Miles Today: 96
Miles to Date: 18,664
States to Date: 46
It was a great day to be a cycle tourist, and a great day for singing. I woke to a bright golden haze on the meadow. Yes, a bright golden haze on the meadow.
The ranches are immense, bounded by stone cairns and highlighted by rustic signs.
Mill Creek has few people but several strip mines for limestone and silica. The dust from the Martin Marietta plant fills the air and coats the trees.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur has picturesque waterfalls. I pedaled five miles out of my way to indulge in the Bromide Springs that made the place a mecca for tourists over a hundred years ago, only to find that the springs have dried up.
The Trail of Tears, in which the ‘Five Civilized Tribes’ (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole) were resettled from their original lands east of the Mississippi to the area that is now Oklahoma, is an ugly chapter in our historical abuse of native peoples. Then, we infiltrated their new lands anyway. But the history and status of Native Americans in Oklahoma is quite different from other parts of the west because there are no reservations. Nine percent of Oklahomans are Native Americans, similar to South Dakota and New Mexico. Yet, they are much more integrated into society.
Given enough time histories losers can become big winners. Today, the tribes are cashing in our penchant for gambling. The Choctaw casino in Durant and the Chickasaw casino just north of the Red River are glittering places where, mainly Texans, pay Native Americans to spin and roll and poker. The Chickasaw have invested some of their profits on the Chickasaw National Cultural Center: a stunning series of pavilions organized around walks and water elements reminiscent of the Getty Museum with a Native American tilt. I was particularly pleased to see that Frankfurt Short Bruza, the Oklahoma City firm where I began my career, designed the elegant place.
Indian summer prevailed, the wind remained at my back, and I reached Pauls Valley in daylight; a long travel day filled with worthwhile sights.