Monday, June 16, 2014

Driving Through the Southwest

Saturday and Sunday were pretty much just driving--left Little Rock Saturday morning and made it a little past Oklahoma City.  Found a KOA right by the highway, so that was convenient.  As we were pulling off, though, there was a line of traffic stopped on the exit ramp which we couldn't figure out at first.  Then we realized that two oversized loads we had seen earlier were trying to maneuver into a truck stop.  Each of these were carrying a gigantic blade for one of the huge power generating wind mills that are all over.  We had seen lots of these wind mills here in the southwest last year and we knew they were big, but you really don't get the full perspective of just how big they are until you are right up close to one of these blades.  A regular 18 wheeler trailer is 53 feet long, and this was on a trailer bed with a long extension beam; not sure how long it is, but it is enormous.  They had passed us earlier and at first we didn't know what it was when it was coming around.  Quite interesting to get this perspective.

After we got set up in the campground we took Sophie for a walk to see these two buffalo that the place had penned up.  She was quite curious, but not too sure what these great big hairy creatures were!  Unfortunately we forgot to take the camera when we were walking so no pics, but she was pretty cute looking at them, wondering if they were just big dogs to play with!  I'm  still a little rusty with remembering to never leave the RV without the camera in my pocket like we always did last year--but we'll get back into the routine.

Anyway, Sunday morning started off with a wonderful Father's Day Skype visit with our son, Jeremy, from Bangkok, Thailand, where he is teaching this year.  It was so good to see his face and hear his voice, though it sure makes us miss him.  As you may know from the news, there has been political unrest there since last November, and a couple of months ago the military staged a coup and there was initially a strict curfew in place.  But now they have lifted the curfew, and Jeremy says that, but for seeing it on the news, he would not be aware of anything going on:  his school is in session, business as usual for him and the locals just take this in stride as part of their normal expected life events.  There have been a number of coups over the years since the monarchy was in place, so it's no big deal to the natives.  Anyway, he's safe and that makes us happy.  Since he will have a semester break in October, we've been planning to visit him then, but once the military took over, we had to adopt a wait and see attitude.  Still in that mode, but so far things are looking like it will work.

So we took off from Oklahoma and continued west on I-40, driving across the little top part of Texas and made it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico for the night.  Along the way, got a Father's Day call from our daughter, Shelley.  She was in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she and her husband, Ken, were attending his college reunion.  Since there are so few hotels in Hanover and they sell out for reunion weekend a year in advance, they ended up staying in a dorm room--what a hoot!  Even though it was a relatively new dorm, so somewhat modern, she said it was quite a throwback to have to put on flip flops and carry her stuff down the hall to the shower!  She and Ken are still hopeful that their dog, Sasha, will be found and brought back to them--over a month ago they had left her, along with their other dog, at a kennel out from Atlanta that is in a farm-like setting, where there is lots of room for dogs to run.  Unfortunately, the people let Sasha get away and she's been on the run ever since.  They've had lots of sightings and had a dog finder service come in with tracker dogs who clearly found her scent and could confirm that she's alive and healthy, based on how far she's been running, but it will still take some time.  Apparently, once a dog has been in the wild for this long, she tends to get very skittish and fearful of humans, and often run away when anyone gets close.  Shelley said that Friday night a man saw her and called out to her and she took off.  The tracker dog handler said that eventually she will get tired of running and be more likely to approach someone, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that they will all be reunited soon.

As we left Texas and entered New Mexico, we were so excited to be back in this part of the country.  Last year we were just fascinated by the scenery in this part of the country, so different from the southeast, with miles of wide valleys and buttes and mesas on either side, often way in the distance.  Not really into the big red rock country, but we began to see some red strata in some of the hills.  Also reminded of last year where you are on highways that are just straight and flat (moreso in Texas) where you can see for miles.  Also struck once again at how much more effort many cities tend to put into making bridge overpasses and such visually appealing, with lots of color and designs built into them.  When we got into the campground in Santa Rosa and I was hooking up, Trisha took Sophie for a walk and we were reunited with one of the less pleasant phenomena of this area of the country--goatheads!  First encountered them last year in Albuquerque while bike riding--these mean little thorn-like spurs that puncture bike tires in an instant.  Sophie got one in her paw that Trisha had to extract, and we've had to pay close attention to not track them into the RV on our shoes.

But then, to celebrate Father's Day, Trisha took me to dinner at a Mexican restaurant just up the road and it was fabulous!  The way they do beans is just unlike most of the Mexican restaurants we typically see in the southeast, and it was wonderful, even though the waitress was a bit taken aback when we asked them to leave the meat out of our entrees!  A great way to end the day and to refresh after a day on the road.  Then got a call from our son, Todd, from Seattle, and grandson, John, to end the day having talked to all the kids.  I've long believed that the people you need to be most concerned about in terms of how you influence them and what you do for them are your children, the ones who look to you for guidance, role modeling, and support.  And I am so blessed and proud to have these three who have grown into such remarkable adults--how could I be so lucky!

Here are a few pics:

The first of the big windmill blades, passing us.  This sucker was definitely taller than our RV

 Both of them now ahead of us
 Here are some working windmills

 Big wheat fields
 A field that appeared to have been recently harrowed, but we couldn't tell why they did it in this pattern, just looked interesting

 Trisha tried with these next couple to get the massive cattle feed lots, but you can't really see the cows--just hundreds, if not thousands in these big lots, all crowded together with little room to move, other than to get to the feed troughs

 Quintessential Texas--the lone windmill, of the old fashioned variety, in the field
 First mesa sighting!
 Coming into New Mexico

 First sign of the red rock country--woohoo!


  1. I am really getting into the trip this year. I almost feel like I owe you for gas..............

    We are going the first of July to Denver to visit my sister Dwala (OHS 1961). Your trip last year will help us plan our visit as we will stay a week plus and drive around 1800 miles. We get to use her new car............I told her I would return it empty.


  2. Rod, your Colorado trip sounds super! Hope you have a great time!