Tuesday night, after driving, with few stops, for nearly twelve hours, I pulled off Hwy 40 at McLean, Texas and quickly found the Cactus Inn, a roadside motel I'd found on the internet. I'd made reservations the week before over the phone with Gordon, the 81-year-old proprietor. When I arrived on Tuesday evening, he and his wife Jane were sitting out on the patio in front of the office.
"Mind if I don't get up?" Gordon joked as I walked up.
"Not at all," I said, and took a seat with them. I was tired, and I just wanted a shower, but I've learned in the past decade that these moments with real people are where the real stories are. It only took a few minutes before we were trading stories, and they told me of Alfred Rowe, the Englishman who'd bought 10,000 acres "just over the hill" as the 1900's opened. He established a cattle ranch, then went back to England to return with his bride--who hated it there. Women. Sheesh. So they both returned to England. Once a year, Alfred would make the trip by boat, then train, then buckboard, back to McLean to check on his ranch.
"Sometimes," Gordon claimed, "he'd only stay one day. Then he'd turn around and head back to England."
When I left on Wednesday morning, I gave Jane and Gordon a copy of Tainted Legacy with my email address inside. I wonder what they'll think of that story....
You know you're in Oklahoma when you see a dead porcupine on the side of the road, pass an exit off the intersate for "Garth Brooks Blvd.", and, when you ask for provolone on your Subway veggie sandwich, the young man says, "We don't get provolone out here, Ma'am."
And you know you're in Missouri when you can actually see the moisture in the air ahead of you down a long stretch of road. When I arrived in Pacific last night, the humidity was 71%, and a tornado watch had just been issued. Rain is forecast for today. Just the kind of weather one needs for visiting cemeteries....