Oklahoma!

For those of us born early enough to experience the musical and the movie, it has an almost magical name. As a nine year old in 1955, we had no TV, and movies were a very rare treat. But I do remember getting to go to this everybody’s-talking-about-it-movie. I’m sure it must have been on a “buck night” (whole family for a dollar at the Drive In) or some such enticement or else it wouldn’t have happened.

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This marque shows the “big story” for today in Oklahoma. I put on all the clothes I have in the biking wardrobe that would allow me to actually pedal the bike and headed on down the road. None too early, mind you, hoping there would be SOME warm-up. Didn’t happen. My hands were cold. My feet were cold. Torso hot! So, body should be average. 20190311_134438

Elk City, OK, was a real “surprise town”. It’s not celebrated in any of the songs or lore of Route 66, but as a one-time center of Oklahoma’s “Oil Patch”, it retains a great deal of vigor and fortitude for building a future along with celebrating its storied past. This gigantic ” oil well drilling rig” sits right at the edge of town to remind all of that history which flooded the this part of the state with new-found riches in that liquid gold that could be pumped from the ground.

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As a life-long farmer and cattle feeder, I felt a real kinship with this nice-looking bronze of two ranchers “sealing a deal” with a handshake. Eyeball to eyeball, and sittin’ a horseback is the closest thing to a meticulously written legal contract that exists. The “fine print” doesn’t exist. “I will if I agreed to.” 20190310_165522-1

Advertised as “The world’s Largest Route 66 Road Sign”, and I’m in no position to argue with it. It is without doubt the largest that I’ve seen. The museum is very well done, and not a roadside grab at your billfold for buying even more souvenirs and knickknacks.

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The days when the Model A Coupe’s were the “King of the Road” are long gone, but it was their ability to take anyone on this long-distance journey is what created the lore of the Mother Road. This 1928 version of the first year of production of these classic machines looked right at home with the Oil Patch back drop.

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Any museum that incorporates some interaction with the youngsters is going to get high marks from Gramma and Grampa. To Colin’s delight, this old fire engine even allowed bell ringing and steering! It predates the Model A days, and it mounted on a Model T chassis and reportedly was still used in the 1940s!

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More of those items that defy any explanation. Tiny little town of Canute proudly displays their Route 66 “Knight in Shining Armor”. No. I don’t know why. The only thing we had in common was that we both looked cold this morning.

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A few more cold miles down the road and we come upon another Gem of a Museum find: The General Thomas Stafford Space and Air Museum at Weatherford, OK. We fortuitously found out about it when we checked into the Wonderlust RV Park at the edge of town. (It also had not been mentioned in the library of Route 66 books). This actual airframe of an F-104 was flown many times by the sponsor of this museum, LtGen Thomas Stafford. Gen Stafford was an Astronaut and test pilot for the US Air Force, flying on nine different space missions. The museum is of the most impeccable standards, with many items on loan from the USAirForce Museum and the NASA Museum. Whoever in in charge of governance, presentation, and maintenance are  consummate professionals. 20190311_144857

I had to include this shot of the A10, Warthog, as it was the plane my bestest Amigo, Ken Brust flew before he retired from the Air Force. All “ground pounders”, such as myself, love the sight of these ugly flybirds as they come in close and stay close to keep the bad guys at bay. 20190311_154811

From old fire engines to trainer simulators, interactive displays with the young’uns is a good thing.20190311_151118

Gen Stafford looks a bit like Caesar as he is portrayed here in his Space Flight Suit. I’m just glad this Oklahoman was on our side!

Forecast for the morrow looks wetter, by far, and maybe a little warmer. Not riding in the rain or snow, now you know.

Thanks for coming along. We love it out here, and love it more that you’re here with us.

 

Weather Conspiracy Strikes Again!

First it was the clocks conspiring to yank two hours out of what had been a perfectly satisfactory day schedule, then the thermometer joined in the pummeling and gave up all its above freezing digits, apparently to the anemometer, which wound itself UP to multi-digit numbers, and to add insult to injury, changed it’s primary wind direction to straight out of the EAST! And, no, Kenny Brust, I don’t have my USMC cap on while listing justifiable “issues” relative to why I didn’t ride my bike for a single mile today!

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Primary mission of the day was to meet up with Jana and Michael Barnet, who drove all the way (four and a half hour drive!!) from Richardson,Tx (Dallas suburb) to grace us with their wonderful company. Jana has ridden many a mile with me on Ragbrai and Oklahoma Freewheel and we had hoped to add a few more miles today along the Mother Road. Our readers will be glad to know that BOTH OF US placed comfort above misery today and elected to TALK AND REMINISCE about past riding adventures, in lieu of adding to them. It was a real treat to have that conversation while consuming some rare Texas Prime Steak at the Mesquite Canyon Steak House in Shamrock, Tx. Thank you So Very Much Jana and Michael. Only down-note was finding out that Jana will not be able to join our Merry Band of the Talleyrand Bike Club on Ragbrai 2019. 😦

While name-dropping towns in Texas, how about the town (well, almost a town) of Conway, TX, exactly on Route 66. This little burg may have had some good days, but it looks like they’re all in its past. The one bright spot was finding their attempt at new fame in erecting their very own “Volkswagon Ranch” to emulate the much more famous “Cadillac Ranch” highlighted in yesterday’s blog. Nice try, little Conway.

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The giant grain elevator showing on the horizon now functions only as a grave marker for a failed business since the railroad that once operated to take away the grain stored there is no longer running. Posing nicely is Colin CONWAY McClellen!

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Shamrock, TX had some nice surprises in store for us. One of the most iconic structures to be found along The Mother Road is this Tower Conoco Station in the center crossroads of the town. Constructed in the 1930’s, it has been lovingly maintained by the townsfolk since it stopped functioning as a viable business in the 1970s. The art deco style, along with the use of excellent building materials (glazed, colored tile and stucco covered concrete) have allowed it to weather the years in style. 20190310_144312

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The “U Drop In” cafe is all set up with period-correct decor and looks like it could start serving up 50 cent burgers and 10 cent cokes again any time.

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Another of those “travel mysteries”: the parking lot of the just discussed historic Conoco station contains these six “charging stanchions” for charging up your Tesla automobile. SIX of them!! In really rural Texas?? We’ve seen maybe 2 of these cars in a month of driving across country. Like I said, a mystery.

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A Blast From The Past: How many of you readers remember when we paid 34 cents per gallon of gas? Eight or nine times that amount now.

Hoping for more reasonable weather tomorrow to head on down the Road towards Oklahoma, “where the winds comes sweepin’ down the plain”. We’re just hoping it comes sweeping in the right direction.

Thanks for joining in with us.

And Now, Texas!

I clearly remember entering Texas on the Southern Tier ride on the eastern border two years ago and realizing just long it was going to take to cross that huge state on the route we would be following through the middle. This time, on Route 66, it won’t be nearly as long, but just the thought of “crossing Texas” gets your attention.

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We all had different reactions to the stormy night of last night. At bedtime, Bridget was tossing and rolling like a ship at sea, but all went to sleep relatively quickly. Izzy has been fighting a persistent cold for the last few days and her sneezing is strong enough to add impetus to the degree of rolling! I am always more attuned to the sounds from outside than any of the family, so I awoke quickly when the forecasted rain started. It soon crescendoed to fortissimo, and startled Colin out of his loft bed. His solution to handling his uneasiness with the situation was to climb down and strike up an animated conversation with Grampa, who was very happy to just “listen to the rhythm of the falling rain”.  Izzy woke up just long enough to enquire if it was time for breakfast. Calm Cathy slept through it all. All part of “life on the Mother Road”. Our camp last night was also directly on Route 66, so there was no time lost getting on the road and heading for our planned stop for tonight at Amarillo, about 95 miles on east.

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An unexpected delight surprised us near Glenrio, New Mexico. Not a single one of the many Route 66 guidebooks, nor my usually all encompassing Adventure Cycling Map info mentioned Russell’s Cafe on Route 66. For starters, it includes this very high quality classic car collection of more than 20 vehicles, and enough car paraphernalia to satisfy the most particular car lover. And, IT’S FREE! Not even a “suggested donation” bucket. Just go in and wander around to your heart’s content. And if you return in 6 to 8 months, there will be an entirely different collection of cars from the same owner, and the same thing for 12 to 14 months out, at which time the cars shown here will return for oohing and ahhing. It is advertised as a “Cafe”, and the food and decor of the 50’s persist there as well. And the prices were as reasonable as anyplace we have visited on the entire trip.  Quite an accomplishment considering the distance supplies need to travel to keep the cuisine fresh and tasteful. The final touch of naming the bathrooms for the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis, and the the women’s, Marilyn, for Star of the Fifties, was over the top! Highly recommended!! 20190309_132007

It was a beautiful bike riding day today, and I shed my layers of clothing as the day went on. If there ever was such a thing as a good day to ride a “century”, it would have been today, with the paucity of hills and persistent tail wind. It would have taken an earlier start than what I did to make that happen, and the kids were all excited about having enough time to visit the famed and fabled “Cadillac Ranch”. I have seen many pictures of it over the years, but still didn’t have much of an idea of what it was all about. Well, now I’ve been there, and I STILL don’t have much of an idea of what it’s all about. Not a single person around to make any attempt at control of the visitors, or collect any type of payment.

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For specifics, ten old Cadillac cars buried to a similar depth (about one third of their length) at a precise angle, spaced at a precise distance apart from each, over a thousand feet from the boundary of a thousand acre wheat field being simultaneously grazed by several hundred yearling steers and mobbed by 150 to 200 people who let themselves in the gate and meandered across the field to the spectacle. Yeah, that’s about it. Oh, and there are a hundred or so used containers of spray paint thrown willy nilly near the cars for people to pick up and add their personal contribution to the color aura of the cars.

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Izzy the Artist adding her touch to the rear deck of this 61 Caddy.

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No surprise, Colin was more interested in just how many spray paint cans he could find that still had enough paint in them add another layer of semi-permanent beauty to these modern monoliths.

We’re looking at a “double whammy” from the clock tonight as we just crossed into the Central Time Zone from the Mountain Time Zone and lost an hour, and at 2a.m., Daylight Saving’s Time begins and we’ll “lose” another hour! We’ll have to sleep really fast tonight here in the Amarillo East KOA to stay sharp for tomorrow.

Thanks for coming along!

 

 

Another Friday along the Mother Road

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Just to mix it up a bit, we’ll start out with the end point of today’s travel, Tucumcari, New Mexico. A Native American derived name, as opposed to the predominance of Spanish derived names of most of the towns we’ve traveled through, as in Santa Rosa, the place we left this morning. A totally cloud-covered sky as I rode out the front gate of our Campground, stopping to thank the owner, again, for finding and returning Izzy’s lanyard containing ALL her essential things (including Credit Card!). He took a few minutes to list some of the more “interesting” things he has found at the park. The most memorable was a handbag containing $18,000 cash accompanied by a fully loaded (as in, full magazine and a round in the chamber!) semi auto pistol! Needless to say, the local police were very interested.

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It was my turn today to make use of the dual-use dry wash culverts. I was relieved that Cathy wasn’t following my exact route at this point as I’m sure she would have been MOST uncomfortable piloting Bridget through these Interstate shortcuts. If you note, the highwater marks on the walls would have made it an exciting transit at some point 🙂

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I consider myself fairly astute at interpreting the sights I see in my slow speed travels, but this one had (has) me stumped. I’m presuming some kind of mining activity, but the steepness and ruggedness of the approach road would limit the size and capacity of any trucks transiting it. More research, I guess.

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We were touched by this extensive family cemetery in very remote ranch country. We are outside the border fence, so didn’t feel like we were trespassing. Several of the stones were obviously hand hewn from the local rock and the inscriptions were lovingly chiseled on the faces of the stone. Some sadly young, and very young folks buried here, and their ancestors nearby. One of the earliest dates we could read was 1868. When politicians declare willy-nilly that the cattle industry needs to be “eliminated” to create a “green revolution”, there is little thought given to these centuries-long stewards of this fragile landscape as they attempt to make their living raising calves in a very difficult environment. They have my utmost respect.

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Tucumcari markets itself primarily as an Original Route 66 town. This Blue Swallow Motel is listed in all the Essential Route 66 landmarks. Note especially the “100% Refrigerated Air” enticement, AND TV!! The late forties vintage car out front gives a good idea of when this establishment was new. It says there is a vacancy, but that is often not the case.

My route into town took me through the entire “strip” that was the original Route 66. Sadly, there are at least a third of all the businesses along the route that have failed to survive. I’ve decided not to add any of those pictures, but instead focus on the positive of those that have lasted all these many years.

Cathy took the kids to the TeePee Curios Shop and got some really nice pix, but, yet again, we can’t find a way to get them accessible to the WordPress site for adding here.

Our Bridget is swaying noticeably as winds are howling outside at 40 plus mph, and some forecasts for even stronger winds later tonight and rain. Going to be an interesting Night Along the Mother Road.

Thanks for coming along!

 

 

Glorietta, Hallelujah on the Wind Blown Trail

Our camp last night was directly on the combination of Routes 66, The Santa Fe Trail, and the Old Las Vegas Trail. The map recon before jump off this morning showed that within 7 miles, I would be climbing the Glorietta Pass, site of the furthest west battle of the American Civil War. I had Just time to get “warmed up” before a significant 1300 foot climb out of this valley and headed for the Pecos River Valley. Still being above 6000 feet, the morning was very cool, with promises of strong winds developing by mid morning. I opted for the “mid-range” clothing selection, leaving bare legs and no windbreaker jacket. 20190307_132148

There is nothing particularly significant about this table-top mountain off in the distance, other than it was the furthest point I could see as I headed out on the road after getting Cathy and Bridget all checked out and ready to move out ahead of me toward our goal today of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. As often happens out here, there aren’t  many choices of stopping points if we want to actually be in a place that has one or more campgrounds and some supporting businesses. The ninety miles today between Santa Fe and Santa Rosa contained exactly zero of these requirements. I rode the first 60 miles enjoying an early tail wind boost over the aforesaid Glorietta Pass. The clothing choice was the right one as the long sleeved cotton shirt was sweat soaked by the time I crested the pass. Today was another case of the only roadway available in some sections being Interstate 25. The traffic this far east was not particularly heavy. The downside is that on a very windy day such as today, the wind blast from the passing semi trucks is a force to be reckoned with. It will move the bike (and me!) at least a couple of feet sideways in the instant that the air blast comes from the passing vehicle. The remainder of my riding time was spent on the combination 66/Santa Fe Trail and as long as my direction of travel was east or northeast, a joy to ride! Any veering off to the west or south was met with 25-30mph winds nearly head on.

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Another very non-descript picture, but highlighting the degree to which I have entered into “really rural” New Mexico. The use of the culvert drains for the normally “dry washes” is a good dual use of highway structure, i.e., they are both drainage structures and road beds for the mostly unpaved roads of this part of the State. Works great as long as your vehicle is less than 10 feet high and 9 feet wide.  🙂

Wanting to arrive at Santa Rosa in time to secure a camp spot and do some Route 66 exploring, Cathy picked me up at the point where I would have started riding on Interstate 40. That thoroughfare is ALWAYS heavily traveled, and the wind was more than I wanted to deal with.

One of the often mentioned things to see in our Route 66 Book Library is the Classic Car Museum in Santa Rosa. After getting settled in at Santa Rose RV Park, we took the short drive there to investigate.

There was a sizable collection of neat old cars, and we decided we would each peruse the collection and pick out our favorites. Here’s how that went:

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Classy Cathy chose a very classy 47 Chevy Convertible, immaculately redone with enough modern accessories to make it truly delectable!

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Izzy surprised us all with her choice of this totally tricked out 34 Ford Coupe, flames a flying every where! I was a little jealous that she got to it before I did.

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Colin had a hard time deciding, but, not unexpectedly, settling on this meticulously redone 49 Chevy pickup. He hit me up for a loan to buy it! He thought it was ridiculously high priced at 28 grand, but I actually thought it was a fair price for this jewell.

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My choice was this 31 Auburn Touring Sedan, which was also for sale at $85,000! I felt a little guilty picking it as all my Model A Ford Club Friends would think i was “outclassing” them.  🙂

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We unanimously voted as Best In Show this 47 COE Ford converted from over the road semi to whatever it is now. It was just too wild to deserve less.

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Lots of stars from the 50s and 60s gracing the big exhibit hall, and Izzy thought she and the Original Rebel, James Dean, were soul mates, even though she had never heard of him until today.

Leaving out some interesting info on Native American history of the area, but will try to get it in on a slow day down the line. Wifi very ‘iffy’ here, so will cut this off.

Done in time for supper in the campground restaurant and enjoying MUCH warmer temps here at the lower elevation.

Hoping for Tucumcari as home tomorrow night.

Thanks, as always, for coming along.

Ash Wednesday in the City of Holy Faith, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Izzy and Colin ready to start a day of sight-seeing at the New Mexico state Capitol

A pleasant over-night in the Santa Fe KOA, with plans to spend all of today enjoying the the sights of this oldest State Capital city in the USA. Seems a little odd since New Mexico was the 47th state added to the Union in 1912. But the claim stems from the the city’s age, ranking as second oldest city in the United States following Saint Augustine, Florida. It also boasts a very impressive permanent display of all genres of art in its 4 -storied structure. It surprised us that we were treated to a personally led tour (with just the four of us) with a very friendly, knowledgable guide that lasted for over an hour!

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I was hailed with a robust “Semper Fi” from this old WW2 Marine Vet who was making a visit to the Capitol. I requested a picture with him, and he graciously agreed.

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The Loretto Chapel was a non-missable destination. We have both been long-intrigued (too mild a word, but can’t think of a more appropriate one at the moment) with the story of the Miraculous Staircase within this relatively small Chapel. Those of you who know the story, and, or have seen it yourselves can attest to its uniqueness and universal appeal.

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An abbreviated version is here provided for those not aware of the story (legend?). The Chapel itself was designed and mostly built by a father/son architect team from Paris, hired by the local bishop, Frenchman Jean Baptiste Lamy. The father became ill and returned to Paris before completion of the Chapel and left the work to his son. The Chapel was completed under the son’s supervision, but missing a glaring piece of construction. There was no way to get from the floor of the Chapel to the Choir Loft 20 feet up at the back of the sanctuary. This was still the situation when the son died in 1879, leaving the good sisters of Loretto with no access to their Choir loft. The sisters had placed the construction of the Chapel under the patronage of St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters and builders. So they did the only logical thing: They began a nine day Novena to St. Joseph asking for his intervention. On the ninth day, an old, itinerant man riding a donkey came to the sisters and offered to build the staircase. His only tools (as listed in the Mother Superior’s Daily Book) were, a saw, hammer, carpenter square, and some wood chisels. It is not recorded how long the construction took, estimates are eight months, as the carpenter would never allow anyone inside to see his work as it progressed. There were absolutely no nails, screws, or center support used in the original construction. When the Carpenter finished the job, he left as mysteriously as he had come, leaving behind no bills and accepting no payment from the sisters.

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This is an artist’s sketch of what the staircase would have looked like prior to adding the balustrade and railings. There are no known photos of the newly completed staircase. It remained without the railings for eight years, being used by nuns and students alike to get to and from the choir loft for that time. The staircase is no longer used, it’s uniqueness too valuable to endanger.

The Loretto Chapel itself is no longer a consecrated church, as it was sold to a private entity in 1968 following the closing of the school that the Sisters of Loretto had run continuously since 1853, It is now used frequently for weddings, but, ironically (sadly?), Catholics can’t be married there if they want to have a Sacramental Marriage.

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Kind of a big deal to make this claim! A tiny little church and still has daily Mass. Our Colin was majorly impressed that they had the giant 700 lb cast bronze bell just inside the entry door, and yes! The proctor/volunteer would allow him to strike the bell with the bell mallet AS HARD AS HE WANTED TO SWING IT!!!  Holy Happiness for a hands-on-everything-teen-age boy!!  🙂

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The Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi was next on the Visit list. It is a magnificent structure in its own right, also built at the time of Bishop Lamy’s term of office. It stands out dramatically within the Spanish/Colonial/Pueblo styles of architecture that dominate the rest of the city. Bishop Lamy was French to the core and was adamant that his church would look like the churches of France. He imported French carpenters and stone masons and they in turn taught the techniques to the local artisans.

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It pleased me greatly that one of the two Saints honored with beautiful stained glass was of St. Catherine (with a “C”, thank you!)

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Our third stop for the day was the newly built New Mexico History Museum. We were a little put off by the entry fee of $12/person. But the receptionist took a look at my USMC cap and asked if I was a Veteran. After showing her my Veteran stamped Iowa Driver’s License, she politely said “No Charge for you and family, sir. And thank you for your service”. Great feeling, that!!  And a very fine museum it was too. The connection between New Mexico and all things Atomic and Nuclear is astounding. The highlight of course being the site of the design and creation of the world’s first atomic bomb, which took place within 35miles of Santa Fe. The detonation of the bomb was also in New Mexico at Alamagordo, 200 miles south of Santa Fe.

A great deal of “Balanced Presentation” was seen in the historical timeline of the state. From the natives of pre-written history, through the exploration by the Spanish, the influence of the Catholic Church, the battles of nationality between Spain, Mexico and the United States, America’s own Civil War, was all was covered without showing glorification or condemnation. The viewer was given all the facts and pertinent information, and could come to their own conclusions.

It was a hurried departure to be able to make it back to the Basilica for the 5:30 Ash Wednesday Mass. The 4th Mass of the day, and the church was FULL! A woman cantor with a heavenly voice singing all Mass responses in both Spanish and English,  seven women attendants to assist with ashes and communion distribution, an excellent homily, and a mostly female choir had me really impressed with the inclusion of women in the sacrifice of the Mass in this diocese.

Expecting moderate enough temperatures to be back on the bike tomorrow. Think warm thoughts!

Thanks for coming along!

 

 

 

 

Wonders of Nature, National Treasures

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Our RV Camp last night was just half a mile from Route 66 so I was able to ride directly from the campground to begin the ride. The sun was shining warmly and brightly, but the air temp was still a very cool 45F. I opted to take off without the long pants and jacket, knowing that I could always stop and “suit up” if the riding was too frigid. The optional goals today were to visit all the National Sites available at Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert. By riding just a little harder than normal morning speed, I could ramp up enough body temp to make riding without the extra clothes possible, if not totally comfortable.

From the entry gate to the National Park (where our Lifetime Senior Pass got me on my bike, and Cathy with kids in Bridget, the RV, in for zero dollars! Entry price; $55!} it is 48 wandering miles across both parks. I was reasonably sure I could do that in the time allotted (park closes at 1700) but I probably wouldn’t be able to spend as much time at the many sites along the route as Cathy and kids could. So be it.

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The incredible “stone logs” of the Petrified Forest were a source of fascination and awe. That they are still here after so many millennia is a wonder in itself. This area did not receive Federal Protection until the 1930s, and much of the highly sought minerals had been pilfered and removed from the area.

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This immediate area and the surrounding countryside has been a rich source of fossils and paleontological finds. Grandson Gunner Goode is totally fascinated and immersed in all things dinosaur related and would have had a grand time here with his vast knowledge.  🙂 The cataclysmic climate change that saw these creatures disappear was also the event that laid down the giant rain-forest trees, eventually covered with river-borne sediment, that had their very cores changed into the solid mineral artifacts that we could enjoy today.

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The constant climate changes and continually shifting  techtonic plates that ever so slowly change the entire landscape have moved some of these tree specimens far out into the surrounding desert.

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The afternoon sun worked against me getting the multiple colored hues that were so evident in the constantly changing geography of the area. It couldn’t keep the similarity of this giant “head” from reminding me of The Great Sphinx of Egypt! Cathy and kids made at least four other “off the main circuit” stops for views and info, but I’m not able to get the pix off her phone and the kids cameras to show you here. Maybe they’ll get published on a “slow day” off in the future travel.

 

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Eons of change graphically displayed in an amazing palette of colors.

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There was a time much more recent than the these earth altering events when Americans realized that they could get in their Model As, or, as in this case, their 1932 Studebakers, and actually drive to this part of the country on Route 66 and see the wonders for themselves. This relic is parked directly on a section of that early route, which was laid out and confirmed in 1926. The “comfort level” of that travel would have been FAR BELOW what these two present day travelers would deem acceptable.

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Those that did make that adventurous journey often stayed in this luxury “Desert Home” made available for travelers. It even had the famous “Harvey Girls” of Hotel Fame as hostesses! The building has undergone several metamorphisms over the years, including being totally rebuilt by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 into the Navajo Modern style. It is now staffed by the National Park Service for tours and special events.

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The home was built before there were restrictions on using the materials and minerals from the Petrified Forest, so much of that was incorporated into the home. The skills of the local Native American craftsmen and Early Spanish Settlers influence can be seen in the construction.

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RV Camps were non-existent from here to the border of New Mexico, so it was a short run down I40 to Gallup where the USA Camp RV welcomed us in with a big smile and a Veteran’s Discount, always appreciated. The welcome included the notice that overnight temps will be in  the mid 20’s, so no water hookups may be left on overnight. Yeah, I know, it’s still below zero and single digits at home, so no loud complaining. And we know tomorrow will warm up quickly.

Glad to have you all along! We’ll listen to the trains go by again tonight that were in your backyards yesterday.

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:~ Flagstaff, Sedona, Don’t Forget Winona, Places I’m a’gonna:~ (it’s supposed to be musical)

The irresistible pull of visiting with long-time friends, Sheryle and Charlie Kaluza of Cornville (you read it right, though the name itself is “wrong” as the application for town limits in 1882 was made with the name “Coneswell”) was the reason for jumping off Route 66 and heading south from Flagstaff. They are a small town in the same valley as Sedona, with lots of neat things to see and do. 20190302_145947

The confluence of the Verde River and Oak Creek is just a couple of miles from their home. There are some fascinating rock formations relatively rare in this part of the country as they are limestone formations interspersed with cavities created by rising mud. This pic is of the Verde river which was in full, raging flood a couple of weeks ago due to the snow and flooding all the way north to Flagstaff. The other side of this promontory is the many miles long Oak Creek, which comes off the mesa and is primarily clear water all year. The 40’s we had left in Flagstaff were replaced by warmer, but still chilly 50s.

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An unanticipated BIG HIT at the Kaluza house was the discovery of their Three Wheel Bikes that the kids could NOT get enough of! We had to lock up the machines at dark as they were totally reluctant to call it quits. Note to both parents, they DID put their helmets ON after getting accustomed to the operation of the machines.

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Having Sedona this close made it impossible to resist a return visit here. We had made the same excursion on the Southern Tier ride in 2017. It had been a totally grey and overcast day from sunup all day, but this very brief break in the clouds perfectly spotlighted Bell Rock and Courthouse Rock just as we approached town! It was gorgeous! Charlie provided all of us transportation there and we took a late afternoon hike up on to the lower elevations of Bell Rock. Izzy was eager to discover the “Vortex” that inhabits this extremely popular rock destination. To make it more believable as to her experience, Charlie didn’t tell her it’s exact location. 🙂

A wonderful meal out together at eclectic “Country Club Lounge”, and then a short drive out of town to park Bridget in the wonderfully pristine desert environment of Kaibab National Forest Land totally alone under incredibly clear skies. I actually had to unlatch an old-school “wire gap” barbed wire gate to gain entrance as the land has BLM grazing on it. It gave us a great opportunity to stand outside in some of Arizona’s “Class One Dark Skys” (well wrapped up in warm coats!) to do some “sky gazing” and Constellation searching. It was one of the very few nights camping that we were out of ear-shot of those constant BNSF freight trains.

Mass this morning in beautiful Plaza of the Immaculate Conception Church at Cottonwood. Fr David had a professional quality singing voice and sang many of the Mass parts. We rejoined Sheryle and Charlie for our first ever “Barbecue Breakfast” at the Colt BBQ in Old Cottonwood. It was spectacular! The helpings were big enough to satisfy the teenagers. Enough said.

A heartfelt “Farewell” to the Kaluza’s, and then back north to rejoin the always waiting Route 66. That route is precisely the same as Interstate 40 from here to the New Mexico border, so mounting up just past the I17 and I40 junction, I donned as many clothes as I’ve ever ridden in for the low 40s temps and brisk winds and joined the fast moving traffic as far to the right on the shoulder as I could get for the planned ride to Winslow, AZ.

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Charlie had promised me a full day of ALL DOWNHILL AND TAILWIND, and it was close to being just that. There was indeed about a four mile stretch that was a nice downgrade and a perfect Ten Rated Tail Wind (guessing 25 mph! and directly at the stern!) That may never be duplicated again. The asphalt roadway is very smooth almost everywhere here, and the segments of red-gravel asphalt make me wax poetic in their smooth surface perfection 🙂 🙂 🙂

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I’m almost positive this scene was used to inspire one of the scenes from the great kid’s movie, Cars. The irony with all the teepees is, of course, there were no Native American’s using teepees in this part of the country. You can see the “old road” directly in front of these structures. The short distance between the Interstate and the structures now may as well be a hundred miles when it came to drawing customers off their high speed traveling.

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“Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona” was a big hit, musically in 1972, and was a big hit with all the Route 66 travelers moving along the route today. It came as a shock to Cathy and I that The Eagles came out with it (Taking it Easy, actually song title) so long ago!

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The kids got into the spirit as well, especially after spending a significant amount of time in the “Taking It Easy” paraphernalia store directly across the street.

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My own “Good Looking Girl in her Flat Bed Ford coming round to take another look at me.” Sweet!!!

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From Winslow, more wind aided miles to Holbrook, and our KOA for tonight, and a good night to all. Predicted morning temp, 32 crisp degrees. Looks like another day of bundled-up riding!

Send Warm Thoughts!!

Thanks for coming along.

 

 

Colin Underground in the Grand Canyon Caverns

We went to the Grand Canyon Caverns and got a guided tour. The original hole that was use was sealed off because there were two native Americans who had fallen down a few hundred years ago. The tribes wanted the resting place to be where they died so they were buried next to the original hole. the first chamber is called the bridal chamber and they have had about 6 weddings down there.chapel cave.jpg

People can reserve the cave for $900 a night for two people. Since there is no wifi or cable they have over 100 movies on DVD/BlueRay. There are many places where  was created by so much pressure and they can be over 150 ft high.

The Caverns have been declared a fallout shelter incase of nuclear warfare, and the military has stored much food and water down there. These canyons are not part of the Grand Canyon National Park but are privately owned. They had some fantastic pie at the cafe as a treat when Grandpa got there.

 

There are also places where rocks have formed into little snowball shaped blobs. that is why they call it snowball palace. Izzy and I really liked going to this attraction.

 

 

Quintessential Route 66

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Sometimes I need to remind myself that this is what I was doing just a year ago, recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery. Quite a change, and a lot to be thankful for. The ol’ ticker is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing, and there aren’t any other physical problems impacting my riding. That’s all good!!

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This is part of today’s map segment for the route from Kingman, AZ to Seligman, AZ. Easy to see there was a lot of UP in the day’s ride. There has never been this much elevation change in a single day on any of the dozens of Ragbrai’s that I’ve ridden over the years! That’s OK when most of the other riding variables are favorable, as they were today: weather; quite cool, high low 50s, fairly strong and consistent winds mostly from rear quarter, while riding east anyway. Any veering off to the south was met with some fierce resistance from the wind gods. Road surface; very good and with a nice shoulder for riding. Traffic: light to moderate with very little heavy truck traffic.  In other words, as the sage Dave Dickey would say “It doesn’t get any better than this”.

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This section of the route was inundated with snow in the storms of a week ago. The remnants of that event are still very evident on the north facing slopes at these higher elevations. Seligman also has still melting piles where they were piled up after street removal.

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I somehow missed getting this gem in on the day we spotted it in the desert east of Amboy, CA. This solid marble, finely crafted, incredibly heavy statuary Foo Dog (Guardian Lion) was a mate to another just like it a thousand yards away. No explanation, no notation no Google search query answered, it’s going to go down as a “major mystery” on this journey. They were both 50 yards from the highway, and several curious souls had left tokens of (?) on the pedestal; postcards, notes, two full beer cans, flowers. At least no one has yet to deface them with paint or chiseled graffiti. And now, you can all wonder about them as well. 😉 My guess is that they weighed at least 2000 lbs.

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The above four pix illustrate pretty well the “quintessential” aspect of this route. Every type of hokey advertisement to lure riders off the road is put to use along this stretch, including the nearly full-sized dinosaur replicas and teepees for rent! So many have tried and failed, and their sad remains are interspersed with the stalwart survivors. The infinitely tiny burg of Truxton had, at one time or another in the past, four fairly large restaurants on the road’s edge vying for the travelers food dollars. One remains. The others silently continue to advertise their Biggest Burgers, and Clean Rest Rooms. And the road goes on.

Colin and Izzy added to their Route 66 adventures today by touring the Grand Canyon Caverns while Grandpa was pedaling his way east. I hope to get some pictures and stories from them to post as well.

Staying warm and well fed along the Mother Road.

Your company is most appreciated!