Thursday, September 3, 2009

On the Road Again! Day One - Mile Zero


"On the road again. And I can't wait to get on the road again. Goin' places that I've never been. Seein' things that I may never see again" Willie Nelson

Yep, as the song says, I am on the road again. I have two eight-day events coming up a week apart and both in the southwestern corner of the US - Santa Fe and Las Vegas and I've decided to drive from here to there and back and feast my eyes on a few places I've yet to see - before, between and beyond my paid assignment dates and locations. All told - it looks like I might be on the road for about six weeks.

I left September 1st with mile Zero starting on I-40 in Oklahoma City - just a few miles from my home. I-40 was designed to roll over and replace the old Mother Road, Route 66, and here and there lovely old remnants can still be seen within the blur of the fast lane. Route 66 - a perfect place to start a journey.


The first 400 miles is nothing but gorgeous, summer-hewn, rolling prairie...and wind turbines; more and more each time I make this journey. The odd thing is that the miles and miles of over-plowed, over-used, nutrient starved crop land has not a single one. But the miles and miles of nearly untouched native prairie habitat rangeland - are choked with the turbines. Go figure. Until we really know if these things are truly green - wouldn't it be nice if they experimented on the land that was already destroyed by inept farming practices? Oh well, prairie chickens - it was nice knowing ya!

I got a late start on the road - funny how that works when there's not a fixed airline departure time to adhere to and had to settle for Amarillo as my final destination for the evening. My car is packed with the strangest bedfellows - pressed suits, ties and shiny dress shoes vie for space among a sleeping bag, a Coleman lantern, a tent and a library fit for a small town.


At mile 156 on the odometer I crossed over the border into Texas. Strange how Texas really does feel like a whole other country. Rest easy though, I am safe here - I graduated from the Other University, the one with the relatively non-threatening football team and the fact that I am not a Sooner fan almost guarantees me safe passage through these ominous foreign lands.

The pic above is the Johnson Ranch Rest Area at mile 201 on the dashboard. Have you ever seen a more picturesque rest stop? I've been stopping here for the last 15 years of plying these roads regularly between Santa Fe and Oklahoma City. It's beyond bedazzling - that is when the wind is not blowing - which is most of the time and usually doing a solid 60. Today was dead calm. Oh the stories that land could tell.

It is here that the rolling prairies of the southern Great Plains start to give way to the high plains of west Texas and eastern New Mexico - a landscape famous for a startling mix of endless, flat llano estecado suddenly ripped apart by ancient canyons. I have been enchanted by these mixed prairie canyon lands since as long as I can remember.

So here is my plan and my wish list for the 20 odd days out here not working or visiting friends. Let me know if there is anything I am missing or must see or, more importantly, should avoid. With two exceptions, I have never been to any of these places:

-Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas panhandle
-A little cabin in the big Rocky Mountain woods outside of Eagle Nest, northern NM (a long standing summer tradition)
-Driving across the Navajo Nation and Canyon De Chelley National Monument in eastern Arizona
-Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona
-Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in southwest Utah
-Death Valley National Park - California
-Mojave National Preserve - California
-Joshua Tree National Park - southern California
-Madera Canyon and the birdy parts of Southeast Arizona
-El Paso, Texas
-Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
-Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
-Home Sweet Home

And of course, along the way, visiting friends and family in Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

For the days that I am traveling and not working - I will be reporting from the road - when I can find an internet connection, that is. Along the way and weather permitting, I plan to spend quite a few nights under the stars. Wish me luck.

Day One - Oklahoma City to Amarillo - Mile Zero to 241

17 comments:

RuthieJ said...

Good Luck Tim! I hope you have a safe and wonderful trip.
When my brother was in the Air Force he was stationed in Clovis, NM. I visited him a couple times there and would love to go back to New Mexico someday for an extended trip (maybe on the bike!)

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Have a good trip.

I used to live in New Mexico. Santa Fe, Coyote, and Albuquerque. I love the state.
I'm glad to hear that there are other people besides me that love the Texas panhandle scenery.

Greg said...

Safe travels, Tim! Thanks for the coming attractions - I don't know that part of the country much at all, so will surely enjoy your experiences!

(Actually, there are some beautifully-vista'ed rest areas along the Northway in the Adirondacks of NYS...but that view is pretty sweet, too!)

Stark Raving Zen said...

Have a wonderful journey, Tim! That entire area is so appealing to me. I'm sure that every day will be a gem. I personally can't wait to see where the next 6 weeks take you. It's a joy to be able to share your experiences here. Happy Trails!

Gaelyn said...

I am envious of your road trip. Looks like a beautiful start. And like your list of must sees, except that you left out the North Rim of Grand Canyon.
Have a great time.

Jim Smith said...

I look forward to seeing more documentation of your trip. I love your wind farm photo. The textures in the sky are vintage Oklahoma.

Kathiesbirds said...

TR, How much fun are you having! Those dates you mentioned are just fine by me! Will you be staying with me or camping out? Let me know! Email or call me! I can't Wait to see you! BTW, I am so jealous! Is there room in your car for me? Oh the birds we could see!

Susan Ellis said...

open road, big sky, full tank of gas, life's sweet!

Anonymous said...

Ive made this trip many times.
The most common item to see is
old appliances and farm equipment rusting away along side the highway. Please pictures of this thing of beauty.

Lana Gramlich said...

Sounds like fun. Brings back memories of my own road trip (w/2 virtual strangers who grew to be my best friends,) from the Niagara Region to Arizona. Great times.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 is right. That road is full of broken down parts and old appliances, not to mention the old abondoned buildings. I don't know what he is taking pictures of there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 & #2 are right. That road sucks. There's trash everywhere, roadkill (esp deer), blood stained highways, not to mention the smell. : )

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1 2 and 3
You forgot to mention the signs every mile for hundreds of miles for the Big Texan free stesk

Mary said...

Dear Tim,

I wish you a wondrous journey. I love the way you told your story, mapping out your plans and wishes with us.

Sweet.

At first I thought you might say you are spending the next month in the southEAST. Naaaa, I'm not that lucky.

Hugs,
Mary

Arizona Skies said...

Ever been to Chiricahua Mountains in SE Arizona, a sky island for migratory birds and home to lots of hummingbirds? SW of Wilcox on I-10 is the Wilcox Playa where Ostriches play/nest.

Be safe on your road trip and enjoy!

lofolulu @>~'~'~ said...

Oh no, the dung beetle has a distinct maron stripe down the back yet the body style is very similar. 2 dung beetles had made their home under our tent. Yes, I unknowingly slept on top of them. *shiver* We preserved one for our huge insect collection.

The little-known jewel of the TX panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon, is absolutely breathtaking. I'm quite suprised it isn't a Nat'l recreation area/park. The true size of the mighty canyon is not realized by the visitor because at least 2/3's of the canyon is private land and unaccessible. For everyone who visits, I recommend you take a guided jeep tour. A guide service is located immediately before the park entrance. Very little of the canyon upper ridge is accessible. The state is hoping to develop visitor's access to this area soon.(If it isn't completed already.)

Enjoy your time with friends, nature, and your own soul on this trip. *~)

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