Last evening, I rode wearily into town. Unlike the star of TV’s Gunsmoke, or Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and their ilk, I rode in on four wheels. Still, it had been a long, hard 660km ride, through the utterly somniferous, rural heartland of Kansas, roughly following the old Chisholm Trail, on which 10mn Texas Longhorn cattle moved to the Dodge City railhead, in another age.
“Roses aren’t red, Violets aren’t blue, All my dreams are dead, I don’t know what to do.” That cheery ditty on the radio, heading out on the long slog to Dodge City, set the tone for my first, deeply sombre, stop - fateful Washita.
Yes, there is definitely a head missing! Actually, on closer study, there are at least three heads missing - Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and the greatest of them all, Crazy Horse. Anadarko is a town so tiny that, if you blink, you will miss it. However, it hosts the Hall of Fame of Native Americans. In a pleasant little park sit rows of beautifully sculpted busts. All the usual suspects are there - Sequoia, Sacajawea, Pocahontas, Cochise, et al, but, for some unfathomable reason, not the three greatest.
“Comanche attack!” The feared alarm was very familiar to Frontier settlers, regularly fed wild stories of bucolic settlers being attacked without warning by bloody savages. Universally recognised as the finest horse meisters in the world, the Comanche developed a rare, pure warrior society, on the back of this horse culture, and eventually killed more white settlers invading their land, than any other tribe.
A huge, authentic WWII submarine, sitting in the dry, landlocked heart of the Continent! It was a strange sight that greeted me, on this slight diversion from my native American pilgrimage. The USS Batfish is a Balao-class submarine, famous for sinking three Japanese submarines in 1945.