Fun and Games Dept

Traditional.

I had to cancel my flight right before take-off. The engine was running rough and I wasn’t comfortable with taking a malfunctioning airplane a mile or more off the planet. So we reported the issue to maintenance and headed to the hangar.

As a consolation prize my husband and I stopped at a local Italian restaurant here in Tucson. It felt like it was right out of 1965 but it was a delight. There were two distinct parts to the menu: the original recipes and the “third generation” recipes, added by the current generation of owners.

I opted for the original recipe Eggplant Parmesan served “Joe’s style”, which included olive oil and red pepper flakes in the sauce. Joe definitely gave the sauce a kick and it was still quite enjoyable. We brought half of our dinner home due to the huge portions.

I look over to the leftovers.

Comfort.

There are some days where I just want to shut out the world and mindlessly watch videos on the Internet. YouTube suggested this “Bewitched” clip from the season five episode, “Samantha’s Super Maid”. I’ve always enjoyed this particular episodes; Endora has some great zingers, including when Samantha doesn’t know how to get rid of the maid (that will cause trouble for a home frequently visited by witches). “Samantha, you’ve been living this hum drum life for too long. Simply turn the creature into a toad and throw her out back!”.

Character actress Nellie Burt (playing Amelia, the maid) reminds me a bit of Grandma Country. Perhaps some of the facial expressions or mannerisms ring a memory or two for me.

White Sands.

After leaving Roswell yesterday morning I made my way south along US 70 towards Interstate 10. This brought me through the White Sands Missile Range and nearby White Sands National Monument, which apparently was renamed White Sands National Park during the Trump administration. I don’t know what the difference is between the two designations but some signs said “National Park” while others said “National Monument”.

I had a really fun time in the desert heat on the white sand. I didn’t stay outside for too long because I was worried about becoming sunburned, but I climbed a couple of the dunes and snapped some photos.

Roswell, New Mexico.

I ended up spending last night in Roswell, New Mexico. My husband and I stopped here for lunch when we first drove to Tucson in February 2021 to see the house before we signed on the dotted line.

A friendly cat welcomed me to the hotel with an air of feline disinterest. He gave me a few warm blinks in my direction but I didn’t want to disturb him from his place in the shade as it was well over 100ºF at the time.

I walked around the downtown area in an attempt to get my daily dose of steps in. I tried to make it later in the day so I wouldn’t die in the desert heat but I was still quite sweaty after all was said and done.

I’ve never seen power lines suspended over an alley or city street in the manner, but it was a common theme in Roswell.

I did notice a new sidewalk area in front of a local church but it didn’t seem particularly friendly for those with additional accessibility needs.

Dinner at a place called Peppers was good. I sat alone in a booth in the lounge area and the server didn’t make it awkward. That can sometimes happen when one dines alone but this was a good experience.

Route 66.

My intention was to drive across New Mexico and a portion of Arizona on old US Route 66, at least where the road was still viable and hadn’t been completely replaced by Interstate 40.

After taking a detour to grab a bit to eat in Adrian, Texas (and one last pass up on the plains before descending into the desert on my way home), I joined the Mother Road at the Texas-New Mexico line at the ghost town of Glenrio. But not before seeing this sign in Adrian.

The way the signs were counting down the mileage to Adrian I had visions of a fairly sizable town. It turns out it’s not that big, and I ended up eating lunch at a Quik-Stop type place where they charge for beverage refills from the fountain. I had some chicken nuggets. The ranch on the side was free.

I did find portions of the US Route 66 in Glenrio, a ghost town on the state line, and it was pretty much as one would expect.

I had to hop on Interstate 40 for a bit but then found old 66 again about 20 miles east of Tucumcari. There were hints of it once being a four-lane highway, but it’s two lane now and the scenery was fairly pleasant. I was delighted to see this billboard along I-40 with the classic Holiday Inn logo before the hotel chain went as bland as possible with their marketing.

Earl and I had spent the night in Tucumcari, New Mexico almost two decades ago and I found the restaurant where we enjoyed a meal. It was still open. I did not remember the rest of the buildings along old 66 being so dilapidated. When we’d travel old US 66 in Illinois the local towns made some effort to restore many of the buildings to a pleasant looking façade reminiscent of the glory days of the Mother Road, but Tucumcari is not as lucky apparently and there were a lot of abandoned buildings and skeletons of business signs. I did get a shot of a sign that looked mildly interesting. Notice the buildings in the background; they are quite sad.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry this week, many of the small towns of the Heartland seem forgotten, probably by those that see all this area as “flyover country”. This part of the United States deserves more attention from the rest of the country.

After becoming bored with old Route 66 I decided to turn south at Santa Rosa and instead go to Roswell, taking the “southern route” for the final leg of my journey. There’s a lot of open desert.

Panhandle.

I drove from Liberal, Kansas to Clayton, New Mexico via the Oklahoma panhandle today. It’s a rural area of the country but still quite interesting, at least to me.

Continuing the theme of exploration, I took a look at the few towns I passed through. Some of them are quite forgotten. This makes me a little sad.

It’s interesting to see what was that became what no longer is. I wonder what the folks still living in these areas do for fun. The theatre in this village has obviously closed.

This appears to have been someone’s home at one point. I wonder how long this property has been abandoned.

Inspiration.

No storms to chase today (everyone needed a rest) but I made my way from Ogallala, Nebraska to Liberal, Kansas via US Route 83.

I discovered a crack in the windshield that spread its way a good distance across the windshield as I drove today. I contacted the rental car company and they said to take it to the nearest location to swap out the car, but the nearest location was closed. So I’m driving with a cracked windshield. If it gets worse by morning I’ll take it to another nearest location.

Rural America is beautiful and I’m still a big fan. I stopped and wandered around whenever I saw a sign indicating “Business District —>”. It’s amazing what one can find in these small towns. They are far from forgotten.

As I stopped at a locally owned truck stop, I found this little bit of inspiration on the door handle of the men’s room.

The Chase.

I made my way up from southern Kansas to the Nebraska panhandle, as that’s where the Storm Prediction Center said they most activity would be today. They did not disappoint.

I ended up driving about 500 miles chasing different storms. There were storm chasing excursions abound and trucks with various weather related instruments mounted to the top, and me in a rental Subaru just following my instinct.

Outside of Sedgwick, Colorado the wind picked up and Mother Nature was trying very hard to give us a tornado. According to the National Weather Service, she did give us a dusty tornado, albeit fairly briefly, but long enough to trigger a tornado warning for the area.

I learned a lot today and I had the time of my life. A part of me wishes I had paid more attention to Mr. Besaw and his freshman Earth Science class in Room 212.

Tomorrow is predicted to be not as severe with the thunderstorms. I’m still deciding what part of the plains I want to drive to in search of some storm action.

Zen.

The storm chasing trip across the Plains continues. Today I drove the High Plains south of Burlington, Colorado, making my way to Granada, Colorado before turning east and heading into Kansas. I made my way to Dodge City for the evening, as it was smack dab in the middle of the “slight chance” of severe thunderstorm activity area. The ride was quite enjoyable and I found my “zen” that I haven’t found in a while during a road trip.

I love this part of the country.

Burlington, Colorado.

I’m spending the night a little farther west than I intended to stay tonight, but the room was available and affordable and clean so I’m good.

I spent most of the day chasing clouds along the Colorado and Kansas and Nebraska state lines. There’s a lot of open road in these parts, but my timing was a little bit off on seeing any thunderstorm action. I saw some lightning strikes but that was about it. We may get a light show tonight; I’ll keep an eye on things and see if there’s some chasing to be done during the hours after dark.

Tomorrow’s forecast has another round of severe weather predicted for the southern half of Kansas, so I’ll be headed in that direction. I’m having a blast discovering small towns all over this part of the country. I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure.