Friday, February 24, 2017

Winstar and Some Oklahoma Highways and Byways

Donna and I made another trip to Winstar Casino just north of the Red River on I-35 earlier this week. This is becoming our "go to" casino mainly because it is just about the closest one to us. During one day, we took a short drive about an hour east to visit Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK, but did not find the video games there we hoped we would, so we did not linger long there.

I've covered Winstar before (October 2016), so I'll not dwell on it this time. On our return to San Angelo, we decided to take something of a roundabout route to see some country we had not been to before.

We started by heading north from Winstar on I-35 for about 10 miles or so to the small community of Marietta. We then took State 32 west to Ryan, about 51 miles. Much of the first half of this section of the trip was under construction, with the speed limit about 45 miles an hour. It was our experience that the state highways we traveled on this trip in OK had a speed limit of 65 at best, so travel is a bit slow. That doesn't necessarily bother us, as we are out there to see things. But the highways we traveled were also a bit narrow with no shoulders, and I would not enjoy pulling a trailer along those roads, especially if there was construction.

But the countryside itself was quite nice. The land is gently rolling with scattered areas of trees and prairies. There are numerous creeks, and there had been good rain lately and many of these creeks were really rolling along pouring their water towards the Red River.

Just east of Ryan, we had a real treat. I always enjoy watching hawks as they sit atop dead trees and power lines surveying the countryside, looking for their next meal. Along this stretch, there was an unusually high number. Then ahead atop a power pole, I saw a hawk that looked a bit larger than the rest. When we approached, we saw that it was not a hawk.

What a treat for us to see this regal fellow along Oklahoma 32.
At Ryan, we took US 81 north for about 10 miles to Waurika. There we turned west on US 70 for 5 miles before veering left on Highway 79 to head back into Texas and on to Wichita Falls. Part of the highway along the stretch from Waurika passed through the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation.

At Wichita Falls, we picked up US 277, which took us all the way to San Angelo. Almost the entire section from Wichita Falls to Abilene is 4 lane, most of which is divided. It is really a pleasant drive. There are still a couple of short stretches under construction. This is a good road. Although it is not an interstate, the highway is routed around just about every town except for Anson, so you can really make good time on this highway. I think we will probably make future trips to Winstar on this highway, then pick up US 82 east of Wichita Falls for the trip to Gainesville before turning north for the last few miles to Winstar.

Most of the trip passed through rural agricultural land, and that is country I love to see. Most of the land in Oklahoma was devoted to ranching activities, while most of the stretch from Wichita Falls to Abilene was farm land. Perhaps the most interesting stretch was just south of Abilene where the highway passes through the hills of the Callahan Divide. The road curves and dips up and down for several miles in this area, and it is very scenic. Then it levels out and returns to traditional ranch country. A few miles north of Bronte, we passed the entrance to Fort Chadbourne, which I wrote about in August 2014.

I enjoyed the trip, but I was glad to get back home. We'll be heading out again soon, though, so stay tuned.

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