Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Driving, navigating and seeing the sites – quite a challenge, and sometimes impossible!

  • Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006

    Somewhere I read that:
    “Determination all but erases the fine line between impossible and the possible.”

    My chosen travel routes zig-zag through the countryside; often the highway changes direction and/or shares the road with another numbered road. When it does change direction, this usually occurs in the town or city, making it a challenge, and sometimes impossible, to be the driver, navigator and tourist at the same time.

    It’s a good thing I have determination – and the ability to laugh at my mistake while finding a place to turn around and try again.

    I’m sure Lake Thunderbird is an interesting place, but rain kept me cooped up all evening. Cat was delighted, though. After a rainy night at Thunderbird, I got an early start, continuing west on Highway 62. Caprock State Park in Texas is about 280 miles away – a longer driving day than I prefer.

    More observations along the way:
  • Toot and Tell is the name of a former drive-in restaurant.
  • Wag a Bag – name of another 7-11-type store.
  • Back-Scratcher Nail Salon sits alongside the highway in a tiny town.
  • I just missed the Black-Eyed Peas Festival in Hollis, Oklahoma; it was the past weekend.
  • Practically every state I’ve been in has Sonic Drive-Ins.
  • Western Oklahoma is pretty flat. Ditto the Texas panhandle.
  • In Texas I drive through Crowell, Paducah, Matador, Whiteflat and Turkey.
  • Turkey Texas is the home of Bob Wills. All down main street are cowboy cutouts.
  • As I cross into northeastern Texas, it looks like I’ll be driving into rainstorms!

    It is 2 p.m. when Caprock State Park is only a dozen or so miles away – and the sky continues to threaten rain. The terrain isn’t all that interesting and I don’t know anything about this park except its location. As I drive along I have a conversation with myself:

    “Do I want to sit in Jeremiah all afternoon and evening in rainy weather?”
    “If I go to Caprock and the rain stops, will there be interesting things to see? Will it be a muddy mess?”
    “Should I just keep driving and find a regular commercial RV park for the night?”
    “What about Palo Duro Canyon State Park?”

    No response from either Cat or Jeremiah. No one to make the decision for me. That’s good and that’s also not-so-good at times. I check my weatherband radio. The entire area to the west and north is either having rain or expecting it. Palo Duro area has flash flood warnings.

    I drive on. I’m about halfway across the panhandle. The drive west Highway 86 takes me through Quitaque, Silverton, Tulia, Lakeview, Nazareth and Dimmitt. The sky was very dark at Dimmitt, and just after seeing the sign that said “Hereford next right” the rain poured down. Visibility near zero – I was able to see well enough to turn onto a side street and stop. Whew!

    When it let up, I found the Hereford turn and headed north. Perhaps there would be an RV park there or maybe a WalMart where I could park for the night. Along the 20 miles to Hereford (beef capital) I got the notion to keep driving to Conchas Lake State Park in Northern New Mexico. Why not? I wondered. Just past Hereford, I found a place to stop and consult my map. It would be about 100 more miles, it was only 4 p.m., and even stopping for breaks, gas and dinner I could be at Conchas before dark. Go for it, lady!

    Well, just barely. Tucumcari had a major road project going, the detour through town was slow and the last 34 miles to the park were also slow. And I was racing some more storm clouds. I found the RV sites at the park to be mostly vacant, and pulled into the first level-looking one that had an electrical outlet. Got out, plugged in, and soon the rain was pouring down. I’ll deal with checking-in in the morning. I had a glass of wine, read a bit and went to bed listening to the rain on the roof. It was a LONG driving day and I was pooped.