Thursday, October 30, 2014

Road Trip! Prescott, Cottonwood, and Sedona!

7:30a.m. and all my morning chores were done. Nothing on the plate today, so what's a guy to do? Road Trip... Max and I loaded up some snacks into the Jeep and pointed the front bumper north!

The last time I had made the trip from northen AZ down to Tucson was about 96'. Surly a few things had changed in the past 18 years. Cities and towns, yes... The scenery was pretty much the same, go figure? It was spectacular way back when, and it didn't disappoint today either.

Retro Teardrop... $6,999.00
Phoenix really is in a great location. A nice circle trip for the day took me through much of the more well known scenic spots in the north part of the state. Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, but it was a full all be it relaxing day.

In years past this direction was taken in a motorhome. Sure it is scenic, but once you get into towns, finding a place to set for a spell for picture taking can be a bit tricky. Not to mention the 50' max length restriction going through Jerome. A small artist community built on the side of a mountain with sharp switch back corners. Narrow streets, and zero parking. Forcing you to just keep on driving.

Kitchen with spare tire storage at the bottom
Many beautiful photo ops were missed because I can't drive and take pictures at the same time. At least I got to see the sights, too bad for all of you!

My first stop was in a little town of Dewey AZ. From the highway I noticed a couple teardrop trailers in an RV dealer's lot and just had to stop take a look see. Max needed to stretch his legs, so I had an excuse for stopping for a bit.

The owner, I presume, was just arriving, and like the consummate salesman I assumed him to be, was on me before I had put my foot on the ground getting out of the Jeep. I clearly stated I was
just a looker, passing through for a day of sightseeing.

With no pressure to make a sale, he was the most obliging host, showing me his wares, and chatting about the area. He highly recommended being just far enough away from Phoenix, and at a higher elevation, to have cooler summers, and barely noticeable winters.

A little further up the highway I ran across my first official Art Van.  Covered from top to bottom with everything Eagle, it was easy to spot while
driving. I had to turn around and go snap a picture. I have no idea if it was a customer's van at the restaurant, or just a clever way to draw customers off the highway.

Either way it was doing the job. I had to almost stand in line to get a clear shot of it. A couple of ladies were spending some time giving a a close inspection.

I turned NW toward Prescott and looked for more natural sights to see. I wasn't disappointed.

On the way to Jerome out of Prescott
Prescott is a nice area. More of a summer retreat for those with money to spend. Prescott Valley is more accessible for the average man. Still at a high enough elevation to be comfortable in the summer, but not as exclusive and pricey as Prescott proper.

For the most part the real scenery started when I turned north on 89A, towards Cottonwood, and Sedona. It didn't take long to realize you were in Grand Canyon country, some of the vista's were long and spectacular.

Whenever there is an "A" after a road number you can be assured it will be worth taking it slower, and pulling over often.

The camera got a workout, and every time I got out of the Jeep Max acted like I was abandoning him
A burger at Mickey Dee's alongside a classic VW
on the side of the road. Talk about separation anxiety!

The one thing that stood out along the ride was the improvements to the highway system. I drove through more roundabouts today than ever before. They kept the traffic flowing, but because of the huge number of them, speeds remained reduced too.

I grabbed a burger in Cottonwood, and let Max inhale a small bowl of water. Having a large diet Coke with me when I drive, I have to make a point not to forget the little guy. He gets parched too.

Heading toward Sedona brought me into red rock country. The quantity of huge red formations is overpowering, sadly traffic meant I could only
look and keep on moving for much of it.

The one thing I remembered from my last drive through Sedona was the narrow two lane road through the center of town with cars all parked at an angle. Being in a motorhome the idea of stopping for a closer look see was impossible.

Things have changed a bit. For most of the drive through town it is 4 lanes of open roadway with traffic moving right along.

Just as I approached the northern end of town, it dropped down to that well remember two lanes with rustic store fronts and tourists wandering everywhere. The world renowned Pink Jeep tour rigs were ambling every which way hopping to
drum up business.  There was one orange rig giving tours as well... A full  sized Hummer decked out with plenty of extra seats.

 I felt making the last leg of the run to Flagstaff was more than I wanted to tackle today. Instead I cut cross country on Hwy 179 heading over to I-17. I think it was a good choice because the views of the red rock formations were even more grand.

Once on 17, it was south again and back to Phoenix. It had been a full day, clicking off most of 250 miles in the process.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, with Phoenix being in the middle of many great sites, I will have a
hard time choosing which direction to go next.

For sure it will be somewhere new for me, this is all uncharted territory from here on out.

I'm going to make a stop at the nearest Highway Patrol office. I'm curious if I can tow a lightweight Teardrop trailer behind my Jeep when I am flat towing it behind my motorhome.

It would be nice to have a small teardrop for short excursions when I'm settle in for a few months with the motorhome.

The problem is when I move everything to a new location, it all has to come in one trip.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Saturday Morning Great Wonderful Adventure!

A total of 8 balloons where taking off
Back almost 20 years ago, the last time I was down this way, I had a short taste of what the path less followed looked like. Driving a Ford Festiva, a taste was about all I could manage at the time. I hoped I would get another chance sometime in the future with a vehicle better suited for the task.

Today was the day! Though my expected guest bailed on me earlier in the week, I brought along someone from my past who is way more important to me, and continues to be my very best friend.

Through the magic of the internet, the fact that she is 2200 miles east of here made little difference.
A popular theme, there were 3-4 like this one
Through the whole morning we were in almost constant contact, and I relayed what I was seeing through pictures and descriptions.

All this effort went beyond just including someone on my journey, I was going into uncharted (for me at least) territory in +95 degree heat. It was prudent to keep someone posted of my whereabouts as much as possible.

As I headed north away from where I call home at the moment, I shortly passed a squadron, covey, or maybe it's a flock of hot air balloons just taking to the skies. Talk about being in the right spot at the right time! Of course I
Clearing the hill and headed west
had to stop and take pictures.

Within minutes of continuing I also passed two para-gliders floating along about 500' off the ground. Just a little ways east, an ultra-light aircraft was buzzing by as well. The skies were alive with activity this morning, a perfect blue sky with practically no wind. The temps were nice and comfortable right then too. It got hotter as I progressed through the morning though.

I continued west to the Morgan City Wash Road. The map indicated it was blacktop for about a mile then becoming an "Improved/ Irregularly
Morgan City Wash
Maintained" road. I was quick to learn that means passable for Jeeps and such, but forget taking the family sedan.

As I entered the area it had all makings of a combat zone. I had checked with authorities before hand, so I was armed with a single small 9mm pistol purely for safety purposes. The quantity of high powered gun fire in rapid succession all around me was a little disconcerting.

There were groups of people surrounding me on all sides of the trail. Shot guns, military grade weaponry, and many semiautomatic handguns can create quite a racket. It was easy to see, all were observing safety precautions and were directing their fire into close by dirt banks. It
Pretty easy driving
all sounded way worse than it really was. Arizona is one of the few states that allow it's citizens to carry concealed arms with no specific permit. Any one can and will be armed at any given time. That explains why 20 years ago I saw a man with a handgun tucked into his belt at the small of his back in Kmart. This is still the wild west, only safer. If everyone carries, the odds of someone attacking you are less.

The Morgan City Wash  trail is just what it says. A run off path for flash flood waters. It's drive-able with little effort, except for the steep and rugged decline down into the river bed.

I followed the river bed for abut 5 miles, with  my hand held GPS marking a trail on it's screen, showing the way back to where I came from. It's hard
Castle Hot Springs Road
to get lost following a river bed, but missing the point where you came down into the river could be an issue, I was soon to find out about.

Not having much of a clue about where I was, after 5 miles I turned around to come back the same way I went in. Sure enough, I rolled right past that small opening in the brush where I came down onto the river bed, but within about 200 ft I recognized my error on the GPS. A quick turn around and I  was climbing back up into the previous war zone. Yep, they all were still there. Pumping all manners of lead into the soft banks.

I headed west on highway 74, thinking I was going to go to Wickenburg. I came upon the Castle Hot Springs Road and pulled over to check the
map. I had already passed the same road name, so I verified it was a loop of sorts. Seemed like the 30 or so miles would be a good scenic drive back toward Phoenix.

It all started well enough, nicely maintained dirt road going past a whole slew of Santa Fe style adobe homes. The further I got in, the more narrow the road became. I hadn't seen any sign of life until SURPRISE...Here comes a gravel hauling semi truck around the corner.

I quickly returned to my proper position on the right side of the road, and vowed to stay there. It was a few more miles up the road I came across the entrance to some sort of mine. Apparently where the rock truck originated from.

Right from that point on, the road because strictly Jeep and off road vehicle only material. For the next two hours it was up and down steep inclines, switchbacks and narrow trails skirting along the sides of mountains. Nothing that felt the least bit unnerving, just enough where taking a car through this would likely turn it into a rattle trap in no time.

I rolled along in 1st and 2nd gear enjoying some wonderful views. I wish I had a 3D camera to better show the dept and dramatic changes in topographical texture.

Cactus of every shape and description were
Never think the desert is deserted. It is very alive in so many different shades of green.

As I was creeping along, able to stay in 2 wheel drive most the time, I was amazed by one fact. Though houses... ranches were spaced often 5 miles apart, there were mailboxes at the end of every driveway.
I wonder how often they get their mail, and does it come in by pack mule? There is no way to make speed beyond about 10 miles per hour here. If this is a regular mail route, I'm sure the carrier doesn't have much of a load each day.

I drove on, just hoping the trail didn't peter out. In places it got pretty narrow, and irregularly
maintained means in  reality no one has been through since the original dozer broke trail maybe 75 years ago. I was in far enough, the idea of a break down forcing me to walk back to the main highway was cause for concern. I had enough supplies with me to be comfortable, but having seen no traffic for hours, I wondered just how isolated I was.

Thinking it was better to go forward, I kept on keeping on.

At no time did I feel the road was impassible, it was just secluded. The heat of the day had come, so I kept an eye on the water temperature too.
These Jeeps are a pretty amazing vehicle. Rumbling along on washboard trails all morning, in air
conditioned comfort, listening to music from the 60's on my satellite supplied commercial free radio station.
I can imagine the old miners and their burro's back in the day... Not a good idea as I see it.

All the time relaying as much as I could all the way to the east coast by way of Facebook on my hand held telephone.

I'm a ham radio operator. Yes, not active in the hobby right now, but I've been licensed for about 35 years.
I got into the hobby for the luxury of being able to make phone calls via a 2 meter radio through a phone patch. Cell phones were the size of suit cases, and only the rich had reason to have one.

Now with a device smaller than most pocket calculators I can send pictures, relate stories, and send data most anywhere in the world at a cost that is affordable to almost everyone. How things have changed.

I spent the whole morning away from the big city. This is the Arizona I've always wanted to see. It was a grand ride, just breaking the surface of what's available in these parts to see.

Finally I crested a hill and saw Lake Pleasant in the distance. I knew my time on the trail was winding down.
There was hope, even my highway only GPS was telling me the trail I was on in actuality was a real road. Could of fooled me. Signs said I was entering private roads, there was a state park that required fees to enter, I had no real idea if I was still on the Castle Hot Springs Road at all.

I still found it hard to believe people actually live out here. One rather large and fancy house had a toy hauler 5th wheel parked in the side yard. That thing must be a wreck, being drug over these Jeep trails.

In due time, yes indeed the road came back out on Hwy 74 just like the map  said. I was glad the trip was over, but for the 20 mile ride back to my roving home.  In short order I was home, and the BBQ was lit. Call it a late lunch, or early supper, The thick cut pork chops I picked up a couple days ago were sounding pretty good.  With some fresh squash, and a nice salad, I finished off my day with a good meal. Now it's time to rest, and ponder about what's on the agenda for the week ahead.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making Plans For A Jeep Adventure!

Today I explored my new suburb and saw where things are around here. The big difference being it was broad daylight. What a difference having the sun out and being able to make sense of where you are.

I spotted the BLM regional office. Lucky find! This weekend my first trip out into the wilderness is planned. I will take the Jeep off the beaten path for the first time. I won't get too  brave, it will just be Max and I so I will stay on the main trail areas.This is a big part of what I was looking forward to in Arizona. Getting away from
civilization, and enjoying the many muted shades of green that the desert offers. It was a good plan to find out where we can go without wandering into an area that may be restricted from off road use.  Turns out most of it is open to all.

Since I've been here it has been an endless line of smaller aircraft coming in for a landing right over this park. Turns out there is good reason, the airport is less than a mile to the east. I'm directly inline with the runway.

Max and I Stopped in and took a few pictures. Just as I walked up to the fence a couple WWII
airplanes were just taking off. Sadly the camera was in my pocket. Private planes were secured under canopies all over the tarmac. There was even an early jet fighter tucked in and protected from the elements. I bet it costs a pretty penny to get that old bird airborne.

Now I've got a day to get some survival gear assembled in the Jeep. I'm a newbie to this kind of thing, it's always best to prepare for the worst, and be happy when it doesn't happen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Look Out Phoenix, I've arrived!

Mountains are close by where I'm staying
Okay, I admit it. The past few days it's been more about the miles than where I spent the night. This morning I'm waking in another RV park, this time in Phoenix. All plugged in, with the TV playing and the A/C on standby for later this afternoon.

The night before last was spent at a TA truck stop somewhere west of Deming NM. I lucked out because it was cooler that night and most of the trucks didn't run their motors all night. And yes, I parked way off to the side of the parking lot where it was unlikely a semi would snuggle up close enough to disturb me.

Lots of neighbors
I've never been in Phoenix, and am looking forward to spending
 the next month exploring the area. This park is good sized with a goodly amount of people around during the day. It should give more opportunity to get to know some of them.

Right now there is a carnival about 10 miles away, and there are a bunch of carnies staying here. They have bunk house trailers, with many entrance doors to each person's own little cubical space. Emphasis on little space, can't be much more than room for a bunk for privacy. Not the kind of life I would care for.

One of many carnival bunkhouse trailers
I spent last night in conversation with a new friend, she is a Phoenix local. Then it was off to bed early. Suffering jet lag from going through 3 time zones, and not sleeping very well due to mouth pain from the tooth extraction a few days back. It's mending well, and last night was the first time I slept almost the night through uninterrupted. Only one bathroom call broke it up.

Today it is off to find a car wash, the Jeep is filthy from following too close to a motorhome through rain. Then it's grocery shopping and
This is home for a month
getting acquainted with my new neighborhood. Then maybe a dip in the pool... or a relaxing rest in the Jacuzzi. Though I look forward to Quartzsite, and like the economy side of staying at Walmarts when on the road, when I choose to park for a month, I do appreciate the amenities.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lubbock, Roswell, and All Points West

Lubbock Texas Walmart
It didn't take long after leaving Texas in the rear view mirror to find myself just driving, eating, sleeping, and driving again. I guess I have somewhere to be, so staying short of that point is...Well pointless!

Lubbock was only planned as an overnight stop, Roswell was intended to be a slightly longer stay. Sad to disappoint, one night at their Walmart, and the bus was headed west again. Having seen nary a single indication of little green men, and no effort made to beam me up to the mother ship, I filled up the fuel tank and got back on  Hwy 380.

The Fleet at Roswell Walmart
Both days have been very relaxing and enjoyable behind the wheel. The Pace is in it's element in the southwest. Rolling along effortlessly at 60 mph, listening to John Denver, Dylan, and assorted other oldies from the 60's. The sound of the motor so far behind me, it seems I am floating down the road in an easy chair right in front of the picture window in the living room.The nice part is the view is constantly changing.

In years past I often complained about the assorted clutter of the ages scattered along the highways out in the desert southwest. Nothing deteriorates into dust here. Once abandon, it will remain... Minus some paint probably.

Sunrise Leaving Roswell
Old cars, abandoned relics of the Route 66 hay days, there is a lot of history laying in yards, and in roadside pull offs here. I think I appreciate the mess now more than in the past. It's like an archaeological dig, only it's just laying there on the surface.

The wide open spaces of New Mexico brought to mind one thing while I was headed into the White Sands Missile Testing Range. With all this beautiful vegetation, and endless rolling vistas, how could the Government set off atomic bombs and destroy so much of the land. Making it unusable for decades. Humanity really does need to get their shit together. Destruction is not the way.

New Mexico Prarie
Now I am parked for the night, plenty early I might add. Time to get my head back into the keyboard. Tomorrow another leg of my little detour will disappear in the distance behind me. One day closer to a new adventure.

The Snowbirds are starting their migration, every night more and more roost at Walmart. Last nights community in Roswell was approaching a size warranting a population numbers sign at the edge of the group.

I don't see the numbers getting any smaller as I continue west. The RV's are everywhere. Campgrounds along the highway in the middle of nowhere are packed to the seams.

New Mexico Truck Stop.. Mountains Included!
Tomorrow I will likely cross into Arizona. Walmart accommodations will become a bit more scarce. By in large the vast majority of them don't allow overnight stays. Sam's clubs are a bit more lenient, but overall I need to plan my night stops carefully.

Funny, Arizona is the king of BLM free camping locations, but heaven forbid should you think about staying at Walmart.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Back in the Walmart Saddle Again!

Wednesday finally arrived, and the bad tooth is history. All went smooth, and after one last night to recuperate, Thursday morning I hit the road on schedule. My first day's drive took me to Wichita Falls TX.
My first stop on the road was at a Flying J to get my propane tank filled.  Realize it has been since about June some time since I filled it and I have been living in the Pace full time during that period. I have been conserving the propane by only heating the water tank once a day.

Each morning I would take a shower, and wash the previous days dishes, then turn the water heater off. This is a remarkably easy way to conserve propane since the refrigerator uses very little.

What surprised me the most was that there was at least a 1/3 of a tank left and the charge to fill only came to $42.xx. I expected a much heavier hit to the pocket book.

The days drive went smoothly, lots of open space in Texas. It sure felt good to be moving again, a month in Denton was more than enough time to develop an itchy throttle foot.

Open Highway to Wichita Falls
I spent the month at the Lone Oak RV Park on Lone Oak Rd. About 3 miles north of Sanger TX, and far enough away from the Denton/Dallas traffic and hustle bustle to actually be very peaceful and quiet. Never saw a single kid during the whole stay, and I spent a number of hot afternoon's sitting on the front porch rocking, and enjoying the view out over Lake Ray Roberts.

I admit to getting lazy lately. Last night, since their was another motorhome directly in front of me, I neglected to go inside and ask
Wichita Falls Walmart 
permission. I imagine that is a habit I shouldn't get into, but then so far I have never been rejected.

I enjoyed Denton, made a new friend or two, but like most places. Years later, when you return, it is never the same. I leave the area now with little though of returning again in the future. I only have so much time left, and it is better spent finding new places to see.

For now I'm glad to me heading west, possibly with a detour in front of me that may add an interesting twist to the  journey.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Waiting for the Dentist

My plan was to spend the day doing laundry and making ready to move on down the road. Well I did the laundry alright, but beyond that I was busy taking Tylenol, dabbing Anbesol, and snuggling up to a heat pad.

The signs were there a few weeks ago, the top 3rd molar on the right side had once again become sensitive to just about anything. I picked up a tube of Sensodine toothpaste, and got real serious about my oral hygiene.

So much for my effort, the last few days have waylaid my plan on visiting the Mexican Dental Clinic south from Quartzsite later this winter.

Come Wens. morning I have an appointment to have the nasty bugger removed. I can't say I'm surprised, last fall my Dentist back home warned me she had done all she could for the poor molar. She recommended it be extracted if it became intolerable.

Well for certain, I have visited the limits of my pain endurance. It's time for it to go.

On a better note, what do you do to take your mind off the ache that has expanded to consume half your head? You bake bread.

For those who don't know me that well, you may be thinking  it's a loaf of frozen bread dough. Taken from the freezer and allowed to thaw and rise. Not me my friends.

Using one of my favorite recipes from my bread baking book, I mixed up a batch of fresh dough. Enough for 4 nice sized loaves of home made rye bread. Complete with caraway seeds.

I baked up one loaf today, and will be baking a fresh loaf every day or two throughout the next week. This is the first time I've baked bread since moving into the old Pace Arrow some almost 5 months ago. As much as I love the stuff, bread is the one thing us Diabetics need to avoid.

Every so often one has to cheat just a little. One thing for sure though, it does both smell and taste excellent!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second Monday Trade Days in Bowie Texas

Each month, back in the 1800's, the circuit judge would travel from one small town to the next taking care of legal issues. It was cause for celebration for the town folk. In those days any reason to gather in town was appreciated. It provided a place for vendors to sell their goods and for people from miles around to socialize.

Today the tradition continues. No, the Judge isn't coming to pronounce sentence, and no gallows are constructed. These days it's a time when large flea markets, craft manufacturer's, and food vendors, gather and sell their goods.

First Monday is held in Canton Texas, the largest of the bunch. Second Monday is held in Bowie, and
Montague Court House
Third Monday happens in McKinney. Today I took the easy ride cross country to partake in the gathering at Bowie.

My first stop was at McDonald's in Gainsville to pick up my usual sipping diet Coke for traveling. Lately Iv'e learned something about Texans... Not a one of them know how to cook breakfast.

It doesn't much matter what time of morning you roll through the drive-up window, there is always a line out to the street. No point thinking it will be faster to go inside. I've tried it every time only to have an equally long line inside.

Real nice crop of Windmills
One of the first small towns I went through was Montague. I was taken by the grand courthouse on the square so I had to stop and snap a picture.

It wasn't far down the road that I ran across a prime crop of windmills, all ready for harvesting. It's a pretty varied group, they must have been an interesting batch of seeds.

Max had a blast walking the rows of vendors. Sniffing every corner. He made a bunch of new friends, both 4 legged and two legged.

It's kind of fun walking through a crowd and hearing people comment to each other about the cute little fur ball.

You sure know your in Texas, and this is cattle country. Lots of vendors selling saddles, or spurs, belts, and lots of cowboy hats.

If you're in need of a set of long horns to bolt to the hood of your vintage Cadillac, this is the place to get them. Leather work must be a big seller, belts, knife scabbards, and holsters of any description were on display.

I'll be leaving Texas soon, there are a lot of things about this state I'm going to miss. The politeness of the people here goes way beyond what I've heard of the supposedly Minnesota nice up north. There's a sense of formality here. It's yes Ma'am, thank you Sir, the respect shown to everyone by everyone just makes you smile.

Everyone I've met has been friendly, outgoing, and always ready to sit and chat awhile. One particular lady made time in her busy schedule to include me into her life while I was here. I hope our paths cross again. Seeing more of Wyoming, and the Buckhorn mountains is even more enticing knowing there will be a spot to stop with a welcoming host.

Next stop....Well it's bound to be west.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meeting a Cute Little Burro

Three Amigos
Burro's are a cute but rugged little critter. Small, compact, yet versatile and able to go most anywhere.
Sounds like a fair comparison to the little white egg shaped fiberglass travel trailer that goes by the same name.
Just what you need, without  being too much.
Yesterday I took a ride to Dallas with a new friend who is new to the world of RV ownership. She purchased a 1982 Burro with plans of having it remodeled and updated so she can travel. Both for her job, and for recreation. As I have seen in years past Arkansas has some wonderful Corp of Engineer campgrounds
just right for someone to enjoy a weekend far away from Dallas and the hustle bustle of the big city.

Her carpenter is making good progress with new laminate flooring being already installed. The dining table redesign was discussed, and plans for other modifications were explained. If all goes as planned there will still be time for some excursions before winter comes to North Texas.

It's always fun to spend time with someone that is full of enthusiasm, and just getting their sea legs in the RV world.

New laminate floor
After showing me the electric jack that had been installed and the new coupler and stabilizer jacks, we locked up the trailer and went looking for somewhere to get some lunch.

Just a few blocks away we set our sites on a Korean restaurant, and I was introduced to a whole new eating experience.  They brought us about ten little dishes with the side items and a hot skillet of cooked meat. Wrapping things together in romaine lettuce leaves, we munched away like we hadn't eaten all day.

Once back in Denton we stopped at an old time ice cream emporium on the south side of courthouse
Deciding how to mount the dining table
square. It's been good to have someone new to talk to lately. Max tries, but his conversation is pretty limited. My friend is able to split her time between here and Wyoming. I've been to Wyoming, the Buckhorn mountains were breathtaking. I remember stopping to watch a group of hang gliders launch off the side of the mountain. Looking down to the valley below, everything was divided up in squares of different shades of green.

My time in Denton is winding down. My plan is to depart about a week from now. Today I've been catching up on my writing, and trying to decide
Beef roast in the crock pot
which direction I will take west from here. When I left Minnesota I originally planned to follow Route 66  from Springfield IL. That plan never happened, so I make no promises.
I'll get there when I do, and travel through wherever I'll be.

For lunch today, it's a beef roast in the crock pot with onions and celery. Topped with a nice thick gravy alongside half of a spaghetti squash. Pondering takes some serious nourishment and with nothing clear as to my course, I need to do some serious pondering.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Morning Is The Perfect Time To See The Countryside

Lots of open space in Texas
Sunday morning, beautiful weather, if you think I'm going to spend the day sitting inside this motorhome you're crazier than I am. Max is always up for anything, so when I picked up his leash he started his happy dance...Road Trip!

With my GPS turned on, and better yet my smart phone on the map feature, I headed west on the first country road I could find, after picking up a large diet Coke at Mickey Dee's in Sanger. Can't be on a road trip without something to sip.

It was a relaxing, all be it slower, cruise through the countryside. Only problem, like most of Texas
Old windmill on a ranch
the speed limit was 65 and as high as 70 for this narrow two lane road. How is one to absorb the beauty of their surroundings when cars and trucks are riding your bumper because you don't want to drive like a maniac.

Every few minutes I would just pull off the driving lane, and let them by. It wasn't my goal to slow everyone else down, just because I have no where to be and a life time to get there.  Heard that from a friend, and love that saying!

I still managed to enjoy the scenery, and also the music being piped in from my Sirius satellite radio. Listening to pop music from the 50's, how did
I manage to get so old.

Checking where I was headed, the town of Decatur seemed like a good turn around point. I use to go through this town too, many years ago. Just a small place, with the center of town being the courthouse square. One thing about Texas is they went in big for ornate, classy court houses.

When I lived here before I was an activities driver for a retirement facility. There was one elderly gentleman, a real Dapper Dan. In his 80's but when he went out with us on the bus to various places, he was always dressed to perfection. Complete with a stylish hat cocked slightly to one side.

His hobby for many years was collecting courthouses. Like I collect water towers, he traveled all over Texas taking pictures and touring the inside of every courthouse. When a new one was built, it was time for another road trip.

I've been all over Texas through the years, and almost every little town is set up the same way. The
Decatur courthouse
center of town being a square, and the courthouse in the middle of the square. Taking up a full block of space. Surrounding the square is one quaint little shop after another. It really does make a statement as these courthouses were built, for the most part, in the 1800's. They were the center of activities then, and yet today. Quiet often you will find farmer's markets and festivals making use of the square too. It's the central gathering point for the whole area.

Riding down these country highways is about the most relaxing thing to do. When I lived in Texas I drove hot shot all over the country. A Ford 1-ton dually, pulling a 40' gooseneck flatbed trailer. There is no feeling like that of driving many miles
New 1-tons by the dozens.. Lets go trucking!
of open highway. Away from the cities, just open countryside to keep the mind carefree, and alive. Just soaking in what you are rolling past. Even at 70 mph, you get a feel for the open highway that becomes a lifetime intoxicant that no desk job could ever match.

There is freedom when you don't have a supervisor watching you, when you can decide to take a break, or depart from your designated course. In ways I miss truck driving, but any temptation to get back into it quickly passes when you remember the tight deadlines, the long waiting to be loaded, the ridiculousness expectations of shippers. Being Diabetic, my
Route 66 bits and pieces are still around!
commercial driver's license is but a memory of years past. Now I can duplicate the freedom of the open road, leaving me in complete control of where I go, what I see, and what I expect out of the day.
Still I had to stop and check out the newest rigs, all decked out ready to haul freight across the country, or just around the corner.
There is but one problem with this trip down memory lane, the price tag on the window now is around $55,000... a jump of nearly 80% of what it was when I was in the game.

On my ride back home, the real history of Texas was pretty obvious along the way. Sure there were plenty of cattle ranches, but more common
Oil pumps and storage tanks dot the scenery
now is the over abundance of petroleum searching and harvesting.

Not so many pumps along the way, but natural gas wells and transfer stations have been placed as fast as drillers can plant them. When we lived here in the 90's they were punching holes in the ground every 500', and the din of drills went on 24/7. Working around the clock without slowing down.

Now the drill rigs aren't as prevalent, but they are still around. Leaving behind large tanks, and pipeline plumbing and valves,  all over the landscape.
Drill rigs are still around

Texas really doesn't change. Cattle, oil, and open range. It's been this way for more than a century, and likely will be this way until the oil is gone. Then it may become cattle, solar, and open range. I bet two out of three will be here forever.