Saturday, July 31, 2010

Santa Rosa, New Mexico

As Night time approaches I pull off As on an historic section of Route 66 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Santa Rosa's stretch of U.S. Route 66 is part of film history. When John Steinbeck's epic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was made into a movie, director John Ford used Santa Rosa for the memorable train scene. Tom Joad watches a freight train steam over the Pecos River railroad bridge, into the sunset. Tom left us with some memorable philosophy when he said “Takes no nerve to do something, ain't nothin' else you can do”. I bet one of the things Tom did was visit the famous Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. The Blue Hole has been visited by mammoths, native Indians, Spanish conquistadors and even famous outlaws. And probably Tom Joad and his sister, Casy. This deep well of clear, artesian water now hosts thousands of wet-suit-clad divers each year. The clear water in the 81-foot deep bell-shaped spring well is produced from a cave system near the well's bottom that generates about 3,000 gallons per minute. The surface is 80 feet at its widest point and approximately 60 feet at its narrowest. The Blue Hole widens the deeper it goes until the diameter reaches 130 feet across at its deepest depths.
Santa Rosa’s strip is something out of the 1950’s but there are remodeled historic motels, new hotels and several good places to eat. It was good night before we take off for Albuquerque

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Llano Estacado

It is only 172 miles from Amarillo, Texas to Santa Rosa, New Mexico but crossing the Llano Estacado is about like crossing the panhandle of Florida. For people who have made the drive from Pensacola to Jacksonville, you understand. It’s long. The Llano Estacado it is part of what was once called the Great American Desert. The Llano Estacado or Staked Plains, is a region in the southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, This geographic area is larger than all of New England. It covers all or part of thirty-three Texas counties and four New Mexico counties. Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado, the first European to traverse this "sea of grass" in 1541, has these things to say about this area: "I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I travelled over them for more than 300 leagues ... with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea ... there was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by” Fortunately I had Interstate 40 to guide my way. Three hours after we left Amarillo I eased the car off on Route 66 at Santa Rosa, New Mexico for the night.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Get your kicks on Route 66

Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it goes from St. Louis, down to Missouri
Oklahoma city looks oh so pretty
Youl see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstaw, San Bernadino

My trip did not take me to all these places but we did embark on “Main Street of America” in Amarillo. Amarillo is some 260 miles from Calvert and where we turned left onto Interstate 40 which approximates the tatters of historic Route 66. US 66 was officially removed from the Highway System in 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and has been replaced by the Interstate 40. Journey’s like this need to start with a hardy meal so the first stop was the Big Texan Restaurant. The home of the free 72 oz. steak. Not feeling like I could handle that size I decided to pay for a smaller portion of calf fries. Feeling fortified we take to the open road. On the west side of Amarillo we see the famous “Cadillac Ranch”. The Cadillac Ranch, located along Route 66, was built in 1974, brainchild of Stanley Marsh 3, the helium millionaire who owns the dusty wheat field where it stands. Is it just a line of ten junker Cadillacs buried nose-down in a dusty farm field -- or is it art? Whatever it is requires a second look as you pass by. And make it a good look for the rest of the trip through Texas and on to Albuquerque is long and rolling plains and prairie. This area has had good rains this year so the dessert is actually many different shades of green

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Journey's End

Journey’s all come to an end but in the telling of the journey the end is not as definite. The Panama Canal will always stay with me but my telling the story seems to end at this point in the lower keys. The many different sights and experiences enjoyed with a group of good friends has a lasting quality that will be relived many times in the future. One last night of the “Duval Crawl” (the term used to describe the partying on Duval St. that connects both sides of the island) in Key West and the telling comes
to a natural end. But with an ending another door always opens, Next the mad-dash down Route 66 to Arizona and back, trip starts as soon as I get back to home and work.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Coming Attractions

This is obviously not Key West. My Sweetheart just told me I have to make a quick trip to Dewey, AZ. If there is anything of interest between Dallas and Dewey, I'll get some pictures. For the time being I'll leave you with these two pictures from mystery locations. Be back in a weeK

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

Fort Jefferson is the focal point of the Dry Tortugas National Park. The dry Tortugas are 68 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The name given the islands by Ponce de Leon means turtles, for the sea turtles he caught there and dry for the fact there is no water on the islands Getting there crosses a relatively shallow area called the “quick-sands” The “quick-sands” are the final resting place on many ship wrecks. Plans for Fort Jefferson started as early as 1825 but there is a simple way to remember the final date of construction. Before the Civil War the light red bricks came from Pensacola, Florida. After Florida seceded from the Union the dark red bricks were imported from the North. The top fourth of the fort is made of these darker bricks. So final construction occurred during the Civil War and the fort housed over 1000 troops by the end of the war. It was believed that the fort would be a great defense of the Gulf of Mexico. It turned out many ships could steer clear of the islands. After the Civil War, Dr. Samuel Mudd was imprisoned here for the role he played in the assassination of President Lincoln. Today the park is beautifully maintained by the Park Service Rangers who live on the island full time. The white sandy beach is small and the water crystal clear and surprisingly more crowded than you would think being this far removed from Key West.