Hank – We didn’t leave Wagoner until almost 11:00 am. Today’s plan was to ride to a campground about five miles east of Tahlequah, which would make for a 35-mile day.
The north wind was whipping away from our left just as it was yesterday. And we had more climbing to do. Kathy wasn’t feeling up to it because she didn’t sleep well last night, but she soldiered on.
We stopped in Hulbert, the halfway point and ate a sandwich at the local Subway. Then we girded our loins once again rode to Tahlequah.
Tahlequah is the historical capital on the Cherokee Nation. It was established after the Cherokee were forced to move to what was then called Indian Territory back in 1838. The forced relocation of the Cherokee and other tribes from the southeastern states is known as The Trail of Tears. It’s definitely not a bright spot in American and Native American relations.
We stopped at the Cherokee National Prison Museum once we got to Tahlequah. The Cherokee Nation had its own government and justice system, patterned after the U.S. system, until the U.S. government dissolved it in 1898. In 1975, the tribe adopted a new constitution and received federal recognition the following year.
The museum was closing at 4:00 pm and we wanted to get to the campground and settle in so off we went. The campground is owned by the Cherokee Baptist Association, which consists of 43 different churches. I had called the office this morning to ask if we could tent overnight but hadn’t heard back. Fortunately, when we arrived we found Kim and Chad in the office. Today is Good Friday and there’s a church service here this evening. They were also putting on a production, which Chad is in charge of, otherwise there wouldn’t have been anyone here. So that worked out well.
Chad and Kim not only said we could tent here but they offered the use of one of the summer camp dorms. Hot showers and a bed! What a pleasant surprise. They also invited us to the 7:00 pm service, which we accepted. They warned us the preacher will be speaking in English and in Cherokee. That’ll be a first for me, so I’m cool with that.
We cleaned up and walked over to the church at 10 til 7:00. We said hello to Chad and Kim and we met other members of the congregation. The production was well done. Afterwards one of the preachers–several were in attendance–gave a sermon in English and then again in Cherokee. We chatted with Chad, Kim, and several others before calling it a night.
Kathy – I didn’t sleep much last night so I was a little concerned about how our ride would go today. I was surprised how well the 35-mile ride went. Yes, we still had strong sidewinds (sustained at 20 mph and gust at 30 mph) and yes, we had lots of climbing, however it went pretty good. Just so you know, my legs are tired tonight though. 😊 Our temps were in the mid 50’s to low 60’s range with partly cloudy skies. Again the winds made it feel cooler, but lucky for us the climbs warmed us up nicely. 😅
We were hoping to have more time in Tahlequah, Oklahoma to visit more museums and increase our knowledge about the area. Unfortunately we had to press on after visiting the Cherokee Nations Prison Museum (which was a pretty cool place) so we could finish our riding and figure out our sleeping plans for the night.
We climbed another 500 feet out of town and then continued with the rolling hills until we reached our destination for the day. Kim and Chad at the Cherokee Baptist Association Campground were super welcoming and just good down to earth people. We were excited to hear they had a dorm with hot showers that we could stay in tonight for free. We offered to pay, but they refused. We thought we were going to tent it tonight so having a bed and hot shower was really a wonderful surprise.
We cleaned up and headed over to the Good Friday services at the church on the campground areas. The Baptist service was a little different from what we are used to with the Catholic services, however they did a fantastic job of telling the story from Peter’s perspective. The adults and children performances were very good. It was also very interesting to hear church services said in the Cherokee language. This is a first for us. We were the minority at the service as most everyone part of the Cherokee tribe. Didn’t matter though, everyone treated us like family. Overall, it was a wonderful church service and we met a lot of super kind people. Feeling thankful for this day. Yes, it was a Good Friday. ⛪️ ✝️ 🚲
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