We took a few days off from SteemIt to go visit the county of Osage here in Oklahoma. Having collected all 77 of the counties here in this state, Scott and I decided it was time to do a letting more in-depth travel and see what the largest county in Oklahoma looked like. Granted, we probably won’t be able to do this for every county in the United States, but we can do it occasionally while we do some local travel.
Taking a traditional sign photo for Osage County.
I am sure you are asking yourself why we decided to focus on Osage county even though we have 442 other counties that we could really dig into. First, this is the largest county in Oklahoma and there it is pretty unique in its history. Secondly, this county is close to home. Because of this, we were able to save on hotel and camping expenses by going home each evening. Granted, we found ourselves wishing we could have camped a time or two, but that is hindsight for sure. Lastly, we were just curious! That is the best reason of all!
Old trestle bridge crossing the Arkansas River from Pawnee county into Osage County.
We were able to find some pretty amazing places in this county and are excited about sharing them with you in future posts. One of the places we visited was the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve just north of Pawhuska. We arrived early in the morning so we could get some sunrise photos. Because we arrived so early, we had time to take it slow, do a little hiking, and enjoy a surprise on the prairie!
Hiking along the creek in the middle of a prairie.
There was a bit of a shock for us once we officially arrived home, ending the trip. When we had thought about traveling to Southeast Texas, the milage was looking to be about 800 miles. Because of all the flooding in Texas, we decided to do something more local; hence, why we chose to ravel in Osage County. The mileage we traveled within Osage county came to 715 miles! We were so stunned.
Near the highest point in Osage County, the view was amazing.
Over the next few days, Scott and I will be processing the photos and videos to bring you more informative and entertaining posts about our trip. We enjoyed our travels these past few days, but can’t wait to share them with you.
This evening Scott and I went to the movies. If any of you know me, you know I hate going to movie theaters because of the loud volume and I feel like I am wasting my time. However, there are those few movies that are the exception for me. **Free Solo** is one of those movies. It is a National Geographic documentary about solo mountain climber Alex Honnold and his ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in June of 2017.
Free Soloing is a style of rock climbing where a climber does not use any type of safety gear while scaling the rock walls. Normally climbers will have harnesses and guide ropes to keep them from plunging to their deaths. However, there are some climbers who find this type of climbing to be well worth the risk. There have been thirteen notable deaths from this sport since 1913 and Ueli Steck being the most recent having fell approximately 1000 meters. Most people believe this sport to be reckless because if you fall, you die.
Scott and I have come across a person or two who were doing soloing on small boulders in Glen Rose, Texas, but these were just boulders; not anything like the huge granite monster in Yosemite Valley. It was interesting to see these people working their way around each boulder and I was very curious how they could figure out where the hand and foot holds were. The movie actually discussed this by showing Alex Honnold participating in a scientific study to figure out just how his brain worked in this type of situation.
Big Rocks Park in Glen Rose, Texas.
One of the things that caught my attention during the movie was when he said, ” Nobody achieves anything great by being happy and cozy.” This struck home for me. I have found when I am sitting at home comfortably, not putting myself in new situations, I am rarely accomplishing anything more than the daily chores I have deemed important. It is when I am going new places and experiencing things where I am out of my comfort zone, outside of my box, that I find I am learning something new, being more creative, and accomplishing so much more.
Ren’s living on the edge!
I may not be climbing without safety gear on the tallest mountainsides, but I am stepping out and trying to experience life the best way I know how. For me, this means driving on those twisty roads high in the mountains, going for a hike where there are wild beasts and snakes, or preparing to travel to places unknown to us. The fact is that I get out there and live.
If you get a chance, go see the movie **Free Solo** and see just how inspired you can be to achieve something great by getting out of your comfort zone.
The Monarch fall migration is underway, they are currently passing through Oklahoma on their way to Mexico. We have not had the chance to get into the main path this year, but even here in Tulsa there are quite a few.
Two years ago we were fortunate enough to encounter the migration in Palo Pinto County Texas. We were not specifically looking for it, we were just exploring the area and drove into it. A river of butterflies, tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands. It was amazing, and also sad. We killed hundreds as we drove down the highway. We stopped to get a photo of the County Courthouse and there was a small garden that we full of Monarchs.
The Monarch Butterfly is the only insect that migrates. They cannot survive the cold winters in the North, so they migrate to Mexico and California for the winter. If you are lucky enough to live near their migration path you can see thousands, potentially even millions of them as they pass through.
They return to the same area, even the same trees, year after year. This is strange because the butterflies that return to Mexico this year are not the same individuals who left the year before. How do they know where to go?
While there are still millions of Monarchs traveling each year, the numbers are in sharp decline. The usual suspects are to blame. Pesticides and destruction of their habitat. Throughout the country, people are working to restore the flowers they feed on. Milkweed is particularly important as it is required for them to reproduce. If you plant milkweed along their migration path you can expect them to return year after year.
Take a little bit of time while these amazing pollinators pass by on their travels to Mexico.
Thanks for spending some time with us.
Scott and I were out collecting counties in the Albany, Texas, area when we came across the most unusual place out in the middle of nowhere. On highway 6, in Shackleford County, there were a couple of state historical markers, a caboose, a large cattle corral, and a windmill. This was obviously meant to be visited because there was a pull off and gravel parking lot. However, this was out in the middle of nowhere west of the county seat Albany; no other people were around and we hadn’t seen anyone pass by the whole time we stopped to investigate.
At one time the only way to get mail and people across the country was by stagecoach. The Butterfield Overland Mail Stageline ran from the Eastern United States to San Francisco, passing through Indian Territory and Texas. The stage line ran through Shackleford County from 1858 until the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. As Scott and I walked about this historical area, we found this to be one of the locations where the Butterfield stopped. Just a few miles down highway 6 was Smith’s Station. Today, all that remains is a chimney next to the creek. The creek was eventually named Chimney Creek because of the still standing structure.
This area was called the Chimney Creek Ranch and was owned by Bud and Ella Matthews in the late 1880s and their family still owns the land today. Being in the cattle business, they decided to take a chance and make a request for the Texas Central Railway to create a switch on their cattle ranch. The railway accepted their proposal and the Bud Matthews Switch was created from Albany.
It is amazing to think that approximately 100,000 head of cattle passed through the corral and shoot annually to be put in cattle cars and transported to the Fort Worth Stockyard (which is still around today, only in tourist form) from 1900 until 1967 when it was more profitable to use the trucking industry. The corral was used for another 18 years after the switch was dismantled.
A screenshot of the Bud Matthews Switch via Google Maps.
When you drive up to this landmark, at first you find yourself wondering why there is a cattle car and large stone here, but as you drive closer, get out of your car, and view the items here you find yourself transported back in time when the world was powered by trains and horsepower. The family, knowing how special this place was, filed for the Texas Historical Marker. I was able to locate a video of the 1993 dedication for the marker. You can view this video and get further information here http://www.chimneycreekranch.com/bud-matthews-switch. You will also find further information and videos about the Butterfield Overland Mail marker here as well.
This was one of those finds that were truly serendipitous. We were only on our way from collecting the county courthouse for Shackelford county and headed toward the next county when we literally drove upon this precious bit of history. This is why we encourage all of you to get out and live life outside your box; go see the places in your neighborhood, city, county and even state. There are a lot of wonderful places just waiting for you to discover them.
The Main Street of America is a 2,448-mile long road going from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California; you probably know it as Route 66. This road goes straight through Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I live and has been elected to be the capital of Route 66. Here in Tulsa, you will find many of the historical landmarks such as the Blue Whale Swimming Hole, Vickery Phillips 66 Station, and the Circle Theater. You will also find a few new places sharing the history of this road.
Mapping on the Wall.
Tulsa has so many landmarks and activities for Route 66, we decided to do a little bit at a time and really get to know and enjoy the venue. On this day, we visited the Route 66 Historical Village located in West Tulsa along the old Route 66 highway. Built in 2010, it shows off the different modes of transportation during the heyday of this amazing road. Here you will find the Meteor 4500 steam engine that was once located at Mohawk Park from 1954-1991, the business lounge car that traveled between Tulsa and Sapulpa, an oil tanker and the caboose. You will also find a display of an antique pump-jack that was used to get crude oil from a well just under the tallest oil derrick in North America.
The actual engine that traveled between St. Louis and Oklahoma, passing through Tulsa.
We decided to visit the open air museum in West Tulsa, the Route 66 Historical Village. This was opened in 2010 and has so many wonderful bits of history. Here you will find the Frisco 4500 engine that traveled through Tulsa between St. Louis and Oklahoma City from 1942 until 1947. In 1954 the Engine was moved to the Mohawk Park and Tulsa Zoo where it stayed until 1991 when it was moved to another location to be renovated and finally found it’s home in 2009 at this location. Not only was the engine placed here, but there is a business lounge car, oil tanker, and caboose (former boxcar). All of these were operated in Oklahoma.
The Meteor 4500 next to the tallest oil rig in North America.
Here you can see the early 1900’s style pump.
Tulsa Skyline seen in the near distance.
Tulsa is known as the Oil Capital of the World and it is here at the location of the Route 66 Historical Village where oil was supposed to have been first oil strike on June 25, 1901. The derrick and pump are not the original, but they are built exactly as they were. The derrick is the tallest in North America is 194 feet tall and can be seen from the highway below with the Tulsa skyline in the background.
The visitor center and restrooms in the style of the old Phillip 66 gas stations.
Because the new highways have bypassed the towns where old Route 66 passed through, many of the old gas stations are falling apart or have completely disappeared, the museum creators decided to build their visitor center and bathrooms in the style these buildings were built in. They had a buy-a-brick fundraiser to help with the cost of the buildings and upkeep of the museum which was used to pave in front of the building. Here you will find plenty of information about Route 66.
Scott and I taking a selfie in front of a Route 66 memorial area.
We had a wonderful day visiting the Mother Road through Tulsa. It was a way to view history that was not boring or outdated. I can’t wait to see what else Tulsa will do with the Route 66 Vision 2025. With Tulsa being elected the Route 66 Capitol, I am sure there will be some amazing things created.