Come along for the Ride!

I am so glad you are here. Stay with us as we travel everywhere. I hope you will enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Out West Pt.2

I drove past long hours. Oklahoma is a long or wide state. Most of Oklahoma is Indian Territories. There are many reservations and each one having their own forms of making money such as wild sideshow type attrations, casinos or just roadside souvenier stands.  It was quite a bit to take in as I drove along.
I saw the Chisholm Trail. I had heard about this from a former boss of mine. It is the trail that Cattle(sometimes hundreds at once) are taken on through several states until they reach the railroad and can be loaded on a train for sale. Cowboys would and still do follow along and herd the cattle to the train. It takes days and sometimes weeks to reach the destination. I know there are those of you, readers, who like to research things that I write about so I will go into this further. If you find the Chisholm Trail interesting, google it. Have fun. It was fun to see because just as we were driving by some cattle and Cowboys were right there going through a tunnel under the road. What are the chances of that?
A windstorm kicked up while driving through the prairie. Dust was blowing everywhere. Most all the parts of Oklahoma that we saw were very red dirt and soil. It was so windy at one point I saw a water tower tip over.
After a long, long time I entered New Mexico. This also was another new state for me. I was looking forward to being able to color in two more states on my map. But, now the desert began. We remembered the desert from our last trip to California. Dirt, Dirt and more dirt and not much else. Well yeah, there's the heat too.
New Mexico was pretty. The formations of the sand and rock mountains were interesting. Tucumcari was the first city that we came to. I loved that, well, I just liked saying it. Somewhere around supper time I rolled in Albuquerque. I loved that because when I tried to type our location on Facebook, I could not figure out how to spell it. I had to google it. So Pops and I spent a few minutes spelling it over and over again. Now I am sure that neither of us will ever forget how to spell it.
Albuquerque was nice enough, but I was tired and hungry and I knew that as soon as I reached a truckstop, I was done driving so that was the only thing I was thinking about.
Pops began driving after our stop in Albuquerque. We had grabbed something to eat, walked the dogs and fueled the truck. And then right back at it. That's the thing about these long trips, you don't get much time to waste. You drive 10 or 11 hours when it's your shift, grab something to eat and then sleep while the other drives so that you can do it all over again tomorrow. Our trip was a little over 2300 miles and we had from Tuesday at 2pm until Thursday at 10 am to do it. It can be quite a hustle.
I did stay awake for a little while to keep Pops company but right after entering into Arizona I went to the bunk. We were running a little early, we had gained some time along the way, thanks to the 75 mph speed limits. So Pops actually got to pull off and doze a few hours. When I woke up we were in California nearing the city of Barstow.
Barstow is a big city at the base of a mountain on the western side. So you climb the mountain and then from the top you look down onto the city. It is pretty awesome. At night it looks like stars on the ground. But it was morning. I had just gotten awake and looking ahead I could see a huge black cloud. What the world? As we got closer we realized that it was smoke.
Traffic began to slow down and before long we were almost at a standstill. It was filtering into one lane. I grabbed my camera and began to take pictures. We could see fire. It didn't look good. We saw many fire trucks and rescue workers. Then we saw what used to be a tractor trailer. The cab had exploded! And then we saw another tractor trailer that had been wrecked badly and also burned up. Wow, this was bad. I am sure no one survived the first truck and I doubt anyone could've lived through the second one either. No, I will not post those pictures out of respect for anyone who knew the people involved in that accident.
Man, what a way to start your day! What a downer.
We realized that Gypsy was not taking us on the route that would take us through Los Angeles, but rather we were going through some rural areas around the San Mateo Mts. and in from the backside of Van Nuys.
As we were driving through that part that was rural, we stopped at a wide pull off area to let the dogs out. I had them on their leashes and was walking around with them when I looked down and saw a syringe lying on the ground. I couldn't believe it, it was just laying there in the wide open. Then I saw another, then another and another. I know I saw at least 12 before I got the dogs gathered up and back to the truck. Okay, now I am creeped out for sure. I was not liking this day so far.
But it began to change as the scenery got better. We started to see snow capped mountains and the drive along the base of the mountains really was nice. We drove through a gap in the mountains and then climbed some smaller ones and then saw several canyons. Finally we were in the city. It wasn't a bad trip in either. The traffic was not at all as bad as I had anticipated that it might be. I guess because of the route that we had taken.
We found our pick up address easily and in less than 20 minutes we were loaded and headed out of the city. This time we did go another route. We actually got to drive through Beverly Hills.
I saw homes that you wouldn't believe and I couldn't even begin to describe. I wish I had paid more attention to vocabulary in school. Houses that were bigger than our church building, built on the edges of cliffs or dangling over hillsides. Gorgeous, gorgeous houses.
We drove up through the route that took us along the base of the San Bernadino Mts. This is such a wonderful, scenic drive. We had driven it the last two times we came to CA. I was even remembering landmarks before we saw them. It is so cool to me that I can know roads and landmarks in so many states and places that I never ever dreamed I would see in my lifetime.
And then the route changed again into the unfamiliar because rather than head toward Barstow, we headed in the direction of Palm Springs. We had a pick up in Phoenix, AZ tomorrow morning so we were going more south this time.
I enjoyed driving through the familiar names of Pasadena and Palm Springs. I loved seeing the snow capped mountains along side of me as I drove. But after two days of desert, I was a little tired of sand and dirt. Oh well, take the bad with the good, right?
I can't remember what time it was when we actually got to Phoenix. The rush of the past two days and the frequent time zone changes had really mixed up my internal clock. But anyway we found a nice place to park and prepare to spend the evening.
We walked the dogs and then went inside for our showers.
Once the sun goes down, the temperatures become bearable. It was a comfortable 81 degrees. Normally I would think that was hot but after mid to upper 90's, 81 felt doable.
It wasn't long before both of us and the dogs were sleeping like babies.
In the morning Pops and I took the dirty laundry in to wash it and while it was washing we decided to go into Denny's for a "grand slam" breakfast.
After breakfast we walked the dogs and I read for awhile while Pops played some cards with Gypsy. It felt wonderful to not have to rush. Our pick up was scheduled for later in the afternoon.
Before we left there we walked across the street for an ice cream cone and then got our selves in the mindset of travel again.
We arrived at our place of pick up and found out we were carrying a high-dollar, high security load. They wouldn't even tell us what our cargo was! We got loaded and made our departure call. Then we found out that because of the type of cargo that we had we would be monitored thoughout the entire trip and every stop we made for fuel, food, or any reason had to be documented and recorded by our onboard computer, Gypsy.
So we set out for another long trip back to Knoxville, TN. This was Friday afternoon and we had until Monday morning to deliver it, BUT we were not allowed to stop for more than 10 minutes at a time and each stop was recorded and documented. Oh boy.
I was not able to find postcards for Arizona at the place where we had spent the night so I wanted to stop somewhere before leaving the state.
We drove highway 17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff. It was so incredible! We loved this highway so much. At first we passed signs that told us the elevation was "sea level." Then as we drove we noticed it began to incline. We also started to see cacti. The cool ones that look like they are waving. We saw forests of them. They were funny how much they reminded us of people. And they were each one unique in appearance. I loved it.
I stopped at a rest area to walk the dogs and was warned by a sign that "poisonous snakes and insects inhabit this area." Oh, ok, well you should have seen me peeking around the corners of the bathroom stalls before I entered. You can't be too careful. And I wouldn't let Chucky pee on the scrubby bushes either. Oh no, he had to pee in the wide open like a girl dog. I didn't want any hidden snake to bite him. Needless to say, the dogs weren't impressed with the desert rules.
As the elevation continued to climb, there were more parking areas so that you could rest your vehicle and allow it to cool down. There were signs everywhere warning you not to run your air conditioner because it would cause your vehicle to overheat.
By this time in the afternoon the temperature was reading 104 degrees, but the humidity level was showing 0. We stopped many times along the climb. Our truck wasn't heating up, but we didn't want it to either so we stopped and shut it down several times as a precaution. Each time we would get out and walk the dogs. It was hot, no doubt about it, but we weren't sweating! It is a different kind of hot when there is no humidity. You almost can stand it. Well, I said almost.
Climb, up and up and up; elevation 5000, elevation 6000 and finally elevation 7000ft. The views were breathtaking. There were huge canyons and colored mountains and still cacti although now also some pine trees. We saw one canyon that was so big! I just can't imagine what the Grand Canyon must be like. Someday I will see it too, I'm sure. But this was great. We talked about how awesome is our Heavenly Father to create such amazing things and give us the opportunity to see such beauty. We are so very fortunate. America is Beautiful. America has it all, it really does. What a wonderful place to live. We are so truly blessed!
We started to see less and less sand and more dark soil. We no longer saw the Joshua trees but now we saw pines. We didn't see anymore snake warnings but started to see signs that warned us of elk crossings. And we actually saw several elk. We didn't see any horns or antlers or whatever elk have though, I guess it's too early in the season. I also saw a couple of dead ones that someone had hit with their vehicle. Ouch, I'll bet that did some damage.

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