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STOP #199

Today's two hundred mile travel day definitely had two entirely different looks.

The first one hundred miles was spent almost exclusively on Interstate Highways. First we had to get through the city of Norman, OK where the University of Oklahoma is located, home of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Next we headed north towards the capitol city, Oklahoma City, OK. We took the bypass Interstate 44 around the western edge of the downtown area, then headed west on Interstate 40. About 50 miles into the trip we planned to stop at a Blue Beacon Truck Wash just west of Oklahoma City.

While we waited in line for our truck and trailer wash, Tricia went inside THE POD and put together a couple of tuna fish sandwiches and we ate lunch.

Then it was back on Interstate 40 West for another 50 miles before we exited onto State Road 270 and began heading northwesterly. Once we left the Interstate behind the scenery changed dramatically.

Gone were the big cities and all the traffic on the 6-lane highways. We then found ourselves on 2 & 4-lane roads with nothing but pasture lands, rolling hills and large farms. Also we saw 300 foot tall wind tubines around every bend in the road. Every 15-20 miles we would pass through a small town and then it was back to nothing but wide open spaces.

Sadly just outside of the town of Seiling, OK (no that's not a typo) we saw emergency lights up ahead on the side of the road. Traffic slowed down to a crawl, like it usually does when there is an accident. Then when we got up close to the scene there was what appeared to be a single vehicle accident down in the ditch on the side of the road. There were police and rescue teams on scene and lots of people standing around with hands on their hips and shaking their heads.

There was already a very large tow truck trying to bring the truck and trailer upright and remove it from the ditch. Sadly there were also a couple of fatalities on the ground and many others who seemed to just be standing around in a daze from what they just went through.

I'm not sure they have a plan on how to remove those three dead 1,000 pound cows from the bottom of the ditch.

With only about three or four miles to go before reaching our campground, we saw this disturbing sign on the side of the highway.

This didn't exactly make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Then just around the next corner we saw another sign which explained the first sign, William S. Key Correctional Center, a minimum-security facility the capacity to house 1,105 inmates.

Anyway, we're not answering any knocks at THE POD's door after sunset this weekend.

Campsite #7 at Supply Park just outside of Fort Supply, OK

FRIDAY - Time for our 40th cave tour!

Alabaster Caverns is unique when it comes to caves in the United States. It is the only show cave where the rock is made of alabaster, all the other show caves are made of limestone.

Alabaster is very soft, soft enough you can scratch into it with your fingernail. For this reason it is also very brittle and in 2018 the cave entrance here collapsed and is now blocked by several tons of rock.

Today we entered the cave through the exit and followed along 75% of the original path before turning around and going back the way we came. All tours since the collapse have been done this way.

This cave was formed by underground rivers, just like most caves, but this one doesn't have any of the usual formations we've seen in the past. The rock is just to brittle to create formations. So while this cave can't be described as beautiful, it still has a lot to offer in it's uniqueness.

The winding pathway through the cave.

The ceiling was reinforced in several areas along the path.

We saw this furry little fellow just hanging around.

Also on our way back to the campsite we stopped to take this photo.

We just love old rusty trucks, especially FORD's!

SATURDAY - Today it is time for:


Today's soda of choice was the "Dang That's Good Butterscotch Root Beer" out of Milwaukee, WI.

When I saw this flavor combination on the shelf back at Pop's Soda Ranch I knew I was just going to have to try it. You can really taste both flavors when sipping this beverage.

I always used to make my Root Beer floats using Chocolate ice cream. I think the next one will be made with Butterscotch.

I rate this one 9 out of 10. Only because I want to leave room in case one of the other sodas is better!

SUNDAY - I've been sitting in and around THE POD most of this weekend wondering about the discoloration on the trunks of all the trees in the campground.

Today it dawned on me, that's a water stain on the tree trunks! I asked the campground host about it and sure enough, two years ago they had an unusual amount of rain in this area and the campground flooded.

The lake was estimated to be eight feet above normal for several months.

Once the water receded a huge cleanup effort was begun. Seeing as how this is an Army Corps of Engineers Park it was constructed to withstand just this kind of treatment.

All of the site markers and picnic tables are made of concrete. The fire rings, BBQ grills and picnic shelters are all made of metal, however all the hardware holding the shelters together has been replaced. It took a full year to reopen the campground.

I was told the only thing visible of the campground were a few of the picnic shelter roofs. Two months after the campground reopen COVID hit and closed it down once again. Six months later it reopened only to be shutdown two months later by a freak ice storm that hit the entire Southwestern United States. It was that ice storm that damaged all the trees you see cut down in pictures.

I can't imagine the water level all the way up to the roof of our picnic shelter! I'm just happy it is now open and we had a chance to visit.

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STOP #198

Finally we had a more or less normal length travel day.

Today we have moved to Lake Thunderbird State Park which is just south of Oklahoma City, OK. Reader's Digest has rated this the #1 state park in all of Oklahoma.

Our campsite in the Little Axe Campground backs up to the beautiful Lake Thunderbird.

We are only visiting here for three nights, but we have one whole day of sightseeing planned for tomorrow.

Campsite #9 at Little Axe Campground in Lake Thunderbird State Park.

TUESDAY - Today is Sightseeing Day!

First up is the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. We didn't plan it this way, but yesterday was the 26th Anniversary of the bombing. There were media and crowds of people around the site all day. Glad we missed that!

Today was much less crowded, so much so that we scored a parking spot right across the street from the entrance to the museum.

We didn't take any photos inside the museum, we were allowed to, but there was so much to see and do that it just never seemed right to bring out the camera.

Like most museums, you are on a self guided tour. You can take in as little or as much information as you like. Spend an hour and breeze through the two floors of displays, or spend the entire day and watch a dozen different short videos and read every piece of signage in front of the numerous displays. We spent a little over two hours there a got a detailed overview of the entire museum.

Outside is the memorial site, where so much symbolism was designed into the site it may go undetected if you don't read the brochure or listen to the free app you can download onto your phone. We observed the memorial site from inside the museum, behind the floor to ceiling windows on that side of the building.

Today at 11:00AM it was still 39°F with 20MPH winds, too cold for these two Floridians to be outside for any lentgth of time.

Next up are a couple of Route 66 attractions here in Oklahoma City.

First up is Milk Bottle Grocery on the Original Route 66 in Oklahoma City. Distinguishing features of the store include that it is triangular shaped, is located in the middle of the street and has no sidewalk in front of the door. Oh yeah, there is also a huge milk bottle on the roof.

The building was constructed in the 1930s and the bottle was added to the roof in the late 1940s as an advertising gimmick. Today the store appeared empty and just another Route 66 roadside attraction.

Second stop is Pop's 66 Soda Ranch, a huge gas station with a café and 700 different flavors of soda. That's right, 700! It's not a typo. There is a huge lighted soda bottle out front, complete with a straw, to make sure you don't miss it, day or night.

We went inside and were quickly overwhelmed by what we saw. Bottles of soda and gifts of all kinds everywhere. We each grabbed a cardboard six pack holder and began making our selections. At $2.49 each they aren't cheap, but most of these I've never seen before. Where else are you going to find them all in one place?

I selected sodas with flavors like Boot's Caramel Apple and Dewberry flavors from Bellville Texas, Boylan Black Cherry from New York New York, Cherry Limeade from Dublin Texas, Route 66 Lime Soda from Wilmington Illinois and Dang That's Good Butterscotch Root Beer from Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Tricia's selections included Grape and Green Apple from Dublin Texas, Dang That's Good Root Beer from Milwaukee Wisconsin, Hosmer Tangerine Sparkling Water from Willimantic Connecticut, Route 66 Root Beer from Wilmington Illinois and Jarritos Mandarin Orange from El Paso Texas.

No doubt we will be sampling these new flavors for the next month or so.


Well one of my sodas didn't survive the first night in THE POD.

Who am I kidding, it didn't even survive the first hour.

But I had some help, Tricia.

My Caramel Apple flavor soda was the first casualty. It was obviously different than anything else I've tasted and I would rate it an 8 out of 10. It had kind of a strudel taste! That's 1 down and 11 to go.

WEDNESDAY - Well today was an expensive day.

This morning I got up early and took ROVER to the Ford Dealership in Norman, OK. With nearly 50,000 miles on the truck it was time for an oil change and so much more.

After wearing out the original set of brake pads in just 15,000 miles, traveling up and down the Shenandoah Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway that first year, the second set now has 35,000 miles on them and it's time once again to change them out. They do get a workout stopping ROVER and all our extra gear. Also at least a third of the time THE POD is attached too, although it has it's own brakes that help out.

Speaking of 50,000 miles, it's also time to change out all four tires on ROVER. I probably could have gotten away with just changing two right now, but I've been wanting to switch from running passenger tires to light truck tires.

I stuck with the Goodyear brand since the first set lasted so well. The light truck tires have a little bit tougher tread and the sidewalls are reinforced with Kevlar to minimize the possibility of rocks being able to puncture the tire. All this is done in preparation for the poor road conditions we may see in the National Forests and Grasslands later this year and for the Alaskan roads we expect to see next year.

A new pair of wiper blades and a front end alignment brought the total bill to nearly $1400. A lot of money but ROVER is now hopefully ready for another three years of dependable service.

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STOP #197

After yet another longer than normal travel day we arrived at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, specifically the Buckhorn Campground. This is a federally managed property by the National Park Service so our Lifetime Senior Pass gets us half price camping ($11 a night with water & electric), which is always a welcome benefit of being a 62+ year old American citizen.

Campsite 59C at Buckhorn Campground

Our awesome raised platform at rear of the campsite with a lakefront view

The recreation area is located completely within the Chickasaw Nation lands which includes about 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma. It is one of five such Indian Nations in the state of Oklahoma that together make up nearly 43% of the entire state.

We are visiting just a small portion of area, but what a beautiful section it is. Our campsite does not have adequate cell phone signal, even with the booster on, so each day we pack up our computers, a snack and a drink, and head two miles further into the park to the picnic area and boat ramp on Lake of the Arbuckles.

Tricia sets up her little office, with the big view, underneath a pavillion and comfortably works for about four hours each day, leaving us plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings.

Tricia's office view.

SATURDAY - Today is going to be our sightseeing day. We normally try to avoid being around the crowds of people on the weekends, but today is the first day since we arrived it has been sunny and relatively warm enough to be outside.

On our way into town we saw a small parking area and a sign reading Bison Viewpoint, that got our attention! We pulled over, but didn't see any bison in the large fenced in area in front of us. We looked on a park brochure we picked up earlier and found there was a 2.9 mile path that goes completely around the bison habitat.

About a half mile down the path we found about a dozen bison grazing on the grasses. We watched them for about fifteen minutes hoping one of them would get closer to the fence near us, but they didn't. They must be having success breeding with this small herd because we saw what were obviously adult bison, but there were some smaller juvenile bison as well.

Next up is a short hike to a couple of fresh water springs. Antelope Springs and Buffalo Springs combine to generate nearly 5 millions gallons of fresh water daily which creates Travertine Creek. This creek flows directly under the nature center building which in turn flows over a rock ledge known as Little Niagara.

Farthest from the parking lot is Buffalo Springs. It was turned into a bathing area back in the 1930s by the local residents, but is no longer used for that purpose.

Antelope Springs comes directly out of a rock face and flows into Travertine Creek.

This is where Travertine Creek flows under the National Park Service Nature Center.

This is Little Niagara and the pool just beneath the falls is used as a swimming hole in the warmer months.

SUNDAY - Today we are going Geocaching!

For the first time in over a year we are searching for a geocache. This one is hidden just off the path that goes around Veterans Lake here in the National Recreation Area.

When we first started traveling one goal I had was to find one, and only one, geocache in every state. So far we have visited 29 states and now after today we have located 29 geocaches, one in each state.

Veterans Lake

The view from the geocache location.

Geocaching is just one of the activities we do
to get us out of THE POD and enjoying our surroundings.

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