"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why Go Home??


Why not stay here?

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That’s a question we were asked numerous times the last week or so of our last journey. When we would mention that we were from Mississippi, and headed toward home, folks would frown, and ask why.  Of all times to be away from the hot, humid, South; the months of July and August are the best.  So, why go home?

There were a number of reasons we needed to return home for a period of time.  Routine doctor’s and dentist’s visits.  Just a part of getting older and trying to keep everything in working order.  Wanting to see the family was also a part of it.  Two months without seeing the daughters, sil’s, and of course the grand daughter is really stretching it for  Wanda.  And, I have to admit that I’m also glad to see their smiling faces. 

Another benefit of coming home became more apparent today.  I have a good friend that plants a large garden each year.  The past couple of years I’ve contributed a little seed and fertilizer, along with a few plants to the effort.  I guess you could call us sharecroppers.

I stopped by this morning and collected some of the bounty.

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Tomatoes, and squash.

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Snap beans, and a couple cucumbers.

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And, of course, fresh corn.

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Needless to say, supper tonight was one of the best in months. Wanda outdid herself.  All those vegetables, with a pone of hot cornbread from a black iron skillet.Smile  I’m even looking forward to the leftovers, tomorrow.Winking smilejc

Saturday, June 21, 2014

47 Days, 5700 Miles!


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The open road.  For me, there is nothing more entertaining than turning onto a new blue highway, looking off into the distance, and wondering what’s over that hill or down in that valley.  It’s not cheap entertainment, when you think about it, but I don’t figure you can put a price on memories.

That’s what we did the most of on this last journey.  Make more memories.  With no agenda of places to be other than the Utah gathering, we just sort of drifted around the Four Corners area of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

We found ourselves on US Hwy. 160 numerous times.  It wasn’t planned, but we traveled it both directions through different parts of four states.  We made loops, and returned to areas we had visited weeks before.  Just drifting.

Stopped for three nights in Mountain View, AR; visiting with friends from home.  The last five evenings on the road happened to be spent near a dam or some other body of water.  Wasn’t planned, just happened.  Arrived home on Tuesday, the 17th.

We had been thinking about fresh seafood as we neared home.  It didn’t take much encouragement from the kids for all of us to head to Louisiana on Wednesday. Time for some fresh char-grilled oysters.


Slowly getting back into the swing of things at home.  Fighting mosquito’s, horse flies, and fire ants.  The heavy rains of the last six weeks have created a bumper crop of all three.  Trimmed the muscadine vines this morning.  They’re loaded with green fruit, so another battle with the critters is looming in the future. 

So, as for now, it’s life as usual. The next trip may be for a weekend, week, or month(s).  We’ll just have to see what develops.

Thanks for all the comments during our time on the road.  It’s always encouraging to know there’s someone out there interested in my drivel……jc

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hasty, CO; Greensburg, KS; and other points East.


From Bent’s Old Fort, we made the short drive to  Hasty, CO; and John Martin Reservoir state park.  The lake and dam are controlled by the Army COE, but apparently they turned the campground and picnic areas over to the state, which now calls it a state park.  Six dollars to enter the area, plus twenty dollars for a gravel site with electric, only.  109 sites with about six occupied for the night.

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Not the most expensive place we stayed by any means, but definitely more expensive than it should be for what you get. We had a quiet night there before getting back on the road Eastward the next morning.

We stopped in Lamar for a biscuit and coffee at McDonalds, then continued East on Hwy 50/400.  In to Kansas and through Dodge City.  Stopped in the little town of Greensburg, KS for a sandwich.  Noticed a sign for the worlds largest dug well, as well as numerous signs pointing to a new beginning for the town.


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The town of Greensburg was totally destroyed by a F-5 tornado back in 2007. The new building in the photo above is a museum to, and about, that event which totally destroyed the small town, as well as the BIG WELL.

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It was a strange feeling seeing the new town.  All new buildings, lots of glass and energy saving features.  Hate that I didn’t get any pictures.  It was almost like seeing a new Space colony.  Everything new and sparkling out on the Western Kansas plains.

The link above will take you the city website.  Lots of information on what’s going on now, as well as before and after photo’s of the town.  As I was talking with the young lady in the museum, she used the terms pre-tornado and post-tornado.  I told her that’s how we date a lot of things in our part of the world.  Pre Katrina and post Katrina.  She smiled and said she fully understood.  Another link to USA Today story.

From Greensburg we travel on through Wichita and locate a COE campground below the dam of Fall River Lake, KS.  One of the prettiest little COE campgrounds we have ever visited.

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I even beat the timer back for a family photo.

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Another great night with the windows open, listening to the roar of the water exiting the dam.  A lazy morning that called for some bacon and pancakes.

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From there we changed direction to a more Southerly route.  Located another dam with COE cg in Northern Arkansas. 

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Do you see a pattern, here??…..jc

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bent’s Old Fort


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Sitting close by the banks of the Arkansas river, near the present day town of La Junta, Colorado, you will find Bent’s Old Fort.  The original fort was constructed in the early 1830’s, and opened for business in 1833. Situated on a leg of the Santa Fe trail, it played a major role in the settlement of the Southwest.  The two Bent brothers, along with another partner, Ceran ST. Vrain, ran the fort for sixteen years. They traded with the Indians, fur trappers, buffalo hunters, Mexican’s,  both U.S. and Mexican army’s, and anyone else that could bring a profit to the three business men.  The downfall of the original fort was a cholera outbreak amongst the Indian population in 1848. It decimated the tribes and removed a major portion of the forts business.  William Bent had already lost a wife and three brothers, so he burned the fort, and moved down river forty miles or so to build a new trading post near Lamar, CO. The ruins of the fort were plundered for nearly a century until being established a Historic Site in 1960.

Thanks to a bored U. S. Army Lieutenant named James Abert, Bent’s Old Fort was restored from the ashes', so to speak.  While recovering from an illness at the fort in 1845, Abert decided to meticulously draw pictures and diagrams of the entire fort complex.  As a topographical engineer, surveying the West for the Army, his sketch’s and watercolors provided all the information needed to reconstruct the fort.  This was done in the mid 1970’s, on what remained of the original foundations.  It is now a living history National Historic Site.

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Built just like the original, with adobe bricks and plaster.

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With something like eighteen separate rooms on the ground level, and eight or so on the second level, there was a place for everything. a Council room, for dealing with the Indians, and a trading room filled with everything one could want, or need.

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A dining room where one could enjoy a fine meal if deemed worthy enough.

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A game room and bar.  I assume the same requirements here as in the dining room.  One had access to iced drinks and fine wine.

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A part of the kitchen. Every room, or group of rooms had a large fireplace connected to central chimneys.

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Outside ovens sit between inner and outer walls.

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Blacksmith and carpentry shops could build or repair most anything.

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Powder magazine.  Though the fort was in operation for sixteen years, it never had to defend itself against attack.

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Looking down from the second level.

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Miscellaneous rooms used by traders, trappers, and military.

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St. Vrain’s room.  Glass windows.

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Though it was a reconstruction, I loved this place.  You could smell the old wood smoke in some of the rooms.  The stains on the front of the fireplaces were the real thing.  The docents that were there took you back in time. Not with their talk; as you were on your own, so to speak, unless you had a question.  It was their actions; splitting wood, carrying traps or hides, tending to animals, etc. that made it real. I could have spent hours there, absorbing it all.  Sad to say, we only had an hour, or so.

The graveyard had only one marker remaining.  Though the person died after Bent’s Old Fort had been destroyed, it still represents the hardships of the area.

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To have climbed a hill and seen Bent’s Fort on the horizon in 1840; that had to have brought joy to many a heart back then.

Just your history lesson for the month……jc

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chama, NM


After visiting with friends at Big Meadows, and hearing about their ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad a few years ago, we decided to give it a try.  It took a little less than two hours of driving from Big Meadows, on the East side of Wolf Creek Pass, to the small town of Chama, NM.  We got a spot in a RV Park situated right beside the tracks, and with this old bridge out the back gate.

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A short walk down the tracks brings you to the train yard.  A working, “blast from the past” for someone from an old railroad town.

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Imagine our surprise when, shorty after arriving and getting set up at the RV park, we get a knock at the door.  Seems someone had seen our license plate, and they were from our neighboring town.  We didn’t know each other, but had many joint friends and acquaintances. He and his wife had been volunteering Summers to the railroad for the past fourteen years. He was one of the docents for the open sightseeing cars. Quite a character.

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Sunday morning was clear and bright as we made our way to the station.

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Our car.  At this point in life, I’ll take the best when I can.

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I won’t bore with you with lots of history, or pictures of the train ride, itself.  It was a very interesting journey from Chama, up, and over 10,015’ Cumbres pass, and down to the old station of Osier. Some wildlife along the way.  Apparently didn’t like that monster coming around the curve.

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There is actually two trains each day, one departing from Chama, NM and one from Antonito, CO.  They meet at Osier and lunch is served in the railroad cafeteria. A full meal of turkey and dressing, or meatloaf; with all the trimmings, along with many other side dish’s and desserts.

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The train from Antonito beat us there as we had a small mechanical problem on the way up.

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Running out of water just before a station can lead to some embarrassing moments.  We sat for about thirty minutes while the engine went for water and returned. You can see the station just a few hundred yards up the track.  Poor engineer.

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We had picked the ride from Chama to Osier, and back to Chama, so we got to change trains for our return.  As I mentioned earlier, I took about two hundred pictures, but here’s just a couple from the trip up and back. 

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I think we enjoyed it better than the Durango and Silverton from a few years ago…..jc

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