Yield: Paris and Athens
The Giant Clawsway race horse saga has taken another step forward. Last week, ol’ Nick Mairz, the horse owner, and ol’ Avery Ware, one of the racing interest stakeholders, loaded the colt up and delivered him to Twin Oaks Training Center just east of Murchison, Texas. That’s where the colt will begin his training for hopefully racing sometime as a 2-year-old. Giant Clawsway is just around 18 months old right now.
Just to make sure that Nick and Avery did the delivery correctly, ol’ Nevah and I decided to go down Texas way a day early and make a 54th-wedding-anniversary trip out of it. By keeping track of each other via cell phones, our little group of horse racing enthusiasts arrived at Twin Oaks Training Center at exactly the same time.
We were impressed by the facilities and the good folks who own and operate it. From what we learned, we’re not the only renowned race horse folks who use Twin Oaks to get their colts ready for the track. Last fall, the facility trained 16 young horses that had been purchased at the Keeneland, Ky., yearling sale. Those are invariably high dollar purchases. Even Bob Baffert, the trainer of Justify, this year’s Triple Crown Winner, gets some of his young horses trained at Twin Oaks.
I’m happy and relieved to report that Giant Clawsway made the long trip in good physical and mental shape and his training began this week. Now, all of us involved with the horse have to do is wait — and keep paying the monthly bill.
For our trip to the Lone Star State, Nevah and I decided to go the two-lane route, rather than the interstate route. So, we left Emporia on Hwy. 99 and followed it down to Sedan, Kan. We took a quick glance at the Chautauqua Springs before crossing the state line into Oklahoma.
We stopped to admire all the impressive new renovations in downtown Pawhuska before having lunch in Cleveland, Okla. From there we went overland on Hwys. 99 and 48 all the way to Hugo, Okla., where we spent our first night out at a very impressive Choctaw Indian Casino. If the size and number of their casinos are any indication, the Choctaws are doing quite well.
On our anniversary, we crossed the Red River and breakfasted at the Sunrise Diner in Paris. The food wuz delicious, but I particularly liked one of the diner’s wall signs. It read: “Everyone should mind their own biscuits and let God provide the gravy.”
We two-lane tootled on down through Sulphur Springs and ended up in Canton, home of a once-a-month, four-day, 450-acre swap meet, flea market and barter extravaganza. Sadly, we missed the big doin’s by a week or so, but it wuz clear from just driving through that the city has embraced the event wholeheartedly. From there, we continued south to Athens. So, we can honestly say that on our 54th anniversary Nevah and I visited both Paris and Athens.
We had time to kill so we drove Hwy. 31 east 30 miles to Tyler, the Rose Capital of Texas. It wuz hot and muggy, so we didn’t walk the massive rose garden, but we did go through the Rose Festival and Parade Museum. It wuz interesting for us, but the museum would be particularly entertaining for daughters and granddaughters. The gowns worn by the Rose Queens down through the decades would dazzle young ladies for sure.
After overseeing the delivery of Giant Clawsway to the trainer, we began to backtrack toward the Oklahoma line, but diverted to Durant. Alas, the giant Choctaw casino wuz sold out by 6 o’clock on a Thursday night. Those Texans flock across the border to fuel their gambling aspirations. So, we simply overnighted at a chain motel.
Next day we decided to extend our vacation a day and headed for northeastern Oklahoma. We wanted to surprise old friends who live on Grand Lake of the Cherokees. We stopped for an hour in Muskogee and got a personalized tour of the Oklahoma Musicians Hall of Fame. I knew Oklahoma produced a ton of great country music stars, but didn’t realized how many musicians of other genres called Oklahoma home.
We went through Tahlequah and traveled north along the scenic Illinois River to Jay and then on into Grove. We found our friends home, but, sadly, they were not in it. So we left a calling card of a single can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup on a patio chair by their front door. They’ll know immediately who came to surprise visit them because there’s a story — 44 years old — behind it.
Next up, we internet-tracked to the Indigo Sky Casino of the Northern Shawnee Tribe located just into Oklahoma from Seneca, Mo. We stopped because the casino has simulcast horse racing. But again, the casino lodging wuz booked up, so we only spent an hour or so betting on the TV ponies. I came close to breaking even for the session.
We overnighted at the old cow town of Baxter Springs, Kan., and dined at Val’s Steak House and Fine Vittals. It’s an appropriate name. Next day, we headed home and surprised an old friend feeding cattle at Bartlett, Kan. We got home safely shortly before noon.
For the entire trip, southeast Kansas, all of eastern Oklahoma, and northeast Texas had adequate to too much rainfall. All the big lakes in Oklahoma were brim full. The ponds and pastures were mostly lush. Predictably, Damphewmore Acres had some nice gentle rains while we were gone, but no run-off yet.
I’ll close with these words of wisdom from a greeting card: “I’ve figgered out how to enjoy whole grains and leafy greens. Feed ‘em to a steer first and then enjoy the delicious, juicy steak.” Have a good ‘un. ❖