Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Visit Five Western States in Two Hours

First, you need to get to Clayton, New Mexico.  Travel time to Clayton is not included in your two hours.

From Clayton, you're going to drive northeast on US 56 to Cimarron County, Oklahoma.

That's right, Cimarron County.  The least populous and least densely populated county in Oklahoma, it is the western tip of the Oklahoma panhandle.  Here's the layout.

As soon as you get to the New Mexico/Oklahoma state line -- where US 56 enters the map at the lower left -- turn south on a gravel road and drive about a mile and a half.  This road will end at a T intersection, where you'll see this.

The post behind the sign is the survey marker showing the point where the northern border of Texas meets the border between New Mexico and Oklahoma.*

You can get to the post via a nearby cattle guard, and you do the obvious thing.

Voila!  You have now been in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, and you're only about 15 minutes in.

Return to the highway and continue northeast to the nifty roundabout at the heart of the county seat, Boise City.

Pretend you're heading to Guymon, but you're not; you'll actually turn on the edge of town to keep going northeast on US 56.  Allow yourself to be hypnotized by the minimalist charm of the Panhandle landscape.  When you see the sign marking the Texas County (Oklahoma) line, at the upper right hand side of the above map, wake suddenly from your trance and careen left onto another gravel road.

This time, you're going to drive about five miles north, but it's a good road so no worries.  You'll reach another T intersection, and... nothing.  But turn left, and drive another mile or so, and suddenly you'll see this up ahead on the right:

Awesome.  You'll run up and inspect it, and stand inside of its metal frame (probably an old windmill) so you can be in three states at once.  But then you'll notice there's no survey marker, and after you putter around for a while you can find this back in the road, if you didn't park on top of it.

...and once again, you do the obvious thing.

And there you have it!  You have now been in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas, and it is not even lunchtime.  Turning around and heading straight east will get you back to the highway at Elkhart, Kansas.  From there, you're on your own.

Mrs.5000 and I (and our intrepid travel mascot, obviously) did exactly this yesterday morning as part of a really lovely expedition on the Great Plains.  You'll be seeing bits and pieces from our fieldwork for quite a while.


* "But New Mexico is WEST of Texas, not NORTH of Texas!"  Good eye.  However, there is a jog in New Mexico's eastern border that makes the state extend two miles further east in this area, into space you'd expect to be part of Oklahoma.  If for some odd reason you want to stand on the northwest tip of the Texas Panhandle, I can tell you how to do that too, but at that point Texas shares both its western AND northern borders with New Mexico.  


DrSchnell said...

Cool! I know this area fairly well, since it (the Black Mesa, specifically) was always our overnight camping stopover en route to Boy Scout trips and family camping/backpacking trips in the Rockies. I imagine you must have gone through Kenton. It was at the general store/post office in Kenton that my bottlecap collection (still existing) began in 1981, when we discovered a huge stash of bottlecaps dumped over what must have been decades from the soda machine cap remover, from sodas that, even in 1981, were pretty archaic (Grapette, Orangette, and Strawberryette, Nu-Grape, RC, and the like). The store was run by an old guy that was the first 100+ year old person I ever met. The Kenton area is also where the WPA dug up a bunch of dinosaur bones in the 1930s adn 1940s that form the backbone (ha ha) of the dinosaur collections at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. There's at least one place where you can see dinosaur footprints from some big ol' sauropod dinosaur near the main road, if you know where to look, and several places where you can see big chunks of petrified wood out at the Black Mesa (the highest point in Oklahoma, covered with a very old lava flow, which I imagine would interest a geography nerd such as you).

Michael5000 said...

Mrs' brother and his wife, county high-pointers to a truly alarming extent, suggested the Black Mesa and numerous nearby bumps and buttes to us, as well as a good dinosaur-footprint site. Our state-tripoint thing was more-or-less an improv performance; I had a yen to stick a toe into Texas, but we didn't realize we were going for five states before lunch until we were doing it.

gl. said...

awesome. love this form of arbitrary exploration!