Sandia Crest, Kokopelli and Tinkertown

4/17/15 Friday in Tijeras,NM (Hidden Valley-ROD)

Last night we decided to not drop our levelers since the hard ground is so level where we are. We put out the slides as soon as the wind calmed down. Ah, the space is nice. John remembered to unhook our hose from the city water and bring the filters inside.

Just as predicted it got very cold last night, in the 30’s if not the 20’s. We didn’t sleep well, so slept in until 8:30. We still managed to get through our usual routine. While John watched his TV shows I worked on the blog and did a load of laundry. John packed our lunches. We were on our way to the Turquoise Trail. It’s a road along which various mines brought turquoise. As it turned out, we soon left that trail to drive up to the Sandia Crest, at the top of Sandia Mountain (10,600 ft). Sandia is Spanish for Watermelon, named thus because of the colors on the mountain at sunset. It was really cold and windy up there with amazing views. We browsed in the gift shop (I got a T shirt with the Kokopelli figure), then braved the winds at the top to see the mountain ranges nearby and Albuquerque, in the Rio Grande Valley

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Sandi Crest

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Albuquerque

Albuquerque

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We had our lunch in the warm car, then struck off on a short nature trail that went along the crest for a bit, then in a forested area.

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Aspen

Aspen

On our way back, we stopped at “Tinkertown Museum”. A friend had recommended it-a delightful small town along with whimsical collections, carvings and signs created by Ross Ward.

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Ross Ward had Alzheimer’s when he was 57. He died at 62. His wife helped him divert his energies into creating an “Art Car” out of his car, to distract him from trying to drive it.

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This was a wealth of visual delights, well worth the $3/senior-62 price of admission.

When we got home I dove into cleaning house while John got caught up with his taped TV shows and “Emergency”. Big, fun, cold day.

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Moving on – to Tijeras,NM.

4/16/15 Thursday in Tijeras,NM (Hidden Valley-ROD)

This morning’s adventure: when John went out to watch the bedroom slide come in (yes, that’s so small and easy, I asked for it out), he noticed the topper/awning for the driver’s side slide was all rumpled up. It had been manhandled by the constant heavy winds of yesterday’s travels-even with the slide in the whole time. Thank heavens, with no current wind he managed to manually work at straightening it out after I’d let the slide out some. When we brought it back in everything went smoothly.

We stopped at the Flying J just beyond the campground, on our way out, then we were on I-40 by 8:30am. I like early starts. I like to get to our destination asap. Plus there was heavy wind predicted again-getting higher mph as the day went on.

The landscape got more like desert as we drove along, except for the bluffs and hills. Still climbing in elevation.  The Historic marker was at the rest area we stopped at.

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You could say this was a day our headlights wanted attention. First when we were leaving Tucumcari I noticed that the car headlights had been left on during our prior trip, as we towed the car. Then when we arrived in Tijeras and were getting set up, I turned off the engine. A high pitched sound then ensued. Finally John had a chance to get into the rig and he knew that it was because he’d forgotten to turn off Miss Journey’s headlights!

Once settled, still leaving our jacks up -level site- and slides in due to predicted heavy winds (25-35 mph with gusts). I got the wash going, we had lunch, then went grocery shopping. Both Costco and Smith’s (a Kroger grocery store) are about 10 miles from us, on the east end of Albuquerque.

This campground is truly in the mountains (the Sandia and Manzano Mountain ranges), it’s very dry (10% humidity) and there are Kroger stores. Surely we are now in the WEST.

Hidden Valley-ROD campground: it’s up in the mountain, so your approach is narrow and steep, just at the east end of a gas station. Close sights, some of the lower numbers not very level. Some trees, so satellite reception is possible. FHU, with 50 amps available at $5/night. More rustic in style-great if you love the mountains of New Mexico!

 

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Moving on – to Tucumcari,NM

4/15/15 Wednesday in Tucumcari,NM (Cactus RV Park-PPA)

You know how Texas has a panhandle jutting up? Well, within one mile of leaving our campsite we were in Texas! Our whole trip was through that panhandle (I-40 and on a lot of Old Route 66), then 40 miles into New Mexico and a new time zone-Mountain Time. We left at 9 and, though it took over 4 hours we got there at 12:45.

I40

You’d think there would have been no adventures, since our jacks/slides were already up/in. Well our toilet peddle seems to stick some and as I was filling the bowl and emptying it into the tank with cleaner, water appeared on the floor. Another mystery. No more leakage when I stopped filling/dumping.

We passed through Amarillo. No tall buildings, simple to stay on I-40W. They have what appears to be a beautiful Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum. We saw lots of cattle and farm land in the area.

Our I-Pod dropped off, but we played the bedroom one. It even had Route 66 on!

We stopped at the border in New Mexico for a break, lunch and information. We were also treated to nice signs and the state flag-with plenty of wind to keep it open.

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Once again, since we’re pretty level on the packed gravel ground and because we’re leaving first thing tomorrow, we left our jacks up and slides in. High winds are predicted here (25 mph), so slides in feels safer anyway. We’re at 4,000 ft. altitude, with a storm coming. We’ll get the wind but no precipitation. John remembered our “Sleep Number” bed, so we turned down the air pressure.

I took a nice nap while John did a small walk around. There are small evergreen trees between sites and we are surrounded by small cabins that have seen better days. I’d say these are a good sign of Old Route 66. Travel by car, stay in small cabins or motels. Now so many of the towns and stops are run down because they are of a different era. This campground (basically in town) made the transition well, to FHU campground (No bathrooms), just right for those big RVs that pass through.

cabins

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National Route 66 Museum

4/14/15 Tuesday in Texola,OK (Double D RV Park-PPA)

Even though the wind is down to 16 mph, we figured we’d just continue not setting out the jacks and slides since we’d be gone a lot of today.

Did you know that Route 66 (The Mother Road) connected Chicago to Los Angeles in about 2,200? It played a key role in bringing poor rural families (think Dustbowl and John Steinbeck) out West, quickly becoming a part of the American Dream. It’s prime mover was a businessman from Oklahoma (Cyrus Avery). It goes for about 400 miles in Oklahoma, so it seemed perfect to check out one of its museums. Also, I’m 66 this year and we have been driving on Route 66. By the way, we found out that Phillips 66 was named while the CEO was driving Route 66 at 66mph.

Phillips

This museum is in Elk City (yes, there is an Elks lodge there too). There were several museums on the property. We started with the National Transportation Museum, but I didn’t include photos from that one.  Here is what greets you from the road:

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Next we walked through the Route 66 Museum:

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Our next stop (tomorrow) is at Tucumcari, NM, also on Route 66

Our next stop (tomorrow) is at Tucumcari, NM, also on Route 66

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 John's dad had a car like this one, but 1 year newer and white.

John’s dad had a car like this one, but 1 year newer and white.

Cars and Motorcycles are often noted as an important element of this road that first celebrated cars and brought fast food, motels, truck stops and even saw the end of the predominance of trains.

Old Town Museum

old town 1 old town 2 old town 3Is this horse cover to help calm a horse?

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This funeral carriage even has runners for sledding in the snow/winter. John calls it an “old time transformer”.old town 5

Farm & Ranch Museum

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This town is 30 miles from where we’re camping, so we combined the Museum visit with a grocery run at the local supermarket.  At home John got ambitious and cooked up a meatloaf.  Unfortunately, all the grease went onto our microwave plate, leaving none for his gravy.  Lots of burnt grease, but he helped get it off.  It was a very tasty meatloaf, just the same.  Plus he had his mashed potatoes, albeit without any gravy.  :(

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Moving on – to Texola,OK

4/13/15 Monday in Texola,OK (Double D RV Park-PPA)

We were SO glad we’d brought our slides in yesterday because all the wind and rain during the night was more bearable than the night before-so much quieter. Plus I think I just plain felt safer, so I definitely had a better night’s sleep. We felt that despite the rain (100%) and wind (NE @ 20mph) we’d be headed into, that traveling tomorrow would be worse, so we picked what seemed the best window of time (10am), getting more rain, but less wind. John said much of the time driving was similar to how it felt to drive Miss Zanzibar after her suspension work had been done, with some times more like before the suspension work. Since it was a 129 mile trip, we also felt it would be doable. Beautiful scenery, but with raindrops on our windshield, the camera would only focus on those, so no photos.

No issues getting ready to leave this time because we did so much earlier: never put the jacks down, pulled in the slides before the rain. More good news: John thinks that dropping sound I’ve been hearing at least once during every trip may simply be the vacuum cleaner tipping and hitting the slide wall behind my seat. It makes sense-it started after we’d moved the vacuum from the bottom of our closet to behind the passenger chair. No wonder nothing (like the slides or awning) seemed affected by it.

After heartfelt goodbys and hugs with Richard and Jinhiee, we took off. Richard (with his small trailer) is headed south to Texas to help his sister some more and Jinhiee (with her Montana 5th wheel) is headed east to Tulsa, OK, to visit a relative and to see a concert somewhere. They’re both in Thousand Trails so who knows, it’s feasible we might see them again.

This was a short (129 miles), simple (all on I-40) trip. We did have rain and 20 mph winds most of the way, but John felt that most of the time it was like driving Miss Zanzibar after our suspension work had been done. There were some times it felt like pre-suspension work times, so all had been dealt with before. The wind picked up when we arrived so we decided to NOT put the levelers down (muddy, gravelly ground for John to clean them) and NOT to put the slides out. The wind got to 26 mph, so I felt so much safer in our cozy “tin” box. It did settle down when night fell.

Sunset from our campsite:

sunset

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Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Route 66 in El Reno OK

4/12/15 Sunday in Concho,OK (Lucky Star Casino-free/FHU)

Bad night for sleeping. No excuses, just a mind that wouldn’t quit. SO tiring. We were up early enough to make 9am Mass. This church has really been through a lot of rough times, a certain indicator of life in Oklahoma, I’d say.

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As soon as we got back to Miss Journey, we went gambling with our promo money. Lesson: cash in your credit paper slip the same day you print it. We didn’t so the money we “won” a couple days ago was now void. Bummer, especially for John. In the end we came away with $25 of casino money. At the rig, worked to get the slides in. The slides on the Driver’s side worked fine. It was still very windy (20mph) so the side where the wind was hitting us directly was pushing the topper in such an arc that when we tried to bring it in, the topper wouldn’t roll in. We had wind predicted for the foreseeable future. As we were struggling (John got up a ladder, trying to hand crank it in), Richard was watching. He noted at one point that the wind and died back some, so we tried again. It came in okay until the wind blew up again, then we caught another break and got the slide in the rest of the way. What a relief: only wind and rain are in the weather predictions. We had some lunch and I got a wee nap in. I didn’t hardly sleep at all last night-terrible wind kept me up. John, fortunately, didn’t hear it, so he slept well enough. His allergy issues didn’t wake him up either, much. We ate a light lunch before taking off. The whole reason we came here (near OK City) was to see their memorial of the bombing of the Alfred R Murrah Federal Building. Richard said he really didn’t like to visit places of such sorrow and Jinhiee was not feeling well, so it was just John and I on this trip. We were smarter this time too and followed my Waze GPS instead of John’s so we got there in just 33 minutes. Another plus: because it was Sunday we could park free on the street nearby-a Catholic Church!! Sheesh, we could have gone to Mass here! Oh well.

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This first area is the Alfred R Murrah Federal Building Plaza, that is built up to look down on the area where the building originally stood. Here you can see the Oklahoma State Flag, so different from the rest. A NPS ranger gave a great talk on what transpired and the symbols in the memorial. I’ll try to relay what I remember. Note that 5th St used to pass through where now you see the reflecting pond. McVeigh drove a Ryder rental truck (loaded with fertilizer and some nitrate) up 5th St, lighting the first fuse about 5 blocks away, then the second fuse about a block away. Then he got caught at a stop light (security camera captured these moments). He pulled in front of the Federal Building, in a delivery truck area, on April 19th at about 9am. He ran off to where he’d parked his getaway car. The bomb went off at 9:02am. The “Gates of Time” at each end of the reflecting pool symbolically note that point in time as an area, between 9:01 and 9:03. Where the world was normal at 9:01 and then the great response that changed everything starting at 9:03. To the right of the 9:01 “Gate” you can see the destruction of a remaining wall. The reflecting pond is only about ¾ inch deep, letting many images reflect there to inspire those who visit. The water falls below into a large tank, then is pumped back into the pool. The Loblolly Pine Trees that line the pool, show where the front of the building stood. They were chosen because at maturity they will be as tall as a 9 story building, just like the Murrah building. The 5th tree from the end you see is where the truck was parked. The other side of the 9:03 “Gate” shows 5th St as it currently runs up to the Gate. There is a lovely quote at the top of this side of that “Gate”.

“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those who were changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”

On 5th St. are 2 churches that were damaged by the explosion – a Methodist church outside of Gate 9:01 and the Catholic church outside of Gate 9:03. I took a photo of their memorial.

Inside the Gates, the chairs symbolize each person who died that day. They are placed in 9 rows, with each person who was supposed to be on a certain row is placed. Since the children (daycare) were on the second floor, that is where the small chairs are.

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Across the pool/street from the building was a parking lot, where a 100 year old elm tree stood. John is sitting below it. It was burned so badly the responders determined it needed to be cut down but it took so long while attending to more important matters that by the time they got around to it the tree was sending out leaves. So the people petitioned to save it and it became part of the symbols-of the resilience of those affected by this act of violence. Other trees were planted to the right and left of this tree, symbolizing the various responders, from nearby as well as from other nations. I have an image of the building behind the tree that sustained a lot of damage but is now the Museum. Note the concrete missing on the right corner and the missing parts of the fire escape. All of the windows were blown out, some so severely destroyed that they simply bricked them up, for others they replaced the glass. All the former window areas were painted black to symbolize the emptiness this explosion brought.

There is a museum ($12.50/senior) with a gift shop and they will stamp your NPS Passport book. Those last 2 were free, so we were happy stopping there. Besides, we wanted to get back home and relax, getting ready for our trip tomorrow to Texola, OK. On the way we saw Route 66 signs. It goes through El Reno which is near our casino.

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At the Lucky Star we celebrated with an “Indian Taco” everyone raved about at their “REZ” restaurant. Very good (made with Indian fry bread) and filling. We split one serving.

We had a great time visiting with Richard and Jinhiee for the rest of the evening. I asked Jinhiee to speak in Korean a bit. She did after a moment to reorient her thoughts, I think. It’s such a lovely, melodic language.

 

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National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

4/11/15 Saturday in Concho,OK (Lucky Star Casino-free/FHU)

Rain this morning. We really hoped it would get all the tree pollen out of the air. John is still suffering, even with allergy pills.

Since we planned to go to OK city and see the sights with Richard and Jinhiee, John offered to drive because our car takes less fuel than Richard’s and Jinhiee’s trucks and is easier to park. John’s GPS got lost in the city (new roads), so we took longer to find our way, taking an hour to arrive at The Cowboy Museum. $9.50/senior (62+). Wow. It took us all day and we could have spent another day. So much art (Western) and artifacts, it was fascinating. Very well presented, even with sculptures and famous rodeo animals buried in the surrounding lovely grounds. So many rooms, it was easy to get lost, but there were “Rangers” all over to help you out. One of our favorites was the “Livery Stable”-at least that was the first area you walk into of the regular old Western town. Another place was set up like a rodeo. My favorite art was in the “Prix de West” exhibit. First Place/Best of Show winner paintings/sculptures are purchased by the museum each year and belong to their permanent collection. Beautiful. It was great fun to see art and know that John was enjoying it too.  Note: you can click on image to enlarge and read the text.

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They even had a great little restaurant where we all splurged, enjoying their buffet, with deserts too. Thank heavens, because it was getting to be 3:30 when we were ready to leave. We even bought some gift shop items – John Wayne’s last movie (DVD) “The Shootist” and a small book on “Route 66”.

cowboy lunch

Since Richard and Jinhiee had items they needed from Camping World we stopped their on our way home. If you have any interest in things Western, we highly recommend this museum. The parking is free too!

When we got back to Lucky Star Casino we saw that lots of water had puddled near our rig. Our city water connection was really leaking, so John unhooked it and we changed to our fresh water tank/water pump. We finished our night with a very light supper snack, still so full from our buffet.

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