Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Road Home

WOW - it has been a week since we left you! Don’t have any idea where the time goes - but, the days just seem to melt off of the calendar.

Fort Smith was not a big city and we both said it didn’t have a lot to see or do. Having said that - we both came away pondering how much we had learned! And, I might say, things we learned that did not necessarily make us proud:-(

We visited the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which has a most interesting past. The first of the two Fort Smiths was founded in 1817. The Fort was moved slightly and built a bit ‘stronger’ around the mid-1800’s. The Fort was the point of departure for pioneers, peacekeepers and outlaws.

Fort Smith Arkansas

Sadly, around the mid-1800’s (due to orders from President Jackson) all the southeastern American Indian Tribes, with their ‘nations’ in the areas looking to be settled by the whites (Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia, etc.), were herded to lands established for them by treaty in what is now basically the state of Oklahoma. Moving these Tribes into lands much smaller than they inhabited previously, with many diverse customs and cultures - they began fighting each other. Thus, the military was sent to Fort Smith (which they used as their base) to keep the peace amongst the Indian Tribes in their relocated Indian Territory. (NOTE - it was not to keep peace between the Indians and the pioneers.) As the west continued to be opened to ‘settlers’, the Indians continued to be moved/squeezed into different territory - ignoring the original Treaties signed with them. We have NEVER been kind to the American Indian:-(

Fort Smith was also used by the pioneers as they set off for ‘the west’. The surrounding area also became ripe with ‘outlaws’. So - Judge Parker (who you might recognize as “The Hangin’ Judge”) was sent to Fort Smith to establish frontier justice - and the Fort became the Court House. One of the outlaws that was jailed at the Fort was Wyatt Earp - a character that we met and told you about in our very first stop in Tombstone! He jumped bail, went west and never returned for his sentence. Instead he rose to prominence as a Marshall in the West. Go figure - sounds like our politicians today!!!!

Well - as I said - it seemed like a non-descript stop - BUT, we sure learned a lot.

Thursday we left Fort Smith and headed west - again trying to get as far as we could before dark. It turned out the next overnight was Amarillo. BUT, on the way we ventured through Altus, Oklahoma. WHY??? You might ask. It was Gary’s turn at nostalgia. He was stationed at the Altus Air Force Base, after returning from Okinawa, in 1967-1969 and wanted to see ‘the old place’. Needless to say - it had changed a bit ----

Was it really 42 years ago??

The flight line has changed a lot. New buildings, new planes.

Spent many a night walking security patrol around this type of aircraft. Now it is an exhibit in the City Park.

Friday we arrived in Santa Fe, where we spent quite a bit of time with friends Kathryn and Robert Clemens. We shared dinners, golf, conversation and good times with them.

It is time for us to head out one last time - as we make our final trek toward home. Tomorrow we will pull up stakes and head to Moab for a couple of nights and maybe a round of golf. We have been blown across the country and back - and our only wish is to get someplace with NO wind!!!!

Windblown Elizabeth & Gary

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