Posts Tagged ‘travel’

It was a short walk from my room in The Big Texan motel to the restaurant of the same name…minus “hotel” of course. 😉. I’d already looked at the menu online and for once decided what I’d order before I got there. But I wasn’t going for the free 72-ounce steak! Free? Yes, if you can eat it and all the accompaniments in one hour.

You do not need to make reservation for challenge attempts. When you’re ready, we’re ready! Challenge attempts available during all regular business hours. 72-ounce Steak Dinner Challenge Includes: Shrimp Cocktail, Baked Potato, Salad

There are a number of rules that you can find here but even without anything else, 72-ounces of even the best steak would be a challenge…a Texas-sized challenge!

The restaurant is enormous, filled with all sorts of Western decorations.

Everything on this trip runs along or nearby Route 66. There are museums, souvenir shops, and sections of the actual route everywhere, even in The Big Texan.

While I was there, a two-man musical group came on, playing guitar and singing.

I ordered a Whiskey Barrel Stout to go with…

…my meal of smoked BBQ beef brisket, side (salad for me but there are lots of other choice), and two rolls for only $14 plus $7 for the pint of beer. There was so much meat that I finished the rest of it tonight at the motel with one roll while the other was part of my breakfast. Pretty good deal. The meat you can see here was just the meat on top. There was just as much underneath. I did NOT eat the jalapeño!!

I know I haven’t told you about the motel yet but I will. Today’s trip took me through hundreds of miles of endless deciduous trees all changing colors. It was gorgeous. I arrived early and have spent the afternoon and evening watching “Midsomer Murders” and “Hart to Hart”, plus did a few other things. Nice to relax a bit. Tomorrow it’s on to Naperville.

From the road…day 1

Posted: October 25, 2022 in Travel
Tags: , , , , ,

4 AM was the time I’d set to leave but as I woke up earlier than my alarm, I left the house at about 3:30 AM. The good part about leaving at that time and in the dark is that there are very few people on the highway. The two bad things about leaving in the dark are you miss all the really beautiful scenery in the first part of the drive and you really have to pay attention to the road to be sure no elk, deer, or other wild animals come charging out into the road. So I’d been the road for 2 1/2 hours when the sun began peeking over the horizon.

I ran into an issue with a detour that immediately added half an hour to my trip, a trip where because of time zones, I lost two hours on the first day. Arizona doesn’t do daylight savings time so when I got into New Mexico it was an hour later, then another hour later when I passed into Texas. But an unexpected issue made itself blazingly obvious when I turned east—the rising sun was directly in the middle of the road just over the horizon. I could barely see. I Jerry-rigged an additional sun visor by putting a CD envelope (not a case) in the bottom of the mirror on the sun visor so I could just see the road but not have the sun directly in my eyes. This is a little of how it looked without that. Bad photo but taken with great care which is the important thing.

When things improved, this is what I saw.

However, the detour that I was unhappy about, turned out to be the high point of the entire day. I drove through a part of New Mexico that was beautiful. I plan to visit it on the way back.

Out of the window…

And then there was snow!

And another from the van.

Despite the early start, attack by the sun, and detour, I arrived on good shape in Amarillo, Texas where I checked in to The Big Texan motel. Well, I didn’t actually have to check in. I was sent a room number and the code this morning and email so I just went to my room and went in. After a bit of a break, I walked over to their restaurant.

But all that’s another story. That’s it from the road today. Tomorrow I’m on my way to Rolla, Missouri. It’s a shorter day so I don’t have to leave so early. But as I wake up early, we’ll see what happens. As Scarlet O’Hara famously said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Jasper Forest, originally called First Forest as it was the first part of the park accessed from Adamana, a town the railroad tracks passed through, has a high concentration of wood. To prevent full-scale looting, the road that once ran here was closed, but you can now take a nice long walk among hundreds of piece of petrified wood, some full-length although in sections. Remember that I told you they fall apart in piece due to their weight? And as I’m sure you now know, the Jasper Forest isn’t made of jasper but of…what else? Petrified wood, which is actually a fossil.

The variety of minerals make beautiful colors. There are so many beauties here that I found I finally had to stop taking photos. Each one looked as good or better than the last, finally causing a feeling of burnout. I did continue to marvel at them, though.

Everywhere you look you see more petrified wood and who knows how much lie still covered?

Friday will be our last day in Petrified Forest. Not much walking but some lovely pieces of petrified wood. Still having fun?

Independence Rock in Wyoming along what might be considered the Route 66 of the day, the Oregon Trail, is a giant, mounded rock filled with names of those passing by in their covered wagons. Newspaper Rock might be considered the petroglyph version of Independence Rock. Thankfully for the preservation of the markings, the rocks are down below the lookout area and in a place where it would be difficult to go. It was far enough down that I went back to the van for my telephoto so I could get some decent photos.

Petroglyphs last longer than rock art paintings because there’s nothing to wear off. While there isn’t a story as such, there are spiritual meanings, family meanings, as well as calendar events, as interpreted by modern American Indian groups.

The archeological site known as Newspaper Rock is neither a newspaper nor a single rock. The site boasts over 650 petroglyphs covering a group of rockfaces within a small area. High concentrations of petroglyphs like this mark a place as hugely significant. Many generations of people saw these markings and contributed their own. The petroglyphs were created by ancestral Puebloan people living, farming, and hunting along the Puerco River between 650 and 2,000 years ago. Some of the ancient artists may have lived at Puerco Pueblo, located less than one mile north of this site. ~The NPS website

Next up on our route is one of the most historically popular attractions, Agate Bridge, which of course isn’t actually agate but petrified wood, now supported now by a concrete beam. It’s about 100′ in length, 4′ in diameter, and goes across about 40′ of the chasm. In the early days of the park, many people had their photos taken on the log and the railroad finally paid to have the first supports put in so that the log wouldn’t collapse.

Finally there were some bits of bright yellow to offset the cloudy day. This first plant is the perfect example of plants being able to grow almost anywhere, even when it seems there’s nothing to serve as a growing medium.

Tomorrow we’ll be wandering around Jasper Forest so bring sturdy shoes even though there won’t be the steep slopes there were earlier in the trip at Blue Mesa. And be ready to see a lot of Petrified Wood!

We’ve seen lots of interesting and beautiful sights so far but this is the Petrified Forest, so let’s get to the wood. Blue Mesa’s trail is only about a mile but it’s definitely not a horizontal one. Don’t get too close to the edge and yes, we are going down there. But look. Right in front of you is a petrified log.

Here’s another view from this point before we head down.

The way a tree becomes petrified is that the tree dies, then loses its branches and bark. It falls into the water where sediment begins to cover it. By this rapid burial, the bacteria and oxygen are sealed away so it doesn’t decay but groundwater full of minerals deposits those minerals as it works through the log. The log weathers out of the surrounding rocks where further erosion snaps the brittle fossil into sections. As you can see below, it often appears that some manic creature tossed logs everywhere. Look that big one perched atop the peak in front of you.

Looking a bit closer.

Just as there are Badlands in South Dakota, these are examples of badlands with their striations and color variations, variations due to minerals deposits. The blueish color that gives this area its name comes from bentonite clay.

Here are some colorful examples of petrified wood. No one broke or cut these but they’re both heavy and brittle so snapping is easy. Petrified wood is composed mainly of quartz. But, you may say, quartz is colorless. True, but trace amounts of other elements such as iron mean you’ll see a variety of colors. Manganese, copper, chromium, a/o combinations of them are present in the wood.

Petrified wood is found all over the world but the largest concentration is here in the park. You can buy petrified wood at various places around the park but all of it comes from private land. The petrified wood in the park is protected.

Have a drink of water, take another look around at where you’ve been, then into the van and off to our next stop. Sorry, no cake available but you can rejoice in the calories you burned off and didn’t replace. 🙂

for Jo’s Monday Walk 10.17.22

When most people hear/read the word “pueblo”, I’m sure they imagine the more famous pueblos of New Mexico. This pueblo is different, perfect for those with a fear of heights or who don’t care to climb ladders. 🙂 If this were built where we live now, it would be called a “multi-family building” AKA apartment building. From the park website:

A series of droughts in the 1200s, during the Pueblo IV period, led ancestral Puebloan people to move away from small, scattered hamlets and instead build large pueblo communities. The Village on the Rio Puerco (or Puerco Pueblo, for short) is a 100+ room pueblo site located near the Puerco River, a major drainage that bisects the park. The river would have been a reliable source of water for crops. Farming of corn, beans, and squash took place on the floodplains and terraces along the river. The river also made a natural travel corridor, meaning travelers and traders frequented Puerco Pueblo, carrying new ideas as well as goods.

To most pueblo people, a kiva was a large circular underground room used for religious/spiritual ceremonies and rites as well as for meetings.

Again from the website:

At its largest size, around 1300, Puerco Pueblo may have been home to about 200 people. The one-story high village of hand-shaped sandstone blocks was built around a rectangular plaza. The rooms were living quarters and storage, but most activity, like cooking and craftmaking, took place in the plaza. There were also several underground rooms, called kivas, where ceremonial practices took place. There were no doors or windows in the plaster-covered exterior walls of the pueblo. Entry into the village was by ladders over the wall and across the log, brush, and mud roofs of the room blocks.

Ok, they had ladders but nothing like the ones in the New Mexican pueblos or the cliff dwellings.

The sun at the summer solstice hit the marker for a short span of time. Marking the changing of the seasons was important as knowing when to plant and when the rains might come was vital to staying alive in the desert.

Finally we come to my husband’s favorite part: the petroglyphs. Think of petroglyphs as early precursors of scratch boarding, as the top layer of rock was scratched off to reveal the lighter rock beneath it.

Unable to adapt to the climate change of the late 1300s, the inhabitants of Puerco Pueblo systematically abandoned the pueblo in search of a more suitable area. It was all but empty by 1380. Only the sandstone bricks, potsherds, stone tools, petroglyphs, and other artifacts and features remain to tell the tale of these ancient people.

Where will we be next? I guess you’ll just have to come back and see, but be sure to wear your hiking books or good athletic shoes. It’s cool so you might get away without bringing water but be sure to have some in the car. We’ll be taking a break for Six-Word Saturday and One Word Sunday but then I’ll actually have a Monday walk for Jo, although she might be taking a break. We’ll find out.

There are many amazing sights in Petrified Forest but I don’t imagine you were expecting this one!

This 1932 Studebaker sits where Route 66, dubbed by author John Steinbeck as “The Mother Road”, cut through Petrified Forest, giving it the distinction of the only National Park to still contain part of the iconic highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. Bobby Troup and his wife Cynthia drove along US highways 40 and 66 but when he contemplated writing a song about US 40, his wife suggested he write instead about Rte 66 and also suggested what became the title of a song sung by a variety of well-known artists, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66


It winds from Chicago to L.A
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66


Now it goes through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri
Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty
You’ll see Amarillo
Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona
Don’t forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino


Won’t you get hip to this timely tip
When you make, when you make, make that California trip?
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66
Get your kicks on Route 66

I’m not sure this driver got his/her kicks here, unless kicking the car in frustration, but it makes a great thing to see as we travel from the Painted Desert Inn and views of the Painted Desert, to the rest of the park. Route 66 no longer exists as an actual highway, although there are sections of it scattered throughout the west and Interstate 40 runs in some of the same spots. But Route 66 still conjures wide open roads and the romance of travel.

I’m guessing there weren’t a lot of creature comforts in this baby and certainly no air conditioning, GPS, cruise control, and the like. If you’d like to take a look at what one looked like before sitting in the desert for years, click here. It was a rather classy ride!

I did have a moment or two of “Mad Max” thoughts as I circles the car taking photos and I’m grateful for the clouds adding atmosphere. Of course as they’re in the atmosphere, perhaps they can’t help themselves.

In the first two years we moved here, 2020 and 2021, the monsoon season that’s supposed to bring most of our yearly rain didn’t. Thankfully we’ve had quite a lot of rain this year, extending even past the usual end of the season. Although over-grazing took its toll on the West in general, the park lands haven’t been grazed for decades and with the rain, that meant a lot of green to be seen, although you mustn’t imagine the green grass of the Midwest. This is after all a desert. But as you can see, the rain brought its share of beauty to the park in the form of flowers and vegetation.

Ok, you haven’t had the promised hikes yet but tomorrow we’ll start out easy by taking a stroll around Puerco Pueblo, although it might not be exactly what you expect. Be sure to bring along water. Whoops! I lied. Tomorrow is Thursday, so we’ll take a look at some doors while still staying in the park. We’ll walk on Friday so you have an extra day to get in shape. 🙂

The Painted Desert is a vast area in northern Arizona. Tucked within Painted Desert is the Petrified Forest, our destination. Fortified us with the sake samples from Arizona Sake, we drove to the park, ready to enjoy the weather, the landscapes, and the history of the park. The clouds added to the drama of the already scenic view.

Our first stop was the Painted Desert Inn. I do love the pueblo style of buildings, even though this building didn’t start out as an adobe building but was built of petrified wood! I’ll let the National Park Service website tell you more about it but feel free to just look at the photos, although the history is worth the read.

Stone Tree House
Built of petrified wood and other native stone, the Painted Desert Inn was the vision of Herbert David Lore. While his family remembers the finished building prior to 1920, Lore registered the inn with the land office in 1924, fulfilling his responsibilities under the Homesteading Act.

For almost twelve years, Lore operated the “Stone Tree House” as a tourist attraction. Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase American Indian arts and crafts, and enjoy a cool drink in the downstairs taproom. Six small rooms—cubicles really—were available for two to four dollars per night. Lore also gave two-hour motor car tours through the Black Forest in the Painted Desert below the inn.

The Stone Tree House was an oasis in the Painted Desert, and quite isolated. A shop containing a lighting-plant supplied electricity, as the inn was not connected to electrical lines. Water was hauled from Adamana, ten miles south on the Puerco River.

Unfortunately, Lore had built his inn on a seam of bentonite clay. As the clay swells and shrinks in response to changes in moisture, the foundation of the inn shifts. Early on, the Painted Desert Inn began to show cracks in the walls and water damage.

CCC
In the early 1930s, Lore had expressed an interest in selling or exchanging his property “in order that it could be preserved and protected.” He was probably also concerned about the integrity of the building. Petrified Forest National Monument purchased the Painted Desert Inn and four sections of land—four square miles—for $59,400 in 1936.

In the early 1900s, National Park Service Rustic style architecture—nicknamed Parkitecture—arose in the National Park System. This style reflected its connection with the Arts and Crafts movement through buildings that harmonized with their natural environment and regional culture. In the Southwest, Pueblo Revival Style epitomizes this movement, drawing from the Puebloan and Spanish Colonial cultures.

Pueblo Revival Style features stuccoed masonry, thick walls, earth tones, flat roofs, and projecting roof beams (vigas). Due to the structural problems of the inn and popularity of Pueblo Revival Style in the 1930s, the Painted Desert Inn was redesigned. Well-known for the Southwestern influence of his designs, National Park Service architect Lyle Bennett created a new look for the inn.

Bennett first started as a ranger in 1927, but moved on to use his degree in fine art to become one of the best and most sought-after architects in the National Park Service. He was considered a master of the Pueblo Revival Style. More of his work can be seen at White Sands and Bandelier National Monuments and Mesa Verde National Park. The workers that made his plans a reality were the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

In the 1930s, men were finding relief from the Depression through the CCC. They built roads, buildings, trails and bridges in many national parks and other federal and state areas, including Petrified Forest National Monument. Throughout the country, the men of the CCC have left their mark on many historic structures.

The CCC used ponderosa pine and aspen poles cut from nearby Arizona forests for roofing beams and smaller crossbeams (savinos). Light fixtures were hand-made from punched tin, and wooden tables and chairs were given American Indian designs. The beautiful skylight panels were hand-painted by the CCC workers, designs of prehistoric pottery. Concrete floors were etched and painted with patterns based on Navajo blanket designs.

Open for Business
The fine work of the CCC gave the Painted Desert Inn new life. The inn reopened for business of July 4, 1940, under the management of Edward McGrath for Standard Concessions. The Painted Desert Inn supplied Route 66 travelers with meals, souvenirs, and lodging. It was popular with local residents as a place for meetings and special events.

The good times ended with the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II. The CCC was disbanded as most of the young men went to war. Travel was curtailed by wartime rationing. The inn closed in October 1942, reopening five years later under new management.

The Fred Harvey Company
The Painted Desert Inn reopened in the late 1940s under the renowned Fred Harvey Company, a business with important ties to Southwest, railroad, and tourism history. Fred Harvey started his company as a partnership with the Santa Fe Railroad in 1876. His facilities for travelers were well known for comfort and quality. The company’s architect and interior designer, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, arrived in December of 1947. She was already noted for her innovative Southwestern concepts when she came to the Painted Desert Inn. Along with renovations and repair, Colter created a new color scheme. She ordered new plate glass windows placed in strategic walls of the Inn to take advantage of the magnificent view.

Fred Kabotie, a renowned Hopi artist, was hired to paint murals on the dining room and lunchroom walls. The scenes are glimpses into Hopi culture: the Buffalo Dance, a trek to a sacred salt lake, planting time, and Tawa—the Hopi sun god. The sun face was also the logo of the Fred Harvey Company. Kabotie had previously worked for the company at the Grand Canyon and other locations.

Colter was not the only woman that made history with the Fred Harvey Company. Frustrated by rowdy male employees, the Fred Harvey Company recruited women from towns and cities in the East and Midwest to serve customers. These young ladies had to be of good moral character, have at least an eighth grade education, display good manners and be neat and articulate. Their contract stipulated that they could not marry and must abide by all company rules during the term of employment. If hired, the women were given a rail pass to get to their place of employment, a smart uniform, good wages, and room and board. Since their beginning in the 1880s, the Harvey Girls have become American legends. The Harvey Girls of the Painted Desert Inn, from the late 1940s and through the 1950s, still have local ties.

These lamp shade were made by hand by the CCC.

Preserving Our Legacy
Thanks to the concern and support of the public, Painted Desert Inn remains a testament to the historic legacy of Petrified Forest National Park. Although its history is intriguing, the building is difficult to maintain. Cracks form in many of the walls. Window and door frames swell and skew. Water damage and cracks threaten the beautiful Kabotie murals. The seam of bentonite clay beneath the foundation of the inn continues to cause structural problems.

Severe structural damage to the inn forced the Fred Harvey Company to move to the newly completed visitor center complex in 1963. The inn’s doors closed while debate over demolition versus preservation went on for many years. The park set aside funds and scheduled demolition of the building for 1975. Due to a public campaign to save the Painted Desert Inn, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and reopened on a limited basis as the Bicentennial Travel Center. Because of its fine examples of Pueblo Revival Style design by Bennett, historic work by the CCC, touches by Mary Colter, and Kabotie’s murals, the Painted Desert Inn became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

During the most recent work between 2004 and 2006, “modernizing” some of the structural elements in the building will help postpone damage—thirteen “floating” roofs, joint-less pipes in the walls, and re-laid flagstones to help with drainage. Even while bringing the structure into the present, the park is trying to maintain the historical integrity of the building and attempting to present the inn as it was in its heyday during the late 1940s into the 1950s. These rehabilitation projects have continued to preserve the inn for future generations to enjoy, thanks to generous public support.

The inn continues to inspire and charm visitors. It is opened year round with shorter hours than the rest of the park. During the summer there is an ice cream parlor downstairs harking back to its past service
.

Unfortunately, they weren’t serving any ice cream. 😦

I wish I could have seen the house when it was made of petrified wood, but it’s beautiful as is and I love the history of it. Tomorrow we’re out and about with a surprise along the way. See you then and be ready to do some walking.

A miracle occurred this weekend! My husband had the entire weekend off! We decided to take advantage of that and head north to Petrified Forest National Park. As we headed up, both in direction and elevation, we finally reached this view and a temperature of 50F. We were wearing jackets. Color me excited!!

The closest town to Petrified Forest is Holbrook, Arizona, railroad and Route 66 town, which is now a sake destination. Sound unreal? It does but it’s also true. Atsuo Sakurai worked his way up from cleaning floors and other chores to first-grade master sake brewer in Japan. But sake brewing licenses are scarce there and he and his Navajo wife Heather moved to the US, eventually ending in Holbrook to be near her family. I’d read an article about him and his brewery in Arizona Highways but had forgotten about it until I was searching for things to see/do near Holbrook. We decided the chance to taste internationally recognized sake was too good to pass up.

From a start in their garage, Atsuo eventually opened a small business where his junmai gingo won a gold medal as the best sake produced outside of Japan. That’s a serious honor. He also won best sake in the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.

Do read the Smithsonian article. It’s really interesting and worth the time.

Here is rice fermenting.

I called on Friday to ask if we could meet him for a tour and tasting and he agreed. The tour doesn’t take long and we tasted all five sakes. The large bottle in the middle is the original award-winning one, the others riffs on that. From left to right: Desert Snow (unfiltered), Herbs and Bitters, the original Junmai Ginjo, Prickly Pear, and Navajo Native tea (a suggestion from his father-in-law.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried sake but based on my experience I expect at least a bit of bite. Was I wrong! Every one was smooth and delicious. We ended up buying one of each and plan on a family sake tasting or two at Christmas when everyone’s here. So not only was it was wonderful story, the end result was delicious. Win-win.

It was a great start to our day. Now it was time to head for Petrified Forest.

This has been quite the year for blogger meet-ups and the tradition continued in Wyoming not many weeks ago. During the course of a conversation with Deborah of Circadianreflections about my upcoming trip to Wyoming, I mentioned that my husband wouldn’t be coming. She said, “So you have to go alone”, (which is something I don’t mind at all although it’s better when my husband can come too) and I replied, “Yes, unless you want to come out.” And that’s what happened.p, setting up another in-person first meeting with a fellow blogger.

Deborah seems to know almost every flower, bird, and butterfly as well as a LOT about photography. I struggled to learn a bit more about getting off Auto on my camera even though she tried hard to teach me. We even went out one of the last nights to get some shots of the Milky Way. Imagine us with our little headlamps (red so we can see a bit but not destroy our night vision, white for problem situations), trudging around on a somewhat steep bit of land not far below one of the cabins carrying our cameras on tripods, Hopi g not to meet any moose. I told her that if the occupants looked out, they might think aliens had landed. But we survived and once I upload my camera photos, I’ll see if my shots are good enough to share. Yes, Deborah, I still haven’t gotten that done but to be fair, I’ve been doing a lot of work on house, yard, and my Dad’s estate since I got back, and his memorial service was just this last Saturday.

My sole expertise was horseback riding so thankfully I was able not to feel completely incompetent. 🙂 We had some excellent rides, saw and photographed lots of wildlife and flowers, and had fun exploring Sheridan, having coffee and lunch and doing some buying. Here we are, ready to ride, yours truly on the left, Deborah on the right.