Having been refreshed by the clean air and wide open spaces of the Tallgrass, we crossed over to Kansas and found ourselves in the little town of Cedar Vale, where we partook of a darn goodhamburger and "real" fresh cut french fries at a tiny place called the Prairie Kitchen. It was packed with locals, and I got the feeling we were the first strangers in town for quite a while.
Just so I could relate this post to Afton Station, we first stopped in Barnsdall OK, home of The World's Only Main Street Oil Well (not particularly exciting, but it's definitely in the middle of Main Street!) Also in Barnsdall is a restored gas station of note. I always like to compare Afton Station to other stations. This one is plastered with signs and kitsch, and I like it! I don't believe it's used for anything except lookin'.
Instead of driving to Bartlesville, we then cruised through the small town of Pawhuska and to my favorite place on earth, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (The Nature Conservancy in Oklahoma - Oklahoma Preserve - Tallgrass Prairie). It's on the Oklahoma/Kansas border and is kept completely natural, with about 2500 bison roaming freely on over 37,000 acres, so when you drive the gravel road through the preserve, you're always sure to see bison herds and you feel like there's nobody else left on earth. It's a beautiful, very inspirational place.With luck, bison will wander into the road and right up to the car, making for great photo ops (as long as you stay in the car!) We also encountered a gigantic grasshopper that decided to take a ride on the hood of the car, but then changed its mind when he realized he didn't have much to hold on to. He did his best as we drove over that rough gravel road, then gave up and slid off. Last seen, he was trying to thumb a ride back to his family about a half mile back.
On the way home we finally made it to Bartlesville, where we wanted to check on the Nellie Johnston #1 Oil Well (first oil well in Oklahoma) which is reproduced in their city park. It's being restored right now and looks good from a distance, but we couldn't get too close due to the restoration in progress. From there, we made a quick drive back to Tulsa, renewed and refreshed.
We really enjoyed visiting Cedar Vale back in 2006 on our first big road trip that year - see
http://www.richardcmoeur.com/2006-1trip.html for details.
Richard C. Moeur
(also trying to move 12+ years of webpages off AOL before the end of the month - grrr)
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