About halfway across the country now in Oklahoma City. The general aviation airport here, Wiley Post, has an 8000′ runway, longer than many of the major airports back East. Avgas is ridiculously cheap: $2.20/gallon at the self-serv pumps. A quick drive in a brand-new Ford Taurus borrowed from the Millionair FBO brought me to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, formerly the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Russell, and Remington were fantastic as expected. The outdoor koi pond underneath a statue of Buffalo Bill was a pleasant surprise. The volunteer docents were a good source of entertainment. For example, according to the Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma the state has the second highest per-capita rate of executions in the U.S. This fact had come to the attention of some German tourists and they asked the volunteer how he could be happy living in a state that executed convicted criminals. He responded “Different countries have different justice systems. We Oklahomans execute murderers. People in other countries execute their Jewish neighbors.”
Just next door to the museum is County Line Barbecue. After serving up some brisket and black-eyed peas, Terri explained how the old gun culture documented at the museum lives on today: “Generally I don’t shoot at animals but we get too many alligator turtles in the pond behind our house and I don’t want them getting at my 3-year-old daughter.” What kind of gun works best for turtles? “Oh I generally use a 12-gauge shotgun.” Isn’t that rather unsporting? “That way the turtle is divided up into lots of little pieces that sink to the bottom for the fish to eat and he doesn’t go to waste.”