We spent the early part of the day lounging in the coffee house at our campground in Espanola, NM, then headed back to the little artist town of Chimayo for lunch. We went back to visit Senor Bimontes and buy a piece of his artwork for Roberta’s birthday. (Who knows? Maybe he will be the next Diego Rivera?) When he learned it was her birthday, he GAVE her a piece as well as the one we bought.
We rolled into Taos, NM in time to celebrate Roberta’s 57th birthday in the Alley Cantina, dancing to live music by a great band called “The Monkey Feeders”. Roberta even finished a WHOLE Margarita!
We stopped at the Rio Grande River Gorge to hike along the rim trail. It is an 8+mile walk but we said we’d only walk for about an hour then turn around. It turned out to be about 3 miles we walked out and back, finishing in about 3 hours. But the weather was nice in spite of the wind picking up as we walked and we met a local couple along the trail that we visited with for a while.
From the Rio Grande Gorge we drove north to Wild Rivers Recreation Area to spend the night. This area is where the Rio Grande and the Red Rivers merge and the view looking down from the campground on the first night was quite interesting.
We woke to a beautiful day and Roberta decided she wanted the challenge of hiking down the La Junta trail to the bank where the two rivers merge (La Junta means “the junction”). Never mind that the trail is 1.2 miles of about 800 vertical feet to descend (and ascend on the way back!) and rated as “difficult”. Roberta has been working on taming her fear of heights, so she insisted on this trail – the second steepest in the park. At the river’s edge the sound of rushing water was fantastic and we were disappointed to find that a fallen tree that had been laid across the river as a bridge had been moved. Of course that didn’t stop us from exploring other ways to ford the river and we DID almost find a way across. Farther upstream someone had laid a piece of wood between two rocks and we checked it out. It did not extend far enough to get across but we stepped onto the rocks to take pictures of the gorgeous rushing rivers – and Roberta promptly stepped on a mossy rock and ended up with BOTH feet in the water almost up to her knees! Luckily the weather was warm enough at that point that it was no big deal. We finished the ascent back to the RV just as it began to snow. By the time we got to 9800 ft. we were driving in snow, for the first time in several weeks.
Just in time, too. Snow flurries started as we got into the RV, and the snow came down harder and harder as we continued driving up the road to higher elevations. Funny, when we started the hike it was clear and sunny!
As we continued our travels along Route 66 in New Mexico we came to a place called the Blue Hole, east of Santa Rosa. This is a is a circular, bell shaped pool that is one of the most popular dive destinations in the US for scuba diving and training because it is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom just standing at the edge! It is a clear blue body of water with a constant 64 ° temperature and constant inflow of 3000 gallons per minute. The surface is only 80 feet in diameter, but expands to a diameter of 130 feet at the bottom. While we were there there were many scuba divers preparing for a “dip”. We also learned that it is just one of many such holes in the area – all connected by under ground water tunnels. Unfortunately, because someone died there a few years ago, the underground waterways are now closed off to the public.
No, Dave, it’s not THAT kind of diving pool!!
Today we are in the panhandle of Texas, heading for Amarillo. First stop is the midpoint of Route 66 – exactly halfway between Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA.
Just outside of Amarillo on old Route 66 is the Cadillac Ranch,south of I-40 between exits 60 and 62. In 1973 Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh invited a San Francisco artists’ collective, The Ant Farm, to help him create a unique work of art for his sprawling ranch. They acquired ten used Cadillacs, ranging in model years from 1948 to 1963, for about $200 each, and buried them nose-down in the ground in a row. The cars were supposed to represent the “Golden Age” of American automobiles.
On the road out of Amarillo we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw “The Cowboy Church” – complete with a rodeo arena in back!
While we were in the Amarillo area several people asked us if we had been to Palo Duro State Park. We figured if that many people asked us it must we worth seeing, so we went. It was pretty late in the day so all we could do was drive through it before dusk. Someday we will go back and take advantage of all the wonderful hiking trails we saw there.
Today we went to a “must-see” on our to do list – the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, TX. (For those who don’t know, “devil’s rope” is barbed wire.) Included in the museum were thousands of different kinds of barbed wire, hundreds of tools used on the wire, a huge rare-wire wall, a display of “War Obstacle” wires (used during wars to contain prisoners or protect arms), and sculptures made of barbed wire. It also had ranching history and cattle brands displayed. The museum actually had more than just the devil’s rope displays; there was a whole section about Route 66 history also.
The two “balls” on the poles are actually rolls of barbed wire. The cubed shape behind the sign is a cube of barbed wire ready to be disposed of
She won’t eat them, but she’ll kiss them ?!
Later that afternoon we arrived in Elk City, Oklahoma where the National Route 66 Museum Complex resides. It was a huge museum laid out much like a city and included the National Transportation Museum, Old Town Museum, Farm & Ranch Museum and Blacksmith Museum. Needless to say, it took us the rest of the day to go through it all.
On our way out of town we stopped to see one of the tallest oil rigs in the world –
the Parker Drilling Rig # 114 in Elk City, TX.
Our Route 66 journey took us next through Tulsa, OK and the Hard Rock Cafe & Casino, then several small towns east of Tulsa. In Chandler, OK we stopped at the Rock Cafe. It is actually made from rocks that were part of the original Route 66 highway. Dave had their bread pudding and Roberta tried the fried green tomatoes. (Yuck – she’ll probably never have them again!) Like many places along the Route, they had several of the characters from the movie Cars displayed outside their building.
Another small town we drove through was Catoosa, OK. It’s claim to fame? The blue whale and its swimming hole!
Claremore, OK was the birthplace of Will Rogers. Here we toured the Will Rogers Memorial, filled with memorabilia as well as the Rogers Family tomb. We saw several of the many saddles he had collected from around the world and were treated to so many of his wise old quotes. We had a great time talking with several of the volunteer docents there, and learned a lot about Will Rogers and his history.
(This is a copy of the sculpture on the campus of Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX)
A campus legend holds that the statue was originally intended to be positioned with Will Rogers facing due west, so that it would appear he was riding into the sunset. However, that position would cause Soapsuds’ posterior to face due east, towards downtown Lubbock, Texas, potentially insulting the Lubbock business community. To address this issue, the statue was turned 23 degrees to the east, causing Soapsuds’ rear to face in the direction of the Texas A&M Campus in College Station, Texas. Texas Tech and A&M, both being agricultural schools, were bitter rivals. But for us this story was hilarious because we are Texas Longhorn fans – also strong rivals of A&M.
Next stop – Foyil, OK. Here we saw the world’s largest totem pole built by Ed Galloway and his extensive collection of wood carvings, mostly fiddles that were never strung or played. (He just liked to use fiddles to display his wood carving technique.)
In Commerce, OK we saw a statue of one of their favorite sons –
One of the oldest and narrowest stretches of the old Route, commonly called the “sidewalk highway”.
This old gas station pays tribute to “Tater” from the movie Cars. We think this was a working tow truck – but the owner was on lunch break so we didn’t get to talk to her (it was an all female run gas station).
After leaving the tiny 14 mile strip of Old Route 66 that goes through Kansas, we entered Missouri via the city of Joplin. There isn’t much to see or do in Joplin, but we did hang out a while at the Downstream Casino, where we stayed one night in their RV parking lot (complete with electric hookup!)
Springfield, MO was our next stop, where we visited “The world’s greatest sporting goods store” – BASS Pro Shops Outdoor World. It was huge, of course, with several streams running through it and a number of taxidermied animals on the walls. We saw a lotta stuff there we had NEVER seen before (obviously because we don’t hunt, fish or trap!)
Continuing along Route 66 we passed through Lebanon then Waynesville, MO. Here is the most rugged stretch of the old Route 66 through the Ozark Mountains. This area is known as “the Devil’s Elbow” because of a section of the Big Piney River that turns so acutely it used to cause repeated logjams. We stayed as long as we could on Highway Z – the hilly, 4-lane last section of the old Route 66 road to be bypassed by the interstate.
Once we were on Interstate 44 we arrived in Rolla, MO. Here we stopped briefly to see a replica of Stonehenge, then continued on to Meramec Caverns in Stanton, MO. Meramec Caverns is a set of limestone caves which was opened as a tourist attraction in 1935. First developed during the Civil War when the natural saltpeter was mined for use in manufacturing gunpowder, it was later used as a dancehall by the local farmers and even as a hideout by Jesse James.
From there we headed for a campground called Lost Valley Lake Resort where we stayed several days to “regroup” and get ready for our flight to CA.
On the evening of March 23rdwe flew out of St. Louis airport for our 2 weeks of business in California. After only a few days we were missing our “home” that we had left in an airport parking lot back in St. Louis! The business we had to take care of was not much fun, but we had a great time visiting friends & family. The first few nights back in California we stayed with friends in Glendora.
On Friday evening (3/26) we celebrated Dave’s sister Tricia’s 50th birthday party at her house in Temecula and spent the evening telling stories about our trip & eating. On Saturday night we attended Dave’s niece Janna’s wedding reception. After a few nights with friends in Buena Park and Corona, we spent the last night of March in Murrieta at Dave’s sister Judy’s house.