Belated wishes for a Happy Birthday to our grandson Collin McIntosh! We hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration, Grandma and Grampa.
Thursday, 26 May.
This leg started out much the same as the day before: buttes and partly cloudy skies. But as we approached the eastern boarder of New Mexico the mountains vanished. In a sense, they didn't vanish, we were now on top of them. Much of the Continental Divide on the I-40 corridor is a broad plateau. But, while the topography and fauna are less visually interesting, the skies are magnificent and ever changing.
The changes are brought about by the wind! The same winds that are transforming the skies in a brilliant display of shapes, textures and colors, our little RV—more sail than truck—is constantly buffeted about by them. The grand finale came in a brilliant sunset while in our Tucumcari Mountain Road RV park.
|Try to imagine these three shots as a single image and you might get a sense of the grand skys of the high plateau|
|A Tucumcari sunset.|
Friday, 27 May.
Shortly after starting out, on the hottest day of the trip, our air conditioner, which had been complaining from the start, gave up the ghost. We chose to drive on with the hope of getting it repaired the next day. From Tucumcari eastward across the Pan Handle of Texas the arid landscape gradually moistened and, by comparison, Oklahoma was a virtual Eden. The green vegetation was soft to the eyes and a welcomed relief from hard edged desert, and the green was set off by the deep red color of the soil. Then, shortly before Oklahoma City, we saw the effects of a recent tornado. Trees, some with their branches ripped off, others uprooted. Ten travelers were killed by this storm. It reminds one of the uncertainty of life. Sobering thoughts as we enjoy a mostly wonderful trip, especially so since we had originally hoped to leave a week earlier than we did.
|Red earth/green grass|
|Trees ripped out of the ground by the recent tornedo.|
|The cattle return to the fields after the tornedo.|
We arrived in Oklahoma in the early evening hot and sweaty, and, after registering at the Twin Fountains RV Park, we we went to the home of Chuck and Beth Connell. Chuck is my first cousin, which makes him a rarity amongst the many layers of cousins we will meet on this trip. He is the son of my uncle, Dave Connnell and brother of Lori and Diedre whom we met at my brother's in Lake Forest (see earlier blog). In spite of the genealogical closeness of our relationship we barely know each other and may never have previously met. We spent a little while getting to know each other in their magnificent new home and then went out for dinner to continue the process. When we returned to their home the evening was capped off by meeting their son, John. What a treat to have finally gotten to know this accomplished fellow and his family.
|Chuck, Beth and John Connell|
But the evening was far from finished! And the finish could not have been more exciting nor more frustrating. After leaving Chuck and family, we headed back to our RV site. Our troubles began when we mistakenly turned onto the Turner Turnpike, which, as the name implies, is a toll road. What the name kept hidden is the fact that there would not be an exit for 35 miles! 35 miles in the wrong direction! 35 miles that would be more than doubled by the time we would finally find our way back to the Twin Fountains RV Park. At 15 mpg that's about a $18 mistake not counting the 75 cent toll.
And just getting off the turnpike had its trials. Valerie drove up to a machine to pay the toll—close to the machine because it would require an awkward, backhand, left-hand toss into a basket into which she was to toss the “exact change, coins only”—7 dimes and a nickle. Of course only four of the seven coins made it into the basket. Then, because she was close to the basket, she could only open the door part way, barely enough of an opening to squeeze through. She collected the errant coins and put them in the basket. The red light turned to green, Valerie self consciously waved at the cars waiting patiently behind us, squeezed back in and we were on our way.
“And where was Bruce during all this?” I hear you ask. Well, Bruce was madly fighting with the computer trying to figure out where the hell we were and how to get back to the Twin Fountains. The problems now were: it was getting late, we were way out in a very rural country side, and we were running low on fuel.
We did make it back somehow, but he emotional cost was much higher than the cost of fuel as we were at wit's end trying to figure out how to get back. The good news is we found a gas station, we found our way back and our marriage seems to have survived. Knock on wood.
Saturday, 28 May
Things have gone much better so far today. We got up earlier than usual and arrived about 8:00 am at Bob Howard Toyota hoping that the repair of our air conditioning could be accomplished with a minimum of time and not too much expense. The fact that we had to wait in a line of about five cars for a first-come-first-served service on a holiday weekend did not bode well. Much to our satisfaction, however, things progressed reasonably swiftly and the staff was very friendly and kept us apprised of the progress. Three new V-belts and $145 later we left Bob Howard's in delightfully cool rig. We decided not to push our luck and are spending another night in Oklahoma City. There was laundry and shopping to do. There was no room at the Twin Fountains, but we found accommodations at Rockwell RV Park where we plan to have a more relaxing day.