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Monday, December 05, 2005

Life in Northwestern Oklahoma

This is a strange place. I mean, I love Oklahoma, but, really, out here in the most sparsely-populated area of the state, I've come to the conclusion that I should never dispute a purported sighting of ANY kind of wild animal out of hand. I personally know people who claim to have seen a lion running across the road, several years ago. Not a mountain lion, mind you; we KNOW we have those out here. No, I'm talking about his cousin from Africa; big, bushy mane and all.

Now, when my wife and I first arrived in this part of Oklahoma in 2002, such stories would have made me smile and nod kindly, with a faux-amazed "Really!"....all the while wondering what said folks had injested in order to see such exotic fauna roaming the wilds of the Sooner State. Alas, about one year after we arrived, while driving the backroads at dawn, I received a sudden shock, as a hyena bolted across the path of my car!

I know what you're probably thinking; I've already heard it all before. "It was a mangy coyote." "It was someone's rabid German Shepherd." Or even, "It was a bobcat, and the still-weak light of dawn, as well as his speed, caused it to look like something much different; especially to a comic-geek with an overactive imagination." Heck, you MIGHT even be wondering, "What had YOU been injesting to see such a thing?" But, no, you can rest assured that fascination with wildlife documentaries, books and magazines....ESPECIALLY those dealing with the African plains....from childhood to adulthood, cause me to be sure to this day of what I saw.

If you doubt, consider the fact that I live less than 20 miles from a ranch owned by a couple of surgeons, which is home to no fewer than four zebras and three giraffes. You see, lots of money combined with even more open space adds up to penned-up pockets of exotica in Oklahoma. Well, human nature being what it is, one has to assume that not everyone with the money opts for the legal processes of bringing animals in from overseas, so there are probably a few strange beasts around that few people know about. Could it be totally unexpected that some are going to make it out, once in a while?

So, if you happen to be driving through my part of the state, some time, and you could SWEAR you just saw something crossing the road that shouldn't have been there....., congratulations! You've probably just had your first Oklahoma safari experience!

Please keep your hands inside your vehicle at all times.