So many people have sung “I’ve Been Everywhere“, it should be difficult to pick a performance to link to, but it isn’t. Johnny Cash owns this song.
We haven’t yet managed to get to all the places he name checks in this song but, on Friday, we travelled between two in the lyric quoted above. The original road trip plan had been to drive from Kansas City to Denver then start heading south through Utah to Las Vegas. We hadn’t booked any accommodation for that route by Tuesday and, when we started looking, discovered that it was snowing in Denver. This is the Tuesday before the Memorial Day weekend, which marks the official start of summer in the USA. We decided to look at a more southerly route which would hopefully enjoy milder weather.
We settled on a three-stop strategy between KC and Vegas. The first leg to Dodge City, then on to Santa Fe and finally a stop at the Petrified Forest National Park before getting to Las Vegas on Thursday. Accommodation for that route was easy to find and thus it was that we set off on Friday morning to travel almost all the way across the great state of Kansas.
Dodge City was something of an impulse stop but its association with the cowboy genre has been a constant in our lives, thanks largely to the TV series Gunsmoke. And it was the right distance away for a day’s drive. We hit a couple of major storms as we traversed the Great Plains but despite this being slap bang in the middle of Tornado Alley, we encountered nothing worse than some torrential rain that the wipers struggled to clear.
We arrived in Dodge in the early evening, crossing the railway tracks that were a large factor in Dodge City becoming a lawless boom town in the 1870s and 1880s. Texas Ranchers would employ cowboys to drive their cattle along the Chisholm Trail to the Western Trail and then into the railhead stockyards in Dodge City.
Those cowboys would be paid at the successful conclusion of the cattle drive, which could have taken up to two months. So, a bunch of young cowboys have been given more money than they have ever seen after two months of isolation and gruelling labour. What could possibly go wrong?
I guess that’s why one of the most prominent statues in the city is of the lawman Wyatt Earp.
It was evening by the time we arrived so the attractions such as the Boot Hill Museum were closed so we were obliged to make our own entertainment. Ishbel played cards with Doc Holliday…
…and I went off and drove a train.
We walked around the town for a little while and, while it was perfectly pleasant, there was nothing that tempted us to dally longer. The next day was Saturday and we knew what we had to do. Get the hell out of Dodge.