Black Mesa

Where am I ? If you guessed Colorado, that’s close. It is actually in the Oklahoma Panhandle not too far from New Mexico. This mesa named Black actually begins in Colorado along the north bank of the Cimarron River, which extends south to the other end of the state of Oklahoma. Black Mesa is the highest point in this state at 4,973 feet.

Ruth and I spent the night in Guymon so we could see Black Mesa, which is more interesting than it sounds. There is nothing to do in attractionless Guymon. The only other town of consequence in the Oklahoma Panhandle is no-account Boise City, where a B-17 bomber dropped 6 practice bombs in 1943. Imagine the panic this caused in a town that is now steadily losing population.

The Cimarron River flows through 4 states for 698 miles before emptying into the Arkansas River northeast of Oklahoma City. Most of the Cimarron River is in Oklahoma. Black Mesa is part of a scenic Oklahoma state park. There are 34 other state parks in this state. Black Mesa is mostly black lava rock that was coated millions of years ago. The fact is that the national monument known as Capulin is not all that far away. We visited it too. Visitors to Black Mesa, which is also a nature preserve, like to hike to its top. The entire preserve is 1,600 acres, but the trail to the top is less than 2 miles long. Visitors are likely to see a couple of the 23 rare plants but none of the rare animal species as they hike to the summit. Seen occasionally are mountain lions, bobcats, black bears, and a dog-like coyote. This is where the short grass prairie that most of Oklahoma is on meets the Rocky Mountain foothills, making it unlike anything else in this state. Black Mesa, because it is so far away from any population centers, is known for very dark night skies and stargazing. It’s also the scene of a lake named for Carl Etling that is, like a lot of American lakes, drying up. If you feel like hiking up Black Mesa, it’s best not to do it in the summer when snakes are likely to be around. Black Mesa was said to be the scene of an alien invasion at one time.

The National Monument known as Capulin was opened, but the rangers were far more interested in collecting fees than educating the public about this extinct volcano in New Mexico. Families were dispirited and disappointed. More later.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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