EQUES-TREK Ride Long and Prosper
April 29-30 Ready to start the Adventure
We had such a good time visiting with friends at the last that we ended up delaying the start by one day. Rather than leave at noon today (May 1), we decided to have an easy start in the morning.
We are now packed with clothes and food in the trailer. Ralph has done a great job of making the ten feet even more useable space. He built a floor to ceiling clothes cupboard in the bathroom where we really need the clothes but there was no place for them. He has added hooks and shelves all around, making things more convenient. It is quite the adventure in itself to think of all we need to for the next 7 months. Bills are on-line, computer is connected, and horses are vaccinated (as is Gizmo). We made one last trip to the chiropractor yesterday and now we are good to go.
We have already had some excitement. On April third I lost the hard drive on my desktop computer, where after the new year, I worked almost exclusively on The Trip plans. I lost all my data and had no back up (yes, I learned my lesson, and yes, I have a external back up now). Fortunately I had e-mailed the documents to a friend on March 26 and she was able to e-mail it back. So I only lost what I’d done in between, which I found to be plenty.
Then Ralph got called to jury duty . . . for April 30. He wrote a letter requesting to be excused. It had to be approved by the judge because of the length of time involved. The judge then asked for our itinerary which I was working to recreate. I did as much as I could and hand walked it into the court clerk. She was not very encouraging. Ten days later Ralph received a letter from the Judge giving him a deferment.
We also got a call from our home insurance saying they would cancel our policy without railing on our balcony (we built it but have not finished). So Ralph made a run to get wood this morning and build railings. It has been a busy couple of days!
But tomorrow we are off on our adventure. Our first stop is in NE Alabama. To see a map of our whole route (with only a few missing) and our entire trip by stop - CLICK HERE. Keith Burlingame was a tremendous help with this as he created the map. Thank you Keith!
May 2-9 The First Week
May 2: We pulled out of our driveway at 9:15, May 2 and despite a very rough Day One drive, we arrived safe and sound, glad to stop. The drive was 6 hours mainly due to wrong turns taking us into small town traffic. After the third one we arrived at Buck’s Pocket State Park. The temp had risen to 86 degrees so the horses worked up a sweat. The park is in the lower end of the Appalachian Mountains and though the surrounding area is FLAT, there was quite an incline coming in as it is literally a “pocket.” It is a well shaded campground and we had it ALL to ourselves. Not even a ranger. So we enjoyed the showers and cooked burgers on the grill (using mostly the pinecones scattered about). It was very relaxing and we sure were glad for the electricity for air conditioning that night.
May 3: We were up before the sun, made coffee and oatmeal and eased out of the park at 8am. We got to meet the Ranger first and complimented him on a nice park where he has been “a rabbit in a carrot patch,” as he put it, for 18 years. We had an easy drive to Cherokee, AL as we had mapped out our route the night before. We made one stop for diesel fuel and one at a Wal-Mart Super center (mainly for dog food which we forgot). We got to Cherokee Trail Ride/Eden Ranch just after lunch and were welcomed and shown around. As we are the only guests on this weekday we had the pick of the sites and so picked a corner spot. Again we have electricity (and thus air conditioning) and water. Again there are shower facilities. We had time to have long chats with some of the family and owners about what we could do for them. We will start with QuickBooks© help from me and signage from Ralph. This is a family (16 of them) run ranch raising their own rabbits, quail and vegetables; raising (here’s one of their 2 week old colt) and training horses; and offering camping and trail rides and a refuge to any in need.
May 6: We had another great breakfast (there are some great cooks here and they feed us three meals a day!) and then I saddled up for a ride with some other campers and Larry and Kay and Stephanie as the guides. Ralph was inside the air conditioned cafeteria painting the second of three signs. The trail ride consisted of 5 other campers as well as the guides and me. We rode out at 10:30 and covered about 15 miles. We climbed up a hill for a lunch view and Larry showed us a cave which we climbed down into. Nice and cool down there! Then we rode another way back to camp. And there was a wonderful rock wall that was over a half mile long and at one point there was a ledge under a rock overhang that we rode up onto. We got back to camp with time to give Jur a wash down and take a shower myself before a spaghetti dinner. Ralph watched “Mission Impossible 2” on the camp’s big plasma TV while I did some more Quickbooks© work with Sheryl before calling it a day. One of the things we heard a lot about before we left was the need for bug repellent. Here it is the usual flies and a lot of ticks. We are finding ticks on us, Gizmo and the horses. Ugh! I’d rather the flies.
May 7: Up with the sun because we had such a good night’s sleep. In the early morning it is a comfortable 65 degrees but by afternoon it is in the high 80s so the camper gets to baking like the tin can it is. The air conditioner brings it down to a comfortable level and the fan running continuously helps reduce any other noise. We are slowly finding out what we missed packing (though that will change again when we primitive camp) and how well we packed what we did bring. We quickly find better ways to store things we need regularly and the table stays somewhat covered with our computer, camera, and cell phones. Today I went out with Larry, his son Billy and Billy's wife Stephanie, and Roger to trim trails. Eden's Ranch is hosting a NATRC ride at the end of June. In the coming weeks they will be clearing and flagging trails. You can see Gizmo was having a great time too!
May 9: We headed to Mississippi! What a beautiful drive here. A mile from the town of Cherokee, AL is the Natchez Trace Parkway. We took it south all the way to Houston, MS. As we neared our destination we stopped at the Witch Dance Horse Trail on the Trace. We decided to ride out an hour and made a lunch but as we got things out of the frig realized it was not cooling and was warning of no service. So instead of a ride onto the Natchez Trace Trail we made tracks to an RV dealership and ended up buying two new RV batteries. We are good to go again. We found our way into our MS stop, Stinkin Jim's. Once again we have the place to ourselves and thus the pick of the sites. We parked under the trees to get afternoon shade. The horses went into small log pens right beside us. For our evening meal we cooked chicken on the grill with rice and a salad. Today we rode the Witch Dance Trail. We packed PB (peanut butter) sandwiches and headed out at 8:30 to beat the heat (good thing as it was 90 at one o'clock). Gizmo lead the way, with me on Jur and Ralph behind on Silver Girl. I must be a magnet for Forest Service Personnel because at lunch we encountered 3 Forest Service archeologists. They were hiking in with equipment to begin a dig. There are several Indian Mounds in this area already excavated. It is a beautiful area and the trail was wonderful. Wednesday we are off to the Arkansas/Oklahoma border and the Ouachita Mountains.
May 10-19 Arkansas & Oklahoma - Here We Come!
We had a long pull from Mississippi to get to Mena, Arkansas but it went very well. We crossed the Great Ole Miss and kept rolling west seeing rice fields and hay fields. Made another visit to a Wal-Mart and diesel fill up. I can tell this will be a regular sight across the country. At least they're friendly and we were not the only large rig. There were a couple others pulled in and one of the couples even came over and greeted us like we were fellow campers! We drove into Mena (pop. 5637) and stopped at a feed store for a few supplies. Then out of town about 13 miles to Burton and Susan's Woodswitch Farms. Their beautiful farm is located in the Ouachita Mountains (pronounced "Wha-shitah") three miles from Oklahoma. They have cattle and Thoroughbreds and a welcoming hospitality. We parked right in their circular drive with easy hookup to water and electric. They had set up an electric pasture for Jur and Silver Girl with lush grass and a pond for drinking.
We knew we had horses in common but over the next twelve days I was continuously amazed at many others things that could make us life long friends. Susan is a bird watcher and loves to identify birds on the trail. (Since there were few wildflowers at this time we looked in the bird book instead. I tried to get pictures but they were usually too fast.) The more we talked about the places we were going to, the more Susan became an invaluable source of information and loaned me maps galore. She has even been to our next destination: Hugo Park in Oklahoma. We swapped lots of horse, trailering and camping ideas. While I was there Susan had a wireless router installed so by the end of our visit I was able to get all your emails. It continually amazes me how God arranges every detail for our best. Woodswitch Farm was a BEST!
Arkansas is not all flat and smooth. The highest point is under 3000' but it is a rocky climb. And with Jur being barefoot and getting ridden on the trail most days, Susan lent me a pair of boots that helped him negotiate the rock without sore feet. Our first ride was out Susan's back door on the Eight West Trails of the Ouachita National Forest "Barefoot Amy" W. joined us on all our rides. She trains horses for Susan and others in the area and did it all barefoot. It takes the coldest of winter days for her to put her boots on or a promised restaurant meal for her to put flip flops on. The second day we did a longer route and even some trails they had not been on before. This is the trail we had a close encounter of the rattlin' snake kind! (See Gizmo's story.) We ended the day at another house they purchased before the farm and are now fixing up to sell. Ralph was doing kitchen work there and Burton drove the trailer over to pick us up. The third day, Burton and Ralph joined us on the Billy Creek Trails. Susan is fond of diet Dr. Peppers and so we stopped at a crossroads store. Susan got her Dr. Pepper and Ralph got "trail sustenance." You remember those candy necklaces you ate when a child? Ralph got us a couple each and we put them on but I could not resist getting started. This day we were riding the Billy Creek Trails. Ralph always wants to see a view and water. So Susan took us up to a lookout that is now christened "Ralph's Vista." I hope the Forest Service does not mind the new name. On the way back Jur got separation anxiety as Ralph rode Silver Girl away so Amy and I stopped to give a short training session. Amy got on Jur and I got on Silver Girl and we worked them until they were going calmly again. It is important that the horses remain calm and willing on this trip so we do not have major blow ups. We had a great five hour ride and Ralph got to see vistas! That evening we went to The Fishnet Restaurant for catfish and afterwards a Jamboree in Oklahoma where Tommy Horton and friends were playing.
With little persuasion, Susan talked Amy and I into going to Mack's Pines Cabins and RV Camp to ride the Mocassin Gap Trails in the Ozark National Forest about 4 hours north. Burton was back at his employment and Ralph opted to stay at Susan's and earn money rather than spend three days in the saddle. Susan also mentioned the Buffalo National River which I had read about researching The Trip. We discussed riding two days at Moccasin Gap and then going for a day to Buffalo River. It worked the other way around. We hauled three horses in Susan's rig (Jur is getting to like this). We got to Mack's and set up just in time for a cold front to storm through. With the horses in a snug barn we went touring in Susan's "Vista Mobile" as her truck became known. It took us about forty miles and several hours but we found ourselves at Big Piney Creek (hard to find with the sign on the ground!). The next morning I made bacon and eggs and off we went on the trails. The Stave Mills Falls were lovely and part of about 16 miles we covered.
The next day we were headed north in the Vista Mobile and what great vistas we were seeing!
We set up camp at the Erbie Horse Camp but first Susan had to drive 13 miles of dirt road and cross a low water crossing that was bracketed by two huge oak trees-way too narrow for the rig she was pulling. After deciding it was possible (and safe) we plowed through the water. Look at the wake she created! We soon decided it was worth it. We took a short ride out to Goat's Bluff to enjoy one of the best views there. Don't worry Mom, I won't do this at the Grand Canyon!
What a great twelve days!
We did a trail that had the Jone's cemetery on it. This was some of the earliest settlers in the area. This hand etched stone was one. On Friday we rode the Old River Trail. It was one of those trails that was near perfect. With 7 river crossings (one way) we had plenty of water, but there were also occasional majestic views and rolling fields of green for moving out. Susan set the pace leading on FourNPort and crossing the river in the lead.
We could have done a lot more trails in the Buffalo River but needed to head back to the farm. Ralph had a great dinner of pork chops waiting for us when we pulled in at nine o'clock. We washed clothes, packed up, and reviewed more maps all day Saturday in order to pull out Sunday and move further west. Another great treat was Mary's Mexican dinner. Mary's husband, Vicente, works at Woodswitch. Mary is gifted in many talents but her cooking is at the top! And Saturday night Susan treated us to dessert and coffee at Queen Wilhelmina's State Park lodge on top of Rich Mountain. She said she was going to cure Ralph's vista fixation. At every vista, and there were more than a few, we made Ralph climb out and take a GOOD look at the vista. And do you know, you can see Woodswitch Farm from up there! We had a grand time and you can imagine all the chocolate I dug into when I reached the top!
Our goodbyes might have been harder except I have hopes that Susan (and hopefully Burton too) is going to meet us later on The Trip to do part of California with us. Anyone else?
May 20-25 Turkey, Texas
Just the name sounds interesting. Turkey Roost, as it was originally called, was a very popular area for turkeys along the creek and so that attracted the hunters to settle here. Other than the metal turkey in the town square I have seen no turkeys. But Elway S. says there is a turkey that walks down main street and is followed by a peacock which is followed by a chicken. Hard to believe but Elway doesn't seem the type to make up stories.
On May 20th we left Arkansas and Woodswitch Farm at 11am and arrived at Kiamichi Park in Oklahoma at 1:30. We got a campsite by the lake but no view of it. Hugo Lake is big! We saddled up and did an hour and a half ride over to Pine Road and the lake at the end of it. This is where we could not see to the other side of the lake. The next morning Ralph made a breakfast of egg in a hole and fried apple. Then we saddled up to do another ride. The only indication of the trails when we were there was the grass. Looking closely you could tell there was a “grass lane.” Probably mowed once or twice a year. Then at intersections (about every two miles) there are four by four posts with the names of the trails on them. We rode out of camp and picked up Waterline Trail. It intersected with Salt Creek Trail but we rode on and after about two miles intersected with Boundary Trail which we took. Unfortunately it took us away from camp and after another two miles we ended up at the entrance to the park and had to ride the road back another two miles. So much for “trail” riding.
We loaded up and headed out and at 1:45 it started raining. Is God’s timing great or what?!? It cooled our drive down to a perfect temperature. At five Ralph spotted a Dairy Queen and on our side of the road! Perfect. We pulled in for a cone and an iced Mocha. It’s what I like about TX too! Gizmo got a drink and time in the grass. The horses looked fine and we weren’t 30 miles from Lake Arrowhead State Park. A storm was heading our way so we hurried through the check-in. No one else in the campground, it was pouring when we pulled in. We waited out the worst of the rain and unloaded the horses and took them to covered pens and dashed inside the camper. In another 15 minutes it was light enough rain for us to go out to the horses. Ralph took care of their evening needs while I got dinner of ham, fried potatoes, and cabbage ready. We both got showers and checked for ticks (like Brad Paisley sings).
May 22: We pulled out of a Valero Fuel Station with the odometer reading exactly 122,000 miles! Only 1533 of that is from The Trip. We estimated putting 12,000 miles on our 1999 F350 which will include a new set of tires at some point. Our truck says we are averaging 12.2-12.3 mpg. We just paid $2.75/gal for our diesel and that is close to an average so far.
Outside of Wichita Falls we passed what appeared to be a camel farm! There were a couple dozen camels out grazing like cattle. That was a double look! Sorry, no time for a picture.
Another sight was the Medicine Mounds in the distance, quite obvious in those flat plains. “Medicine Mounds is a line of four rounded, conical hills in southeastern Hardeman County [of the panhandle of Texas]. The mounds rise 200 to 350 feet above the surrounding plains. The highest, at 1,744 feet above sea level, is topped by a flat cap that the Comanche Indians believed to be inhabited by a powerful and benevolent spirit. The Commanches used this peak as a place for mixing medicinal herbs so that the spirit would add to their curative powers. The remains of an ancient buffalo trail flank the mounds to the west; otherwise the hills are surrounded by cotton and grain fields.” - Texas State Historical Association.
We pulled into a rest stop that boasted wireless Internet but no matter that I connected I could not browse the Internet. Then we stopped inside a small town that had a great connection. While Ralph walked to a nearby Sonic for our lunch I tried downloading the update again. Apparently some of it went through but no pictures. So then we stopped at a Wal-Mart and I tried again, still no final results. I finally “finished” the download that night parked at the Hotel Turkey.
We got to Turkey, TX about 2:30. We went to the front door of the Hotel Turkey, across the street from the building we were there to work on. We talked to Lisa H., the proprietor, and she showed us where to park and put the horses. She and her husband, Paul, got the Hotel Turkey in a business trade and hope to sell it (it sold later that year) as they are part of enlarging Mizpah Christian Retreat up in Montana.
The big brick building is the Hotel Turkey, then our rig, and the horses are under those big trees to the right of the rig. The smaller building (Ted’s) just showing behind the Hotel on the left is the one we came to work on. We came to roost here because Ted C. answered our letter to the editor of The Trail Rider’s Magazine in the Jan/Feb ‘07 issue which told about our forthcoming trip and our hopes and plans.
After putting the horses in their area, they must have lost track of each other and were on opposite sides of a shed. They neighed to each other and then took off to join one another but they both ran in the clockwise direction and so it became a “chasing of tails,” with them neighing more and more frantically as they raced for one another. Too funny. They must have gone around about 6 times before one caught up to the other. Ah, for the camera to be glued to my forehead!
Wednesday morning Lisa served us a feast in the dining room of the historic Hotel Turkey. Five star food! Fresh fruit dish, sweet potato pancake, bacon, scrambled eggs and toast with hash browns. There was coffee and orange juice. We ate with one other couple on their way through to New Orleans from Los Angeles, CA. As they left Lisa sat down with us for twenty minutes and we started planning how we could help her as well as Ted. The 15 room hotel was built in 1927 and has been in continual operation since and visited by many famous and interesting persons. The dining room has a wall of pictures signed by many of them. But like any great hotel, it is not the décor nor even the history but the hospitality that makes it great. Lisa H. is apparently carrying on a great tradition. At the Hotel Turkey there is this sign: Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much. My Great Aunt Helen has has a similar one from her 100 years of living: ”Love Tenderly, Act Justly and walk with your God.”
Then we headed over to Self’s Corner. A western tack and What Not shop owned by Elway Self (born and raised here) and his wife Barbara. Elway’s shop is a riders paradise. He must have 15 beautiful old saddles, some collector’s items. One is by Carl Darr and another was built in 1898 and still beautiful. He has new bridles by Weaver Leather and Colorado Saddlery and several wonderful used ones. I am tempted! Lots of bits, headstalls, and all the miscellaneous stuff for riding. He is thinking of going for an Internet store. After admiring his shop (which I want to go back to) and him gifting me with a lovely piece of scrap leather, we walked over to Ted’s.
Wednesday evening we were enjoying the cooling temperatures (it might rain and get cooler). While we were sitting there Ron C. arrived at the Hotel and walked towards us stating how comfortable we looked. We agreed and told him to “pull up a chair.” We didn’t have another but he did. Ron is retired from Texas Instruments and now teaching electrical engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock where he lives with his RN wife who teaches breast feeding. He found our trip fascinating and proceeded to tell us of some great places. He is an avid hiker and has done a lot of camping in 49 states so another great source of information. He was in Turkey to hike Caprock Canyons while on semester break. We enjoyed several conversations with Ron over the next few days.
Thursday was a long day. Up at 3am because the threatened storm arrived with lots of wind and we took down the awning to guard against damage. Then the vent on the shower would not close so I had to use Ralph as a ladder to adjust it on the outside. We went back to bed. At 6:45 Ralph’s snoring woke me up as he had forgotten to put his “snorkel” back on. (“Snorkels” are found at your local pharmacy and are a night-saver for women married to men who snore (or visa versa). I could not do this trip in only an 8‘ X 10‘ space without them.) We needed to get up for breakfast anyway.
Ron was already in the dining room so we sat with him and had another good discussion. Then we went to Ted’s to start work on demolishing his kitchen wall that Ralph is going to stud out. Ralph got tools and then a wheelbarrow and a push lawnmower from Lisa when we realized we needed to get the wheelbarrow back and forth to the dumpster and the grass was above our knees. I ended up mowing. I love yard work but this was heavy on the latter. But the wall is ready. It turns out that Ted is a (movie) set carpenter and, I must say, as creative as Ralph it seems. He made the fence and the cacti in front of his place.
Friday, the 25th was our first day of steady rain on The Trip. It woke me in the night with the dripping on our metal home (I’ve just started calling this home) and continued in a heavy drizzle for the day. That doesn’t stop our inside work but it does make it harder as most of the wood cutting needs to be done outside for dust and room to maneuver. These pictures are a progression of the work on the wall in Ted’s 1928 building.
BEFORE DURING I DURING II AFTER New wall and ceiling joists Ralph at Work
May 26-29 Leaving Hotel Turkey
In five days Ralph put up the framing for the wall in Ted’s (see pictures above), refinished a shower stall - new plumbing and all, and built new back doors for the Hotel Turkey.
He also gave me a short course on a zero turn riding lawnmower, harder to ride than a horse! They make it look so easy but, it is NOT! For one thing it needs a bit in it’s mouth so you can slow it down. It is way too fast. And that would help with the turning too. One wrong move on the cattle horns they call steering and the monster goes one way while you are still over in Texas! But after a few hours I had it wrestled!
I did get out and ride on Saturday. I saddled up Jur after breakfast and went looking for the Trailways access. Gizmo, Jur, and I headed out from the hotel. Jur did a little dancing and I gave him some thing else to do. I never found the Trailway but took County Road 3 out of town. In the two hours and approx. 9 miles we covered we passed four vehicles and the fourth one asked if we needed water. I wonder if we looked like we did? I had plenty.
Lisa and I made the big 10 mile trip to Quitaque (“kitty-quay“) for groceries. I got rib eye steak and a watermelon, both delicious. (She also showed me the trailways access.) One evening Ralph and I and Gizmo hopped in Lisa’s truck for a drive out to the Caprock Escarpments. The escarpments are a “long, narrow rocky formation as high as 1000’ that forms a natural transition between the flat, high plains of the Llano Estacado to the west and the lower Rolling Plains to the east. The harsh yet beautiful terrain at Caprock Canyons is distinguished by steep escarpments, exposed red sandstones and deep, highly eroded and rugged canyons.” (Texas State Publications)
On Sunday we attended service at the First Baptist Church next to the Hotel. The pastor, Brother Clinton, came over to welcome us and later in the service said he wanted everyone to give us a big Turkey welcome. I was afraid they were going to break out in a gobble chant but it entails everyone (all 24) coming over and shaking our hands and welcoming us. That took a good bit of the service but Jerry Bob S. also had time to lead everyone in singing a half dozen hymns. He got very choked up sharing of the sacrifice our service persons have given throughout the history of this country. Brother Clinton spoke on the celebration spoken of in Revelation 7 and “what a day of rejoicing that will be, When we all see Jesus” and those who have gone before us. The small congregation is obviously well known to one another and have no hesitation in speaking up in the service. After the service many came over to us. We talked to Richard G. who also does woodworking. As it happened, we needed sandpaper and Richard was willing to share his. So after lunch he arrived with sandpaper in hand.
Monday was another lovely Texas day. A little hotter and a storm or two threatened. Just after lunch I was doing some more mowing while Ralph finished his projects when over the sound of the mower I heard motorcycles arriving. I thought “must be a Harley Davidson” riding group. It was with one silent GoldWing thrown in to give them one to pick on. It was Jerry C., a friend of Paul and Lisa’s and a member of C.M.A., with “fourteen friends.” Gizmo started barking at them and ended up getting the only ride. (See Gizmo’s Story) Is that dog spoiled or what?
On May 29 we packed up to head to Caprock Canyon State Park. At our last meal at Hotel Turkey we met soon-to-be authors, Willa Finley and LaShara Nieland. They are finishing a pictorial book on wildflowers (mostly of Texas). Look for it a year from now. I saddled up Jur to ride the Trailway to Caprock and Ralph drove the rig there. We said our goodbyes to Lisa with thanks on both sides. Another God thing she emphatically agreed.
I rode the Trailway to Quitaque, an old railroad bed donated by a railroad magnum. It is a multi-use trail and this ten mile stretch has a lot of slag and gravel. We left at 9:45 and Ralph picked us up at the Quitaque East access point at 1:30. Jur and I saw lizards, one deer, two cows (which we drove back into their pens), and one owl (I think). I passed a couple of farms being worked and there were historic markers telling of the J.A. Ranch which once covered more than 1.3 million acres in that area. I had started a sunburn by the time I got to Quitaque, population 432.
Ralph helped load Jur up and we hauled up to the Wild Horse Campground in Caprock Canyon State Park. We agreed that the best campsite was not one of the designated sites with water, but the overflow area, just a open field, but with a view of the canyons and the distant escarpments. It was beautiful. So Ralph positioned the trailer to be both level and with a view. There were metal horse pens and a field for a taste of the grass. We were not there a half hour, lounging in our chairs, when a bicyclist came up from the trailhead. Wilburn Leeper (72) lives in Quitaque, retired from the school system, and cycles Caprock regularly. He reviewed the trails with us and so we decided to do a loop.
At five o’clock we saddled up and headed down the Lower Canyon Trail around to complete a seven mile loop. We were very impressed with the deep canyons and beautiful colors. Every bend in the trail gave you a new view and Ralph declared it “pretty cool.” The only wildlife we saw was a horned lizard who was still in the trail when we returned 3 hours later. The trail crossed water (but many were dry) many times. We were back at camp with the temperatures finally cooling off at 8pm. We unsaddled and Ralph fed the horses while I went in and started a spaghetti dinner. We both got showers and were in bed at 10 o’clock.
May 31, 2007 The last of Texas: The Canyons
Caprock Canyon State Park seems to be a hidden treasure of the Panhandle of Texas. Also home to the official Texas Bison herd, it is full of beautiful landscapes of red, orange and yellow. This year, with the abundance of rain, there was the added bonus of colorful wildflowers against the sea of green and the very blue endless Texas sky.
From Caprock we drove to Canyon, TX and Palo Duro State Park. Palo Duro is much more popular but only do to advertising, I’m sure. It has gift shops and food which Caprock did not. We stopped inside the Park at a restaurant and gift shop, bought hamburgers and state patches. (We have plans to plaster some jean jackets.) Then we drove down the canyon to the trailhead of the Lighthouse Trail. This trail is said to be 2.2 miles long until you get on it and then it notifies you that you have three miles to go. We were in the saddle at 2:30 and returned to the trailer at 4:30. It was 70 degrees at 11 and only reached 80 so it was a great day to be out on a canyon trail. I put Jur in his boots (hiking boots) and he did great as did Silver Girl without. Gizmo got pretty hot and kept stopping in any shade he could find. Only one water crossing had water in it and that was close to 3 miles out. When we got back to the trailer and gave the horses a hosing off, we each took a turn in the shower too. The drive out was a spectacular as the drive in and I tried to give you a feel for it with the shot with the rear of the trailer in it. At least this road was paved.
Leaving Palo Duro, we went up to Amarillo and got on I-40W which is also Old Route 66 at that point. We were on the wrong side of the road to pull off and see the painted, buried Cadillacs but we did see them “in passing.” There is also a wind generator area. Several miles long, the generators numbered about 100. This is being talked of in Turkey, TX as well. The wind is a great source of energy in the Texas Plains. That and the sun. We were surprised that solar is not used extensively out there. Then we passed a cattle yard, claiming “Quality Beef.” I don’t know about that but the quantity was sure there! The cattle appeared to be standing on each other!
We crossed into New Mexico at 6pm their Mountain time. We pulled into a weigh station when it listed cattle haulers but they told us since we were hauling our own to go on. I then asked if they could tell us our weight. First they got us on the scale and then said it read 20,600 pounds! More than I want when I’m hauling up to 8000’ in the mountains!