Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oh, I Wish I Were In The Land Of…


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                                               Cotton, anyone?

     Did you know that the seeds are mixed right in with the fluffy white stuff?

                                                  We didn’t.

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         Cotton is pretty when it grows.  It forms these buds like flowers do.

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                                  Eventually, they start to open up.

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        They continue opening further as the exterior shell (the bud) dries up.

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   There are four individual sections of cotton in each one (four ‘cotton balls’).

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As the shell continues to open and dry up the cotton is held more loosely and the wind begins to blow it around and change it to a more disorganized form.  At this point it is very soft and easy to pick.

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Then you are left with yet another pretty flower (remnants of the original shell).

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  Our latest tres-overnighter was (you guessed it) across from a field of cotton.

                                   It was also next to a small airport.

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             In the world of motor-homes, we are the dingy to their yacht!

      Perhaps he’s got a few of these back home to help pay for his big boat.
                      (Actually, as it turns out… he’s a cotton farmer!)

         Did you know that barbed wire is sometimes called ‘Devil’s Rope’?

                           We’re pretty sure this is a Gilded Flicker.

It might also be a Red Shafted or a mix of the two.  We’re pretty positive it isn’t a yellow shafted though and that’s cool because we saw one of those in Pennsylvania.

                                                 Sparrow Agua.

        Another sparrow family member.  There is a WIDE variety of sparrows!

            Speaking of variety… these guys were out in mass the other day.

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We wandered into Lubbock to take advantage of our Sears free lifetime rotation and balance on our tires.


When it was time to leave we filled up for only $2.97 per gallon!  Then it occurred to us.  Lubbock has designed their highways in such a way that causes you to almost literally go in circles.  Every time you see where you want to go you are on the wrong side of the highway.  Hence, lots of fuel used just to navigate the city.  Thus, they can price it low because you’ll be filling up more frequently anyway!

We opted for only one fill up and then dizzily got the heck outta Lubbock.


                And now… we are back in the peaceful calm of nature.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

“Where BIG Things Happen”

That’s one of the mottos (we’ve seen three, so far) of Littlefield, TX.  Far as we can tell they don’t happen in October.  Since we like it quiet, we’re okay with that.

Our latest free Texas city stay was in a BIG area, though.  That gave everyone staying there lots of room to spread out.

Don’t get us wrong.  Things do happen in Littlefield.

Did you know that the most westerly piece of debris (a Thermal Protection System tile) from the February 1, 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster was found in a field here.

  This is not it.  At least we don’t think so.  We’ve sent it off for confirmation.

Although they do not have a Carnegie Library, Littlefield does have a library.  Currently, it is located in the original Post Office building from 1940.  We should clarify that it isn’t just located in the building.  It is located IN the building having been melded around or incorporating pre-existing structure.

The safe (don’t know why a post office had one) is still there with the original instructions dated 1940 on the door.  It is now an ‘Employees Only’ area.

The original customer windows (they look like bank teller windows from old westerns) are still there too.

They line the wall dividing the children’s area from the computer area.

     Sculptures created by William Mozart McVey in 1940 can be seen.


The history and significance of these sculptures (which are made out of Tymstone, by the way) is something quite special.

The Works Progress Administration (also known as the Work Projects Adminstration or WPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency.  We have heard of and learned much about the Civilian Conservation Corps but we were unfamiliar with this other program which reportedly was even further reaching. 

Between 1935 and 1943 this division of Roosevelt’s economic relief plan employed more than 8.5 million people who built bridges, roads, public buildings, public parks and even airports.  It has been said that almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency.

One of the ideas that came out of the W.P.A. program was a sub-division called ‘The Section’ or The Federal Art Project.  The Federal Art Project created over 5,000 jobs for artists and produced over 225,000 works of art (sculptures, paintings and murals) for the American people and led to the creation of the National Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Because its focus was to make art accessible to all people and Post Offices were visited by nearly everyone most of the murals and sculptures were placed in them.

The second of two located at the Post Office / Library.

It is said that the New Deal arts projects made a lasting impact on American cultural life. They did not portray the harsh social or economic realities of the time but rather celebrated historical events and courageous acts.  The ones that remain today stand as a reminder of a time in our country’s history when dreams were not allowed to be destroyed by economic disaster.

We would have explored more but the librarian broke code and yelled something to the effect of “That’s it!” or “We’re  done!” to indicate that they were closing.  So, we hightailed it outta there.

Did we tell you that the town of Littlefield is a literal one stoplight town?   And by literal we mean ask anyone for directions they’ll mention the light, followed by some form of a statement that let’s you know “there’s only one in town” because there really is only one in town!

This is it.  If we’re being picky then they technically have more than one stoplight.  But they are all at the same intersection.  You couldn’t say Littlefield was a one intersection town though because they are not.  So, here we are back where we started.  Toe-may-toe… Toe-mah-toe.  

And there is more to this little town of big things happening.

                                 Waylon Jennings lived in Littlefield.

You know how most towns have “Welcome to such-n-such” painted on their water tower?  Well, we were greeted with a one that announced…

                       Water Tower
  If we didn’t already know where we were, we’d have probably felt pretty lost.

       These are his boot prints on display at the Waylon Jennings RV Park.

                   Self described horseshoe also on display at the park.

We had heard that Waylon’s brother ran a liquor store in town that housed a collection of memorabilia.  We didn’t plan to go because 1) we don’t drink liquor and 2) we felt bad that we could not name even one Waylon Jennings’ song (though we were pretty sure he sang country given our location). 

But, as we were walking down the road to take a photo of what we thought would be a single stoplight hanging in the middle of the street, we spied…

Waymores Liquor, Beer and Wine (a.k.a. home to Waylon Jennings memorabilia)!

The universe had stepped in and there was no avoiding it now.  So, in we went.

        We only snapped one photograph because we were busy taking it all in.

There’s a lot of neat stuff crammed into the back room of this liquor store.  Check it out if you’re ever in Littlefield.  It’s easy to find.  Take Waylon Jennings Blvd to the only stoplight-intersection in town and there it is.

Additional random fact:  Until 1926 the world’s tallest windmill was located in Littlefield.  It toppled over and was replaced with one a few feet shorter.

There’s actually more that we learned and can say about this small Texas town but we’ve got to end this post at some time.  So, here’s what we have.

Littlefield would normally be considered ‘out of the way’ by most folks and not given much thought in terms of its offerings.  It’s a small town.  A small, fading town in some respects.  A walk down main street or a good drive around will show you that they’ve had better days.  Despite this it is a thriving community of friendly people and a pleasant place to spend some time.

It seems we may just have stumbled upon a diamond in the ruff.

These folks sure thought so…


                      We’re not ready to put down roots so onward we go.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ya’ll Know You’re In Texas When…


…the Radio Station you are listening to is called “The Ar-muh-dih-ler”.

Oh, but before we bring you into Texas, we visited yet another Carnegie Library in O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A… Oklahoma!

It’s pretty neat to visit these libraries given their history as well as the individual designs and architectural elements that makes each one different.  The best is to see the ones that are still operating as libraries.  If you're interested, do some research on Carnegie who was a neat character and on the libraries and the deals made to create and maintain them.  Here’s a quick fact about the one we visited in El Reno, which is in its second century of service, Bill and Melinda Gates assisted with a grant to help bring it into the computer age.

Moving on across state lines…

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                                This is Tex Randall (“Big T”)

We are officially in TEXAS.  Texas is BIG.  That’s the main reason we had decided to cross the panhandle on the short road into New Mexico. 

But, Texas is not just big.  It is also friendly and quirky and fun and FREE!

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   Where else can you see Elvis driving a Pink Cadillac?!  Thank You Very Much.

After only about a week in Texas, admittedly we may be falling for it a wee bit.

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With many of the National Lands we had planned to visit being closed, Texas has enticed us with numerous county parks that provide free hook ups for travelers for anything from 3 to 5 nights.  Throw a few Walmarts in the mix and we’re set to meander for a few weeks of Texas explorations. 

We’ve also changed our exploring style a bit to things like…

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                             lots and lots of WIDE OPEN cow pasture!

   And what’s a man to do with a bunch of money and a wide open cow pasture?

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Bury cars nose down in the dirt at the exact angle of the Pyramid of Giza, of course!

                                      Welcome to Cadillac Ranch.

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A group of architects / artistic visionaries who called themselves the Ant Farm designed the display to highlight the evolution and eventual disappearance of the tail fin.  Of course, there is more to it than that but you get the point (HA!).


This is probably a good time to tell you a story about how Oklahoma just didn’t want to let go of us so easily.  For several days after leaving our hook ups in Elk City we kept finding tiny spiders and webs everywhere (inside the van).  Although thoughts of a mama somewhere did cross our minds, when we stopped finding babies we forgot about it.

                 Eventually we found our way to a nice county park in TX.

                                      Sunset at Hereford City Park.

Preparing to settle in, Nicole was at the wheel and Darlene was pulling our trusty orange leveling blocks from our side door compartment.  She reaches into the bag to grab them and promptly exclaims, “$#!% OH #3!! NO!”  Still not fully processing what was going on, but seeing Darlene standing block in hand and with a slightly dazed and confused look on her face that begged the question 'What now?', Nicole’s response was, “Throw it outside!”  After all, anything that gets that kind of rise out of Darlene definitely needs to be outside of the van.

               Here I am safely outside of the van.  Do you recognize me?

                                 Here, I’ll show you my good side.

                              Perhaps we should go in for a close up?

            And THAT folks is how OKLAHOMA said GOODBYE to these gals!

Our best guess is that this black beauty jumped on board in Elk City and happily rode her way to TX with us.  Inside the van!  The good news is we’re pretty sure that the babies we kept finding were from a different type of spider.  Needless to say we will now check the blocks before putting them away.

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     Speaking of Oklahoma, check out this really cool tree face we saw there.

We spent some time tooling around Amarillo, catching up on internet and the usual citified stuff.  Before leaving town we headed out to a music store so Nicole could inquire about her guitar.  Unfortunately the store was closed but unbeknownst to us another business was having a grand opening that day and had hired a local band to play.  Spontaneous, free concert it was!

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This is Four and a Quarter.  If you find yourself in Amarillo, you can see them at a bar, parking lot, restaurant, church or VA hospital (etc. etc. etc.) near you!

Our first county park did not offer a lot in the way of new bird viewing but it did offer different in the duck and goose department

We weren’t sure if this one just had “too much junk in the trunk”, wanted to be an upstanding citizen or was having trouble adjusting to its reincarnation as a person but it stood upright like this all of the time.

                 This little lady looked like she was ready for church.

   Turns out she had a date.  You know what they say about birds of a feather…

We tried to look several of the different looking birds up in our two books but kept coming back to the same conclusion.  There’s been a lot of intermingling.

The nice thing about having these city parks available to stay in is that it brings folks to stop (and shop) in locations they might otherwise have driving past.  Although the towns are small and very ‘out of the way’ they each, in their own way, offer something special.  Hereford, for example, is not only the Beef Capitol of the World (and on a windy day you are made well aware of the fact) it also boasts a naturally high level of flourine in its water and thus earned the title “The Town Without a Toothache”.

          Well, we’re moving down the road to the next city park on our list.

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                           Have some fun.  Blur the lines now and then.