Miss Flexibility challenged (30 May)
No riding for me today, as it would have been more of the same as yesterday, except "only" 71 miles. My day was supposed to be working out in the hotel gym and pool (no hometrainer in the gym, just running machines), hiking at a nearby lake (oh, not alone ... too dangerous, I was told, unless you were "prepared" with some sort of weapon). So I went with my third option: visiting museums.
I first dropped in on the XIT museum and learned all about this enormous (3 million acre) ranch. The gentleman at the visitor center told me much about the history and about cattle raising today. He is a rancher himself and his brother-in-law has a dairy with 3,200 jersey cows. The area around Dalhart is one of the biggest with extensive feed lots where beef cattle are fattened for the market. He also introduced me to the newest museum project on the "Dust Bowl" era. This was the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of America where the prairie lands were destroyed by overgrazing cattle and plowing and planting by farmers. The fragile top soil was blown away and a severe drought turned the land into a horror of sand dunes and howing black dust storms.
Driving on towards the Oklahoma border, I passed the riders some miles before Goodwell where I stopped to briefly visit the excellent No Man's Land Museum. This refers to the time of settlement, when the area was not legally defined and settlement was hazardous, not only because of the environment but also because of the insecure future legal situation.
Photo by Mark