Can you name those TV shows from the 1960s and early 70s? They were absolutely some of my favorite programs, and like so many Americans, I fell in love with the romance and lore portrayed in the westerns. However, unlike most Americans, I never grew out of the fantasy world. Who wouldn’t want to be rescued by Heath Barkley in your time of distress?
So our stretch of the trip as we left Arkansas through Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico into Arizona was a lot of fun for me. Throughout the drive, I imagined life as a pioneer woman, trading in my east coast parasol and bustle for a sun bonnet and calico dress, and my carriage for a covered wagon as I traversed the rugged terrain in search of a better future. I imagined that riding and roping had been a part of my youth and my evenings were spent doing the do-si-do and the allemande left before I promenaded home; I imagined that instead of a closet of snow boots, I had a closet of cowboy boots, the tall, rich, embellished leather ones, not just the starter boots I call my short little wannabes; I dreamt of names for my ranch, and what my branding iron would look like. Across four states, I mentally released my inner cowgirl, and it was fun.
The landscape changes along the way were as dramatic as the lives the early pioneers would have faced as they traveled west. Oklahoma – “where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…” is as flat and expansive as I’ve ever seen. This continues into the Texas panhandle and Amarillo is considered one of the windiest cities in the country. There are simply no trees or hills to break up the breeze.
New Mexico’s mesas were brilliant in color and texture. From afar, the massive flat topped mountains looked like they were cast with a heavy five o’clock shadow, but up close, you could see the scrubby shrubs dotting the orange and red and sand colored layers of rock. Shadows from the clouds in the brilliant blue sky added more drama to this display of nature’s beauty.
As we moved into Arizona, the hills and mountains wrapped Flagstaff in a lush green, and as we descended 6000 feet from Flagstaff to Phoenix, we were continually impressed by the raw beauty of the area.
More than one thousand miles of this stretchwere on Interstate 40, a truck infested part of our American road system that runs from Wilmington, NC to Barstow, California. This was also the old Route 66 and it was fun to stop and visit with James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and of course, Elvis, at the travel centers along the way.
Oklahoma City was my favorite with visits to the National Cowboy Museum, and the museum and memorial dedicated to the 1995 bombing of the federal building that killed 168 people. We also had dinner at the legendary Cattlemen’s steakhouse on the edge of the stockyards, and continued to shop for boots for Kathy, which were eventually found in Gallup, New Mexico.
|History is so different throughout the country. We had great lessons about the Trail of Tears
and the Chisholm Trail. http://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/trail-of-tears
The trip was uneventful until we discovered Kathy had left the fudge 3 states back in Arkansas. We forged on. Santa Fe was delightful, but I have no room for all of that art and no money for all of the jewelry. As quaint as it is, and even with the art show going on, it still wasn’t my favorite stop. Maybe it was the crazy, ridiculously over-priced organic eggs we had at the silly little café; glad we didn’t order the ones sprinkled with trout!
And now, we continue to relax in Sun City, Arizona for a few days. The purpose of the trip was to transport a load of household items for a family member who has purchased a home here and it’s wonderful to explore this beautiful area and feel the warmth of the sun we missed this summer. And sit in an air conditioned home realizing I couldn’t have made it for a minute as a pioneer woman. But I can have fun thinking about Heath and the life we could have had together out on the plains.
Note: I’ll have more photos at a later time. Too many technology challenges where I am staying.