Telling the Tale of Black Mesa, OK

After flying into Denver Lorri and I took the long way to No Man's Land. In this case No Man's Land is a an accurate description since that is what the Oklahoma panhandle has long been called due to the fact that no state really wanted it.We were heading for the tiny town of Kenton in the panhandle's NW corner. Interestingly Kenton is the only town in Oklahoma that is in the Mountain time zone rather than Central but that extra hour didn't help us much. We had planned on eating at the mercantile but discovered it closed at 2:00. Thinking we would have to drive 30+ miles to Boise City if we wanted a hot meal we started heading that direction when we saw a sign...

We saw the sign but not the diner so we turned on the side street near the sign and saw a metal building with most of the cars in Kenton parked out front. We approached with caution thinking this might be like a diner we had stopped at in Mississippi which was filled with toothless old people all eating the same thing and staring at us like they were auditioning for rolls in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

The Tell-A-Tale Diner... Well, the sign anyway

We slowly opened the door and were greeted by a bunch of friendly old people who informed us that the diner had been closed since the roof blew off and that this was the senior center. I think they are very lonely in Kenton and they invited us to stay for their spaghetti feed. We felt sort of cornered at that point and the spaghetti smelled good so we decided to stay. I think by the time we left we had met most of the inhabitants of Kenton including the guy that used to take care of Black Mesa State Park we were going to camp at. This was the most exciting thing to happen in Oklahoma...

The following morning we followed signs to the Black Mesa Preserve trailhead dodging tortoises warming up on the asphalt as necessary. The hike to the highest point of Black Mesa in Oklahoma is about 4.5 miles each way on an old jeep road with only one place where you could say for certain you were actually going up. Black Mesa itself extends into New Mexico and Colorado with the highest point being 5,715' in Colorado.

The gate at the Black Mesa trailhead

The climate in the area is sort of high desert with a lot of cactus but there are small trees and shrubs that you wouldn't see in a desert. Although we only saw a few other people this was possibly the noisiest hike ever due to the constant buzzing of thousands if not millions of katydids.

Looking out at No Man's Land from near the top of Oklahoma

The monument on the highest point of Black Mesa... in Oklahoma anyhow

The hike took us about 3.5 hours so we had plenty of time to go check out the nearby dinosaur tracks... not nearly as interesting as we had hoped.

Dinosaur tracks near Black Mesa

On the way out of town we stopped at the mercantile for ice cream and glory!

My certificate for hiking to the top of Black Mesa

Sorry this is a boring report... What did you expect from Oklahoma?