Texas to Arizona

Sent on July 27, 2015

You will all be glad to know we haven’t been baked to a crisp in Arizona, though the sun sure has tried!

Picking up on my last update – I’d gotten up to the Wagon Wheel Ranch in Texas, where the giant grasshoppers roamed. According to the calendar, we stayed at Midway RV park after that, near Roswell, New Mexico, but honestly, the real gem, the real beauty, was Pie Town, New Mexico.

DH and I were looking at the map, plotting our next few stops, and DH said, “There is a town in New Mexico called ‘Pie Town’! Can we go there?” Well of course we could! I did some poking around online and found a load of history on Pie Town. It’s located on a continental divide, at 8000 feet elevation, and was founded during the dust bowl days, when a man named Clyde Norman settled there (1920’s). Clyde loved to bake, and would make pies, and as travelers came through, they would stop and have a slice. After a while, people started referring to Clyde’s little spot on the map as Pie Town. In the 40’s, a photographer for the Farm Security Administration went out and photographed the homesteaders in Pie Town, with their dug out houses, farming, and of course, pies. Those photos are all available in the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian did an article that revisited all those photos, and showed the town today. The way the story goes, when it came time for them to get a Post Office, they said, “We’re Pie Town,” and New Mexico said, “Um, no, really?” The settlers said, “It’s Pie Town or no name at all,” and managed to get the name made official, though the city is still unincorporated.

The motto of Pie Town is, “America’s Friendliest Little Town.” It fits. We called ahead to the RV park, to mention our hope to have pie, and they had a spot available for us, and Penny, the woman who owns the RV park, said, “You have to go to the Pie Town Windmill museum for pie! Call ahead and Cyndi will put some aside for you in case you get in late!” A little bit later that day, Penny called us back. She said, “Cyndi is really busy, so I’m here at the museum – what pies do you want?” She saved us a pecan, a southwest apple (with piñon nuts and red chili), a mixed berry pie, and a normal apple pie for Youngest. They’re small – little individual pies. We also asked for a full size frozen southwest apple so we could take it to my dad’s.

When we pulled in to Pie Town – well, we couldn’t miss the museum. Old windmills filled the front lot, and there were signs everywhere – “PIE!” and “STOP FOR PIE!” We went inside a small two room cabin (one of the original houses in Pie Town), and in the back, Cyndi and her husband greeted us, and we all sat around a table and had coffee and chatted. Milo was invited in as well, with the only rule being he couldn’t lift his leg on anything, which he was fine with.

The RV park was just as welcoming – everyone in Pie Town was just lovely. We met some other RV-ers at the park, and one of them had family in the very small town I’m from in California. The owners of the Museum and pie shop were from San Diego, and DH met a man in the pie shop who was English and had been living in Canada. Penny said that happens all the time there – you really see what a small world it is, and clearly its pie that brings everyone together. 🙂

We only stayed a night in Pie Town, then took off in the morning towards Arizona and the Canyon Motel and RV park in Williams. On the way out of New Mexico we were driving through country side when we spotted some animals, and we stopped to run back and take photos. Turns out it was a herd of Sonoran Pronghorn antelope. Youngest, DH and I all stood with our zoom lenses, trying desperately to get some clear shots of them (not realizing what they were yet – that came later) before they took off. They were easily spooked, it seemed, and soon enough they ran off. When I looked up what they were, I was thrilled. There are only about 160 Sonoran Pronghorn in the US, and we saw about ten of them. They’re known as “Prairie Ghosts,” for how elusive they are, and they are the second fastest land mammal (after the cheetah). What a thrill. When I read about them online I broke out in goosebumps all down my arms, and then wished I’d gotten better photos. But I sure won’t forget the sight of them. My dad tells me he saw a herd of antelope in Nebraska when he was young, and he never forgot that, either.

We also stopped in Arizona to see a meteor crater. Pshaw! I said, and PFFT. I was tired, and had my eye on a nap, and told the boys to go on in without me. But DH convinced me to go, and it blew my mind. The crater is estimated to be 50,000 years old, and in the early 1900’s was purchased by the Barringer family. It is still owned by them. Daniel Barringer, a mining engineer, thought for sure if he drilled down into it he would find the meteor and be wealthy beyond his dreams. He never did, and when he passed away he’d run out of money. It is 1200 meters in diameter and 170 meters deep – not a small hole in the ground. Astronauts trained in there, years ago, because it was similar to craters on the moon.

After the crater we also stopped at the Petrified Forest, which is amazing – I remember seeing petrified wood as a kid and not being impressed. But wow – whether I’ve grown old or more easily impressed, I don’t know, but the stuff is just beautiful. The gift stores were dreamy – native american wood carvings, crystals, agates, and of course, lots of beautiful hand made jewelry by the Hopi and Zuni tribes.

Our trip to Williams was not all wonderful, however. Somewhere around Flagstaff I went in the back to take a nap, and was woken up by a loud CLANG BANG, and a shudder in the RV, and a sudden slowing. I went out to the front to see what happened, and Youngest had this look of shock on his face – “We blew a tire!” It was the left rear tire, and when it went it knocked out the exhaust as well as the generator exhaust (which wasn’t that bad, since it needed patching). The main exhaust went up and over the prop shaft underneath. We called our insurance, and they wanted to tow us, but since there was a truck stop a mile or so up the road, DH just drove, very slowly, along the shoulder until we got there. Then insurance arranged for someone to come out and help switch to the spare tire. DH went underneath the RV and pulled the exhaust clear off to prevent it causing any more damage.

Cue a montage of us in Williams – sleeping each night at the Canyon motel and RV park, and packing up each morning to drive to an auto parts store, a muffler shop, a tire shop, etc. We got very quick at plugging into power/water/etc, and then pulling it all the next morning again. We had all tires replaced, new exhausts fitted for the generator and the main exhaust, and then, finally, when all seemed done, we spent the last full day we were there at the Grand Canyon. We were in Williams from July 15th to the 19th. Hopefully the insurance will cover all of the costs, but we’ll see.

The Grand Canyon – what can I say about that? When we took Chris to see Niagara Falls, he said, “Pfft, it’s just a waterfall.” And when we arrived you could see the astonishment on his face – the “WOW!” I think Youngest went through something similar with the Grand Canyon, as did I, really. Eh, it’s just a big hole in the ground! Haha, you think we would have learned from the crater – a big hole can be darned impressive!

The first thing that struck me on driving to the Grand Canyon was the forest – I’d pictured it as desert plains with a hole. I did not expect the green forest surrounding the canyon. We paid the 30 dollar entrance fee and drove in and found a spot to park, and then went out to hike the path around the edge of the south rim. Walking out there, it was a tad boring, and I was anxious to get to it, you know? But when we did – we were stunned. We came out to the edge and just stopped and stared. I could say it’s immense, amazing, mind blowing, and beautiful, and those would all be understatements. I could try and describe the way the shadows of the clouds and the colors of the rock looked like a painting, or tell you how we were able to see rain coming on the far side of the canyon, and the Colorado river at the bottom was just a splinter of water winding through, or I could try and describe the clarity of the air and the vertigo we felt when walking alongside the depths of the canyon, but…honestly…you just can’t know it unless you go. So instead of flailing about with words, I’ll just say, if you get a chance to see it for yourself, Go. Really.

As we started heading back to the RV, the rain hit. The weather was lovely and cool, but the rain was quite chilly, and we legged it back to the RV pretty quick. Once back in the parking lot, we put out the slide, dried off, and DH cooked us all bacon sandwiches. What a treat! People passing the RV in the lot kept turning and doing double takes, and I suspect they were smelling the bacon. So I sat in the front and felt like we were queens and kings of the place, having our lovely food while the rain poured down, in the safety of our home on wheels.

The next day we headed off to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, the home of my folks, and along the way DH grew concerned about a vibration. So once here in Lake Havasu, we took the RV to have the prop shaft rebalanced, due to the damage it received from our exhaust slapping along it during the blow-out.

While the RV has sat at a shop getting repairs, we have been in my dad and stepmom’s beautiful house, swimming and eating fine food, and having great discussions. My middle son drove out to stay from Los Angeles, and so we had a little bit of a family reunion feel around here, which was much needed after all the time on the road. Dad and D have two great golden retrievers who are natural born swimmers, and they’ll fetch the ball from the pool over and over again, which got Milo quite flustered. He thinks the pool is a giant water bowl. We determined, some time back, that Milo has some reticence where water is concerned. He doesn’t much like rain, and when we took him in the ocean in Florida, he seemed a bit nervous. So we started taking him into the pool, to see if we could help him get over it. After several days of taking him into the pool every day we have several scratches to show for it, a dog who is not afraid of it anymore, and we’ve made one huge discovery. Milo LOVES to float. Just be held and float. He nearly falls asleep, he gets so relaxed. He’s spent some time curled up against my dad on the floaty, and a lot of time in my arms or DH’s. After he gets out he prances and frolics and rubs his face on every towel he can find, then he circles back to the pool to lick DH’s face from the edge. Between the pool, the steak scraps, the doggy company, the extra affection and cuddles from dad and D, and the daily dog park trips, Milo thinks he’s in heaven, I suspect.

The Southwest Apple Pie from Pie Town was a hit with my folks! It made me wish we’d bought two.

While here we’ve learned that DH won’t be able to fly to his next thing in Wisconsin. So instead of going on to California, we’re turning around and heading North east tomorrow. After Wisconsin is Virginia, and then, hopefully, we’ll be good for DH to fly to his next one in Texas, so we can meander back to California at our own pace, and not revisit Texas in the RV. Don’t get me wrong – Texas was OK, but if we’re driving across again, I’d like us to hit states we haven’t yet seen. Who knows where the next antelope might be?

One thing you all may not know about Lake Havasu City – the London Bridge is here. This is *the* London Bridge, from the children’s song. It originally spanned the river Thames, and was relocated to Lake Havasu City in 1967, as a way to revitalize the place, to give it a quirk, something to make people talk about it. We saw it up close yesterday, when we took a ferry across the lake to have lunch on the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation, which I believe is in California. So you could say we made it – sort of.

With that, I’ll close this out. Much love to all of you, and I hope I’m not boring you with these updates!


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