John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Me and Buddy

Inside the Wind Power Center

Brenda and Coy Harris enter the power generating windmill base

John shows the size of a power generating windmill blade

Is that whirligig enough for you, Sheila

Pay attention to the sign

Exhibits at the Ranching Heritage Center

Big Blue Arrives at the hospital on the ambulance

April 12

You're not gonna believe this but when I went to breakfast this morning, the nice lady attending cooked me a fantastic waffle made in the shape of a map of the great state of Texas. Everything truly is bigger here. After Brenda's workout (notice a theme here?...waffles for John, gym for Brenda), we loaded up for our previously scouted museum tour.

Our first stop was the Buddy Holly Center, (conveniently?) one block off Buddy Holly Avenue. It was a very moving experience where we learned so much more about Buddy's upbringing in Lubbock and how his sheer will and determination along with great talent made him an international star by his 22nd birthday. It is eerie to think that, at the time of his death, he was the same age as our darling Katie. One display even had a picture of Buddy with Red Robinson in just can't get away from home.

Our next stop was the American Wind Power Center.. a museum dedicated to the American-style water-pumping windmills, which we had been observing since we began our trip. There are over 120 different styles of windmills on display of all shapes sizes and styles inside a large building as well as many outside actually operating active wells. We were curious about the details of the mechanical workings so we asked a guy near the entrance; turns out he was the curator, Coy Harris. Coy is passionate about his windmills and spent almost an hour showing us around and explaining stuff.

A highlight for us was when Coy took us out on the grounds to see a fully functioning modern power-generating windmill like they have in Palm Springs. He took us right inside the base of the tower to show us the computer controls and invited us to climb the internal steel ladder up to the vanes, which we respectfully (chickenly?) declined. We were so impressed that he had taken so much time with us and really made the visit special. When we thanked him at the end, he said, "Hey, it's what I'm here for!"...a man living his dream, just like us.

Our final museum stop was the National Ranching Heritage Center, which has over 45 authentic structures outside on a 16 acre site near Texas Tech University. The buildings have been collected, dismantled and reassembled on the site. It made for a great tour with lots of explanatory plaques and pleasant pathways between them. At the end we returned to the main building where they had an art exhibition of the work of Buck Taylor, who played Newly on Gunsmoke for 7 years. He is an accomplished western artist and it really capped off a great afternoon to see his work.

On our way back to the hotel, we both commented on what a great day we had had, and how we never thought a full day of museums would keep us entertained. My theory is that they were so exceptionally and eclectically presented that you couldn't be bored....of course, some might say, we really must be getting old.

April 13

Friday the 13th dawned in the remnants of an overnight thunderstorm. We loaded up to head to Roswell, New Mexico with a stop at a Texas winery along the way. Now, some might view "Texas wine" as an oxymoron....and they'd be right. Texas wine leans to the sweet and compares to the BC industry of 20 or more years ago. However, you have to start somewhere and they at least have good equipment and marketing. We took a short tour and purchased a few bottles we found passable. While we were taking the tour, a deluge of rain occurred but it stopped by the time we left.

After the rain, the wind increased to a mild gale and, as we wound our way toward Roswell, we were dodging dust storms and tumbleweeds, not always successfully. In fact, one huge one came at us too fast with no room to dodge and Big Blue ended up eating a tumbleweed. As we drove on, I saw the strewn remnants in our wake and gave a sigh of relief.

Not so fast, Nordgren! After stopping at a Subway in the dusty, windy town of Brownsfield (45 miles southwest of Lubbock), I noticed a fluid spill under Big Blue. She was throwing up! I pulled into a NAPA store and he directed me to the only mechanic they would recommend. Chuck's Automotive is unmarked and on a dead-end street...not a big confidence booster (NEVER judge a book by its cover!).

However, Chuck and his secretary Chandra could not have been nicer. Chuck quickly determined the miscreant tumbleweed had punctured the radiator and we were losing coolant fast. Chuck spent fully 45 minutes checking all our options for local repair, all of which would take us until late Friday night and no guarantees it would work. Brenda then brought out the extended warranty/roadside hazard agreement and we decided to call the 8oo number.

To make a long story short, an hour or so later, Richard and his flat deck tow truck showed up to haul Big Blue and us back to the Honda dealer in Lubbock. We said a quick and grateful goodbye to Chuck and hopped into Richard's wrecker. As I write this, Big Blue is in the hospital waiting for a radiator transplant. There were no donor radiators in Lubbock so one will be flown in ASAP. We'll be out of here Saturday or Monday depending on the success of the operation. We have booked a nice hotel room nearby and rented a vehicle until it's done.

One might think it was all going too smoothly for the luckiest couple in the world, but look at it this way:

1. If we hadn't stopped for Subway, we might have been stranded on the highway in a windstorm or worse, burnt up Big Blue's engine.

2. We wouldn't have met Chuck and Chandra, two of the nicest people to meet in a crisis or just any old time.

3. We get to test the strength of our extended warranty outside Canada

4. We have lots of time built into our schedule for crisis management and recovery.

5. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

6. And last but most important, no harsh words were spoken and we're still smiling!

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