Category Archives: Travels

My Travel Blog

Travel Tales – DEATH OF THE COWGIRL CAFE

Channing Texas  pop. near zero-  businesses O

I’d traveled 2,400 miles of back-roads through the South in the past 12 days, and passed through dozens of small towns. They were in bad shape– most business closed, bushes growing through the sidewalks, homes with collapsed roofs, “gas stations” with no structure but a single rusted pump in an weedy lot.
Many once-thriving rural ‘towns’ are sad monuments to  the dashed dreams of earnest entrepreneurs  Looks like most people have moved to suburbs of Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte…
The devastation is a sad portrait of America, and the bitterness of those left behind is understandable in a way that isn’t covered much in the news. This cute/clever sign for THE COWGIRL CAFE looked pretty new, and seeing it from a distance, I was hoping to get  a nice down-home lunch there, after driving 3 hours on desolate Texas Highway 87 out of Amarillo.  It had been a voyage of dry ranches and as string of abandoned small towns.  To my disappointment,  it had been closed/abandoned for many months– joining Channing’s dozen other small businesses in oblivion. 

 

Travel Tales – GOODLETT, TEXAS THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Goodlett, Texas (pop. 138) is about 3 1/2 hrs. Northwest of Dallas on Hwy 287, 175 miles from the nearest Interstate and five hours from Amarillo, the closest town of more than200 people. The capitol of the middle of nowhere. I liked it.

Had a small shade tree, and little store, laundromat, and shower. It also had a very cool swimming pool! Only 3 other campers the night I was there, and I had the pool to myself.

Noticed a big bird (roadrunner?) hopping toward my glasses, that I left on the side. I swam over to grab them, which made the bird hop faster. I snatched them a fraction of a second before the bird, and it flew away.

Feeling ‘safe’ I put them down and continued swimming. But birdie returned and started moving in. I raced and once again won. Lesson learned. I put them on and doggie paddled so I could keep an eye on the thieving varmint. Shifty, outlaw Texans!

This RV park is for sale, if you’re looking to get away from it all. The lady who owned it grew up in the town. She married a local fella and had 5 daughters. When they went off, she went to college and earned a PhD in cotton genetics. So, living in and setting a business in an old cotton gin in Goodlett.

She is a true cotton lover who danced to her own drummer.

This is a display at an ‘antique’ store just outside Goodlett. I would have bought one, if someone had been around, but in the 30 minutes I strolled around, not a soul to be seen.  Being Texas, I didn’t want to tempt fate by slipping one in the van, and sneaking out of town.  They are popular lawn ornament in some places in the West.

Travel Tales – CAMPFIRE AT NIGHT

Travel Tales – VAGABOND COUPLE IN TWINS FALLS, IDAHO

Met these vagabonds today at the Love’s in Twins Falls, Idaho just off I-84. They were on their way to Vermont for a cool summer and people. They made Christmas Wreaths for a few months in the fall, and made enough money to get through the year.

They hitchiked, or frequently strangers offered them rides. One person even took them to the airport and bought them tickets. They felt sorry for people who yelled ‘get a job’ to them, since they thought they were miserable people looking to vent their anger and sorrows. They were happy to receive it, and just smiled back.

The couple were very calm, happy to talk and answer questions. A gypsy lifestyle worked for them, at least for a while. They were curious, and wanted to learn about American the Beautiful, and they felt the vagabond lifestyle was an important part of America. Pretty brave, considering how people today have closed their minds, hoping above all to keep safe, by disappearing into the crowd.

Tales from the Road – NATURAL LANDSCAPES OF THE WEST

I love the natural landscapes of the West. This eroded hill in Nevada is just outside Winnemucca. The lighting and sculpting of nature is so astonishing– especially when you turn a corner, and see things like this. Which happens every 5 minutes. The next shot shows the variations in one glance, in Craters of the Moon National Park-, Idaho. The closest rocks are from a recent, 65,000 old volcanic eruption in. The lakes in the desert, are just there, instead of elsewhere. This spot is on the Emigrant Trail from the 1850s– because there WAS water, and an easier pass through the mountains. But note the snow capped peaks in the very distant– still around on June 23, and a warning of what was to come.

 

 

The final 2 shots show mankind’s mark on the beautiful West a little further down the road on the outskirts of Winnemuca. Just as mind-boggling, about human progress.

 

 

Tales from the Road – TURKEY, TEXAS

Turkey, TX pop. 436 is on the same mostly forgotten back road through the Texas panhandle as Goodlett and Childress. This string of Texas towns and many others are sadly being abandoned to the desert.

Turkey is notable though, because it’s struggling to be great again. As the birthplace of early country music star Bob Wills, it grasps onto the idea that with its annual Bob Wills music festival, it will grow into a tourist destination. Someone (probably the federal government under Obama) funded a repaving of the streets with brick and sidewalk bumpouts. Its new/vintage, iron curly-cue light posts are evenly spaced, but are more right in Disney World. Of course, welcome flags hang from every one—and murals adorn several walls.

The problem though is that even with the ‘makeover,’ everything on this neat Main Street is closed. Dogs could sleep all day in the middle without fear.

The couple above owns an ‘antique store’ at one end of town.  I spent about an hour chatting with them.  Not another soul stopped.  A half-century ago, before the Intersates, it was the gas station. We talked about travel, and their hopes for Turkey to become an “in” spot. That is, “a town renowned for its eclectic offering of all the finest things in life… food, wine, friends and fun,” with cafes, a bakery, a crafty burger shop, tapas bars, gastro pubs, a vegan restaurant, art gallery, museums, B&Bs, a posh inn/spa, a licensed massage therapist, designer clothing stores, an indie bookstore, a vinyl record store, a winery, at least 4 craft brew-pubs, and maybe even a cidery.

I tried to tell them the competition is fierce; that hundreds of similar towns across the U.S. have the same hopes (see Healdsburg, California).

This couple had travelled; nine years in Hawaii (but they missed Turkey), managed a 6,000 tree peach orchard in California, and trucked to every corner the country in a 40 ft. motorhome.

He was a Vietnam Vet, working on stuff fifty years ago that he couldn’t reveal, even today… for security reasons. It was a pleasant break, but I didn’t find anything for me in the shop—mostly porcelain figurines, glassware, candy dishes, a few country 8-track tapes, and twisted barbed-wire sculptures.

They told me they trusted that things would turn around with Donald Trump. Maybe Ivanka will open a store—lots of availability. Would definitely get a deal.

Saturday Cajun Music Show 10am at Fred’s Cafe in Mamou, Louisiana

Every Saturday morning, this little bar attracts locals and people from around the world.  Sorry for the video quality, but getting used to my new DSLR camera.

A good time was had by all!

VIDEO- CAJUN BAND AT FREDS’

GREAT RT.66 RETRO MOTEL JUST OFF i-40 IN NEW MEXICO

Met someone today doing the NC-California driving round trip—her first time.  She’s staying in hotels, not camping, and concerned about travelling as a single woman.  Understandable, but from my experiences,  staying in small family-owned motels is as safe as you can be.   THE SUNSET MOTEL in Moriarity, NM, is a great example.

It’s right in the middle of NM, just off I-40 on one of the few remaining sections of Rt. 66. This is a great choice for a safe, comfortable, clean, friendly, and affordable motel.  Built in the 1950s, it has  the homey furniture and other touches of old-fashioned family-run motels.  Dog friendly, and a free continental breakfast with fascinating owners who are writers and film producers, and happy to chat.

Many of these amazing hotels still exist, but I don’t think there’s a real directory you can use.  So sometimes you don’t know if it’s a gem, or a cheapo flop.  My best test is,  if it’s old, and has a pretty  flower garden out front, it will be a great place to stay.  Warning, if you need everything in your life up-to-date, and embrace the conformity of franchises, it’s probably not for you.

For those travelling I-40 in the West, THE SUNSET is highly recommended by many.  The owners will clue you in on the best locally owned restaurants too!

http://www.sunseton66.com/Home_Page.html

Updated Route West. Leaving May 22!

Here’s an updated Part 1 of my cross-country exploration in my Roadtrek Camper Van.  This is a plan, and the only deadline is to meet Catheryn in Denver on June 3. She’ll be doing Part 2 with me, across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California for the next 12 days (map to come).

I start Tues. May 22 from Davidson, NC.  First night will be spent in a state park outside Nashville.

Next day, drive down the ancient Natchez Trace Parkway for a couple hundred miles, take a slight detour to Mussel Shoals, Alabama, and visit two of the world’s most famous recording studios there.

Spend the night near Clarksdale, MS after touring several famed Delta Blues museums and night spots.

Then meander down Hwy. 61 to camp in park near Natchez.

Friday, I take a short drive to Eunice, LA, checking out Cajun country, going to a famous Cajun music jam and the Rendez-vous des Cajuns live radio show at the Liberty Theater in downtown Eunice.

Next, I drive along the Gulf Coast south of Houston, continuing along the beach into Galveston, taking a ferry or two.

At Surfside Beach, TX, I finally turn North and spend the night in Gonzales, TX about half-way between Houston and San Antonio.

Then northwest to Mexico.  I’ll stop for a night or two at the border towns of Del Rio, TX and Acuna, MEX to have a look at Acuna—my first time in Mexico!

The next day, it’s north through barren deserts to Marfa, TX, a ‘famous’ artist colony/ghost town, about as middle of nowhere as you can get.

After Marfa, I continue north through Roswell and Tucumcari, NM—one of my favorite towns.  From Tucumcari, it’s about 6.5 hours to Denver.  I might stop about half way, if I find something interesting.  Or, I might need to scoot up I-25, because I’m behind schedule.

Most nights will be spent in the camper in national, state, and county parks—cheap.  In a few places there are not-to-be-missed-off-the-beaten track private campgrounds.  I ’m avoiding Interstates wherever possible, once I get to Nashville.  Some of the roads look a bit sketchy… that’s good.

That’s the plan.  Will I stick to it?  That’s debatable.  I have a few non-travel days built in, and generally max driving to just 3-4 hours a day, and that’s good too.

 

Controversial Confederate Memorials vs. Slavery Memorials

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A recent story from THE GUARDIAN featured recent conflicts in New Orleans stemming from the city’s decision to remove many monuments deemed to celebrate the ideals of the Confederacy– mainly slavery– as offensive to modern concepts of human equality, justice, and opportunity.

https://www.theguardian.com/…/gun-shoot-civil-war-statues-n…

This reminds me of the 2015 flap in Cornelius, NC, about it’s very own Confederate Soldier Monument. It was erected around 1910, after most Confederate vets had died.

Many believe these statues were erected in Southern towns and cities– so long after the Civil War, to reinforce the spirit of the new Jim Crow laws, and inform Yankees that the ‘South’ (or at least the people who had money for such statues) had not

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