Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"After Three Days" and the Texas Fun

We were up early on this cold and windy Monday morning to drive to Tulsa, OK. By the way...have you recognized the lyrics I've been using in the blog titles these three days? Name that tune.

Did I mention that it was windy? That was one long 370 miles from Amarillo, TX to Tulsa. Some days when the conditions are bad, I don't know how Rich can stay focused mile after mile, although he does enjoy working on crossword puzzles together while he drives. There wasn't much to shoot but here is a small sample of our drive.

Driving through Shamrock, TX will always remind of the morning of January 17, 1994 and watching the horror of the Northridge Earthquake on TV while Rich in Chicago and I in Shamrock tried frantically to reach our kids who were at home in California to see if they were okay.

But we quickly passed out of Texas from there and into the red dirt and bright green patchwork of Oklahoma!

This is a canola field in bloom...breathtakingly bright and golden.

Just look at this flag...huge, beautiful, and proud with the wind fully extending it!

Like planned, we dry-camped at the Hard Rock Casino there. After we settled in, Rich and I walked over to the casino for dinner. They do have a pretty good buffet there but if you haven't been to a casino for a while, don't think there's anything free unless you are a gambler. The buffet is $20 each! Between the two of us we left another $70 in various slot machines as we were walking out. We are not really very into gambling so that was a lot for us to squander.

And that brings us to today. Even though it rained all the live long day, driving conditions for the 315 miles from Tulsa to Cuba, MO were much better than yesterday's. Rain does not make for a good photography day though.

Our drive began under gray skies in the Oklahoma rain.

And continued throughout the day under gray skies and occasional heavy fog with nearly constant rain all through Missouri.

Missouri is such a beautiful state with its highways carved through various types of rock, red clay soil, and lots of vegetation. 

Right now the Redbud trees are in full bloom!

Tonight we are in Cuba, MO...where it is still raining...and tomorrow we will be in Illinois!

I am so relieved that my mom has remained stable while Rich and I tied up loose ends in AZ and made this long trip back to see her. I am so grateful that my brother & SIL are with her every day and that my sister and her son were able to spend a week with her while she was in the hospital and to help her transition back to the nursing home. She's a lucky Mom to have all that love and support.

Lovin' Life ~~ Closing Out This Journey

"After Two Days, In the Desert Sun"

We took the day off to enjoy a couple of places in Amarillo on Sunday. We got in so late the night before that the office was closed. These guys were there to greet me though when we stopped to check in at the night register. This is the coolest art we've seen at any KOA, and we've stayed at a lot of them!

Speaking of art...even though we passed on through Roswell, NM without stopping at one of our favorite art museums, our visit to the Amarillo Museum of Art certainly made up for it!

There was a temporary exhibit of art "Featuring New Work by the Panhandle's Young and Emerging Artists" including those from West Texas A&M that included some fabulous pieces...some were simply fun; some were breathtakingly beautiful. Here are a few of our favorites with the name of the piece captioned.

Revealing the Beauty Within

Choking Hazard


Current C


Generational Gap

The Warmth of Wisdom
In addition to the incredible variety of talent in the temporary exhibit, the Price Gallery of Asian Art contains priceless pieces such as this...

I sat in front of Buddha for some time wondering about its creation and life and how I came to be in his presence at this particular time. Humbling.

Also in the museum's permanent collection is this enormous painting that draws you in to the museum reception depicted, as though you too were an attendee.


There were also two or three paintings by the artist who created this...

Crazy Mountain Horses #2

Finding small museums with such treasures is pure bliss.

Now for the contrast that is so often a part of our days. For dinner we went to the
World Famous Big Texan Steak Ranch 

If you can eat a 72 ounce steak, baked potato, salad, and shrimp cocktail within an hour, your meal is free. Many have tried; a few have even succeeded!

You know how you place your tongue firmly in your cheek and think, "WTH, let's give it a try"? Well let me tell you, the food here is great! It is served in this dining room...

I would love to find me some cowhide patterned oil cloth for my table! The chili was delicious and loaded with beef...although the appearance of the cornbread was far superior to the taste...giggle!

Both of our steaks were of the best quality and perfectly prepared...

Rich just ate the last of his 24 ounce steak for dinner tonight and commented again that we will definitely eat there the next time we're in Amarillo.

Lovin' Life ~~ Continuing This Journey

"On the First Part of the Journey"

We left our AZ home on Friday, April 19 for the trip back home. I had hoped to stay long enough to see our saguaro in bloom but that was not to be this year.

Our house is across a wash on a rutted, dirt road and yes, we have a barbed wire fence. I think I may have mentioned that we live in the country. It runs along the road and I suppose is there to deter trespassers...of whatever species they might be!

I'm posting these next two photos to show you two very different species of Prickly Pear Cactus. The first on is a Blind Prickly Pear and you can see that there appear to be no spines sticking out from the glochids (those reddish brown tufts). Don't be fooled by this one, there are many short barbed spines emanating from each tuft.

This next one is the most common; it's an Engelmann's Prickly Pear which you see everywhere. Notice that it has very long whitish spines making it much more obvious that you want to keep your distance.

There's not a lot to see on this section but even the most desolate stretches of highway can offer surprising sights...like these four dust devils dancing across the land in the distance.

My favorite part of this drive along I-10 in eastern Arizona is Texas Canyon. The rock formations there are awesome!

See that round rock above the car? I can never shoot it when we're traveling west and this time I was so excited and ready...then this car appeared in front of it...geez.

We spent the first night of this journey in Lordsburg, NM. A decent day's drive since we didn't leave home until about noon.

Saturday, April 20th was a good driving day, a long driving day so I was able to work on photos and a blog post as we drove through small towns with internet access. We left the I-10 at Las Cruces, NM driving HWY 70 well into Texas.

This is the dry-as-a-bone Rio Grande River in Las Cruces...one big sandbox!

The Organ Mountains overlooking Las Cruces.

Of course we stopped at White Sands National Monument for lunch. It's a favorite stop along this journey because it is such a unique natural landscape. If you follow me on FB, you've already seen these photos.

Before the pavement ends, driving into the park.

Yes, kids of all ages bring saucers or other flat items and go sledding down the huge dunes.

Rich and The Girls, of course.

A Soaptree Yucca in the foreground.

Dunes and sand pedestals with plants growing out of them.

Driving out we saw this professional photo shoot. I have no idea what it was for but, after seeing this, whenever I see models standing in the snow I'll wonder if it was really shot here on the white sands.

Continuing on through NM, this is Sierra Blanca Peak, northwest of Ruidoso, with an elevation of nearly 12,000 ft.. It is such a lovely sight, framed as it is by the pines.

As afternoon turned to evening, we saw deer...

...and pronghorns.

We stopped in Roswell, NM just long enough to pick up a few things at WalMart which was a first for us because we enjoy spending time there. It was nearly dark when we left Texico, NM and crossed into Farwell, TX with another 100 miles to go. By the time we got to the KOA in Amarillo, TX we were feeling every one of the 522 miles traveled that day. That's a pretty typical day's drive in a car, but that's one very long day in a motorhome!

Lovin' Life ~~ On the Journey

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Our Final Days In Arizona

We are on the road, headed home but before I post any travel photos, I want to post a bit about the last twelve days we were in AZ.
Monday, April 8th

This is what the Goldfield Mountains behind our house looked like from our kitchen door during the dust storm. We are not often here during the times of year when they experience these. The temps were nice so the breeze felt great and, being newbies, we left our doors open all day. You should have seen the dust...luckily, we have so little furniture!

That evening I was invited to sub at the neighborhood Bunco group and shortly after we started, the rains began and didn't stop until the next morning.

Tuesday, April 9th

Here is a shot from about the same place as the one I took during the dust storm. Being able to clearly see the mountains again was so very nice!

Wednesday, April 10th

Driving around we saw this gorgeous Prickly Pear cactus in front of a house near us. Ours were not in bloom yet and I didn't often see this color anyway.

Come closer, but watch out for those needles!...gorgeous, huh?

While we were out, I also got this fabulous shot of the Goldfield Mountains. Our house is at the base and to the right. 

Thursday, April 11th

Can you see the bottom of our pool? That's dirt from Monday's dust storm!

The kids' and my pool noodles. No reason, I just think it's a cool shot.

We were so thrilled to get to go to Shelby's swim lesson this evening. The girl swims like a fish and loves the water...I wonder where she gets her love of the pool???

Friday, April 12th

My mom suffered a massive heart attack on this morning so I was at the phone waiting for news, helping make decisions and calling family. She is one tough cookie and was stable enough to be released from the hospital and return to the nursing home on Thursday afternoon. That is why we are heading home a couple of weeks earlier than planned.

Sunday, April 14th

We met Sandee, Shawn, and our grands at Red, White, & Brew for an early dinner on Saturday and the kids came on home with us. They brought a couple movies and we just chilled, spending this last weekend being together. On Sunday morning, I baked a favorite family treat...Monkey Bread. Guess whose fingers were the first to pull off a piece?

Yep, it was Jackson...he LOVES Monkey Bread!

Following that nutritious breakfast...teehee...we all went to the Swap Meet. We took them there a few times last winter but this is yet another thing that we were not able to do because of my injury. And then we got so busy with the house and all. Just look at those shoppers!

When we got back to the house, Shelby and I had time for one last quick swim before their mom came to visit and take them home.

Monday, April 15th

He will most likely never enter this pool because it's just not his thing but he has spent a considerable amount of time trimming a cover to fit before we leave it for the summer. For me...he does these things for me...what a lucky girl I am!

For my part, I was nearly useless on Monday because my ankle hurt so bad from walking around the Swap Meet on Sunday. I wish I was making faster progress but it is slow going.

Tuesday, April 16th

The last session of physical therapy was somewhat emotional for me because of my frustration with the slow rate of healing. Rich made me two simple pieces of equipment that will enable me to continue the exercises wherever we are. He is amazing. Maybe I'll post pictures of them someday.

Saturday evening when we brought the kids home with us, three coyotes took their time crossing in front of us after we turned onto our street. The kids were all so excited to get to see them and thought they were so beautiful. Tuesday evening Rich and I saw four, in about the same place. This time I had my camera handy!

Wednesday, April 17th

Years ago when I walked into Dunkin' Donuts early in the morning, they would just hand me my cup of coffee with the perfect amount of cream and sugar without me saying a word...but they saw me five mornings a week...forever! After taking care of some business on Wednesday, Rich and I went to Cantina Laredo for our final lunch there until we return. When we walked in the hostess smiled and said, "I remember which table you prefer." and led us to the table that I have always requested since the first time we ate there this year when I was still in the wheelchair. But wait...then the waitress comes to our table and says, "Will you be sharing a Margarita again today? That's frozen, with salt, right?" I didn't think we ate there that often! But here's a sample of why we do.

Thursday, April 18th

I haven't mentioned that after it was clear that Mom had a good chance of making it, we spent every spare minute tying up a multitude of loose ends to close up the house and prepare for our trip home and move everything from the house back into the motorhome. On this, our last evening in AZ, we finally got to see Sandee's library when we picked her up from work. She has the good fortune to work in this beautiful, mdoern facility!

When a library employee places a returned book on this, the RFID code is read checking the book in and sorting it into the appropriate cart for shelving. Mega impressive to me! See Rich back there? Checking out the electronics!

Again this week, we got to be there for Shelby's swim lesson. The girl has one powerful back stroke. 

This was the final lesson in this session so at the end they got to jump off the diving board which she was so excited to do!

Shawn was at a meeting so we didn't get to see him again. Sandee fixed tacos for dinner and Dylan fixed mashed potatoes to go with his tacos. What a combination...no one asked him to share...teehee!

We got to visit with them around the table before leaving. It was a perfect last evening!...except for the goodbyes of course.

We are just entering Amarillo, Texas after a very long day on the road. We stayed in Lordsburg, NM last night so 522 miles worth of tired is what we are tonight. Rarely do we drive that many miles in one day; we do plan to take a break here tomorrow.

Lovin' Life ~~ Here, There, Everywhere