Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Amarillo to Tulsa

I was fascinated by the DC3 on display. In 1973
I spent 6 weeks in Africa including one week
in Ethiopia in a DC3 as part of an 
experimental tour designed by the sister of 
Haile Selassie.  There were only 6 of us tourists
and several staff including our own pilot!

We left Roswell early to avoid gusty winds and settled into the Oasis RV Resort on the edge of Amarillo. It was a quiet park with a tree, little patio and picnic table.  That afternoon we visited the Texas Air & Space Museum and stopped by Cadillac Ranch on the way back. The latter is one of those strange roadside attractions that are inexplicable. Who thought of them? Why do so many people go there? But then of course, we did (along with a lot of others and on a day where it was VERY windy).

I really enjoy getting in the cockpit of planes - 
but they are a tight fit and particularly getting

Born in 1875, Harriet was the first woman to
receive a pilot's license (1911) and the first
 woman to fly the English Channel. 

Unlike the other women featured here, Ethel
wasn't a first or famous but her story of 
being an aviation mechanic during the war
honored all women who served.

The Air & Space Museum was very small compared to many we've visited over the last three trips. Like many it has a small staff and many dedicated volunteers. There were many signs explaining the big plans to expand to a new location but the volunteer we talked to was very skeptical.  But still there were new interesting tidbits. As usual I found most interesting the stories about women who served in various ways both in the military and in the aviation industry. One strange coincidence involved Harriet Quimby, the first woman aviator. She died flying the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squatum, MA in 1912. My father attended that meet and often talked about it. He was 6 at the time.

A detail of the spray paint layers on
the cadillacs.

It was so windy we could barely stand. This is the "famous''
Cadillac Ranch. A kiosk sells spray paint cans so you can 
add graffiti to the already thick layers!

Bessie was the first African-American woman to
hold an American Pilot's license and the earliest
Black person known to earn an international one.

The next day we spent at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. One of the largest canyons in the U.S. it is about 35 miles long with an average width of 6 miles. It's been nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of Texas" for it's multicolored layers and steep walls. It became a State Park in 1934 and the CCC built the loop road and many structures over the next 4 years. Four groups of veterans, two groups of African-Americans and one junior group did the work - CCC groups were segregated by race and age. 

We drove the loop road and hiked the Paso del Rio trail, which followed the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River which formed the canyon.  Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived in Amarillo and nearby Canyon in the early 20th century wrote of the Palo Duro: " It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color." She painted the canyon between 1910 and 1918. 

The Loop Road is 15 miles long and has a steep descent as you can see in this photo taken at the top.

The Visitor's Center was built by the CCC into the side of the canyon at the top with thick stone walls.

Scott's phone malfunctioned after the two previous photos so I added one taken off the web.

That evening we celebrated with a dinner at the Toscana Italian Steak House in the renovated historic Barfield Hotel downtown. The cocktails and food were terrific! And the service outstanding. The restaurant manager came over to chat with us and on the way out, the General Manager told us about the renovations and history of the hotel! 

At Toscana Italian Steakhouse - we enjoyed the 
house made pasta dishes and shared a antipasto
salad first.

My Shrimp Scampi 

Next day we were off early again, this time to the Foss State Park in Oklahoma. We've stayed there before but this time got a site right on the lake. We enjoyed a walk and met an interesting fellow who was camping in his van at one of the day picnic spots. He's a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War and after he talked to some of the park staff, who also served in the military more recently, was given a free site for a week. One of the Park security officers came by to visit him and we all waved to the Google car that circled the park filming for Google maps!

These flowering trees, magenta in color followed
us from Foss all the way along the highway into

Baby & Junior at our lovely site in Foss Lake
State Park, OK. 

Next we're spending 10 days with our oldest son Josh and his family, which right now consists of Michal, my daughter-in-law and the two youngest, Jonathan "Uzi" and Shira. They live in Tulsa during the week as the kids go to the University School there and weekends at their home in Dallas. But that's my next blog!

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Surprising Roswell!

Aliens on the wall, standing and sitting!

Mexican Aliens!

And even Dunkin' aliens - where's Ben and Matt?

 OK there were aliens! Everywhere! But there was a whole lot more. There were two excellent museums besides the expected International UFO Museum and Research Center. I should put "Research Center" in a questionable category. And an interesting State park nearby, the Bottomless Lakes State Park. I was also impressed by the civic beautification efforts - lots of parks, benches, and sports venues. There is also the very handsome campus of the New Mexico Military Institute, a high school and junior college private school. 

At the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, many of the works are enormous - the studios must be very generously sized. I loved this work in the entrance. Fun life in the Southwest - a coyote is making off with their cat in the bottom corner. 

I loved this painting - great, probably
not, but I'd love to hang it in my 

Two works by Donald Anderson - they reminded
me of my entry doors to Siena in the dining room.

There were many whimsical sculptures and works!

We visited the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art our first afternoon. The reviews were so positive and they were all right. What a collection and a very beautiful facility. The museum was founded in 1994 as an offshoot of the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. The RAIR Foundation was initiated by Donald Anderson in 1967 and has brought artists to live and work in Roswell for one year, all subsidized. Up to five artists are chosen every year and over 300 have been part of the program. When they leave, at least one of their works is donated to the museum. Donald Anderson was the founder and President of the Anderson Oil Company and was an artist himself. 

This "space leisure" suit was worn by
Harrison Schmitt on the Apollo 17
mission.  This was in the Roswell
Museum as are the others in this

Now we're at the Roswell Museum. Goddard's workshop
 has been moved here lock, stock and barrel.
There are also many of his rockets from all time periods.

One of the many cases with Native American and
 Southwest settler items.

I loved the juxtaposition of these two very 
different paintings of a group of men around a

This illustrates the breadth of the art of display.

The second excellent museum, the Roswell Museum and Goddard Planetarium is a combination of several elements: a Planetarium, Western Memorabilia, an Art Collection and the workshop and rockets of Robert H. Goddard, one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry. He moved to Roswell in 1930 as a perfect place for his experiments and also his health, as he suffered from tuberculosis. I found his life and work fascinating and highly recommend reading the Wikipedia article about him. Scott was of course much more familiar with him! We saw the show at Planetarium and although the visuals and music were fun, they have lost the narration. A script and narrator is credited but the staff we talked to denied it's existence or at least, their having it. It makes for a confusing film. But the rest of the museum was excellent and very large - two visits would be necessary!

We of course went to the International UFO Museum and it's a theme park (for me at least - does anyone take this seriously???) The Roswell incident is a collection of events and myths surrounding the 1947 crash of a Air Force balloon. These "facts" are extensively mined through interviews with most of the residents of Roswell. I was rather horrified to hear parents discussing this stuff with their kids as if it was history! 

Ever wonder what the aliens look like - well you probably have already seen a few images!

There was actually a small section of
real information about the space 
program including this real space suit!

My favorite section was the film and TV features.

Love that surgeon is suit and mask about to 
operate - in what world???

Our last afternoon we drove out to the Bottomless Lakes State Park and explored. This was the first State Park in Arizona, instituted in 1933. It gets its name for the nine small deep lakes along the escarpment of the Pecos River Valley.  The largest lake has swimming, boat rentals and picnic areas. The smaller lakes are linked by trails and have good fishing. Unfortunately the sky was overcast and it's still the end of winter here so it was rather bleak. People must be desperate because some few were swimming. Of course it was Easter so there were a few family groups picnicking by the biggest of the lakes, where there is a beach. But it must be lovely later in the season. 

One of the nine lakes at the Bottomless Lake 
State Park

Next we're heading for Amarillo, TX where we will spend another 2 nights - that's the next post. 

The "marina", beach and facilities at the 
largest of the lakes - not a great weather day!

We had a short hike exploring the different lakes.
They aren't far apart.

Another one.

Three more photos from the Anderson Museum - this fantasy painting took up one large wall!
The "sharks" hanging from the ceiling are made from golf bags!
Really handsome furniture is featured throughout the museum in living room groups, conference tables and in one case a "Bar" which looks totally functional but is a work of art. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Back in Las Cruces

We did the Dripping Springs Trail in Organ Mountain National Monument and this is taken at the beginning of the trail.
About a mile up we reached a level plateau. Then it started climb again.

 Our next stop was 3 nights in Las Cruces - two at Sunny Acres RV Park and one night returning to the Rio Grande Winery. We couldn't get reservations near Mesilla which we really love due to the holiday but Sunny Acres was fine. This is our 4th stay at the Rio Grande, a Harvest Host member and now a real favorite for us. Wine, food, great view and live music - who could ask for more! 

Further up the trail, our destination is in the canyon just up and to the left of the photo center.

The first of several buildings

Most of Van Patten's Hotel is in ruins, just the 
stone foundations are still there.  

And the weather was wonderful - warm and sunny. Our first full day we did our longest hike yet on the  Dripping Springs Trail - 3 miles. Now that doesn't sound like much and just 3 years ago it would have been nothing. But recently we've slowed down and this was 1.5 miles steadily uphill (1,500 ft) and then very gratefully down. And at enough elevation to cause us to take a number of breaks. But the day was gorgeous and the hike not only scenic but lots of interesting history. This was in the Dripping Springs Natural Area, part of the Organ Mountains National Monument. 

The end of the trail.

One wall remains of the residential buildings

There are three clusters of ruins at the end of the trail, high up on the mountain in a narrow canyon. They date from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first was the Butterfield stagecoach stop and livery station. People took a 17 mile stagecoach ride to arrive there on the way to the next set of buildings, Van Patten's Mountain Camp. It opened in 1895 and had 15 guest rooms, a dining hall, a concert hall, a gazebo and a roller-skating rink! But it fell on hard times in WWI and was sold in 1917 to Dr. Boyd who tried to run it as a sanitarium. It was only 3 years before he gave up and sold it to another doctor, Dr. Sexton, who only operated it for few years before closing it down. This was at a period that people thought tuberculosis could be helped by the thin dry air of the Southwest. 

Mesilla Park along the Rio Grande where we had a nice walk our second day. Last year we bicycled along this same walk.

Our second day we did a series of much needed chores - shopping, laundry and a move over to Rio Grande Winery. We did have a nice short walk along the Rio Grande river nearby too. That night we enjoyed an excellent band, some delicious wine and a charcuterie board, all while enjoying the view over to the mountains. 

Looking from our table at the Rio Grande Winery
down to the Band.

And then out from our table to the terrace and 
the mountains beyond.

Scott waits for our wine. We got there early so we
could get a seat near the band.

The next few days the weather called for strong winds, building during the day. So we made an early start for our next destination - Roswell, NM. More on my next post!

This was the view from our RV at sunset.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Hiking Again in Tucson

These yellow flowers were everywhere in Arizona but I never got tired of them. We're on the road
into Picacho State Park.
Looking up at the main mountain on the right

We found an empty section in the day parking
for a great lunch spot.

We only spent one night in Casa Grande but we enjoyed a leisurely morning and didn't leave until 11, checkout time. It wasn't far to our next destination, the KOA Lazy Days in east Tucson. This and the following reservations were all made just two days ago when the cold weather decided us to move south instead of our planned trip through Taos. We were lucky to get places as this is Easter week and generally booked up. On the way we stopped at Picacho State Park for lunch. We tried to get a site there earlier but it was totally full. It's a lovely place and maybe next time.

We've gotten to know many of the cactus varieties but they are endlessly fascinating for these Vermonters! Now we're hiking in Saguaro National Park East.

We used a little telephoto to take this photo of the
mountains over Tucson going north.

This little bird has found a smooth
spot to sit.

The saguaro come in fantastic shapes!!!

Looking down from a high spot on
the Cactus Loop trail.

The KOA, like many we have stayed at, was very nice although we didn't take advantage of the two pools - too many kids and too cold. We moved south to warmer climes but Tucson was experiencing a cold snap which for them means a high in the lower 60's. Our first day we explored Saguaro National Park East. After the usual talk with the Ranger, we drove the Cactus Loop Trail and hiked the Mica View Trail and looped back on the Cactus Forest Trail.

Then we visited our cruiser friends Jack and Fred (her real name is Susan) at their winter home RV. They have another RV in Alaska where they spend summers and a house in Philadelphia area for the in-between seasons. Their boat "Denali Rose" was a Nauticat 43 like ours but a ketch not a cutter rig like Scott Free.  We met them at a Nauticat Rally in Beaufort, NC before we bought Scott Free and continued to see them for years as far as Trinidad. It was a fun evening with lots of memories of life sailing.

The Valley View trail in Saguaro NP West

The barrel cactus were in bloom and
the fruit ripening.

The start of our Valley View trail.

The trail was easy with lots of rock steps to mark the way. We met a lot of families on this trail and everywhere - again Easter week and school vacation. 

The view at the top of the trail.

Our second full day we planned to hike in Tucson Mountain Park. Scott put the Visitor's Center into our navigation but it sent us to Saguaro NP West, where we'd already been just a few weeks ago. It turns out they are all in the same area. The ranger gave us a good suggestion, "Park in the first trail head where there is a spot and hike there." It was so crowded due to Easter week. We lucked out and on the Bajada Scenic Loop we snagged a spot in the Valley View trailhead. This is a lovely trail with beautiful views and lots of wildflowers. Later we returned to Tucson over the Gates Pass, which Donna & Dick had taken us to 3 years ago. It's a dramatic and historic road over the mountains started by Thomas Gates in 1883.

The rugged landscape going up Gates Pass

Looking back at the road from a viewpoint.

We didn't stop at the top of the pass as the 
parking lot was packed but we did last time with
Donna & Dick.

We finished up that day with a late lunch at a surprising restaurant Scott found online, Moriscos de Chihuahua. From the outside it looked like a dive but inside it was covered in murals and we were the only non Latinos there. The food was excellent and so plentiful that we had it again the next day for lunch! We had little room for dinner that night! The next morning we were off again, back this time to Las Cruces.

This is just one wall in the Moriscos  de Chihuahua Restaurant.