I have visited many museums, all over the country, in my life. Despite this, nothing compares to my recent trip to Pawnee in Green Country, the northeast corner of Oklahoma. In the past few weeks, since starting my TravelsOklahoma website, I have been visiting several museums each week. The Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum appeared to be "normal" on the outside, but that certainly wasn't the case.
The museum was full of fun and interesting items about Pawnee Bill, his wife May and their wild west show. Despite being a small museum, there was a lot of information to take in. Well taken care of by a staff that loves the museum, I felt welcomed - almost as if I were visiting someone's home. Walking around, waiting for the tour to of the home to start, I learned so much about Oklahoma, Pawnee Bill and life.
Once the tour of the home started, I was surprised by how well it was maintained and the lovely artwork and furnishings. As a member of the press, I was allowed to take photographs inside the home. Sort of. That is where this trip to a museum gets a bit more than strange...
In the view finder of my camera, I was seeing strange purple filmy and floating lights. I laughed about this as I explained I was probably catching the motion detectors in place behind the ropes that kept visitors from the antiques in the room. I was perfectly content with this explanation; I could have lived my entire life believing that was what I was seeing.
"The motion detectors are on the floor," the tour guide explained, pointing to them inches above the beautiful floors. She was right. Why did she have to right? I preferred my explanation to the unusual lights I was seeing.
Not wanting to speculate as to what my camera was picking up, I continued the tour. I was enthralled by the Tiffany chandeliers and gorgeous artwork. Upstairs an antique train set that was played with by Pawnee Bill and May's son caught my eye. Putting the experience of the purple lights behind me, I pulled out my digital camera to take a picture. No funny purple lights in this room. I pushed the button to take the photo and nothing happened. I looked at the camera - no memory. My memory card holds more than 700 photos. I was not out of memory.
The tour continued. I didn't want to appear uncomfortable (spooked?) to the others on the tour with me. I tried not to think about what had happened. Stepping outside the home, I looked at my camera. The message I was out of memory had disappeared.
"Come back and try again," the tour guide suggested.
I stepped back inside the house and the memory had, once again, disappeared.
"I'm being asked very politely not to take pictures," I stammered to the tour guide, who smiled understandingly.
I made my way back to the museum where I was greeted with "Are you okay? Do you need anything?" by the woman at the desk. I was fine. All I needed was directions to the Pasture Exhibit. I wanted to see the buffalo that still lived on the ranch.
I drove around the half mile dirt road in the pasture. I saw cattle and draft horses. Towards the end of the exhibit, I saw the buffalo. There were several buffalo calves in the herd. Once again, I got out my camera, thinking I would be able to take a few photos of the baby buffalo. The batteries were dead.
Once back in my hometown, I went to the store where I had purchased the camera less than a month ago. The batteries were removed and worked fine in a camera they had behind the counter. A technician looked at my camera. The technical term she used was "fried" when she checked both the camera's internal memory and the memory card. She placed my "fried camera" in a box and gave me a new one. Thankfully, it was still under warranty.
I offer no explanation as to what happened that Saturday in Pawnee. I don't believe in ghosts. Well, I don't think I believe in ghosts. I am currently re-examining my views on that subject.
By the way, I am going back to the Pawnee Bill Ranch and Museum. Once I recover from my last visit. I am going to try to take more photos to add to the slide show at TravelsOklahoma. We will have to wait and see how that works out.
Happy Oklahoma traveling,
Emma Riley Sutton