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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

Day 21 – Rt 66 trip

I’m a lady that requires regular potty stops. Some travel companions would become impatient with me, but not my Bob. I only have to ask, and he stops even if it’s only been half an hour since we finished breakfast. He never tells me to limit my coffee and sometimes before we find a suitable place I feel like the lady below. I’d never seen a sign like this so had to share. Some of you might be thinking,,,TMI. Sorry. I thought it was fun.

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While at this pit stop we watched a young man get out of a vehicle and drop an empty water bottle on the ground. I wish I had had the nerve to go pick it up, hand it to him and say, “I think you dropped this.”  He went in the station/store too, and on the way out purposely stepped on the bottle and left it. That young man is not my kind of person and I’m glad we saw little of that attitude on our trip. Unfortunately that type of attitude was prevalent in Barstow and we were very glad to leave that town behind. Mind you that doesn’t apply to any hotel or restaurant patrons/workers we met.

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Leaving Barstow we saw more arid desert and mountains. It’s hard to accept California is the most populated state in the US when half of it looks like the above picture.

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Molly Brown’s had been recommended so that’s where we went for breakfast. The service was tops, Sharon told us we had an East Coast twang in our speech and I had yet another style of Huevos Rancheros. I sent the picture of the menu to my adult kids and my son wanted to know if anyone ever orders the Big Breakfast. We were told families do and then share. I wish we had seen that happen.

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We haven’t found any funny bathroom signs lately, the one above doesn’t count, so I decided to share the sign below. It’s a good way to live one’s life.

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Above is an example of “grass” in this region. It doesn’t exist. Many homes have just dirt, this place had what they refer to here as “crunchy” grass. I have to say I will enjoy seeing our green, full of weeds, lawn and maple trees when we get home. Below are two pictures from the “Bottle Ranch” we had also been told not to miss. I’m not sure what the date of 1883 refers to, but the sign proves we were on the road we wanted. The bottle displays were many, varied, and colorful. It appeared someone had made all the bottle trees by welding spokes on an iron pole. The welding was rough, but the job got done. I only noticed the quality because my father was a welder in his day.

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We continued on historic 66 through the mountains, again, on our way to San Bernardino. The silver ribbon through the center of the picture is the line of traffic. We learned later, most of them headed toward Los Angeles.

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We found this nice mural outside a Rt 66 museum on 5th in San Bernardino. The building housed the original McDonald’s opened in 1948. Today it belongs to a happy, singing on the street, African American gentleman that welcomed us with song and a big smile. Inside the take-out restaurant we entered the museum for free. I can’t say I’ve ever been greeted that way anyplace I’ve visited. We will talk about it for a long time. Of course when he saw our New York license plate, he assumed we were from New York City, but that’s common and we didn’t try to correct him.

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When we got back in the car we kissed our EZ 66 Guide good-bye and put it away. We left the route to go south to Palm Springs and left the traffic behind. We’ve driven in LA before, and have no desire to do it again, though we have family and friends there.

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The mountains are still present, but have a bit different look and feel. We once again found ourselves surrounded by windmills. These weren’t as big as the ones we saw in Oklahoma, but the number was comparable.

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And still the mountains prevail.

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Our GPS had the last laugh today when we got in to Palm Springs. It took us to the locked back gate of our hotel. We figured it out, eventually. We are among flowers, palm trees, and it appears a lot of shopping with few residents. There has to be houses away from the highways we can’t see.

After some decompression time, we jay-walked across the street to Shanghai Reds. Siri came through again. We had tasty fresh oysters as an appetizer and then a wonderful dinner served by Javier. I had cioppino, a seafood stew. We were told the seafood comes in fresh each day from Santa Monica. Then we stayed to listen to the blues band. We love an empty dance floor and one song was good for our old style of swing, that is ours alone, no lessons under our belts.  To get to dance under an open sky is a huge treat.  It’s a lot of fun, more so than dancing in the rain, which we have also done.

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The menu above; and our oysters below.

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My Cioppino; the fresh scallops were the best. I soaked up some of the broth with garlic bread.

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The blues band. Who knows what their name is, but we enjoyed their talents. And I don’t know the significance of the “Union Ice Company” either.

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We are officially off Rt 66, but our time in California is not done. I’ll be back tomorrow night.

Each night when I finish writing, Bob proof reads my work, and then I publish it for you to enjoy. Writing daily is one of the perks of this trip. If I’m smart I will continue to do it when I get home. If you know me, you know there is this long manuscript waiting for my attention once I get back to New York. Not the city, but over near Niagara Falls. When you are out of New York state, people assume you are from the city. We have given up and say Niagara Falls, because they know that is not near the city. It’s all a part of living in western New York State.

 

 

 

Day 20 – Rt 66 trip

    HAPPY    BIRTHDAY    BOB

Where do you take the Jewish kid for breakfast on his birthday? A bagel  shop of course. We checked out of the Mirage and wanted to get off “The Las Vegas Strip” for breakfast so we wouldn’t have trouble parking the car we had to give a few fingers for to get back from valet. Not complaining, we knew that going in, but jeeesh, expensive, like downtown Boston. When I spotted Einstein’s Bagels I knew that was the place. Of course I’m the one that had lox and Bob had an egg sandwich. I think it was the best bagel I have ever had, mostly because it wasn’t hard to bite or chew. I liked the poster in the shop because it represents the many nationalities and different American ethnicities we have met along the road this month.

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On Rt. 15 South out of Vegas going to Barstow, CA, we saw another huge solar farm. The shiny part of the picture below that looks like a lake is really solar panels. This particular landscape is well suited for this because it isn’t good for anything else but some bugs and wildlife.  Yes, that is sand in the forefront of the picture as this is the Mojave Desert.

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I also found some cool cacti to photograph. You are probably wondering why so many pictures of the same landscape. Well, it’s because that is what we have seen for many days. And they call the mid-west, the fly-over states where there is nothing but fields.

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Below is also on Rt. 15. Changing elevation from 5000 feet above sea level to 2000 feet. That’s a big sand bowl in the distance (the grey sliver.) You can see the trucks climbing slowly toward us.

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Below; This looked like a big cat stretched out on someone’s lap. See the ears, back and curly tail. Who knows why that spot was sand and not rock, but it got my attention.

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The “rabbit” below was on our bed when we checked in to the hotel  in Barstow. We thought it a homey touch. There were also ear plugs by the clock-radio. Uh oh. We have heard one train, but we are used to them, so no big deal. I know these pictures aren’t very exciting, but that’s the kind of day it has been. We have done laundry and now are going out to have a nice meal for my honey’s birthday.

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So Google did us a favor, again. We asked what restaurants were near-by and picked the Idle Spurs for a nice dinner. The place is well known to the locals and travelers alike as it is just a few  minutes off Rt. 66. We had reservations but ate at the bar once we got to talking with Howard and his wife, and then Suzanne and her husband, Wayne. We realized when we got back to the room no one had made a comment about Bob’s mustache, very unusual. The parking lot had lots of cars when we pulled in and they were happy we gave up our table to eat at the bar. The welcoming card, and verse are below.

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The verse is especially true at this moment in our lives as the people we have met on this journey have  made it special for us. We will be talking about the individuals for a long time and realize we were probably just one of many in their lives.

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Rachel (below) made Bob’s night when she brought him a chocolate sundae with a candle in it for his birthday. And yes, Suzanne  insisted we sing. Rachel was an attentive server to us, and a good bartender as she listened to us talk but made sure her staff got the drinks they needed for their tables in quick order. She knew Suzanne well and we listened to their conversation as they listened to ours. We got good recommendations for restaurants for the next couple of days, and left the Idle Spurs knowing if we ever get to Barstow again, we have a friendly place to go. The decorations inside what used to be a house were from our era and fun to reminisce about. My prime rib and Bob’s London Broil were perfection.

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The birthday boy.

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Day 19 – Rt 66 trip

My headline picture today is part of the skyline of Las Vegas, Nevada, from the 21st floor of the Mirage Hotel. The city sits in a big bowl at 2000 feet above sea level. You can see the mountains in the background. It is the gambling capital of the US. Yes, there are other cities, and towns in a lot of states with legal  gambling, but this is the biggest. The saying goes, for visitors, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, because it is also known as Sin City (prostitution is legal and trucks with big billboards on them advertise, the girls come to you, though of course not everyone partakes of that activity.) When you look at a map of the city, there is a casino/hotel next door to another all down the “The Strip.” The best way to view them is to walk, but they are so massive, walking would be about a five mile distance.

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Above is the Mirage. Our sleeping quarters for two nights. The beds were the best since Rolla, Missouri. We walked across the street for breakfast at Denny’s because the prices were reasonable and the service was just as good.

The picture below is one side of the outside of the Mirage. Every spot is decorated in a big way, is beautiful and expensive to build. Meals are double what I’m used to paying and drink prices are triple. A number of the hotels are built in a Y shape so most every room has a window with a view.

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The next two pictures are the atrium inside the Mirage.

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Below is the outside of a shopping mall next to the Mirage.

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Below is just some of the decoration inside the mall. Massive and impressive. We went into one store to look at a beaded purse. It was $2555.00. Not in my price range. I thought back to the articles made by Native Americans we saw in Santa Fe and regretted not buying some hand made items from them.

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It was 87 degrees and we had a very late breakfast so The Blue Hawaiian below was my lunch. It did have fruit. Bob had a beer and we sat on the open deck in the shade to drink them. The food and drink female servers wear halter top short dresses as their “uniform.” I hope they are wash and wear.

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Bob was feeling lazy today so he went to the room for some quiet time and I went to the craps table. We had set a  limit of $200 for me to gamble with. I played for two hours, sometimes the only one on the table, which I like, and got back to the room with $260 after tipping the crew of four it takes to run the table. I’ll leave it to you to Google what a craps table looks like. I hadn’t played the dice game in a while and the guys working taught me some more of the nuances. I quit so we could go to dinner and the Rat Pack Is Back show. Below is one of the tickets. Our dinner of Chicken Marsala was very good.

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The Rat Pack actors. As you can see the guy playing Frank Sinatra could be his double and had a fantastic voice. “Dean” sounded like he should, but as you can see, didn’t quite look right. The guy playing Sammy Davis Jr, needs to be replaced for both looks and voice. Just  my opinion. They did a lot of bawdy jokes and sang the songs we all know and love. The band was great.

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Because I was still ahead money wise, I went back to the craps table when we got back to The Mirage. Bob stayed with me a while then went to have a beer and watch some sports at the bar. The table was busy, and the numbers were going against me, so I left with a $100 in my pocket. No sense giving it all to them.

It’s nice to be able to say I’ve fulfilled a bucket list of playing craps in Vegas, but now it’s done. The city is too big and too commercial to draw us back again

Below is a tip for couples who travel. You know you get to the hotel room with two suitcases and there is only one luggage rack. We have been utilizing the ironing board for a luggage rack and on occasion when the desk and chair don’t fit my body, I use the board as a desk. I can lower it to just the right height. This picture was taken over a week ago, now the cases are fuller. Good thing we can leave things in the car to get them home.

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NOTE: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL HUBBY, AND OUR BONUS DAUGHTER.

Day 18 – Rt. 66 trip

When we got to the car this morning we found our low tire light on. This happened a few days ago, we got air and it hadn’t happened since. We probably have a nail or something that is causing a slow leak when the tire is in just the right position. So, we went in to the town of Williams to find an air pump and discovered there were many Rt. 66 attractions we missed by not venturing away from the hotel. We are still learning we don’t quite have this touring thing down pat, but we sure will be able to give other travelers advice.

The next few pictures are scenery between Williams and Oatman, AZ. There was some spectacular sights I didn’t photo because we were on a road with switchbacks and no guardrails. It actually made me sick to my stomach and I was doing my best to not look. Bob thought it was great, the curves and the scenery.

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We also were treated to three Burma Shave signs.

If Daisies are your favorite flower

Keep pushin’ up your miles per hour          Burma Shave

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These signs cost money so roost awhile

Just don’t do anything funny        Burma Shave

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Cattle crossing means go slow

That old bull is some cows beau           Burma Shave

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We spent most of the day on Rt. 66 so we could get to the the town of Oatman. As I said above, the last six miles of the drive almost had me in tears, but the destination will be one of our top three talked about by the time we get home. The story goes, when the mines in the area were shut down by the government, the burros that were used in them were left to fend for themselves. Their descendants now freely roam the town. They all have names and when we asked where they sleep, the answer was where ever they want to.

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I have been on the search for some big cacti. I found some.

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Three of the many burros.

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If it’s an animal, I have to pet it. This one wasn’t too interested since I didn’t have any sweets or food to offer.

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The town had good old fashioned boardwalks rather than sidewalks. We were lucky to get a parking place in the town center.

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This sign was outside Patty’s Place where we had lunch. The wording isn’t quite right, but who cares. The sentiment sure fits.

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The ice cream bar decorations inside Patty’s. I love the old cash registers.

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Patty’s lunch menu. My chili dog was ample and Bob’s BLT salad was good sized too.

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This guy looked over the hallway to the restrooms. He is supposed to deter people from taking the signs off the walls.

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Below is the men’s bathroom wall. No I didn’t barge in to see, the door was open and I thought this some good memorabilia. Of course the mustache caught my attention right away. Not too many people said anything about’s handlebars today, everyone was too interested in the burros.

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The town is shoved right up against some cliff walls. The scenery is beautiful but I’m not sure I would like living where there are no trees.

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The burros spent a lot of time in front of one particular store. The lady who runs the store was constantly yelling at them like they were her children. They tried to walk in inside to get carrots. She told us they will try to take ice cream cones out of your hands and will steel whole bags of candy. One of them took a bite out of my shopping bag and it din’t have any food in it. They run along the board walk and also get into squabbles. Quite the free entertainment. The town looks after their well-being.

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We  left Oatman and Rt. 66 to head north to Las Vegas which was still two hours away. Once again we were driving through arid country and mountains. When we got to Laughlin, AZ, we stopped at a Walmart for some necessities and it was 102 degree.

We passed the largest solar farm I have ever seen. It sure is a good place for it. I’m sure there is plenty of animal and bug life in the arid fields, but very few people to complain the don’t want the “farm” in their back yard.

Our GPS took us around the back side of Vegas to find the Mirage Hotel which was nice of “the lady.” Problem was, we were driving right into the setting sun. At least it wasn’t rush hour. I don’t know how Bob kept the car in the right lane it was so hard to see. Then we went into the wrong parking garage, walked to our hotel to check in, than had to go back and find the car which turned out to not be as hard as we thought it might be. The outcome, the Mirage got us for Valet parking, one person to unload the car, and another person to deliver out stuff to our room. We can’t use the fridge in the room without paying to open it because it is actually a mini bar. There is no coffee maker and our usual drinks were double the normal price we pay at home. I know, we are in Vegas, probably the first and last time for me.

Day 17 – Rt 66 trip

When you take a trip like we are, you learn as you go, especially about the questions you should have asked when making reservations. Night before last I mentioned I might not have internet when we got into Grand Canyon Park. Well, I didn’t know how accurate that statement would turn out to be. Bob had trouble getting emails on his phone, I didn’t. We could only connect one device in a room at a time, but then it didn’t work. I’m sure you’ve seen that thing on Facebook in the past few months; could you go without internet for a year? Well, maybe if I planned ahead, but if one is trying to blog daily and your husband is trying to be available to his boss when he’s on a month long vacation, the Grand Canyon is not the place to go. I finally posted yesterday’s blog about 7:30 pm, Arizona time. Vent over!

Packing the suitcase and getting in the car daily is starting to wear us out. It was nice to take the train yesterday and just sit. We slept late this morning deciding we didn’t need to pay for another tour. While still in the room I could see different birds in the woods behind our room. One was the size of a big sparrow, but was blue. I didn’t get a picture, but will look it up when we get home. There were also Ravens. A bit bigger than a crow with a hooked beak. They are professional beggars. Our bags were picked up from our room on the south rim and then delivered back to the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams. That’s service.

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We wandered around the public areas of the South Rim today, visiting different buildings, sights, and seeing the canyon from different spots. There are shuttle buses that will take you from place to place, free of charge. A constant, other than people, were the squirrels. There are signs everywhere with warnings not to feed them. They are known to be the most dangerous animal in the park because of their aggressiveness and bites. They often carry rabies. We took a picture because they are so different from our grey squirrels in western New York state.

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I also took a picture of a cactus, maybe it’s a succulent, because that’s one plant I don’t have at home.

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Below is a noon-time picture that shows more of an expanse of the canyon.

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Below is a picture Bob took. The clouds are gone and you can see a thin line through the center of the photo. That is a hiking trail. We didn’t see any people on it. While writing post cards to the grandchildren this morning I realized I am a bit afraid of the viewing spots that have no protection from falling over the edge.

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A lot of our view today was near the Bright Angel Lodge where we had lunch, at 2 pm. We asked for a table at 1:30 and were told the wait would be about 20 minutes. That wait turned into a little over half and hour. The couple behind us, from Bozeman, Montana, were also hurrying to get on the same train back to Williams that we were so we invited them to join us at our table instead of waiting for one of their own. Richard and Shirley are still Harley riders, as we used to be, and I have a love affair with Montana, so there was plenty to talk about while we kept checking our watches.  Lunch at the Harvey House Cafe was good even if the service was a bit slow. They were busy.

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As soon as we finished lunch we headed for the train.  IMG_1461

Above: inside our bubble on the train. Christina was our hostess today and Clyde sang us some tunes. We saw antelope on the way back to Williams, and yes, I had another Nutty Almond to drink. Bob had another local beer. He is taking a picture of each one and will post a city by city, beer by beer collection once we get home. If you want me to share it, please leave a note in my comments box. Below is a picture of the bubble car from the outside. It is considered first class, so we had a “free” champagne toast today, to our military, the Grand Canyon, and the US with all its faults and strengths.

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Back at the hotel in Williams, we retrieved my pillow from the car, then sat a while in our room so I could finally post yesterdays events. Now I am writing in the lounge, where we had pizza and a night cap. The service wasn’t wonderful tonight, but the pizza was good and there is blues playing in the background. All good!

Since I didn’t take many pictures today I thought it would be a good time to share how I take my notes, they are from the 9th, then end up giving you all the details. I don’t expect you to be able to read my hen scratch, sometimes I have trouble deciphering it myself.

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When I post this we will be back up to date. Bob and I can have an early night, thankful for life, each other and the internet.

 

 

 

 

Day 16 – Rt 66 trip

The organization at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams, AZ, was a pleasure for me to be a part of. We had to have one suitcase apiece packed and by a certain door by 8:30 am. That meant two things; we had to get up to an alarm clock, and we had to leave some things in the car, like my pillow, the little cooler and our dirty clothes. We buried our computers safely in the middle of our clothing to take them with us.

The vacations package we bought gave us breakfast this morning, along with about 200 other people. The buffet, pictured below, was extensive and I enjoyed my veggie omelet slathered with guacamole. Each table got their own coffee carafe. I can’t imagine how many line the shelves when not in use.

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From there all the people taking the train to the South Rim Hotel run by Xanterra went outside to see the “Wild West Show.” Well, it wasn’t wild, and I don’t think I know anyone that would have played one of the parts of an old-time cowboy, but it was entertaining and a great way to get everyone to the train on time. They pulled the tourist out of the crowd and accused him of cheating at a card game. He was a good sport.

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Our car hostess was a cute young redheaded female that made the trip lively. She gave us lots of reasons it was all right to have a drink at 10 am. When she came to take orders she asked where everyone was from. Small world she went to the same central school, Wayland-Cohocton, I did for five years, and also lived in Wellsville, near where Bob grew up.

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Above: Our train, we rode in a bubble, or on the top floor of a two floor car.

Below: my toasted almond.

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The 2 ½ hour train ride took us 65 miles further north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It took so long because they only do 40 miles an hour and sometimes slower. For us, having just driven three days through arid lands and then coming into trees again, the ride was a repeat of that scenery. It was relaxing and we had an older gentleman named Syd play a Roy Rodgers and a Gene Autry tune on his ukulele while he sang for us.

As soon as we got off the train, we got on a bus for a tour that included lunch in the Maswik Lodge cafeteria. Our driver, Terry, was a lot of fun and told us things we didn’t know about the Grand Canyon National Park. It is the only park in the US that has its own village including a school, clinic, magistrate, fire station, employee cabins, grocery store for employees, bank, (a gift shop in every building) and a cemetery. You have to have worked in the park for a specific number of years in order to be buried there.

The bus tour took us to two different lookout stations that were not accessible by car. I didn’t write the names down so will just post the best of my pictures. They are all taken a few feet from any ledge, most of which had no guard rails or fences. No wonder people fall off.

 

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One of the fun things we have been doing is meeting new people. After a short rest this afternoon, we went to dinner with a couple from California that we had been talking to during the day. He is in construction and she just retired so we had a lot in common. Before we went to our table in the El Tovar Lodge, we took sunset pictures outside. I’ll post four as the light changes.

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The El Tovar Lodge was the first hotel in the park. It is majestically beautiful, and our dinner was the best. I had a strip steak, pepper jack cheese au gratin potatoes and broccolini. We were all too full for dessert. It happened to be Gene and Gail De Young’s anniversary and Bob’s birthday is Friday, so we shared the celebration.

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I think everyone should see the Grand Canyon once. It is so huge it’s indescribable. There are many tours you can pay for, and also shuttle buses if you want to make your own way around. It is a busy place until the sun goes down and then the public areas are barely lit. We had to use the flashlights on our cell phones to safely walk to the bus station where we caught a ride back to the main lodge, then we had to walk to our rooms in separate buildings still using the flashlights. They have this thing about light pollution, but in my opinion it was unsafe especially with all the unevenness of the paths.

If you are a hiker, or interested in riding a mule into the canyon the visit would be even more enjoyable. One can purchase a permit to hike in and camp. We saw elk very close to the employee village and I was unable to get a good picture of the mules in their paddock, but Bob got one of a mule in training. They have quite an extensive crew to take care of the animals.

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Day 15 – Rt 66 trip

We got up when all the people walking past our door and slamming car doors woke us. Some hotels are just better than others. Last nights was the old model with all the doors outside and a parking lot between two buildings so every noise reverberated off the walls. Oh well, it was time to get up anyway. We had a small breakfast that came free with our nights stay.

We backtracked on Rt.40 to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. It was worth every penny of the $20.00 fee. One scenery picture is as good as or different in some way to the one before. Even the little kids were going, “Wow,” when they saw the sights over the railings.

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Painted desert. Needs no other explanation except the pictures don’t do it justice. It was cloudy and misty the whole time we were there. Some sunshine would have made everything more vibrant.

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Another view.

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And another. Sorry my finger likes to get in the shots.

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More depth.

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Below was taken straight down over a railing. The shiny copper color at the bottom center is a petrified tree. You must see these views for yourself to appreciate them.

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The blackness comes from volcanic rock and basalt.

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So much of 66 in this area is buried under Rt. 40, not driveable anymore, or inaccessible on Native American lands, but going through Winslow, Arizona, the route is alive and well for a few miles. We guess it is probably the most famous corner of the whole route because of the Eagles song, Take It Easy, which mentions standing on the corner. Some guys that had just arrived on their Harley’s took this picture for us. Everyone was very friendly and having a good time. The eagle on the window sill and the couple seen above us are paintings. Really good ones.

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Below is Glen Fry, one of the musicians in the Eagles band.

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A brewery down the street was serving lunch to football fans, beer fans, and travelers. Bob and I both ordered a salad.

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The server brought us our beers and said the glasses looked different but were both 16 oz. We told her we would share a water so she brought a large mug and two straws. It was just like being at the old fashioned soda fountain again.

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We got back on Rt. 40 and decided we didn’t need another gift shop or similar museum to what we had already seen, so headed to Flagstaff. Below is a mountain that loomed large on the horizon and the fields were still arid. There were signs to watch for Elk and deer, but we were lucky enough not to see any.

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That mountain range is getting closer and now we have fur tree lined roadways.

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The closer we got to the mountains, the less easy it became to get another picture. We did stop so Bob could put a coat on. We had the top down and the temp had fallen to 68 degrees. There’s a pretty good wind chill when you are going 75 mph. We hadn’t seen any real trees in three days.

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Tonight we are sleeping in Williams, AZ, in the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. The building is a huge and shaped like a baseball diamond with a nice courtyard in the middle. The ticket office and restaurant are in different buildings so we are getting our steps in. We bought a package so  had dinner in the buffet room. I had penne pasta with pesto sauce and shrimp and a salad. Dessert was a apple pie ala mode.

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Singing folk songs during our meal was Jason. We sat and listened until he finished for the evening. I got another spurt of country music. Live at that. You can tell how good he is by the over flowing tip basket, and a lot of those bills are fives.

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The internet has been going off and on all evening. Tomorrow we are going into the park and will stay on the South Rim. I don’t know how the internet will work, so if I miss a day, check my regular Facebook page at Sue Carmichael Spitulnik for pictures.

 

Day 14 – Rt 66 trip

Do you know the meaning of guide? We learned today that our EZ66 guide is just that. A guide meant to lead, but it is NOT professional exactness because businesses close, schedules change and volunteers choose not to do as they have said they will. Plus, the author of the guide is only able to drive the route every few years so the information isn’t always up to date. Keep that in mind as you go through each of our days.

This morning, once again, we had a little trouble finding Rt. 66 as we left Albuquerque, but once we did, we thought we were on our way. Wrong! We came to a spot where we should have turned, but we decided to go straight because there were no signs to direct us. We saw the sign that said “no outlet” and thought it meant no access to Rt 40 rather than dead end. Well, we ended up on a barely paved, narrow road that was like driving on a washboard. There was a silver Nissan that followed us till I told Bob to pull over and let him pass. It felt like we traveled 20 miles, but it was probably two, at 15 to 35 mph. Then we came to a fence and our only choice was to turn into a one lane underpass that went under Rt. 40. We didn’t like the option, but it took us back to Rt. 66 and then we drove for miles at 55 mph with little traffic coming at us and little behind us.

IMG_1286Above and below, typical scenery in New Mexico. Lots of buttes, and redness.

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And then you go around a huge curve and the “dirt” becomes black. Still beautiful, but different.

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An underpass, but a planned two lane one, very friendly compared to the one lane we entered earlier in the morning.

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Below, inside the graffiti covered underpass. This one wasn’t full of glass and debris.

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Coming out of the underpass into a big curve. After the one lane one earlier, this one was almost a piece of cake.

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More red dirt buttes. These pictures are being taken with my phone so you can imagine the beauty if I had had a real camera or you had seen them in person.

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Another butte, the train cars give a better perspective of the vastness.

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And then the Continental Divide. A note of interest. Along the highway, in Mew Mexico and Arizona, when you exited a work zone there was a thank you sign to the company that did the road work. Nice touch. There were also signs indicating a damaged guard rail ahead. If they did that in New York, you would see a sign every mile or so.

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The sign below is a bit of irony. Historic 66 lives in the minds of many, but it is actually only in existence in bits and pieces. We are surprised that the amount of money it brings in through tourism, that  more signs aren’t posted so it is easier to follow.

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Back to scenery, now in Arizona.

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We stopped in Gallup, AZ so we could visit the Rex Museum to learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers that served during WWII. Unfortunately it is not open on weekends. The picture below was hanging above our table where we had lunch. We did stop at the Gallup Cultural Museum which gave us a hint of creativity of the Navajo when it comes to sand painting and weaving. As we left there two teen girls approached us and asked if we wanted to take home a kitten. When they walked towards us we expected them to ask for money or the like. We explained we were traveling and they apologized for bothering us.

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Above, Jerry’s Cafe. We waited in line at 2 pm with the locals.

Below; chili rellenos. I knew I would get better Mexican dishes in this part of the country. Delicious.

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The other diners at Jerry’s. I have to admit a blue eyed caucasian is not the norm in Arizona. I am having to rethink my old belief that USA citizens all look alike.

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We moved on to Holbrook, AZ where we went to the Painted Desert Quilts shop. I was so taken with the quilt top below, I forgot to take a picture of the store sign. We got some more fabrics for our memory quilt.

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We checked in to our hotel about 4:30 pm then took a nap. Having had a big lunch, we decided to look for a bar to have a couple of drinks and a conversation. We tried the Empty Pockets Saloon first, then moved to the Corral. Roland was our bartender and we met Larry, who they soon asked to leave. He wasn’t a problem, but had been there too long. He was telling us all sorts of stories, so we were glad he left. Next, the young man that sat next to us was from England. Sit down if you aren’t….he was in the silver SUV that we let pass us this morning. He was also born in a town just a few miles from the town my daughter was born in, in Suffolk county, England. It is indeed a small world. We had a grand time talking with him, and then the band started and we got in some dancing to a live-music, country band. Side note, the band, us and maybe a third of the crowd was caucasian, the rest were Latino or Native American. We met Crystal who was doing a promotion for a specific alcohol distributor and she introduced us to the owner, Mark, who stood about 6′ 7″ and probably weighed close to 400 lbs. While we danced, he sat at an out of the way table and just watched the crowd. I imagine he could move fast if any trouble presented itself. We saw about seven cars pulled over while we were there. The rodeo was in town and the police were busy. It was a fun, fun evening and we didn’t want to leave.

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Below, a picture embossed under the shellaced bar surface. And only one guy in the whole crowd mentioned Bob’s mustache while we were there.

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Day 13 – Rt. 66 trip

The last picture I posted last night was of our new Irish acquaintances dancing. After the musicians finished, four of them and we went to dinner, at different tables, in the hotel dining room. The restaurant called, Peace, Love and Avacado, had a full, interesting menu. What I didn’t take a picture of was my southwest chicken salad. Some of you are telling us we will have to diet when we get home and some are even claiming we are making you gain weight. I want you to know that when we aren’t eating we are usually in the car, getting to another tourist stop, which I share with you, or another food stop. Today I took quite a few pictures from the car to prove we are doing something other than eating.

But first; our guide book let us down again. We went to the Rt. 66 Diner in Albuquerque only to find the open sign not turned on and the door being “guarded” by a very thin, seemingly old female that we guessed was a street person. On the loading dock next door there were two young men that also seemed to be street people. They had looks that said, you lock your car, we will still relieve it of its goods. I was glad the diner wasn’t open. We asked Siri where to eat and she sent us to The Shop. We had to order our food at the counter, and for the second time on our trip I was told, “We don’t serve decaf.” Bob got a burrito that was huge because it was filled with potatoes and I got my “usual,” Huevos Rancheros. As usual it was different than any I have had, but delicious. I ate most of it.

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Our next stop was at a very nice quilt shop in Corrales, NM. I got more fabric for this trip’s memory quilt and Bob had a grand time chatting with the ladies. One of the fabrics has “cat”tus on it. Bob groaned. I bought it. We will be getting a new cat, or two, when we finish our travels.

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I haven’t found any good bathroom signs lately, so thought I would post this one for the ladies. Eleanor Roosevelt was a “tuned in” woman and the saying is too true.

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Leaving Corrales, I was able to get a picture of a typical adobe style house. All day I kept saying, “They are so small and they are all the same color.” Very few have an actual grass yard. It gives, go outside and play in the dirt, a whole new meaning.IMG_1247

The mountains off in the distance were beautiful. Most were so far away, they were lost in the haze, but this one was pretty close.

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We dove highway 25 North to Santa Fe. Again the speed limit was 75 mph. Places are  spread out, but still accessible.

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A first floor retail store and upper floor apartment in Santa Fe. The same color as everything else. Not to my liking.

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We found Marcy Street and discovered the town square of shops, street musicians, local jewelers trying to sell their creations and very interesting people to watch. Bob told me if I saw something I wanted in one of the stores to not hesitate. I decided the fur coat I loved in one of the shops, for $3,400.00 might make him have a heart attack, so I didn’t buy it. I did tell him about it, but he didn’t tell me to go back and get it.

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So many jewelers and musicians with Spanish or Native American backgrounds, and here is a blue eyed, blond, cellist. Bob listened to the chamber music he was playing while I drooled over the furs.

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A church. I know nothing more except it’s the same color as every other building.

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Leaving Santa Fe on highway 25 north. Some beautiful scenery.

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Another shot of scenery on 25 north.

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The small town of Pecos is also on 25. This is what I call a full service stop. Food, liquor, groceries, gas, and the necessary room. I didn’t see any ammunition, but it might have been there.

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We were getting short on time so we decided to take Rt 3 south to Rt 40 to get back to the hotel. Well, we had a beautiful, peaceful ride mostly by ourselves on a road through the mountains. The curves kept us at 30 mph for the first half of the route, so it was not a shortcut, but we didn’t mind. We crossed many “cattle or deer guards,” that were as rough as a bad train crossing. (Deer grates, mostly derived from the cattle guards long used on ranches, allow your driveway to stay open while keeping out the deer. They do this by placing a massive grate in the ground that deer generally will not or cannot cross.) We eventually ended up back on Rt. 40 so stopped at Clines Corners, a truck stop that touts it is the largest in New Mexico. We concur. I found some slippers I have been looking for and some good postcards.

The picture below of a turtle is especially for our friend Rhonda. It’s not as nice as the painted one we found. but it’s pretty unique.

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We hadn’t eaten since breakfast to we stopped in Moriarty because Siri told us this place was good. We can agree. The building is the same color, but the semi-like trailer next door where they do all the food preparation was shinny red and silver. Dinner, shown below, was excellent. We have enough left overs for a snack in the morning before we get on the road.

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My two sides are potato salad, which is like a lumpy mashed with seasonings and relish, and the other is a chopped coleslaw. It has seasonings I can’t decipher, but I enjoyed it. See, another vegetable. The corn bread was dry and crumbly, but yummy.

While at the Wild West, I had the chance to talk to a deputy. He said the bars on the windows and doors is “just a thing.” The crime in the local area is not all that bad.

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We ended our day in the hotel lounge with a couple of “toddies.”

Day 12 – Rt 66 trip

I want to take a minute to thank a couple of people that have helped make this blog process a fun thing to do. I belong to an international writing group called Carrot Ranch Literary where we write 99 word flash fiction stories. Charli Mills is the lead buckaroo. She led a writing retreat in Vermont this past July that I was lucky enough to attend and she introduced me to an author by the name of Craig Childs. Craig’s books are step by step “walks” through canyons in Southwest USA. He wrote about a time his walking partner looked for him and he was scribbling in his notebook. From that example I learned to scribble in a notebook at all our meals, during tourist breaks, and in the hotel room. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to give you all the details I do, sort of in the right order. Also at that retreat was Ann Edall-Robson. She had a camera with her and took many pictures of the same thing then later picked one picture to share. So I take many shots, and before I send the pictures from my phone to my computer, I check for the best ones and delete the extras. You, my friends, get the details and the best. Thanks for sharing our trip with us and thank you Charli and Ann for teaching me.

Bob and I live in a suburb of Rochester, NY. The Monroe county population is 748,000. We have nice neighborhoods and not so nice, but I have never seen the number of examples of expected crime as I have since we hit Oklahoma. The below sign was at our hotel in Amarillo, but we have been noticing bars on windows, businesses with not only fences, but barbed wire on top of the fences. The farther into the southwest, the more noticeable the security becomes, even on personal, inexpensive real estate. What a sad testament to our current society.

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We enjoyed our dinner at the Big Texan last night so much, we went back for breakfast. Once again there were big rigs parked along the side street. If the truckers get off the highway to eat someplace, you can bet it’s good. We could get close enough to the building for good pictures this morning.

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Just west of Amarillo, Texas is the Cadillac Ranch. The story goes, a rich man bought a Cadillac years ago and it was a lemon. He got mad and buried it nose first in his field. To prove his point, he continued doing it. I don’t know when the “tagging” started, but found out today you have to take your own paint, park 200 yards away and walk to the site. Last week some “person” decided to burn one of the cars. Today it is almost all covered in paint again. The only real damage was melting the tires off the rims. (Rhonda, it’s all right!)

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Below is the line of cars. All but the front one have their tires.

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We have seen little trash in the fields and along the roads, except here. Loads of empty paint cans and smashed remnants. Sad, but almost expected.

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You never know who will talk to next on the Mother Road. The fellow that owns the van shown below is from Switzerland. We figured him to be in his mid to late thirties. He shipped the vehicle and his Rhodesian Ridgeback (hound) dog over so he could travel Rt. 66. We didn’t get a chance to ask if the dog had to go through a quarantine process. We did ask which language the dog answered better to. The answer was, “It’s about equal.”

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As we left Amarillo, the speed limit went up to 75 mph. Among the windmills, cows, and brown range, here goes a UPS truck down the road in front of us at 75 mph.

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We made our first stop in New Mexico in the town of Tucumcari. Below is a typical RV park. Really! No trees, no pool, no nothing, except a place to park. Not to my liking. And my niece and her husband are now traveling through the mountains in Washington state. Now that’s some scenery compared to this.

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Below is the inside of the Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge also in Tucumcari. Take a look at the booth and figure out how many people are eating. Four, right? Wrong. The older couple are painted on the wall. They fooled us too. The paintings above the booths are top notch. The next picture is a mural of the Lizard Lounge. We were disappointed we didn’t get to experience the night life there.

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Below is a new apartment building in the same town. Bob works in construction so we are always interested in buildings, bridges and steel structures. He sent this picture to his office to see if they were interested in building this type of structure in New York. You can guess the answer. Next to our car, on that truck, is our needed Wyoming license  plate. We are still missing some of the east coast states and Hawaii.

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Below is a good example of how, even residences, are barred and locked.

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Our three hundred miles to cover today, that we thought would be a grueling day in the car, turned into only 4 1/2 hours with the 75 mph speed limit. The roads might be a little bumpy, but they are straight for the most part. We did change elevation gradually, which I only realized because my ears popped a couple of times. We got in to Albuquerque about 4 pm. I took a quick nap, a shower, and now I am writing this is in a jumping hotel lounge with live music as an accompaniment. The bar tender is ridiculously slow, but the “floor show” is great, and we even got to dance to a Patsy Cline song, before dinner!

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Ray and Eva performing in the lounge with only a lead guitar and a tamborine. They played old country, spanish folk songs, and other songs the crowd knew.

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The crowd, some from a tour traveling on a Carolina Tours bus, some from the local area, and us. What a blast. Now we need some dinner in the restaurant located in the hotel. And I’ll get to bed before 11 pm. Yeah.

Day 11 – Rt. 66 trip

Let me start with a moment of silence for the 9-11 victims; the ones who died, the ones who live but suffer from PTSD and all their families and loved ones. On this date, 5 years ago, I lost a dear friend. Bear with me while I remember Dack, Howard Ackerly Stapley. I am fortunate to be able to stay in touch with his wife and daughter.

Bob knowing how the late nights were getting to  me decided today we would stay on Rt. 40, doing 75ish miles an hour, only make our morning and lunch stop and get into Amarillo, Texas, in time for me to do laundry, start my blog, then go to supper and maybe find some country music. Read on to see if he accomplished his goal.

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Red dirt in many places in Oklahoma. This was in Elk City on a new road project.

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We had breakfast at Pedro’s. Above is their colorful, carved and painted booths. I love the colors and happy feeling. Below on the left is Bob’s Mexican skillet which he really enjoyed. Closer to you is my huevos rancheros. This is a favorite of mine and I haven’t had it the same way twice from restaurant to restaurant. You’ll see more examples.

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After breakfast we went to Elk City’s National Rt. 66 museum and Old Town Museum Complex. If you are from western New York state and have been to the Genesee Valley Country Museum, it was much like that. It had many examples of the old buildings, offices, and trades. Because we had seen Jesse James hideout in Missouri, the following wanted poster fascinated me. Do you know how much $25,000.00 was worth back then? I guess the railroad could afford it.

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Below is a 1953 Lincoln Continental. You figure out why the date is important to me.

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Below is an example of an exam table in a dispensary. Notice the overhead light. The instruments and set up seemed so archaic it gave me the willies.

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Below is an Elk City train depot replica. The elevation says 1920 feet. That is interesting because even though the terrain seemed so flat to us, my ears “popped” due to the elevation.

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Above is an old fashioned windmill display and below a fence made out of wagon wheels, tractor seats, and tools. I love the creativity of the fence. I’ll bet one could pick up these old tools at antique shops and make a unique fence for your personal use.

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We are glad we didn’t miss this complex in Elk City. We wouldn’t have known how nice it was if we did, but we felt like the time spent there was well worth it.

We got back on Rt. 40 and traveled on to McLean, Texas, to the Devil’s Rope/Old Rt 66 Museum. Devil’s rope is barbed wire. I grew up in farm country, I know what barbed wire is, or thought I did. Yesterday in the cowboy museum we found out there were probably 100 different kinds of barbed wire. Today that information was solidified. The tools used to make it and then string it to make fences are almost as varied at the wire itself. What an education. I took the picture below to show once again, how popular Rt. 66 is with both Americans and non-Americans, besides, the Texas shaped plaque lets you know how far west we have traveled.

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In the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, in the USA, Burma Shave was a popular men’s shaving cream. Below is an example of their unique advertising. In many locations, including where I grew up, one could read these signs, spaced every so many feet apart, as you traveled along a road, until you got the whole sentence. They all ended with “Burma Shave.”

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Below is a photo of the only “Cottage Court” between Oklahoma City and Tucumcari, New Mexico in 1923. I imagine the tourists that could afford to make the trip in those days, in an automobile, were the affluent. Looking at all the memorabilia and then talking about the ease of life and traveling we can do today made us feel very privileged.

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Still in the McLean museum I almost spoke to this “waitress” as a female was called back then. Notice the white uniform and counter set with glass plates and silver. If you have a touch screen you can enlarge the menu and see a 1/4 chicken dinner is only $.90. Since she refused to speak back to me, we bought some postcards and got back on the highway.

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We made it to Pam’s Quilting Corner at 3:30 pm. I am planning to make a Rt 66 quilt and this shop netted me six different fabrics for the project. Linda cut the fat quarters for me and in the course of conversation we took her down memory lane as her father was a 33 year Air Force veteran. Bob being an Army vet and myself the ex of an Air Force vet we had a lot in common. It’s fun to reminisce with someone who has moved as much as I have and been to some of the same bases around the globe. It was almost hard to leave. In the parking lot was the pink SUV pictured below, next to our red baby. When we pulled into Pam’s parking lot Bob’s comment was only a quilter would drive that color car. We didn’t find out who it actually belonged to, but Bob insisted I include it. Personally, I don’t care for that color on a car; it would be great in a blouse or as a flower in a quilt.

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I have to admit one of my foibles is sometimes entering the wrong information into MAPS on my phone and we end up in an unexpected place. When we left the quilt shop I entered what I thought was the address for the hotel. When we arrived, we were in a not so nice part of town, and in a very rutted driveway of an unloved tiny house. We were glad no one came out and started yelling at us while I figured out what information I had given incorrectly. Bob was nice and just said we were sight seeing in Amarillo and we drove back the eight miles we had gone and went the other way a couple more. Sometimes it’s a good thing we are long married and not on our first date.

Tonight we are staying in a very new Best Western.  It is contemporary, spacious, and very comfortable. I took a picture of the hallway rugs as an idea for a modern quilt. I also had the opportunity to do a load of laundry because I needed to. During the cycles I finally wrote postcards I have been collecting for the grandchildren. They will probably all arrive at the same time.

When the laundry was done, and Bob finished working for a couple of hours we drove back across town to the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Oh my goodness it was delicious. The parking lot had multiple semi’s lined up on the back street because the truckers were eating there too.

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Above is the inside of the Big Texan, full of visitors and decorated with animal heads. Our server, Mike, told us they projected to serve 1,600 meals today counting breakfast, lunch and dinner. The beers are from their brewery and the desserts looked good enough to order one of each. Luckily we have limited space, so left the desserts there. My prime rib was about the best I have ever had and Bob’s strip was also very good.

Below, are two gentlemen that sang us a Willie Nelson tune while we dined. They were aged, excellent musicians and I finally got a taste of country music in Texas. It was a restful, though still as long, day.

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In the gift shop of the Big Texan is this pretty creature. No trip to the southwest would be complete without seeing at least one rattle snake. Let’s hope it’s the only one.

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Day 10 – Rt 66 trip

We are having to admit, we can’t see it all. When I made all the plans for the excursion I rarely had us traveling over 200 miles a day. Except I figured all that out using maps which calculates highways. I didn’t know Rt. 66 would be hard to locate and follow from town to town. I didn’t know the speed limit would be about 45 mph in most places and I didn’t allow enough time at each stop. So, ten days in, we are getting to our destination later than expected so take the next morning to explore it which gets us on our way to the next hotel about noon. Gotta figure out a way to break the cycle.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Bob and I both like to eat. Diners and good food abound. Tally’s was our breakfast spot this morning. April took good care of us. The retro decor was the best we’ve seen and the employees seemed to like being at work. I had a Popeye Omelette which had spinach, bacon, onions, and mushrooms inside. Bob had the Tally’s Bomb plate. Both were delicious and huge portions. We ate our leftovers for lunch.

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Bob had the Tally’s Bomb plate.

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Retro look inside Tally’s Cafe.

After we ate we went looking for the Rt 66 Harley Davidson store. Bob still wears all his Harley shirts and the good polo shirt he has needs to be retired. The picture of the bench that is the lead photo for today was in the store. Bob did get a new shirt. It will probably show up in a picture before this trip is over.

Next we went in search of the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza. He is considered the “Father” of Rt. 66 because he was instrumental in bringing together representatives from all the states involved to build a continuous road from Chicago to California. Below, with a messy background, is a statue depicting the change from horse drawn buggy to automobile. The statue was life size, detailed and a beautiful piece of art.

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A walking bridge with the Tulsa Medical Center in the background. And you know who in the foreground. We heard no sirens last night.

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I have mentioned the EZ66 Guide we are following. The guy in the blue shirt is its author. Jerry McClanahan lives in Chandler, OK. He is an artist as well as an author. In the guide is says to stop by and meet him and he will autograph the guide for you. He was very friendly, gave us some updates on road changes, and was happy when we bought a print of one of his paintings. He could flip through the pages of the book like it was his child’s baby book.

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Our next stop was in Arcadia, to see the Round Red barn above. It was built by slaves in 1898. A pencil drawing of the innards had Bob figuring prices. Below is just a contrast in size of our Mini Cooper to a tour bus. It made us smile, so we had to share.

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Also in Arcadia is a 66 foot pop bottle replica. The store and diner it advertises is called POPS. They have any flavor pop you can think of. Who knows what some of them taste like. Below this picture is the flavor I’m sure my dog enthusiast grandson would pick. For lunch I picked an Australian ginger beer and Bob had something that was grapefruit flavored. It was called KISS and made in Mukilteo, WA.

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It was just after 3:30 pm when we got to the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. We stayed until it closed at 5 pm. Inside there were exhibits about rodeo riders, old time cowboys, Native Americans and the TV stars that we all know from playing both on the big screen. It deserved more time than we had to give.

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Leaving a museum in one city with 100 miles to go to the next city where your hotel is booked means you deal with 5 o’clock traffic because of poor planning. And I thought I had done a fantastic job getting all the stops in a row. We got on the highway and made time. There is not a whole lot of scenery in Oklahoma and you can literally see for miles across the plain. The first picture below, if you look closely at the haze in the background you can see windmills. We couldn’t guess how far away they were. The last picture is of some windmills right next to Highway 40 that we passed on our way to Elk City. The curious thing, in this area, most houses are fenced with gates. When we asked why, we were told to keep the cows out of the yards. The little black dots in the plains picture are black Angus beef cattle.

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Once we arrived in Elk City, we went to dinner at the Prairie Fire Grill. Sara our server was helpful and bubbly. Bob said his pork chops were delicious, but my Chicken Caesar Salad couldn’t compare to last nights salad. One surprise, I have heard many times about the country music scene in Texas and Oklahoma. Last night we too tired to go in search of a honky-tonk and tonight the Grill was playing classic rock. Nothing wrong with that type of music, I was just expecting to hear country. Maybe tomorrow night.

 

 

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