Days 7&8- Fayetteville >Tulsa / Tulsa> Pawhuska
It’s currently Sunday morning on the Osage Downs in Pawhuska, Ok. I’m facing the sunrise with my back to the track. The horse stables are in my line of vision to the right and I can hear the horses and jockeys warming up behind me. Maggie and August are still asleep in our camper to my immediate left. A cold front pushed through with the storm that moved East a few days ago, and the dew looks like frost on certain patches of grass amidst dense patches of clover. There’s not much other movement here yet this morning, but the longer I sit here, the more awake the grounds are becoming. I’ve warmed up a left over sausage link to hold me over until Maggie and August wake up. I think I’ll whip up a crawfish boudin omelette with fresh mozzarella when they do.
I’m inspired not so much to give a play by play of my experience of the last couple days, but to reflect on where I am right now. Our days have been so full of excitement and we have shared the majority of the first week with some of the people we love the most and their families. Our time with Beth’s family and their friends in Tulsa only served to further fill our hearts. The setting for the show in their yard was perfect, and I think we are already planning to be back next year. Susan and Tom, if you are reading this, please know how special our short time together was to us. There nothing like being a thousand miles into a trip and feeling like family.
Our timing to head north from Tulsa aligned us perfectly to cross paths with our friends, Manon and Ryan. Manon is of Osage heritage, and the Osage are hosting what is called an Indian Horse Relay in Pawhuska this weekend. Tribes from all over the country are here competing in the races and vending clothes, art, jewelry, and food. Everyone here seems to be Manon’s cousin, and no different than any other stop so far, we are greeted with open arms.
The races were are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Each relay consists of 4 jockeys and 12 horses and each race is three laps around the tracks. The racers try their best to be on the starting line for the horn, but there are no gates- just a chalk line to signify the starting line. At the end of each lap, the jockey jumps from the back of the horse he is racing and on to the back of another horse that is waiting for him at the start/finish line. They repeat the process for three laps. It’s amazing when the jockey makes a smooth exchange, but as you can imagine, not every exchange is one for the books.
The evenings are like many other family gatherings on a campground. Groups of people gathered around fires or grills or just in a circle of lawn chairs enjoying each other’s company. Ryan, August, & I played a few songs around Manon’s new Airstream for her family and friends before we hit the inevitable wall and had to get horizontal. Everyone was grateful for the music and tipped August with cash, Gatorade, and chips.
What I love most about the road are the new experiences. The new friends. The new family. I can’t help but sit here and feel gratitude for the privilege to travel, the talent to entertain people and provide for my family along the way, and the kindness of all those we encounter that helps make all these new places feel like home. My eyes are open, my heart is full, and I can’t wait to see what today has in store for us.
In the words of the late Spencer Bohren, be good to yourselves and each other.