It was a sad and unfortunate reason for me to return to Michigan to attend my niece Tiffany’s funeral but I was glad I was able to be there with my family to support my brother Tom and his family through this difficult time. Ed stayed back with the rig at the Corps park near Tulsa, OK and he was befriended by the camp host and his wife, Paul and Lois, who looked after him and even invited him to attend a local festival with them where Paul was the drummer in a group that performed at the festival. He missed me but managed to keep busy.
We left the Tulsa area a few days after I got back and took the back roads through the middle of Oklahoma and ended up on part of the Chisholm Trail. That was the route used by cattlemen to drive Longhorns from Texas through Oklahoma to northern markets. We went through a lot of little towns, many of which seemed like they had seen better days.
We arrived in Amarillo, TX in sunny skies and moderate temps. We stayed at an Elks Lodge which had RV hookups but was less than scenic. It didn’t really matter to us as we had plans to be gone during the day while we visited Palo Duro Canyon and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. We had dinner the first night at The Big Texan, which is advertised for miles as soon as you get into Texas. They have big billboards claiming you eat free if you can consume a 72oz steak within one hour. It is a very fun place to eat with lots to look at while you wait. Deer heads lined the wall (now decorated with Christmas lights) and there was a roving 3-piece country group singing tableside for the diners. We enjoyed listening to them and watching all the hustle and bustle of the wait staff as they were very busy and watching the cooks prepare the steaks on an open BBQ pit.
We have been through Amarillo several times and took advantage of seeing Palo Duro Canyon again. It is the second largest canyon in the US, 120 miles long and 800 feet deep. Beautiful layers of red rock, yellow, gray and lavender mudstone, and layers of sand, silt, clay and limestone are everywhere. The erosion over the last million years has created towering hoodoos and unique formations. It is really awesome to see and we had a beautiful day to see it. They allow camping in the bottom of the canyon but Ed and I didn’t think we would be able to stomach the very long 10% downward grade to get to the bottom. I know our friends Sue and Tim and Dave and Bonnie have stayed there, but they are obviously braver than we are.
We also visited the very impressive Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, TX. It is on the campus of West Texas A&M University. We spent several hours taking it all in but had to leave when our legs and brains wore out.
On our way back stopped to visit a RV Museum that we found on a brochure. It was part of an RV dealership, but was very well done and had lots of original Rvs and paraphanelia associated with camping and the era of each RV. Some of the Rvs had been restored and some were in their original condition. They even had the RV that was used in the movie RV with Robin Williams. It was actually the RV that Jeff Daniels' movie family were filmed in. Very cool.
We’re moving on tomorrow headed for New Mexico on I-40. Looks like the weather is going to cooperate so we can go west on I-40. We haven’t been able to do that in years as the weather has always been so bad it has made it so we had to head south from Amarillo down to I-10.
So far on this trip, we have managed to stay in all our cheap go-to camping choices: Walmart parking lots (free), Coast to Coast parks ($10 a night), Corps of Engineer parks ($5 - $8 a night), and Elks Lodges ($5 - !5 a night). But that will change as soon as we get to California!