WINTER
 
SOUTHWEST TRIP
 

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NOTE:

The details below are a true record but the names of people have been changed to protect their identity.

The numbered points are only there to force the map generating program to reflect the actual route taken and need not necessarily have anything to do with the text.

Day 1 - Wednesday, January 28 - Lincoln, NE to Liberal, KS

0.0 8:50 Left home. I drove to Enterprise Car Rentals, 27th and "O" to get LP after he returned the car he used in Omaha.
4.7 9:04 Leaving Enterprise we drove along "O" Street to the Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo).
5.9 9:08 - 9:12 Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo) to get some cash, then continued along "O" to I-80.
9.2 9:20 Entering I-80 West.
52.1 9:56 We have left I-80 at York and are turning south on US-81.
Whilst driving south it was fascinating watching all the vapor trails left by planes flying both east and west. We crossed the Little Blue River at Hebron. It was a big river valley and the countryside became quite hilly, whereas prior to this the road had crossed fairly level plains.
110.2 10:56 Entering Kansas. We were still observing many vapor trails overhead as planes flew east and west.
122.0 11:08-11:20 Belleville, where we stopped at the Kansas Welcome Center.
187.7 12:27 Crossed over I-70. About 16 miles prior to this US-81 ran into I-135. The vapor trails had continued to attract our attention and we were amazed that there were so many planes criss-crossing the sky.
190.0 12:29 Left I-135 (Exit 93) for KS-140, a pleasant drive west through rather hilly country. There were a lot of large old cottonwood trees alongside the road. The road seemed to be rising up as if crossing a range of hills (no indication on any of our maps!). This was just before coming to the junction with KS-141 between Brookville and Ellsworth (Mushroom Rock State Park 2 miles S of this road).
216.2 We are still driving through hills.
220.9 Passed a fence with posts of rock - wonder if this is Post Rock Country!!
222.0 1:06 - 1:47 Junction with KS-156, turned south and stopped immediately for lunch ($14.46).
233.7 Oil pumps on both sides of the road.
250.4 2:19 Stopped at the entrance to Cheyenne Bottoms, but decided not to go in - LP not really all that interested and besides we wanted to cover more distance for the first day! Continued on KS-156 to junction with US-56.
258.0 2:30 Pulling back onto US-56. Just after joining this road we stopped in a wayside park to read the Fort Zarah historical marker.
We drove through Great Bend without stopping.
272.3 2:50 Thousands of small birds in enormous flocks. One of these flocks was flying across the road and rose up above the car as we went underneath it.
274.9 2:54 Turned off the highway at Pawnee Rock. Driving through the town of Pawnee Rock makes you feel a bit like driving through an outback town in Australia.
278.0 2:56 - 3:22 Pawnee Rock State Park.
278.7 3:26 Back on highway. Once out of town there were more huge flocks of tiny birds - thousands and thousands and as they fly around and turn a certain way they become a black cloud.
287.7 3:37 We have just traveled through the main street of Larned, which is quite an attractive looking town (Mary and I turned off before the town to visit Fort Larned and returned to the highway by a different road thus missing the town).
312.0 4:04 - 4:26 Midway USA (Kinsley) - 1,561 miles from San Francisco and 1,561 miles from New York. We climbed aboard the big old steam engine on display in the park there!!
344.0 4:58 - 5:04 Stopped for pictures by the cow and cowboy made from horseshoes. This rest area, just before Dodge City, overlooked a very large feed lot.
 
346.0 510 - 5:18 GAS - Dodge City, KS just off US-283 - $0.999/gal. - 16.012 gals. - $16.00
 
347.5 5:20 Crossed the Arkansas River. After this the countryside was fairly flat and there were huge fields with no fences on either side of the road.
365.6 Just before the town of Mineola, we saw more oil pumps.
367.0 5:41 Mineola and the junction with US-54 where we leave US-283.
412.3 6:30 Crossed the Cimarron River.
425.1 6:49 Pulled into La Fonda Inn (Best Western motel - $53.97) in Liberal.
After taking our things into our room we went to the supermarket to buy supplies ($31.90) towards our evening meals. We had decided to try something different on this trip, by taking a break in the middle of the day for a hot restaurant meal and having something lighter in the evening in our room. I was amazed at the variety of items available for preparation of Mexican food here in Kansas. We were also surprised at the price of whole hams as well as the availability of Virginia hams.
Had a pleasant and relaxed evening in our room, were in bed by 10 o'clock and slept well.
429.0 End of day.

The day’s total - 429 miles
Trip Total - 429 miles

Day 2: Thursday January 29 - Liberal, KS to Canyon, TX

Relaxed morning, coffee, breakfast, etc.
429.0 9:11 Leave motel, Liberal, went East a couple of blocks on US-54 then turned South on US-83.
433.5 9:19 Kansas/Oklahoma State Line - wide expanses of flat plains, stubble from corn in the fields, no fences.
446.4 Passing a huge feed lot, which looks bigger than the one in Dodge City.
449.8 Came down a big hill into a wide valley with low sand dunes through the area.
450.5 Crossing Beaver Creek. It is quite a wide valley and we appeared to cross a strip of desert, but after this we were back in regular ranching/farm country. There was lots of evidence of oil being pumped around the area.
469.2 9:55 - 9:59 About to enter Texas - stopped to take 2 pictures (wheels and name).
475.0 10:06 Entering Perrytown (El. 2,942 feet/pop. 7,622).
475.9 10:08 Stopped in Perrytown for a red light at the junction of TX-15 onto which we turned.
The land is very flat west of Perrytown - oil pumps and electric or telephone lines dot the horizon but little else - maybe an occasional house with trees around it.
484.0 10:17-10:24 Stopped for two pictures (one 1/90th at F16 using telephoto and polarizing lenses and one 1/180th at F16 using the telephoto but not the polarizing lens).
10:28 We have just passed through Farnsworth with its huge elevators. The area around, however, is well dotted with oil pumps and collector tanks. There's also quite a lot of cattle around and these are contained within their fields with single wire fences, electric I presume!
498.3 Looking to the south there is a large black cloud moving eastward! Actually it is a huge flock of birds. Because it is so flat here distances are very great and flocks of birds can be visible miles away.
501.4 10:41 Spearman (El. 3,105 feet/pop. 3,197). The size of the grain tanks is quite overwhelming.
We stopped 2 miles out of town to take a look at the map and realizing that we were heading the wrong way, we retraced our tracks.
505.1 10:50 Entering Spearman from the west!!
505.6 10:51 Turned south on TX-207.
507.1 10:53-10:56 An historic marker about one of Lindbergh's flights. (1 pic).
http://www.spearman.org/lindberghs%20land.html
523.0 Straight ahead a large flock of birds appearing as a black cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky - there's got to be thousands of birds in it.
525.7 11:14-11:19 Historic marker, this one about The Drift Fence and early days of ranching.
533.0 Quite a sudden change in the countryside - not flat like it had been. The road was twisting back and forth and going up and down and out to the east there looked to be a lot of soil erosion or canyon-type country developing.
534.7 12:28 Entering Stinnett (El. 3,173 feet/pop. 2,166). After leaving Stinnett and heading towards Borger, a large oil refinery could be seen on the horizon. The countryside also changed - much less fertile looking and a lot of low scrubby bushes which I think may be mesquite.


     "Texas Plains Trail. Two years ago (January 1996) when we enjoyed a ten day holiday in Texas we used a brochure put out by the Texas Monthly to follow The Independence Trail."


540.3 Starting to descend into a huge valley, probably that of the Canadian River.
541.1 11:36-11:40 Historic marker - Kit Carson's last battle (picture of sign and the hillside).
541.7 Starting to cross the Fritz Thompson Bridge over the Canadian River - not much of a river at the moment, but the signs not to proceed when flashing warn that flooding is possible and does occur.
543.4 Going up the other side of the valley - the countryside is very rugged.
545.2 11:45 Entering Borger (Texas Plains Trail) (El. 3,116 feet/pop. 15,675). We had to go round a huge traffic circle, the largest I think I have ever seen. There appears to be several oil refineries in the area. Also of interest there has been a four-laned divided highway between Stinnett and Borger!
555.3 12:00-12:02 Stopped for a picture of historic marker about Antelope Creek Ruins.
557.9 12:06 Before entering Fritch, we turned off at a sign "Fritch Overlook" - no distance given, but thought that if it is fairly close we would have a look! Yucca and mesquite seem to be the main plants in the area.
562.1 12:14-12:17 We stopped at an information board where we were also able to pick up a brochure for the National Recreation Area.
561.9 Entering Meredith Lake National Recreation Area (Texas Plains Trail) (Sandford) - 12% downgrade to go into Cedar Canyon. The road ended in a parking lot where there was a boat ramp. It was certainly a very rugged landscape with lots of red soil showing in the cuttings.
563.5 12:24 Back where we picked up the maps and now heading in to town. Fritch (El. 3,200 feet/pop. 2,479) is an interesting town built among canyons along Lake Meredith - a lot of trailer homes among the yucca.
572.0 12:40 Back at the highway.
579.0 12:48 Leaving the highway for Alibates National Monument (Texas Plains Trail). Even though appointments were required for a tour I thought that we might be able to see something of the flint quarries.
579.5 12:55 Leaving to return to main road - had stopped for several minutes by the historic marker for Dr. Charles Newton-Gould (picture) and decided that we would not be able to see anything.
579.9 12:57 Back at the main road.
586.4 1:04 - 1:08 Historic Marker - The Fort Smith - Santa Fe Trail Marcy Route of 1849 (2 pictures).
603.9 1:20 Entering Amarillo (Texas Plains Trail) (El. 3,676 feet/pop. 168,358). We drove right through Amarillo and south on I-27. We thought of stopping downtown but it looked very busy, with many filming trucks in the area. We later realized that these were there for the trial against Oprah Winfrey by the Texas beef ranchers!!
623.9 1:58 Leaving I-27 to go into Canyon (Texas Plains Trail) (El. 3,566 feet/pop. 11,365).
627.0 2:03 - 2:39 Lunch at Pepitos in Canyon ($15.00)..
639.3 2:55 - 2:59 Entrance Palo Dura Canyon (Texas Plains Trail) State Park - $6.00 entry fee.
3:02 - 3:16 A short distance beyond the entrance before the steep descent down the canyon wall, we stopped at the Visitor Center, which commanded a great view of the valley.
640.1 We were fortunate enough to see some wild turkeys and stopped to get some pictures.
644.8 3:41 - 5:09 Lighthouse Trail. We enjoyed a hike along this trail but did not have the time to go as far as the formation known as "The Lighthouse", but did get fairly close to "Castle Peak".
We completed the circular drive through the park with wonderful views of Fortress Cliff. At one of the fords water was actually flowing across the road. We stopped to read an Historical Marker, "The Battle of Palo Dura Canyon" September 28, 1874. I was unable to photograph the deer we saw, but had better luck with a roadrunner, which did not make too hasty a retreat.
655.1 6:01 Leaving the Palo Dura Canyon State Park gates to return to Canyon for the night.
668.0 6:17 Buffalo Inn, Canyon ($38.50). We walked to a nearby supermarket to buy some shampoo and toothbrushes ($5.08)!!
668.0 End of day

The day’s total - 239 miles
Trip Total - 668 miles

DAY 3: Friday January 30 - Canyon, TX to Fort Stockton, TX

668.0 8:23 Leaving Buffalo Inn, Canyon, to drive south. This is a bit like Australia with vast expanses of flat country, slightly undulating, with tall grain elevators on the skyline. I can only see one at the moment; there were only one or two houses around the last elevator. We are now approaching Happy (I wonder how this place got its name!) and it will be interesting to see how many houses there are. There looks to be more of a town here, but the elevators are just huge.
683.7 8:40 Stopped for a picture of Happy, pop. 674.
685.8 8:43 US-87 becomes part of I-27.
696.9 Going on the overpass over the railway line at Tulia (El. 3,501 feet/pop. 5,229), I glanced down to see an emu farm - maybe about 50 emus.
704.3 The ploughed land, left of the road, has little bits of white "fluff" indicating cotton fields. From all the reading I did before coming on this trip I learned that Lubbock is a very big cotton-producing area.
719.9 Plainview (El. 3,366 feet/pop. 21,586). EXEL FOOD - big food packing place by the looks of it; huge elevators and numerous other big buildings which might have something to do with the cotton industry. There are vineyards here as well. One of the huge buildings has WALMART DISTRIBUTION CENTER on the side, which accounts for all the Walmart trucks we have seen going north from here. AZTEC MILLING must be something to do with corn as there is a picture of a large cob of corn on the side of it.
732.5 Just passed an old rusty disused building but on its side it had SIX POINT GIN.
745.0 9:37 - 9:44 Rest Stop with very nice facilities.
 
752.0 GAS - Abernathy, TX - $1.119/gal. - 17.0 gals. - $19.03
 
762.7 10:11 Passing the Lubbock International Airport.
769.2 10:18 Exiting I-27 in Lubbock (Texas Plains Trail), El. 3,241 feet/pop. 194,467, (almost the same size as Lincoln) LP remarked that it would not be a bad place to live!! As we drive west along 19th Street (US-62) a beautiful looking university campus lies to our north whilst on the south side is a long row of large, magnificent homes - reminded me a little of McMaster in the old days.
Have seen three separate flocks of geese flying overhead.
787.3 Just noticed little balls of white cotton caught in the grass at the side of the road - the soil in the fields is quite red.
807.2 11:05 Entering Brownfield (El. 3,312 feet/pop. 10,387).
807.8 Junction with US-385 (now on US-62 and US-385 south).
813.8 Just drove past the second sign for peanuts, so I guess they grow peanuts in the area as well.
814.8 The soil at the side of the road is red but also looks quite sandy.
The flatness of the land and the red soil remind me of the countryside around Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, except here they are cultivating the land for numerous types of crops, whereas around Kalgoorlie it is desert, the difference being water.
831.5 11:30 Seagraves (El. 3,353 feet/pop. 2,596) - producers of cotton, peanuts, oil.
840.0 Stopped at the side of the road where we picked up some bits of cotton.
841.4 11:44 Picture of Historical Marker - Oil Industry in Gaines County.
846.3 As we travel south we could see a huge oil refinery out to the west.
847.2 11:50 Entering Seminole (El. 3,312 feet/pop. 6,456) - oil pumps. Also the fields where cotton is grown have big irrigation pipes, and I noticed that the fields are big circular fields.
By the time we had traveled another 20 miles the countryside has changed considerably, less cultivated, with lots of yuccas and low scrubby bushes appearing.
870.7 Dozens of oil pumps everywhere have certainly taken over the scenery around here.
875.8 12:19 Andrews, pop. 10,678.
906.1 12:50 Entering Odessa (Texas Plains Trail) (El. 2,891 feet/pop. 94,223), established in 1881 as a stop on the Texas and Pacific Railroad, is an oil-oriented city. It was oil that made Odessa the only U.S. city to double its population every decade for 40 years. I noticed that the word "permian" is used a lot, and with good reason. Odessa is in the heart of a vast area that was once an ancient sea and the area today, geologically speaking, is known as the Permian Basin, which contains tremendous quantities of anhydrite, potassium sat, natural gas and oil.
We pulled into a parking lot and took a couple of minutes to look at the map.
911.9 1:08 - 1:46 La Marguerite Restaurant, good Mexican lunch ($13.12).
912.3 1:49 Junction with I-20. El Paso now 268 miles. However we are probably going to do something like 600 miles before we get there!! Maybe even more!
928.0 There are miles and miles of oil pumps along this route through the semi-desert landscape, a sign of the immense reservoirs of oil in the Permian Basin. More than 12 billion barrels of oil have been produced, and the remaining reserves are enormous.
942.4 2:16 Leaving I-20 for Monahans Sandhills State Park (Texas Plains Trail).
942.8 2:17 Entering the park, which covers nearly 4,000 acres of wind-sculpted sand dunes.
944.3 2:25 - 2:31 Park headquarters, where we paid the $4.00 fee and picked up a map of the area. Then we drove out to Chinook picnic area and to the end of the road.
944.9 2:34 - 3:19 End of the road where we went for a walk in the sandhills.
948.0 3:35 Leaving Monahans Sandhills Park. Instead of returning to the interstate we took a road parallel to it, only 5 miles into Monahans where would have left the interstate to turn south anyway. Monahans (Texas Plains Trail) (El. 2,613 feet/pop. 8,100).
953.0 3:42 In the heart of Monahans, turning south on TX-18.
967.0 More oil pumps, even a derrick where there might be drilling going on. It is also an area where you can actually smell the oil.
Near the town of Royalty there's a lot of prickly pear cactus around.
969.9 4:03 Entering Grandfalls, pop. 583.
973.9 4:08 Crossing the Pecos River. It is pretty inhospitable looking land.
978.3 Oil refinery out in the middle of nowhere.
980.6 Beginning to see mountain ranges in the distance peaking above the horizon.
987.8 Driving over a crest we can see where the country is changing considerably. There is land at all different elevations. The flat plains have given way to an undulating landscape.
1,000.8 4:33 Junction with I-10 and entering Fort Stockton (Texas Plains Trail) (El. 2,954 feet/pop. 8,524).
1,001.9 4:35 In the centre of town. Drove first to Days Inn, got a room for the night, then went back into town to buy some beer ($18.00!!). Since it was still early we drove that part of town, which is a National Register Historic District. We stopped to look at the oldest house (1859) and followed the driving tour through the historic district and past the fort, which was first establish in 1858.
1,009.0 6:06 Back at the motel and the end of the day.

The day’s total - 341 miles
Trip Total - 1,009 miles

Day 4: Saturday January 31 - Fort Stockton, TX to Big Bend National Park, TX

1,009.0 8:52 Leaving Days Inn, Fort Stockton.
1,011.2 9:05 Leaving the Fort Stockton Post Office where we mailed a couple of letters.
1,012.4 9:09< Left Fort Stockton on US-385. Along a straight stretch of road there were many signs to watch for water on the road, and fords after each with a gauge to show the depth of the water if there was any!
The road rose up over a low range before us we could see another range of hills or mountains to the southeast and more to the west, broad flat plains in between and more signs to watch for water.
The "Watch for Water" signs are continuing all along this road even when the road rises out of the valley to go through the mountain ranges.
There are sheep grazing among the low scrub and there must be deer in the area as I have seen two dead ones at the side of the road - just noticed a live one on the horizon.
Also the land changes as we travel along, very scrubby at one point, then, as if a line has been drawn across the landscape it is all clear.
1,040.7 9:36-9:43 Warnock Park Picnic Area, a very nice spot on a high point along the road (beautiful views but the high cyclone fence made photography difficult - a picture looking north.
1,057.3 9:59-10:02 Stopped for a picture looking west towards a windmill and the mountains beyond.
Bits of sticks attached to the fence posts carry the telephone line.
 
1,068.0 10:13-10:22 GAS - on the outskirts of Marathon, TX - $1.369/gal. - 14.0 gals. - $19.18
 
After getting gas we drove on into Marathon (El. 4,040 feet/pop. 400), and stopped near the historic Gage Hotel, built in 1927 and written up in National Geographic's Traveler magazine - 4 pictures, including two of "Los Portales", a new addition to the hotel. 60.510:37Back near the gas station and turning south on US-385 to go to Big Bend National Park.
1,075.1 We are right in among the mountains now.
1,079.1 10:48-10:51 Historic marker - Los Caballos (2 pictures).
1,092.1 I noticed mail boxes alongside the road and wondered how often mail was delivered or picked up!
The high point out to the west is Santiago Peak, El. 6,521 feet.
1,096.9 11:09-11:16 4 pictures of desert plains and distant mountains, including Santiago Peak, two with telephoto lens.
1,108.0 11:28-11:31 Entering Big Bend National Park (El. 1,850 feet-7,835 feet/pop. 275) - (picture of sign).
1,109.5 11:35-11:53 Persimmon Gap Visitor Center, named for the Mexican Persimmon trees growing there. Park entry fee, without my pass - $10.00. I bought the book "Big Bend the Story Behind The Scenery" ($8.49).
1,112.3 Couple of miles after leaving Visitor Center stopped for picture looking towards large scar on the Santiago Mountains left by a rockslide which had occurred one late evening in 1987.
The road is across desert which lies between the mountain ranges and crosses many draws or waterways. Another plant is starting to put in an appearance - I'm not sure what they are but I think that they look like ocotillos.
1,112.9 A short distance from the rockslide scar Dog Canyon cuts through the Santiago Mountains. There is no record of where the name Dog Canyon came from, but it was called "Cañon del Perro" by the Spaniards until the early 1800s. Dog Canyon is a half-day hike from here.
The army was sent to map the area when the United States won control of this territory, and in the 1850s numerous expeditions surveyed the area. Due to the climate and the rugged terrain of the area, the army experimented with camels as beasts of burden. In 1859 a camel expedition was led through Dog Canyon, but this experiment came to an end when the Civil War broke out.
1,114.4 Nine Point Draw. Stopped to look at a marker about flash floods - took 2 pictures. Two washes (or arroyos), Nine Mile Draw and nearby Bone Spring Draw drain much of the land to the right. They are dry beds most of the year, but can become a raging torrent after heavy rains and roar through Dog Canyon.
1,122.6 Turned off on the Dagger Flat Trail, a gravel road, but only went far enough to pick up the information folder (.50¢), which describes many of the varied plants found in the area. It would be a well worthwhile drive sometime, maybe in the spring, but after the advice we had been given to consider staying in the park overnight, we needed to get the lodge in The Basin before it was booked out!
1,122.9 Back at the main road.
1,127.4 Turning off for the Fossil Bone Exhibit at Tornillo Flat. The area was once a lush forest with panther-like cats, miniature hippopotamus and small horses.
1,127.6 4 pictures near fossil display.
1,127.9 Back at the main road and turning south we immediately crossed the Tornillo Creek, named for the tornillo mesquite. It was a long bridge, over a wide draw, which drains the eastern portion of the park following summer thunderstorms and sixteen miles downstream flows into the Rio Grande at Hot Springs.
1,128.9 Having climbed up from Tornillo Flat and travelled through the Hannold Hill Formation, a geologic layer, the road drops down to its lowest point 2,814 feet when crossing Tornillo Creek and climbs 900 feet in six miles to Panther Junction.
1,132.6 Picture towards the Chisos Mountains. As we drove on I noticed a small deer.
1,133.6 Spotted a coyote, but he disappeared back into the bushes and didn't give me a chance to get a picture. Unbelievable scenery!
1,134.9 1:02 - 1:06 Panther Junction Visitor Center, where we picked up information about the lodge.
2:14 Leaving the lodge after booking our room and having lunch. We then drove across to our to take a look at it before setting out for the remainder of the day.
1,144.6 2:26 Leaving Chisos Basin.
1,146.8 Picture looking out towards the plains - saw a roadrunner.
1,154.0 2:46 Back at Panther Junction where we came into from Marathon. Now we are going to take the road to the south east to Boquillas Canyon Overlook.
1,169.4 Stopped for three pictures of the cliffs, using the polarizing lens on the middle one.
1,172.0 Picture of tunnel.
1,175.4 3:27 - 3:34 Looking across the Rio Grande to Boquillas, Mexico (3 pics.).
1,176.7 3:40 - 4:52 End of the road. From here we hiked almost to the entrance of Boquillas Canyon, part of the time through stands of tall bamboo-like plants and part of the time along the sandy bank of the river.
1,181.2 5:10 Turning into Rio Grande Village.
1,182.8 Stopped in the amphitheater area for two pictures with the cottonwoods.
1,183.3 5:28 Leaving Rio Grande Village, where we bought ice for the cooler ($1.67).
1,184.3 5:31 Back at the junction of the road to Rio Grande Village.
1,197.6 Two pictures - Chiluahuan Desert.
1,202.1 Stopped to see some strange pig-like animals - javelinas.
1,203.5 6:09 Back at Panther Junction, but the Visitor Center had closed at 6 o'clock! We continued on back The Chisos Basin for the night.
1,211.7 Two sunset pictures looking towards "The Window as we descend into The Basin.
1,214.7 6:42 Back "home" ($90.63) for the night. I walked from our room to the store to buy some postcards ($1.73).
1,216.0 End of day.

The day’s total - 207 miles
Trip Total - 1,216 miles

Day 5: Sunday February 1 - Big Bend National Park, TX to Marfa, TX

1,216.0 9:45 Leaving Chisos Lodge ($90.63 - room and previous day's lunch) - 60°F.
1,216.6 Stopped for a picture of The Window with two century plants in the foreground.
1,217.3 Two pictures, one of The Basin and one in the opposite direction.
1,217.6 Just gone over Panther Pass, the route through the Chisos Mountains to The Basin.
1,217.9 Two pictures from the road. A couple of deer just disappeared into the woods. From being at river level yesterday up to The Basin where we spent the night we were about 4,000 feet higher!
1,228.5 10:10-10:19 Information sign about the animals of the park. Took four pictures. We chatted with a couple from Wichita, who had been traveling for several months.
1,228.8 10:20 The junction with the main road and we decided not to return to Panther Junction, but rather to turn west towards Castolon and on to Santa Elena Canyon.
1,232.9 Just passed three javelinas looking out onto the road.
1,238.1 10:34 Santa Elena Junction where we are turning onto the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
1,239.1 A view looking towards the Chisos Mountains and the gap known as The Window. The picture I have just taken is approximately 24 miles from where we started and we were just below the flat top peak which was in the background!
1,240.1 10:40-10:44 Two pictures.
1,241.4 One picture towards the east from the Sam Nail Ranch point of interest.
1,246.3 Turned off for Sotol Vista, so named because of all the Sotol plants on the promontory.
1,246.7 10:58-11:05 Sotol Vista. From here we have a magnificent view looking towards Santa Elena Canyon and the surrounding country. ... last picture of red cactus.
1,247.0 Back at the main road but going to return to a previous overlook.
1,247.2 11:08-11:14 Overlooking the Homer Wilson Ranch where at one time there were 4,000 sheep and 2,500 goats.
1,247.4 Back at the Sotol Vista turnoff, so named because of all the sotol plants on the promontory, and from here the road descends a long hill into another flat desert area but as it does so the view is absolutely magnificent. There is an abundance of sotol plants in the area and they must be quite a sight in the spring when they flower.
1,250.6 11:20 Turning off for Burro Mesa Pouroff.
1,252.4 11:25-12:09 Burro Mesa Pouroff. LP stayed in the car whilst I hiked first along a path then along a dry creek bed to the end of the canyon to see where the cliff had been undercut by water from the top of the mesa. Fantastic!
1,254.2 12:13 Back at the main road.
1,257.4 12:18-12:21 Geology of Goat Mountain - similar to what seen on last trail!
1,258.0 12:22 Turning off for Mule Ears Viewpoint.
1,258.5 12:24-12:27 Two pictures of Mule Ears (one a telephoto).
1,259.1 Back at the main road.
1,263.4 12:36-12:44 Tuff Canyon Overlook - pictures looking towards Santa Elena Canyon.
1,264.7 12:48-12:49 Jumble of Volcanoes. Two pictures along road after washes!
1,266.1 12:52 Just passed Castolon. The road has levelled out more or less as we follow along the river valley, high cliffs on the opposite side (Mexico) - we can't actually see the river yet. We are crossing numerous draws where water from the mountains would rush towards the river (must be quite a sight, but I would not want to be caught in a flash flood!)
We went over a draw where you could see that a bulldozer had been used to clear the road of debris.
1,269.9 Telephoto picture.
1,271.4 We are getting much closer to the cliffs now and they are just massive.
1,272.3 Turned off the main road for "canyon access" which was just a loop for people who wanted to get into the river with canoes or boats.
1,272.7 Back at main road.
1,273.9 1:12-1:19 Santa Elena Canyon Overlook.
1,274.9 1:22-2:34 Santa Elena Canyon Trail. Here we climbed a steep cliff overlooking the Rio Grande River at the mouth of the canyon. I went further than LP, but not far enough to get right into the canyon (I love hiking, but I don't really like going by myself). LP did quite well climbing up the cliff side but he said it wasn't much fun coming down and afterwards said that he didn't see a thing!!
We also had our picnic lunch here, and I noticed a sign on the toilet marking a high water level which had occurred on 2nd October, 1990. Here, too, I saw a couple of cars with Mexican licence plates!
1,275.5 2:35 Turning off on the Old Maverick Road - sign says "dirt road for 14 miles".
1,276.5 First picture along dirt road, looking NE approximately.
1,280.6 2:50 Just passed a Border Patrol car pulled off to the side of this lonely dirt road.
1,281.5 2:54 - 2:57 Luna's Jacal, where Luna raised a large family in this inhospitable land!
1,283.0 The road is going through or over hills with very little growth on them. It is a really beautiful drive and a shame that it's not one of the main roads in the park - lots of good and interesting views of various landmarks.
1,286.3 3:14 - 3:34 Views towards the Chisos Mountains.
1,288.0 3:42 Back at the main road at Maverick Junction after 12½ miles of dirt road.
1,289.0 3:44 Leaving Big Bend National Park and traveling on TX-118 to Study Butte (Texas Mountain Trail. Our route for the remainder of the day would be following this trail into Marfa.) (STEWdy beaut). What an experience this has been. It is a park vastly different from any of the other National Parks I have been in and is one of the ones to which I most want to return as long as my next visit will be for more days than this time.
1,291.8 3:49 Study Butte (El. 2,530 feet/pop. 50), where we leave TX-118 and turn west on Farm Road 170. For the rest of the day we will be following the Texas Mountain Trail.
1,295.2 Noticed a lovely house with palm trees growing around it!!
1,307.1 Turning into a Visitor Center for the Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center.
1,307.2 4:10-4:1 Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department).
1,308.2 4:20 Entering Lajitas (Texas Mountain Trail. Our route for the remainder of the day would be following this trail into Marfa.)(El. 2,364 feet/pop. 150), nearly a century old, now a privately owned resort/retirement community on the Rio Grande. We did not stop to look around!
1,310.9 Some crested quail ran across the road.
1,319.3 Three pictures (backward, forward and across).
1,320.7 4:43 - 4:46 Picnic area with stylized teepee shelters.
1,321.7 4:45 - 4:54 At the top of the highest grade in Texas.
1,322.0 One picture looking back to the crest.
1,326.0 There started to be sign of habitation as the mountains receded and the valley became a lot wider; farming was being done and there were large strips of green fields.
1,331.5 5:26 Entering Redford (Texas Mountain Trail). a retail center for surrounding farms and ranches.
1,340.6 The embankment at the side of the road is a conglomerate - I've been seeing quite a lot of these but this one was made up of a lot of small pebbles.
1,344.6 5:44 Entering Presidio (Texas Mountain Trail). (El. 2,932 feet/pop.4,775) one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in North America. It was settled in the 16th century by some Spanish missionaries. Located at La Junta de los Rios (the confluence of the rivers) Presidio came into being because of the joining of two major river, the Rio Conchos and the Rio Grande. The flood plain resulting from this provides acres of fertile land.
Across the river in Mexico is Ojinaga with a population of 30,000!
1,347.4 5:49 Junction with US-67 north.
Nineteen miles north of Presidio, in a mountain range, we passed by the ghost town of Shafter, once a prosperous silver mining town, which produced some $18 million in silver before mining activities ended in 1952. May be another time we will have time to stop in the town, look at the historical markers and see the church used in the film "The Andromeda Strain".
The range continued after Shafter and all the cuttings were of pebbles, which is a conglomerate, making these hills or mountains quite different from those we were in earlier today.
1,384.5 Came over the top of a ridge after a long climb and looking ahead into the distance there are numerous mountain ranges separated from us by a very wide valley and maybe some odd canyons - it"s hard to tell!! There is a pink glow over the land as the sun sets.
1,397.2 Some javelinas at the side of the road.
1,398.3 A herd of antelope.
1,401.5 6:41 Stopping for a Border Patrol Inspection Station.
1,401.7 6:43 Off again. The officer just asked us how we were doing and said, "Have a good day!"
1,405.5 6:47 Entering Marfa (Texas Mountain Trail) (El. 4,668 feet/pop. 2,424). It was already dark when we reached here and we were tired. Otherwise I may have been tempted to drive 9 miles east of town in the hope of viewing the mysterious Marfa lights!! If one was interested in playing golf Marfa boasts the highest golf course in Texas, built in the 1960's at 4,882 feet.
1,412.0 7:00 End of the day. We parked the car outside our room at the Holiday Capri Inn in Marfa, and after unpacking walked to the restaurant, which is at the top of the list of restaurants we won't return to! (Dinner: $14.08)

The day’s total - 196 miles
Trip Total - 1,412 miles

Day 6: Monday February 2 - Marfa, TX to White City, NM

1,412.0 8:04 Leaving the Holiday Capri Inn, traveling out of Marfa to Fort Davis on TX-17. (The short route between Marfa and Fort Davis is not part of the Texas Mountain Trail).
1,412.5 8:07 - 8:09 Stopped for a picture of the Marfa Courthouse, a domed structure built in 1886. Soon after leaving town we saw some antelope.
1,415.4 The huge building coming up on our left would be the West Texas Tomato Plant the lady at the motel had told me about last night. There seemed to be acres of hot houses.
1,422.5 We are going through sort of hilly country, almost bare hills - if it wasn't for the cacti and yucca you could almost be traveling in parts of Australia. More antelope.
1,429.0 Another huge tomato plant.
1,431.6 8:32-8:33 Approaching Fort Davis and there's a large number of antelope alongside the road. (2 pics)
1,432.6 8:35 Entering Fort Davis (Texas Mountain Trail, which we would be following for most of the day) (El. 5,050 feet/pop. 1,212), "highest town in Texas". Fort Davis was founded in 1854 when the U.S. military established a post nearby at Limpia Creek.
1,433.2 8:37 - 8:52 Town Square, Fort Davis - 4 pictures including Hotel Limpia.
1,434.3 Turning into old Fort Davis.
1,434.8 8:57 -10:16 We visited the museum, watched a slide show about the history of the fort and walked around the parade grounds looking at some of the ruins as well as restored buildings.
1,435.8 10:20-10:21 Back in Fort Davis for LP to put a phone call through to the office.
1,445.7 Passed an area where there were lots of solar panels, then I noticed the sign, "Solar Park Central and Southwest System".????
From here we can also see an observatory on top of a hill. Well time back before reaching Fort Davis (I did not note the mileage) I noticed two observatories on top of a hill, but at the time never thought they would be the ones we planned on visiting!!
1,450.8 10:42-11:49 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory, one of the world's major astronomy research facilities. First of all we checked in at the W.L. Moody, Jr. Visitors' Information Center, where we watched an orientation video.
Next we entered an adjacent observatory for a solar viewing. Special filters are used on the Visitors' Center telescope to block 99% of the sun's intense light. Also a camera has been attached to the telescope so the images can be displayed on a monitor allowing for group viewing and for the guide to explain to everyone what we were seeing. (Gift shop - $4.79 for three teleidoscopes).
1,451.1 11:54-12:30 From here we drove to the top of the hill (El. 6,791 feet), which afforded wonderful views of the surrounding plains and mountain ranges. We picked up a brochure (.50¢) for the walking tour past the 82 inch dome to the 107 inch dome where visitors can climb stairs to the glass-enclosed gallery on the fifth floor to see the huge telescope.
From Fort Davis to the Observatory was a fairly steep climb (1,875 feet) and the gas needle dipped very quickly causing me some consternation!!
1,453.5 12:35 Leaving W. J. McDonald Observatory, located on Mt. Locke (El. 6,802 feet), and turning onto TX-118 north to Kent.
Since leaving the Observatory the gas gauge needle has stayed pretty much the same without any movement, but I will be glad to get to Kent!!
1,467.5 Two roadrunners running off to the side of the road.
After leaving the Observatory we passed quite a large park with a very attractive picnic area. Also there have been some very attractive pulloffs (no picnic tables) to the side of the road.
Approaching the junction with the interstate at Kent.
1,489.7 PING!! We arrived in Kent just in time!!
Kent (Texas Mountain Trail) is a remote wayside town, founded as a water stop for Texas and Pacific Railroad in the 1880s.
 
1,490.0 1:20 - 1:34 GAS - Kent, TX - $1.329/gal. - 17.305 gals. - $23.00
 
1,490.4 1:35 Entering I-10 (no other roads!) to travel west to Van Horn.
1,491.0 El Paso is now 155 miles, so we are now 113 miles closer than we were on Friday, but since then we have done 578.5 miles! We are on a long fairly flat and straight stretch of road with quite an impressive range of mountains ahead.
1,521.2 2:03-2:06 Rest Area - beer stop!!
1,525.1 2:10 Leaving the interstate in Van Horn (Texas Mountain Trail) (El. 4,010 feet/pop. 2,930). In the mid-1800s Van Horn grew as a wayfaring stop on the Old Spanish Trail.
1,527.0 2:28 - 3:07 Chuy,s Restaurant for lunch ($16.22). This restaurant boasts plaques and photos given by John Madden, a colorful television football broadcaster.
1,528.0 3:12 Turning off Van Horn's main street onto TX-54. Traveling north from Van Horn we are still following the Texas Mountain Trail.
1,536.1 We are in among the mountains now, the Baylor Range to the east. The mountains are quite rugged and growth on them is very sparse. There are huge expanses of flat open country between numerous mountain ranges.
1,539.0 One picture from the car looking towards the mountains.
1,558.7 3:53 - 3:57 Figure 2 Ranch (2 pictures).
1,562.1 4:07 Stopped in the middle of the road for a picture of the mountain dominating the landscape.
1,573.0 Just notice a lot of windmills along the horizon to the east. There looks to be a long row of them along a ridge - probably for a wind power turbine for a renewable energy program as opposed to burning fossil fuels or uranium.
Junction with US-62 and US-180 coming up in 5 miles.
1,579.7 A telephoto picture without the polarizer.
1,581.8 4:28 Entering Mountain Time Zone - set time back 1 hour.
1,581.9 Junction with US-62 and US-180 (Leaving the Mountain Trail for a detour to Guadalupe National Park and New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns.)
1,586.5 3:34-3:36 Stopped in a picnic area with an awesome view of Guadalupe Peak. (1 picture).
1,589.9 A picture at the Guadalupe National Park entrance.
1,590.7 3:44 Elevation 5,695 feet - entering Guadalupe National Park.
1,590.9 3:45 - 4:42 Visitors Center, where we watched a slide show about the park. I also hiked the short distance to the end of the Pinery Trail to see the ruins of the Butterfield Stagecoach station.
1,591.2 4:43 Back at the highway.
1,598.5 4:52 Passing the turnoff into McKittrick Canyon.
1,609.8 5:03 Crossing the New Mexico border: Whites City 16 miles.
1,624.0 5:19 Entering Whites City (El. 3,648 feet), which is made up of motels, restaurants, a limited grocery store and a museum!
1,624.4 5:21 We pulled up outside the grocery store, adjacent to the motel office. (1 doz. beer and milk - $13.13, ice - $1.59 and room $61.46)
1,626.0 5:41 End of day when we drove across the road to our motel room.

The day’s total - 214 miles
Trip Total - 1,626 miles

Day 7: Tuesday February 3 - White City, NM to Alamogordo, NM

1,626.0 8:07 - 8:25 Leaving! We left our motel room and drove across the road to the motel office to leave the key. I haggled over the price of the motel which was higher than that quoted in the AAA Tour Book and had the amount reduced a little!
1,626.5 8:28 Entering Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
1,633.3 8:42 -10:58 Stopped at Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitors Center. Adult entry into the caverns is $6.00 but, with my pass it was only $3.00 for me. One of the volunteers working in the center was there from near Wheatland, Wyoming (north of Cheyenne). She and her husband are both volunteers and during time off had taken a trip to Big Bend; she recognized having seen me at Santa Elena Canyon!
An elevator in the Visitors' Center takes people 700 feet below for a self-guiding tour around the perimeter of the Big Room, the largest room in the cave. LP went, too, which surprised me a bit, but I was glad he saw the cave. At the end of the tour I made a purchase (book and writing tablet - $3.19) in the gift shop/lunchroom area underground before taking the elevator to the surface again!!
1,640.3 Exiting the National Park.
1,640.8 11:15 Whites City - junction with US-62 and US-180 to retrace our route back past Guadalupe National Park.
El Paso is now 145 miles (10 miles closer than yesterday, but we have done 148.4 miles since then!!)
The countryside is so wide open that the distances are unbelievable. From Whites City you can see Guadalupe Peak thirty-seven miles away.
1,652.7 Whites City has just gone out of view as we go over the crest of a hill.
1,656.1 Entering Texas.
1,667.5 11:42 Turning off to McKittrick Canyon. Looking up to the mountains it is hard to believe that there is such a canyon where prickly pear and agaves of the desert give way to a woodland of maples, ferns and wildflowers, and deeper into the canyon pine and Douglas fir appear.
1,671.7 11:50 -1:33 McKittrick Canyon Visitors' Center (El. 5,013 feet). I left LP in the car whilst I hiked into the canyon, but I did not go far enough to see the full beauty of it. Before setting out I had decided to hike in for ½ hour then return. As it was I continued for 40 minutes before turning around and before I got back LP had set out to look for me!! (Book - $3.19)
1,676.0 1:41 Back on the main road.
1,683.4 Elevation 5,695 feet. We are much closer now to Guadalupe Peak, having just passed the headquarters and Visitors' Center for the National Park.
1,684.3 1:55 - 2:02 Stopped in the picnic area below Guadalupe Peak to look at the maps.
1,692.1 2:09 Junction of TX-54 (Texas Mountain Trail from here at the junction with TX-54 to El Paso.) from Van Horn (55 miles), and back to where we started our detour yesterday.
El Paso is 101 miles (Las Cruces 143 miles). We'll make it to El Paso today!!
1,695.7 2:13 - 2:22 Stopped to take some pictures of the Guadalupe Mountains from the west (3 pic. - one with regular lens, one with telephoto and one telephoto plus polarizer).
1,700.6 Salt Flat, El. 3,715 feet/pop.35. I don't recall seeing any habitation, but I did record that at this point we started to cross an area which was quite flat and white like a salt pan. There was very little growing on it, just an odd scrubby bush here and there, but mostly just bare and white.
1,701.4 Over the other side. The salt pan was much longer than it was wide.


From the Texas Sate Travel Guide

     "..extensive salt deposits left by intermittent lakes...Area was focus of bloody dispute known as the Salt War in 1860s and '70s. Before the dispute reached a confused, tragic end, it had involved both Mexican and U.S. citizens, political parties, judges, legislators, mob action, army troops and Texas Rangers, Murder, assassination and revenge killings took place on both sides.."


1,702.7 Historic marker - "Resentment over private control of the salt lakes in this region, often called Guadalupe Lakes, led to the El Paso Salt War of 1877 which entailed the loss of many lives and much property,"
1,726.7 Going over a crest and the Guadalupes are on the skyline in the background.
1,734.5 Coming over another crest I got another glimpse of the Guadalupe Mountains - they disappear as we descend west of the crest.
1,738.0 Another crest and I can still see the mountains.
1,741.1 Another crest and the mountains are on the distant Eastern horizon. I'm trying to determine when you can no longer see the Guadalupes. Going up another hill....
1,746.9 3:11 - 3:14 One telephoto view back towards the Guadalupes behind another range.
1,750.0 Can see them again here, but maybe this is the last sighting!!
1,758.3 Just passed an Inspection Station with traffic lights and everyone has to stop.
1,759.0 We are suddenly off flat land and travelling through a mountain range with the road twisting and turning.
We are in one mountain range and over the top of this we can see another higher range.
1,766.7 There are sandhills to the south of the road.
1,769.5 3:37 Stopped for a traffic light! We are trying to remember where the last traffic light was! Fort Stockton. Having stopped for that light we are now in quite a built up area and think that we are on the outskirts of El Paso.
1,776.2 Passing Fort Bliss. We are facing SW and there seems to be at least three rows of mountains. We are heading towards downtown El Paso (Leave the Texas Mountain Trail here.) (El. 3,710 feet/pop. 515,300), looking like a dust bowl - big basin this side of the mountains. There is a lot of construction going on and is contributing to the dust.
1,785.7 Junction with I-10, but we are staying with US-62 through the city!
1,788.0 Just passed the Cordova Bridge to Mexico. There is a huge Mexican flag flying on the other side and there are tremendous line-ups to go across the border - just unbelievable.
1,792.6 Passed through a very derelict looking area. From US-62 we got onto US-85 which came to a dead end and now we will be getting on the interstate.
1,794.4 1,794.4 Entering I-10, which is jammed up with traffic, so it will be a while before we get going very far.
1,795.1 4:33 Las Cruses 41 miles.
1,810.0 4:47 Re-entering Mew Mexico - we are off the freeway now and going into the Welcome Center.
1,810.7 4:50 - 4:55 New Mexico Welcome Center.
1,811.0 Back on I-10.
1,821.5 Passing a very big feed lot or cattle yard - I notice the huge piles of hay first - goes on for about a mile.
Numerous mountain ranges still continuing with wide areas of flat land in between.
1,829.7 5:13 Junction with I-25 north. Actually this is the start of I-25 and where we will be leaving I-10. We have travelled on sections of I-25 before - Pueblo to Colorado Springs in Colorado and between Cheyenne and Buffalo in Wyoming.
1,832.0 At the moment we are passing through Las Cruces (El. 3,896 feet/pop. 62,100). It is set in the middle of three or four mountain ranges and just driving through on the freeway it looks to be a really beautiful city (have heard since that gangs are very prominent here). Also, near the highway there is a large water tank with a mural going all the way around it - donkeys, horses, cart, women, Spanish soldiers, probably telling the history of the area. Now there is another tank on the right hand side with Texas longhorns, pioneer women, cowboys, etc.
1,836.2 5:20 Leaving I-25 for US-70 to go to Alamogordo.
From Las Cruces US-70 climbs a very long hill up into the mountains (Organ Mountains) and over San Agustin Pass (El. 5,719 feet). What a gorgeous view as we drive down the eastern slope. The mountains to our right, including Organ Peak (El. 8,919 feet), are all white as if they have snow on them. From here it looks as if the snow is on the N/NE side of the mountains.
1,855.3 5:43 Passing the exit for the Missile Range.
After the long descent from San Agustin Pass we are now driving along a very straight road over flat country.
1,881.0 Although it is becoming quite dark now, I could see a whiteness off to the left of the road and am guessing that it is white sand.
1,884.0 Road narrowing down and speed limit reduced because we are approaching a Border Patrol Inspection Station.
1,884.6 Passing the entrance for White Sands National Monument - Alamogordo is 13 miles. We have been seeing the lights of the city for quite some time, but didn't think it could possibly be Alamogordo. The air must be very clear because the lights have been spread out before us for a very long way.
LP has just commented that it is dark at 6:20 and that it is quite dark now!
Alamogordo (El. 4,335 feet/pop. 27,600).
1,901.1 6:31 Arrive at Best Western "Desert Aire". Instead of driving straight into Alamogordo we turned off on US-54 and went several miles before realizing that we had made a wrong turn!!
1,904.0 275.2 End of day when we pulled up outside our room.
After unpacking we walked across the street to Western Sizzler for supper. ($16.63 - 20% senior discount + $3.00 tip!)

The day’s total - 278 miles
Trip Total - 1,904 miles

Day 8: Wednesday February 4 - Alamogordo, NM to Mesa, AZ

1,904.0 7:40 Leaving the motel after a very nice continental breakfast. We will travel back along US-70 to Las Cruces, stopping at White Sands National Monument on the way. Unfortunately it is quite cloudy and not the kind of day I had hoped for when visiting White Sands. In fact a friend back in Lincoln had told me to find something else to do for the day and wait for the next day's sunshine!! This we could not do as we are expected in Phoenix tomorrow night. Had we known that we would be driving all the way through today, maybe we would have stayed another night in Alamogordo.
 
1,906.0 7:45-7:52 GAS - Alamogordo, NM - $1.109/gal. - 15.911 gals. - $17.65
 
1,917.8 8:05 Turned into White Sands National Monument. Entry fee is $3.00 each, but nothing with my pass. There is a bit of spitting rain and the sky is very, very cloudy and stormy looking.
As we drove into the park I realized that there was pebbled snow lying on the ground and tried for a couple of pictures. We drove to the end of the road, stopping now and then for pictures, but the sky was pitch black and not at all weather for photography.
1,932.4 9:11-10.07 Visitors center. Here we watched the slide show about the park and I left, hoping that I would have the opportunity to return some day.
1,937.8 10:16-10:30 Went back into the park but decided to give up! - storm coming from the east and the sky was black.
1,942.3 10:28 Exiting White Sands National Monument. We will be heading back to Las Cruces on US-70. The mountains to the west have sun shining on them, but in the opposite direction there is such a storm going on that the sky looks as black as night.
1,950.4 The white I saw on the mountains last night is snow.
1,959.0 10:56 We are in the sunshine. The weather around us is quite variable with a very black area in one part, clouds covering some of the mountains and the sun on other mountains.
The highest peak of the Organ Mountains is in cloud as we make the long climb to the pass.
1,976.2 11:11 San Agustin Pass (El. 5,719 feet). Coming over the crest we are descending to a very wide plain and can see numerous mountain ranges in the distance. Las Cruces is at the base of this descent.
1,989.4 11:26 Junction with I-25. Instead of going south to meet I-10, we are staying on US-70 through Las Cruces.
1,994.6 11:38 Crossing the Rio Grande River.
1,998.4 11:42 Junction of US-70 with I-10. Tucson 267 miles!
2,012.2 I-10 narrowing down to one lane for another Border Patrol Inspection Station. We actually had to pull right off the road for a wayside stop, which means a little stretch of the interstate between where we pulled off and where we come back on is never used. We came to a stop and were told, "Thank you very much", then drove right on. I guess that we did not look suspicious!!. I was thinking how stupid it would be to pick up a hitchhiker along any of these roads!!
The car in front of us had been stopped for longer, and when we caught up to and passed that car it was from Quebec! We are wondering if they have a front licence plate or not!
We are experiencing intermittent rain throughout the morning. Just had a head on collision with a large tumbleweed, which went splat all over the road - our vehicle suffered no damages!!
Ahead we are driving into some strong winds, like a dust storm, rolling tumbleweeds across the road. Yet out to our right heavy rain is falling. We can see in all directions for a very long way, so can see where the rain is falling.
2,047.1 12:24 Left I-10 at Deming (El. 4,335 feet/pop. 11,000).
2,049.9 12:29-12:40 Deming Information Centre, where there was a lot of literature on the whole area.
2,050.4 12:43 -1:32 Si Señor for lunch - an excellent meal ($18.20, including tip) - a restaurant well worth remembering.
2,051.9 1:36 Back on I-10 west of Deming, Tucson 212 miles. There are still storms all around us.
2,080.9 2:00 Crossing the Continental Divide (El. 4,585 feet).
2,113.9 Just ahead a very flat valley before another mountain range.
2,114.6 Big sign:- Dust storms may occur in the next 10 miles. It is a flat basin, many miles across, surrounded by mountains - Cedar Mountains, Pyramid Mountains and Burro Mountains. There is actually quite a bit of water covering the low lying area.
2,128.6 2:42 Crossed the border from New Mexico into Arizona.
2,143.4 We are passing what I have been watching ever since crossing the border - rain clouds which are right down to the ground - no gap - and to the west of that there are mountains, probably the Dos Cabezas, with snow on them.
2,154.4 Passing groves of pecan trees.
2,162.9 Crossing US-191, a highway I have been on from Blanding to Flaming Gorge in Utah and Jackson Hole to West Yellowstone in Wyoming.
2,190.4 After watching the weather all day we are actually driving in rain now.
2,196.9 Entering Texas Canyon (sign). There are a lot of rocky outcrops here.
2,198.2 3:41 - 3:56 Rest Area - Texas Canyon summit (El. 4,975 feet) is between the entrance and the exit of the rest area.
2,252.4 4:46 Entering Tucson City Limit - we will be exiting at Park Avenue (Exit 262).
2,254.2 4:48 Exiting now.
4:52 Arrive Howard Johnsons, Tucson, discount coupon in hand but they had no vacancies.
So we went across the road to Budget Inn (also had a coupon for here), but they only had one room with one double bed left - $130.00!! What is going on? Well, there was a big Gem and Mineral Show on in town and everything was booked out or was way beyond our budget. We decided to forget about Tucson and head northward to Phoenix.
 
2,262.0 5:09 - 5:16 GAS - Tucson, AZ - $1.079/gal. - 16.932 gals. - $18.27
 
After getting gas in Tucson we immediately returned to I-10 to Phoenix.
2,319.1 6:11 Leaving highway at Exit 203 to phone Fran and Otto Sander, (Lincoln neighbors, snowbrids) who were not expecting us until late the following afternoon - no answer.
2,320.2 6:18 Back on I-10.
2,323.2 6:21 Exiting again (Exit 200)!
2,323.9 6:27 Back on the interstate. Since then there has been a thunder and lightening storm and now we are driving into heavy rain.
2,366.0 7:10 Exiting from I-10 onto US-60 to go into Mesa (pop. 288,000), to look for Mesa Royal on Main Street. I noticed a sign which struck me as rather interesting:


"Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune"


2,381.3 7:52 Arrive Sanders - no one at home! We decided to go and have some supper (Perkins was nearby - $15.82), then went back to Sanders. After this we thought that we should look for a motel.
2,385.6 We found a vacancy several blocks down Main Street from Mesa Royal - Colonade Motel ($60.50).
2,388.0 End of the day.

The day’s total - 484 miles
Trip Total - 2,388 miles

Day 9: Thursday February 5 - Phoenix, AZ

2,388.0 9:27 Leave the Colonade to go to Sanders.
2,390.0 Arrive Sanders, Mesa Royal.
Mesa Royal is a large complex of large permanent house trailers with a main recreation center - swimming pools, games rooms, craft rooms, restaurant, etc.
We did not use our car for the next two days as we went with Fran and Otto in their car.
Today we went downtown Phoenix to tour the Arizona State Capitol. We stopped for lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken ($8.93) before going to the Desert Botanical Gardens ($6.00 entry) in Papago Park just off McDowell Street and west of Scottsdale Road. (Birds in the park - Gambel's Quail and curve-billed thrasher). Back at Mesa Royal we went for supper to the restaurant in the main building of the complex ($11.83).

The day’s total - 2 miles
Trip Total - 2,390 miles

Day 10: Friday February 6 - Sedona, AZ

Today we enjoyed a round trip of 180 miles to Sedona. Before leaving the city Otto wanted to fill his gas tank and I was surprised that the gas station actually let me pay with a ($8.47) cheque!
Turning off I-17 for Montezuma Castle we stopped in at a casino to have lunch ($14.45). I also spent $10.00 on quarters, and before I had used them all I won $25.00 so decided it was time to leave!! At Montezuma Castle my Golden Age pass was accepted to allow all of us into the National Monument.
In Sedona we visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built in 1956 between two large red sandstone peaks. Then we went on to Tlaquepaque with its Spanish architecture and an area known for its art galleries and speciality shops. Here we had coffee ($3.15) before setting out for the return trip.
Back in Mesa we had a delicious Mexican meal at Garcia's ($71.97).

Day 11: Saturday February 7 - Phoenix, AZ

2,390.0 9:59 Leave Mesa Royal (Sanders)
2,404.6 Corner of McDowell and Scottsdale Roads.
2,413.5 Turning east on Cactus - a very beautiful drive - lovely homes with Spanish tiling and desert landscaping.
2,418.1 Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard - stopped at a traffic light with Taliesin West directly in front of us.
2,419.1 11:10 Taliesin West, the architectural school and office of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. I was disappointed at not being able to go beyond the gift and book store, but $14.00 for an hour's tour seemed to me to be outrageous!
2,425.8 11:59 Back at Scottsdale Road at the corner of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard west and Bell Road east.
2,429.8 12:08-2:33 Rawhide, a re-creation of an 1880s Western town. We wandered around looking at all the old buildings and took a ride through the desert on a Butterfield Stagecoach. For lunch we had a hamburger, pop and beer ($8.50) and Indian bread with honey ($3.94).
2,473.8 4:45 Corner of Center and Baseline Road.
After leaving Rawhide we drove through downtown and south to Baseline Road because I wanted to see if, even after 20 years, I could still buy grapefruit and oranges directly from the orchardist. LP thought that I was on a wild goose chase because the growth of the whole metropolitan area of Phoenix (Tempe, Mesa, Peoria) was so great there could not be any orchards left.
Well, I stopped at the first sign of "Grapefruit and Oranges for Sale" and was delighted to be able to purchase a large carton of each, grapefruit for $4.00 and the oranges $6.00.
2,497.0 5:42 End of day - "Home".

The day’s total - 107 miles
Trip Total - 2,497 miles

Day 12: Sunday February 8 - Mesa, AZ to Gallup, NM

2,497.0 8:36 Leaving from the Sanders. I turned around at the entrance gate to take a picture looking down one of the streets in Mesa Royal with the social center in the background.
2,497.9 8:55 We are now going out onto Main Street and will travel east into Apache Junction and soon after that we will join US-60 and on through Globe.
2,508.3 Globe 51 miles.
2,511.5 9:20 Junction with US_60.
2,531.2 9:43 Gonzales Pass (El. 2,651 feet) - this was after driving up from a valley, and coming over the pass we had a panoramic view of the mountains ahead. there is also a town or city in the distance.
There have been a number of crosses at various points along this road since leaving Apache Junction.
The sky is very cloudy, but we can still tell that if the sun was out there would be magnificent colors in the hills or mountains.
The town I could see in the distance is Superior, founded in 1882 (El. 2,888 feet/pop. 3,500). Superior began as a silver mining town but is better known for the rich copper lodes in the vicinity. As we were driving through a big motor cycle group pulled out onto the road - I slowed up a bit to allow them all be together, but they turned off almost right away. This was at the last exit before the road entered a canyon in the mountains we had seen as a backdrop to the town of Superior. From here US-60 is known as the Gila/Pinal Scenic Drive.
2,539.5 Left Superior to enter Devil's Canyon.
2,540.9 Entered a tunnel.
2,541.1 Out of the tunnel and in a very rocky canyon.
2,542.9 Elevation 4,000 feet - have risen over 1,000 feet in a little over 3 miles!
Back along the road before reaching Superior there were blades of green grass about 4 inch tall, and I would not be surprised if it is all new grass since the rain several days ago.
2,543.7 6% grade for the next 12 miles. The whole area is very rocky as if a giant has dropped big handfuls of boulders all over the landscape.


From the AAA Tour Book
     "Devil's Canyon is noted for its sharp ridges, rock strata and cathedral-like tower formations that illustrate the enormous geological pressures exerted on the region. The mineral wealth of the area is credited mainly to these forces."


2,552.5 Elevation 4,000 feet - the 6% grade has not all been downhill, but rather up and down!
2,552.8 Passing Oxide Mine - huge mining operation taking place here with all the tailings on the hillside. Going downhill from the mine we are in another narrow canyon.
2,554.8 Entering the town of Miami, founded in 1907 (El. 3,411 feet) - very extensive mining operations.
2,559.3 10:20 Entering Globe, founded 1876 (El. 3,544 feet/pop. 6,000) - Temp. 49°. First silver, then copper contributed to the history of this town. As we drove through the main street of the town and turned a corner there ahead of us was a mountain with snow on it!
2,564.8 10:30 Leaving Globe, Show Low is 82 miles. Heading east from Phoenix I did not realize that there would be so many mountains - I had not really thought about it before. Once we entered them, we have stayed amongst them - Superstition, Pinal, Apache, Mescal - and there are some quite high peaks amongst them (Signal Peak, 7,812 feet) some actually in the clouds now.
2,574.0 Elevation 5,000 feet - a sign says to watch for animals in the next 77 miles, but it does not say what kind of animals to watch for!!
2,584.0 We can feel that the air is getting colder - don't know how much higher we have driven. We have been on a long climb and now have snow in the ditch alongside of us.
When we reached the top of the hill there is actually snow which has been pushed off the side of the road. We are still 61 miles from Show Low.
2,587.8 11:00 Unfortunately, having reached the crest there is not a sign denoting the elevation. The hillsides all through here are forested, mostly juniper I think, but fairly large ones, and pine trees as well.
2,596.7 Entering Salt River Canyon. Marred by the rain, this is a spectacular drive as the road descends into the canyon. This is one dotted road on the map which definitely lives up to being a scenic highway.
2,599.4 11:15 Salt Creek Canyon - spectacular road (2 pictures).
2,601.3 11:21-11:28 State roadside park at the bottom of the canyon prior to crossing the bridge over Salt Creek to start the long climb up the other side.
2,601.4 Crossing the bridge over Salt River and from here the road climbs the other side of the canyon.. Show Low is still 49 miles away.
This is just an amazing drive, sheer rock cliffs going down into the canyon - have no idea what depth they must be.


From the AAA Tour Book
     "Salt River Canyon is 1,500 to 2,000 feet deep. About five miles wide at the top, the vertical-walled canyon winds for many miles with sedimentary rock layers visible from the road."


The rain seems to have really set in.
2,623.5 A view to the left looks through another canyon. We are still driving in and out of canyons.
2,632.0 We are currently driving through beautiful pine forests.
2,638.2 There are still odd patches of snow. I am still amazed that we have been driving through mountains for such a long way!
2,642.8 12:24 Entering Show Low, founded 1870 (El. 6,347 feet/pop. 5,000) - no wonder there is snow and it is cold.
2,644.0 It is actually snowing right now, great big fluffy flakes.
 
2,648.0 12:32-12:39 GAS - Show Low, AZ - $1.299/gal. - 15.393 gals. - $20.00
 
2,648.4 12:41-1:40 Country Kitchen for lunch ($16.76).
2,648.8 1:44 Leaving US-60 and turning north on AZ-77 to Holbrook, 45 miles. It is still raining and some of the drops hitting the windshield still appear to be a little on the thick side!
Since Show Low the countryside has changed quite a bit - it is a lot flatter with more wide open spaces.
2,663.3 Coming into Taylor, founded 1878, (El. 5,640 feet). There are even ploughed fields between here and the short distance to the next little town, Snowflake.
2,665.1 2:03 Snowflake, founded 1878, (El. 5,630 feet). Driving through I noticed there was a Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo) here.
2,679.6 Just came over the crest of a hill and we can see for miles across flat country.
2,692.4 2:34 Entering Holbrook, founded 1881 when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad reached this point and named for the chief engineer, (El. 5,080 feet/pop. 5,800). We can see a large bridge ahead, but not sure what over!
2,692.6 2:35 Turning off AZ-77 onto US-180 (were on a section of this simultaneously with US-62 from Whites City, NM, to El Paso, TX, also Las Cruces and Deming, NM) to go to the south entrance of Petrified Forest National Park.
2,694.6 Passing a feed lot, so there are even feed lots here on the desert!
2,695.7 Crossing the Little Colorado River (probably what the big bridge in Holbrook was crossing).
2,710.8 2:54 Turning into Petrified National Park.
2,711.6 Stopped at the entrance station - entry $10.00 (that is without pass).
2,712.3 3:01-3:27 Rainbow Forest Museum. Overcast and raining so not worth trying to go on any of the trails! (Books -Story Behind the Scenery - $21.12)
We are driving in and out of the various interest points going north through the park, but it is too wet and too cold to go hiking or venturing out of the car. However, it is still a very interesting drive, but unfortunately not suitable for photography.
The Puerco River has a little water in it, probably due to all the rain. It is a very wide river bed and one would not want to be caught in it if there was a flash flood!
2 pictures at Blue Mesa.
One picture at Whipple Point.
2,744.6 4:41-5:08 Painted Desert Visitor Center, where we were able to watch a short movie before the place closed for the night. (In the movie, when talking about the Indian ruins I noticed that the pronunciation of Puerco sounded like 'pwerko').
2,745.5 5:13 Entering I-40 eastbound, Gallup, NM, 69 miles, Albuquerque 208 miles.
2,772.6 5:36 Junction with US-191.
2,778.6 There is snow on the ground at the side of the road again, actually quite a lot. Judging by the amount of snow and the snow on the roof of a house, I would say it was fairly fresh snow. We have had rain all along but I believe that it is actually snowing right now. In fact snow is drifting across the road.
2,791.3 Strange, very high rock formations on both sides of the road. Snow now covering the trees -we are in a snow storm.
2,798.6 We have just come over a crest and there seems to be somewhat less snow now, although it was quite heavy a little earlier.
2,801.0 Just passed Exit 8 - I missed the New Mexico border and Welcome Center, which probably would have been closed anyway.
2,808.4 6:09 Leaving I-40 at Exit 16, Gallup (El. 6,510 feet/pop. 19,200).
2,809.2 6:11 Days Inn ($40.26). This was the cheapest we paid for a room, which also included a continental breakfast, except $38.50 at Buffalo Inn in Canyon, TX, which probably was also the worst room we had.
I also decided to take advantage of the heated indoor pool here, and told myself I should do this more often.
Ranch Kitchen south a little from the motel was recommended for dinner - nice atmosphere, real cloth place mats on the tables and great food (Mexican) - $22.00.
2,812.0 Days Inn, Gallup ($40.26) Gallup - end of day.

The day’s total - 315 miles
 
Trip Total - 2,812 miles

Day 13: Monday February 9 - Gallup, NM to Santa Fe, NM

2,812.0 8:50 Leave Days Inn
2,821.0 9:13 Junction with I-40, after having driven through downtown Gallup - high red cliffs, capped with a coating of snow, along the road.
2,839.0 9:27 Exit 44 - left the highway to go north a short distance to see if I could get a picture of the beautiful cliffs with snow on them.
2,839.9 Three pictures - 2 of cliffs and 1 of grass.
2,840.2 9:35 Back on the highway.
2,842.9 9:38 Leaving the interstate again (Exit-47).
2,843.3 9:39 Historic marker: The Continental Divide (elevation 7,275 feet). Rainfall divides at this point, draining westward into the Pacific Ocean and to the east into the Atlantic.
2,843.4 9:40-9:47 Continental Divide - three pictures.
2,843.7 9:48 Back on I-40.
2,863.0 I suddenly realized the snow had gone, although there was still some on the hills in the background. We were travelling over flatter country now, but ahead to the east snow covered Mount Taylor (El. 11,301 feet) loomed above the horizon, its summit showing up above a layer of cloud.
2,896.6 10:32 Exit 102. We left the interstate to go into a rest area.
2,897.0 10:33-10:43 Rest Area - lots of historical markers!!
After leaving the rest area, we drove under I-40 to take NM-124 north of the freeway to go to Laguna. This was a name I remember Mary spoke of when she was here in 1995 and I thought that I would try to get some information ready for our trip in 1999.
2,909.6 11:01 Turning into Laguna Pueblo. Just before turning off I became aware that all the rock in the cliff cuttings were very yellow as compared to the red rock we had been seeing!
2,910.0 11:04-11:12 Laguna Pueblo.
2,910.2 11:14-11:22 Laguna Mission.
2,911.9 11:26 Returning to I-40 at interchange 114.
2,929.5 Over a rise in the road and Sandia Crest (El. 10,678 feet) is in cloud.
2,944.3 Albuquerque (El. 5,000 feet/pop. 384,700) - the next 17 exits!
2,946.5 Looking down into the valley from the top of a hill the whole city is spread out before us, Sandia Peak directly in front. The scenic overlook area was closed - a pity because it is just a magnificent view.
2,952.4 Crossing the Rio Grande River as we come into the outskirts of Albuquerque.
2,953.6 12:02 Off I-40 at Exit 157A and driving south on Rio Grande Boulevard.
2,954.3 12:06-1:21 Old Town, Albuquerque, site of the city's original settlement, founded in 1706 and named in honour of the Duke of Albuquerque. Whilst wandering around I briefly entered San Felipe de Neri Church, dating from 1706, which faces south across the plaza.
We returned north along Rio Grande Boulevard to I-40, which we took east to the junction with I-25, then north on I-25. The clouds had pretty well lifted off the mountain by this time though a few were still hovering above it.
2,964.8 1:36 Passing Exit 234 for Tramway Boulevard - Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is 5 miles to the east of here.
2,972.9 1:44 Leaving I-25, we went east on NM-165 to the foothills north of Sandia Peak as far as Placitas. LP had seen a sign for a supermarket and we were in need of some supplies. It was probably not the cheapest place to shop as the area was quite up scale. On the way up to Placitas most of the houses were built in the pueblo-style architecture. Anyway I was pleased with one purchase, a string of dried red peppers!
2,975.5 1:48 - 2:17 Placitas Supermarket - one picture towards Sandia Peak.
2,977.8 2:21 Back at I-25, but heading west on NM-44 through Bernalillo (El. 5,050 feet/pop. 6,000).
2,979.2 Crossing the Rio Grande River.
2,980.0 2:26 - 2:52 By this time we were feeling the pangs of hunger so stopped at the local Santa Anna Casino, but there was no dining room, so no lunch - but spent $12.00!
We continued west from the casino, but soon realized that we were leaving town and goodness knows where we would get lunch. We decided to turn back to Bernalillo.
2,983.5 Passing the Santa Anna Casino.
2,984.0 3:00 - 3:55 Coronado Restaurant - wonderful lunch, ($23.00) sitting by a window with a view towards the Rio Grande River and Sandia Peak.
2,984.9 3:59 - 4:02 Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo) - Got cash $200.00.
 
2,985.0 4:03 - 4:18 GAS - Bernalillo, NM - $1.139/gal. - 14.045 gals. - $16.00
 
By this time we came to the conclusion that it was too late in the day to take NM-44 to Los Alamos and that we should simply return to the interstate and go north to Santa Fe.
2,986.1 4:21 Back on I-25, Santa Fe 42 miles.
3,011.1 4:44-4:48 Rest Area for information.
3,017.3 4:54 Sign for the first of four exits for Santa Fe (El. 7,000 feet/pop. 55,900).
4:55 Left I-25 at Exit-278, Cerrillos Road.
3,024.8 Best Western Motel (Lamplighter Inn on Cerrillos Road). After making our reservation we unpacked, then took a drive into the heart of the historic center of Santa Fe.
3,034.0 End of day after driving into Old Santa Fe.

The day’s total - 222 miles
Trip Total - 3,034 miles

DAY 14: Tuesday February 10 - Santa Fe, NM to Amarillo, TX

3,034.0 8:56 Leave the motel after breakfast ($17.00).
3,037.7 9:10 -11:00 Old Town, Santa Fe. After parking the car, not far from the Plaza, we walked back to the State Capitol where we did a personal guided tour. This was quite interesting except for the fact that our guide had a strong accent which was hard to understand. This was made more difficult by the fact that the Capitol was very crowded and busy with numerous school groups. This year New Mexico is celebrating 400 years of settlement so there are special displays throughout the Capitol.
3,041.5 11:11 A panoramic picture looking over Santa Fe just as we were about to enter I-25, the road we took from I-10 north of El Paso to Las Cruces.
3,041.8 11:12 Joined I-25 north. Leaving Santa Fe I-25 goes through mountains, at first with quite a lot of snow around, but now as we near Exit-319, there's not much snow. The mountainsides are covered with forest, mostly juniper.
3,096.0 Great view to the west - some spectacular mountains, also quite a bit of mood to it because it is raining, whereas we are travelling under bright blue sky with scattered white fluffy clouds - lots of sunshine. Also we are on the eastern edge of the mountains and we can look out over long distances of fairly flat country.
3,098.8 12:01 Las Vegas (El. 6,415 feet/pop. 14,800) - the next 3 exits. There are patches of snow among the junipers to the west, none on the grassy fields to the east.
3,102.4 12:04 Exit-345, where we left I-25 for NM-104.
Las Vegas is on the west side of the highway and as we drive up a hill on the east side I can see some very old buildings in the rear vision mirror - it looks quite attractive.


From the AAA Tour Book
     "The faint wagon wheel ruts still visible outside Las Vegas attest to the town's era as a mercantile center on the Santa Fe Trail. ..........Las Vegas has more than 900 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places."


a city worth visiting sometime.
Tucumcari 107 miles. We are leaving the mountains behind and, travelling across rolling ranch country we can see for miles and miles.
3,111.0 I was just about to say, "Not a tree in sight" when I noticed one, along with a windmill.
3,115.2 12:19 Two panoramic pictures of the storm.
3,120.5 The road which had been fairly straight after leaving Las Vegas suddenly twisted, turned and dipped down into a lower area where there are a lot of junipers as opposed to the open countryside we've been travelling across. One would think that there would be a lot more cattle around, but there seems to be more horses than any thing else.
3,134.0 Winding road for the next 3 miles/hill 9% grade. We have quite a surprise when we drive around a bend in the road and realize we are about to descend from a high plateau down through a canyon in the Canadian Escarpment to a much lower elevation.
3,134.7 12:41-12:42 Corazon Hill, a steep grade - two pictures, one forward and one backward.
3,135.2 12:44-12:46 Two more pictures from Corazon Hill.
3,139.0 12:52-12:55 Canadian Escarpment - telephoto picture looking back.
3,148.4 1:06 - 1:09 Two pictures, one of a sign and one a general view. We have dropped 2,000 feet since leaving Las Vegas. After reaching the base of the first major drop the road winds in and around various escarpments - flat to rolling areas surrounded at varying distances by steep rocky cliffs below flat mesa-like tops.
3,158.8 Just saw quite a number of cattle. I guess the road is following through broad, fairly flat valleys with high cliffs on either side.
3,166.0 I can see a road ahead which looks to be going to climb up through a cutting in one of these high cliffs!
3,166.9 Starting the climb - the road goes straight up!
3,167.9 At the top - we are winding down again, but over a much greater distance than we went up.
3,171.8 Another herd of cattle, but also, on the other side of the road a number of horses.
3,176.6 1:39 Turning off for Conchas Dam.
3,177.3 1:43 - 2:10 Conchas Dam State Park for lunch - a little on the cool side but not uncomfortable - picnic table below the dam wall. After our lunch, we dropped into the valley crossing it below the wall. It is a one-way road so our return will be back across the top of the wall.
3,179.7 2:16 - 2:25 Visitors Center (stuffed porcupine, owl, etc. - not usually found in the area!!). We continued on over more of the dam and as far as the Conchas Lake State Park. This was a fee area so we turned around.
3,182.5 2:32 - 2:35 Back at the Visitors Center where we had stopped before - three pictures of the dam.
3,183.1 One picture of the colored cliffs.
3,185.4 2:44 Back at NM-104 east; Tucumcari 31 miles. The soil through here is quite red and when the sun is shining on the cliffs they are multi-colored.
3,214.0 Back in civilization again.
3,214.6 3:16 Tucumcari (El. 4,085 feet/pop. 6,800). In New Mexico the speed limit for school zones is 15 mph. and motorists take it very seriously, more so than I have seen anywhere else, slowing right down to the 15 mph. Drove right through Tucumcari to join I-40. Very nice building for the Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo).
3,217.7 3:23 Entered I-40 at interchange 332.
3,223.5 A large field to the south of us is furrowed with little bits of white - I assume that it is a cotton field. The countryside is pretty flat now.
3,256.9 3:56 Texas State Line and entering Central Time Zone. Our time, therefore, is now 4:56. The Travel Information Center is 76 miles, so there is not a Welcome Center as I-40 enters Texas at this point.
3,269.1 5:07 - 5:11 Pulling into a picnic area. There seems to be a solid bank of clouds ahead of us.
3,273.0 Just saw some Texas longhorns. It is looking quite black in front as we drive in under the cloud cover. There is a large ray of sun shining from the west through the cloud and we can see a patch of sun-drenched grass where this ray is shining through a hole in the cloud!
3,294.0 5:33 Spotting rain on the windshield - just a little sprinkle which did not amount to much.
3,304.7 Passing a large feed lot.
3,318.2 5:56 Leaving I-40.
3,318.7 5:57 Stopped at Days Inn, ($50.85) - they accepted a discount coupon which was actually for an older Days Inn at the east end of town, and we got a beautiful room with a separate lounge area, one of the nicest I think I have ever had. A continental breakfast was included. There was an indoor pool and an adjacent hot tub and I alternated between the two for about an hour. It was wonderful.
3,322.0 End of day - Days Inn, Amarillo, ($50.85).

The day’s total - 288 miles
Trip Total - 3,322 miles

Day 15: Wednesday February 11 - Amarillo, TX to Euless, TX

3,322.0 8:26 Leave the motel.
3,322.5 8:29 On I-40, going east.
3,326.9 8:33 Passing Exit-70 for the road south to Canyon, Palo Dura, Lubbock, so we have just crossed over our outward bound route.
3,331.3 8:38 Leaving the interstate to get gas.
 
3,332.0 GAS - Amarillo, TX - $0.989/gal. - 14.16 gals. - $14.00
 
3,332.3 8:50 Back on I-40. We are back into flat cultivated fields by the miles - miles and miles.
3,368.4 9:21 Leaving the highway near Groom (El. 3,214 feet/pop. 638) to look at the largest cross in the western hemisphere. The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ can be seen for almost 20 miles standing above the flat prairie. The cross, 190 feet tall and 110 feet wide weighs 2½ million pounds, including foundation. Besides the main cross there are a number of normal-sized sculptures of Christ bearing his cross.
3,369.3 9:25 - 9:27 One picture.
3,369.4 Picture of large cross.
3,370.1 Telephoto picture from further away.
3,370.4 9:34 - 9:44 Groom for LP to make a phone call to the office.
Groom, named for an early cattleman, was laid out in 1903 near the Chicago, Rock Island, and Gulf Railroad. Driving through Groom we were on Old Route 66 - we have been touching on and off this historic road throughout our trip.
3,373.5 9:48 Back on I-40.
3,381.6 The flat country is now broken by coulees.
3,385.2 9:59 Left the interstate at Exit-128. We took a look at the map and have decided to go back 4 miles then south for a different route and go through Oklahoma City at a later date!! Since LP's phone call in Groom there is not the same urgency to get home, so thought we would take a detour to Fort Worth!
3,386.1 10:02 Back on I-40, this time going west!
3,388.8 10:04 Leaving the interstate for TX-70 south to Clarendon.
3,389.2 10:05 Turning onto TX-70.
3,391.1 We are now entering a different kind of country - more barren, hilly, washed-out coulees and ahead the color of the horizon gives the impression that we will drop elevation somewhat. Also the road is winding around quite a lot.
3,398.1 Howardwick, pop. 211.
South of the town there was a sign for a boat ramp and I caught a glimpse of a lake as the road dipped below a reservoir wall, a 2,025-acre reservoir on Salt Fork of Red River, creating Greenbelt Lake.
As we crossed the Salt Fork we could see a lakeside marina.
3,405.6 Clarendon (El. 2,727 feet/pop. 2,106).
3,405.9 10:23 Junction with and turning onto US-287, (Temperature 45°).
3,406.2 10:24-10:30 Clarendon - stopped for LP to make another phone call.
3,411.2 Ploughed fields look quite green and have cattle in them. On the other hand there are the bits of white fluffy cotton all along the side of the road.
3,417.1 There is still cotton caught in the grass at the side of the road; there have also been signs for peaches, couple of them seen along the way and now signs for various other fruits; another place - apple cider, peach ranch, tomatoes, cotton fields, huge feed lot.
3,420.1 Entering Hedley - quite a fruit growing area.
3,431.1 10:56 Entering Memphis (El. 2,067 feet/pop. 2,428), a major cotton-producing area. I also notice a sign for peanuts, and there are still some fruit orchards.
3,436.1 The cotton fields come right to the edge of the road - no fences.
3,445.2 Crossing a very, very wide river - Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River.
3,446.7 Entering Estelline.
3,461.1 Entering Childress (El. 1,877 feet/pop. 5,221), named for George Campbell Childress, author of Texas Declaration of Independence. Childress is a somewhat better looking town than some of the ones we have passed through. Just crossed over US-83 and US-62. Northeast of Childress, about 16-20 miles, the Red River becomes the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.
3,489.3 11:52 Entering Quanah (El. 1,568 feet/pop. 3,298).
3,495.2 Some working oil pumps to the south of the road.
3,501.6 Quite a lot of water lying around in the fields.
3,503.2 Entering Chillicothe (pop. 816).
3,514.1 Still a lot of water lying in the ditches. I think there must have been some fairy heavy rains through here.
3,516.1 Crossing the Pease River.
3,516.8 Vernon (El. 1,205 feet/pop. 12,572) the next 4 exits. Just outside of Vernon US-287 became a freeway. Through all the previous towns the road was the main street of the town and we had to reduce our speed; here we maintain our speed but miss seeing the town! Vernon is where we turned north when we went with Mac and Marg to buy their new vehicle in Altus, OK.
A huge flock of birds appear as a black cloud when they change flight direction.
3,539.1 Exit for Electra - tremendous number of oil pumps - quite an extensive oil field.
3,555.6 12:54-1:27 Rest Area to have lunch.
The freeway ends in Wichita Falls (El. 946 feet/pop. 98,553).
3,567.3 1:40 - 1:48 Texas Travel Center, Wichita Falls.
3,575.8 The freeway resumes after leaving Wichita Falls - Fort Worth 108 miles.
3,610.7 Bowie the next 4 exits.
3,616.6 Junction with US-81, the road we took from I-80 at York, NE, to just south of I-70 in Kansas.
3,637.4 Took one of the crossovers to double back to a rest area.
3,637.5 2:57 - 3:00 Rest Area
3,638.0 At a crossover, pulling out to go south again.
 
3,642.0 3:05 - 3:21 GAS - Decatur, TX - $0.999/gal. - 11.4 gals. - $11.40
 
3,660.9 3:39 Coming over a rise we get our first glimpse of the tall buildings in Fort Worth.
3,666.1 3:44 Exit from US-287 at Blue Mound Road. From here LP did the navigating and although we made a couple of wrong turns he got us to where we had to go!
3,669.0 Turning onto FM-156.
3,677.3 On US-377, (Temp. 63°).
3,677.5 4:06 Waiting for the light to turn onto Price Street.
3,686.4 4:22 Junction with TX-114. (We should have exited from US-287 onto TX-114 at Rhome!)
Immediately after entering TX-114 we exited on TX-121 and from there onto TX-360. Once here we had no trouble finding Euless Main and driving to Mac and Meg.
3,692.0 4:32 Arrive at Mac and Meg. There was no one at home so we drove back to the corner store on Euless Main.
3,692.3 Stopped at Fina (corner store) - tried to make a phone call, but I did not have enough change, like $2.50 just to call the next town (a local call if phoning from the house!!)
3,693.0 4:51 Back at the house and end of the day.
Mac and Meg were delighted to see us. Although we took them out to supper at our favourite Mexican Restaurant, Los Vaqueros, in Fort Worth, they drove us in their car. Since our last visit, two years ago, Los Vaqueros had moved into larger quarters in a nearby warehouse. Although still a very nice restaurant, it has lost its flavour and atmosphere and we are not likely to return over and over again as we have in the past.

The day’s total - 371 miles
Trip Total - 3,693 miles

Day 16: Thursday February 12


3,693.0 Leave the house.
3,728.7 AAA, Fort Worth (El. 670 feet/pop. 478,307). We wanted to get city maps for Fort Worth and Dallas.
3,729.5 Borders Book Store ($56.23) - this was not the bookstore we had been to previously, but we were able to get what LP was looking for.
3,769.8 Downtown, Dallas (El. 512 feet/pop. 1,050,698). I wanted to come into Dallas as I had seen a picture of a new sculpture in Pioneer Plaza, a 4.2-acre plaza between historic Pioneer Cemetery and Dallas Convention Center, featuring the world's largest bronze monument, 70 Texas Longhorn steers being driven by three cowboys on horseback. The landscape of native plants has a flowing river. It was very impressive.
Afterwards I wandered through the historic cemetery where there were headstones dating back to 1847.
3,782.7 Las Colinas, an ultramodern business and residential complex in Irving (El. 470 feet/pop. 169,855). LP suggested that we go here to see the Mustangs of Las Colinas sculpture in Williams Square -nine mustangs that appear to be splashing through a stream of water. The weather was not the best for photography but at least there weren't crowds of people all around!
3,796.0 Back "Home" - end of the day.

The day’s total - 103 miles
Trip Total - 3,796 miles

Day 17: Friday February 13 - Euless, TX to Lincoln, NE

Today we would not be doing any sightseeing as we wanted to get home in one day. This would give us the week-end to clean out LP's apartment in Omaha, before his interview for his next assignment.
Unfortunately something was wrong with the tape recorder and I do not have any details of anything we saw along the way. At least this happened when we were making a beeline for home!!
3,796.0 7:26 Leave Mac and Meg.
3,867.9 8:45 - 8:49 Oklahoma Welcome Center.
3,970.5 10:20-10:35 Stopped in Norman to buy nuts, etc. ($57.68).
Entering Oklahoma City there was a lot of road construction with detours - the signs were hard to follow and we went out of our way taking I-240 east for nearly twelve miles, going north on the east side of the Tinker Air Force Base to I-40 back to I-35 north - a waste of time and miles!!
4,016.1 11:23-12:14 Cracker Barrel for lunch ($23.77).
 
4,017.0 12:16-12:23 GAS - Edmond, OK - $0.869/gal. - 16.402 gals. - $14.25
 
4,222.9 3:28 - 3:31 Rest Area.
4,436.0 7:00 Home - end of day.

The day’s total - 640 miles
Trip Total - 4,436 miles




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