I left Waco on Thursday, August 27th, and headed towards New Mexico, taking scenic back roads that I have not previously been on in order to make the trip more memorable and hopefully see interesting things along the way. I have traveled west so many times that taking the same roads is not interesting, especially when it’s the Interstate Highways.
Before leaving Waco, I looked at my maps and various campground books to see where I might want to stop that were reasonable driving distances for me in a day. I found several places that looked like possibilities, two were Texas city parks with electric and water hookups each about 4 miles off the highway, the other two places are ones I stayed in last year in New Mexico. So, the first night I stayed at a city campground in Sweetwater which is just a little west of Abilene. It was a nice campground, very quiet. There were only four rv’s in the park. Texas is the only state I have found so far that has a public campground book at their visitor information center. Most state information centers have only state campground books. Texas Public Campground book has state, federal, and city parks listed with their location and contact phone numbers. Between that and my Passport America campground directory, and my Camping with the Corps of Engineers book, I do pretty well finding places to stay.
On Friday, I left Sweetwater and headed north on Highway 84 towards Lubbock and Amarillo. I drove about 175 miles and decided to stop in a city park in Plainview which is about halfway between Lubbock and Amarillo. It turns out it was a good stopping place. I spent three nights in this park and I was able to relax and also flush out my holding tanks. Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening there were really severe thunder storms with lightening. I know the rain was very much needed. On Sunday evening, as the sun was setting, it looked like a giant bright orange ball. I’m guessing the dust made it a dramatic color. I took a picture, but it didn’t come out very well. I wanted to exchange some of my paperback books at a library or thrift shop but I couldn’t find any open on Saturday. So, I walked across the street to the County Sheriff’s office to ask if they knew of a library that might be open, and it turns out they said they had a box of paperback books in their garage, so I was able to exchange books there without having to drive anywhere. That worked out very well. I returned the books that I was able to read over the weekend so they could pass them on, and I gave them books that I had read before I got there. What a great surprise!!! I have exchanged books at campgrounds that have a book section, not all of them do. But this is a first to exchange them at a sheriff’s office.
As I was driving between Sweetwater and Plainview on Highway 84 I passed probably 100 miles of cotton fields, and there were many oil wells and oil well fields that I passed too. I also saw many areas where there were fields of the wind generators, considering the winds in west Texas I’m glad to see that the wind is being used for a good purpose. Some fields had cotton, oil, and the wind generators all in the same areas. I don’t remember ever seeing so many miles and acres of cotton growing anywhere. I have seen many miles of cotton but never so much as in this part of the country. Then unexpectedly, all of a sudden, I passed a very large field of sunflowers. The vivid yellow was a nice change in color from the green of the grass and cotton plants. I am posting pictures I took of oil wells and an oil well field in case you don’t know what it looks like. It reminds me of giant grasshoppers as the gears rotate and move. Most are painted black, and then I saw some that were painted white with green accents, and further north there were blue ones.
Monday morning, I left Plainview and headed north towards Amarillo. During the weekend when I was double checking my route to see if I wanted to modify it and what might be of interest to stop at along the way, I found a website Roadside America that lists attractions and interesting places to see by state. So, I checked to see what might be on the route I was taking towards Amarillo and I found two that I wanted to stop at, one was Jack Sisemore’s RV Museum and the other was Cadillac Ranch, both in Amarillo. They were on my way so I stopped at both of them.
The Antique RV Museum was really interesting. It has at least 16 unusual vintage RVs from the 1930’s through the 1970’s, including one that was used in the movie RV with Robin Williams. It was a touching moment to look at that RV and to walk into it and remember the movie and visualize Robin Williams and the other actors in the RV. Many of the RV’s are available for visitors to go in and see up close, some of the older ones had signs to only look in them. I took lots of pictures in the museum and created an album with all of them. Click on the pictures to enlarge them in order to see more detail or read the poster boards.
There were also many motorcycles, classic, vintage ones, and there were also several old cars, and antique coolers, lanterns, pots and pans, toys, etc. The way the motorcycles are displayed is very creative. They have them hung along the top of the walls, and another section has them on platforms above each other, looking at the pictures I took, they look like toy motorcycles, but they are full size ones. When visitors leave the museum they are asked to sign a guest book and put a pin in a map of the USA to see where the visitors come from. If you are in the Amarillo area, check out this RV Museum, there is no admission charge, it’s open Monday through Saturday.
I got a chuckle, and had a smile on my face, when I read a sign next to a 1953 camper that said they bought it from an 84 year old lady that said it was time for her to stop camping. How cool was that… when you think about her age and how many years ago they bought it from her, I would definitely say that she was a pioneer and very adventurous. I have a friend named Carol who like me travels solo all around the country, in fact I met her online shortly before I began my travels in the summer of 2011. Carol has been an inspiration to me and we meet up when we can. We are planning on getting together in Albuquerque again this year like we did last year. I bet she would get a chuckle from the solo camper mentioned below. It was very interesting to see the changes in the rv’s over the years and to look at the way they were designed back then. There was even a rv in the museum that was owned by Max Factor Jr, the president of Max Factor Cosmetics. There are many more pictures in the album I posted.
I stopped at the Texas Information Center in Amarillo to get a new public campground book and new maps. My maps seem to tear since I use them alot and I also make notes on them sometimes. I asked the staff person where to find the Cadillac Ranch site and she told me Exit 60. I have driven on I-40 many times over the past four years and I never noticed the cars standing in the air a short distance off of the highway. I found the site and as I got out of my camper and was walking south towards it, I wasn’t sure that was a good thing to do. The wind was blowing south to north and the red dirt was blowing in my eyes even though I was wearing sunglasses. It felt like the sand was getting imbedded in my skin. I kept going, thinking I was already here and probably would not stop again on my way back east. It was interesting to see, not really much to look at other than graffiti. The cars were all stripped down, and there were lots of cans of spray paint near them. Visitors seem to like to spray their names or other things on the car frames. Walking back to the camper was easier since the wind was at my back. I rinsed out my eyes with eye wash when I got back to the camper. If you are interested, you can read about Cadillac Ranch and see why it was created and what it represents.
I continued my trip and decided to stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico, where I stayed one night last year. It’s on old Route 66. I was really fortunate, I asked the owner if by chance there were any shady spots, and she gave me one. There aren’t many trees here, but there was one and she parked me on the east side of it so I got some shade.
As I drove on my trip today, my odometer passed 90,000 miles. I thought back to when I bought this wonderful camper van, whom I have named Molly, in Phoenix, Arizona, Thanksgiving 2005, when she had about 24,800 miles on the odometer. I am so happy and grateful that I bought it then. She is 15 years old now and still in great shape. I take care of her so that she will remain in good condition. We have had some amazing experiences together. I hope we get the opportunity to make many more memorable and fun trips together.
Tomorrow I will either stop in Tijeras, New Mexico, just east of Albuquerque, or I will drive straight to Albuquerque, it’s only about 200 miles from here. I have taken my time, and drove reasonable distances each day, not more than 250 miles in a day. It’s worked out very well, I am so grateful. I plan on being in Albuquerque until October 12th. In the month before the event, I will be assigned to several committees to help them prepare for the event. This year I am helping on Pilot Registration in addition to the Balloon Discovery Center and I am working under the guidance of the Event Coordinator for the month I will be there starting this week when I arrive. It should be very interesting, and I think I will be very busy which is good. I will also be crewing for the same pilot during the Balloon Fiesta. This is my fourth year here, so now I sort of know my way around, and I get to see people that I have made friends with over the years that I only see here, but we keep in touch throughout the year.
Healthwise, I am doing pretty well. I had a couple of days when the pain was pretty intense, thankfully, I was able to not have to drive on those days. Then I had a few days where I was relatively pain free, and that felt great. Today, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. in severe pain, so I took some medicine and went back to sleep for a few hours. When I got up about 8:00 a.m. I took two Aleve and after about an hour or so, the edge was off the pain and I was able to drive without intense pain, until it started again in the early afternoon. When I got to the campground, I ate a late lunch or early dinner, not sure which because the time zone changed again to Mountain Time. I took a bit of medicine, and rested until it went away. I am so happy to have my home on wheels which allows me to drive, rest, eat, whatever I need as I travel.
I have so very much to be grateful for. Thanks for traveling on my journey with me. I am so glad and grateful I stepped out in faith and made this trip instead of sitting home on the sofa and wishing I did it. I keep praying and asking God to let me continue on this journey and return home safely like I was able to do last year, and in previous years. Having these adventures sure beats sitting home on the sofa waiting for my life to end. I’m enjoying my travels and meeting interesting people along the way. Every now and then I think about the fact that my doctor told me in the summer of 2013 that I would not be alive by the end of 2015 and so far, I’m still alive and doing my best to enjoy life to the fullest!!!