Albuquerque Day Into Night

Day 25: Friday, May 24, 2013
Visited: Albuquerque

Today was a sight-seeing day as well as a night out for us. We have been spending so many days out sightseeing and driving that we haven’t done much in the evenings. In fact, we haven’t watched a single sunset since we started this journey. Tonight, we decided to remedy that situation!

We started the day (late) in Old Town. Peppered with galleries, boutiques and souvenir shops, Old Town is a quaint historical district with a huge plaza, church and stores galore. It was a hot and dry day, and we spent much of it in the sun. The pups were in their stroller, once again eliciting interest and chuckles as we walked along the busy streets.

We had lunch at the Back Street Grill, a tiny little restaurant (a little more than a stand) in one of the back alleys around Old Town. The food was fabulous–Mexican Pizza, Pork Tacos with mango puree and Mole sauce and fresh and zesty salsa and guacamole. Fabulous! Unfortunately, all I remembered to take pictures of this morning was a tub of turtles next to the Rattlesnake museum, the dogs and our lunch. 🙂

Mexican Pizza at Back Street Grill

Mexican Pizza at the Back Street Grill. Delicious!

Tortoises

Tortoises. Nuff said.

Flirty dogs

Jasmine and Juliet were especially flirty today. Even Jasmine, who is usually shy, came out of her shell to look around!

We spent a good part of the day in Old Town and then went back to the hotel to take care of the dogs and get ready for dinner. (I did find time to shoot down to the local scrapbook store and take a look! :-))

I made reservations at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We drove over to the base of the mountain, passing the Sandia Casino on the way. We first had a quick drink at the Mexican restaurant at the base (yummy Coconut Margarita) and then took the tram up to the top. Even though the day was hazy, it was a dramatic and breathtaking view. I didn’t feel nervous…being enclosed in the gondola was fine. But it was a 2.7 mile trek up to the summit–a whopping10,387 feet! We got to the top and took in the view. It was about 60 degrees up top, while at the base it was still in the high 80’s!

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

Going up!

Going up!

Happy couple!

Happy couple!

Sandia Peak Panoramic View

Sandia Peak Panoramic View (CLICK TO VIEW LARGE VERSION)

We got to the restaurant, and after a hassle about our reservation (GRRR), we were seated a few minutes later. The food was okay, but the view was fabulous. Let’s face it…people don’t come to the restaurant for the cuisine. The Green Chile Beef Stew (soup) was pretty good.

High Finance Green Chile Beef Stew

High Finance Restaurant Green Chile Beef Stew

We watched a spectacular sunset and then headed down the tram to the base. It was getting dark, and we once again had a breathtaking view–this time of the twinkling lights of Albuquerque below.

Glorious Sunset at Sandia Peak

Glorious Sunset at Sandia Peak

Albuquerque at night

Albuquerque at night

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Sandia Casino. One foot into the front door and we were hit with the heavy smoke. Ick. The casino was bustling with people and was mostly comprised of penny slots. But given that a max bet is generally a dollar or more…it’s not really ‘penny’ slots! We stayed a few minutes (aka $40) and went back to the hotel.

Tomorrow, we’re kenneling the dogs and heading to Acoma Pueblo. They have a craft fair and native dancing for the Memorial Day weekend; we’re really looking forward to experiencing this pueblo!

Bandelier National Monument and the Road to Albuquerque

Day 24: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Start: Taos, NM
End: Albuquerque, NM
Miles Driven Today: 183
Total Miles: 3,539

We left Taos today after a great few days. Taos itself has a bit of small town charm, but we really loved its proximity to some beautiful country.

Today's open road

Today’s open road on the way to Bandelier National Monument. Stunning vistas and sky!

ET Phone Home!

ET Phone Home! Dishes at Los Alamos.

We had originally planned to visit Bandelier National Monument yesterday, but since it was about half-way to Albuquerque, we decided instead to visit on our way. It was a smart choice! Luckily, the weather (and a shady parking lot) allowed us to keep the pups in the car while we were hiking the main trail at Bandelier; otherwise, we would have had to take turns walking the trail and, as Tom put it, they would have had to send a search party for me after I froze in terror on the way down. Hey, I can’t even climb a ladder without getting dizzy.

We snaked through some pretty country before arriving at Bandelier. We were also fortunate to get here before Memorial Day Weekend. Tomorrow, they stop allowing people to park on the property; instead, visitors must park at the closest town (White Rock) and shuttle into the park. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle. Our timing couldn’t be better!

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Arriving at Bandelier National Monument

Before we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, we stopped at a scenic overlook. It was deserted. But in mere minutes, there was a sudden horde of people at the edge of the bluff! We’re such leaders!

Scenic overlook at Bandelier

Scenic overlook at Bandelier. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC) When we pulled up, this vista was deserted. In less than five minutes, about 15 people followed us in. Lemmings!

The trail started with a Kiva and the ruins of the Tyuonyi pueblo. The canyon itself is Frijoles Canyon, and were populated with Ancestral Pueblo people (once identified as Anasazi, which is now an outdated term).

Frijoles Canyon

Frijoles Canyon

View of the pueblo ruins

View of the pueblo ruins

The trail then wound up to the cave dwellings. The Ancient Pueblo people were on average 5′ to 5’6″…still large for the size of these caves. The people also built dwellings on the outside of the caves…often several stories tall. This was a fascinating place and well worth the visit! On the way up, the rock formations were fascinating and really beautiful.

Beauty in the rocks

Beauty in the rocks

Oooh! Scary caves!

Oooh! Scary caves!

We also loved the view from the caves down on the valley. However, I was getting a bit dizzy. I have no idea how these people scaled these walls, dug these caves and made a home in the side of a canyon!

View from Frijoles Canyon

Panoramic view from Frijoles Canyon cliffs. (CLICK FOR LARGER PIC)

Tom climbed up a wooden ladder to look into the cavate (official for cave room). He wanted to take a picture inside. This is the result.

Technical difficulties

Tom had, um, ‘technical difficulties’ when taking a picture of the cave rooms. Hahahahaha!

After we left Bandelier, we drove back through Santa Fe and onto the Turquoise Trail. Going through Santa Fe’s business district was a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with our open roads and lack of traffic. It was a bit of a rude awakening, and we were glad to hit the Turquoise Trail. We stopped briefly in Madrid, but we found parking to be sparse, and it was then too hot to leave the pups in the car.

We motored on to Albuquerque and arrived at our hotel. We’re now chillaxin’ in the room. The pups are totally exhausted from their hard day of riding in the car. Strangely enough, the wind started whipping us around when we got here, including pelting us with sand and rock. Welcome to Albuquerque!

Jasmine and Juliet

Jasmine and Juliet love the Drury. The paparazzi…not so much.

Jasmine and Juliet

Oh, riding in the car is SO exhausting!

Tomorrow, we’re going to explore Albuquerque and then have dinner at the High Finance restaurant at the top of Sandia Peak. We’re going to dine and then watch the sunset. Even in all the beautiful country that we’ve toured, we haven’t spent a lot of time out at night. This should be a lovely view. Saturday, we plan on going to Acoma, and Sunday we plan on visiting a few more sights as well as checking out the Art & Wine festival in town. It should be a nice weekend!

Santa Fe: Relaxation Day

Day 20: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Miles Driven: None

Today was another day of relaxation for us. We haven’t driven anywhere since arriving in Santa Fe. It’s a great walking town, and we are loving it!

We started the day with a long walk down the Canyon Road arts & crafts district. It felt good to have a nice long walk (walking off all that green chile stew), and we took the pups along in the doggie stroller (short legs, long walk…nope). As usual, we attracted a lot of attention.

Canyon Road has some fabulous galleries. While we were out early for a Sunday (most of the places opened at 11, some at 10), the outdoor art was spectacular. Almost all the galleries had statues.

Street art

Street art on the way to Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Dragon on Canyon Road

Relaxation Day

Aaaah…Relaxation Day!

Rock chair

Rock chair. It’s MUCH more comfortable than it looks!

Bunny

This one’s for you, Sydnee!

Reading arch

Reading arch

We worked up an appetite (duh) and once again decided to dine at Tia Sophia’s. Some old friends of Tom’s, Hans and Marge, joined us at brunch. As Tom described in his blog post, he hadn’t seen Hans and Marge in 23 years! We had a great chat and a great brunch.

Sunday Special at Tia Sophia's

Sunday special at Tia Sophia’s: Chorizo, potato and scrambled egg burrito “Christmas” style (red and green chile sauces)

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans

Marge, Tom, Mahgrit and Hans–great brunch with great people!

After brunch, I went for my spa treatments. I had a lovely Shiatsu massage and a pedicure at the Nidah Spa at the hotel. All I can say is…aaaaaaaahhhhhh! When I got back from my pampering, I found Tom and the pups napping on the couch. It seems like I wasn’t the only one with a relaxation day!

Everyone had a relaxation day

Everyone had a relaxation day

To top off our day of relaxation, we sat by the fireplace at the Agave Lounge at the hotel and had drinks and appetizers. The Kobe Beef Sliders were exceptional!

Relaxation

More relaxation!

The reason this post is a day late is due to the travel complications from Memorial Day Weekend. We were originally planning to stay in Flagstaff, but due to its proximity to the Grand Canyon…well, let’s just say that staying at the EconoLodge would have been the same price as Santa Fe’s Eldorado hotel. NOT. So, we were up until 1am, rejiggering our travel plans and making reservations. I’ll create a separate post for today’s travels…and travel adventures!

Santa Fe Art Day

Day 19: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Location: Santa Fe, NM
No travel today!

Today was the first day in weeks that we haven’t packed up and moved on. We’re spending a couple of days in Santa Fe, seeing the sights, eating way too much food, and just enjoying ourselves. Like we haven’t been doing that all along the way…

Our plans today were focused around the museums and galleries in Santa Fe. Our hotel is full of local art, and this is the first item that I really liked–a display of Kachina dolls.

Kachinas

Start of our art day–Kachinas at our hotel

However, before we started our gallery tour, we had to have sustinance. Our pet sitter showed up a little before 10 a.m., and we were soon seated at our restaurant of choice–Tia Sophia’s. Tom chowed on the daily special–a chorizo and potato burrito, covered with a green chile sauce. I had the green chile stew and some eggs. I do have to say that Tom’s meal was exceptionally good; mine was less so. The green chile stew at the Blue Corn Cafe kicked butt. This one, not so much. Sorry, but we ate so fast that I didn’t get photos! 🙂

After breakfast, we headed to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It was museum day there, and we were given a package of post cards of her home in Abiquiu as a special gift. Sweet! I had been expecting skulls and flowers; I was surprised to find out and see that O’Keeffe’s first love was abstract art. We watched a fascinating biography of her life and viewed her artwork. While the exhibit and the museum was much smaller than I expected, it was still quite special.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote

Trees: Georgia O’Keeffe Quote

O'Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico

O’Keeffe Landscape of New Mexico: “Her” Mountain

O'Keeffe Skull

O’Keeffe Skull–one of only two skull paintings at the museum

O'Keefe Kachina

O’Keefe Kachina

O'Keeffe Kachina

Another O’Keeffe Kachina. I see such personality in these!

Portrait of O'Keeffe

Portrait of O’Keeffe by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, gallery owner and photographer

After the O’Keeffe Museum, we headed to the Santa Fe Museum of Art. There, they had an exhibit of New Mexico art from ancient times to today. They considered the arrow heads part of the artistic landscape; they required significant skill to make. This Kachina was my favorite piece of art…again, the personality of the Kachina spoke to me! They also had a very odd video art exhibit; it was…unique.

My favorite Kachina

My favorite Kachina. Isn’t it great??!!

The museum was housed in a fabulous building. The entrance to the exhibits were through a lovely courtyard with this fountain:

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

Fountain at the Santa Fe Museum of Art

It was a very beautiful and temperate day in Santa Fe. Reaching a high of only about 70 degrees, it was mostly sunny. We did some people watching in the central Plaza. It was a beautiful Saturday, and there were many local artisans with booths all over the Old Town area. It really was an ‘art’ day!

Beautiful Santa Fe Plaza

Beautiful day at the Plaza

People watching

Great people-watching day!

One of the other things I was really excited about was visiting a bona-fide Rubber Stamp store! Rubber Stamp Art has really died down, mostly due to the use of digital art and the focus on scrapbooking that the craft industry took in the last decade. But there it was–Guadalupe’s Fun Rubber Stamps on Don Gaspar Avenue!

Guadalupe's Fun Rubber Stamps Santa Fe

WHOOP! Rubber Stamp Store!

I had a great chat with the gal at the store, Lea Daugherty. Of course, I couldn’t leave without some stamps to play with!

On our way back to the hotel, we encountered a great little band of street musicians. Alas, we couldn’t stay long because we had to get back to the room to rescue the pups from the DOG SITTER!

Street Music

Street music at Burro Alley

 
Yes, we hired a dog-sitter. We were going to be out all day and we didn’t want the pups to suffer. We found a pet sitter service that came out to the hotel and stayed with the dogs, took them out for walks, etc. It was worth the money for the peace of mind!

Pre-dog sitting

Our sweet cherubs (pre-dog sitting!)

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some more art gallery touring. I have a pampering session booked at the spa in the afternoon. Now that’s what I call a vacation! 🙂

Route 66: Deep in the Texas Panhandle

Day 16: May 15, 2013
Start: Elk City, OK
End: Amarillo, TX
Miles Driven Today: 196 (including in-town miles)
Total Miles: 2,736

We left Oklahoma behind, but not before reminders of its history. Right before the border, we saw this memorial commemorating the rededication of Route 66 in 1952 as the Will Rogers Highway. Nice.

Will Rogers Memorial Highway

Will Rogers Memorial Highway

Texas. We finally made it to Texas.

Texas State Line

Texas State Line

Suddenly, the road and the land got flat. The green rolling prairie turned into sagebrush and wide, flat plains. The Texas Panhandle has been called the place “where the wind pumps the water and the cows chop the wood.” The former refers to the abundance of windmills, and latter refers to cow patties…and how they used to be used for fuel. Charming!

But perhaps cow patties would be preferable to what is considered snack food here. This tasty morsel was found at the Dollar General (el cheapo stuff) store. We had seen the Dollar Generals all over the area, so we decided to stop to get some spray paint (explanation later). This was on the snack shelf at the check-out.

Texas Snackin'

Texas snackin! Mmmmm…mmmmm…good? Marty Watts, this one’s for you!

We reached McLean, Texas, and stopped at the Devil’s Rope/Old Route 66 Museum. Tom wasn’t thrilled about stopping, but I wanted to peruse the gift shop. Inside was a fascinating account of the Dust Bowl and a Barbed Wire museum. While I wasn’t quite interested in the history of barbed wire, I was fascinated by the barbed wire art! Whowouldvethunk?

Jackrabbit Barbed Wire Art

Jackrabbit Barbed Wire Art

Tree and Swing

Tree and Tire Swing barbed wire art. I love the wind-blown tree.

Barbed wire cowboy hat

Barbed wire cowboy hat. Wouldn’t wear it, but…

Giant Cobra

Giant cobra. I have no idea what significance this has, but it’s kind of cool.

I’m glad we stopped. I saw something original and beautiful made out of something as mundane as barbed wire. That’s what I love about this trip. While the big things are (and will be) great, the little things fill us with wonder and joy. This is what we wanted to see and experience.

The next stop after McLean was at the Bug Ranch in Conway. Created as a parody of the Cadillac Ranch (an outdoor piece of artwork featuring 10 Cadillacs planted nose-down in the ground), the Bug Ranch features the hulls of half a dozen Volkswagen Beetles. We took our Dollar General spray paint and left our mark.

Tom Inspects Bug Ranch

Tom inspects the art at Bug Ranch

We left our mark at Bug Ranch

We left our mark at Bug Ranch

We motored on, mainly driving on frontage roads next to I-40. The old Portland cement roads peeked in at various stretches, giving us that satisfying whomp-whomp as we watched the plains roll by.

Today's Open Road

Today’s open road.

We reached Amarillo and took the Historic Route 66 path through town. The long path wound around the industrial part of the city…not particularly attractive. We did go through downtown as well as the SW 6th Street Antique Row district and finally reached our hotel. We got settled and then headed for our feast–a steak dinner at The Big Texan.

The BIG Texan

The Big Texan! YAY!

Mooo!

Mooo! MMMMM! Steak!

The dining room was filled with kitsch, and the place was terribly touristy. But it was FUN. We had a BIG Texan waiter (he looked gigantic) and we ordered our steaks and some cold, frosty beverages.

Kitschy and fun

Main dining room at The Big Texan! Kitschy and fun!

Of course, I couldn’t wait. I had to go see the steaks cooking!

Cookin' the steak

Cookin’ the steak! Can’t wait!

And then…it came!!!! Yes, that’s fried okra on my plate. *LOVE*

My dinner

My dinner…before…

But it didn’t last long.

My dinner after

…and after!

And yes, we did save room for dessert!

Texans really mean BIG

Dessert anyone? Texans really do mean BIG!

We waddled to the big rocker after dinner. As Tom says, “DAMN, that was good!”

BIG Rocker

BIG Rocker. After a meal like that, we needed one!

We had a great day today, and a great dinner tonight. Yes, the Big Texan is touristy. But the steaks were great, the drinks and dessert were both HUGE, and we had a great time! What could be better!

The dogs, however, did NOT get doggie bags. 🙂

Speaking of the dogs, we’ve been seeing real change in Juliet. She’s getting more vocal and bold (and more impish). She’s really coming out of her shell. We were walking into the hotel today, and she BARKED once at the resident dog. We’ve heard her bark maybe a half a dozen times in the last 18 months…this is yet another change for her. Hm…maybe not for the better!! But we have seen her showing more curiosity and less fear as the days have gone on. It’s wonderful to see!

Back seat driver

Juliet, the back seat driver

Tomorrow, we plan on visiting the Cadillac Ranch and heading out for another short drive day to Tucumcari (or, as I keep calling it, Tutankhaman. LOL!

Route 66: Oklahoma City to Elk City, OK

Day 15: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Start: Oklahoma City
End: Elk City, OK
Miles Driven Today: 116
Total Miles: 2,540

The travel today was special. Much of old Route 66–with its concrete roadway–is now covered with asphalt or gone altogether. But certain parts of 66 have the old concrete pavers, with the whomp whomp of the tires across the expansion joints, singing as you drive along. The route between OKC and Elk City was mostly this type of road…a favorite for Route 66 fans.

We drove this road today, mainly as frontage that zig-zagged under, over and next to I-40. But our road was empty, and the pretty green plain flew by just a little slower than going the Interstate.

Right outside of OKC, we encountered our first bridge. It marked the entrance to Lake Overholder and a spectacular neighborhood of tony homes. There was a walking path along the lake…this would be a great place to live in the OKC area!

Lake Overholser bridge

Iron bridge to Lake Overholser

We got out of town and reached the town of El Reno and stopped at Fort Reno. Fort Reno was a remount depot where troops came and exchanged their horses for fresh stock. Troops from the Fort also supervised the first Land Run for settlers and helped the “orderly transition” of Indian Territory to individual farms. The most interesting artifacts were from the last remaining Buffalo Soldier from Oklahoma…he passed away earlier this year and left his memorabilia to the museum.

Fort Reno

Fort Reno

Bridge #2 was a 3/4-mile long Pony Bridge that spanned the South Canadian River near Bridgeport, OK.

Pony Bridge

Cool Pony Bridge

Motoring on, we drove our whomp-whomp road and stopped at the Cherokee Trading Post. While the shop was a bit cheesy, we did get to see a Longhorn steer and a Buffalo in the pen outside. Jasmine and Juliet were not impressed.

Longhorn

Howdy Longhorn!

Buffalo

Baby Buffalo

The rest of the road was peaceful and lovely. We’re getting spoiled with the lack of traffic and the wide expanses of prairie!

Open Road

Today’s open road on the concrete pavers. Whomp Whomp!

We reached Elk City in early afternoon, checked into the hotel and headed for the Route 66 National Museum in downtown Elk City. The museum is a complex of staged vignettes (buildings and scenes) plus museum exhibits. There were four main exhibits–Transportation, Route 66, Old Town and Farm & Ranch. Each of these buildings held artifacts. The Old Town building was fascinating with its collection of Rodeo memorabilia from the Buetler family–Rodeo riders and promoters famous in the area. The statue outside was created to depict one of the more famous riders in a Buetler rodeo.

Rode rider

Rodeo rider statue at the Route 66 National Museum

There were a couple of kachinas outside by artist Wanda Queenan. Kind of cool!

Wanda Queenan Kachina

Wanda Queenan Kachina

Wanda Queenan kachina

Another kachina

Tom particularly liked the Farm exhibit. I wonder why…

Tractor Envy

Tom has tractor envy

The Transportation building had some great vintage cars and motorcycles, including this Indian.

1948 Indian Chief

1948 Indian Chief

We’ve been having some great meals on the road. Yesterday, we had lunch at the Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK. Great fried dill pickles and a really flavorful chicken salad as well as great burgers. Tom’s description of the burger was mmmmmmfrlmmmmmm. 🙂 We met a young bus-boy, Wyatt, who kept us company as we ate and was happy to sign my Route 66 book. This 9-year-old kid was curious, funny and the epitome of the friendly nature of people we’ve met on the road.

Tonight, we had dinner at Prairiefire in Elk City. While it’s seen as a burger joint, they also serve a great assortment of steaks and a really really delicious salmon salad. YUM!

We’re in for the night, enjoying the company of our two travel companions. Of course, they’ve already commandeered the bed.

Bed hogs!

Bed hogs!

We’ve planned a bit out to ensure that we’d have reservations and some of our stops. Tomorrow, we’ll stay in Amarillo, TX. Thursday, we’ll stop in Tucumcari, NM. Friday night through Sunday night, we’ll stay in Santa Fe at a swanky spa hotel. Then we’ll most likely do a side trip to Taos before resuming the Route 66 trek. Stay tuned for more fun Lost in America posts!

Route 66: Tulsa to Oklahoma City

Day 14: Monday, May 13, 2013
Start: Tulsa, OK
End: Oklahoma City, OK
Miles Driven Today: 140
Total Miles: 2,424

Today was another day of slow travel and good chats. We decided to only go as far as Oklahoma City, so we had a short trip planned. Given that short day, Tom graciously took me to two Quilt shops so I could find some Route 66 fabric.

We first stopped at Quilt Sampler. This is a very large quilt shop and sewing machine dealer. They had lots of Route 66 fabric choices, plus Oklahoma-specific printed panels. I got a set of vintage post card panels and some Route 66 fabrics. They were really sweet people, and they pointed me to another local quilt shop just a mile or two away.

We went on to the second quilt shop, Cotton Patch. While this is a much smaller shop, the ladies there had a nice selection of Route 66 fabric–entirely different than the fabrics at the Quilt Sampler. I got some yardage, and they were nice enough to give me a discount!

Cotton Patch - Tulsa

The nice ladies at the Cotton Patch in Tulsa!

A few dollars lighter (Bob, that’s the PRECISE amount), we headed back to Route 66. Tulsa is one GIANT road construction project. We encountered closed roads, tons of closed lanes and terminal gridlock all over the city. It was really frustrating to drive around Tulsa, and once were were out of the city and back on the open road, we were happy campers. I don’t think I’ll tire of driving these lonesome highways and back roads.

Oklahoma Open Road

More open road. Nope. Not getting tired of this at all!

EZ66 Guide

EZ66 Guide

We have been using Jerry McClanahan’s Route 66 EZ66 Guide for Travelers to navigate our way across Route 66. For those of you that haven’t traveled 66 before, it isn’t a straight shot down a clearly marked highway. Historic Route 66 traverses, crosses, meanders to and fro…it’s a mishmash of roads, highways and bygone ways. To really ride the historic path, you really need a guide. This book provides both East-to-West or West-to-East turn-by-turn directions across the entire route, as well as recommended sights, side trips, places to eat and stay. It’s the ultimate guidebook. However, its value really isn’t understood (it’s not a book that you sit and read) until you’re on the road, hunting for the next turn or the next cool stop. Then, it’s a fountain of information that you can’t get with any other book. We love it.

When we were going through the book, we found Jerry’s invitation to visit his McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery in Chandler, OK. We decided to make a stop. His phone number and address are in the book, and there’s a sign on the door asking people to call him if they stop by. We did, and he came out of his house (next door) and invited us in. He asked us to sign his visitor poster and then he showed us his artwork. Jerry paints in oil, acrylic and watercolor (and does pencil sketches) of Route 66 places and people. They images are nostalgic, but contemporary. Very nice!

McJerry's Route 66 Gallery

Jerry McClanahan’s McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery

Jerry McClanahan

Jerry McClanahan – Author, road-tripper and talented artist

While I was signing his poster, I noticed a family from Taipei, Taiwan had been by. We have run into these people three times since we started on this trip–at the Mule Trading Post, at Gay Parita, and now (a near miss) here at Jerry’s gallery. We’re wondering when we’ll see them next!

We chatted with Jerry for a few minutes and were back on our travels. As we made it to Arcadia, we encountered the Round Barn. Mr. Sam, the “storyteller” of the Round Barn, was there to greet and chat with us. This old barn was built in 1898. It was in ruins for quite some time until a group of volunteers began to restore it in 1988. The upstairs loft (pictured below) is a huge open space often rented for parties and weddings. It’s enormous!!!

Arcadia Round Barn

Mr. Sam postcard from the Arcadia Round Barn

Inside the dome

Inside the dome at the Arcadia Round Barn. Round barns were built to accommodate animals working/walking around items like milling stones.

Arcadia Round Barn Panorama

Panorama of the Arcadia Round Barn

Of course, a visit to the Round Barn wouldn’t be complete without a picture with Mr. Sam!

Mahgrit and Mr. Sam

Mahgrit and Mr. Sam. Mr. Sam is upwards of 86 years young! Apparently, he’s quite a land baron!

We motored on after Arcadia and made it to Oklahoma City. We didn’t venture downtown; we instead opted to stay on the outskirts. Tomorrow, we’re aiming to reach Elk City (leisurely travel) or Amarillo, TX (ambitious motoring). We’ll see how far we get! There are some interesting sights along the way! I have a feeling that Elk City is more realistic; we might save Amarillo for our end point on Wednesday.

The dogs have been adjusting well to the trip. The travel is now our routine. Each day, we get up, get dressed, take them out, feed them, pack up and motor on. In the late afternoon, we reach our destination and get settled into our hotel room. We make a few stops to give them breaks, but they’re primarily snuggled in back, sleeping in the sunshine peeking through the car windows.

I do have to say that they are enjoying the recliners at the La Quinta hotels. It’s almost like home! Until tomorrow…

Jasmine and Juliet

Jasmine and Juliet love the recliners at the La Quinta hotels

Sunday Sunday

Day 7 (May 5)
Visited: Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: None

Today was a care-free day of down time and good conversation. We started off with a light brunch at Panera Bread with Minda, Pete, Sam and Grace and then we headed back to the house for a quiet day at home. Grace and I worked on a cool craft, we hung around the house and snuggled with the dogs.

In early afternoon, Heather Dorning and her son Jason came for a visit. Heather is another of the “gang” of friends I made here in the late 80’s, and it had been over 17 years since I had last visited Northern Kentucky. I got to meet Jason for the first time today. He has her goofy sense of humor…lucky kid.

Heather and Jason

Heather and Jason

What’s really great about good friendships is that they just seem to pick up where they left off. Minda, Heather and I spent a couple of hours gabbing away like no time had gone by. It was so good to sit and laugh about the past…and today.

We had two more Cincinnati traditions to experience–Montgomery Inn Ribs and Graeter’s Ice Cream. This restaurant has THE best ribs. The sauce is a sweet and tangy vinegar-based sauce, and the baby back ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender. We all pigged out on ribs and Saratoga Chips (home-made potato chips with ribs sauce for dipping) and topped it off with some Graeter’s ice cream (Raspberry Chocolate Chip is my favorite). We’re now sitting around, watching the tube and letting dinner settle in our stomachs.

And of course, Samuel is now smitten with Jasmine. I think he would be happy if I ‘forgot’ to take Jasmine with me. Sorry Sam. 🙂

Tomorrow, we leave for parts unknown. We now begin the “no reservations” leg of our journey! We’ll decide on a daily basis how far we’re going and how long we’re staying. No agenda. No hurry. No worries!

Samuel and Jasmine

Jasmine makes a friend

Jasmine and Samuel

Sam wants to dog-nap Jasmine!

Derby Day

Day 6 (May 4)
Visited: Villa Hills and Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: 28

Today was a day to visit with old friends and to enjoy Kentucky and Cincinnati traditions–Goetta, Skyline Chili and Derby Day!

We’re staying with the Michels family. I lived in Northern Kentucky when I first graduated from college, and I met and became fast friends with a group of really great people…people who made this my home and made me a part of their families. We’re staying with one of that group of friends, Minda and Pete Michels, their children, twins Sam and Grace, and their dog Sparky.

After we arrived, we decided that frosty beverages were in order. I made my French martinis and Tom had his usual Jack Daniels. I got Minda to try the French martinis, and we stayed up until the wee hours, catching up on our lives and drinking way too much. Tom and Pete quit around midnight; Minda and I…not so soon!

We began Derby day with a low-cal (NOT) breakfast of Goetta, eggs and rolls. Goetta is a local, scrapple-like product that’s created with some grain (steel-cut oats, buckwheat groats or the like), pork and seasonings. It’s boiled, formed into a loaf-like structure, sliced and fried. And it’s GOOD. But it’s not exactly healthy. Oh well!

After breakfast, Tom and I went to visit with Nancy Egan and Barbara Wilson, two of the Moms of my extended family. It was really heartening to see both Nancy and Barbara. They both welcomed me into their families with open arms and made this a home for me. We had very nice visits…it was really great to see them both.

Skyline Chili

Yum! A Cincinnati tradition! I like the 3 Way.

In between our visits, I initiated Tom into a Cincinnati tradition–Skyline Chili. Cincinnati chili is…different. The meat sauce isn’t spiced like a traditional bowl of red; instead, you can taste cinnamon and other ‘odd’ flavors that you wouldn’t think of in chili. It’s served in different ‘ways’, but traditional is over spaghetti with cheese (3 Way), onions (4 Way) and beans (5 Way). Tom loved it enough to finish my dish.

After the visits, it was time for the main event–the Kentucky Derby! Minda threw a Derby Day party. I made more French Martinis, Pete broke out the Buffalo Trace bourbon, and we were good to go! Yummy Tortilla Soup, Not-Too-Bad-For-You-Ham-Sammies and Really-Bad-For-You-Desserts were on the menu. Grace put together a Derby contest. We each put in $2 for each horse (picked randomly) and the Win, Place and Show winners shared the pot. Orb, Minda’s horse, blew away the field at the end. Minda, our hostess, was the big money winner. Fixed? Hm…I don’t know! Given that Minda’s mother won the Place and her son won the Show prizes…hm…suspicious! LOL!

We had a great time catching up, eating and drinking, and just enjoying the company of good friends. And being in Kentucky for Derby Day…a completely unplanned event, but definitely a bonus!

Tom and Margaret Donnelly

Say CHEESE!

Jeff Sizemore

Smilin’ Jeff

Winners' Cups

A shot of the Winners’ Cups prior to the race

On Your Mark...

On your mark…get set…Post time!

Sparky

Sparky wants Tortilla Soup too!

Kate

Kate (Pete’s mom) is egging on her horse!

Minda and Sparky

Minda and Sparky rootin’ for Orb!

Jeff and Marty

Jeff and Marty Sizemore

Smile BB

BB doesn’t like to have her picture taken. I think she’s beautiful!

Grace and Sparky

Grace and Sparky

One Day, Four States

Day 5
Start: Duncannon, PA
End: Burlington, KY
Miles Driven: 504

West Virginia

Welcome to West Virginia

Ohio

Welcome to Ohio

Kentucky

Welcome to Kentucky

Today was a travel day. Eleven hours, 504 miles and one emergency pit stop later, we arrived in Kentucky. We left Duncannon around 8 a.m. and hopped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Even though it was a fast-moving Interstate, it snaked through some lovely country. Rolling hills, farmland, barns painted with tobacco ads…we saw another bit of Americana.

To get to our destination, we crossed three state lines, making the day a four-state extravaganza! West Virginia was just a blur–we were barely there for fifteen minutes before we catapulted into Ohio. But hey, we got a picture of the Welcome sign. It counts!

We were about half-way across Ohio, and I was getting a bit weary of large semis and road construction. I suggested that we get off the Interstate and venture on some back roads. We got off at Route 79 and made a stop at Buckeye Lake. Juliet especially enjoyed the stop as she rolled around in goose poop! It was another beautiful day, and we sat in the sun for a few minutes and watched families picnic and a fisherman catch a sizable fish. Then it was off to Route 22 West.

Buckeye Lake

Buckeye Lake, OH.

Aside: We have been noticing that this driving tour is turning out to be a water tour as well. South of Pittsburg, we crossed the Monongahela River. We also crossed the Ohio River (WV border), the Licking River, and the Scioto River (OH). On our way to Duncannon, we were around the Chesapeake Basin, and we criss-crossed the Susquehanna river many times. We went over the East Branch of the Delaware River around the Pepacton Reservoir. We’ll cross the Mississippi, and maybe even the Rio Grande.

We drove through Lancaster, Circleville, and on to Wilmington. We were going to take Route 22 all the way to highway 275 near the Ohio/Kentucky border, but Jasmine’s tender stomach required an emergency pit stop, lots of wipes and a very large trash bag. 😦 So we made our way back to the Interstate and motored on to Kentucky.

We arrived at our destination around 7 p.m. and were immediately greeted by Minda and Pete, their kids Sam and Grace, and their dog Sparky. You’ll have to wait for the next post to find out what happened next!