2/20/18

Tucumcari, New Mexico

It was a windy afternoon in Tucumcari. New Mexico tends to be a windy state, especially here in the northern half. The wind died down when we were ready to go to bed, although it came up again in the night. As I'm writing this, it's calm. We're hoping it will stay that way for our drive to Albuquerque today.

As for yesterday's drive, we were on what was formerly historic Route 66. The new interstate 40 has cut through the old route in places, but the historic road and some of the interesting places that lined it still exist. Our route out of Palo Duro Canyon took us north toward Amarillo, and then due west on Interstate 40. Just a few miles west of Amarillo, we passed by the Cadillac Ranch. We first drove past it, and then took the next exit, making a U-turn to come back and see it. It was a distance off the road in what appeared to be a harvested corn field.


Here's what Wikipedia tells us about this place:

Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, USA. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm. It consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs: the tailfins) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle purportedly corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Here's a closer view of it. Folks were there with their spray paint cans, adding to the "art work" already present. In fact, there is so much old spray paint on the cars that hardened drips can be seen hanging from the lower portions like the beginnings of stalactites.



Once you've walked out there and seen it up close, there isn't much more to say about it. We were appalled by the amount of garbage left behind. If folks can pack it in, is it too much to ask that they pack it out again? It makes us grumpy.

It was about 75 miles to the New Mexico state line, and there you have it:


Also, we entered Mountain Time. We haven't seen Mountain Time since last September.


It was another 45 miles or so to our stop for the night. Once there, we tried not to have the doors literally blown off the truck and trailer as we exited and entered. And we didn't go out again. As we sat watching the trees bending in the wind, these fellows sauntered by.


What an unusual bird. They had a head similar to a turkey vulture, but the round body of a chicken. I tried without success to identify them.


Finally, one of my Facebook friends knew them as guinea fowl. They can be a domesticated bird, but these are probably feral.


Okay, so that was fun.

Today we're heading toward Albuquerque, where we'll spend one night. While there, we'll need to finish the laundry. I have some things I'll need to wash in the RV park laundromat, and we need to pick up some groceries. Our next three nights, starting tomorrow will be spent in a New Mexico state park, and we'll need to stock up before then. Also, just east of Albuquerque is the Route 66 Musical Road. I have directions pulled from my New Mexico folder. Once we're unhitched at the RV park, we'll head out to find it. I'll tell you all about it in tomorrow's post.

2/19/18

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas

Hey y'all! Where have y'all been? I've missed you! We've been out on the range, and out of range, but you haven't been far from my mind. My head is full of words, and I have so much to tell you! So...let's see...where were we? Oh yes...I was telling you, Texas, how impressed we were with your canyon. You called it the Grand Canyon of Texas, and you weren't just kidding. We arrived late in the afternoon on Friday, under overcast and threatening skies.


After signing in, we headed down to the bottom of the canyon, which happens to be 20 miles wide and 800 feet deep. The state park covers more than 26,000 acres of the northern reaches of Palo Duro Canyon. To get to our campsite, we headed down this 10% grade.


You can get a better look at the steepness of the slope in the image below.


While we were getting set up, this guy appeared and hung around for the longest time. They seem to be following us. Possibly they know an appreciative audience when the see one.


After we were unhitched, we decided to drive back to the visitor center, which we'd bypassed on the way by. As it turns out, it was built by the CCC in 1934, and you know we take an instant liking to anything built by the CCC. In fact, much of the infrastructure of the state park owes its existence to the CCC.




From there, I took this panorama of the valley. We were expecting better weather in the coming days, but we didn't know if we'd return here. I only mention that to say that the colors were a little washed out in this image, but I have a better one coming for you to see.


Here's a less expansive view standing in the same spot.


On our drive back to our campsite, we passed by this flock of wild turkeys. They are so funny.


Once back, the Stanbro Men got out for a walk. Smitty was out quite a few times here. It was a good place for kitties.


The next morning, we got out to do some hiking. We hatched a plan to park the car at a parking lot on the right side of the image below, hike the Juniper Cliffside trail, then cross over the road and hike back to our campsite (yellow "x"). From there, Mike hopped on his bike and rode back to where the truck was parked.


It was a beautiful day...windy and warm...we started out wearing sweatshirts, but shed them halfway through our walk. Before leaving the parking lot, I turned a got a picture of the surrounding hillside. There on the left side of the image is the iconic image of the park. It's called "The Lighthouse."


Here, I've cropped the image in a little closer so you can see a little better. I'm going to show you a different view a little later on.


After that, we got on our way. Right away, a roadrunner crossed our path. I've seen roadrunners before, but these were particularly large. They're almost as big as a chicken. As it turns out, these are the Greater Roadrunner, and they are, in fact, larger than the lesser roadrunner.


Looking across to the other side of the canyon, we could see this:


Along the way, we saw this guy. My friend Google informs me that this is a male ladder-backed woodpecker.


Park literature informs us that "Palo Duro" is Spanish for "hard wood" in reference to the Rocky Mountain Juniper trees seen in the canyon. Here, I thought the waffle-weave of the bark was interesting.


The most important thing we wanted to notice along the Juniper Cliffside Trail was this formation:


And here's an example of it right here.


We came to another, larger example down the trail.



Eventually, we crossed over the road and walked back toward the campground along the Juniper Riverside Trail. There's the river:


As we approached our campsite, we spotted this guy...another roadrunner.


They have a little topknot that they can flare up. Here's another image of the same bird.


The hike that day was not difficult, but we were plenty tired at the end. The next morning, we were back at it. By this time, we'd figured out that we could pick up the Juniper Riverside trail right from our campsite.


So we did that, continuing on to the Sunflower Trail, then taking the Rojo Grande Trail to the road. From there, we crossed the road back to the Juniper Cliffside trail and took that back to our campsite.


This next sign has nothing to do with anything. Nevertheless, I took this picture so that I could remember to use this phrase the next time I want to insult someone.

In fact, let me just try this out right now:  Mr. President, Toad Suck Bog. There, I've said it. Someone had to. (Of course, I'm referring to the president of my local science club. Who did you think I was talking to?)

We hiked in more of a river bottom area on this day.


Here's a close-up of another formation that was prevalent in this region.


This is what a sign tells us about it.


All of the washes we crossed over were dry, but the river ran along side us for a good part of the way. We're told this is the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.


It was warmer on this day with less wind, and so our shadow selves relished the opportunity for a swim.


Shortly after that, we met up with the Rojo Grande Trail.


Here are some of the views we caught along the way.



And eventually, we made our way back to the trailer. Sadie was embarrassed that she was still in the same position she was in when we left.


With such a pretty sunny day, we decided to drive back up to the visitor center. Here are the better, more colorful shots I mentioned earlier. It's amazing what a little sunlight can do to a landscape.



Here, I've zoomed in on the formation known as "The Lighthouse." It looks so much different from this angle.


Also, we drove back to the front gate where the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd was making itself available for pictures. They weren't there when we drove in the first day.


Fortunately, I hadn't yet printed and affixed the "Horny" image in my Sketchbook, and so I'm going to use this one instead. This guy is named "Brisket," and he's much better looking than my previous subject. Also, his horns are longer and have a more graceful curve.


Here's some information about the herd.


Finally, there was one more thing we wanted to see in the park. We were pretty well hiked out, and so we took the lazy way to see the Cowboy Dugout. It was located along the Paseo del Rio trail, which was only a mile long. Nevertheless, we drove to the far side and walked in about 500 feet to see it.


Where we parked, I spotted this windmill.


And this sign was a sight for sore legs and feet.


So...there it is:


The park literature told us to "Take a peek into the life of a 19th Century cowboy," and so we did. I was able to take a picture through the slats using the nighttime setting on my camera. Through one slot, we could see the cowboy's bed. I believe that horizontal beam is the foot of the bed.


Moving to the left about a foot, I could see this through the next slot. Looks like a little table there.


The dugout is a little like a daylight basement in that it is dug into the side of the hill here. The roof is the earth above, and that's the chimney sticking up there.


When we walked back to the truck, I wanted to show you where a bridge crosses the river here. The river is perhaps 10 feet below the road surface there. But check out that sign I've marked with a red arrow.


Here's what it says. Now, you know that was some rain that fell back in 1978. Mike and I reminisced about what we were doing on this date in 1978. We were living in Phoenix, and he was just about to graduate with his engineering degree. Meanwhile, in Texas...


From there we headed back to the campsite and sat enjoying the red cliffs as the sun was setting behind us.


Day is done.


Look up in the upper left corner of that image above, and you can see a little sliver of moon.

While we were in Palo Duro, I was able to finish Block #4 of the Heart and Home project. this one is called "Town and Country." Lots of stitching in that one.


Now I'm pretty well along with the third sundress for the Sundress quilt.


These stitch up pretty quick. Yes, I was supposed to do another one of those dratted cast-on flowers up there at the bodice. One of you sent me a pretty good video tutorial showing me how to do the stitch, but I'm sticking with my "design decision" for the remainder of the quilt. (Thank you, Sue, for reminding me that it is a "design decision," and not rank ineptitude.) It would probably be possible to figure it out from the video, but then I'd need to make a trip to Jo-Ann for some different milliners needles, and I'm avoiding Jo-Ann. It always leaves me in a bad mood.

So, as I'm writing this we're sitting in high winds in Tucumcari, New Mexico. I still have more to tell you about today's drive, but I'll save that for tomorrow's post. You probably want to get back to your sewing, don't you?