Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ghost Towns, Old Bridges, and Unexplored Trailz

I'm still carrying around extra Thanksgiving gluttonous fat (but the pecan pie was SO GOOD, and it WAS reduced at whipped cream) and I ran Thursday, Friday, and Saturday--not long, but my legs said enough was enough. So I decided to find a ghost town or two, maybe find some old barns, old steel bridges, and if that led to a little walking/shuffling/slow jogging, that might be ok too. 

My plans were to go to Neloganey, Osage County between Barnsdall and Pawhuska, but passing over Bird Creek on the way made me want to stop to take a pic of the muddy stream not far from where I was raised. Funny, I have never been there exploring, and have only fished there as aid. (I have given thought to taking up fishing again--sometime-like I have time for another hobby!!!) I parked on the shoulder of the road I was on and checked out this gravel rod to see if it might lead to a fishing spot where I could snap a picture or two. There were no "POSTED" signs, no "NO TRESPASSING", No "KEEP OUT" signs. and the left side of the gate was wide open--you could ride a bike through. Sounded like an invite to me.

It was a great day for a little hike, and I must have planned it because I had brought my Suunto and pushed the button to record my trip. Almost no breeze, temps in the low 60s, and enough clouds to paint the sky. 
I had gone no more than a quarter mile when I saw the first of several abandoned earth-moving machines. And by abandoned--it was clear they had been there for years. They were rusted, the decks rusted through, the seats deteriorated--they had died and were left to rot.

I didn't count, but I bet there were over 10 excavators, bulldozers, backhoes and crawler loaders in the 2.6 miles I covered. I guess when they stopped working, they just left them and bought another to replace it?? The more I thought about it, I wonder if they were ruined in a flood since Bird Creek is notorious for getting way out of its banks during heavy rains.

Surveying this gate, there were no signs, and it was not locked--just a chain hooked. Now please do not think I am encouraging everyone to plow right through any gated off areas. I do not necessarily endorse my behavior. I had a watchful eye for any truckload of gun-toting self-proclaimed patrol-lords. 

And as is my occasional practice, I do try to pick up any litter I see in nature, and I did pick up this bud light can.

I ran down this road for about 3/4 of a mile and turned around. It appeared to lead to a house which was another half mile or so away. I figured their dogs would hear me if I got much closer.

I made a short detour down a steep embankment to see Bird Creek. There's nothing stunning about this muddy creek. It does not make me wanna come camp and fish here. But it is pretty in its own way.

 Same spot--looking up the other way.

The steep embankment had to go back up. Suunto said it was 25 feet. I say 50.

The same road heading back. I'm not sure what all the whitebark trees were. It reminded me of aspens but I'm sure they were not.

 Different excavator. There were 4-5 of these.

Somehow this picture turned out black and white. I also had a colored one that was ok, but I liked this one better.

I eventually came to a gate that had pretty specific signage. The beware of dog one carried weight with me. But if the dog was as old as the sign, maybe I didn't have anything to worry about.

Just to be safe, I left blotted out the street names, but anyone who tries hard enough could figure out where I was. I may or may not have laced a wee bit of incorrect information in the above post so as to throw off any resourceful bounty hunters.

Well, on to the bridges. There are many in the area north and east of Sperry, which is about as far north as I made it this fine Sunday afternoon. While I prefer rusty steel truss bridges, ones that have had preventative maintenance done are acceptable, especially since when they flunk a periodical inspection, they get torn down and replaced.

I like seeing wood decks, but concrete or asphalt decks probably require less repair, or at least is cheaper on the front end.

This one had a unique railing. The diamond cross hatch design served as a pedestrian railing, and in my case, gave a bit of flair to the photograph.

On second thought, maybe the railing was not as safe as I thought. I bet someone crapped their pants when the nose of their car broke through. Or maybe they were drunk and didn't remember it.

 Skies were clearing to the north.

I visited three of the 4 bridges in the area. The 4th was in the process of being replaced. :-( The bridge above had neither a wood or paved deck. It had a steel grate--virtually indestructible. And hey--you could drop your iPhone right through it. I held on tight. The steel had teeth as well, which probably made for good traction during the winter icy season, but also probably would shred bicycle tires. And running barefoot on this bridge--no.

Bird Creek was wide here. I was disappointed that the skies cleared. Taking pictures of old dilapidated buildings works better on a cloudy dismal day. But I have my tricks.

This house in Sperry looked abandoned. Maybe it wasn't--I'm not sure. I am thinking it was converted into a duplex.

 An old gas station? 

 Now, this was a gas station at one time.

 An old house that looks like it was flooded one time too many.

 I remember seeing water right up to this house as a kid.

Downtown Sperry. There were a drug store and a cafe in this block of buildings, but they have been mostly empty for 40 years or more.

Well, next time I do the ghost town hunt, I will make it further north. I'll start earlier, and who knows--I probably will find some good trailz to run too.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Turkey and TATURs--the 12 year

I'm finally getting around to catching up on blogging as of late. Turkey and TATURs was a few weeks ago and Dana and I ran as a team and tackled the 25K. I suppose I had enough base left what with my lackadaisical training lately, and Dana had a lot of desire to finish, with very little training runs--but she has been KILLING it on her Peleton bike and had the ability to endure pain when tired in her arsenal.

This year was the first year I was simply running. Oh, I did a little pre-marking Saturday morning but unlike years past, I did not get up before dawn and run the course to check for vandalized course markings. I slept almost until the time to start and showed up relaxed. 

I did get to finally meet a FB friend Belle Vie, and due to my absent-mindedness, we did not get the traditional FB selfy. Brian went up and gave her a hug but he thought she was someone else--Caroline Glenn, who uses to run with us. HAHA. And what a funny way to meet people. Belle finished 38 minutes ahead of us, and we finished just after she headed home.

Co-race director Bryan Drummond makes the pre-race speech while Dana and I ignored it, planning on starting at the back of the pack anyway. The race has three distances--a 50K which started at 7:00, our race started at 7:30, and the 10K started at 8:00. This helped with the single track trails being congested in the early going.

So we basically spotted everyone 5 minutes and doubted that we'd catch anyone. DFL would be mine--I told Dana she HAD to finish ahead of me. A lot of the trailz were leaf covered, but the remaining leaves were in full color.

Here we're passing Lake Pepsi. Not a lot of wind to bother us, but the breeze did come around later in the race. The 10K, which started 30 minutes after our 25k start. Clay Mayes blew by us like a hungry cheetah, and soon most of the other 10Kers picked us off. Nearly all of the 10K runners beat us to the first aid station-well we might have been ahead of a dozen or so of them. T that intersection, they turned right and headed back to the finish line, and we turned left and headed to the east mountain for 9 miles of trailz before we came to this aid spot again.

At Meego's Cantina, the first aid station, Mike and Meego and a big group of friends had three tents set up and had a huge variety of goodies along with a well-stocked bar that included Fireball of course, and a few whiskeys and other various liquors and beers. Besides Mike and Meego, Alicia Bell, Michelle Bates, Abby Ivey, RJ and Summer Chiles, Brian Hoover, and Leaha Kopp made this their home for most of the day.

Dana and I actually  CAUGHT a couple of runners--William Barnes and Carrie Rives were seriously interested in proper hydration, and Dana and I slipped out of the aid station and out of last place and held our position for the rest of the day--not that anyone was really racing,

 For most of the race, we were all alone. Turkey Mountain is not a closed course, and being a nice day, the trailz were packed in the early afternoon with families out for an adventurous hike with lots of kids and dogs. Despite the obvious fact that a race was going on, quite a few mountain bikers were riding the trailz. Again, it' not a closed course. I understand that. And I also appreciate that most of them were very courteous and yielded to the runners. But there were a couple that had a crappy attitude like no one should even be out on the trailz but other bikers. Oh well....

 I did remember to take quite a few pictures of the trailz and foliage. 

 This is the pond on the blue trail and taken at an angle where it is hardly recognizable. 
We reached the second aid station-the top of the hill aid station for want of a better name. However, this spot is only supposed to be accessed at mile 7, and not after climbing Lipbuster, which is basically where it is located. No worries if someone wanders over after the nasty Lipbuster climb though. I did. It's just that the next aid station for the runner at that point is 100 yards away--over at Meego's. Mark Plate, Misty Rowland, and Jenni Hawkins held down the fort here t mile 7. I hit Maty up for some vitamin I. My hip was hurting a little, and I had bruised my heels in a ladder incident earlier in the week. A couple of pills and I was good to go. The next trail section was pretty rough. The Hi-Chi trail aka Landslide is super rocky, and today it was also leaf covered. Dana and I walked all of it, and then on the Ho-Chi when I thought we might run a little, neither one of us seemed to be able to conjure enough gumption to do much more than a brisk walk. So walk we did.

Lower parking lot--we met the Wonder Women. There were actually three of them--Jana Graham, Betsy Kurle, and Jana Rugg. they took selfies with every runner who came through, and with lots of families, walkers, hikers, and goofy grinning guys. I guess I fall into the latter category.

Picture by Johnna Ellison, who walked backward on the course to meet us. :-)
Dana never expressed any doubts about her finish. It would have been easy to bail at Meego's the second time through. The last 2 miles of the course are technical, and you can hear the finish line more than a mile away. It seems like you are closing in on it, then the trail turns away and akes you further away from the crowd, the hot food, and cold beer. May people cuss out the course designer for this annoying route. I love it. And no, I did not design the course.

I mentioned to Dana that if we picked it up just a little, we could finish under 7:30. She growled at me, but when we finally got off t the super rocky stuff, she shifted into shuffle mode. She asked if we were good--would we make it, and I told her it was close. Truly, it didn't matter. Well, maybe just a little.

We finished in 7:29:20. This was a good run for her--by far her longest in several years. We ate some chili, and a couple of chili dogs, drank a beer, and then went home for a bit. Then we came back by and hung out a little, then went to Meego's for a while.

The race had well over 200 runners, and it always seems to have about that amount give 10 or 20 people. It's really a perfect size for the facility and for the trailz. I have run the 50K here 3-4 times, the 25K by dropping down 3-4 other times, and have just volunteered a few times. I thoroughly enjoy the 25K. 

Big props to Bryan Drummond, Kathy Bratton, Barbara Pinkerton, Justin Walker, and whoever I'm missing for putting on such a flawless race.