359. Buffalo, Harper County (OK09)

This old girl could use a little bit of tender loving care. She’s not falling apart or anything, but a little paint would be nice. It doesn’t look like it’s been updated since the 50’s or the 60’s. And it’s not a bad looking courthouse, either. It’s just small and lonely. Other than this big old rock telling you that this is Harper County, there’s nothing of any real size around here to keep it company. The courthouse’s comfort (since I am apparently anthropomorphizing them now) is secondary to my concerns. It’s time to acquire a cache.

The cache itself is nothing special, a big pill bottle hidden under some rocks. It’s the location that matters more…

There once was a town here called Stockholm. As you can see from the sign, it didn’t exist for very long. I have no idea why it was here or why it failed, who lived here, or where they went. All I can really do is look at the country, so much red earth and despair, stretching far into the distance and remember something Neil Gaiman wrote…

Some cities spread, like cancers or B-movie slime monsters, devouring all in their way, absorbing towns and villages, swallowing boroughs and hamlets, transmuting into boundless conurbations. Other cities shrink — once prosperous areas empty and fail: buildings empty, windows are boarded up, people leave, and sometimes they cannot even tell you why…[t]here are cities that remember being villages. Other cities — currently bland, devoid of personality — are prepared to wait until they have history. Few cities are proud: they know that it’s all too often a happy accident, a mere geographical fluke that they exist at all — a wide harbour, a mountain pass, the confluence of two rivers.

What happy accident gave you life, Stockholm? What geographical fluke did you lack that made your survival impossible? How strange it is to think that there were people who settled here before you were founded and lived to see the end of you. How many old ghosts just like you have I driven past with nary a thought that once a community lived and breathed there? All I can do is thank you for contributing to my adventure and continue onward. There is nothing more I can do for you now. The next step will be another new one for me. I breathed a heavy breath and went forward, the miles retreating under my tires, until I finally made it to…

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