Spooky Events in Northern New Mexico and Farewell to Paul Revere

         I am behind in my posts because I have been working on an exciting new development for Footprints in the Dew which I will be announcing here in a few weeks…………………                                                                

                                                             Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.   With Halloween around the corner this seems like a good time to follow up on a story from northern New Mexico. It was early June 2014 and I was traveling in a remote county there on the trail of a recent discovery of mutilated cattle in the area. Back in 1967, in an attempt to access what was thought to be a large source of natural gas, a nuclear bomb was detonated not far from my location. According to legend, the prevailing winds had blown radioactive fallout across the region. Many locals believe that exposure to the fallout has something to do with this mystery. There are stories of people who were deformed by radiation, roaming the area as giant midgets, although I have not been able to confirm any siting of them. Other stories claim that aliens landed here and established a secret underground base.

What is true is that local ranchers have found their cattle surgically carved up and drained of blood, without even any blood on the ground beneath them. Some of the animals tested positive for radioactivity but no source has been identified. There haven’t even been any tracks around the dead animals. Although some people claim that this is the work of witches, the ranchers and locals continue to be mystified. The one thing many of the mutilations have in common is that they occurred on the same scary date, October 31st! Halloween night so be careful. I hear strange occurrences may be heading our way. Trick or treat.

Moving onward is the story of a man who I knew and who made a living wearing a costume his entire life. Paul Dick was born on January 7, 1938 in Boise, Idaho. He started out in the restaurant business and owned several spots in Boise until the day in 1958 when he met a hamburger bun maker named Mark Lindsay. Together they formed a band called the Downbeats. Their first hit song was I Like Long Hair making it to number 38 on the Billboard Chart and launching a long musical career for both of them. The pair parted ways briefly a year later when Lindsay joined Leon Russell’s band but then reunited and signed a contract with Columbia Records. In 1965 with the “British invasion” in full swing and bands like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Animals dominating the airwaves, their collaboration caught on with one hit song after another. The seventies brought more success with tours and starring appearances on television.

In the eighties punk rock and new wave music became popular and Dick, now a legendary musician in his own right, embraced performers like the Sex Pistols, Joan Jett and Pat Benatar , all of whom performed his songs. A true showman, he continued to tour around the world making regular stops in Branson where I interviewed him four years ago. The interview stretched over two days and I took in three shows at the Dick Clark Theater which were some of my favorite performances. Sadly, this past August Dick announced his retirement from show business. I’m here this week to tell you there will never be another show like his. Paul Dick who died on October 4th was better known as Paul Revere and his band, Paul Revere and the Raiders was one of the most popular bands of the sixties.

Next week I’m going back to the place where I saw him last when I visit Branson to check out the new shows and the fall season at Silver Dollar City. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…





The PATH System in New York City

Part Two of my big adventure in NYC

                                                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. Is it the end or just the beginning? I’ll start this week where I left off in my last column. First up, a little history as to my location. It’s called the PATH train system and the line I was riding on goes under the waters of the Hudson River that separate New York and New Jersey. The train travels through a tunnel of cast iron tubes that are over one hundred years old. As I found out from a website devoted to the New York subway system, the “tubes” were designed by Dwight Haskins. Construction began in 1874 and the system was officially opened to the public on February 25, 1908. This was the first tunnel to be built under a major river in the country.

Here I was standing in a packed subway car carrying at least one hundred and fifty people under ninety-seven feet of water wrapped in a tube that was older than my great granddad. There was an unconscious person hanging onto me and I was basically lost in New York City.

I was on my own now as my new friend wasn’t talking when the car doors opened at Union Station. This was the stop where we had gotten on at the beginning of our journey and if I could only get him through the automatic doors before they slammed shut I would at least know where I was. I yelled out several times “I have a sick man here!” as I made my way through the crowd. Most people seemed reluctant to give way although fortunately one man standing by the doors kept them open for us. As the train’s emergency buzzers began to sound because the doors had been open so long several people suggested sitting him down but I knew I could not leave him on this train to go on to unknown destinations in a semi-conscious condition. Finally after what seemed like forever the crowd parted in front of us like the waters in the bible but three flights of stairs leading to the street lay directly in front of me.

The air we were breathing was very hot again and as the subway roared off even the breeze it created felt good. Apparently the hot air was good for my friend too as he spoke his first words since telling me he felt faint aboard the train earlier. We had to get up those stairs and into some fresh air. Upon my command, with his arms around my neck and with my firm grip on his belt, we managed to climb the three flights and by the time we reached street level I go see a definite improvement in his condition. We walked three blocks to his building and took the elevator to his apartment where I made sure he started drinking water immediately. An hour later I was ready for my own two hour train trip back to the Cos Cob station in Connecticut where I had started out. It had been quite a day!

I’ll end this two part story with a pair of suggestions. One: always drink plenty of water whether it is a hot day or not, our bodies need it. Two: never give up on your dreams. This big time publisher and writer didn’t start off this way. His is a story of working from the ground up and his roots stretch back to Miami, Oklahoma.

Yes, Robert Wyatt is an Okie who got his start right here, working for the Tulsa World. Now a New Yorker for over fifty years, he is living proof that you can make your dreams a reality.

Onward. This time of year always means camping for me. When you’re traveling on the interstates, the road signs will list not only motels and restaurants but also campgrounds and local attractions many of which offer their own campsites. Big RVs and fifth wheels are nice, especially in bad weather, but usually its tent camping for me. Equipment is cheap and with a tent you can stay in spots where you can’t take a big vehicle. Conditions this time of year are perfect for being outdoors so if you can get out and try it. Here’s one more scoop for the week. Through the years I’ve told you about many campgrounds around the country and closeby but this week I’m going a little further out. If you like peace and quiet and some good fishing try Lake Parsons.  Just about two and a half hours away, the fee for a tent site is only $5 a night, the restrooms are clean and the camp hosts are wonderful. The lake is 980 acres and is surrounded by 1,000 acres of public use land. Lake Parsons is just 8 miles outside of Parsons, Kansas and you can’t go wrong.

Till next week, and hoping you’re having a great fall, I’ll see ya down the road……








Across the Brooklyn Bridge and Back

A country boy from Oklahoma has an exciting day in the big city……..

                                                                              Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. As you might imagine, whenever I’m traveling I have the opportunity to meet interesting people and I find this to be especially true whenever I’m in New York City. Either walking the streets, riding the subway or just taking it all in at Central Park, you never know who you’re going to run into. The following is a true story about a very well-known person who I met in New York last month and I hope you will find it entertaining.

It was five a.m. on a Monday when I caught the Metro North commuter train at the Greenwich, CT Cos Cob station and the day was already warm. I had a meeting set-up with a man whose resume was full of successful publishing projects and who I knew had been instrumental in establishing the careers of many prominent writers. After I arrived at Grand Central Station, I caught the subway to Union Square and in all it took a total of two hours to reach my destination.

I had been there before and I found the small park which is about the size of a city block in fine shape, nicely landscaped with a couple of dozen trees, park benches and numerous food wagons.  It seemed to me like small oasis in the midst of the bustling city.

The man I was meeting, who for now shall remain nameless, had told me he lived just three blocks from Union Square and with address in hand I quickly found his building, easily making our 10 a.m. appointment. The apartment building itself was a six story brick structure and appeared to be very well kept up. It was located next to a large Catholic church and there was a spacious flower garden between the two buildings which made a nice break from the monotony of rows of buildings.

Security is tight at many buildings in New York but my name was already on a list at the entrance and after checking my ID the doorman let me in. When I got to the apartment I discovered the type of unit that is common for business folks in the city who frequently have another home outside of New York. I learned that this apartment was around six hundred square feet with a small bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath. My host also told me that the unit was worth $800,000!

Our six hour first meeting began with a discussion of the famous writers and publishing house my host had worked with as well as the many films he had been involved with. It was fascinating to hear these stories from the lips of a seventy year old man who has been in the book world for over fifty years and witnessed many great changes in that world. After around two hours we both knew we had made a connection. It was lunchtime so he suggested we go out for a bite and then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to see some other parts of the city. The bridge had just been on the morning news because someone had climbed to the top of the twin towers in the middle of the night, lowering the two American flags that always fly there and replacing them with white flags.

As we started out I noticed it was getting hotter and after grabbing some fruit we took the subway to Chinatown and then hiked at least three miles across the bridge from there. I was buying water from every vendor we passed but my companion, who looked to be in pretty good shape, said he wasn’t thirsty.

After crossing the bridge and resting up a little, we walked back to another subway entrance and by now I was almost completely lost. This is where the real story begins as we passed under the Hudson River heading back to Manhattan in a standing room only subway car.  I had sweat dripping off me but although the air conditioned subway was packed with people at 6’2” I stood above most of them and was able to suck down some cool air. At about 5’8” my friend wasn’t as lucky and not ten minutes into the ride trouble set in. His voice was weak when he spoke and his color wasn’t good. My first thought was to look for some assistance but I couldn’t even move in the crowded car. My new friend told me in a faint voice that he felt dizzy and then his chin dropped to his chest and he whispered that he might faint. By now I held his arm with one hand and I grabbed the back of his belt with the other. The first stop coming up was Union Square and after was 42nd Street so I had to get him out of this car. If we went on to 42nd I would be lost for sure and he would probably be totally unconscious.

Next week is it the end or just the beginning?

On the local front, although cold weather set in on Youth & Family Services big event Friday night it was successful on many fronts. Over 200 guest enjoyed music, Chef Caleb Sparks’ outstanding food and the beauty of Woolaroc. Let’s hope for another show next year!

Coming up it’s the time of year Dewey, Oklahoma loves. It started with a rodeo back in the early days of statehood when thousands of people would flock to town and it continues today. I’m talking about Western Heritage Days in Dewey. Featuring a longhorn cattle drive and parade down Main Street along with a big show out on the beautiful grounds of Prairie Song, this is one party you won’t want to miss.

Till next week and the ending of the Union Square story in New York City, I’ll see ya down the road……………….





The Continental Divide

                                                                                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. According to atlas.gov “The Continental Divide, also known as the Great Divide, is a natural boundary line separating waters that flow into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico from those that flow into the Pacific Ocean. It runs north-south from Alaska to northwestern South America. In the contiguous United States, the divide follows the crest of the Rocky Mountains.” Although it is easy to envision the divide as a straight line or wall, in reality it is more of a twisting and turning back road.

 In the northwest corner of Montana, it lies close to the capitol city of Helena, then runs through Butte, MT, winding around before crossing into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. Leaving the wide open spaces of Wyoming and into Colorado, the area around the divide becomes more populated with snow ski areas along its route into New Mexico.

The Carson National Forest lies along the eastern slope of the divide on the northern border of New Mexico. This is one of five great national forests in New Mexico which together cover 1.5 million acres. The Carson alone encompasses 89,193 acres with elevations from 6,000 to 13,161 feet at Wheeler Peak which is the highest in New Mexico. Travel in the forest is restricted to foot or horseback in order to protect this wilderness area and its spectacular views.

From the Carson National Forest, the divide winds around New Mexico’s western border with Arizona and finally crosses into Mexico. Having crossed the divide at high elevations in many states myself, I can understand why the early settlers had to wait out the winter snows before attempting to make their way over the mountain ranges.

With the end of summer and before the heavy snow sets in, there are few opportunities left for camping on the divide. Generally camping is free in these out of the way places but beware, you are sharing this space with nature’s creatures. Yes, it’s hard to believe but its last call for camping in the Rockies in 2014!

And now one last blast from the 1960s:

In 1961 the Beatles made their first appearance in Liverpool and Bob Dylan had his first paid gig in New York City.

In ’62 the Rolling Stones debuted in London, the Beach Boys signed a record contract with Capitol Records and the Cuban Missile made everyone aware of the dangers of nuclear weapons

In ’63 Joan Baez and Bob Dylan performed at the Lincoln Memorial during the historic Civil Rights March on Washington. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, TX this same year.

In ’64 the Beatles make their first visit to the United States and Cassisus Clay (now known as Muhammad Ali) become Heavy Weight Boxing Champion of the World.

In ’65 Dylan goes electric, there are race riots in Los Angeles and the first psychedelic acid tea party is held in California with music played by the Grateful Dead.

In’66 the so-called youth movement is sweeping across the country and bands like the Jefferson Airplane and the Jimi Hendrix Experience are gaining popularity.

In ’67 the first issue of Rolling Stone Magazine is published and anti-Vietnam War protests take place from coast to coast.

In ’68 the Beatles travel to India to meditate with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, fifty-nine countries sign nuclear nonproliferation treaties, Richard Nixon becomes President and Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angles, CA.

In ’69 John Lennon and Yoko Ono stage the first “bed-in”, the movie Easy Rider is released and actress Sharon is murdered in her home by the Charles Manson Family.

“The times they are a-changing” was the theme of the decade and on September 15, 1969 they certainly changed when 500,000 unexpected guests showed up on a remote country farm in upstate New York for three days of peace, love and music. Now forty-five years later it could happen again a little closer to home. Woolaroc will be the place on Friday, September 12th starting at 3 p.m. as the sixties come back to life. RKM Film Productions from Tulsa will be documenting the event, there will be lots of giveaways and great food all of which is included in the ticket price. Throw in the Fabulous Mid-Life Crisis Band, the Big O Show, Gypsy Twang, a couple of guest artists, plus an hour of meditation and yoga to get everyone in the right frame of mind and who knows, the guests may just outnumber the animals at Frank’s place! There will be a cash bar and you can buy tickets at the gate. Feel free to bring your lawn chairs but no coolers please.

Sounds like a party to me, till then I’ll see ya down the road…………………………..


The Big Event, Billy Etbauer & Lee Ann Womack

          Another post from my recent travels……………..                                                  

                                                                               Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  Billy Etbauer is a five time world bareback riding champion and many rodeo people say there was no one better.  Still in great shape, he and his wife Hallie are about as down home friendly as it gets. Former governor Frank Keating and his wife Kathy are also easy to talk with and they visited with me about the great things A.C. Holden had accomplished during his time in public service. Governor Mary Fallin was there as you might imagine since she’s running for re-election and she told me she has many fond memories from her visits to Bartlesville. Basketball great Leroy Coombs was a guest along with numerous officials from the State Department of Agriculture, past governors, presidents of major banks and more professional rodeo cowboys than I could count.

Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, Lauren Heaton was there as was Grammy award winning country music star Lee Ann Womack. Later in the evening Lee Ann gave a performance that had the crowd of over five hundred clapping and dancing in their seats. The menu for the evening included large steaks, jumbo shrimp, salads, fresh vegetables and fancy potatoes served from long tables decorated with flowers and ice sculptures. I don’t want to forget the friendly and professional serving staff, all of whom were neatly dressed in black uniforms. There seemed to be at least a hundred of them and you never had to ask for anything. A top of the line event for sure!

Another noteworthy guest who was of special interest to me was Susan Robbins, the widow of the late actor Dale Robertson who passed away last year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Dale was the star of many TV and movie westerns including everything from Iron Horse and Death Valley Days to Dallas and Dynasty. Dale lived just a mile down the road from here and was a regular guest at this event. A special eulogy was delivered for Dale by the man who was probably his best friend, Bob Funk.

I could tell you much more about the evening and drop another handful of names, many of which you would be familiar with but now that I’ve mentioned Mr. Funk, you may guess that this gathering could only have been held at one place- his Express Ranch in Yukon.

This annual occasion is called “The Big Event” and you regular readers know that I’ve attended several times and it is always lots of fun to see who’s there. The Big Event is a cow sale yes but it is also intended to be a celebration of the many opportunities offered to Oklahomans and more importantly, Americans.

The real stars of the show are of course the cattle. This ranch, combined with the other Express operations around the country, represents the largest seed stock producer in the United States. These registered cattle sell for big money and some of them are syndicated like race horses with multiple owners literally from around the world. The annual sales at the Express Ranch also provide millions in tax dollars for the State of Oklahoma. I feel fortunate to be able to attend and I hope I have captured at least some of the excitement of the event for you.

On Thursday night I caught a performance by the best garage band I think I’ll ever hear, The Fabulous Mid-Life Crisis Band. The band is on a roll, playing to big crowds around the state as their following grows. As I’ve mentioned they will be playing out at Woolaroc on September 12th along with the Big O Band from Oklahoma City and Gypsy Twang from Tulsa. Bring your lawn chairs if you want and there will be plenty of food.  Tickets are $40 a person and include admission to the museum and grounds at Woolaroc from 3-5 p.m. before the event. If you haven’t been to Woolaroc lately this is a great opportunity to reacquaint yourself with this special place that Frank Phillips left for all of us.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..






Back to Woodstock Part 1

 Finally back on line so onward as my friend Bob says……………..

                                                        Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back. This week marks the 45th anniversary of a musical milestone and so I am taking you back in time to August 15, 1969. Until then Bethel Woods, New York had been a small village in the mountains about a three hour drive from New York City. Four young partners who were looking for a location for an outdoor music festival changed the town forever. Just thirty one days before their heavily publicized event was scheduled to be held in Wallkill, New York they lost their original location and has to scramble to find another.

The spot they found was on Max Yasker’s farm in Bethel and the event was called The Woodstock Music and Art Fair. In the matter of a week people started pouring into the small rural town and by the opening day of the festival on August 15th over 500,000 people were there making Bethel briefly one of the largest towns in New York State. What followed was three days of peace, love and music that has come to symbolize the 1960s and all the cultural changes that took place during that era.

As you regular readers probably know, when I discover something new I can get carried away with all the details. This may be one of those times but I hope you will find this interesting nonetheless.

Today the Museum at Bethel Woods sits on the grounds of the festival. The not-for-profit museum was created by the vision of one man who also had a lot of money. Alan Gerry was a cable vision pioneer who wanted to preserve the original site and who also wanted to help the local residents of one of the poorest counties in New York State. Gerry bought the property and seventeen thousand acres surrounding it. The land, combined with seventeen million dollars, was used to launch the Gerry Foundation in 2004 which was the beginning of one of the greatest museums of its kind on earth.

 It’s hard to know where to start with all the information about the museum and the grounds. Fifteen thousand people can sit in the outdoor amphitheater for summer concerts and there are four hundred and forty indoor seats for indoor shows. There are also eight hundred acres of manicured grounds where the actual festival took place. The museum hosts concerts, community workshops and all kinds of educational programs on art, history and culture. In the true spirit of Woodstock, most of these events are free.

 Bethel Woods has become a premier venue for big name entertainers and everyone from Bob Dylan to Elton John has played here. I was most impressed with the 6,728 foot exhibition hall which showcases thousands of objects that take you back to a changing time. When I was there twenty different films about the ’60s were available to watch as well.

 In celebration of next week’s anniversary, Santana will return along with Crosby, Stills and Nash and John Fogarty from Credence Clearwater. There will also be a free showing of the director’s uncut version of the award winning documentary about Woodstock on a giant screen and everyone I spoke with expected it to be a great party.

 Before I go off to meditate I have a few more interesting facts about Woodstock. Of the estimated half million people who attended, only two hundred people were arrested for drug offense. As many people were barefoot, foot injuries were common. There were two deaths, one from a drug overdose and one that occurred when a person sleeping in a pasture was run over by a tractor. Richie Havens wrote his signature song Freedom on the spot and by time Jimi Hendrix took the stage on Sunday there were n 35,000 still there.

                                                Till next week and with more from Woodstock, I’ll see ya down the road…

 P.S. The Will Rogers and Wiley Post Fly-in is coming up on August 17th at Dog Iron Ranch in Oolagah. Mark your calendars for this fun, family friendly event!







The Brooklyn Bridge Incident

  I have been off-line with computer problems so I apologize for the down time. I will be posting several articles over the next days and stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the next thirty days.                                                              

                                                                               Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. On location in NYC this past week I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many well known news people at Fox Studios including Geraldo Rivera. Also at the Today Show I again talked with Matt Laurer, a very pregnant Savannah Guthrie and the always jovial Al Roker and on Monday at the Madison Café I got caught up with TV personality Rikki Klieman. As I mentioned a few weeks back, Rikki is married to NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. I could dedicate my entire column to any one of these fascinating people but after the Brooklyn Bridge incidentlast week my interest turned that way.

 If you haven’t heard, someone climbed to the top of the two towers, took down the American flags that usually fly along the bridge and replaced them with bleached flags that appear all white from a distance. I walked across the bridge myself and it is a massive structure.  When the Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24, 1883 it was the largest suspension bridge on earth and at the time it was dubbed the “8th Wonder of the World.” On opening day it was estimated that over 150,000 walkers and 1800 vehicles crossed the bridge. It took fourteen years of hard labor to construct the mile long bridge which spans the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.

 According to The Great Bridge by David McCullough twenty men died during construction including bridge designer John Rambling. Rambling’s son then took over and completed the project but not without encountering serious medical problems himself. The opening of the bridge was a major event in American history and people were excited. But when train tracks were laid across the structure in 1885, thirty million passengers a year began using it to commute into Manhattan which was a milestone in the development of mass transit in the area.

 In the course of my research I also learned that many people seeking notoriety or wanting to commit suicide gravitate to the Brooklyn Bridge. The first jumper was Robert E. Odum in 1885 and he was also the first to die but apparently his death did not dissuade other jumpers. Amazingly a few people have lived to tell their stories. Today over 100,000 vehicles, 4,000 walkers and 2,000 bicyclists cross every day so there are plenty of deterrents for jumpers as I found when I joined the walkers. Still periodically you will read in the obituary

With the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, which is four and a half feet longer, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge lost its standing as the longest bridge in the world. Several other bridges now connect Manhattan to nearby boroughs including the Manhattan, the Geensboro and the George Washington as well as numerous tunnels for subways and railways, all bringing millions of people to work every day.  In 1964 the Brooklyn Bridge was officially designated a National Historic Landmark. It takes thirty men to maintain it and the entire structure is repainted every five years or so.

 Unfortunately, I don’t have the space right now to give you the whole history of this historic landmark or all the other details of my ongoing business trip to New York City but I will have more next week. Till then I’ll see ya down the road….





The St. Louis Arch and Other Points East

               Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. The trip from the far northeast corner of Oklahoma along highway 44 to St. Louis and the internationally known structure known as the “Gateway to the West” or the “Arch of St. Louis” takes six hours. Along the way you pass beautiful mountain scenery, the famous resort town of Branson, Missouri and Six Flags amusement park. Then you see the striking monument that was built in 1963 to celebrate the westward expansion of the United States.  At 630 feet this gleaming stainless steel structure is the tallest man made monument in the country.

From the Arch going north, highway 44 becomes highway 70 and the mountainous terrain turns to farmland. The exit ramps lead to small rural communities and mostly $60 a night and up motels for the weary travel until you hit Terre Haute, Indiana, the home of a major federal penitentiary. The prison was constructed in 1938 by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was responding to the request of the local Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce. At the time, during the Great Depression, the prison was seen as an important source of jobs and other economic stimulus. Since then the prison has grown to become a multi-purpose facility. It includes a rehabilitation wing devoted to improving inmates’ reading, writing and math skills along with a trade school. There is a level three care unit which provides medical services to seriously ill prisoners, some of whom are transferred from other parts of the country to be cared for in Terre Haute. Another area of the prison houses “lifers”, who are the inmates who will never be released. And then there is death row.

Due to its central location, in 1993 the federal government designated United States Prison (USP) Terre Haute as the facility that would house and ultimately execute those prisoners who have received a death sentence in federal court. There are currently58 inmates in what the government called the “Special Confinement Unit” on death row.

You may have heard of a few of the notorious men who drew their last breath here. Timothy McVeigh who was convicted in 1997 for planning and carrying out the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 people is one example. McVeigh was executed in 2001.

Also executed in 2001 was drug king pin Juan Raul Garza. Garza was convicted of numerous murders and for importing thousands of pounds of marijuana into the United States.

Gulf War veteran Louis Jones Jr. was put to death in 2003 for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of an enlisted woman at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. As you can see the list goes on as the men awaiting execution includes a wide range of convicted drug dealers, sex offenders, murderers and terrorists. Although there’s plenty of hotels in this area right off I-70 in Terre Haute, Indianapolis is just an hour and a half away and I usually go on.

The Indianapolis area is rich in history from many eras. This was once the home of the Delaware tribe until they were displaced by the government and relocated to other lands. The city was chosen to be the state capital in 1820.

According to the 2010 census, Indianapolis is now the 12th largest city in the country with a thriving arts and sports scene. The Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball tournaments all take place here along with concerts, exhibitions and a variety of cultural festivals. Definitely a place where I would like to sped more time.

Richmond is the last major town before you leave Indiana as I-70 rolls across the American heartland into Ohio. The next stop for me was Columbus, Ohio which at one point in time was governed by the French. Back in the early 1750s George Washington conducted a survey of the area and that survey led to a struggle for control of the region, sparking the seven year French-Indian war.

From Columbus, I travel on through Wheeling, West Virginia and on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Then I take a turn north toward I-80 and Lake Erie of Great Lakes fame. I-80 cuts across Pennsylvania and this is where I stopped for my second night on the road.

The vast terrain of Pennsylvania is nothing less than spectacular and well worth a closer look but I’ve got business in New York City and on the streets of Manhattan where I’ll be reporting from next time. Till then, I’ll see ya down the road….




The Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

A unique travel destination in Oklahoma………….

Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  On Saturday morning while checking out the local farmer’s market I had the good fortune to visit with two local experts about the workings and management of the different ecosystems in Oklahoma, particularly the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. By now many of you in this area may be familiar with this Nature Conservancy preserve outside of Pawhuska with its large herd of free ranging bison

The Nature Conservancy purchased the original Barnard Ranch to start the Preserve. The ranch had been part of the Chapman-Barnard ranch which extended over 100,000 acres (400 km2). The foreman of the Chapman-Barnard ranch, Ben Johnson, Sr. was a rodeo champion. His son Ben Johnson, Jr. also worked at the ranch before heading out to Hollywood and becoming a big star. Since the initial purchase in 1989 the Preserve has grown to 45,000 acres. The focus of the Conservancy’s work has been to restore all of the native plant and animal species that would have been found in the area before it was ranched. The Preserve also serves as living laboratory for scientists and ranchers to learn more about Conservation based land management techniques and the restoration of biodiversity across the landscape.

According to the Nature Conservancy’s web page for Oklahoma (www.nature.org/Oklahoma):

“The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie left on earth. Originally spanning portions of 14 states from Texas to Minnesota, urban sprawl and conversion to cropland have left less than 10% of this magnificent American landscape. Since 1989, the Conservancy has proven successful at restoring this fully-functioning portion of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem with the use of about 2500 free-roaming bison and a “patch-burn” model approach to prescribed burning.

The “patch burn” approach utilizes prescribed burning on roughly 1/3rd of productive rangeland each year, leaving the remaining portions undisturbed by fire. Early research by Oklahoma State University indicates that the complex and mosaic plant communities produced by this “patchy” approach offers huge rewards for biodiversity. Approximately three dozen prescribed burns are conducted each year totaling 15,000 – 20,000 acres. In addition Conservancy staff have helped neighboring ranches burn 170,000 acres and helped them suppress 50 wildfires.”

Simply put, what the Conservancy is doing now will offer conservation-minded ranchers an alternative to traditional grazing practices. The fellows tell me conservancy staff have already conducted several “patch-burn” workshops with area cattle ranchers to illustrate the potential rewards of embracing this wildlife-friendly method of land management, while continuing to meet the bottom line for their cattle production operations.

The Preserve is truly a hidden treasure right outside our back door and it is a great adventure to visit if you are interested in science, ranching history or just love nature. The preserve is open to the public every day from dawn to dusk with no charge for admittance and can be accessed via county roads. You’ll have the opportunity to see the bison herd and many other birds and animals.  In addition to the bison, the Tallgrass Prairie is currently host to over 200 species of birds, 671 types of native plants and grasses and 41 different mammals, including bobcat, mountain lion and feral pig. Not to mention all the butterflies, moths, reptiles and fish! The Preserve also offers many amenities for visitors including scenic turnouts with spectacular vistas, hiking trails, a picnic area and public restrooms at the historic ranch headquarters. There is also a visitor information center and gift shop and several educational displays about the prairie ecosystem. Trust me there’s a lot to see, not the least is the awe inspiring land itself, so aptly called a “sea of grass”.

Many thanks to Bob Hamilton, Director of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and Steve Forsythe, retired ecologist, for sharing this information with me.

Up next, its eighteen hundred miles in three days. Till then, I’ll see ya down the road….



Frank Phillips and the New Osage Chief


           Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  It is an honor and a privilege to be a witness to history in the making and last Wednesday was one of those times when I was invited by his family to attend the inauguration of Geoffrey Standing Bear as Principal Chief of the Osage Tribe. The ceremony was held in the new Osage Casino and Hotel in Ponca City and when I arrived the first thing I noticed was the cleanliness of the facility. It is obvious that the Osage tribe takes great pride in their operations and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. During my brief tour I found that with just 48 rooms this is not a giant place which intentionally or not gives the hotel a cozy feeling. The layout of the pool and spa area is very inviting and well situated at the center of the building. The pool is climate controlled and features underwater speakers with piped in music. If I ever have the money I’d like to use this pool designer myself. The restaurants in the Osage casinos are earning a great reputation in the area for their delicious food and if the grub they served after the inauguration is any indication they deserve a five star rating.

Tim Tall Chief was the emcee for the inauguration ceremony itself which began with the presentation of colors by the American Legion and the Lord’s Prayer. Representative Tom Cole gave the Keynote Address which was followed by a stirring musical performance. The oaths of office for the Principal Chief and other officials of the tribe were administered by Osage Supreme Court justice Meredith Drent and Trial Judge Marvin Stepson. Principal Chief Standing Bear gave his inaugural address and then several key members of the tribe were recognized for their service, The ceremony ended with a prayer spoken in both English and Osage and then there was lots of hand shaking and congratulations all around. It was a rare opportunity for a non-tribal member to see the working of the Osage tribe’s government up close and also to meet so many important Osage leaders. I felt lucky to be there.

I had the opportunity to speak with the new chief before the event started and he was, of course, quite up to date on the history of the tribe, even giving me a quick lesson on Frank Phillips’ relationship with the Osage. After doing a little research on my own I discovered that of all the honors and awards he received in his lifetime, Frank Phillips was most proud of being adopted as an honorary member of the Osage tribe. The tribe called him “Hulah Kihe-kah” which translates as “Eagle Chief” and Frank Phillips was the only white man to ever receive this tribute. A big party was held a Woolaroc to mark the occasion and Zack Miller from the 101 Ranch presented Frank with an inscribed buffalo hide that still hangs in the museum.

Since 1925 after Frank Phillips had completed the lodge, Woolaroc has been hosting a lot of great parties like this. Businessmen from New York City and friends of the Phillips from around the world came to experience life in the west and see the fabulous collection of art, animals and archaeological artifacts in the special place that Frank called Woolaroc.

Nowadays Frank would be happy to know that his ranch is hosting more guests than ever with big parties like the annual Cow Thieves and Outlaws Reunion, weddings, family gatherings and regular daily visitors. The beautiful backdrop of Clyde Lake is also the setting for special events such as OK Mozart’s popular outdoor concert every June. This same Clyde Lake is going to be the place to be on September 12th when a new event will be held where so much history has taken place. Music? you may ask. Yes, three bands. Food? Yes, a big spread starting with appetizers and drinks. There will be prizes and more, all benefiting a worthy not-for-profit. I think you will all be happy to say you were there for the very first one. So mark September 12th on your calendar and I will be giving you more information as the date draws closer.

Next week it’s on the highway for three days and then on location in New York City for something you may find interesting. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..