Saturday, July 13, 2013

Getting the Heck Out of Dodge

Yep, I know the most direct route to New Mexico from Oklahoma is straight across 40 west.  But where would the fun be in that?  And if I did go straight from point A to point B there would be people looking for the pods in the basement if you get my drift. Which explains how I come to be in Dodge City.  Well, sorta.  Well, do I need to explain anyway?  I mean, well, it's me, ya know?

So since I was in the neighborhood I thought I'd stop in for a day or two and give my respects to Sheriff Earp.   And there he was, right on Main St. (aka Wyatt Earp Blvd.) as I drove into town.  I went looking for him on Boot Hill the next day and discovered two things: the hill is still there but the original graves were moved in 1890 and a school was built on top of the hill (wouldn't you want to teach there?) which later became the local police station.  Sadly the building on the hill is abandoned now and in neglect as well as the few statues that remain.  As for Wyatt, I learned that he's buried in a Jewish cemetery in California.  So much for romantic ideas about the west. 

This morning I took a stroll along Gunsmoke Avenue and yes, there are reminders everywhere of that long running TV show.  There's a Long Branch Saloon (and historically there really was one here) in the pseudo-western town near the museum.  Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis, and of course James Arness all have stops on the walking tour.  And there is the local homage to the 1939 movie "Dodge City".  All the glitz and glamor of 1939 Hollywood ascended on this queen of the cattle towns.  I just had to find this spot on the walking tour.  I did, and while I did find the bright, shiny disc on the sidewalk, it was so sad to see what's left of the old theater. 

The next stop had to be the old train station.  Yeah, I know it's another train station, but I promise this one is different.  OK, film quiz.  Judy Garland as a Harvey Girl.  Yep, "Harvey Girls" was a 1946 western musical (only Hollywood would come up with that combination) starring Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury among others.  But the story was taken from the real Harvey Girls that existed along the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe lines.  Here in Dodge the original depot as well as the building that housed the Harvey House has been renovated and used for meetings, a local theater, and yes, the Amtrak station.  Passenger trains stop here twice a day and if they aren't in too big of a hurry they can set their watches by the huge sundials near the tracks.  One is set to central time and one to mountain time because the line dividing the two time zones used to run right through this town.  Thankfully that confusion doesn't happen anymore. 

As much as I have enjoyed walking these hot, dusty, dry streets (temps in the triple digits and I did see tumbleweeds blowing across Boot Hill) I have more places to go and things to see, so, westward the wagons, or rather rv and toad.  In keeping with the western theme I decided to follow highway 50 which is actually in part, the old Santa Fe Trail.  One more stop just outside of town at this marker made the trip complete.  Seems "caching" has been around quite a while.  And yes, there was a geocache here.

Head em up!  Move em out!  It's on to New Mexico..... in a roundabout way of course.


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