Published on October 2, 2010, by admin in Adventure.

On Friday, October 1, after six days of travel, I finally arrived at Daryl’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a shock to drive down from the White Mountains and be met with 100-degree temperatures. Only a few hours before, at a place called Datil, New Mexico, I awoke to a chilly 40 degrees at my pre-dawn campsite. As I descended through Salt River Canyon to lower altitudes, I kept thinking it was a good thing my van has A/C.

I did a lot of sightseeing on Thursday and Friday. A short detour below Amarillo, Texas brought me to Palo Duro State Park, a place of stark contrast to the flat plains and endless grasslands of the Texas Panhandle. Palo Duro is like a mini Grand Canyon carved over the years by the Red River. There is a scenic roadway all the way to the bottom that was built in the 1930s by the CCC. I stopped to enjoy many fine views and read about the history of the park.

Then it was on to New Mexico where I enjoyed the scenery as the flat plains gave way to hills and magnificent rock formations. I entered Albuquerque, NM just before rush-hour and thought once of calling Dick for directions to the house he built. I would have liked to see it, but the traffic was about all I could handle, and I lamented into just getting through. As it turned out, minutes after I turned south on I25 and headed out of the city, all the interstate highways both coming into and going out of the city were closed, snarling traffic for hours. It seems that VP Biden was in town campaigning and now was leaving for the airport. A few minutes later and I would still be stuck in Albuquerque.

Then it was on to Rt.60, a beautiful highway running through the mountains from Soccoro, NM to Show Low, AZ. I passed the VLA (Very Large Array of radio telescopes) and continued on to a cute little campground run by the Bureau of Land Management and spent the night for a mere $5. With a Golden Pass the price would have been $2.50. It was getting late so I decided to find a campsite and return the next morning to the VLA. The campground even had free firewood for the campers, something I had never seen at any of the campgrounds back east.

I awoke before dawn, made coffee, and took a stroll around the campground. A sign announced that the Datil Well in this area was used as one of the watering stops for cattle drives through the mountain pass in the 1800’s. A thermometer on the office building read 40 degrees, and I thought of Mom when she said to ‘soak up’ all the cool weather before descending into the Phoenix area. Before I did though, I headed back to visit the VLA.

I could see the giant dishes for 15 miles before I arrived. The remoteness of their location, along with the altitude – over 7000 feet – make this a perfect spot for interference free signals from space. There are 27 dishes, each about the size of a baseball diamond, arraigned in a “Y” formation. All the antenna’s signals can be synchronized so that they act like a single antenna, reading images millions of light-years into space. I watched a short film and then did a walking tour to see the antennas up close. One of the neatest facts about the VLA is that in 1997, a large part of the film “Contact”, staring Jodie Foster, was shot there.

The rest of the drive into Arizona would take me through the Salt River Canyon and 60 degrees of rising temperatures. I remember the stories of Salt River Canyon and the truckers who lost their brakes coming down the steep grades. I was glad that I have good brakes on the van, and also glad I was behind the U-Haul truck that gave off the odor of burning, brake pads all the way to the bottom. Some of the views from the pullouts were really breathtaking.

Last night, Mom, Donna, Daryl, Gisele, Derek and I went out to eat. It was good to see everyone again and spend some time together. Today, Daryl and I did some shopping for our backpack adventure next week. The weather in the Sierra’s looks kind of cold and rainy for the start of our hike, but what do you expect when you’re hiking with the Soggy Shoe Hikers?


I took it pretty easy today. I’m already stopped at a park by Lake Mcclellan in Texas. I only drove about 100 miles today. It would be nice to have that Golden Pass, I could have saved some money.

I thought it would be a good choice to stay at that city park last
night, but it turned out to be kind of a sleepless night. There were kid squeeling their tires and thumping base of their radio kept me awake, and then about midnight, their was a knock on my door and two State Troopers wanted to know what I was doing. I explained that I was looking for the National Grasslands campground and when I couldn’t find it, pulled in here to sleep for a few hours. They said that it was perfectly all right and were just making sure I was ok. Well, I didn’t get back to sleep for a while after that.

This morning I visited a historic battlefield called Washita Historic Site. It is one of many places that Custer was sent to wipe out Indians. They attacked in the dead of winter, killing 40 warriors, women, and children. Then Custer had his men burn everything


I’m still in Oklahoma. This is a honken big state! I’m starting to feel the heat as I get further west but at least I didn’t have to go through Kansas. There are more hills and green on I40 than I70.

I took Mom’s advice and stopped at the Ok City Memorial. It was quite interesting and so very tragic. I left right at rush hour and that was quite a nightmare, especially with all the construction in the city.

I also stopped at a rest area that had a mini-museum about Will Rogers who was born and lived near here. One fact I learned about him was that he was a very bad speller and I liked that very much.

I’m at a city park by Big Kettle National Grassland which I will
look at tomorrow and then to Texas to visit the place Dick suggested.


I’m at a SP in Oklahoma called Twin Bridges. It’s just over the border from Joplin, Missouri. Now, it may look like I’m way out west but I’m not even half way yet. There was not much I wanted to see in Indiana, Illinois, or Missouri but I will slow down and make some detours out here.

It’s awfully hard to get Jane to let me do much sight seeing, she has a fit if I get off the Interstate. Yesterday, there was a bad accident on I70 and all traffic was routed over to Rt40. Jane insisted that I turn around and go back to the interstate even though I explained that it was impossible. She just wouldn’t listen.

The weather has been beautiful – 70s and sun – and I hope it holds for these long southwestern states. It might be a good idea to change the title of my blog to something more appropriate


I’m getting a very poor signal, but I will try to let everyone know where I am. Please excuse all the typos and fragments, I’m using my iPhone.

Right now I’m at Lieber State Recreation Area about half way between Indianapolis and Terre Haute. It is getting cold just like it was at 5:30 when I left this morning. I drove almost to Erie before it got light out. I sure feel the pain of driving all day – I think I stopped at every rest area along the road, just to stretch and walk the kinks out.

A funny thing happened last night. Dave and Lisa came to Buffalo to see me before I left. I was telling Dave that I wanted to get a car charger for my laptop so that I could blog on my trip. Dave knew of an AC inverter that would power all my plugin devices and I called Best Buy to see if they carried them. They did and we decided to go pick it up and get something to eat. Before we left I asked Lisa to put my charger cord in her purse so that we could match the specs to the power adapter.

I was surprised when Dave and Lisa presented me with the new power adapter as a gift for my birthday and trip. It was so special. Later that night, just as I was falling asleep, my phone rang. It was Dave,

“Dad, we still have your laptop cord in Lisa’s purse.”

We all forgot to take it out before they went back to Rochester. It should be waiting at Daryl’s when I get there. And anyway, I wanted to practice this on my phone.


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