The Cowboy Way

‘Welcome back.   I lived the cowboy way of life this past weekend along with actor Robert Duvall, singer George Strait and the great Red Stegall just to name a few so here’s the story of how it all happened.

First up is a brief history of just a few of the celebrities who attended this year’s event. Robert Duvall of course is an Academy Award winning actor and filmmaker whose movies include The Godfather, Lonesome Dove and True Grit among many others. The standing room only crowd of over 1,000 was completely transfixed as he told them that receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was just as memorable as getting an Academy Award.  George Strait also received a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award and he gave a moving acceptance speech as well while many in the crowd sang his songs in harmony. Reba McEntire and her two sisters were on hand to represent award on behalf of their mother Jacqueline McEntire who passed away last year at the age of ninety-three. Jacqueline and Jim Shoulders’ widow Sharon were both recognized for their legacies and their support of the institution.

The presenters of the dozen or so awards included many people who you may have heard of. Actor Barry Corbin who may be best known for his roles on Dallas and Northern Exposure but who also appeared in Lonesome Dove, Wargame, Urban Cowboy and at least a dozen other productions was always available for an autograph and a photo with fans. John Wayne’s son and daughter Patrick and Marisa Wayne were also easily available to visit with. Patrick’s movie credits include nine films he made with his father and many more with another big star, James Stewart. Bruce Boxleitner, another star of many films, the legendary stuntman Dean Smith, two of John Wayne’s daughters and Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry who has some of Will Rogers’ blood in her were all presenters and this gives you an idea of how special this event is. Yes, some of the most accomplished people in the entertainment industry come from around the world to participate.       

So, who was the Master of Ceremonies for this star-studded event you may ask and the answer is none other than Oklahoma native and actor Rex Lin who by the way is dating Reba Mc Entire another born and bred Oklahoman.  Rex was actually born in Spearman, Texas in 1956 but the family moved to Oklahoma City when he was twelve.   After graduating from OSU, he had a successful career in banking and then found a position with an energy company in western Oklahoma. At the same time, he was pursuing work in film and TV. Commercials and bit parts came and went until 1989 when he got his first major role in Night Game. From then on Rex has remained busy, appearing on both the big screen and on TV, most notably in CSI: Miami. With his easy-going personality and great sense of humor Rex Linn is the perfect person to emcee the Western Heritage Awards and he is coming back next year so I recommend you don’t miss it.

I’ll end where I started- if you want to be a cowboy even if its just for one daylike I did check out the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum anytime. It ‘s easy to get to and their collections of cowboy history and memorabilia are extraordinary.

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

UFOs, Nuclear Waste and More from New Mexico

Welcome back. As I look back at my atlas road map retracing all the places, I’ve traveled over the last three weeks it might appear to you that I was lost but not so. With my tent and supplies I set up camp near the Continental Divide for several days while I searched for signs of the UFOs that had been reported in the area. I went from Regina, New Mexico (pop. 99) across the divide to Lindrith (pop.224) and back again. I passed through small villages in the high country of the Santa Fe National Forest with names like Coyote and Youngsville that were basically ghost towns where abandoned buildings lined the streets and there were no stores or gas stations.

The daytime temperatures were pleasant, running in the mid-eighties with no humidity and dipping down into the fifties and even forties at night. The weather was the same when I stayed in Abiquiu, home to the famous artist Georgia O’Keefe. Although I enjoyed my stays, I could not find signs of UFOs in either of these remote areas.

Chasing a lead up highway 25 to Denver, Colorado I again turned up empty on the UFO side but I did discover another interesting story. I found out that the powder form of plutonium is being carried by semi-truck along New Mexico Highway 599, Interstate 25 and US Highway 285 on a regular basis and who knows what other highways besides these. All of this plutonium is being shipped to a secret shaft in New Mexico which by all accounts is already full. Another shaft is being hastily built to handle the plutonium that is still coming into the New Mexico site. According to my research if one of these trucks was involved in an accident the clean-up would take hundreds of years. So, no space creatures but a scary story from Los Alamos National Laboratory where the hydrogen bomb was created.

Back in Santa Fe for a return visit it seems my three-week trip has flown by. First it was the world’s richest cow sale and a visit with Governor Stitt and his wife. Former Governor Frank Kedy and a handful of other big names were also there and after the sale the Oak Ridge Boys entertained everyone. It is called the Express Ranches Big Event and that it was.

The Big Event was followed by my travels in New Mexico but all that is in the past now. Coming up for me next weekend is the Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Robert Duvall and George Strait are being inducted this year and both will be in attendance along with more celebrities than you can count and I will be there to tell you all about it.

Football season is also coming up and that means I’ll be traveling with OU football greats Joe Washington who hosts alumni tailgate parties before every game and Thomas Lott who along with Coach Barry Switzer has the televised Coaches Cabana pregame show. I’ve been invited to both events again this year and hope to cross paths with former OSU coach Pat Jones as well.

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

New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle

Welcome back. Somewhere between the sun and a man’s last breath lies a stretch of land in north central New Mexico that many think is enchanted and many others consider to be heaven on earth.

Traveling up into the Sangre de Christo Mountain range you first come to towns with names like Angel Fire, Taos and Red River. This area is called the “enchanted circle” where the mountains contain lush valleys filled with trees and green grass. As you pass over the mountains going west the landscape on the other side slowly changes to a desert terrain and big rocks replace the trees. These are huge rocks hundreds of feet tall, shaped by thousands of years of wind and rain and colored in shades of purple, pink and bronze. Santa Fee is 100 or so miles to the south of this area and Pagosa Springs, Colorado is 105 miles away on the north border.

In the past people came here to mine copper and silver but now the area depends on tourism. Instead of miners looking to strike it rich, locals depend on visitors looking to ski in the winter and hunt and fish in the spring and fall. Summer brings lots of hikers and campers to the mountains as well. At 8,750 feet, a person can enjoy the scenery at any time of the year and many people come just for the views. The 484 people who live in Red River full time know what pays their bills and friends when you visit their town it’s all about you. They offer skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling in the winter and hiking, fishing and horseback riding in the summer. Good food is plentiful of course and watching deer and elk walking right down the middle of Main Street is a favorite pastime and I’ve seen lots of them myself.

It’s well known that the Plains and Pueblo Indians were the first to cross this land looking for buffalo. Reading up on local history, I found that there were many Indian trails and passes through this part of the mountain range. According to local history, the old Kiowa and Taos trails were intended for horse and foot travel. Wagons, usually full of supplies, took the Cimarron Trail which ran along what is now US Route 68. I know it may be hard to comprehend reading all this but when you see the rough terrain people had to cross just to get here you know they had to be both tough and skilled at handling teams of horses.

You can’t go to Angel Fire and Red River without visiting the town where the cult film Easy Rider was shot so I’m hanging my hat in a town the natives call “the place of red willows” which nowadays is better known as Taos, New Mexico. Home of the famous Taos Pueblo which has been inhabited since somewhere between 1000 and 1450 AD, today it’s said there are around 150 people living in the Pueblo. The Pueblo is a very special place for sure but there are also three art museums and over 80 art galleries in Taos. The town also hosts community arts events, numerous musical performances and even shamanic rituals. Yes, Taos is an artistic town but there is more. The golf, fishing, rafting and hiking here is rated as some of the best in the country as well  the top-notch skiing. If you go to Taos, Angel Fire, Red River or any of the small towns along the Enchanted Circle plan on a long stay because there is just so much to see here.

Till next time I’ll see  ya down   the road