Our trip to Phoenix, March-April 2006
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March 27th, Monday: Started trip at 6:45AM. Weather was sunny and chilly as we headed for Holden for grocery store sweet rolls and then onto Hiway 2 west to Kansas border. Hiway 2 led to Ottawa for our first break. First sight of oil wells just past Kansas border. This first break at Ottawa was at 8:55AM at a convenience store where gas was $2.45.
The Kansas terrain of hills and prairie begins to appear at Ottawa about 136 miles to Wichita. Very windy, but sunny and still chilly. Also saw first sighting of stone fences just before the Pomona, Ks. exit. Also, the highway sights near Lebo, Ks. were scenes of trains, white colored buildings, and still brown trees not yet blooming. Some fields and pastures were showing spring burning. Went past the home of the pioneer small town editor, William Allen White, Emporia, Ks. Came to the Kansas turnpike at 54 Wichita exit where user fee was $3.50.
Open range was next scene of very few farms amongst the views of brown grass and few trees. Blue water in creeks along road. Then, Flint Hills appeared where one could see little ravines, no trees, scrub trees if any, and white rock appearing as outcroppings. First antelope appeared at 10:06AM about 50 miles from Wichita. At Wichita left turnpike and started on US-54 hiway which actually goes to El Paso and to Tucumcari.
By 11:38AM driving thru Wichita in high winds, big city, hard driving, very few tall buildings, and downtown has the Arkansas river channel. Next stop 300 miles for night. Also, wheat fields are appearing now. Early Spring wheat pastures were also pastures for cattle at this time of year.
Tourism Gem: Greensburg, Kansas has "A Big WELL Come for You!" road sign. Guess what Greensburg has? The world's largest hand dug well!
Drove through Greensburg about 12:30PM and then only 8 miles from Pratt. Lunch at McDonalds in Pratt. Tried the new chicken wrap sandwich from McDonalds. Very good. Very high winds, still sunny and chilly.
Tourism Gem: Kansas City PBS TV, KCPT, features Mullinville, KS. on their program "Roadside Revelations." Along the highway is a home – it's not the home, it's the fence along the highway, along another road, and around the house. There are hundreds of hand-painted whirly-gigs twirling in the wind, hand-painted small signs of assorted quotes, spicy comments, and nonsense. Exit the highway and take a long look at all the whirly gigs and signs.
When we neared Meade, Ks., sand dunes "desert type range" became more apparent than a prairie landscape. Windbreaks of trees are very apparent in this area.
Tourism Gem: Last year Meade, Ks. (sign must have blown over) had a hiway sign that read: "Welcome to Meade, Ks. The Dalton Boys shouldn’t have gone to Coffeeville." (The Dalton Boys were shot in Coffeeville). The Dalton Boys Hideout Museum is in Meade. The Museum is a small brick building with a painting of the Dalton Boys robbing a bank, and near that scene is a stage for a play about the Dalton Boys.
Plains, Ks. was a break from driving 433 miles from Warrensburg by 2:58PM. Two days before Plains had 10 inches of snow. Saw snow packed in crevices along the highway before entering Plains. At this convenience stop, met an older gentleman who told us about the storm earlier in the week and commented that his family never understood why he wanted to move out to the middle of no where in Kansas.
Tourism Gem: Arrived at the Cattleman's Restaurant by 4:10PM, Liberal, Ks. This restaurant is our favorite next to Bubba's Texas restaurant near Lubbock, Texas. We had the same menu item as last year: Pot roast, mashed potatoes-gravy, and my favorite, brown sugar green beans with homemade rolls, $4.95. Bill had a huge chicken fried steak with sides. Everything is homemade. Green beans contain powdered sugar, brown sugar, bits of bacon, and onion. Liberal is also home of the world-famous pancake race with a town in England. This year England won. Of course, the famous street in Liberal is Pancake Avenue. Also, Liberal has huge packing plants such as the SeaBorg food processing and National Beef Co. Liberal is just a few miles from the Oklahoma state line
Tourism Gem: The first town in Oklahoma, Hooker, is just a few miles past Liberal. We took several pictures of the town's billboard created by a very creative Hooker Chamber of Commerce of a lady of the evening of course painted next to the words, "Welcome to Hooker." Hooker is also the home of the Horny Toads, an American Legion baseball team.
Scenery of area is distant landscape buttes with sandy, brushy terrain. Saw more oilfields than cattle. Stopped for first night on road at Comfort Inn, Guymon (Only stayed at 2 Comfort Inns, so Holiday Inn Expresses are the other nightly stops. Holiday Inn Expresses are noted as HIEs in the journal.
March 28th, Tuesday: (see day 2 pictures)
Guymon (known as the Queen of the Okla. Panhandle) was an interesting town, but left at 7:15AM to high plains, 35 degrees. Around town is brownish colors, trashy roads, and flat terrain. 400 Miles to go after leaving Guymon. Next town was Goodwell, OK., home of rodeo star, Robert Etbaur. Panhandle Okla. State University is this town. Saw many low-income housing. I came to believe during the trip that the choice of housing in middle of tornado country is trailers.
When we entered Texas at 7:35AM, still on W. US-54, came to the pheasant capital of Texas, Stratford. Next "tourism gem" was a sign that said "Calf Fries" dinner at XIT Ranch, Dalhart. Chevron gas price: $2.49. Just outside of Dalhart on 54 was a very strange monument in the middle of no where: A small religious grotto on left side of road. Scenery is still scrub trees and cactus. Going now to Tucumcari.
TOURISM GEM: Tucumcari: Now on Route 66 west through the town. The businesses that illustrate the heyday of Route 66 travel are mostly in disrepair. Really sad. The town is showing a decay, and the comment was by several – "It's a pipeline of drugs."
Also, El Toro restaurant looks shabby in what the town calls a downtown, but the food is very authentic. Also, Del’s restaurant on Route 66 is wonderful, too. Both are a "must" stop in Tucumcari! HOWEVER: the gem of the town is the Mesalands Community College's dinosaur museum. Great friendly staff and director, excellent gift shop, and most importantly students actually working on bones. This college has cast bronze statues of dinosaurs (www.mesalands.edu). This small museum is very prominent in the state. A must tourism gem!
Here are the colors of Tucumcari: Sand mounds along hiway, no sight of any buildings, etc. in distance, few cattle, high plains, no oil wells, red sand, green in spots from desert plants, grey distant look, saw buttes in distance near Logan, N.Mex. Saw a volcano in distant landscape. Weather was very extremely windy, chilly, sunny.
Arrived in Ft. Sumner area about 1:00PM from Tucumcari. Museum of the Bosque Redondo closed. This is the fort where the Navajo were displaced and told to walk 300 miles or so back to their homelands after the Navajo wanted their homelands instead of an Oklahoma reservation. Also, Billy the Kid's grave is at the cemetery before the fort. It's a one-store stop and only opportunity to photograph Billy the Kid’s grave. I liked the story of Bill the Kid better in Lincoln, New Mex.! This area is high desert, big ranches, and saw several bunches of cattle in open lands. A good artistic area.
Tourism Gem: Long drive from Tucumcari to Roswell. Arrived 3PM and went straight to UFO museum. Took same pictures and visited with archives staff. Bought two teeshirts and a coffee cup. The town of Roswell has grown. Looks like Lee’s Summit as one drives into town – all the usual "big box" stores and traffic. But, the downtown is just like before, not thriving. A few wide streets and stores look the same as before. There is a conflict now between the Art Museum of Roswell and the UFO Museum. Which is more tourism attractive. The UFO Museum may be moved from the old theater it is in to a new location closer to the Art Center. I read about the Art Gallery in New Mexico magazine, and I was very impressed with the exhibits and the ability to view restoration in progress. However, gossip I picked up at the gift shop was still which attraction brought in the tourists. I'll still put my bet on the UFO museum!
Left Roswell for Ruidoso. Town is a mountain tourist town with a famous quarter horse race track, small race tracks, horses in pastures all over the place. It was cold, rainy, and this rain had started in Roswell. We checked into the HIE at Ruidoso, and then went out to dinner at some Mexican restaurant on the narrow, winding road in middle of the Ruidoso tourism area. What one sees is lodging cabins, bear gift shops, restaurants, gift stores, motels, and all this is packed in along a narrow hiway. I felt like I was in Gatlinburg, Tenn.! Around this area of Ruidoso I think most stores are promoting bear wood crafts and other bear things. I am not bearish!!
After supper went to the Inn of the Mountain Gods Apache resort and casino. This was more difficult to get to as we drove in the rain, chill, etc. up a very narrow road to top of the mountain. It wasn't fun. Got to casino and toured the Apache art display, looked out the casino and resort hotel window at more rain, and then played at casino – I lost $5 and Bill won $3. Casino penny slot machines are more different than around here.
We were on the Mescalero Apache reservation while at the casino. A hiway sign announced, "Apache Power." Artwork of the Apache we saw at the casino very different. I would say the art had "Apache attitude."
March 29th, Wednesday (see day 3 pictures)
Left the Ruidoso area early and headed for Las Cruces and Uncle Murray. Temperature on way along US 70 to southwest was about 40 degrees, still rainy, and windy. Got to White Sands National Monument by 10AM or so. Took sand dune pictures, and fussed with each other about who was taking the best pictures.
We followed the Nogal Canyon going to White Sands. White Sands looked like a lake below the Organ Mountain range. Near Tularosa, New Mex., here is an idea for a painting of the southwest: Strips of white in distance with a purple blackish color to the distant mountain range. There are red and yellow layers of color at the bottom of the mountain range with some green for the desert plants. A very clear day, bright blue sky, some clouds, about 40 degrees, and most of the homes were stucco, southwestern look, but plain. Actually, what houses we saw from the hiway weren't very pretty. When I write of saying a place isn't pretty - I should say trashy items along the hiway, plain lower-income housing, trailer parks, no grass (there is no such thing as green grass), just rocks as décor, and packed sand stone roads.
We played on sand dunes, watched kids use their snow sleds, and Bill and I took pictures trying to outdo each other in pictures. I would say White Sands is about 60 miles from Las Cruces. We were to meet Uncle Murray by the donkey statue in downtown plaza area of Las Cruces by 11:30AM or so. There we found Uncle Murray, and we were on time!
The downtown Las Cruces bookstore is wonderful and quickly Bill went off book shopping. I bought two old New Mexico magazines and stayed with Uncle Murray. We couldn't find a restaurant downtown, so we returned to another restaurant we had gone to before called Roberto's. Perfect lunch. We hugged Uncle Murray goodbye in the downtown parking lot and headed for Tombstone.
We crossed the Rio Grande River at Las Cruces, and there just west of Las Cruces is a big volcano, but not like Capulin Volcano, that's the grand daddy volcano! We drove thru Deming and Lordsburg, which is known as the crossroads of the west. Temp. about 78 degrees now, still windy, and gas was about $2.39 in that area. Heavy winds, dust storms, and Bill had to drive with constant attention to the wind, but we enjoyed the trip and listened to Tony Hillerman's Hunting Badger story on tape.
Got to Tombstone about 5:30PM. Wonderful HIE. However, still extremely windy, but rested a bit, took some sunset pictures at the motel, and then headed downtown to the OK Corral. I was sure in for a surprise! The OK Corral was closed for the evening, but walked the downtown of Tombstone and found Big Nose Kate's saloon of the 1880's. Split a hamburger supper, listened to a cowboy sing, looked at all the atmosphere of the bar, Bill put me in jail, and then hung me. I was beginning to like Tombstone a lot. All the buildings are the original ones. I just knew I would return to Tombstone someday and be outlaw gal Belle Star, whose birthday, February 3, is mine, too!
The downtown has lamplights, that give a special color to the old buildings, tourism stores, unusual characters in the bars, and friendly folks that really tell the history of their town as if we were just part of the town.
That evening we had a few beers at Big Nose Kates' and the Crystal Palace saloons.
March 30th, Thursday (see day 4 pictures)
At the HIE met Violet, a 70ish age lady, who has been in Tombstone 50 years and knows where the town's ghosts are. She is the caretaker of the HIE breakfast bar. My favorite person for this trip is Violet Shannon, Box 202, Tombstone, 85638.
In morning, we quickly returned to downtown Tombstone and walked around. I was pleased to find no fudge shops at the tourist places. I took a picture of the back door to the World's Largest Rose Bush - and won 2nd at the clinton, MO art show. We also toured the old county court house which held the historical society as well as being a state historic site. The courthouse had the highest ceilings I ever seen plus exhibits about the silver mining town of Tombstone. The best tour was walking around Boot Hill and seeing names, watching how the cemetery caretaker was in charge of keeping the rocks on the graves, finding rattlesnakes, and repairing the cactus that the javelinas rooted up during the nights.
While walking around Tombstone's historic downtown, met Jim's dog in back of a pickup. Jim came out of the cafe nearby and said his dog, Arnold Schwarzenegger Palmer Barker Jr., was the official tour guide of Tombstone. Of course, I got right next to such a dog and took pictures of Barker Jr. a two-colored eye blue heeler looking ranch dog. Jim was a retired cowboy making spurs and bits at a local store. Then, he told me the bad news: His old ranch had just been sold as a development for a golf course and then development. That will be the end of Tombstone (too many city folks would soon start telling the locals how to run "their" town), but I didn't want to tell him that. We realized that there were many interesting folks in town and some stayed in 1880's dress all the time. I would say Tombstone is a fascinating place to meet folks you will never know anywhere else. Jim Barker, Custom made bits and spurs, POB 151, Tombstone, 85638, 1.520.559.9243.
Also, the town has some small, quaint B&Bs. The streets are either uphill or downhill and house front yards are absolute desert with cactus of the area. One must get used to not seeing the color green grass for awhile. I wouldn't call any one yard a "a yard of the month" qualifier. Lots of home trailers in areas below the hill area of Tombstone. Not pretty. I was told Tombstone has no water shortage, 80 degree weather when the big cities are over 100 degrees, but not much snow, even though the town is high altitude. Sounds perfect. That's what I’m worried about. Well, will Tombstone be the same when I return?
After reluctantly leaving Tombstone, headed for Saguaro National Park to see the cactus. Tucson is a very big city near the park. Took time to photograph the Saguaro cactus in every shape imaginable, and then went thru Oracle Junction outside of Tucson. A park ranger told us how to bypass Tucson by a certain route. We stopped at Lupes, Ariz., at a Mex. restaurant and there we met a retired couple from Maryland. He was a house painter. We talked about his friend who lives in Lowry City, Mo., and what the lake was like. They told us about Tucson and we talked about the Ozarks. We had such a fun time. I don't think they had any idea what Missouri was like.
After we left the couple, we headed for Casa Grande ruins before Phoenix. Quickly discovered that this April time of year is prime southwestern tourist season. The Casa Grande ruins is the Hohokam Culture of 1200AD or later than Chaco. This cultural group left the area because of the drought that also affected Chaco. At Casa Grande one can see a three-story building to observe stars, a very prosperous civilization, which was known for jewelry and pottery. This cultural group was very friendly and loved to trade. The Pueblo Bonito culture is very similar to the Casa Grande residents, except Casa Grande was built with adobe rather than stone.
Soon entered the Gila River reservation, and this culture was known for intricate canal agriculture. Time to paint a picture: Light purple of distance and then layer of darker to a mixed red. This is where O'Keefe paintings are so similar to landscape. The older Gila cultural center (a newer one is built, but we didn't go to that one) has olives for sale from the reservation. That was very interesting to someone who didn't think of olives in the desert of Ariz. After this area, we were in the middle of heavy, heavy traffic going into Phoenix. We were just played out from the traffic hassles getting to the HIE in Tempe.
We rested in our motel room for a while, did laundry, and met others who were attending the PAII conference. Dinner was at restaurant where our waiter, believe it or not, had been a CMSU student and very familiar with our Missouri area. He was going to be a Harley-Davidson dealership technician. He was from Drexel, Mo. In evening we got real concerned from the tornado reports about Sedalia on local tv. Read the Sedalia newspaper website. The next few days in Phoenix will be at the PAII conference, West Pointe Mountain resort, a very elegant resort with conference rooms. I felt I was going to get bored soon looking at all the fancy decor for 4 days. Like to see "tacky" decor every once in a while.
March 3st, Friday (see day 5 pictures)
Before the first day of the conference went to the West Mountain city park, saw where one can go horseback riding in the desert area, but we just drove up the mountain to see the panorama of Phoenix from the mountain. Many families and tours where in the large city park. Met a couple who were in love with each other and Phoenix. They just had to tell me about all the areas of Phoenix and what I was seeing in the distance - it was planes landing all the time. The park ranger told us how to find the petroglyphs in the park. However, when we followed one road to some petroglyphs, I saw the strangest set of artwork - gas line pipes connecting through a central pipe painted in the most intricate design of southwestern colors and shapes I have ever seen. Couldn't imagine how much time it took to paint triangles and other shapes on gas pipe lines off to the side of a city park road. (Just ask, and I will send you a picture of artistic gas pipe lines).
"Small World Story" - Bill said I had a few hours to explore Phoenix before the conference actually began (he was attending a state association meeting), so I became very interested in how to get to the Gila reservation casino. We went to the casino for lunch luckily only a few miles from the resort, and then Bill left me there to take a casino bus back to the resort.
Go to the NAU site and look for her parents, Victoria & Hank Blais. Cheryl is a waitress at the Gila casino restaurant and will return to the trading post which is like a store, but also for sheep ranching supplies. We bought two sodas there and visited and then we continued our trip last year. NAU is a university website for selling and ordering Navajo items. Also, it had been years since I saw folks along a highway stop to fill bottles with water that came out of the side of a mountain. This happened as we came into a valley from the mountain range. I, too, wanted Bill to stop so I could get a glass of pure mountain water, but too many folks were there filling their plastic gallon container. I asked Cheryl about this absolutely fresh water supply, and she said the water was special to the Navajo culture there.
I took $20 to play at the casino until 3:30PM that day. I played a horrible Egyptian penny slot machine which still gives me nightmares of music. I won $23.09 and gave $5 to the driver of the casino bus who took me back to the resort to meet Bill. That night we went to the PAII Vendor’s tent, which was large and actually looked like a Mo. State Fair tent! Went to a resort restaurant called Aunt Chiladas, an outdoor restaurant, and planned a trip to the southwestern native American exhibits at the downtown Phoenix Heard Museum.
April 1st, Saturday thru April 3rd, Monday
Lois, another B&B owner who is from Kansas City and attending the conference with us, went with us to the Heard Museum which is a very impressive museum for the preservation of southwestern tribal art. I really enjoyed the explanations of rugs, jewelry, pottery exhibits and the youth art show. Weather was warm now in Phoenix, 78 degrees, cloudy, and lots of traffic all the time. We stayed a couple of hours at the museum and before the museum, we stopped at the North Mountain city park area just to drive around. These two Phoenix city parks are like state parks and very busy with hikers and all sorts of visitors.
After our side-trips, Bill and I settled down to the PAII conference sessions. I went to three cooking sessions and two self-awareness sessions. Really enjoyed the diversion of sessions from actual B&B topics of which Bill attended those. I plan never to go to a PAII conference again. I learned rhythm in working, how to say "thank you" and "thank you, that would be my pleasure," and how to cut up vegetables. The two awareness sessions were very funny, and the big session with the travel writer for NBC news was excellent.
During our last day at the conference, we did meet with two Air Force buddies, Steve and Jackie Miller, who I have always called "tacky" Jackie. She hasn't changed one bit. She was director of the Arizona State Historical museum, but now she is a politician. She is our age, but still ready for fun like she always was. They took us to a mountain area outside of Phoenix for a barbeque supper. It was a long drive from their house to this "so-called" barbeque restaurant in the tourist area. I did see a "backward" hogan owned by a shop keeper from Oklahoma. She sold tourist trinkets and was so a friendly person, I wanted to visit with her while Bill and Jackie and Steve talked about the "old" Air Force days. The tourist shop hogan owner was so proud of her "backward" hogan she actually bought from a Navajo. She said it was backward because its front entrance did not face east, the direction traditional Navajo hogan entrances must face. In that tourism area, there were many animal statues and other art work made from rusty tin. It seems like a very profitable art form. These tin art forms are life-size horses, buffalo, wagons, etc. Lots of little old tin forms were up sale at big prices.
Jackie told us stories of the Indian cultures, especially the personality conflicts of the artistic Hopi and showy Apaches. We hugged them goodbye, and headed back to the resort. They have a huge Saguaro cactus in the front yard, underground irrigation, and roof rats which she told stories about. They have 3 cats which are suppose to take care of the roof rats. They have a very nice home which belonged to her mother, and their other house is behind the main house. You all reading this would really want Jackie as your buddy!
April 4th, Tuesday (see day 9 pictures)
After the conference, and me winning a hand-made bag from Kenya, plus Kenya coffee, we headed towards Sedona. I was determined to find out what a vortex meant. The trip was towards a mountain area, Oak Creek, which Sedona in the Oak Creek canyon, a big city of sorts. I later was to find out it was a Galtlinburg, Tenn. of new age!! Sedona seems to me, a long, stretched out main hiway going thru what I thought was not downtown. There is no downtown. It's a town for artists, tourism shops, teeshirts, and new age thinking. I was madder than a wet hen. I could not understand a town without a downtown nor what was a museum to what was a gift shop!
The weather was always windy, chilly, sunny, and then suddenly very hot. We went to the Sedona's city park which is the spiritual mecca for meaning to many. At the park's stream area was where one could find something of spiritual contentment. I knew I was rejected by the vortex if it was there in the first place!
However, we finally found the arts & cultural center and happily went to a gift shop of local artists, and I even watched a local art class in session. I bought Bill a card of White Sands of the wave marks in the sand which he really tried over and over to photograph those rivulets in the sand. That was his present of the trip.
After a pleasant time of being in Sedona's art center, we headed for the mountain range out of the canyon and the weather got worse. We got to the top of the mountain at over 6,000 ft. range where there were native American vendors selling jewelry, etc. They were freezing, we were freezing, and that was a short stop. The wind was continuous and like Santa Fe, nearly 30 degrees. We spent the night in Flagstaff, went to a very dirty Walmart. Bill wasn't feeling very well a few days before, and then I got to feeling icky. But, I just think I was run-down from all the trip activities. Perked up next morning.
It snowed a whole lot after we left Flagstaff. Flagstaff had many interesting type stores, a college setting, but never will go there in the springtime. Hot summer would be great there.
April 5th, Wednesday (see day 10 pictures)
When we left Flagstaff, we were in the two hour time change. We went by Petrified Forest since we had been there, and then tried to get out of the car at Painted Desert. We saw all sorts of petrified wood along the highway, but when we got to the painted desert park, we were again in extremely high chilling winds. Jumped out of the car, one at a time, and took our pictures. Too windy to open both front doors at one time!!
By 11:42AM we were listening to Navajo on AM station 1330 going into Gallup, N.Mex. A commercial in Navajo was worth remembering which invited everyone to a business called "Chainsaw City!" Had lunch in Gallup in same restaurant we went to before, but the prices were higher, then went to the Navajo cultural center there and learned more about sand paintings. The center was about the same as before, a quiet place of an upstairs museum with a coffee shop on main floor. Then, went to the Salvation Army and another thrift shop where I bought a teeshirt that reads, "NavajoLand" for $2.
Then, after Gallup, arrived at the same HIE in Albuquerque we stayed before. Called Madge Harrah and her husband (she is the author of many award-winning children books and the author of the life of John William "Blind" Boone (www.blindboonepark.org) for children, and many of you know we are dedicated volunteers to Warrensburg's Blind Boone Park) and went to their house promptly. Madge gave me two of her other books she wrote, and she gave me a silver horse pin and Sandy Irle, the founder of the Blind Boone park volunteers) received silver earrings from an artist. Madge is feeling so much better, her son is fine, and we went out to supper at a Mex. restaurant. Their house is in the Pueblo Sandia area where I saw a very large fancy casino on way to their house. We stayed with them until about 9PM.
April 6th, Thursday (see day 11 pictures)
The next morning was really high winds and even rain. Our next stop was the Petroglyphs National Monument in Albuquerque. The park ranger told us where over 200 rock drawings were, but the wind and chill kept us close to the car even though we tried to follow the trail up a mountain. It was a tough hike in the wind. We only climbed the trail to petroglyph No. 17 and a rattlesnake warning sign.
While in Albuqerque, we again went to the Pueblo Cultural Center (www.indianpueblo.com) which is one of my favorite native American museums. It is a circular, one-story museum with cultural displays, a youth art area, and then a very good basement museum. The gift shop is a place to look and look. I only purchased a few native American newspapers to read, but was fascinated by original artwork and, of course, the usual gift shop items, which if you see at one museum gift shop, you will see at another. Most for sale items do relate to native American cultures, but there are other kiddy things. This cultural center is where I took the wall painting of the Pueblo in shadows coming from the shade of the wooded shafts of the roof. The inner area of the Pueblo center is for demonstrations, dances, and art displays.
On way to Santa Fe, here is a picture to be painted. Use your imagination as I try to describe the southwestern landscape: Along the San Domingo Pueblo landscape I saw in the distance a blackish-purple to the distant mountains with a light grey to top of mountains with a white to blue sky showing passing small clouds, and here in this area the rock formations at edge of mountains seemed pink in color, a noticeable pink, but not a definite pink color.
We were headed for Santa Fe quickly after the short, but endurance hike up the mountain. Got to Santa Fe plaza with no trouble with traffic and found a parking place about 3 blocks from plaza. However, temperature near 35 degrees, a chilly wind, and we were undecided what to see first. We decided indoors was the best place to be. The first stop was lunch at a little restaurant called The Shed. You entered thru a courtyard to the restaurant and small colorful rooms. We were directed to a small table in a small corner at a small window looking in the courtyard. Lunch was great. We really had good posole and two blue tacos which we split. Across the table, behind Bill, was an enchanting older woman. She looked just a painting I have. I tried so hard to memorize the classy lady putting on her lipstick and powder after she had lunch alone. This was a portrait to be painted, so I stared at her, but she elegantly turned her head to better lighting for me to memorize.
This restaurant is the reason Bill won amateur in the local Mid-Missouri Artists' Spring show. The shafts of shadows on the colorful small corner of the courtyard was just what he wanted in a picture. The lady left by us, Bill finally knew he had enough pictures [like 2] , and off we walked to the Art Cultural Center and then to the Georgia O'Keefe museum.
While Bill went back to feed the parking meter I sat on the square and visited the mysterious staircase at the Chapel of the Sisters of Loretto. Later on we went to the Arts & Cultural Center about a block from the O'Keefe museum.
I saw Georgia O'Keefe you know. She was another lonely lady, tall, slim, long grey hair, sitting bundled up on a park bench at a corner of the Santa Fe Plaza. I glanced that direction as I shivered on a bench waiting for Bill to take my picture sitting on a bench in the wind. However, I watched the slim older woman thinking I was seeing things. Bill didn't see her. I did, but I was too far from her to walk near her and check to see if she was who I thought she was. She was near the Five & Dime store, so I convinced Bill we needed to go shopping. Shopping at the Santa Fe plaza is considered looking at windows at the art, jewelry, and rugs. It's not a place to think all one needs is a twenty in your pocket. When I decided to go in direction of the grey-haired woman, she was gone. I saw her stand up from the bench, but where did she go? She just disappeared. I could have easily seen her walk in any direction. I guess Georgia O'Keefe's memory I have was just an illusion. Maybe not?
At the Georgia O'Keefe museum I tried to tag along after a tour (love tours), but Bill kept me in check, so I wouldn't wander off and disappear in the crowd from him. Walked twice along the Governors' Mansion walkway where jewelry was being sold by Navajo and others bundled up in blankets and shivering as they tried to sell jewelry to very few outdoor shoppers.
After we left Santa Fe, we headed for Tucumcari. This was our return trip stop at Tucumcari for the night. Terrible high winds, snow clouds in distance, and we did stop at a Stuckey's convenience where I bought a great New Mex. teeshirt for $4. Still had to open the car doors one at a time. We missed the opening of our favorite Mex. restaurant there, El Toro, but we found Del’s restaurant – a perfect old-fashioned, good food, restaurant I recommend. Route 66 remains are so sad in Tucumcari. There is not much to that town except the Mesalands Community College dinosaur museum, the murals painted by an unknown artist around town, Del’s restaurant, and the old El Toro restaurant which may or may not be opened past lunch time.
April 7th, Friday (see day 12 pictures)
From Tucumcari went to Amarillo to see Palo Duro Canyon. Still extremely windy, 50 degrees, chilly, and no fun getting out of the car to do any pictures. The Canyon is a place of a Comanche massacre by the US Army, a place to go horseback riding, camping, and to admire what the WPA did to restore the recreational areas of the canyon. It is a steep drive down to the canyon. However, visiting the Palo Duro canyon was nice, but the biggest natural history museum in Texas is the Plains Museum of West Texas University of Canyon, Tex. We never realized how big that museum was. One learned about the dinosaurs, pioneers, native Americans, western art, geology, and then the oil well beginnings and ranches. This museum is a must to tour. Never before have I seen such a complex museum in the setting of a state university.
After an extensive tour of the Plains Museum, we headed for Weatherford, Okla. The Holiday Inn Express in Weatherford is third rated in Okla. Plus 41 out of 1200 rated excellent nationally. Thus, we had a perfect HIE. Of course, windy, chilly, and not much fun. Just went to a rather blah barbeque restaurant for supper and drove around Weatherford. I saw the town as typical Okla. western town. This town is called the wind power capitol of the world.
April 8th, Saturday (see day 13 pictures)
Yes, the wind continues and continues during our trip. Then drove to Cowboy Hall of Fame, Okla. City, by 9:30AM . But, windy, chilly, so just re-visited all the exhibits at the Hall of Fame. This is a favorite museum for western art and history of the cowboy. Bill went to the courtyard to take pictures, and I suggested he take pictures of lily pads in the pond by the museum. Of course, he took a ribbon for that picture. It was a very good, golden color picture of green lily pads.
Wanted to see the new Cherokee casino in Tulsa, so we got there about noonish. Had the wonderful buffet there and then managed to win $2.59 over my $20 on penny slots, and Bill lost $5. The casino is very nice and would recommend staying there. Did not see much artwork at this casino as at the Apache casino, but all the Cherokee tribal leaders through history were pictured at the hotel’s lobby area.
Left the casino by 2:30PM and entered Missouri by 4:00PM. We were at the Joplin information center and then went to El Dorado Springs are which led from Hiway 82 to 13 Hiway. Had dinner at the Mex. restaurant in Clinton, and then arrived home by 7:30PM. Scruffy forgot who I was as I ran towards him. He ran from me. All was fine at the farm. George, Bill's best buddy, did a good job taking care of the farm. We were extremely tired, but managed to open our suitcases and start laundry. What a way to end a 3400 mile trip!
Total expense of gas: Do the math: How many gallons of gas bought at average of $2.56 per gallon with mileage from 18mi – 24mi per gallon.
Best Lodging: No. One – HIE, Weatherford, Okla. & HIE Tombstone, Ariz.
Remember, if you can, go to the internet site of our trip pictures and more information. www.missouridaytrips.com and click to 2006 trip plus also review the other trips.
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