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Category Archives: Travels
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.
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.
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 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.
A good time was had by all!
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!
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.
VANLIFE, THE NEW BOHEMIAN SOCIAL-MEDIA MOVEMENT
An anonymous neighbor put this article on our Roadtrek Camper Van. The article was shockingly similar to our aims (sorry, without the nekkidness). But who knows, trekking in a van is a growing thing for boomers too– for sure.
On my last trip through the Texas panhandle, I took a break in this small town, well off the Interstate. It was a small park with a dry lake, a few trees, and very hot feeling. Not much to look at, but the town of Pampa did the best they could with their flat semi-desert land with ball fields, picnic areas, 5 acre lake, and even RV hookups and lavatories.
Two summers ago, avoiding I-70 West not far from the border with the Texas panhandle, I stumbled onto Cheyenne. It is notorious for General George Custer’s night raid on a Cheyenne Indian village in 1868. Hundreds of natives, many sleeping women and children were murdered in one of the most horrifying deeds perpetrated by the US government against Native Americans.
Cheyenne today is emptying out– especially of young people. This photo, taken in 2015, illustrates similar abandonment seen across rural America. Even the sign looks like a gravestone in this haunted play land that has been shuttered for 8 years.
Custer was killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer’s last stand) 8 years later. He was found, shot in the head and heart, and it was claimed his body was desecrated with ‘an arrow inserted into his penis,’ by the people he had been hounding across the prairies for nearly ten years.