Road Trip USA 2011

  18th  and 19th August. Dodge City Kansas.

The journey here through the Texas panhandle was rather tedious , it’s flat well more phlat really, it is a perfect example of Gods Olympic standard, synchronized bulldozing and grading. As we approach Oklahoma there is, evidence of a tectonic twitch damaging Gods fine efforts, I guess that’s why the judges only scored him a 9.7 out of 10, a little harsh I think. Especially as the tectonics came after God by a good few million years. Hang on a minute? Didn’t my Mormon neighbor tell me the world was created just over 4000 years ago? And that it was a fact! It’s in the bible! Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs! That 9.7 is looking a bit generous now.

 It’s comforting to find that science is codswallop after all. These geology chaps and chapesses could have saved a lot of time if they had just read the bible. Or have I stuck in an unnecessary m in Mormon? 

 

 Oklahoma becomes flat , the part we traversed is a panhandle as well, 50 miles wide and we are in Kansas, it is also flat !

 We lunched in a Macdonalds , goodness it was busy. The three young ladies in front of us ordered a truck load of food between them, it must have cost 30 dollars. These lumpy wobble-bottoms didn’t seem overly concerned about putting on weight though, I think it was because they had a glandular problem that was coincidently, nothing to do with how much they ate!

 

  Dodge is a bit of a disappointment , everything is a replica of stuff, they have tried quite hard to make the city at least a 20th century one, and hang onto the old cowboy stuff as well, not an easy combination but they try. We did the trolly tour, usually a good idea any where you go if there is one and it helps you find your way round. This one though needs upgrading somewhat, I scored it a 6 out of 10. 

 

One restaurant we used does deserve a telling. It was on the main street that runs parallel to the railway lines, and shaded with a veranda. These railway lines by the way are more than they seem. In the old days of Matt Dillon and Wyatt Earp the rule was no guns were allowed to be carried on the north side, you could however please yourself on the south. So most of the rough trades, prostitution , gambling and shootings took place “ on the wrong side of the tracks”. A gun carried on the north side would have seen you cracked over the head with Wyatts “Buntline  Special”. Whacking people over the head is what this extra long barreled pistol ( developed by a writer called Ned Buntline for greater accuracy than a regular pistol) was mainly used for. The other Earp brothers were given them as well but they sawed the barrel back short again. Wyatt was the only one to keep the original design. Illustrated well on the statue of him on main street one cant help but say “ooh thats a long one matron”.

 We sat down in this empty italian eatery ( never a good sign) the waiter ( Spanish but not from Barcelona ) seated us and said “ you have hit the right spot today folks” I loved his upbeat attitude, you cant ever beat it. Sue chose something simple as is her way, while I took a chance on some mussel based pasta affair. Dodge city is about as far away from the sea as you can get and to top that, the last time I ate mussels was in South Africa when I was laid up for  more than 3 days with some horrific illness, venting from all orifices.

 To cover this possibility I quizzed the waiter “ are any of your mussels dead”? “yes” he replied, “wrong answer” says I. then I told him my tail. “ ill just check with the chef”! he came back with the right answer “they are all alive at the moment but will be dead when we serve them”. I was right to put the staff on “friendly” notice I think and the meal was delicious. Hit the right spot? he could have been Wyatt Earp himself.

 

 We did another stupid tour, well we had time to spare. It was of the old train depot. We had the guide to ourselves, this tour by contrast was quite interesting. It also houses a dinner theatre! What a facility, a place where you can go and watch a show , performance, or a play and eat your dinner at the same time, how good is that?  This thing needs using more I think, it is a real nice asset. They say it’s used 4 or 5 times a year. What a waste. Period elegance like this needs, more use, maybe as a B&B even a boutique hotel, it has many rooms that aren’t  finished it’s a damned shame. The lost opportunity is more akin to Africa than the USA, I don’t understand it.

 

A walk through the business district revealed little, except one of those matrix signs displaying the current temperature 106F blimey!

 Next we were off to the museum part of the original conserved “Dodge” with dinner,a gunfight and a show. Let’s see if Dodge improves after that? we toured the exhibits and “Boot Hill” many western towns have one. This one though is well preserved and presented, you get the impression that there is pride accompanied by  gentle black humor.

 It was a good meal , brisket , yes brisket! it was cooked very well, corn, very sweet, taters and biscuit, why they call a cob, a biscuit I don’t know?  Followed by an appropriate  “pudin”, luvly!. The gunfight was an eight man shoot out, after a tension building preamble, acting outside isn’t easy and they all did well. The gunfire was real, you could see the flames from the muzzle. They must have been good shots though as no one took a bullet, they only pretended to be shot. I asked them why no one fell into the strategically placed horse trough? The Sherif said they had done the show a hundred timed already this year and the soaking does wear thin and they had run out of volunteers.

 

 People reading this who are of a certain age will be familiar with the  “Long Branch” saloon a favorite place of refreshment in “Gun Law” staring James Arness as Matt Dillon ( he died quite recently) and Dennis Weaver ( before he became more famous as McLoud in the 1970s) as his “aid de camp” Chester ( ahm a cummin Mr Dillon) in the mid1950s TV series.

 

A lot of effort was put into the show in the “long branch”, that’s not easy either, when the actors are all dressed up in period costume, performing in front of folks wearing shorts and sandals . But they did get the audience involved , even Sue smiled when the bar owner, Chalkly Beeson, did his party piece in front of her and she absolutely hates that kind of stuff. Yes it was definitely worth doing, an experience in which I didn’t feel shafted, it made me smile. I do recommend it, just don’t oversell it to your self before going in. Do not even attempt it if your company is of a “tense or scowling nature”.

The individual performances by the actors, mainly high school kids I was told ( they looked as old and  out of kilter as the Fonze to me mind) was very good and the least blessed ( with beauty) were the best. One chunky lass didn’t even use a microphone, she scored  big performance marks from me even though I heckled her ( not mean, just a “bit off script”) which she handled very well.

 

I will say the whole Dodge city experience is under invested and undervalued by the powers that be. Our B&B host agreed wholeheartedly. You are left with the impression that the old Dodge city is more of a nuisance to the councillors than an asset. It must be that they skim more than enough from the businesses that slaughter and process over 6000 head of cattle per day. To even be bothered in any more than a modest way with their inheritance.

Its hard to believe! Underinvested and underused, in America? it doesn’t make sense.

 

1300 miles to Charlotte next.

 
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