chairs (in two
sizes - the smaller ones representing 19 children), a poignant reminder of
each life lost that day. The chairs are placed in nine rows,
representing the nine floors of the building. The chairs are place
according to the floor on which those killed worked or were
visiting. By night the translucent bases are
||An 80 year old American Elm, once surrounded by a public, asphalt
parking lot, survived the impact of the explosion and a lot full
of burning vehicles. It is now known as the "Survivor
Tree" and acts as a symbol of resilience . Photographs of this
tree date back to the 1920s when it stood in the backyard of a family's home.
Below the Survivor Tree and the circular
terrace that surrounds it, is the rescuers' orchard. An inscription
reads: To the courageous and caring who responded from near and far, we
offer our eternal gratitude, as a thank you to the thousands of rescuers
and volunteers who helped."
|The south wall of the Journal Record Building (pictured
directly faced the blast's impact and was heavily damaged. The
building was a functioning office building when the bomb exploded across
the street. Parts of the south wall were separated from the floor
beams and the arched section of the building's roof was lifted up by the
blast and fell to the ground, ceilings collapsed, walls fell in and glass
shards flew throughout the building. Hundred of people were injured,
many critically - fortunately, no one was killed inside this
|The jagged brick edge across the top of the wall still
shows where the roof broke away from the building. Structural
repairs were made and a new roof installed, however, the south side with
its broken bricks and mangled fire escapes has been left much as it looked
following the bombing. Still left upon the wall are the word's originally
painted by a rescue worker during recovery efforts:
| "Team 5 / 4-19-95
/ We Search For the truth / We Seek Justice. / the Courts Require it. /
The Victims Cry for it. / And GOD Demands it !"
||There is a children's area. During the
rescue and recovery efforts, children - "countless numbers of
children" - sent expressions of sorrow, encouragement and hope.
A wall of hand painted tiles sent to Oklahoma City in 1995 make up a wall
to represent all who shared their feelings. Part of this
area is a courtyard with inset black slate and available sidewalk
chalk so that children that come to this memorial may continue to express
|As soon as fences were erected to protect
the site, people began to attach tokens of their love, sympathy and
hope. It was at the request of the families, survivors and rescue
workers that a fence be part of the memorial site, and so it is that more
than 200 feet of the original fence stands today. Already more than
50,000 mementos have been removed from the fence and preserved.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial, open 24
hours a day, 7 days a week at no charge, is a CLASS A expression of the
physical and emotional impact from the events of April 19, 1995 and allows
the continuation of that expression. The
designer and the people of Oklahoma City are to be congratulated.
||The Oklahoma City National Memorial did not,
to us, feel like a sad place. It is a place of quiet, peaceful
reflection ... a place of greater understanding, not just of the
events that took place on this soil or of the lives that were lost, but
understanding that we are, by the grace and help of God, resilient ... and
can survive ... and through survival understand how precious each moment
of breath is and understand how important to make each moment
|A Memorial Centre occupies a portion of the
Journal Record Building. The Centre is an interactive learning
museum that allows a self guided chronological of April 19, 1995 and the aftermath using pictures, artifacts, information boards,
sound and film, and ends with a message for hope.
The bomb's physical damage extended well
beyond this two block area. Hundreds of buildings in a 20 block
radius were damaged. In all, fourteen structures in the surrounding
blocks had to be torn down and removed. In most cases, new buildings
have gone up and others have been refurbished. One building that was
not replaced was the Saint Joseph Old Cathedral's parish house across
Harvey Avenue. Where the rectory once stood is now a statue of
Jesus, his back to the Monument, facing 168 squares (representing the 168
lives lost), his head hung and a hand over his face. On the base it
simply says "and Jesus wept".
By trolley we went to Bricktown, a part of
Oklahoma City, aptly named as all the buildings are made of brick ~
the streets are paved with brick - the area is home to the Bricktown Ballpark
which sports a statue of Mickey Mantel .... an Oklahoma boy.
We had planned to take a boat ride along the canal
but with the inclement weather today and more predicted for the balance of
the week, it wasn't running other than for pre-booked
charters. A "to-do" experience for our next time in
November 12, 2003
Left Oklahoma City and headed east on I-40
which is part of the old Route 66 from Chicago to LA (okay - we are
starting to get musical again!) We crossed over the North Canadian
River (which never touches Canadian soil) and over the Chisholm Trail
which was the original cattle drive trail from Texas to the railhead at Kansas
City, where they would be loaded on boxcars and shipped to eastern
The first part of the drive across the Texas
Panhandle was rather uninspiring.- similar to crossing the Canadian
prairies where one can see for miles and miles except this land was more
rolling and marked with shallow meandering gulches. However, not all
people have viewed this vast, mostly empty land this way. The
Apaches controlled the Panhandle until after 1700 when Comanche, having
tamed horses, were able to drive them from the region. After 1865
buffalo-hide hunters entered the Panhandle, then soldiers and settlers and ranchers and railroads. With the slaughter
of the buffalo, the Indian's power and traditional way of life was
gone forever. Where the buffalo once ranged free the Texas Longhorn
now grazed. What fences there were, at the time, were made of thorny hedges that
some claimed to be pig-tight, horse-high and bull strong. But the
huge Panhandle ranches needed to fence hundreds of square miles and
farmers needed better protection for there crops. The problem
was attacked by Joseph Glidden from Illinois who in 1874 invented and
patented a fencing material consisting of short, sharp barbs of wire
twisted around a single strand of wire. It became known as barbed
wire, a fence that was "light as air, strong as whiskey and cheap as
dirt". Never again would the open range be open.
The first settlers to come to the Panhandle
after 1875 made their homes on streams or rivers ... not the vast areas of
waterless plains. With the introduction of the windmill around
1880 water could be pumped from underground to the surface and turn the
rich topsoil into flourishing farms and ranches almost anywhere on the
plains. Popular crops were wheat, alfalfa, oats, corn, sugar beets and
millet and, with the absence of the boll weevil, cotton became a major
crop. The prosperity of Panhandle farmers was based on what seemed a
never-ending river of water below the surface.
Today, in the Panhandle, there is a
different crop being harnessed and sent to market. On a nine-square
mile site, just west of White Deer the major crop is clean, renewable
electricity. It is there, in one of the windiest locations in Texas,
that eighty huge wind turbines product 80 megawatts of electricity, enough
to fill the electrical needs of about 26,600 homes. But it is not
just there that you can see these 226 foot height towers with their 180
foot rotors. Close by the visitor information centre we took this
picture. They take up so little land space that crops can still be
grown or livestock still grazed and not be bothered by the soft whishing
of three whirling blades ... and bonus ... they are kind to the
environment and produce no pollution.
We made two pit stops ~ one at the Visitor
and the other in Amarillo to refuel and buy an ice cream cone which was
rather silly because today is windy (a normal phenomenon in the
panhandle) and cold .... chilling cold.
The rolling prairies turned into flat
We stayed in Tucumcari (pronounced
"two-come-kerry") ~ a popular spot for those taking Route
66. We had dinner at Dean's, an institution in Tucumcari for around
Later in the evening, we wanted to get
something from the car and went out to find it snowing. Through the
night and early morning the area experienced high winds, sleet, snow and
November 13, 2003
Cold and raining. No snow at the motel
but as we drove westward and climbed to higher elevations (a slow
climb which has the look of Cache Creek flattened by a giant's rolling pin)
there were skims of snow on the roofs of old barns and against the red
banks of the shallow gulches. Shortly after we turned north on Hwy
84 towards Santa Fe, we saw a herd of Pronghorned Antelope with their
distinctive buckskin and white markings. In the distance coliseum
shaped buttes were silhouetted against the far reaching steel gray
sky. By the time we reached Dilia - about the size of Spuzzum, BC, the temperature had reached 0c.
||Ground and shrubs and round
shaped evergreens (the tallest reaching approximately eighteen feet)
were frosted in an icing sugar coating of snow.
|Snow continued to get
deeper and the branches of the round trees drooped with their new
white mittens of snow and the wet road took on the appearance of a
black satin ribbon tying up an early Christmas gift.
|We turned west on Hwy 25 to Santa Fe - the
temperature now down to -2.5c.
The road was icy and bumpy with packed snow ~ and since this was the first
time in these conditions with our new BMW, we were pleased with it's
handling. Closer to Santa Fe, the hillsides were dotted with homes -
some adobe styled homes and others built with wood and some
mobile homes. As we approached Santa Fe the road crews were out and
the road relatively clear.
As we dropped in altitude down to the city, the temperature warmed a bit
and the snow cover was again only a dusting. Adobe style homes
became plentiful and most seemed to be one storey (at least above
ground). As we glance in the direction of the city, we were struck
by the absence of skyscrapers.
We had dinner at Maria's, a restaurant set
in a great old Santa Fe adobe landmark, which was recommended to
us by the gentlemen on the front desk and indeed it was a good one.
Our waitress, Margaret, was most helpful in keeping our choices within our
minuscule hot-spice tolerance. Maria's is famous for
it's 100+ Margaritas (why, they even .. literally .. wrote the book on
Margaritas) - how could we not. One was enough, however, as the
high altitude of Santa Fe (about 7200 feet) made one seem like three.
By midday the gray clouds had moved away leaving only a few white
fluffy bits to contrast against the stunning blue sky ~ a perfect
backdrop to the light terra cotta adobe style buildings of downtown
near the plaza, walked past a marker for the Santa Fe trail
then into the plaza itself.
In the centre is a
states "Monument texts reflect the character of the times
in which they are written and the temper of those who wrote
them. This monument was dedicated in 1868 near the close of a
period of intense strife which pitted Northerner against
Southerner, Indian against white, Indian against Indian. Thus,
we see on this monument, as in other records, the use of such
terms as "savage" and "rebel". Attitudes
change and prejudices hopefully dissolve."
Plaza were restaurants, shops and forming one side of the Plaza was
the Palace of the
Governors - the nations oldest government building still in
continuous use. Under it’s wide covered walkway Indian merchants
show and sell their silver and turquoise jewellery and delicately
decorated pottery to a steady parade of tourists.
Santa Fe boasts the third
largest collection of art galleries in the country. We strolled
through many of them admiring the artistic talents of painters and
sculptors and in a few cases wondered who might consider certain
| Santa Fe is
also home to the only museum in the world exclusively dedicated to
the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe and the museum also houses a
collection of 24 photographs by her husband, and artist in his own
right, Alfred Stieglitz. After Alfred’s death in 1946, Georgia O’Keeffe
spent more and more time in New Mexico continuing to produce her
came on, we were attracted to a lovely sight at the end of the
street ~ the Cathedral Church of St. Francis of Assisi bathed
in sunlight. Franciscan Friars first entered New
Mexico in 1598. Santa Fe was founded in 1610 and that same
year the first church was built on this site. The Damiano
Crucifix hanging above the Sanctuary area is an exact replica
of the crucifix in Assisi, Italy that we viewed in January
||In a chapel
just off the Sanctuary , there is a statue of the Virgin Mary
brought to Santa Fe in 1626 by a Franciscan priest. The bronze
doors are a recent addition to the Cathedral which were
installed in 1986. They contain sixteen panels depicting
various scenes or events in the history of Christianity in
We were impressed with
the beauty of Santa Fe.
for the most part are adobe style of earthen colours. The tallest
building we found was six stories - at the back because of the slope
of the land - but even it did not seem large and out of place.