Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson

(In this issue we continue with the journal of amateur travel writer Charles Bogle. Editors.)

Oklahoma has for over 150 years been home to Native American tribes who were forced to leave the lands they had inhabited for thousands of years, and as we rolled eastward out of Central Oklahoma on our route to the historic Arkansas town of Hot Springs, we passed through tribal nations whose people once lived in the area where we were headed. I ain’t the most educated person on the subject, but I do know the people whose reservations we are passing through, once called the Five Civilized Tribes (Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole), all once lived in the southern states.

As I write this, I am in a house in Gulf Breeze, Fla., on land once the home of the Seminole peoples and for two days have driven through lands once lived in by Indians. I don’t know why this makes more of an impression on me than when traveling through my native California, a state with over a hundred recognized tribes. I reckon it’s because although those tribes did suffer under Spaniards and Russians and Mexicans and Western Europeans, none of them were made to walk thousands of miles to territories totally unlike where they came from. In the past couple of days, I traveled over roads in an air-conditioned vehicle and slept on fine beds and mercy I can’t for the life of me see myself walking all that distance even as a young strong man, let alone an old lady or young whelp. It makes a body think about how uncaring we humans can sometimes be toward one another. I reckon I’ll leave that now and tell you some about our journey that ended up touching on seven states.

On the first leg of the journey, from mid-Oklahoma to Arkadelphia, Ark., which lies about 30 minutes south of our overnight stop in Hot Springs, we went from rolling hills with patches of trees here and there into the lands of the Ozark Mountains, where a fella can drive for miles in what feels like a tunnel when the forests come down so close to the highway, or back roads. The only breaks came when the trees had been cut back generations ago and small towns of anywhere from 350 to 2,100 people could be found, most often on both sides of the road.

But I’m getting ahead of myself by not telling who all is on this road trip. I’m driving a four-door Jeep with the back seats flat and full of bags and boxes of stuff and all the way in the back in a cage is momma cat and two young cats. They are mighty frisky in a house, but for the whole of this trip a fella hardly knew they were there. When we stopped for fuel or food or just to stretch out some, we always opened the back door and saw to their water and food and such. I say we, but really it was mostly my oldest grandson who did the tending, as I’m not a big cat fan and most cats catch on to this after our first meeting; I think they see something in my eyes that tells them I don’t know nothing about how to deal with cats and don’t care to learn.

Cameron, he’s the oldest grandson I mentioned before, is the navigator, direction finder and disc jockey for the trip; and he’s pretty darn good at it. Behind, or sometimes ahead, of us is a 15-foot rental truck stuffed full of household whatnot with my daughter at the wheel and her husband Jeff as co-driver, rarely, and navigator. Navigator is what I call them, but all it takes is looking at maps and follow along and figure out where and when to turn on which roads; but I’ll grant there are a whole lot of turns.

We sometimes drove on some state-controlled highway with a number like AR41 for 16 to 20 miles and then turned, often in the middle of some small town, onto a county road with a different number and drive maybe a mile or two and turn again to a different numbered road or highway and all the time going from 55mph to 45mph to 30mph and back up again all through the southern states. We missed one turn, found an alternate way on the map that was about eight miles of decomposed granite road, took us out of our way so that we were 34 miles separated from the other vehicle, but we saw some of the prettiest little farms you’d ever want to lay your eyeballs on. Almost like they was painted on the landscape. Sorta like Mr. Frost’s less traveled path.

Sitting here now at the end of the trip, way down on the beaches of Florida, I see that all the sights and sounds and feelings involved with every stop we made, with every meal we ate or the historic places visited can’t no way be put into one short journal, even a two-parter like this one. If I knew what work it was gonna be I wouldn’t have took on the task as such; so maybe some day I’ll sit down again and write out some more of these past few days. Until then, this is your old buddy Charlie Bogle saying happy motoring.


(Howdy, folks, this is me Steve back from some time away from all things South County, and I want to thank the fine people at the Rustler and Tribune for running the article I offered up in lieu of Funny Papers Again; and at the same time apologize as I could have found something a bit more appropriate as replacement. Mr. Bogle was a writer I knew when very young and thought he would do well; maybe not a wise choice. Take care. Peace.)

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King City and Greenfield columnist Steve Wilson may be reached at [email protected].


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