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Friday, January 24, 2014

New Blog Series: From Sea To Shining Sea Part 9

Wednesday, Sept. 29
We arrived in Carson City last night.  It was dusk, so we hastily parked in Michaeleleah’s driveway and all went to Mexican dinner.

Since her husband’s death a few years ago, she’s responsible for the whole ranch.  Fences, corrals, garden, dogs, horsebacking into the mountains by reservation, handling the horsetrailer, the truck, the house and its contents, and let’s not forget she’s a competitive distance horse rider.  That means she spends most weekends adding more miles to it on horseback.

Carson has become a megalopolis and the traffic is shocking since our last trip through here.  New freeways under construction add to the clutter.  While Mike goes to work the next day, we did housekeeping, shopping and car washing.

And today Abby met a real dog.  Shorty is an Australian Shepherd.  Abby made the mistake of assuming all dishes on floors are her domain.  But alas, Shorty had to straighten her out about that.  Abby ran to the trailer and didn’t want to come out for the rest of her life.

After dinner, it had become dark, naturally, and when we turned in we opened the door to the trailer.  We hadn’t realized the closest corral fence was about 18 inches from our open door.  As I said, there wasn’t much room.  Darrel jumped a foot when Rascal, Mike’s half Arabian pinto whuffed in his ear then nickered at him.  Inches behind his head.

We celebrated my birthday again with more cake on Tuesday, then Mike made us breakfast--an amazing steak dinner on the front porch, where the stove lives.  We were instructed to go out to the garden and do a little digging to gather our potatoes, which was something I’d never done.  Then I was presented with my birthday present--a  sure-to-kill-them fly swatter.  I didn’t know there were flies large enough to justify it.  But it will not get lost.

The next day we took Rascal out of his corral to have a good talk with him without all the mules stampeding us while we discussed the weather.  Rascal is extremely social and had taking up staring in our windows asking us to come put and play.  We brushed him and took some pictures, fed him carrots.  He’s not very big as horses go, but he’s an endurance horse with a documented 50 miles ride on his resume.  He’s 18 years old, born where he stands, five gaited and darling.  If it hadn’t been so much work to get him brushed, saddled, bridled, stirrups adjusted, we would have taken him out for a little ride.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My review of "Wonderful" 1/18/2014

Review of “Wonderful”
by Melody Scott

I was told a long time ago that babies are born as little animals and the parents’ job was to civilize them.  I think “Wonderful” substantiates this.

It’s a story about several things:  1. Overcoming adversity--and what stages are involved.  2.  How much environment plays in a child’s development.  3.    4. Is it worse to be disfigured or mentally crippled?  4. To treat an obviously abnormally challenged child as a normal child--realizing that at some point they have to be in a normal world environment in order to learn how to handle it.

I have two personal stories (at least ones I’ve monitored for years), whereby two sons of relatives had retinisis pigmatosa and would be both blind at some point in their childhood.  One child approached it realistically as encouraged by his parents, and “got ready” by learning trades he could do without sight.  Pretty amazing.  The other child was mired in self-pity and decided he couldn’t handle it.  He was a casualty of life.

Another was a child of friends who was born with a bunch of defects, the worst one being constant seizures.  He was therefore drugged to avoid as many seizures as possible, turning in him into somewhat of a zombie.  He was given no slack by his family and expected to participate in all the other three childrens’ activities.  Halleluiah, this year (at his age of 50) a medical cure (surgery) (only one surgeon in the world--praise his hands!) was found and he has had NO seizures since.  John currently is working on eliminating the drugs a little at a time that his body is so accustomed to.

In “Wonderful” we saw a metamorphosis from all reactions being negative to acceptance of the situation August was afflicted with.  I think, since children accept physicalogical abnormal looks, August’s parents made play dates for him with other little children, who then grew older as August aged.  They were already friends before the abnormality was noticed.  This stood August in good stead with Summer and with the sister’s friend who was older, but understood August’s challenges and supplied him with a helmet, among other things, so he could be anonymous for pieces of time, then watched all he went through growing up.  She wanted August’s family for their overwhelming love given to whoever was nearby.

There were the parents who sympathized and understood the challenges August and his family faced, and there were parents in the school who had taught their children that challenges were so abnormal that they could not be acceptable.  The children were really reflections of their parents’ attitudes.

Overall, August’s  parents were the heroes in this book in being willing to throw August to the wolves and send him to a private/public school when he was 5th grade level.  The children reacted in every possible spectrum and it took a year for acceptance to win out because of the characters of the children--both those who wanted to be admirable people and those who thought they might “catch” something from August.  I’m not mentioning the mean kids because they were trying out meanness to see if it would work for them I think.  But of course it was a failed experiment in the end.

My blog--New Series--From Sea To Shining Sea Part 8

Tuesday, Sept 28

Ely has a Shoshone Indian Reservation and “Jail House” Casino.  We’re out at 8:00 a.m. toward Carson City, Nevada, 325 miles west.  I called Michaeleleah and she sounded great.  I went to High School with her 100 years ago.  We had art classes together.  She’s a year younger than I.  I haven’t seen her for five years.

Nevada looks like Nevada, like Southern California without people.  We passed a shepherd’s trailer out in the mesquite that’s about the size of our Coyote.  The shepherd had parked a huge water truck next to his trailer, which we had not seen before.  The sheep get thirsty and they aren’t likely to find water on the ground in this location.  A little further up the road we found his sheep--about 500 of them.

Mike said she’d be at work today.  The house, the gates, the barn, were all unlocked so just help  ourselves.  She’d be back at 4:00.  I think today she was training somebody else’s horses.  It must be nice to live that way--her house is 500 square feet.

This road has zero litter or junk--there’s a posted $2000 fine for littering.  Next comes the Illepah Reservation.  Through high rolling hills we travel to Eureka, at 51* it’s mostly a ghost town.   A beautiful desert drive today--nobody out here but us climbing Little Antelope Summit, 7738 feet.  We see lots of deer crossing warning signs and no road fencing through the passes.  The peaks are over two miles high.  20 miles later, at 72*.  The radio tells us the west cost is having record 112* heat--more than 20 degrees above normal.  
My uncle Carlos--actually my mother’s twin brother, had TB in 1948 and thought he was dying in the hospital.So hetook himself to the desert and moved into an old miner shack.  I think he lived out there for a year or two.  How he managed water, food, and heat, I don’t know.  But he got over the tuberculosis, moved to San Diego and got a job as a mailman so he could walk everyday to keep healthy.  In those days, mailmen walked.

We visited him a few times in the desert.  I thought it was odd he’d live in a see-through shack when I was 5 years old.

Police have pulled us off the road for an extra-wide oncoming truck to pass.  Static electricity has attacked our shirts, noses and dog.  I’d almost forgotten that stuff.  Eureka is unfortunately under construction so we aren’t taking pictures.  It was a silver mining town as I recall and this road is called “The Loneliest Road In America.”  A huge backhoe blocks the opera house.  Eek.

Abby’s ears are sticking straight up with static electricity.  We’re laughing at her as I mop her down with “Bounce” Sheets.

Austin, Nevada, 7200 feet, is a Pony Express Station. We ate at the Toiabe Cafe and had a wonderful lunch.  This time we’re taking a few pictures--at least it’s not under construction.  Silver mines dot the hills by hand diggers.  An ancient town is nestled in a canyon halfway up a mountain.  It has a boot hill cemetery and Pony Express Roping Arena.  The Pony Express was only in operation from 1860 to 1861 and was outdated by steam locomotives.  The riders used to ride full tilt on a horse for 20 miles to the next station.  Then they would rope another horse from the herd at each station then run another 20 miles as fast as the horse would go.

We’ve now traveled 300 miles, straight as a string, and I’ve counted 18 cars besides us.  We’re grumpy.  We see the Piute Shoshone Reservation at Fallon, and keep on going.

Fallon looks like where I was raised in southern California--rolling barren hills--except for Springtime when the hills were covered in flowers and grass.  But not in September.

Fallon looks like an efficiency only dirt laden town.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Blog--New Series--From Sea To Shining Sea, Part 7

 Road into Northern Nevada Desert

Monday, Sept. 27
Happy Birthday to Meeee
We’re on I-70 West, right through the middle of a red rock mountain in Utah. Gas cost is $3.05 today.  Cliffs are fenced so the rocks won’t fall on the highway.  Dramatic nothingness plateaus with alluvial fans at their bottoms, bald mountains and rocks every shade of whites, taupes, creams, reds, greys, browns, yellows, and greens.  Within 20 miles around Salina, we’re back to wheatstraw fields and sage wilderness with sage mountains all around us.

The valley at Salina looks just like Cedarville (a town we know at the Nevada, California, Oregon border), except the shallow lake at Salina is fresh water and Cedarville’s is saline.

Now at Delta, UT, we jumped over to I-50.   There are hay farms all the way to the mountains--alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see.  We stopped in town for a birthday cake, and other provisions we still hadn’t known we’d need.

 Darrel needs donuts for tonight.  Abby isn’t adapting well to no grass.  Utah’s grass is so valuable that all the parks have “no dog” signs.  She can’t get used to peeing on rocks, gets bullthorns in her feet from the weeds and is too much of an elitist to “use” asphalt.  So she waits, which is scary for us.  None of the RV parks has grass available.  I hope she’s still housetrained by time we get home.

Utah & the Ouray Reservation--pretty godforsaken land.  We climbed over the Confusion Mountain Range into Nevada.  The height is 6280 feet .  On its other side, our truck laughs as it whips over those impossible mountains.  Before we arrive at the Pacific coast we will have gone over eight massive mountain ranges.  Most of the time we don’t have cell service for our phones and we go over a hundred miles without seeing anything but dirt.  Even cars are scarce.

Yay for golden Nevada!  It looks alive as western Utah was just dead.  The road is so flat and straight there are water- and snake- mirages before us to the horizon, a trick of nature that caused heart ache and death for pioneers.  We thought about dry camping but the temperature went up to 90* and we may need some air conditioning an RV park’s electric hookups can provide.  Maybe we’ll stop at Baker, at the Ut/Ne border.  If it’s a dive we’ll go 40 more miles into Ely, which we’ve been to before.

Next we go over Sacramento Pass at 7154 feet, a scenic drive on my map.  Back to the beauty of fall’s high desert with golds, yellows and browns (and a little green!).  Then down again to the desert floor.  Next up again over Donner’s Pass, 7722 feet high.  We’ve been in Nevada for 50 miles.  Sort of a rollercoaster ride.  The mountains are massive--13063 feet--chain pullouts tell me it’s gonna get cold.  I’m thinking about painting a coyote on the Coyote.  No self-respecting coyote should be without a head.

The ground has become shale.  What?  The shrubs remain the same and will apparently grow on anything.  Now colored shale, white/pink/black--hard to believe.  Hey! Trees!  I might have to kiss a couple of them when we stop.
We have a trailer brake problem which has been hard on the truck coming down the mountain passes.  Darrel thinks a wire tore loose on the washboard Utah Highway 70.  We’re okay through to Carson City where  my friend Michaeleleah lives.  She’s doing my books’ covers because she’s an artist.  I’m anxious to see what she’s drawn for the latest, Chattahoochee Dead.  “Mike” raises horses, takes people on camp rides into the Rose Mountains and paints.  We plan to stay next to her barn.  That will be tomorrow night.

Ohmigosh, the Ely KOA has grass!  Abby will celebrate .

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Blog--New Series, From Sea To Shining Sea--Part 6


Sunday, Sept. 26
With regret, we leave Chama, (which means “group”.  It’s 44* and gold leaves are all over the Coyote and truck.  A flock of blackbirds with about four inches of white tipped wings and breasts and a white “V” at the shoulders flurry to get out of our path at the exit gate.  Darrel says he remembers those from Alaska, but I of course, just fell off the turnip truck, and have no memory of them.

On to Pagosa Springs, Colorado--upward about 10,000 feet into the San Juan Mountains.  After ten miles the temperature has dropped to 35*.  We stopped to take pictures of the monument type mountains all around us.  A real estate sign says we could buy 43 acres for $69,000.  What a good idea!  A Colorado horse ranch...I’m green with envy as we pass these farms.  Aspens look like Eucalyptus trees except for the yellow leaves no self-respecting Eucalyptus would don.

Monster mountain views at Pagosa Springs with alluvial fans of black dirt below them.  We pass the Red Rider Rodeo Fairgrounds.  It’s pretty steep this morning at 9:00 a.m.  A plume of steam curls off the sulfur springs in the center of town.  I bet that looks eerie at night.  Hmmm.  The huge lumber yard is empty and closed.  I can’t tell if that’s due to the economy or EPA.  Gas is $3.20 (diesel).  The air is so still that several giant balloons are getting ready to take off.  Pretty spectacular up close.  Very user unfriendly for RVs.
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival starts next week.  I guess these guys are just practicing, not wanting to waste a perfect day for ballooning.  Thousands of people are in town.

Were looking for lunch in Durango, but can’t take the Coyote down the narrow street to town.  And we’re really disgusted about that.  The big mountains have huge patches of orange spread on them that have to be Aspen tree groves tucked amongst the evergreens.  From our distance it looks like a random-patchwork quilt.

We’re in the high desert again--scarce coniferous trees about 20 ft. high--all plains surrounded by Rocky Mountains a few hundred miles away.  Highway 191 to Moab , Utah is a scenic Rd., so I’ll be interested to see what it’s about--dry land full of grasses and sagebrush. (Utah means “one that is higher up.”  Please remind me I don’t want anything in Dove Creek County.  Stark, brown, ugly treeless, junky.  People must be tied to the land to stay.  No farm animals even.
Utah’s adjoining plains are planted in hay and sunflowers.  Lots of clean sky and sideroads that go right over the horizon.  Traveling through Arches National Park we see a distinct formation called Church Rock.  It looks like a fat pile of dough with a couple of sporting horizontal colorful striations, some resembling geodesic buildings.  Some look like a giant child dropped a top.  Some look like castles.  Just like Utah pictures with caves in their cliffs.  We did take some pictures since there was a turnout available.

The land is adobe red now, sprinkled with brush.  Freeway fenceposts are impaled in red stone.  I feel pretty insignificant in relation to these formations.  Not even a person pebble.

Just before Moab on 191 the ground looks like somebody overturned a rock truck for 20 miles before town with a ton of homeless people squatted on this land--like Tijuana, Mexico, in case you’ve see that mess.  They’re either desperately poor or desperately stupid, but the city is charming--same western town facades we’ve been seeing--so cute.  But it’s definitely an oasis on the desert.  Not to mention a tourist trap.  Even though the season is supposed to be over, the place is overrun with tourists.  We tell ourselves we’re not lowly tourists.  I guess we’re just trailer trash.

We’ve taken 191 to the I-70 and West.  Moab is in a bowl with the Colorado River going through it.  Now the cliffs are back.  I wonder what mineral would cause that color.  I-70 West turns totally desolate.  We’ve planned to overnight in Green River--I hope it’s green--everything here is moonscape bald.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Blog--From Sea To Shining Sea Part 5


Apache Country.  First to Ft. Sumner where Billy The Kid is buried-thankfully-  We’re on a quest for donuts to go with our coffee and Melrose New Mexico looks likely. Three big cattle trucks are stopped, right on our highway--a pen complete with cowboys there to greet them with a herd to load.  We have to pull into the oncoming lane to get around them however.  Yep, New Mexico for sure.  I don’t know the difference between a mesa and a plateau but we’re seeing short shaved of  hills at Taliban Outpost.  Taliban?

You’d think they’d change their name.

Now coming into Ft. Sumner I look for a stockade but find only a historical marker, not to be confused with Virginia’s Ft. Sumter of our American Revolution which is where the Star Spangled Banner was written by good old Frances Scott Key.  Darrel told me that Key was on board ship as a British prisoner, watching the battle on the shore.  Next morning the Stars and Stripes were still standing--but I digress.

Near Santa Rosa we’re getting higher and scenic--no power lines or wind machines or buildings.  Just rolling gold and green sagebrush.  The beautiful desert still exists!  On a hill, Santa Rosa is beautifully spread out and clean.  The Pecos River is full, about forty feet across, running deep and south fast.  I’m here to tell you this is the best of the historical West.  Deisel gas is posted at $3.17 per gallon--or across the street, $2.92 per gallon.  The New Mexico freeway overpasses are pieces of Southwestern Indian Art.

Uh oh, now there’s a billboard jungle out here in the middle of nowhere at exit 234 on I-40.  What are they thinking?  20 miles of billboards?  Maybe if they figure they will group them then the rest of the countryside will be left without them?

Yellow black-eyed-Susans line the road and some cactus have yellow blooms.  We plan to stay in Chama, above Santa Fe for a couple of days so I can paint.  We’re on the famous old Route 66, feeling mighty restored, surrounded by such nothingness and a beautiful day.  The Jemez Mountains are huddled almost beyond our view.  But since they’re 3000 feet high I can still see them.  The Coyote (trailer) issues have been interesting, though the critter is really comfy.  This morning Darrel sprayed some Tinactin on his feet, which set off the smoke alarm.  He disconnected the battery to shut it up but it kept on screaming until I turned a fan on it.  Then he turned on the heater because it was under 60 degrees this morning, which started the smoke alarm all over again. We’re hard on RV neighbors.

More yellow, this time Goldenrod plants, soft green sage, dry grass, dark green mesquite and red dirt with granite rocks makes the taller hills post-card perfect.  I must have Indian blood, I love it so.  Visibility has to be about 100 miles.  You gotta wonder where the ponds come from out there.  We’re approaching Santa Fe but know the Coyote and truck will not fit the old town streets, as we’ve been there before, so we won’t see the best parts this trip.

Lamay, El Dorodo is where I’d live if we moved here.  In the hills south of the city.  It’s a clear 65 degree Santa Fe Day.  We see box adobe homes that look like they’re part of the land set in among mesquite trees.  Now we’re going through an Indian Reservation--Tseseque, then Pojoaqise, complete with their casinos.  The 84 is a scenic highway for the 80 miles to Chama, New Mexico, just south of the Colorado border.  And we agree to read up on the flu shots tonight.  We hadn’t gotten them before we left Atlanta.

Albiquin Ghost Ranch sits at 78 degrees and red at the base of the eroded cliffs, then white, then yellow, topped off with stacked stoneshale and a dusting of mesquite--far below at the base is the Chama River, surrounding its length three canyons by cottonwoods and oaks.  The cottonwoods are lined with gold as they enter fall.  And upwrd we go over the top of the mesas at the lower end of the Rocky Mountains. 

Purple flowers join the goldenrod or wild mustard.  There must be something of old Santa Fe here but it’s really hard to find among all the people.  Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in the U.S.  Mini Mt. Rushmore faces peer down at us around every mountain curve.  And here’s a historical marker at the end of an amazingly steep climb.  Now what could have happened clear up here in Tierra Amarill, New Mexico?  The friars must not have known they could go around the steep hills, poor babies.

We just passed through Dulce, New Mexico--my mother’s nick namesake, Dulce, means “sweet” in Spanish.  Her twin’s nickname was “Tot” because she couldn’t say “Carlos” when they began to talk at a year old.

Chama is adorable at 7800 feet--a little bitty town with blue flags on the lampposts, flower boxes filled with lavender petunias.  I didn’t know petunias came in lavender.  The RV park was a knockout after the mudholes of the plains.

Abby found out about bullthorns today.  She was not amused even after I pulled it out.  I remember those miserable suckers from when I pulled them out of my own feet as a child.  It taught me to wear shoes when I was learning to never spit into the wind or pull on Superman’s Cape.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Blog Series--From Sea To Shining Sea Part 4


We were out before dawn since we had such a short day yesterday (only 250 miles).   arrived in Meridian, Bosque County.  But we can’t resist a drive through the old town before sunup to see the old courthouse and take a couple of pictures of  “The Attorney-At-Law and Dentist” sign, and the “First National Bank of M.T.”  The courthouse straight out of the 1700’s can be seen sticking above the gently rolling land dotted with trees.  Diesel gas is $2.79 today.  When we stopped, Darrel took up with an old farmer who was cleaning his truck windows.  A lean cowboy type, 6’6”, his truck was hooked to an Alison Chalmers Grader that he had built from a kit.  He must have been about ten years old when he’d done that, Mr. L. Charles Howard (pleased to meet you) said that the courthouse used to be plain Jane so the city rebuilt it and now it’s real “fancy.” Which it is.

The land makes me want my youth and my foxtrotter who could travel overland about as fast as this truck.  The map isn’t marked as a scenic highway, but it should be.

You can come for me in Meridian Texas when I go missing, as I’ve mentioned before.

Outside of Hico, a bunch of buzzards hunched along a fence rail made me flinch. These were the really awful scroungey looking buzzards.  Everything is scroungey in West Texas.  We saw lots of horsefarms-ranch houses with old wagon wheels on their front porches and ranch gates.

We stopped in Hico for pictures of the Jersey Lilly Saloon and a great mural on adjoining wall.  Too bad we won’t be here for the well advertised, “Hico’s 150th birthday chili cookoff on Oct. 2.”  Darrel was really disgusted we’d miss it.

Cattles ranches and what looks like game reserves surround us out of Hico.  Ahead looks like some serious rain may get us yet.

Dublin, Texas people have green headlights and their “Dublin Texas” sign has a shamrock in the “x”.  You think they’re all Irish?

I need to look up which Indian tribes would have been riding  all the pintos we see on these ranches.  The road began going rough, so we’re looking forward to Highway I-20 about ten miles away.

Next, Cisco, Texas, must be where the Cisco Kid came from?  Now if I could just remember which tribe Tonto came from.  I think I just dated myself.

We could get 400 miles under us today and end up in New Mexico overnight.  The big trees are gone for the duration and we’re left with 20’ high pepper and scrub oak types along I-20.  The wind is up and Darrel’s eyes are starting to squint.  We’ve found Texas Longhorns with maps spread over their bodies.  And I think we’re going to miss the rain again because the wind has taken the hand of the clouds and run away to the east.

We just passed another state patrol car parked on the median with blacked out windows.  I wonder if there are any motors in this Texas speed-control program car.  Now wind machines have appeared outside of Abilene.  It’s a perfect place for them.  Our Coyote Trailer is so stable behind us we’re blessed once again.  Like creatures from a StarWars movie the wind machines loom 250’ tall.  Ten foot-trees look more like Oleander bushes.  And they’re positioned along a huge flattop mesa off to our left.  A mesa forest of white sticks. (wind machines)

Earlier I put Abby up on the dashboard and pointed west so she could see Abilene, but she went to sleep.  I guess she’d not been impressed.  At Sweetwater we turn onto I-84 where they’re growing cotton, rusted equipment and oilwells.  West Texas is definitely not it.  Neither would I want to live on Stink Creek Road.  But “Belly Acres Paint and Quarter Horses” looks kind of interesting.  Ha!  But about a million wind machines standing there and not turning ruin the ambiance.  Huh?  Why aren’t they turning?

The new goal is Clovis New Mexico.  We lost all symptoms of trees and shrubs near New Mexico.  The sky is crystal blue, 77 degrees and we can verify the curvature of the earth.  A zillion acres of cotton proves all the people are still in Houston.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Blog Series: From Sea To Shining Sea, Part 3

Wednesday, Sept. 22

Today we pick up the new trailer, which for some reason is more tedious than buying a car.  We knew it was there, they knew we were coming today for it, but nothing had readied it for us to do so.  The temperature blazed away at about 100 degrees and their “office” was in a mobile home which was entirely too small.  Since air conditioning was at a premium, Abby and I scrunched ourselves into a corner with a folding chair while Darrel took off down the hallway to sign papers or whatever takes three hours to consummate a sale. It was hot enough that we did not want to unload the truck with all the parts of a little house and vowed to take care of that on the way west.  So every time we stopped  for gas or food, or found a good shady place to stop, we’d move more stuff from the truck to the trailer.

My map said Texas as 21 million people, and I’m sure most of them are all in Houston. Darrel had to stop to see if the “beautiful bathrooms” were worth the wait.  They were.

The Sam Houston statue at the Houston County Line must be 40 feet high.  However, Michaelaneglo’s David looks much better. 

I think the gulf hurricane side weather will probably catch us as I see its dark clouds roiling toward our little space of Texas.  I don’t remember its name, something after Igor, since Igor had already struck the Caribbean a few weeks ago.  The pastureland took my breath away.  Green as Ireland and full of good quarter horses, I was ready to move despite the scary weather.  Maybe in my next life I can live there.

Not much further, the furious threatening clouds along the Texas 7 to Waco turned into puffy white and grey ones.  What a sky!  The temperature is at 91 degrees.  Now we’re in cattle farm country, Brangus, Hereford, Brahma, Angus, rolling pastures, farms and tanks.  We’ve merged from French/Cajun to Mexican/Cowboy in one day.  So we ate at Lupe Tortilla’s.  Yum.

Mesquite fence posts are popular near Waco.  I understand that horses and cows don’t like to eat mesquite-- it’s strong and it doesn’t even need to be split.  After Waco, there are no more trees.  Who would have thought?  It must have been the edge of the desert we were entering.  Yikes!  West Texas.  But a little further up the road, trees reappear at Valley Mills, a town right out of the old west--complete with board sidewalks.  Only to be found on the back roads.  What fun!  We traveled two lane roads at the 70 mph speed limit with berms a whole lane wide.  Slower vehicles accommodatingly move to the berm to let us pass.  Chilvary may not be dead.  Or else our huge Excursion scared them off the road.  The trailer is only 18 feet long, which is just about the length of the truck.

Cows we’ve never seen before seem to be in every open pasture.  They’re striped--their fronts are black, their tummies are white and their rears are black. No spots or solids.  The next town we see is Meridian.  If I go missing you can look for me there.  A road side church sign said “Free Trip To Heaven--details inside.”

We stopped at a grocery store to stock the trailer with some food then stayed over night at Meridian State Park.  Texas does state parks well.  This one was gorgeous and quiet but I’m sure that lovely diesel sound when we left on Thursday before dawn will not amuse the other RV’ers

We had to stop in Abilene to let Abby see what her name meant by “Misty Abilene Sunrise.”  Neither of us was impressed so we carried on.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New blog series--From Sea To Shining Sea, Part 2

Whatever pre-existing businesses may have been around are no longer present. A plethora of pristine new strip centers, fast food, McDonald types and malls are under construction.  I’d say all that money we spent on Louisiana is being used to build a brand new outlying city.

Tues. Sept 21

Over the mighty Mississippi that is probably ½ mile wide at the I-10 bridge sort of takes my breath away and I’m really happy we’re not in a covered wagon.  Of course most wagon trains started west in St. Louis, MO.  Like my grandmother’s.  Darrel notes that under every black cow in the pastures is a pure white bird.  He thinks they’ve been assigned to each other and can’t work independently.

And again we’re on a double two-lane bridge over swamplands for miles.  Another flying adventure for me outside Lafayette La.  Apparent tidewater due to the high water markson the bridge pillars shows just how high the surge arrived over our heads on the bridge.

I wonder if there have been many crashes as cars have run over the short concrete barrier fence into the drink.

Ha! Whisky Bay! of the Oueae Bayou.  Don’t try that out loud.  I wonder some more how one crossed this watery woodland before somebody made a Key West Bridge over all the swamp and rivers.  Canoe?  It’s still a 20 mile water world with tree tops.  A scenic byway turnoff for Morgan City makes me think of Ingrid Clark, who has family and friends there.  We stopped at McDonalds and I had my first McGriddle and listened to a Cajun conversation we couldn’t understand.  But everybody was incredibly nice.  Pancake wrapped eggs?

Well, here’s all the gasolene in the world in Westlake, Louisiana.  Reckon the gas stations next to the holding tank yard charge $3 per gallon?  Cracking plants stand in every direction and we’ve gone from greenway to freeway to Industrial area.  A few fringe trees remain standing and line the road--the old I-10 I remember from the beercan days--that is the airstream motorhome we had some years ago and had travelled this way.

We see above-ground cemeteries that I’d forgotten.  After the steep Calcasew Bayou bridge tall enough for a Carnival Cruise Ship to slip underneath, somebody ironed out the road again.  And we’re in casinoland in case we feel rich and want that feeling to dissipate.

And here we are on another lighted raised bridge into Texas, with a massive concrete star greeting us in Orange.  A little gaudy billboard, “stripper bar for emergency I-­10 blues."

Only in America.  Lucky us.

Darrel isn’t getting over the “ World famous outhouse, 262 miles--You Can Hold It.”

Interestingly, the monsoon, Houston, I-45 and the construction projects all hit at once.  Must be a tropical storm out of the gulf to provide us with so much drinking water.  We opted for a toll road to save our hides which took care of the construction trucks at least.

Abby (little dog) got big eyes and hid in her kennel.  I wonder if I could fit in there with her.  It was kind of like being strafed in a hurricane.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Blog Series:From Sea To Shining Sea Part One


While lying in bed one morning my husband said to me, “how about we go to Houston to pick up the trailer I found on line and hook up to take it to Oregon?” 

Houston, as in Texas?” I asked in shock.

“Yes.  We can save $5000 by driving to Texas instead of buying that unit locally.”

Getting cleared to leave took four days (mail pickup, yard maintenance, security system, notification to key family members.)  And we took off Sunday, Sept. 20.

We headed at first out in our truck on highway 20 to Montgomery Alabama where we visited with some friends one night, than continued the next morning.  We did ask if they could come with us to Oregon, and funny thing, they could not, due to a family project obligation.   But they made us a lovely breakfast and we returned to the truck, which was packed to the gills with anything one might need when traveling across country.

Monday we headed to Baton Rouge.  Yesterday I85 and today I65 have been wonderful roads.  Trees are just starting to turn fall colors and the weather is hot and still at 97 degrees.  Alabama had an interesting exit for us:  Near Slapout, in Deatsville, we saw a lot full of tees where somebody had nailed pots and wash tubs all over the tree trunks. A  number of 1930 style houses on tilt with disaster mobile homes permeate Slapout.  Cotton fields were ready to harvest throughout the state despite the year long drought.

We learned there is a Creek Indian Reservation in Alabama, as evidenced by the huge casino that said so.  I understand that any local Creek gets a monthly stipend from that casino’s income.  It depends on how much Creek DNA each individual has that determines the amount of the stipend.

I didn’t know Chickamauga is so near Mobile and the Civil War Battle Site.  I-65 continues on a huge raised bridge which seemed to be about 25 miles long. over swampy wetlands.   We crossed the exotic Lizard Creek.  It joins the Mobile River on its way through the swamp to the Gulf of Mexico.  That whole “bridge” is lined with evergreen pines and deciduous oaks, sweetgum, and cypress trees growing in the swamp.  Our swath of freeway made me feel like a gliding bird.  Obviously there was nothing else out there including billboards.  Maybe a couple of lost alligators.

Mobile Bay is about 35 miles wide according to my map with the farthest end having towns with names like Citranella, Satsema, Daphne and Theodore, which makes me curious.  Mobile is where Mardi Gras originally was held before New Orleans stole it and made it notorious.  One barely makes it through Fat Tuesday in time for Lent.  Maybe Mobile actually escaped?  Anyway it looks like Florida.  I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t that.

We joined I-10 West and the road and traffic were so good we felt blessed.

I passed a sign saying Pascagoula, Mississippi, 24 miles just past the Mobile Greyhound Racetrack.  The track reminded me that seeing a greyhound race is on my bucket list.  But it is closed on Monday Mornings, alas. 

The road became horrible and we bounced all over the place for too many miles before we pulled off onto an outlying road on the other side of Biloxi, Mississippi. We stretched our backs and let our little dog run around.  We’d stopped where a brand-new structure stood out in the middle of nowhere and a sign pointed toward it, with the words, “Hurricane Shelter.”  The place looked like a fort, but had a ball field and stadium.

So my dog is doing her business and I’m following her to bag her evidence then looked around that building for a trashcan.  My husband said, “This is a high school.”  Eek.

We left forthwith along with our evidence.  Before we got back to the freeway, we noticed all the trashcan from the businesses along the sparsely populated road were at the end of driveways.  But they were standing open so I made a doggy deposit from my window.  Ask for a trashcan and presto! One appears.

The most recent hurricane had been Katrina, but we saw no evidence of her violence during the seventy mile stretch of  I-10 through Mississippi, nor the tip of Lake Ponchartrain at Slidell, Lousiana either.  Finally the weather has been more kind to Louisiana than I expected, thank God.