We took a more rural highway over to southeastern Oklahoma. I had mistaken the best route. As we neared the small town of Bennington, we came upon a hammered dulcimer factory. We stopped in to see what it was all about. The owner of the small facility came out and took us for a tour. We enjoyed seeing the step-by-step assembly of these fascinating instruments. Our guide, the 1981 national hammered dulcimer champion, filled us in on each detail of the operation. The transformation of a walnut board into a finished instrument held our fascination. We enjoyed at the end when he played one of the finished instruments, to show us how it worked.
When we got to the town of Idabel, we stopped for lunch at Papa Poblano's, a local chain that serves authentic Tex/Mex food. Then we went to the Museum of the Red River Valley. This is a very well-done museum which features two primary attractions--first people's crafts and a huge dinosaur skeleton of a local carnivorous dinosaur. I liked the pottery of the Caddo, who did not put elaborate designs or artificial coloration on their pottery, but liked the change in the coloration caused by the firing process. I also liked the fabric painting of the people of the San Blas islands off Panama. This craft was not "original" to these people, but came about after painting technology arrived.
The materials featured bright colors and intricate designs--sometimes abstracts, sometimes pictorial satires and messages. The dinosaur was really interesting.
After stopping for provisions, we went to the rural cabin in the woodlands ten miles west of Broken Bow. The cabin overlooked the Glover River. We stayed in the same cabin in which we stayed during a previous visit. The river was filled with water but not flowing rapidly. We hiked around the property. A kind man in a pick-up truck stopped to mention to us that as the weekend wore on, a hunting season would begin for people who wish to hunt deer with old-fashioned muzzle-loading guns. Although it would not impact us where we were staying, we were grateful to know that we needed to either be careful to avoid deer woods or get hunter orange to wear.
Friday night I fished the river, catching a nice small carp, two keeper-size bluegills, and two small sunfish. I returned them all to the water. We dined on sandwiches made with turkey and swiss cheese.
Saturday morning we drove up to the scenic Talimena Drive, and hiked in the Kerr Arboretum in the Winding Stair Mountains. Some leaves had turned autumn yellows and reds, but many were still green. The woods were full of birdsong, and the trails were lovely and isolated. Along the roadway, motorcyclists cruised everywhere, enjoying the isolation and the scenery.
We then drove the nineteen miles to nearby Heavener. Heavener is a small town with a runestone. The state park there celebrates the finding of a huge rock upon which were carved runes. The theory of many is that the runestones were Viking in origin, implying a Viking colonization of rural Oklahoma. Prior to our runestone visit, we dined in one of those small cafes that offered a buffet lunch of home-made continental food--beef stew, spaghetti, and great vegetables. The waitress, a bright-eyed 19 year old, told us how grateful she was that her folks bought her a fuel-efficient car rather than the pick-up truck she desired.
The state park was really great. It had a neat hike up to the runestone, with stone borders. There were gentle rock cliffs and interpretive signs. When we arrived at the stone, a couple of bikers were viewing the stone, expressing their skepticism as to the historicity of its Viking legend. The runestone itself was huge--a boulder upon which were carved hand-sized characters. I do not have a theory in favor of or in opposition to its provenance. I thought it very interesting. I came home with a runestone t-shirt, which will no doubt complement my dinosaur t-shirt.
We saw that nearby Poteau had the Robert Kerr Museum, with more runestones. We went to visit this museum, which was actually a bit remote. It turned out to be Senator Robert Kerr's former residence, now a conference center, with the museum in the former huge garage. Mr. Kerr was the Kerr of the Kerr-McGee oil company, a self-made man who became not only rich but also a senator.
The runestones at the Kerr museum were smaller but also very interesting--located a good way from the Heavener find. Other stones, however, supposedly had even more esoteric historic origins, which seemed less possible. All in all, the museum was an interesting experience, about by-gone days and stones.
Sunday morning we went out with a fishing guide on Broken Bow Lake. Broken Bow Lake is set on the edge of the mountains in a deeply wooded area. The islands in the lake and the deeply clear water make a bass boat in the lake a wonderful place to greet the dawn.
Our guide, Bryce, was very good, showing us how to catch fish in the lake. I caught three bass, while my wife caught four. The guide caught eleven. We put them all back.
During our morning, we saw a cute raccoon crossing the road, a female bald eagle in flight, and tons of butterflies on leisurely flights across the lake. When we finished at noon, we went back to our cabin and spent the afternoon resting and enjoying
the nature around the cabin. We like the dog who lives permanently nearby, a large brown dog who comes to check on the guests, and is very affecionate. I read a book about the nun Therese' Martin.
We drove home on Monday, passing the grain elevators and rural lakes of that part of Oklahoma and Texas. Tuesday I was back at work. Wednesday night I was traveling for work.
I sit now in a motel in northern California, enjoying my moments before a hearing later this morning. Yet perhaps a part of me is watching leaves float by in the lazy Glover River.