10.02.2008,11:59 AM
Butterfield Trail: Surprises

Early risers get the sunrise, not the worm. Crawling out of the tent, the camera and I shuffled over to 'my' spot on the cliff and shot the sun rising over the lake. Sunrise and sunset; my favorite times to photograph.


Breakfast was grand; the coffee tickled brain neurons into motion and the modest breakfast sit well. Since we had decided to stay in the park another night, Ed rode to the office to see if we could stay in our camp spot. Disappointment showed on his face when he returned; all sites at the campground were reserved for Saturday and Sunday. Our options were to find another camp ground and site or one of the shelters.

Meanwhile, we rode the bikes to the park's amphitheater, a small secluded clearing in the woods next to the group camping parking lot. Bob Montgomery, a well-known speaker of Texas history, was scheduled to present on the Butterfield Trail. Although a Concord stage coach was also scheduled, it's appearance was canceled because of hurricane disaster where it resided (near the coast of Texas). The coach was one of the three main drivers of this weekend trip. Although I didn't know it then, my disappointment would be negated by a surprise the next day.

We rode into the parking lot confused about where to go for the presentation. A cluster of boy scouts were gathered around with their leaders and a few other unfamiliar people. Parking the bikes out of the way we followed the scouts and others down a path into the woods where wooded benches served as seating. We learned that the boy scouts were earning their trail patches that day. A few other adults from the park grounds were there, which I didn't pay much attention to. All my attention was on Bob's talk.


While he related the history behind the overland mail route, I had my maps sitting on my lap and armed with pencil ready to jot down notes and correlate map data. As it was, he and I briefly exchanged information on a few details and shared a common passion in retracing the general route. I related our attempt to find Colbert's Ferry on the Oklahoma side of the Red River, mentioning that both banks were on private property and access was futile.

Back at the parking lot, one of the staff excitedly pronounced that 'Casey from Wells Fargo' was on his way to the park. I didn't make the connection immediately, but quickly put the pieces together: Casey, a curator at the Wells Fargo in San Diego, who is retracing the Butterfield trail in its entirety. I recall finding and reading his blog site months ago during one of my many Google searches on the trail. It so happened he was in the area that day and making an appearance at the park. What a surprise!

Shortly a large van pulled in. It was painted in reds and yellow with a mural on the sides depicting a map of the trail. What a colorful 'coach' it was! Casey stepped out amidst greetings after which he graciously showed the few remaining scouts a model of the coach. Using the model he provided details of how passengers and mail were carried and the drives and animals.



Afterward, Casey interviewed the park superintendent Paul Kissel on video. He commented that when time permits, short clips of vids taking on his adventure may be uploaded to YouTube. During all the fuss, another staff told the others that she had acquired permission for Casey and Bob to visit Colbert's Ferry landing on the river bank. Excitement was probably evident in my face when I humbly asked if I could accompany them. A "Sure; why not?" was met with big smile and prolific thanks.

Gearing up, I rode up to the office where Ed was registering us for another day at the park and told him the good news. He and the staff laughed at my jumping up and down as evidence of my excitement. A few trucks and cars waited in line for the land owner to lead us on the trail to the site; Ed and I were sitting on the bikes ready to follow.

Another surprise!

Next: Colbert's Ferry

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posted by Macrobe
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