Give Peace a Chance

From Lake Caballo, we headed west toward Douglas and Bisbee, Arizona. Several of the highways we traveled on, mostly two lane through beautiful country were named all warlike, or should I say commemorative? Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway. Bataan Death March Memorial Highway. Really? I have never encountered a Peace Named Highway that I can recall. I will keep looking.

The first night out we checked out and found a really good New Mexico rest stop campground. Mile marker 61. No hookups, but a nice level site between the highway and train tracks. Just far away enough from each. Perfect! I love the graffiti on the trains and the “freight” is mostly all shipping containers these days. We saw one whole long train of specialized Army equipment, Mid East style.

We went over the border (and ate) at Douglas/Agua Prieta but the Farmacias were few and far between. Over and back, no problem. No margaritas this time. On to Bisbee.
View from the bus. Mining is hard on the mountains.

Bisbee is a Eureka-Springs-like town built into the sides of mountains mined heavily for copper and gold. Once we got the bus up the hill after circumventing a growing sinkhole and navigating a very sharp left turn and grade, we had great views of the surrounding area and started exploring the town. We ate at Ana’s Seasonal Kitchen and it was exceptional. I had a fresh and tasty salad and Jim had a delicious roast beef sandwich.
Carmella made a friend (?) at the campground, Buddy. Tikita met him too. Astrid didn’t make it outside.

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The flower stalk on this agave?/mezcal? plant was 20 feet tall! Would love to see in bloom!

When we left a few days later, the sinkhole had gotten bigger! Some of the cones had fallen in over the time we were there. Time to go!

We made a brief stop in Tombstone, home of the OK Corral and Boot Hill (one of them, anyway). My family did the old west route many times when I was a kid and we loved all that; the cowboys roaming the streets, the shootout at the OK Corral. They used to do it right on the street and the cowboys would roll off the roofs when shot. Now, of course, they charge $10 each. We skipped that. We did find a cool western shirt for Jim though.

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We met this couple who had just retired. Jim got a pic for them. Hi guys! Enjoy retirement.

More celebration of our warlike past.

By the time we hit Benson, we were hungry again. We found Mi Casa Restaurant. Five stars all around! No dinner that night.

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Heading for Tucson to hook up with my friend Izarian Rahmsahro. Yes, that’s really her name! Tucson also has an extensive bike trail system. Time to ride again!


Lake Caballo State Park

Just north of Hatch, only about 25 miles is Lake Caballo State Park. We have been totally winging it so far, making no reservations and always finding a spot (often free). State Parks are a great bet especially if you avoid the weekends when they are more populated.

We are planning a week-or-so stay soon, probably in Tucson. Our leisurely pace seems to be working out fine.

I am enjoying getting back into photography big-time. Lots of new subject matter at hand.

Lake Caballo State Park was  a great place to play around.
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We think we are heading for the Gila National Forest. Glad we are sticking to the southern route. North of us is more rain and snow.

Outside the bus this evening.

White Sands and Hot Chili


Woke up to clouds hugging the mountain in Alamogordo. As we headed toward White Sands National Monument, the clouds cleared up and the sands were shining.


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It is really bright.
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The next day we headed up the road to Lake Caballo State Park. We got a great campsite right by the lake. But first we stopped in Hatch to have lunch. Hatch is a very small town that is the Chili Capitol of New Mexico. We settled on the Valley Cafe and were glad we did. I had tacos al Pastor with rice and beans, of course, and Jim had tacos Baracoa with lots of cilantro that I tasted and loved. We bought some salsa to go. And didn’t eat the rest of the day.

Make sure you eat there. Soon.

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Valley of Fires and Three Rivers National Petroglyph Site

Whew! That’s a mouthful!

Plotting our exit from Roswell, we looked at the routes and what might be interesting on the way. We are meandering toward Tucson to reconnect with a very old long-time friend. We will probably spend several days there since they have a healthy bike trail system. We have been on mostly one and two night stops. But that doesn’t mean we have traveled a lot of miles; and that is just fine with us. Valley of Fires and Three Rivers sounded interesting. And they were. Indeed.

We aren’t the only ones with an unusual paint job…

Starting about 5000 years ago, lava started seeping upward from vents in the earth. The entire surrounding area is pocketed by lava flows and the plants and animals that thrive there.

The collared lizard.

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This picture is in full color but shooting at Valley of Fires took me back to my darkroom days, shooting infrared film, developing it, printing the prints and maybe solarizing them. Glad I did the darkroom stuff, and I loved it, but kinda prehistoric now. I love the new technology. Change or die.
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On to the Three Rivers National Petroglyph Site. There are over 21,000 petroglyphs on the rocky trail and we clambered up for a look. The bus from up on the site.
An overview of the site.
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We ended up at the Elks Lodge in Alamogordo where I got this sunset from our site.
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More pics on Flickr. Valley of Fires here. And Three Rivers National Petroglyph Site here.

Next up: White Sands. Another great photo op.

And you know what? Every time we bail out of the bus and scramble through a boulder filled, rattlesnake infested area, or take the kitties out on a walk/yoga session; or wander through a small town street and eat whatever we want; the main thing on my mind is GRATITUDE. We can do this. We are doing it. It’s a lot of fun.

I am thankful.

Roswell, NM: Saving Us From Starving: Part II

After we left Clovis, the weather really did start to settle down. We drove through some rain but didn’t encounter any hail, tornadoes or super high winds. We planned to stay for a few days in Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell and headed that way.

As we headed through Roswell on the way to the park, we were starving. We normally don’t get a real early start and by lunchtime we are ready to eat. As we’ve said before, we don’t do fast food or the chains so we were looking for some grub!


We found a local place, The Cowboy Cafe, with room in the parking lot for the bus (an important factor!) and Jim went in to see if they were open. While he was checking it out, I saw that the sign said the Cowboy Cafe was open from 6:00 AM till 2:00 PM. It was way past 2:00 PM. Oh well.

We have food in the bus, of course, and could have easily made ourselves a sandwich or some tuna, the usual. But we like to experience the local color and flavors, so we stopped.

The owner, Madux, was there and he was cooking for a catering gig that evening. He said he would make us a lunch! YAY! He said it would take about 20 minutes so we harnessed up the cats and took them out in the parking lot. They are getting really good about going out whenever and wherever. Except Astrid. Of course.

Madux also said that we could camp out in the parking lot when we returned to Roswell to ride the trails. Double win!

After just a few minutes, Madux emerged with boxes of food for us. He had brisket sandwiches, macaroni salad, cole slaw and peach cobbler for dessert! Wow! Of course we tried to pay him but he absolutely refused. He insisted that he would make money elsewhere and we were his guests! Yikes! Thank You!

I got a couple of pics, but we were starving so we hustled into the bus and devoured our meal. And it was super delicious. The brisket was tender, the salads were just right and the cobbler was a special treat. We told him we would be back to eat at the cafe. They serve biscuits and gravy for breakfast, always a big draw for me.

Our three days at Bottomless Lakes worked out well. We had a good campsite and the kitties had lots of outdoor time. It was quiet and we rode our bikes all throughout the park, checking out the lakes. They are actually cenotés, which we are familiar with from Mexico, sinkholes that sometimes connect underwater with each other.

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After we were done there, we moved back to Roswell, where we discovered an Elks Lodge right near the bike trails, so we planned to head there. On the way back into town, we stopped at The Cowboy Cafe for lunch.

Jim had a Spittin’ Burger, a hot jalapeno cheese, bacon and salsa treat. I had a patty melt. They were both really good. No dinner required that night! And they have really cool paintings in the Water Closet.

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Their Handicapped Parking spot:


Madux was there and brought us out a dessert of vanilla pudding, whipped cream and vanilla wafers. We decided to pay it forward and when we checked out we gave him $$ to pay for somebody else’s lunch. It only seemed right since he had treated us earlier.

Once we got to Roswell and hit the trails, we discovered that the town is really very bikeable. Is that a word? They have alleys and the bike paths and streets are all very easy to navigate. We visited the UFO Museum, of course and happened on a local car show.


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Two Oldsmobiles, no Falcons. Hardly any Fords. Some rat rods, others, slammed and shaved and customized and scrolled like you might expect in Low Rider country.

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We spent a couple days riding the trails and also visited the Roswell Museum and Art Center. That museum is really fine; lots of great paintings along with a thorough and chronological reminder of what the white men did to the Indians when we came here. And a replication of Robert Goddard’s space rocket workshop.

That  was right after we had happened onto the zoo.

I hate zoos. I consider them prisons for animals who did nothing wrong but got caught anyway. The first exhibit was a pair of bald eagles enclosed in a cage where they dare not fly or try any aerial maneuvers. Hawks, barn owls, falcons; same condition. So sad. Then we saw some peacocks who apparently had free rein of the zoo, they hopped out of their enclosures and flew around and squawked at will. You definitely want to be a peacock at this zoo. There were lemurs who were super cute and also super smart. When we talked to them, they came over and listened and it was obvious they knew you were communicating. Why do humans give other animals so little credit for intelligence? Are they afraid it will detract from their own? I am reading Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood now so these questions loom.

We are parked at the Elk’s Lodge #969. We attended the benefit dinner last might and we are still full!

If you are ever in Roswell, be sure and eat at The Cowboy Cafe. You won’t be disappointed.

More pics on Flickr.

Clovis: Saving Us From Ourselves, Part I

One reason we were anxious to get out of Texas was the weather. We were encountering major storms, tornado warnings and high winds on a regular basis. We drove through hail and dodged many thunderstorms all the way from the Rio Grande Valley, the hill country to Turkey, Childress and Amarillo. It’s hard to remember a time when we would be sick of the rain. As a gardener in Kansas, I was used to getting teased by reports of rain to come and then just getting a few minutes of rain. If that… It was sort of ironic that we were getting pounded. I even bought a rain gauge in Childress.

We arrived in Clovis, New Mexico and headed for Akers Trailer Park. Love that name. Mr. Bill Akers was very helpful on the phone and we got parked under a large tree for a couple of nights. The park was small and very quiet and we had a great spot under the big tree. We had come through some rain that day but it seemed to be clearing up. That was when Bill warned us that they were expecting heavy rain that night. Great. I put out the rain gauge.

Clovis is another of those towns that has seen better days. Bill told us there was an area of restaurants, Walmart, etc. a few miles north but we aren’t interested in Applebees and Chilis or any of the chains. I used my Yelp app to find a good Mexican restaurant and we checked the weather to see what our window for biking around would be.

We rode around the downtown; there is a huge rail yard and I thought maybe I could get some good graffiti pics. We saw lots on the trains coming in.

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We were cruising around when a railroad guy informed us we shouldn’t be there so we left. The rest of the downtown was kind of sad. As Mr. Akers described it, a lot of antique shops, old movie theatres and plain empty buildings.

And the Bike Dude. Closed and window barred.

My bike dude…

We decided to go back to the bus for a while before heading for Servecio Azteca. They got good reviews and we were hungry even though we only rode about 10 miles. This meal was both lunch and dinner and the real highlight was the salsa bar. They had so many different kinds, all delicious!

While we were eating our giant platters of food, it started pouring down biblical amounts of rain. We have ridden in the rain before, once we got caught and had to ride 10 miles back to the bus. This was much closer, only about a mile from Akers Trailer Park.

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By the time we finished eating, the rain had stopped but the flooding was epic. The intersections were all underwater. At least it wasn’t raining anymore. After we got back to the bus, it rained all night long, a total of two and a half inches! Bill said they had been in a drought but it doesn’t do that much good when it comes down all at once. California needs that water!

As for Saving Us From Ourselves; when we got ready to leave the next morning, I went into the office to thank Bill and he walked over to the bus with me. He said when we drove out to “just keep going” in case the ground was soft. Jim was in the driver’s seat and we were ready to roll when Bill said, “What’s that under the bus?” I thought he was just seeing the low clearance but our little chairs were still under there! We just had them rejuvenated and they would have gotten destroyed if we drove over them! We always perform our checklists religiously but they had slipped through; they’re not on the checklist. If you look closely at the picture of the bus above, you can see them hiding under there.

Thanks to Mr. Bill Akers, we will always check under the bus from now on!

On to Bottomless Lakes State Park and Roswell. And Saving Us From Ourselves: Part II.

Exiting Texas

We finally made it out of Texas! There is so much to see and do there but we will be back.

First we headed over to Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States. Guess what the biggest one is – DUH! We  drove through the whole canyon, had lunch and let the kitties out for a walkabout.

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Carmela and Tikita were tired out from chasing lizards and exploring.

Then we headed to Amarillo to see the Jack Sizemore Vintage RV Museum on Rt. 66. There were some interesting rigs there and a good history of “camping.” Looking at the older RVs, the main thing I noticed is that people used to be a lot smaller! The showers and beds would hardly accommodate today’s taller and larger folks. They also have the 1947 Flxible from the movie RV, a Robin Williams classic.


When was the last time you saw a cigarette machine? Do people still even smoke?

I want one of these…


Then we headed to Cadillac Ranch after stopping to buy some spray paint. The public art installation has now been updated!
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There is so much spray paint  on these cars! The paint has taken on a life of its own.

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We had scoped out a steakhouse in Amarillo where we wanted to eat but weren’t sure about how to handle the bus parking. We definitely didn’t want to fire it up and drive somewhere after having a few drinks. Solved that problem by getting permission from the IMAX Theatre behind the steakhouse to park for the whole night in their deserted back lot. I fibbed a little saying we wanted to have dinner and see a movie too. We did have cocktails, appetizers, and a fine dinner at Saltgrass Steakhouse. We arrived right in time to see the running of The Kentucky Derby.

Every once in a while I just need a good Absolut martini.

Next stop: Clovis, New Mexico.

More pics on Flickr.


Caprock Canyon State Park and Trailway

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After we busted out on the Caprock Canyons Trailway in Turkey, we headed to Childress to do laundry and stock up on supplies. Turkey is in a dry county – ahem…

The rain and storms made for some impressive skies.

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The rain and tornado warnings followed us there but we spent the night safe and secure. We had decided to visit the state park and ride the trail afterward at a better maintained trailhead. We headed for Quitaque (kitty-quay) from Childress and rode the bikes around on the road through the entire park.

The canyons are amazing and the rain had finally stopped so we could actually ride and get the lay of the land. We camped in the park for two nights and saw prairie dogs and birds, but no sign of the famous buffalo herd until we headed out for the Monk’s Crossing trailhead the next day.

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When we rode the roads through the park, there were some really steep hills. In fact, we were followed and warned by the Park Host after we set out in the bus to see the park that there was a steep 16% grade that the bus would not be able to maneuver. We always appreciate advice like that.


The 16% grade was really fun on the bikes, reminded me of Fallingwater. Except just one hill, not one after another. We rode the whole park which was only about ten miles total.

We were assured on the phone and in person by the park staff that the surface would be better than the lava rock railroad bed we encountered in Turkey so we decided to give it a shot.and ride to the Clarity Tunnel which houses a large colony of Brazilian freetail bats. We always like to see the bats fly out in the evening. When we went to Austin for our honeymoon twenty five years ago, we saw Bob Wills’ actual tour bus (the one in Turkey is a stand-in) and saw millions of bats fly out from the Congress Avenue bridge at dusk. Pretty impressive.

The first five miles or so were great, hard-packed caliche and easy to ride. Good deal. We got to the Clarity Tunnel with the bats and walked the bikes through a thick and soft layer of really good garden fertilizer.

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These formations are fragile and collapse easily.

We saw no people or animals except this raven. This is the first trail that we have been on where no encounters occurred.
Unfortunately, after the tunnel it was supposed to be just dirt but with all the recent rain it was muddy and there were lots of rockslides. We went on a little ways but ended up turning around after a few miles.
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So back through the tunnel we walked.

On a van at one of the primitive camping areas. Where to? Indeed.

More photos on Flickr. Of course.

Bob Wills is Still the King

On Wednesday, April 22, the Turkey, Texas Bob Wills Festival started in earnest. Bob Wills Day is always the last Saturday in April, but nobody wasted any time getting into the musical groove. There were jam sessions all over town, the Church of Western Swing was in full honky tonk mode and the featured musicians along with some of the locals were playing sets day and night. And there was dancing at the Slab, an outdoor venue with a live band and lots of dancing couples. Even the rain didn’t slow things down. And it did rain good.


There was a gospel music concert at The Gem Theatre in town that featured some of the best local and not-so-local talent. One highlight was Lucy, the keyboard player. She is 97 years old and she banged it out with an authority that left nobody guessing. I got a picture of her and our neighbor, Glenna Sue. Glenna Sue and Gene are from Arkansas and were parked next to us in camp, but we hardly ever saw them there. But when we got on the dance floor, there they were, right next to us. Or at the dinner. Or the concert. We all laughed about it.

Here is a video of Lucy pounding away at the keyboard during the gospel concert.


Bobby Koefer, slide guitar player, Joe Settlemines, lead guitar and Jason Roberts, fiddle and mandolin.

Some of the musicians had actually played with Bob Wills. The slide guitar player, Bobby Koefer, had to be in his eighties but he made that slide guitar sing. His hands were busy and fast and strong and the sound was memorable. Jason Roberts, a much younger guy, played fiddle and sang and would have made Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys proud. He kinda looked like Bob Wills too; very handsome. Joe Settlemires played with Bob Wills too and at times in the shows, he and Bobby Koefer and Jason Roberts went into a threesome of slide guitar, lead guitar and fiddle that just can’t be described; you had to be there. The rest of the band, saxophone, bass, keyboard, clarinet, were all riveted too.

This couple comes from Tokyo every year for Bob Wills Day.

Of course there was a parade Saturday morning to get the actual Bob Wills Day kicked off. Swat teams, military vehicles, tractors, old cars, motorcycles, Shriners and high school queens and cheerleaders.



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An Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest for all ages.

There were shows at the Bob Wills Museum, the Gem Theatre, outdoors and at the high school. And there were no paid venues except the dances. Asleep at the Wheel played a free concert on Saturday afternoon and rocked the house.
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Jim got my picture with Ray Benson, lead singer and guitar player. I have been a fan for a long time. Here’s a video.

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And their bus.

Jody Nix and his Texas Cowboys played at the outdoor concert and the Saturday night dance. He and Jason Roberts had a mean fiddle duel, between the left handed fiddler and the right. It was awesome. Here’s a link to the video on YouTube.

And the dancing—what can I say? The Thursday, Friday and Saturday night dances were held at the old high school in Turkey. It isn’t even used as a high school anymore, there are so few kids that they joined up with Quitaque and go to school down the road. But they use the high school for Bob Wills Day events and it is a good venue. A video from the dance floor.

The auditorium has a huge dance floor and a very large stage, necessary since there are so many musicians on stage at the same time. Slide guitar, two or three fiddles, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, mandolin, keyboard, bass fiddle, drums, banjo and singer Leon Rausch, who also played with Bob Wills. He was actually with Bob Wills longer than anybody. He was probably in his late seventies or early eighties and he just belted it out.

Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel and Leon Rausch.
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Jason Roberts with Leon Rausch.

There is something magically unique about dancing on a floor with a couple hundred other people, all two-stepping or waltzing, circling in “the track” and seamlessly avoiding each other while having your individual dance. The track actually was about three couples deep. It is hard to describe, but it is like being on a magic, moving carpet or a carousel ride. You and your partner are gliding along, navigating through and around other couples, doing your turns and fancy steps at the corners or in the middle of the scrum. You get to dance past the band and see them up close every time you go around. They laugh and smile and graciously acknowledge the crowd. They talk to you afterwards too. It was a privilege to hear all these great musicians and to have them be so gracious and friendly was a bonus. And to get in so much dancing!

It is true, as the songs says. It don’t matter who’s in Austin, Bob Wills is still the king.

More pics on Flickr.

I am new at the iPad video thing, obviously. I put them all up on YouTube. Here’s my channel. Hopefully, I’ll get better.

The Church of Western Swing


We found out about the Caprock Canyon State Park Trailway and it turned out that the annual Bob Wills Day Festival was in the same town at the same time. No brainer. Jim got us a spot for the bus and we were excited to have bike riding and music and dancing on the agenda. On the way there, we passed through Matador and Bob’s Oil Well. Not Bob Wills.


We haven’t been on the bikes as much as usual this winter and were looking forward to riding the 60 mile Caprock Canyon State Park Trailway. Boo! It turned out to be very poorly maintained and paved (?) with large and pointy lava rock. If they had crushed it, might have been OK. As it was, it took all our concentration not to ditch the bikes, never mind enjoy the surrounding sights. We rode for about three miles and decided to ride on the road instead. At least Texas has great bike lanes/shoulders. The trail surface was uneven and rocky. Big rocks too. The clumps of grass were a giveaway that no maintenance had been performed lately.

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We rode around Turkey a little, then headed to Quitauque, about ten miles away. We had a good ride on the road and ate at the Caprock Cafe and toured the town. These towns are typical of many we have been to on the trails; formerly thriving, now just surviving. At least Turkey has the once-a-year Bob Wills Day. And it’s not just a day; there are bands playing and dancing going on all around town all week. Around Turkey: Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys tour bus. This is actually a stand-in; we saw the original at The Broken Spoke in Austin on out honeymoon 25 years ago. I bet it is still there.

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The old cotton gin.

This is what your motorhome window looks like if you are parked next to the bus.
DSC_2189On to Quitaque.

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Midway between Turkey and Quitaque. I have a feeling it is closed for more than the winter…

Music and dancing tonight at The Church of Western Swing. Gotta go!