Reporting on: Friday, May 28, 2009
Riding Route: 2 days riding from Guyman, OK to Liberal, KS and Liberal to Dodge City, KS
Temperature: 50 - 90 degrees/Winds: 10 mph
Elevation Climb: minimal
Miles Ridden: 39 miles the first day, 83 miles today
I have to admit that the entire trip is becomming blurred! It's tough sleeping in a different town and motel every night! Today we are in our fourth state in 4 days! I used to think a 40 mile ride was a great accomplishment - but man has 7 months made a huge difference in my outlook.
Yesterday we rode from Guymon to Liberal, Kansas. It was an easy ride. We left in 65 degree weather and it rose to 90 by 3 p.m. Our first stop after leaving Guymon was a small town called Hooker! Yep, that's really the name of a town - and you can imagine the fun we had with it! Several of us stopped and bought tee shirts - and some of the slogans were...uh-h-h well, you know! (You can see me in the picture above "propositioning" Nancy...to no avail!). Liberal is the home of Dorothy's original house of OZ - and Highway 54 is officially designated as the Yellow Brick Road. There is also a wonderful air museum in the town. My first question when hearing that we were going to be staying in "Liberal" was "Is there a "Conservative", KS?" Did I need to get El Rushbo on the band wagon? Although some of you may think of its name as a political statement, Liberal really got its name from a spirit of hospitality and generosity. In the 1880's water was a rare commodity in Southwest Kansas. S.S Rogers homesteaded this area and always offered free water to every traveler. He was considered very generous and "liberal" with this valuable resource.
Today we rode from Liberal to Dodge City...83 miles in sunny weather and gentle winds. Our first SAG stop at Mile 38 was in Meade, KS. This is home to the famous Dalton Gang hideout... which we took time to visit (pictured above). Most of you will remember that the Dalton Gang was an infamous outlaw group in the American Old West during 1890-1892...and they specialized in bank and train robberies. There were 15 children in the Dalton family - and several of them started out on the side of the law...being deputy marshalls. But that changed - and they became the enemy of the law! Their last robbery attempt occurred the morning of October 5, 1892 when five members of the Gang (Grat Dalton, Emmett Dalton, Bob Dalton, Bill Power and Dick Broadwell) rode into the small town of Coffeyville, Kansas. Their objective was to achieve financial security and make outlaw history by simultaneously robbing two banks in daylight. From the beginning, their audacious plan went astray. The hitching post where they intended to tie their horses had been torn down due to road repairs. This forced the gang to hitch their horses in a near-by alley - a fateful decision. To disguise their identity, (Coffeyville was the Dalton's hometown) two of the Daltons wore false beards and wigs. Despite this, the gang was recognized as they crossed the town's wide plaza where they split up and entered the two banks. Suspicious townspeople watched through the banks' wide front windows as the robbers pulled their guns. Someone on the street shouted, "The bank is being robbed!" and the citizens quickly armed themselves - taking up firing positions around the banks. The firefight lasted less than fifteen minutes. A brief moment in time in which four townspeople lost their lives, four members of the Dalton Gang were gunned down and a small Kansas town became part of history.
Onward to Dodge City: At mile 60 we turned due north on Route 283 where there was minimal traffic. I couldn't help think about the words to "America the Beautiful" (O beautiful for spacious skies",for amber waves of grain; for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea). We've been riding under spacious skies, through the waves of grain, we've seen the purple mountains majesty and we're riding from sea to shining sea!
Dodge City's history began with the establishment of Fort Dodge in 1865. Its purpose was to protect wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail and to serve as a supply base for troops involved in the Indian Wars to the south. Dodge City was founded in 1872 and quickly became the world's largest shipping point for Longhorn cattle. It was the wildest of the early frontier towns, but law and order was soon established with the help of men such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Bill Tilghman. We visited the Boot Hill Museum (pictured above with Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp) and watched re-enactments of shootouts and events of it's early history. It's a great town to visit with your family if you have any interest in early western history!
Carol will be visiting me in Abilene in 3 days! Hurray!