Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blog 6

Saturday, 28 May, Oklahoma City, OK
Hello from Valerie, I thought I would share with you a fascinating couple I met at our second RV park in Oklahoma City. Henny and I decided to stay at the RV site while Bruce, the mighty hunter, went off to the Walmart superstore to replenish our larder. About an hour later, sitting at a warped picnic table, drinking warm water, being blown by a very warm wind, I began to wonder if this was such a good idea. Henny had stretched out on the gravel in front of doorway of our neighbors very large RV and gone to sleep. The door opened and an older couple came out (wait a minute – I think they were probably our age). I immediately apologized for my dog sprawled out at the base of their steps. Speaking with that wonderful Texas drawl they assured me that they loved dogs and that they had just lost their dalmatian. Henny was thrilled with their attentions. The couple sat down at the warped picnic table and we started to chat. They live in the panhandle part of Texas and were in Oklahoma City to see an allergy specialist for Buck (real name: Charles Burk, but everyone calls him Buck). He told me he was a cattle breeder who specialized in crossing Angus and Chianina (an ancient Italian breed of cattle). He has 900 cattle and a prize winning bull. I told him that I had three chickens. I was surprise and flattered that they asked questions about my chickens. He has his Masters degree in Agriculture and specifically genetic husbandry which is why he developed this strain of cattle. I asked him if most cattle are bred through artificial insemination. He said that quite a bit of cattle are, but, because he is tracking bloodlines, he did it the old fashioned way. He did make quite a bit of money off of his prize bull: 10 straws for $500. Buck said, “one man said he didn't need 10, that he only had 2 cows. I told him I didn't care what he did with the 10 straws – they were still 10 for $500. When his bull was “up there in years” he sold it to a guy who ran a chain of hamburger joints. When the bull died the guy had it stuffed, and it now stands in his library.

I could go on and on. His wife was equally charming, but Buck was an authentic Texas cattleman. He had a softer side. Now that he is semi-retired he makes what I would call “home d├ęcor items.” He showed me a picture of a lamp he made from “stuff just lying around the place” (barb wire, parts of fence posts, etc.). One of his lamps sold for $1700 in Dallas. He also makes large BBQs in the shape of a six-shooter. People like to use them at BBQ competitions. Well, we chatted away until my “hunter” returned with food. These folks made the waiting thoroughly enjoyable. I have learned that southerners (including Texans) have a wonderful “gift for the gab.”

Sunday, 29 May Oklahoma City, OK Little Rock, AR

Can you find our rig?

We woke up to strong winds which were to follow us all day. The good news is that they were not head winds; the bad news is that they were side winds forcing us to drive with the wheels cranked into the winds—bad for the tires and bad for the mpg. For those of you who have not experienced the joys of RV driving in the wind here are a couple of tips. If a truck comes between you and the wind be prepare to be sucked into the side of the truck as the wind you have been fighting will suddenly be gone, and, at highway speeds, one covers quite a lot of territory in a hurry.. The same thing happens when you enter a tunnel or go under an overpass.

The RV park for the night was something to write home about. I'll start with the good parts. There was to be a fireworks display from one of the three bridges in our view, so we would have a ring-side seat. The park was on the northern short of the flood-swollen Arkansas River. The crest had passed through a couple of days prior to our arrival, but the volume of water was still impressive. More impressive were our neighbors. They towered above our little RV, and we were wedged in between 36 footers. The layout was city-like with the walls of these monoliths practically touching. The fireworks were great, but they were followed by a rock concert on the southern shore that sounded like it was inside our rig.

Monday, 30 May Little Rock, AR – Buffalo, TN.
Lush country side
We were definitely south of the Mason-Dickson line now: hot and humid. But what is uncomfortable for us Oregonians is great for vegetation. The trees are crowded together and the leaves completely hide the tree itself, so the effect is one of a grand, undulating green pillow. We're still occasionally seeing signs of wind damage but nothing like that in Oklahoma. The drive to Buffalo was lovely. The lush green pillows looked cool and soft out our windows, and wild flowers bloomed in profusion along the road. But open the window of our comfortably air conditioned vehicle and in would rush hot humid air.
A swollen Mississippi
The RV park in Buffalo could not have been more different nor more welcome than the park in Little Rock. It was in a forest and the lots were widely spaced and the air was cooled by the lush foliage. And we saw our first cardinal of the trip.

Buffalo, TN to Chickamauga, GA
Tuesday, 31 May
The drive should have been beautiful. There were rolling hills, lovely lakes and lush foliage. But the folks of Georgia have not chosen to follow the path of Oregonians. In Oregon there a laws limiting the size and height of roadside signs, but here in Georgia signs raise their ugly heads high above above the trees shouting the virtues of everything from Ruby Falls to shampoo in loud reds and violent yellows.

Wednesday, 1 Jun
Dick McIntosh met us at a campsite just south of Chattanooga, TN. Dick is a third cousin (meaning we share the same great-grandfather). He drove up from Kathleen, GA. It's a long drive and I am very grateful for him doing so. Dick met us at the Visitor Center at the Chickamauga Battlefield. We spent a few minutes at the center and then set out on a self-guided tour of the battlefield in which two of our great-granduncles fought, John H. Purves and his brother James. John enrolled 9 Sep 1861 and, in spite of many wounds, stayed the course to the end of the war. James appears to have joined about the same time but was killed in the Battle of Chickamauga on 19 Sep 1863. We paused at the markers honoring their unit, the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, thought about war and it's toll, took some pictures and left to enjoy dinner together. I was most impressed with Dick and look forward to meeting him again at the home of another McIntosh descendant, James Arnold, another 3rd cousin.

Not in Oregon

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