Day 5: December 23, 2009
Altus Aglow
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It's a 1946 1/2 Austin and it has been sitting atop those poles in Chickasha, Oklahoma, since 1952. All four wheels spin. "Murph" told me that when he bought the place about eight years ago, he temporarily turned the wheels off so the whole thing could be cleaned and repainted. He immediately received a rash of phone calls from people who feared he was removing the landmark. He also told me I was the second guy this week to stop to ask about the car and photograph it but only about the twentieth to do so in all eight years.

The National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians in Anadarko was a nice surprise. One inside wall is covered with detailed illustrated descriptions of all Indian tribes living in Oklahoma. There are also a few bust of Hall inductees inside but the majority stand alongside an outdoor walkway. The honored include men of war and of peace; Some who eventually surrendered, some who entered the world of the newcomers completely, and some who did neither. That general I first learned of back in Tahlequah is there, as is an athlete and an entertainer.

Almost next door to the Hall of Fame is the Southern Plains Indian Museum. There are some very nice displays here, including one of numerous examples of clothing, but no photos are allowed. It's a policy that makes sense here to protect the fabrics and such from potential flash damage.

When I first started researching this trip, I found a Wikipedia entry that said "Parts of U.S. 62 follow what once was the Ozark Trail". I got kind of excited over that but the excitement has steadily been seeping away. The reference did reconnect me with Monte Ne and US-62 and the Ozark Trails do cross near there. However, as for following each other, that seems possible only between Chickasha and where US-62 turns south west of Anadarko. Between Chickasha and Anadarko, the road is now all divided 4-lane. It did eventually go to two lanes somewhere west of Anadarko but it never got very interesting. Maybe there are some old alignments around that the two once shared but, as a road, the current US-62 isn't too exciting around here and I saw no evidence of an Ozark Trails connection.

At Fort Sill, I started with the museum at the visitors center. Then it was off to Medicine Bluffs and Geronimo's grave. Both are quite a ways from the main cluster of buildings. The last picture is of Quanah Parker's grave. The two chiefs died just two years apart but one was a prisoner and the other an ally. One is buried in the post cemetery under a government monument while one (and maybe not even all of him. click) lies four miles away under a pyramid of rocks.

Both men have a pair of women beside them. In Geronimo's case, it is his wife and daughter. For Parker, his mother and sister.

Fort Sill is home to a museum and a lot of artillery. I'll admit that I was particularly interested in a couple of items because they were mentioned by Roadside America. "Atomic Annie" and the Mule Gun were both fired only once so are in quite good condition.

I was also interested in a particular kind of cannon because of its connection with my Dad. He was a member of an artillery battalion and, although he was part of the headquarters battery and had little to do with the actual cannon, I thought I'd look for one of the big guns they operated. I really got lucky. What I believe is an area for rotating displays currently has a scene from the Battle of the Bulge; something my Dad was in. While Dad was never in a scene like this (He was a courier and did things like deliver messages in the dark with slits for headlights.) it was a nice surprise. The last picture is of an M1 155mm Howitzer like, I hope, Dad's battalion used.

My day ended in Altus, Oklahoma, much more by necessity than by design. My first impression of the town wasn't much. Some buildings were empty and I saw a defunct business here and there. I did not get a sense of prosperity. I drove through town then came back to book a decent motel on the east side. I noticed quite a few Christmas decorations near the motel and it occurred to me they would probably look pretty good after dark. Yes, they did. I passed the lighted and impressive display on the way to dinner and stopped for these pictures on my return. Most of the decorations are in a large park but some, like those in the first picture, are along the streets nearby. The town has been doing this since 1993. The fellow I asked couldn't give me an exact figure but assured me that my guess of four acres was low. Pathways wind through the lights and a "train" carries passengers around the perimeter. I rode the train and planned to take a picture of it while it was stopped boarding passengers. It doesn't stop for long. I barely had my tripod positioned when the freshly loaded train pulled out. That last picture is the result.

One of the attractions of riding the train is seeing all of the animated displays along the outside of the park. I captured a little video of one of those displays as well as the moving train. In the video, you'll see a car pass the train and hear a horn blowing. A natural impression is that some rude Scrooge is blasting by the display. The car isn't really going very fast and the horn is from the train itself. It's blown at frequent intervals for safety. The video is here.

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