2015-Texas-Trip Research Archives

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Sunday April 19 — Resting and Recovery

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I stuck to the bed on Sunday. I’m not terribly sick by any means, just semi-tortured by a continuous cough that won’t let me sleep or talk much without coughing. Hopefully with a day of rest, we’ll be ready to go by Tuesday.

On the positive side, I’ve had time to read a couple books. I’m particularly enjoying a book called Great Stagecoach Robberies of the Old West. As the title indicates, it is a history of major stagecoach robberies!


(Want to see more of the 2015 Texas Trip? View the posts from the beginning)

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Saturday April 18 — No Scum Allowed

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Ann and her aunt Cindy with Smokey Bear in the background

I was feeling better Saturday morning, so rather than rest, Uncle Fred and Aunt Cindy joined Ann and I for a short road trip into New Mexico’s mountains to hunt down a former gold town called White Oaks.


The first hour of the trip consisted of flat New Mexican landscape and an even less interesting highway. However, the company kept that part of the journey interesting.


Sign in Carrizozo.

We stopped in the tiny town of Carrizozo to grab some Advil, as Fred has suffered a serious and life-threatening elbow injury at the hands of his grandchildren, whom Fred has discovered are now big enough to mob him and take him down. And by life-threatening elbow injury I mean the injury effects his dominant arm, thus it seriously curtails the ability for him to eat or drink with it (hence, threatens his way of life).

It turned out that the arm injury was a blessing for the rest of us, because as Cindy and I sat in the Jeep waiting for Ann and Fred to return, we spotted a donkey (or ass??) on top of a building a block away that was off the well-traveled highway. When Ann and Fred returned, we decided to investigate.


Donkeys on the roofs of both buildings in Carrizozo. There were also donkeys on the sidewalks. You might also recognize this area from the movie “The Book of Eli” which was filmed along this street, though there were facades added in certain areas.


More donkeys and other sculptures in a hidden alcove.

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Friday April 17th — Art Fair in Alamogordo, NM

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Thursday night I came down with a light cold (or something), so I took it easy yesterday. By the evening I felt good enough to jjoin Ann and her uncle Fred for a visit Alamogordo’s art fair. Fred is president of Otero County’s STEM program. He and his wife are also deeply involved in First Robotics and judge robotic competitions all over the country. As leader of Otero Stem, he organized a demonstration at the art fair. It gave the kids a chance to show off the their robots to the public and Fred and the other leaders introduced STEM to many parents who attended the fair.


Fred and I loading the high school kids’ robot.


The Junior High School aged kids robot is on the left.


Fred’s always in trouble with the police :-)


There are as many girls as boys involved in the Otero program. Both Fred and Cindy are Mechanical Engineers and worked for Boeing. So, they believe in Engineering as a career.

While we were at the fair, Smokey Bear stopped by for a visit. Why would Smoke Bear be attending the event? I’ll save that for Monday’s update.

On Saturday I’ll probably just spend the day in bed recuperating and more clearly sketching out our Texas travels.

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Thursday April 16 — Meth and Science

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Ann in front of ‘her’ plane, a B-52 (though technically not this model). Back in her Air Force Days before Bin Laden blew her up, she used to load it with weapons. @ the National Museum of Nuclear Science and Technology.

For years I”d read and heard about the television series Breaking Bad. This past summer, lacking any good TV, Ann and I decided to watch the episode’s pilot to see if we’d enjoy it. We were hooked from the very beginning. Within a couple weeks we watched the entire six-year series. In case you don’t, it is about an Albuquerue science teacher named Walter White who feels forced to produce meth to save his family’s finances. If you haven’t watched the show and don’t want to know the ending, leave the post now!

With that background in mind, our first item of business was to find the real gravestone marker for the mythical Walter White. The headstone was initially put into a real cemetary, but some reasonable complaints caused it to be moved to a small strip mall. When we arrived at the mall, the location of the headstone wasn’t obvious. We had to look around before spotting it in an outdoor alcove. Ann was particularly pleased, because this was her idea.


There are both guide-tours and self-guided tours of Breaking Bad film sites. You can learn all kinds of things here.

Following that quick stop we headed to the touristy area of old town Albuquerque. Anchored by a church established in 1702, the area is typical of New Mexican town squares. In the center is a square, a road surrounds the square, and shops/restaurants border the road. I was surprised to see that the square was much quieter and subdued than the square in Santa Fe (or it was on this day).


Perhaps the most striking difference between the Santa Fe and Albuquerque shops are the proliferation of Break Bad memorabilia. There were also some Better Caul Saul shirts as well, the prequel to Breaking Bad.


Believe it or not, there are some confederate soldiers buried in Albuquerque.

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Wednesday April 15 — Salmon and Subway

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I now have an additional reason to eat Subway sandwiches! This truck was in Albuquerque off of Wyoming Blvd.

Today was a breather day. Our simple goal was to make the four hour drive from Durango south to Albuquerque. Without anything planned, we let chance be our guide.


It turned out ‘chance’ liked jeeps on this day. On our way out of Durango we saw a flat fender, a cj-5, and a beautifully rusted truck (orange-red patina). Unfortunately, we were on a two-lane busy road with no pull-offs. All we could do is shout to one another, ‘there’s another jeep!”

After taking a wrong turn in Cortez, we found ourselves in Farmington, New Mexico, where we spotted two unusual vehicles. The first reminded me of a Tour FC with it’s white and red top.


The second was a limoseum parked out front of Farmington’s museum.

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Despite the cool car, we didn’t go inside the museum. Instead, we got back on track and headed east for Bloomfield. That’s where we saw the strangest sign: SALMON RUINS. As you can imagine, we didn’t expect to find any salmon bones, carcasses or ruins in New Mexico. So, naturally, we had to investigate.

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Tuesday April 14th — Winds and more Winds

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Those arrows barely missed us!

Today we drove from Salt Lake City to Durango. Our entire route included constantly brisk, dusty winds. At one point as we approached Moab a huge dust devil stacked with tumbleweeds blew across the road in front of us. It was pretty spectacular. I’m really glad it didn’t blow into us!!


Needless to say, the winds squashed any desire we had to jump out and take photos. Besides, we’ve capture the look and feel of this area, as well as the jeeps, during our 2013 trip when we photographed the CJ-2A on Ivan’s sign just south of Moab and the jeep that sits atop Hole in the Rock.

I’d pretty much given up on photos, but then we spotted two jeeps and a bunch of arrows. The winds had subsided, so we got some pics while the shooting was good.

The first jeep I spotted was this CJ-2A, which appeared to be a VEC. It sits off the highway 160 just east of Mesa Verde National Park (which we decided not to visit due to the winds and the fact that we’d both been there).



The next jeep we spotted was this CJ-2A in Manco. It’s on the east side of town along the main street.

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Monday April 13th – Rocks, Tracks & Dusty Roads

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City of Rocks National Reserve

Today’s goal was to drive from Twin Falls to Salt Lake City, which normally takes about 3 hours. I’ve traveled this route so many times that I mark my progress by familiar cracks in the road. And, every time I pass by a sign that announces the exit for City of Rocks, I tell myself I’m going to take that some day. Well, that ‘some’ day was today.

Knowing that at least some of the roads would be unpaved (turns out most were), I calculated the drive would be much longer than three hours. In fact, the drive took 9 hours, some of which included map checks, photo ops, and very short walks. I don’t advise doing this trip unless you have good maps. We lacked cell coverage for most of the day and there are very few helpful signs (not many roads either).



We took off about 8 AM and drove east, then south on state highway 77. We quickly found ourselves following the old California Trail, a spur taken by wagon trains that left the Oregon Trail for California.

The first interesting town we discovered was Albion. The old and abandoned Normal School loomed spookily over the road. We weren’t a bit surprised the a nearby sign boasted how spooky the place was. However, if this is your thing, you should check out this website.


Haunted? Easy to believe.


Normal? She’s trying awfully hard to make me believe that!

When we got to the City of Rocks area, we stopped by the visitor’s center.


The ranger was friendly and helpful. She explained that travelers heading west on the California Trail found the City of Rocks a unique diversion from the long travels. Wagon trains would camp among the lower rocks. Several of the large rocks have carvings dating as far back as the 1840s.

As for rocks inside the inside the visitors center, we didn’t find many. However, we did find this unexpected gem:


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Sunday 12th — On the Road Again, Finally

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Shoshone Falls Park near Twin Falls, Idaho. When the falls are gushing the water thunders over the areas to the right and left of Ann.

It took most of the morning, but I finally wrangled Ann into the jeep so we could get the heck out of Pasco. Our goal was to make it to Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s not much of a stretch (only 6+ hours), but we did have a specific place to visit: Shoshone Falls, a place I’ve been promising we’d see.


Since we’ve covered much of the Pasco to Idaho trip in past photos, we won’t bore you with them here — in fact, we didn’t take any of the drive. However, we did have some excitement, which happens whenever my wife drives. Once she is behind the wheel she just goes …. she doesn’t really pay too much attention to signs (though she does follow the speed limit). On more than one occasion she’s driven happily past an exit. This time, we came close to missing the exit, but fortunately I looked up from my eWillys updates just in time to avoid an unplanned detour. She add’s endless unpredictability to our adventures 🙂

We reached the city of Twin Falls just in time to get to Shoshone Falls State Park with some sun left. We’d never visited the park and found it a literal oasis in the desert. We snapped a few photos before quickly realizing our selfie tactics were rusty. We shall work to improve those, so don’t pan us too loudly for our narcissistic desire to self-photograph . . . we are just practicing! Here are a few practice shots at the falls:


The park had surprisingly beautiful kept and clean grassy landscapes.

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Messin’ w/ Texas in April & May

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Getting this Texas Trip going proved to be a challenge. Multiple issues kept us from leaving for weeks. However, we’ve cleared everything up and Ann’s at peace with her grandfather’s situation.

We hope to visit some must see-places, friendly faces, and amazing natural spaces. Of course, we’ll scout some odd ball things as well, such as the toilet seat art museum and dog museum.

On our way back we’ll be heading through Colorado towns including Pueblo, Cripple Creek, Monarch, St. John, Colorado Springs, Golden, and FairPlay.

Below is a rough sketch of the Texas part of our trip. Google won’t allow me to input more stops, so I could only make a rough outline.


Not an exact map at all.