Sunday, May 29, 2016

Never Disappointed

Thursday we drove to Cheyenne, in Oklahoma not Wyoming. That is the location of The Washita Battlefield National Historic Site. We had never heard of the battle but we know that it is always worth our time to check out anything operated by the National Park Service.

We had heard about Lt.Col. George Custer before, of course. One summer we volunteered at an RV park in southern Montana near Little Big Horn National Battfield where Custer died in 1876 fighting the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians. It was one of the last armed contacts between the US Army and American Indians. But in 1868 he was in Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory. After Col. J.M. Chivington attacked and destroyed a village headed by Cheyenne chief Black Kettle on Sand Creek, Colorado, relations between the army and Indians were very rocky.  Black Kettle had been pursuing a policy of peace with the whites and believed his village to be under US Army Protection. Black Kettle survived but at least 150 Cheyenne and Arapahoe men, women and children were killed and horribly mutilated. Under treaties in 1865 and 1867, the Cheyenne, Arapahoe and other tribes agreed to settle on reservations in Indian Territory but many tribal officials refused to sign. Warrior societies of mostly young men continued hostilities.

General William Sheridan, in charge of the army in the plains, adopted a policy that "punishment must follow crime." He sent Lt. Col Custer to enforce that policy. He ended up attacking Black Kettle's village on Washita Creek at dawn on a snowy Nov. 27, 1868. Approximately 30 to 60 were killed, including Black Kettle and his wife, and Gen. Sheridan ordered the slaughter of the village's pony and mule herds, estimated at over 800 animals.

This mural in the visitor center shows the army riding through the village.

We walked the trail to the location where the battle occurred.

The path took us through the deep grass of the prairie.

In 1889 Indian Territory was opened to white settlement under a law that said they could enter the area at a designated time to claim their homestead. Those who entered before that time to get a jump on other settlers were called "sooners" and the name has stuck in Oklahoma. The Washita Battlefield site included a small stone dugout like those built by those settlers as their first homes. The windmill is a symbol of the changes white settlement made in the area.

We felt the NPS presentation of the battle was very fair to both sides and we learned a lot. We had known about Custer and the Sand Creek Massacre but not about this battle in Oklahoma. There are so many sad stories that are part of the westward white settlement of our country.

On an entirely different note, have you ever seen this before? We hadn't. There was this pig, really I guess a hog, tied with a harness and leash, at an RV site behind us a couple of days ago.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Oh, the Memories

After we visited the Route 66 Museum in Elk City, we walked next door to the Elk City Museum. The community has constructed a small village with a school, early home, opera house and livery stable so visitors can see what life was like in the last century. Some of the exhibits dealt with the early part of the 1900s, before John and I were born. There was a shoe shop in one corner of the stable. I wondered if the Singer sewing machine had been used to repair harnesses and bridles or if  that was just an available space to display these items.

The interior of the reconstructed Rock Bluff School was interesting.

Both of us remember school desks that looked like this.

In the old house we saw toys like this 1940s era bomb pedal car and these Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. My grandmother made me smaller versions of these dolls.

Boy did these two items bring back memories.  I had a hairdryer in the early 1960s just like this.  It was THE way to dry my hair, once I put in the curlers.  Once when the heat went off in the dorm my first year of college, I got under the bed covers and blew warm air with the hairdryer hose to warm me up.

The restored house had been used as a funeral parlor at one time. This boxed suit (it opens down the back) and embalming machine brought back memories for John

A local family, the Beutler Brothers, was famous on the rodeo circuit both for the rodeo stock they raised and because one of the brothers was a really top rodeo cowboy.

There was also a display of finely tooled leather items, including suitcases, made by George Pulley, a bull rider in the 1930s and 40s.

While at the museum, we also saw this early mail truck.

There were two sets of Burma Shave signs posted in the yard. I couldn't get a whole set in one photo, but one said "Trains Don't Wander All Over the Map Because No One Sits in the Engineer's Lap." The other read, "Guys Whose Eyes Are in Their Backs Get Halos Crossing Railroad Tracks."

Wouldn't those signs be more fun along are interstate highways than motel and restaurant ads?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Mother Road

We are traveling on I-40 which basically follows Route 66 from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City. From there, I-40 goes east to Nashville and Rt. 66 goes northeast to Chicago. You really can't forget your are on Route 66 if you venture into towns along the route. There are three museums about the road in Oklahoma, several in Illinois and more in other locations. In Flagstaff and Winslow, Albuquerque and Amarillo we see signs marking the old route through downtown area.

Wednesday we visited the Route 66 museum in Elk City, OK.

There were exhibits concerning transportation ranging from bicycles both with and without motors,

old Cadillacs


and airplanes.

With all this travel down the road came roadside attractions

diners and tourist courts

Of course, there were also RVs. I think we see units like this today, as well.

All those cars also help create the need for drive-in movies.

The dust bowl of the 1930s drove lots of mid-west farmers onto Route 66, headed for California with all their possessions loaded in their old trucks.

We really enjoyed the Elk City Route 66 museum. But I'm not sure we need to visit the other two here in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It's Windy Here

The panhandle of Texas is very windy. As a matter of fact, so is Oklahoma. Maybe it is the entire I-40 corridor, at least out here in the west. I know I-40 through Arizona is sometimes closed because of wind.

The wind provides the perfect place for wind farms. For the first nearly 50 miles as we drove east into Texas, we saw giant wind turbines.

After a while we also saw the electric transmissions lines takes that electricity to cities and towns that need it. You have to look closely in the background of this picture to see them. They were a long way away and I was using my iPhone.

It is so windy in Texas even the trees along I-40 are trimmed and shaped by the prevailing winds.

Today we saw the smaller version of these devices that capture the wind. We were visiting the Elk City, OK, museum and its display of earlier windmills.

As we drove across the Texas panhandle we also saw this huge cross. Using Safari, I learned it was constructed by the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries in Groom, TX. They report that people come from all over the world to see the cross.

It has been windy all day yesterday and today here in Elk City as we wait for repairs to our RV.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Does your GPS tell you that when you don't follow the prescribed route just right? We have had devices that say that out loud. Currently it just shows that on the screen. Today we are recalculating. When our brake hub was finally repaired in Winslow, we headed east to Rolling Retreats, a DRV dealer in Elk City, OK. As I wrote about earlier, we are having problems with the front landing leg on the RV. Since it was built by DRV in Howe, IN, and there aren't that many DRV dealers around the country, we decided to see if they could help us.

They were booked solid but we were told to come in and they would work us in. We arrived today and were told it would be next Tuesday before the shop had space to check out our issue.

We will be exploring western Oklahoma and cancelling a week of reservations at Cherry Creek State Park in the Denver area. We had booked two weeks there. We cancelled the first week because we were sitting in the Flying J parking lot in Winslow. Now we will cancel the second week.

I need to recalculate my attitude as well as our schedule. But we have found several interesting museums to visit here and we have a good Verizon broadband signal so we can work online. Glad we didn't have any really important events to attend.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trucker Contacts

During our time at the Flying J, we talked to a number of truckers, though the truck stop isn't as friendly as an RV park. We never had a chance to talk to any of the women drivers.

As we had noticed in our travels, a lot of drivers are very, very fat. They sit in a truck for 8 to 10 hours a day and often eat at diners and fast food restaurants. If I spent all day driving by myself, I would be consuming candy and chips as I traveled. One man we talked to said he really tried to eat healthy. Before each trip, he prepared food at home and froze the meals, then heated them in the microwave in his cab. I doubt I would have that discipline.

A driver gave us the advice to put on our blinkers or hazard lights when backing up to park. Another said he was 36, a mechanic and a member of AA. Yet another remarked that he was 56 and a retired policeman. He drove trucks for a friend and was able to have long layovers when he came home.

We learned about the laws controlling how long they could drive and how long they had to rest between periods of driving. We were told the new electronic logs mean the drivers have to find a truck stop before they have been driving too long. The electronic devices can't be fudged like with the old paper logs allowed.

Many truckers take their dogs along on the trips for some company. After fueling the truck, those drivers quickly find the dog run. And everyone has a cell phone. Truckers walk around the truck stop talking on the phone, many have head sets so they can use the phone hands free. One man said he spent many of his driving hours talking on the phone. During the rest periods, truckers also play games and go online with their phones.

One day we talked to the driver of a Flying J fuel truck. He reported that the fuel station there in Winslow received 22 loads of fuel a day. The drivers make two trips a day from Albuquerque where they pick up fuel. They are responsible for filling their own trucks and off-loading the fuel. There are no bellows in the fuel tank, so braking and skidding on ice can really get wave action going in the tank. There must be more than one fuel compartment in the tank because the driver said he had to take care to distribute the load for good balance. Since he has computer contact with the fuel dispatcher, he is sometimes redirected to a truck stop that is really in need of fuel.

One day a trucker backed in very close to the door side of our RV. He was within maybe 8 inches of our slide. John stood in the door watching as the truck slowly moved into place. When he got parked, John gave him an OK sign. We then chatted with him and his wife for a few minutes through their open window. His comment was, "Pretty good backing, wasn't it?"

I find I know way too much now about trucks and truckers and the loads they carry. I really pay attention to all that passes us on the road. Since we are driving on I-40, purportedly the busiest truck route in the country, I have a lot to watch.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Good Bye, Flying J

It wasn't good until yesterday, but we are finally repaired and out of the Flying J parking lot. It hasn't been grand and we hope we don't return soon, but thanks for the space.

We spent 12 days, 11 nights in the Flying J parking lot and we are delighted to be away from the noise of trucks and the crowded parking, the smell of rubber and exhaust, the oily pavement. The Holbrook KOA looks absolutely pristine and spacious by comparison.

A Goodyear commercial truck shop is not the ideal location to have a 5th wheel RV repaired but they eventually got the job done and everyone there was very friendly and pleasant. But we really won't miss them or the location. It feels so good to be back on the road!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Remembering Those Who Served

Today we went to Denny's for a late breakfast-early lunch. Sitting near a window, we saw streams of motorcycle riders coming into the parking lot--and looking for the bathrooms. Seems they are part of the Memorial Day Run for the Wall, an annual motorcycle ride to Washington, DC, and the Viet Nam Wall. Obviously, many of the riders had served in the military during the Viet Nam War--old white guys riding Harleys. (We can say that as old white folks who were around during that war.)  Others are vets of more recent military actions. This is just a small part of the crowd.

We learned the group had left California yesterday. Riders travel several different routes. Winslow is along the Central Route. The ride is very organized. We saw men and women directing the traffic and parking here, as well as lots of signs on sleeves and windshields indicating various teams helping everything go smoothly.

Riders sported patches showing the motorcycle group and which Run for the Wall events they had participated in or ridden the whole way.

There were trailers full of snacks and beverages for the riders to consume during their break here.

The men and women who have fought for our country and our freedom and for freedom in other parts of the world deserve our respect and gratitude. It was inspiring to see so many people who are really aware of the debt we owe these folks and who are willing to take their time to demonstrate that to others for Memorial Day.

In case you are wondering why we are still here at the Flying J in Winslow, the new shipment of parts for our RV arrived late yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, one part is missing. So we wait while someone drives to Flagstaff to pick up the part from NAPA--apparently the closest place that had the part in stock. We sure hope it is the correct part and we are back on the road by the end of the day.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

We had planned to be near Santa Fe, New Mexico, today, on our way to Colorado. We had reservations there for the next 5 days. Those have been cancelled because we are still in Winslow, Arizona, and will probably be here at least until Tuesday. When we finally get out to here, we aren't headed to Colorado. We will drive to Rolling Retreats, a Mobile Suites dealer in Elk City, Oklahoma.

Remember the repair we had done last September, installing a new front landing leg on the RV? If not, you can read about it here. Well, we are facing the same thing again, unfortunately. We have a lot of driving to do between Winslow and Elk City, so John has created a way to tie up the leg when we are traveling. Hopefully, I won't have to get out of the truck every few miles to pull it back up. This is what the rope looks like when the leg is extended.

This is a view of how it works, hopefully.

With any luck, we should be in Colorado before the end of the month, but we have been a little short of luck recently.