Friday, September 27, 2013


This poor butterfly lingered around our lawn chair for a long while this week. The tail of his wings were battered. He seemed tired and acted like flying was such an effort. I knew how he felt and appreciated where he was at in his life.

I have never understood why men who strived for and achieve living in civilized housing additions then go out an buy tents or sheds on wheels so that on the weekend they could race off to live in places that are like Hooverville Huts of the last century. Why does sleeping on plywood, walking two blocks for a bathroom, and showering with people you might not want for neighbors sounds like good livin'?

In our case it is because there are trout streams right out the back door at the campgrounds. Once we came in off the New Mexico road, DH was raring to work in fishing as soon as possible. I was tired, too tired. But we washed up and unpacked, then turned around and packed up again. I will admit the weather was beautiful, the air cool. Normally I would write or read, but this time I was a little brain dead. I don't know where four days went.

While at the state park, we made the drive over to Arkansas for a nice lunch one day. Eureka Springs is a touristy town, lots of shops and eateries. We ate at an outdoor patio and enjoyed the fall weather. Then we visited a few shops, but both were tired and shopping wasn't too interesting. Except for a store called The Back Porch. This shop has moved four times in eighteen years. I have to hunt her sometimes. The shop is small but arranged nicely, not overloaded with stuff. The owner tastefully displays rabbits and birds, all sorts of garden things. This time I was nailed by a tea pot in a matter of seconds. I did not need one at all, but this white one called my name when I walked in.

I really like a certain feel of a pot's heft; I want only a certain handle, and I am choosy about the spout. But this teapot had no spout! Its spout looks more like a creamer lip. My mistake was picking it up and feeling how beautiful it felt in my hand. The owner said it was the last one she had from summer and no box, just the pot. I brought it home. I am anxious to have just the right day and time to test this new white teapot!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Southwest Tour, Tuesday Again

                                             Wind farm--note Kansas sky!
We pointed ourselves to the Kansas route for going home. We stopped at Liberal to visit the Air Museum there. It is a good one but this was our third time. I passed on going in, but DH enjoyed himself once more. I read and waited patiently, shopped in their little gift shop.

Then it was on to Meade, Kansas. We had been through this town several times and never hit it right for visiting the Dalton Gang hideout. This time things were just right to enjoy this a highlight, and the experience was enhanced by visiting with the Cowboy curator, Mark Ferguson. The house was built by John and Eva Whipple in the late 1890s. She was the Daltons' sister. There was a secret tunnel dug from inside the small house down to the horse barn for a fast get away. Eventually the locals began to suspect the Whipples of helping the gang and so the couple left the area. Of course, the Daltons met their end in Coffeyville, Kansas.
                             Tunnel from Dalton house to barn.
Dalton Hideout Curator Mark Ferguson
We went out of our way a tad to check out Dodge City. I had a bad image of modern Dodge, and while it has some shortcomings, the town does have a pretty and clean downtown area.                  

We drove on to Pratt for the night, then into Wichita, made the only antique mall stop of the trip, had lunch with my niece and supper with our son before going on the next day to visit our parents before arriving that night at our own welcomed bed. It was nearly 3000 miles...a longer than normal road trip!
                          Autumn shaded pottery bought at Earl's, Gallup




Friday, September 20, 2013

Southwest Tour Monday

The night had been my sickest so I was really not interested in much. We were up early and went to the Taos square before the stores and shops were open. We have seen many of the Taos sites, but a few remained to be seen had we pushed. But we both decided there were other things to see yet this trip and we moved on. We headed towards Questa, a village of 1700 people that was founded due to Spanish land grants. We had bumped into it by accident three years ago and wanted to return to see the church there that had had some issues.
The old adobe church, founded 1830, had a crumbling wall. The Catholic Church did not want to repair it, wanted to demolish it and build a new building. The people put up a howl as well they should. I won’t go into politics of this affair, but I was eager to see this historic church saved. People had a hard time getting a foothold in the land here due to raiding Utes. (Ah, this is another controversial story—why should Spaniards think they could waltz in and take land from the Indians? Because they could?)  In the end both Spanish and French Canadians finally got a church and fort-like wall built to start colonizing the area.

So the local people three years ago fought to save their church. They were willing to do the work and raise the money or a chunk of it. They made it a National Historic Site. A local contractor made the adobe brick, and the people made the mud mortar themselves and applied it. This time the failing wall was repaired and the church wide open for repairs on the inside and other wall. A workman took time to show us around, teach us about adobe bricks.

When it came to replacing the choir loft as it was originally, the people needed a 12 by 20 expensive beam. So they went to the local forest and asked a park ranger. A huge tree was marked for removal. The men took chain saws…the cut, shaped the beam, and toted it up to the wall. The man talking with us said that the tree was probably planted in about 1790, and it must have been God’s plan that the people of St. Anthony’s of Questa to use it for a beam in 2013!  Much work is left but no doubt this industrious group of people with get it done.

                                  Original saloon in St. James Hotel, Cimarron
Moving on down out of the mountains and through the Red River area, we stopped for lunch at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, NM.  Such history here! There are bullet holes in the saloon’s metal ceiling, rooms where Jessie James, Billy the Kid and others stayed. Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hurr, was supposed to have done some of his novel in one of the rooms. Visitors can still stay the night here, but in some cases they have to share the room with ghosts who live there.

                   Great bat wing doors but bet these weren't hanging in the 1800s!


It is always sad to reach this point where we again head for a night in Guymon. The land stretches out again, becomes rolling prairie and plains meaning we are heading home.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Southwest Tour Saturday Night and Sunday

We had been in Durango a few times, including twice to ride the famous steam train they have there. So we knew the stores and area. I did not need to do any shopping, but we rested and then went downtown to walk among the crowds…and there were plenty of those. We drove around for nearly 30 minutes before finding a place to park and made it on the made drag of town. I did spent some time in tee shirt stores as DH had not packed enough clothes! He did not want to spend money on shirts, but I found some nice ones on clearance.  


Then we headed over to the Stater Saloon. Now this was fun. We were a little hungry as we had had no super, but neither wanted much. So we got potato skins and a drink while we listening to some great honky tonk piano. The saloon was old and with a history. The outlying ranchers of the old days often came into the hotel part for the winter while weather was unbearable. Louie L’ Amour and his wife often stayed in the hotel room while he wrote his novels. He said that the saloon music floating up through the floor boards inspired him.

A very good night’s sleep and then back to a road coming down into Pagosa Springs, Colorado. We had been in this lovely town before for fishing. It was Sunday and the streets were quiet. We filled the car, ate a light lunch, and made the decision to take a road back into New Mexico again. It passed us through Chama, where we had taken our favorite steam train ride. We looked around and moved on. The land again became flat and drab and dusty. We rarely saw cars.

Then we came upon the Rio Grand River Bridge with the same thrill as we had the first time we saw it. You drive along a flat land and suddenly it drops to a unfathomable and cavernous black ditch with the Rio Grande at the bottom. Lots of tourists here so lots of Indian vendors too. I bought a load of Anasazi beans. These are heirloom beans that the cliff dwellers ate. They are softer and sweeter than other beans when cooked. They are less gas-producing as well, and they have a lovely burdgandy and white coloring reminding cooks of a nice pinto pony!

Just before coming into Taos we began to see Cattle Crossing signs with space ships on them. Weird. We were to learn that there had been a lot of cattle mutilations in the area and some group had decided travelers should be warned they were entering a possible alien visited area!


We also saw a new housing development of earth homes. Some looked like alien ships themselves. They were sustainable housing using recycled and reclaimed goods with their own sewage system etc. Very interesting looking homes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Southwest Tour, Saturday

We headed for Telluride. We had been there before years ago. I knew we would find an overpriced touristy town, but the drive there was stunning. It was so pleasurable for both of us. When we got to Telluride, it was not only weekend crowded but teeming with people. There was a memorial run of some kind where runners started in Ouray and ran over the mountains to Telluride. Everyone in the town had a dog or two. That was the dodgiest town I have ever been in, and it was fun to visit with the pets. We walked along but rarely went into stores as they held no interest to me; I could not have afforded anything if they did. We bought tea at and patio café and enjoyed the people and the fresh air.
Then we headed down the Million Dollar Highway, an edgy, breath-taking drive in the mountains. At Ridgeway, a quiet hamlet along the way, we stopped for lunch at Kate’s Body and Soul Café. The food here was outstanding. Soups and wraps, but breakfast was her specialty all day long. She used farm fresh eggs and special bread. Everything was super fresh and unique. She made the ordinary tasty! We ate outside on the patio which was glorious in the mountain air, and her tea was excellent. I had a breakfast sandwich; it was huge. Ham, mozzarella and two fried egg on a sourdough bread with fresh fried potatoes.
We rolled on through the mountains taking another break at Silverton. Here we met the owners of Mattie and Maude’s, a new café to the town. The owner did the cooking and she was innovative. Her specialty was fry bread, a yeasty version instead of the baking powder kind. Oh, yum! She had strawberry shortcake on the warm fry bread. DH and I shared a plate before we drove on to Durango.

Steam train coming into Durango after being at Silverton

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Southwest Tour, Friday

Gallup is in in heart of Navajo Nation territory. The land is dry, rocky, dusty, and sad looking, although the rocks and vistas and mesas have a beauty of their own. Lots of movies made in and around this area. One motel was home to John Wayne and others while they made movies in this Route 66 town. We wew warned when we checked in that the Navajo Fair would start on the weekend at Window Rock and the area would be a boiling pit of people.

I had been in Gallup before and knew I wanted to eat breakfast the next day at Earl’s, a going restaurant since the 1930s. Here Indian vendors are allowed to sell outside but also inside. They bring around trays of jewelry or arms of pottery while you eat. It might get annoying if you were a local who ate there frequently, but it was fun to us. The breakfast was wonderful.

After a visit to the old train station known for its Harvey Girls and Harvey House Restaurants during the old days, we pushed on towards Canyon de Chelly. We stopped at Hubbell’s Trading  on the way. Very interesting place that is now a National Historic Site and still operates as a trading post. They were willing to trade of my money for some of their turquoise!

Then it was the Visitors Center for the canyon. I did not find the operators of the center very friendly or helpful. There was not a warm feeling here. We choose to do the North Rim and the canyon was amazingly deep, hard to imagine how people got to the bottom to the rich land for farming. Also hard to imagine how the ancient cliff dwelling people got down to those rock homes in the face of canyon. I read that at some places the old people had log hand holds that they pulled out and up as they went. They allowed them to move down into the valley but did not allow anyone to follow them back up. Hard living for sure.

That is DH out on the edge listening to the canyon winds.

At this point, we made a decision. We were only about four hours or so from the edge of the Grand Canyon. DH asked me what I wanted to do, but he had to make this decision. I had seen the Grand Canyon 20 years ago and enjoyed it. He never had seen it, but at this point he was really weary of desert. He said he longed for mountains, trees and running water. We differ a little on this, but since I had been pretty sick by this point, I was also ready for a change.

                              Navajo Hogan, very cool inside even on 92 degree day

So for the next several hours we pushed across the Navajo Reservation, passed Shiprock, did not stop at Four Corners, and pulled into Cortez, Colorado for a bit of a collapse and re-energizing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ssouthwest Tour, Thursday

St. Philip Neri Church
Getting into Albuquerque was fairly easy. The land along the way became rocky mounds of beige and mint. We had been to the city before, and we passed on visiting the zoo and museums, heading right to Old Town. We had been there before but wanted to see it again. There is a most beautiful adobe church there founded in 1709. Last time we met two twin sisters who were nuns and aged 98. Unfortunately, they had both passed away fairly recently.

Here the natives set out their wares under the roofed sidewalks just like in Santa Fe. The streets were lined with stores selling jewelry, tee-shirts, art, and the usual touristy trappings. We just had a good time lingering around the square. We got some great iced tea in a restaurant and took it to the square to enjoy. There was live music just off the square that floated in the air. The whole atmosphere was delightful!

  Can't you picture a rough character escaping from the upstairs and jumping on his horse to ride away into the Old West from this balcony?
 Then we looked up the New Mexico Tea Company. I was disappointed here, but I did bring home two teas to try. Then we headed west again. Along the side of the road we met three women selling jewelry in horrid heat. (I could not buy something everywhere!) We were close to Laguna Pueblo and I asked on if she lived there. No, she lived five miles away, but her mother lived there. When I told her we had gone up there on a Sunday years earlier but did not want to disturb anyone, she urged me to go now. So we did.
                                            St. Joseph in Laguna Pueblo

We wandered around on rutted dirt roads again and finally found the road that climbed into Laguna Pueblo. The homes looked poor and rough, stacked like children’s ancient blocks. The adobe church was at the very pinnacle of the mountain and was to be the oldest church we saw. It was built in 1698 and still had the dirt and straw floors. There roughly hewn vigas in the ceiling. The saints and paintings were primitive art. The walls were painted with ancient designs that suggested a mix of beliefs to me.
While I was allowed to take pictures of the church’s outside, there were no pictures of the private dwellings outside the adobe walled fence. They did sell some post card views. DH took off and next thing I knew I heard voices. He was talking to an  elderly lady who sold pottery and a little jewelry out of her kitchen. Julia was a darling woman, and I so enjoyed meeting her.

Then it was on to Gallup, New Mexico.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Southwestern Tour, Wednesday

Guymon is an area that announces we are really in western areas. It is meat packing center much like Dodge City or Wichita was in the old days. Trucks are coming and going. It is around this area that we first see pronghorns usually. However, this time almost none  seen for the whole trip. That was sad…we love to see, count and appreciate those animals.
                                                          Museum in Springer

We went through Boise City and were in Springer by noon. Springer is a tiny berg with an old courthouse and jail now turned into a museum. We had never been inside although we had passed by several times. This time we stopped and meet two darling ladies who were hosting. The building is amazing…the old jail is inside. Black Jack Ketchum was housed there once. Lots of stuff in the building to see.
This is a spinning wheel carried over the Santa Fe trail in a covered wagon that someone made into a rocking chair.
                                            Counter at Brown Hotel Dining Area  
Then we went to lunch at the Brown Hotel, a quaint building that is old but still operates as a hotel. Loved the dusty old hats hanging around! Loved the blue paint and pristine walls. Here was my first “real” New Mexico food. Wonderful chips but hot sauce and then a burrito lunch. We asked the waitress where all the pronghorns were and she looked at us like we had horns. Finally, we learned she had never heard them called that…she knew them only as antelope. A man eating there told us the prongs were around. It was hunting season, and he told us to go eight miles out of town and go  on to a lake to see them.

So after lunch we headed that way. Hum. His 8 miles was actually 15 miles and it was all gravel. Once we had gone 8, we pushed on. Desolate looking land…a few ranches and farms sat way back from the road. Then we began to climb…and climb. It was beautiful once you got up high and so quiet! You can’t believe how beautiful absolute silence is. Once we were at the very top and saw the small lake, we also saw one tent camp but no one in sight. No other sign of life. We enjoyed it, saw a gull land on the water, and then headed back to I-25.
                   View halfway up the mountain to see lakes, looking for prongs

By late afternoon we were very tired and getting grumpy. I wanted to stay in Santa Rosa which took us out of the way. But it is a known Route 66 town and small. We had nice room, lovely stay before heading into the bustle of Albuquerque