Saturday, July 20, 2013

Texas Canyonlands

We realized as we were headed towards Amarillo that we would be near Palo Duro Canyon so we decided to go there. It was very, very hot so we stayed at a private RV park near there instead of down in the canyon at the state park. We really want to stay there sometime but it's a long, steep drive for such a short visit. It was a good decision because when we drove down in the canyon in the Jeep, it was much hotter on the canyon floor, where we would have been camping.

Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the United States. We enjoyed the short amount of time we spent there and we definitely plan to come back some day when it is cooler so we can do a few hikes and camp down in the canyon.

We drove to Caprock Canyons State Park next and spent four days there. We had a great campsite in the park, just a few feet from the Canyon Rim Trail. It's a wonderful park. They have a herd of buffalo and we saw prairie dogs all over the place.

We saw this park employee moving a rattlesnake away from the restroom area and told him he was brave. He laughed a very nervous laugh and said "I usually scream like a little girl when I see them." I took a picture but it's not very good because I didn't want to get any closer to it. (You might want to look away here, Mom.)
 It was still hot our first day there so we just drove around, looking at the buffalo, the lake and driving through the canyons. That's one thing we really liked about both Palo Duro and Caprocks, you can drive down into the canyons.

We only planned to stay there a few days but ended up staying four days when we found out the temperature was going to be dropping. On our last day there, it was actually kind of chilly and we decided to hike the rim trail. We haven't been doing much hiking due to the heat so this was really great. It was a bit overcast, too, which is also nice for hiking in the southwest. Here are some pictures from our hike...

I really liked this picture of Larry taking pictures of the canyon.
Caprock Canyons is one of our favorite places we've ever camped and we definitely plan to return. We left there Tuesday and drove to Lake Texoma on the Texas/Oklahoma border. It's pretty here but I haven't taken many pictures so I probably won't do a blog post about it. We plan to leave here tomorrow and head to Arkansas as we continue to make our way east.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tucumcari and Cadillac Ranch

We have been traveling east, slowly but steadily, the past few weeks. I need to get caught up on my blog posts. Most of the pictures I'm posting tonight were taken well over a week ago when we were in Tucumcari and Amarillo.

I've always really liked Tucumcari. It's a small town on Route 66 that has really retained a lot of the old Route 66 character.  We drove around town taking pictures of murals, signs and some of the buildings. Many of these are very famous Route 66 icons.

On our last night in Tucumcari we made a special trip out to get a picture of the Blue Swallow Motel lit up at night. I've always wanted to see it at night but the timing was never right so I was pretty excited to finally get this picture.
The next day we headed out of New Mexico and back into Texas. Our destination was Palo Duro Canyon, about 20 miles south of Amarillo. Just outside of Amarillo we stopped at another famous Route 66 attraction: Cadillac Ranch. It was about 100 degrees that day and we were surprised at how many people were there. Most people had cans of spray paint to paint the Cadillacs but we just took pictures and tried to avoid paint fumes.

 From there we went to Canyon, Texas to visit Palo Duro Canyon and then on to Caprock Canyons State Park for the weekend. It was beautiful at both of these state parks and I have a bunch of pictures but I'll save them for my next post. We're now at Lake Texoma on the Texas/Oklahoma border and should be in Arkansas soon. We're having a really great trip. This route we're taking runs just a bit south of Interstate 40 and we're both loving being off the interstate. We won't be passing through Oklahoma on this trip but we did drive up there tonight in the Jeep to get a pizza. The park we're in is cheap and nice and has good internet so I think we're going to stay another night before heading to Arkansas. I'll probably post another blog post tomorrow with all my canyon pictures.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Turquoise Trail and Tinkertown

I'm posting some pictures today that I took a few weeks ago while we were staying in Tijeras, New Mexico on the Turquoise Trail. This is probably one of my favorite places in the U.S. The Turquoise Trail is a scenic byway  between Albuquerque and Santa Fe in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. It runs through a series of small towns that were once mining towns but became ghost towns for many years until the 60's and 70's when a lot of artists moved in and converted the old mining shacks into homes, stores and galleries. It's a beautiful drive with a lot of interesting places to stop along the way.

Cerillos is the town closest to Santa Fe. There is a beautiful greenish colored turquoise named Cerillos turquoise which is mined in Cerillos. They sell some there at the Cerillos Trading Post and Petting Zoo.

Madrid is the next town on the trail. It's a charming little town filled with art galleries and stores and brightly painted houses.

My favorite stop on the Turquoise Trail is a place called Tinkertown. Tinkertown is hard to describe. It is a folk art museum built by Ross Ward and contains his life's work. Ross Ward was a sign painter who worked for the circus. In his spare time he would hand-carve a series of  miniature scenes like boot hill or an Indian  trading post.. He also collected small, antique toys that he used in his displays. He built Tinkertown by transforming a group of old mining shacks and adding bottle walls to connect the buildings. He collected other things, like antique wedding figurines, fortune telling machines and various circus artifacts, which are also on display in the museum. It's an amazing place: quirky and oddly inspirational.

We left Tijeras and headed back to Storrie Lake for a few weeks. We are officially headed  east now, on our way to Maryland. We're spending the weekend in Tucumcari and  plan to head to Texas on Tuesday. There has been wild weather in New Mexico the past few weeks- hail storms, wildfires and extreme heat- but we've been very lucky and missed most of that. It was actually kind of chilly at Storrie Lake last week which was a nice change.

I hope you enjoyed today's pictures. Thanks for stopping by!