Luilil - Traveling with the Blue Star


May 2018 — Texas Graduation and Home
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Copyright © 2015 - 2018 Larrie Easterly

In the middle of planning the Camino Del Diablo and Mexico trips we found out that our granddaughter Imani would be graduation from Tarrant Community College in Fort Worth Texas the weekend after the Mexico trip ended. Her plan is to become a teacher. She is now enrolled at Tarleton State University and will get her bachelor degree in two years.

Rather than drive straight home and then fly to Texas it seemed to make sense, at the time, to drive to Texas and then home. Ann would fly into Tucson where I would pick her up and off to Texas we would go. We would take our time driving across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Camping spots were all picked out along the way with time allotted to see the sites. This was a great idea. Unfortunately things did not go as planned. Several days before crossing back into the U.S. from Mexico the air conditioning system in the van stopped working.

It was about 95 degrees when I met Ann at the airport. The van was parked in the shade of the solar panels over the parking lot so it was not an oven when we got into it. With windows down we headed for the hotel. That night we decided that instead of taking a leisurely drive we would just get it over with.

The only sightseeing stop we made along the way was to see Cochise’s Stronghold in the Coronado National Forest. What made the stronghold special was that it was at the top of the mountain range and could be accessed from either side. This allowed Cochise and his band to escape one one or another when they were attacked.

Cochise's Stronghold

Cochise's Stronghold — Photo Galley

After the stronghold we headed east on Interstate 10 across the rest of Arizona and part of New Mexico. The route that I-10 follows is similar to the original Butterfield Overland Mail Company route. The stage line operated from 1857 to 1860 connecting St Louis Missouri to Tucson, Los Angles, and San Francisco. The stagecoaches covered the 2,800 mile distance in about 22 days, carried six passengers (at a cost of $200 each), freight and up to 12,000 letters. It was a rough and difficult way to traverse the country.

Once in New Mexico we passed the White Sands missile range which is actually two ranges. One for small missiles and the other for large ones. We also passed the White Sands National Monument. In 1945 the first atomic bomb was detonated 60 miles north of the Monument. We left Alamogordo NM and it’s 95 degree heat and climbed up into the Sacramento Mountains in the Lincoln National Forest. At 8,500 the temperature had dropped to about 65 degrees. We were going to camp but as we came into Cloudcroft we spotted the Dusty Boots Motel and pulled in for the night.

As you can probably guess the Dusty Boots Motel has a western theme. The rooms are newly renovated and the adjacent restaurant serves delicious meals. If you are staying at the hotel you get a free piece of banana bread with your meal at the restaurant.

After a good nights rest we drove the rest of the way to Fort Worth getting in a day a head of schedule. We did not tell Christine and family that we got in early. We needed the day to rest, relax, recover and cool off after the long hot drive across the southwest.

Thursday and Friday was spent visiting Christine and family. Saturday afternoon was graduation day. Having been to a graduation ceremony at the the Fort Worth Convention Center before we knew that getting to it, parking and leaving after the event would be chaotic. Instead of driving the van we decided to use Lyft. It was our first experience with a ride hailing service. The driver picked us up at our hotel and dropped us off at the Center. It was a very easy and smooth trip with no parking issues at all.

The graduation ceremony lasted about 2.5 hours. About 3/4 of the way through the ceremony Imani’s name was called and we all cheered. She was definitely a happy camper as she walked past us. The celebratory dinner was held at Spring Creek Barbecue. Naturally they serve Texas style barbecue. It was very tasty.

The Graduate

The Graduate — Photo Galley

The next morning Ann and I said our goodbyes and I headed for Oregon. She was staying in Fort Worth for a few more days and then flying home. My goal was to be home by Thursday so that we could be together for a few days before she left for Liberia West Africa. She will be there for about three weeks doing site visits at each of the 18 children’s libraries that she has setup. She says this is her final trip to Liberia. We will see.

It’s about 2,000 from Fort Worth to our home in Oregon. The route would take me through the northwest corner of Texas into New Mexico and then into Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho over the next five days.

The first night was spent at Clayton Lake State Park in NM. This is a gorgeous Lake behind a man made dam. Shortly after building the dam the engineers started testing spillway. The water washed away the layers of dirt and gravel that had collected on top of the native bedrock. To their surprise dinosaur tracks were revealed. Today there is a wooden walkway and interpretive signs on the spillway that tell the story of the different tracks that are visible. The most unusual imprint was created by a dinosaur tail.

Dinosaur Foorprints

Dinosaur Footprints — Photo Galley

The next nights camp was at Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, CO. It was another lovely lake. Other campers are drawn to the van whenever it is at a public campground. It is somewhat of an unusual sight to see the roof rise up. A couple of folks came over and asked about and got the tour.

Traveling across Wyoming the next day I saw herds of cattle with pronghorn antelope mixed in with them. The goal for the day was Bear River Park in Evanston, WY. This park has a small herds of captive bison and elk. When I arrived a couple of deer were browsing in the picnic area. I had planned on staying the night at the park but it turned out to be day use only. Since I got there early in the afternoon I decided to take a nap. Then it was off to a restaurant for dinner and then the local Flying J Truck Stop for the night.

Before leaving on this four week trip I had made arrangement to meet two friends in Boise for dinner on Wednesday. We met around four and had a good time getting caught up on what each of us had been doing over the past year. After dinner it was time to head west to my final campsite on the banks of the Snake River near Huntington, OR. It was near sunset and the colors in the sky and on the water were beautiful. The only problem we’re the bugs. As soon as I pulled in hundreds of them descended on the van and just sat on the outside. I was glad there were screens on the windows.

Snake River

Snake River — Photo Galley

In the morning it was time for the final drive of the trip. Like a horse headed for the barn I was excited to see the familiar sights along Interstate 84. Home was only six hours away. The adventure that started four weeks ago was coming to an end. I was glad to be home.

Statistics
Total miles: 3,078
Fuel: 233 Gallons

Past Travels
282 feet below sea level

Barrancas del Cobre

282 feet below sea level

282 feet below sea level

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Summer Lake Hot Springs

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks