To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 7

One view from Th Grand Canyon
One view from Th Grand Canyon

Day seven dawned and we skipped the free continental breakfast in favor of getting an earlier start. We got coffee and a breakfast sandwich on the road and drove to Farmington, NM where we stopped at a real restaurant and ordered a real breakfast with unscrambled eggs (over easy, thank you). And then it was back on the road, heading west through the New Mexico landscape to Shiprock, New Mexico.

From the city you can see the geological formation from which the town got its name. The 1700 foot rock sticking out of the surrounding plain is actually an eroded volcanic plume. We have driven past the plume a few times. but have never left the paved highway to drive closer. Perhaps next time we will drive down the dirt road to get a closer view.

From Shiprock we drove west, across the Arizona state line, and headed through increasingly beautiful countryside towards the Grand Canyon. I had wanted to stop at the Grand Canyon last year on our drive home, but Cindy’s attitude at the time was “been there, done that.” Well, for me the fact that I had been there twenty-five years earlier on our honeymoon didn’t matter. A place of beauty is worth revisiting in my book. Also, I had never seen the canyon from the North Rim. But it was not to be.

This year, however, Cindy decided that we should see the canyon again. When we reached the fork in the road where you had to decide right for North Rim or left for South Rim, Cindy chose south…or left in her case. The left turn took us closer to our route to Las Vegas, so I understood, but in actuality she thought we were going towards the rim we hadn’t seen. Cindy often says, “Don’t talk to me about north, south, east or west; just tell me left or right or forwards or back. It was obviously my mistake.

We were about ten miles from the entrance to the park when Cindy got a phone call. The call was from her friend who was going to our house to water the plants in our absence. She told us that the ground floor of our house was covered with water. The water had also gone down the stairs to the basement, and through the floor boards into the basement. And thus, the nightmare portion of our vacation began.

Cindy called Trina and asked her to go to our house to look things over, since she is often the voice of reason. There was little we could do from Arizona, so we continued on into the park where we marveled at the beauty and took many pictures, though I doubt if we smiled. I found myself getting testy with some of the younger tourists who were climbing out onto areas where they should not have been. Where is a park ranger when you need one?

Here in the midwest we often see warning signage proclaiming a cattle crossing or deer crossing. Out west you see those signs along with elk crossing, and occasionally bear crossing. In the park, for the first time in our lives we saw one that warned of possible mountain lion crossing. We joked about it, especially when we saw in people in an open-topped convertible driving into that area. Cindy opined that they were crazy to be inviting a mountain lion to pounce. She was only half joking.

We cut our visit short and headed south towards Williams, Arizona where we planned on getting a room for the night. As we were leaving the park, the third instance of not getting a picture of an animal occurred. Without a picture to study, I’m not sure if we saw a female elk or a horse. Call it bad eyesight on my part.

It started raining on the drive south. That is not a metaphor about what happened in our house. At one point Cindy looked out of the car’s side window and saw a rainbow. She pulled over to take a picture of it. It was still too early for me to take the rainbow as a sign for our future.

We arrived in Williams and drove around a bit, searching for a hotel. Even the cheap-o motels had prices saltier than we had been paying for much nicer accomodations. We stopped at a hotel to get something to eat in their restaurant and perhaps get a room. While we were eating Cindy started getting more phone calls about our home’s deluge. Trina called to say that she and her husband, JR, were moving as much furniture as they could from the house and into the garage. Further, they had contacted a company to come out to start the clean-up process. JR was upset because he said their commercials guaranteed they would be there in three minutes and it had already been longer than that.

The people back home were starting to speculate that our problems were caused by a storm that had hit Lafayette on Friday night. It seemed that our problem was caused by the city’s sewer system that couldn’t handle the downpour, and it had backed up into our house though the ground floor bathroom.

By the time those phone calls were completed, neither Cindy nor I had any appetite left. I couldn’t tell you what I ordered, let alone if it was any good. Also, we were both wide awake, so we decided to drive on to Kingman, Arizona to find a place to sleep. Kingman was about an hour and a half from where we were via an Interstate highway. We didn’t care that it was an Interstate because it was dark and we wouldn’t be able to see the beautiful sights off-road.

We got coffee at McDonald’s and hit the road. Next stop, Kingman.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 6

Looking into the crater of Capulin Volcano
Looking into the crater of Capulin Volcano

We started the day in Clayton, New Mexico by having the free continental breakfast at the motel. Big deal. occasionally one of these breakfasts will take into account the fact that some of us need to stay sugar-free, and by extension low on carbohydrate intake. But even when they have a slightly extended menu, you can only stomach just so many scrambled eggs and pieces of sausage. I am not an easy person to please.

From Clayton we drove north and west to the Capulin Volcano National Monument. Since Cindy had previously purchased a senior citizen pass to national parks, monuments, etc., our admission was free. When we stopped at the visitor center we found that this was also a popular site for bird watching. From the top of the mountain you can see the vast field of volcanoes. I’m told that there are at least one hundred other volcanoes visible from the Capulin Volcano. I didn’t attempt to count them. I hadn’t realized that there was so much volcanic activity in New Mexico’s past.

This volcano was another place where Cindy insisted on driving. If she is not in control of the car while in mountainous terrain, she panics. Now, I’m not crazy about riding with her when she drives in the mountains either, but I don’t argue with her. Come to think about it, I’m not crazy about riding in the car with her in city traffic either. It is probably an age thing on my part…I’m eager to stay alive a few more years. But, what can you do.

As we were driving down from the summit we received a call from Trina, who told us that she had taken another plumber to our house to get a second opinion on the situation with our pipes. He concurred in part with the first plumber, though he didn’t think the indoor piping was in as dire a need of replacement. Since we hadn’t yet received the estimate for the needed work from the first plumber, we decided that this newer plumber could go ahead and do the work. It would be done the following week. Things were looking up.

From Capulin Volcano we continued west. Near Raton, New Mexico we drove past the NRA Whittington Center. Given our feelings about gun use in our country, we decided to keep driving rather than stop and visit the friendly gift shop. We didn’t feel that any of our friends needed an AK-47. We’re funny that way.

As we drove further west we passed land upon which cattle were grazing. Along with the cattle were more animals that I was unable to photograph. They were at a distance, but I believed they were antelope and Cindy agreed. Upon reflection, however, I think they might have been mule deer. I’m just not sure.

So we continued on until we stopped in Chama, New Mexico to spend the night. And other than the beauty of the area, I don’t recall anything of significance about Chama.

To Las Vegas and back 2016 – Day 5

Statue in Enid, Oklahoma
Statue in Enid, Oklahoma

When we got up that morning we decided to partake of the motel’s free continental breakfast.Once more I wondered about the breakfast habits of people on the continent. Perhaps I should research continental breakfasts. Would I learn that it was  just some sort of mocking ritual about our independence from European overlords that has gone horribly wrong? Or is it, perhaps, just a sign that I need more caffeine in my system? Hmmm.

We packed the car and set out north and west to drive through the Oklahoma panhandle. As we were leaving Stillwater however, I was struck by the messages of two billboards on opposite sides of the street. The one on the left read THERE IS EVIDENCE OF GOD. On the right side of the road was a sign that read CATFISH HEAVEN. I wasn’t sure if I should take these signs as one message, dueling messages, a coincidence, or a cosmic joke. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

I took today’s picture as we paused at a stop light in Enid, Oklahoma.  I didn’t have time to jump out of the car and see the title of the statue, but a subsequent search on Google has told me that it is called The Homesteaders and it is by Harold T Holden. It honors the people who took part in the Cherokee Strip land rush, I’m not sure how members of the Cherokee nation feel about this statue.

Heading further west we reached Guymon, Oklahoma. And now I must make a confession, I know that there is something blog worthy about Guymon, but I can’t remember what it is. I also failed to make a note of it in my notebook because I felt that it was so memorable that I would never forget. I forgot.

So on we went until we left Oklahoma; a goal that we had. We stopped in Clayton, New Mexico for the night. After we got a motel room we drove into downtown Clayton to eat in the restaurant in the Eklund Hotel. Much to our delight, there was an open mike for singers. We didn’t plan to sing, but there were others there with their guitars. The fellow who was on the stage when we arrived was singing songs by Steve Goodman and John Prine. Those two came out of the Chicago folk music scene which was big when I was a younger man, and I still frequently listen to their albums. Cindy and I were very happy. He went on to sing a few more songs and then turned the mike over to a tall, skinny man who wore a cowboy hat, boots, and a vest over his cowboy shirt. He sang cowboy songs that he had written. Based on his performance, I would say that cowboys are a morose lot. We left when we finished our meals. Mine had been the worst chicken fried steak that I have ever encountered. But the entertainment was good.