We're so glad you joined us!

Here we are – kids, dogs and all! Thanks for visiting our page! We're hoping that you will enjoy hearing about our travels and experiences as a family. We intend for this blog to share more than just travel journals, but also insights and lessons learned during our daily adventures. Please share your comments and come back often! * update * as of August 2010, we finished our journey, so new entries to this site will be rare. Linda's starting a new personal blog here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

KABOOM!, Texas and Texas Tea

Finally, it was time to head south toward Texas. We drove toward Raton, NM and had an uneventful drive up until we just crested Raton Pass on the border between Colorado and New Mexico. It was late afternoon, but the shadow of the mountain pass made it seem later. We were relieved to be through the pass with little difficulty when we came upon a vehicle that was stalled in the right driving lane of the Interstate. Craig had two trucks riding close on his bumper and one already had smoke coming from his brakes. Craig knew he had no way to pull into the passing lane as the trucks were already passing him and likely couldn't see the stalled vehicle. He had already applied the trailer brakes manually to slow the trailer as much as possible, but there was no way for us to safely stop behind the stalled vehicle. We praise God that our speed was reduce enough to negotiate onto the shoulder without toppling over and we managed to pass the vehicle using the shoulder. We called '911' as quickly as we could and hope and pray that the DPS was able to remove the vehicle before a serious accident occurred. We have had yet another reminder of God's grace to us on this journey - He is a good and gracious God!

After the overnight stop in the town of Raton, we trekked on to Amarillo. The RV park provides free laundry facilities, so we stripped everything that wasn't attached to the RV for a major wash day. We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner with old friends from our panhandle days, Mark and Mindy. Mindy prepared a great feast and their daughters exercised great hostessing skills in making us feel so at home. We visited and enjoyed the kids sharing their musical talents until well after dark and returned to the RV, ready to prepare for attending a Tea Party rally the next day. We didn't know that we were in for a big surprise in the middle of the night!

Between 1 and 2 a.m., something woke Linda and she asked if something was wrong with the furnace. A terrible rushing sound was coinciding with our furnace running. While checking out what was happening, she peaked through the RV windows and caught sight of a blaze. Now fully alert and alarmed, we grabbed jackets and headed outdoors. The blaze was of a tremendous size, but we couldn't tell how distant to the RV park. The sound was even more remarkable. A handful of RV'ers were also creeping out into the dark, some climbing on top of their rigs to get a better view. With the panhandle plains, it wasn't really necessary to go that high to see what we later found out were 700' flames from a 24" exploded gas pipeline. We prowled a bit more, visited with those neighbors that were awake, marvelled that some apparently heard nothing and slept blissfully through the whole thing, heard a report on the radio of the explosion being at a nearby town, Bushland. We knew we were about 3 miles from that town and decided to count on emergency personnel and the RV park management to evacuate us if necessary, prayed for the emergency crews and anyone in harm's way and finally went back to bed around 3 a.m. Here's a photo cropped from a news report and a blog from a local photographer whose family was miraculously spared harm from the massive explosion.


Thankfully, no one was killed or even seriously injured in the blast.

After sleeping soundly for what remained of the night, we groggily awoke to prepare our signs for the Tea Party Express Rally scheduled to arrive in Amarillo at noon.

We got our signs ready just in time and headed to the park. We were not the first to arrive by far!

Here we are, proudly displaying our messages and flags while waiting for the two busloads of rally leaders.Several individuals and organizations were selling signs, buttons and flags sporting messages to protest the current trend of spending and taxation in Washington.We were pleased to see that these are truly grassroots individuals that have simply had enough to sitting on the sidelines while Washington proceeds to build the deficit. This lady had come with her sign all the way from Ft. Worth to attend this rally and to follow for another couple of stops in Texas.Finally, the bus arrived with the speakers and entertainers for the event.We were joined by our friends just in time for the speakers.Our son climbed a nearby playscape to capture a better idea of the crowd's size. We're not good at estimating numbers of people, but we thought it was a good turnout.

We met these charming ladies on the way to our truck. The lady on the right has been bringing this same sign to protests since 1977! They are from nearby Happy, TX. You can see that her sign's background is dark compared to the sign on the left. Not exactly what you envision with the descriptor of activist? What a trooper!The rally continued until almost 2:30, so we had a late lunch and headed back to the camper to feed our dogs before meeting Linda's brother-in-law and nephew for dinner.

The nephew is attending college at nearby Plainview and we were treated to spectacular 360 degree sunset views along the way.The guys loved the Japanese steakhouse.The chef prepared a delicious menu on the huge griddle right before us.The blaze brought reminders of the eventful blaze in the night, but we were able to relax and enjoy this one after the initial startling flame. We enjoyed the visit and fine food and a wonderful full night of sleep at long last!

2nd Largest Canyon in the US

We had a terrific day touring Palo Duro Canyon just south of Amarillo with our friends. Our amateur photography doesn't capture the colors well. The canyon had a bit more color than other seasons with the golden cottonwoods bordering the water.The water running through the park has a lengthy name, the Prairie Dog Town fork of the Red River. While not running very full on this day, campers and hikers in the canyon must take care when thunderstorms are in the area. No worries on this day with clear skies and very warm temperatures!

We pose at a replica dugout shelter from the time of Charles Goodnight who created his sprawling ranch around the canyon. The park has a very nice museum that captures some native American activity with the canyon and well chronicles Goodnight and his colorful history in Texas Independence and founding his ranching empire in this area.

It was nice to have a break from the snowy landscapes of Colorado and Wyoming. Texas has its own beauty and offers things that the north cannot.

One of those things would be good Mexican food. We could not even find a tortilla in Minnesota and any attempts at Mexican fare north of Amarillo or east of Houston are weak at best. So we celebrated Tex-Mex cuisine with our friends at Abuelo's and it was wonderful.

Colorado Springs and Family

We certainly enjoy seeing all the wonders, man-made and God made in our grand country, but having the opportunity to visit family certainly outranks sightseeing! While in the area, we were able to visit my (Linda) niece and her family. The snowy days behind us, we drove over to their home in Colorado Springs and toured the Garden of the gods park. The day was beautiful and we enjoyed a great lunch in the cafe at the park. We played with the kids for awhile, then took a closer look at the unique rock wonders.
The kids found nooks and crannies that presented tight spots and high places.

We just had to take a peak as the boys explored a tunnel that was a little creepy.

The wonderful day of visiting and sight seeing closed with an amazing sky with the rising moon!

We are so thankful for the chance to catch up with family - we are blessed!

Sledding on a real mountain

The RV park owner told us where the locals go to sled. When we saw this giant tube coming down the mountain, we decided we were there! The boys had a great time with the sleds we have lugged around throughout Wyoming and Colorado thus far. This was the first really great slope that wasn't a highway embankment and they absolutely flew down the mountain.
The climb to the top was tough but so worth the fun trip down!

We loved the introduction to Colorado winter in a small dose. The trees were beautiful with the fresh snow. It certainly seemed more like Christmas than October to us! If you look closely, you can see a doe with her fawn under the snow burdened tree branches.

As it warmed up, the snow left almost as quickly as it had arrived. Craig and Will found a dry table under a 5th wheel being stored for winter to tackle pumpkin carving. We had been so busy enjoying the snow that the local stores were sold out of traditional pumpkins, but we were happy with the albino variety!

Their hard work payed off in the cheerful glowing pumpkin faces below:

We were glad that we got a photo, since the nightly visit from the mule deer resulted in 1/2 eaten pumpkins the next morning!

Our normal tradition for Halloween is to hand out candy and gospel tracts, but visitors were unlikely to the RV park a few miles from town. So, we stayed in to make popcorn balls and watch movies and had a great time!