The Scorching Southern Plains

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

Yogi Berra

After leaving the refreshing Rockies, we headed South to Trinidad Lake in Southeastern Colorado. We descended into desert-like conditions. It was hot. I don’t mean warm, I mean fires-of-hell hot. I’m a fan of summer. I don’t easily wilt, even in the dog days, but I confess, the relentless warmth was outrageously oppressive. We had several days of 100+ temperature readings with nary a raindrop in sight.

If we intended to hike, we had to get going in the early morning, which we did, because, despite the cauldron we were in, the scenery was spectacular. Trinidad Lake State Park covers a large area, providing canyon hikes and lakeside activities. It has a true Southwestern flair, feeling a bit more like New Mexico than Colorado.

Then, on to Elkhart, Kansas where the blast furnace ambiance continued. We found ourselves in yet, another RV parking lot; this time, behind the town car wash. Yeah, we keep it classy.

Fortunately, the paved patch of ground that we were parked on was close to the Cimarron National Grasslands. We jumped in the truck to take a self-guided tour. It turns out that self guided was misguided. We managed to find ourselves hopelessly lost somewhere in between the Wildlife Viewing Area and Prairie Dog Town. We retraced our steps, turned around a few times, headed down a dirt road, and had to put the truck into four-wheel-drive to plow through the sandy mess that we managed to get ourselves into. We did find artesian wells, and oil wells, but never quite made it to the scenic overlook or the Santa Fe trail.

“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain

And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet…”

…You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!

Oklahoma O.K.”

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

After departing Kansas, we drove through a whole lot of Oklahoma. There is seemingly endless, brown, thirsty-looking acreage in the Sooner State. I’m not sure how we lucked into a campsite along the Great Salt Flats, that included a water view, and rugged hills. This part of Oklahoma, which is surprisingly scenic, was covered by ocean during prehistoric times, thus the high salinity in the area.

Pretty? Yes, but it was still hotter than a forest fire outside, with temperatures in the 108F range. At least we could wade in the water. Granted, the water was slightly short of scalding, but it was cooler than the sun-saturated sand. Focus on the positive.

With Big Bertha on her best behavior, we are eager to head to Arkansas, to hang out with family and make a few memories.

Stay tuned…

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