10 Shawnee to Bristow, 67 HOT MILES

June 18…Early breakfast, rental car returned and we were cycling in 80 degree weather by 9:00 AM. It feel good to be back on the road. We somehow missed the Moccasin Trail that Barbara had recommended. By the time we stopped and asked we were already 4 miles beyond it. So, we just dead headed on, in to Prague. (Pronounced Pray-gue here) It’s the home of Famous Athlete, Jim Thorpe. Younger ones may not know the name but he was a fantastic all around athlete. He won Gold in the Olympics but when his manager boasted that he had played a baseball game and was paid $15, he was disqualified.

A Soft Drink Sonic Stop

Prague Mural

Jim Thorpe, All American, Native American

It was blazing HOT when we rolled in to Stroud. We found The Rock Cafe, air conditioning, a great sandwich and an order of Fried Green Tomatoes. Yum!  We had taken an oath not to ride more than 50 miles and we’d just rolled past that. There is a Motel here. We savored the Green Tomatoes and asked how far to Bristow. The guy next to us said, “It’s about 10 to 15 miles.” Cat said, “Hope it’s closer to 10!” 

Rolling our of town we shuddered when we saw the sign, “Bristow, 17 miles.” Cat pushed, we pedaled onward into the HOT afternoon SUN. Melting, we pulled into a Service Station Cafe in Depew. We’d just poured our GatorAde over ice and got seated when a big man, tall and thick, came in and said, “Man when I was in college I rode my bike everywhere.” Then he pulled his arms around like all guys do, into the chest flex and said, “Too bad I didn’t keep it up!”

As he and his wife, _________ were leaving he instructed the cashier to charge him for our GatorAde and ice. We objected, he insisted. Don’t argue with a guy twice your size. What nice people. He had been taking care of his Grandmother and Mother, they have both recently passed away. He’s saddened but relieved at the same time. Easy to understand.

Mighty Muddy River

Oklahoma Wine?

Reflecting on Route 66

Bristow, at Last!

Finally at 3:30 PM we found Bristow. It was slightly disappointing to find that the only Motel is just outside town on the north. It is fairly basic but we were in dire need of AC. The gal there suggested we could get Pizza delivered. Luckily we had wine. After the full day of heat we were ready for early sleep.

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09 Back to Shawnee Friends

Had a Starbucks power meeting with friends MIchael, Lelsie, Larry and Barbara. Barbara has been working hard gathering maps and routes for us. A couple of hours just flew by and Larry had to get back to The Bike Shoppe. Realizing I didn’t have his picture I ran out in time to catch him getting into his Mom’s ’72’ Pontiac LeMans that only has 21,000 miles on it. WOW, old guys and old cars, you gotta love em’.! Took a group pic, hugs and promises of visits then we were off to The Bike Shoppe to pick up our steeds.

Low Mileage Mom's LeMans

Michael, Leslie and BarbaraLarry Back in His Element

Larry in his Element

The bikes were clean and tuned. Larry loves his shoppe and he loves working on bicycles. A great guy and he did a great job on on bikes.

Thanks to Michael we still had his bike rack and were able to haul them back to the hotel and load em’ up. We’re ready to roll.

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08 An Extremists and Terrorists

Terrorists can come from anywhere with their twisted thinking and desire to change the course of events to more suite their evil agenda. The Oklahoma City Memorial is all about those innocents that died when Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and perhaps others decided that they could gain notoriety for their cause and the ends would justify the means.

The first thing you see when you arrive is a chain link fence with flowers and pictures of the victims. We were drawn to a young woman’s picture and shocked when we saw her name, Julie Marie Welch. Cat’s family name is Welch. That seemed to make this tragic event even more personal.

The Fence of Rememberance

Julie Marie Welch,

The reflecting pool and chairs with victims names are harsh reminders of that moment at 9:03 AM when life ended, abruptly,  for 168 living breathing people. The single most affective display of that moment is near the entry to the Museum. They have an actual audio tape of a meeting being conducted in the building next door when the BLAST occurred. Voices, screams, pandemonium then BOOM, the wall lights up with photos of each of the victims. It’s really hard not to cry.

9:03 AM, The Reflecting Pool

Memorial Chairs, 1 for each fatality

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07 Round and About OK City

Our room hovers over the Oklahoma Red Hawks Baseball Field. They wound up game one of a double header in oven like heat. Later, after sundown they swept the two games. We could hear the joy local fans above the whir of our air conditioning. There are statues of local hero’s, Johnny Bench and Mickey Mantle among others.

Johnny Bench

Carriage & The Slugger

Oklahoma City is more urban than we though it would be. Beyond the Heritage Center we enjoyed the other sights and sound of the city. Walked around Brick Town and blew budget on a Sushi Dinner.

Brick Town River Ride

Night in OK City

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06 Finding Roots in OK City

June 16, 2009. Slow start, finallyon the road to OK City at 11:00 AM. Amazing how quickly 35 miles flies by in a car. After the usual finding a hotel trauma we decided to blow budget and stay close in at the Hampton, BrickTown. (Bricktown is an area of old brick buildings. It had been in decay for years but has rebounded. Lots of nice shops and restaurants.

Our visit to the State Vital Statistics was a bust except for a nice lady who suggested that we should go to the Historical Research Center. There were a couple of people working that knew and loved their jobs. They spent 3 hours with us, delving into family secrets. (Dang, we didn’t get their names or a picture?) They/We found my grandmother, Rebecca, great aunt, Gertrude and the Great grandfather, Henry Yell. I’d heard very little of him and there they all were in the 1900 Census. The real discovery was the family of my Biological Grandfather Melvin Raper and his family in the 1900 Census. Joseph and Mary J. Raper are my Great Grandparents. In the list of children below, next to the last is their son, my grandfather, age 15. Above him several spaces is Minerva age 24. She will play a part later in this family drama. 

Joseph & Mary Raper Family, 1900 Census

Then a real shocker, our helpers were able to find evidence of a marriage license based upon two untruths. Melvin B. Raper changed his last name to Roper. Rebecca Yell indicated on the affidavit that she was 18 years old. Perhpas the age one must reach to get the license without parental approval? My grandmother, Rebecca was actually only 15 years old. Melvin was 25 but was he mature enough?

Untruthful Affidavit

1911 Marriage License


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05 Exploring Pat’s Roots

A little more exploring in Shawnee then we set off for Center, OK birthplace of my Granmother, Rebecca Bell Yell, in 1895. Probably one of the most surprising discoveries was that there aren’t any Cotton Fields here? The rolling hills are green and dotted with trees and grazing cattle. We do know that Grandma’s mother died soon after giving birth to her second child, Great Aunt Gertie. We found the Center Cemetary down a dusty dirt road but no sign of Great Grandmother or Grandfather, Henry Yell.

Driving back we chose to go north through Seminole. (A car sure does give us options.) Along the road we passed a car then up the road a young guy, Kevin, walking. We stopped and offered him a ride. Nice young guy, lives in Shawnee now training for management with MacDonald’s in Seminole. He’s a product of modern Shawnee. High School grad and 2 years college. We enjoyed talking and we got him to work on time.

Potowatomie Court House, Shawnee


Old Shawnee Railroad Station

Center Cemetary

Kevin at the BIG MAC

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04 This is NOT my Mother’s Shawnee

Yes my Mom was born into a simple life here in Shawnee. She told stories of picking cotton from a young age. Her father and mother split and divorced (rare in 1920) when she was only 2 years old. We really know little or nothing about her father, my grandfather.

After a fitful night on a bed whose fitted sheet wouldn’t stay fit and several other flaws we decided to change hotels. When Cat told the desk we wanted to cancel our reservation for tonight they asked why. She explained the sheets, the fact that they didn’t honor the discount we’d seen on Internet etc., the manager insisted that we not pay?? Their policy, their loss, our gain.

It didn’t just rain last night, it poured and it was still raining when I went to pick up a rental car. Once at the wheel I toured Shawnee, round and round, trying to get back to the Hampton. I was reading the map wrong. Well Idid get to see most of Shawnee.

More connections thanks to Cat’s friend, Kendall. Her parents have friends, Michael and Leslie here. They’re cyclists. We called and Michael came right over with a bike rack. We loaded the bags into the trunk and bikes on the rack and delivered then to more new, thanks to Kendall, friends. Larry and Barbara own The Bike Shoppe. We dropped the bikes with him for a tune up then went to lunch with Michael and Leslie in a very local, very nice cafe.

Lunch with Michael & Leslie

Our trip to the Potowatami County Court House proved fruitless. They recomended the Newspaper who sent us to the Library for birth records. We did copies of the 1918 Shawnee News on microfilm but it was hard to read and difficult to copy. They all urged us to go to Oklahoma City where County Records had been sent yers ago.

They do have wines here, our favorites are twice the price we usually pay. Hey we’re not complaining, we’re just happy to be able to have a glass. Cat got Chinese to go and we feasted in room. We also called Cat’s parents, Earl and Glenys and wished them a Happy 69th Aniversary. WOW 69 years and still in love after all these years!

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03 Ada to Shawnee, OK

We were tired, we were ready for a day off. Then came the weather reports. Tomorrow evening they say we’ll see lots of rain, lightening and thunder, possiblity of tornados. That did it for Cat. She didn’t want to sit out a few days in Ada. So, we’ll go against all our basic, no cycling more than 3 days, philosophy and ride to Shawnee. Hoping to get in before the down pour.

At breakfast, we met a family from Fresno,CA.  They’re here to meet cousins, sort of a “Roots Search” like mine.

The road was great, plenty of room on the shoulder. The ups and downs were less severe, too. It was still hot, so hot that we stopped often and poured water over our heads. We survived on GatorAde.

The OK Ups and Downs

Shawnee, How We LOVE YA


It was after 4:00 PM when we spotted the Hampton Inn in Shawnee.

It’s Sunday in the Boble Bail’t, friends. They neither sell nor serve liquor (wine) other than 3/2 beer, anywhere. The young man at the front desk, Jamell, suggested the Grand Casino. Indian gaming and they serve alcohol. He thought he could arrange a shuttle. No deal so we tried for a Taxi. Really no deal, $40 round trip. We opted for Garfields and 3/2 Corona’s with lime.

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02 Kingston to Ada, OK

Breakfast at the Country Kitchen, ham, grits, eggs and Texas Toast. A local seated across asked if we knew about the BLACK PANTHERS? He assured us that they’re out there, imported to cut back the burdgeoning deer population. Though seldom seen, he told of seeing eyes reflected in his headlights two days ago. He urged us to be careful. Well, if a BIG CAT gets us it will feast on a recent C K breakfast.

Cool and cloudy at first, the sun broke through and it was hot on our backs. Bad news, there was no shoulder to ride on. Good news, there was little or no traffic and those that passed gave us plenty of room. Just wonderful, beautiful pastures, cattle, horses and plenty of ups and downs.

Lunch at Joann’s Tin Can Cafe. A cool treat. The varied menu inclued “Bologna Sandwich”. We split a ham sand with fried green beans. Wonderful. A girl, Carrie, stopped to talk. She gave us her name and I told her that my Mother was from near here, her maiden name was Raper. She was shocked, her husband’s mother was Ada Raper. We might be, must be, related.

Knuckles on the Rub Board

Knuckles the Knuckle Head

Cat's got no Tats

More very hot afternoon UPS and DOWNS then finally after 67 miles, ADA. OK. Disappointment, we walked in the heat to WalMart for wine. They don’t sell it? A young girl said, “This is the “Boble Bail’t” lots of folks here protested when WalMart put 3/2 beer on the shelves.”

Another under the table deal. Chili’s allowed us to buy a bottle of our fav, Toasted Head to go. We returned, had another and split a Rib Eye Steak, YUM!

ROAD KILL TODAY…A skunk, 2 snakes, a deer, armadillo and raccoon.

On The Shawnee Trail


Oklahoma Porch Seating



Cattle at the Watering Hole

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A couple we met at breakfast from Arizona suggested a route. We threw maps aside and set out for a short cut through farm roads. We were sure that we’d get there with less effort. WRONG! We were in heavyt wind from the left and all to often, head on. The rolling hills were severe. After about 7 miles out of the way we stopped at a farm. The farmer assured us that it would save us a few miles to continue on the back roads but we’d lose it by being lost. He wished he had his County Road Map, we might have been able to continue. He urged us to cycled up wind, back to Highway 82. A struggle, then another 15 miles in stiff side wind.

Once we made the turn toward Madill, Oklahoma we caught a tail wind. We had been trying to book a room there. No luck, they are in the midst of their annual “Sand Bass Festival”. Just prior to leaving Texas we stopped Gene’s Hamburgers for a cold drink. A young guy there, Jason, insisted on buying our lemonade. When he told us that he is was from MacAllister, OK Cat mentioned that her friend’s family, the Bass’ live there. He said, Do you know Kendall? I went to High School with her.” Kendall is Cat’s classmate at our fitness club. SHOCK! Small World!

Mixed Jacks

Texas Classics

Bridge Over Lake Texhoma

We crossed the bridge over Lake Texhoma then had to detour right, 4 miles to Kingston, OK.

OK is Native America

Cat Straddles The State Line

 A simple room, no wine, we went to Simple Simon Pizza. The owner, Pam was very understanding, they serve no alcohol but allowed us to open our “Mountain Dew” under the table. She has lived there her entire life and loves it.

TODAY’S ROAD KILL….A cardinal and tortoise…

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