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America's Vast Landscape

semi-overcast 65 °F

Good Morning!

It has been several days since I 'blogged' and I have traveled many miles. After leaving Salt Lake City I drove south a couple of hours to connect with I-70 going east. Along the way I encountered snow on the ground and falling temperatures to 36* at the summit. My destination that night was Moab, UT. A hundred fifty years ago I am sure there was not one inhabitant in Moab. It is nestled among canyons and ravines. Today, however, it is a major tourist town with major-chain hotels, restaurants, and trinket shops. The attraction is the nearby Canyonlands and Arches National Parks that draw thousands of visitors each year. I climbed a steep, narrow road to the local Elks Lodge on a hilltop to find the lodge closed. I set-up in their parking lot in the rain and spent the night. The next morning I continued my journey southeastward toward the Colorado stateline. I left Utah with warm feelings in my bosom. The people I met while in UT were heart-warming. From the Santa Cruz, California horse ranchers, Bill & Colleen, whom I dined with at Bryce Canyon, the wonderful family from Salt Lake City (Layton), Pat & Shannon Burke and their children, Rachel, Cal, & Wheeler who invited me to their home for dinner, and the Advisory Board friends whom I spent 3 days with all made for a splendid time in UT. Of course, while in SLC I logged my last (at 48) State Capitol visit.

The landscape changed from spectacular red canyons and ravines in UT to high plains agricultural land in CO. Within an hour I crossed into NM and entered the Navajo Nation reservation. I drove about 100 miles south through the reservation to a city named Gallup. Once a one-building outpost where Pony Express riders 'galloped' past, it later became a real town when the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe railroad established a refueling station due to the nearby coal deposits discovered. Today, it has a large train switching yard for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. I was warmly received at the Gallup Elks Club. Nearly all the men at the bar were of Navajo descent. When asked where I might have dinner they suggested an old hotel/restaurant downtown on Route 66. It is named, "El Rancho", and is listed on the National Historic Register. Known for hosting many movie stars of classic Westerns, such as, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, James Stuart, Ronald Reagan, James Cagney, and many others whose framed, autographed photos line the walls, it was a delight to dine there.

The next day I headed east on I-40 to an Elks Lodge in Tucumcari, NM. Named for the 4,999' Tucumcari Mountain, a Comanche Indian look-out point, the name was derived from an ill-fated romance between a Comanche Warrior (Tocom) and a sweet Indian maiden (Kari). A fight ensued for Kari's hand, Tocom died in the fight, she stabbed the victor and then herself. Her father also ended his life with a dagger, crying out "Tocom-Kari". Thus, the town was named! (folklore) Once more, the Lodge members were welcoming and that night a seafood dinner was scheduled. I enjoyed my meal with 6 others, including a couple who were 86 years old. She told of killing 12 rattlesnakes in her yard so far this year! She shoots them with her 22 caliber rifle and then feeds them to the birds! I got a late start the next morning for a visit to the local laundromat was necessary.

You may have noticed but there has not been much to report on the landscape. The southwestern states are vast expanses of flat, seemingly endless, real estate. The driving is monotonous and could be dangerous. I actually dozed at the wheel one day, not a good thing to happen.

From Tucumcari I decided to take a lesser-traveled route to Fort Worth, staying off the Interstate Highway. It was a good choice with light traffic on a Sunday. The Interstate Highway I-40 is very busy with semi-truck traffic. Again, I stayed at the Fort Worth, TX Elks Lodge to find no one at home on a Sunday. So I set up for the night. More adventures of Dixter to come!

Posted by dixter 07:51 Archived in USA Tagged from to tx út

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