Monthly Archives: May 2010

I-40 Through Arizona

Arizona/New Mexico Border

This huge wall of rock that rises in the air has several caves. I couldn’t get pictures of the opposite side of the highway on the New Mexico side. My hand would not cooperate.

I’m told that all of New Mexico and Arizona was under water at one time. Must have been during Noah’s time. The winds that blow here in the open desert could have sand blasted the cave like openings long long ago.

Truck stop

Depending on which way you are headed in Arizona, this is the first truck stop you come to in Arizona or the last one on the way to New Mexico.

A lot of touristy things are sold here also, as well as another place to find Native American arts.

Rock wall

This is the last, or the first, rock wall in this range of whatever it is called at the Arizona/New Mexico border. Where the light post stands is the end of highway access from a rest area nestled amongst this massive rock.

After this the landscape of Arizona is pretty much similar to New Mexico until you get up near Flagstaff and in the mountains. The smell of pine is wonderful. A truck stop, hotel, and convention center is Holding’s Little America in Flagstaff. We stop there when we go through and get out and walk for a while. The creaking of the old pine trees, the sound of dead pine needles crunching beneath your feet, rustles of small wild life scurrying away from the paths, and the quiet is something I really enjoy when we stop at Little America.

When our dog was with us she and I would follow the paths worn into dust through the trees. She in search of ground squirrels and chipmunks while I was in search of getting my frayed nerves settled down.

Leaving Little America in Flagstaff, Arizona

At Flagstaff I-40 divides off in three different ways. I-17 that leads to Phoenix, US-89 that leads to the Grand Canyon, and I-40 continues on westward to California.

We are staying on I-40 to the end in California where it meets with I-15 at Barstow.


I-40 West to New Mexico

New Mexico

New Mexico, for the most part, is scrub and dirt.  Salt Cedar trees, mesquite, pinion, sage, and bunch grass is the vegetation.

On this trip I was surprised to see some of the land parcels had been tilled or worked for planting.  Don’t know what someone would want to plant in this soil.   Good luck to them that try to make a living out here.  Water is not a commodity that is plentiful, it has to be drilled for and there are not many rivers or streams like there are in the eastern areas of the US.

The New Mexico landscape changes the further west we go.  From the flat lands to mesas and buttes.  New Mexico is called the “Land of Enchantment” because of the many vistas and color changes.

West of Santa Rosa

The buttes west of Santa Rosa are red.  Table mesas rise from the earth with their flat plateaus.  They shelter many of the Navajo from some of the harshest winds that blow through this land.  Sheep ranches are common in New Mexico.  Not many cattle because a cattle rancher needs to have one acre of grassland for each cow and calf.  Sheep eat what is available and the are hardy animals.  Plus their wool is used in the many blankets made by the native peoples.

Ancient volcanic rock

Further west past Albuquerque is about a 20 mile, or more, stretch of volcanic rock.  The ancient lava flow spreads from the base of the rocky hills and southerly for several miles.

Nearing Arizona

Nearing Arizona the ground changes color, yet again, to more of a bleached out color.

Scrub is dominant in this severe landscape and population areas are sparse.  Most of the native people live well away from the interstate and on reservation land.

The Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, and another clan of people I don’t remember their name, live in New Mexico and create beautiful jewelry, pottery, and woven fabrics that speak of their culture.

If you will be traveling through New Mexico and want to purchase the hand crafted items you can find vendors everywhere and in all the little towns that dot the interstate.

There is a Bowlin’s Flying C Ranch on I-40 before Albuquerque.  They have a lot of local art, jewelry, and pottery at reasonable prices.  There are some beautiful items, such as Squash Blossom necklaces made of silver and turquoise that are a bit pricey.  If you are a collector of this type of jewelry and art work the price is worth it.  Bowlin’s also sells imported pottery, blankets, and items from Mexico.  Be sure to ask if you want Native American items only.  If you are a collector you can ask for specific artists work.

Clines Corners boasts they have the stuff that is “Worth waiting for”.  We went to the store about six years ago and I was not impressed.  They had a bunch of tourist junk.  Rubber hatchets, plastic horses, cap guns and holsters, and shot glasses with New Mexico printed on them – along with a plethora of other knick knacks claiming New Mexico.  They have undergone a change in the outside and upgraded their building and signs so maybe they have also upgraded their products for sale.

If you want real Native American jewelry then the best place to go is in Old Town Albuquerque.  Restaurants serve the gamut of foods from typical American fare to family recipes handed down generation after generation for Navajo tacos, fry bread, and other cultural foods.  The shops that line Old Town are filled with oil paintings by local artists, wood carvings, flutes, kachina dolls, rugs, blankets, pottery, and of course the jewelry.

Taking a trip to Old Town Albuquerque is worth the hassle of finding a parking spot.  While walking you pass by many shops that offer quite an array of services and goods.   The people are friendly and the very old buildings are well kept and maintained.

As for today’s adventures.  Before leaving Albuquerque this morning none of my instruments worked.  Tachometer, speedometer, oil and water gauge, fuel gauge.  The air gauges worked – surprisingly.  So I had to listen to the engine to know when to shift gears either up or down.  That made me pay closer attention to what I was doing than what I normally do.  I usually watch the tachometer reach a certain range then shift.  This time I had to actually listen.

Somewhere along the line, either at the hotel continental breakfast or at a Subway Joe and I got something that has wrecked havoc with our guts all day long.  Pepto Bismal has been my friend today.  Thank God this doesn’t happen very often.  I’m hoping tomorrow will be better.

Oh, and 130 miles and some bone jarring bumps later all my instruments began working again.  Joe had gone through the fuse box while I was in the bathroom to see if  any had blown.  They were all good.  Just some ghost in the system I guess.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about Arizona.  Petrified forests, meteor crater, and several other things.

I-40 West to Amarillo, Texas

Leaving Oklahoma with plenty of trees and grassy pastures we enter Texas where trees are found near water. Pasture land is forever, seemingly. Sage begins to show itself in patches.

Groom, Texas boasts the world’s largest cross. I don’t know much of the story behind this site. Exit 112 on I-40. Around the base of the cross, it is told to me, there are “Stations” or statues of Christ with his cross and the various people and tortures he endured. I’ve not seen it myself so I can’t tell you what it is all about.

Amarillo and lunch at the Big Texan. If you are adventurous and hungry you can try to eat the 72 ounce steak complete with salad, baked potato, shrimp appetizer, and 3 HOT chili peppers. All in one hour. You even get to sit in a place of honor through it all. If you CAN eat it all in the allotted time it is FREE. If, however, your eyes are bigger than your stomach the cost is $72.00.

That hunk of meat is the equivalent of 9 (Nine) 8 ounce steaks. OMG. Makes me sick to think about it!!!

Many have tried. Very few have succeeded.

Dessert? How about 1/4 of a four layer cake!? Good grief that is big enough for 4 people.

There is a Shooting game anyone can play for free. Poker tables are set up to play, also for free. And a ginormous rocking chair to get lost in.

So if you want entertainment value and so so food then the Big Texan is a place to kill a few hours.

Also, west of Amarillo about 5 or 6 miles out of town (maybe less) and off to the south in a field are Cadilacs buried nose first to their windshields. It was too far away for my iPhone or I would have taken a picture of it.

Today was a good day. No problems, wind was blowing but not like a few days ago and we made the miles today. Ending in Albuquerque, New Mexico and still daylight.

A Minor Glitch

We left yesterday only to return home.

We got a late start by leaving at 10 a.m., both of us have been pretty tired and are moving slower than usual. The light bar on the back of my truck wasn’t working all the time. I have to have functioning lights on the light bar…brakes, turn signals, and all the lights on when the headlights are working. My light bar was doing some crazy thing of flashing quickly and in a strobing fashion. All the lights quickly winked. Joe saw it and we had to stop to get it checked out.

Joe did his best to remedy the problem. We spent an hour in a truck stop parking lot taking things apart and he walked from one end to the other with his test light thing-a-ma-bob. He thought it was a ground on my light bar that wasn’t working. After he had it all apart and all the wires were tight and connected then he worked his way upwards. The problem was in the truck I was driving.

We had to go back to the Coldiron yard and have one of the mechanics take a look at the truck. He and Joe had an ongoing discussion about where the faulty ground was. The mechanic said it was in our equipment and Joe said it was in the truck. The mechanic guy was poking holes in my electric line with his tester and saying it was my line. Joe told him that he was getting a faulty reading because he was using the truck as a ground.

Okay, all this stuff is way over my head and I’m only repeating what they said. I don’t have a clue what they were talking about.

So….after another three hours and a half the mechanic guy does find the ground wire was broken on the truck at the plug. He did a patch job and my light bar is working fine.

By this time it was nearing 4 p.m. and we would not get very far before dusk came so it made more sense to stay at the “Bockenstette” Motel than some other one we had to pay for. A total of 63 miles driving today in a circle from home to western Oklahoma City and back to home.

While at home and having a few hours to spend before going to bed early, I had some time to get a video uploaded I’ve wanted to do since about the 10th of May. I made a tag for Nancy Nickle and sent it to her before I went on my Oklahoma City to Spartanburg trip. Just didn’t have the time to get it up to YouTube.

Nancy sent me a note that she had received it and loved the charm things I had put on the fibers. I couldn’t remember what I had put on it. I didn’t know what she was talking about even. Lost my mind there for a bit. Watching the video I had made refreshed my memory and now I do know what she was saying. That was well over 5 minutes ago and my memory can be pretty bad. Too much stuff clanging around in my brain.

Okay, it is time to go and try this trip to California all over again. Wonder how far we’ll get today…..?

Preparing To Leave For California

Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-BQ.   I love, love, love their brisket.

I’m not a big fan of barbecue or smoked meats.  They always are tough and they leave an after taste that is awful.  Joe loves barbecue.  I go and pick at the stuff, and grumble a lot about finding a McDonalds when he is through.

About three years ago we were in Pharr (pronounced Far), Texas taking about 16 trucks to Houston to an auction.  We stayed at a Motel 6 while there and the only place to eat within walking distance was a Pancake House (not IHOP) and a Rudy’s.  Joe, as usual, wanted to go to the barbecue place.  Reluctantly I plodded along with him.  Grumbling all the way there.  Mostly because my dinner was going to come out of the vending machine at the hotel after he finished eating.

Wow and double WOW!!!  I’ve not had such good brisket EVER!!!  If you order the Lean brisket it is a bit chewy and dry.  The Moist brisket is so good.  And the smoked sausages are wonderful.  The only problem is they are in Texas.  When I found we have one in Norman then I was thrilled about that.   All the while we were in Pharr moving those trucks I wanted to end the evening at Rudy’s for dinner.  That is rare for me.

Rudy's Bar-BQ

There is one in New Mexico now.  I think by the look of the map it is in Albequerque.

The inside of the building has walls of ribbed sheet metal.  There are long tables that run end to end across the room so seating is plentiful.  It is not fancy.  The napkins are in a paper towel dispenser, the flatware or tableware is plastic spoons, forks, and knives.

The thing they show off are the smokers that are in the back of the kitchen.  Watching them open the lids and take the slabs of meat out to be cut on the steel tables is something to watch – I’m easily entertained anyway.

The "Tray"

Your order is placed in a crate, along with the “plates” which are butcher paper (to the right side folded up).

Rudy’s is a bit more pricey than other barbecue places but it is worth it.  The food is FANTASTIC.

We had to get our barbecue fix before we leave town and don’t know when we will be back here or in Texas so we can do this again.

If you want some really, really, really good brisket (in my opinion) and are traveling through Texas then I suggest you give them a try.  Then let me know what you think.

We got hooked up with our trucks.  Joe was getting trucks out of Oklahoma going to California and I was going to just ride along.  I had plans of getting into the Emergency Kit that Jann had made me.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Someone had to go and change my mind.  They found four trucks so I will be driving.  Oh well, I can save up some money to buy the Letter Press machine I saw a demonstration of while at Creations Galore in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

We had to put fuel in our trucks before we leave town.

Maybe I'll make it to Arizona?

It is going to take a bit over 200 gallons of diesel to get us to California.  If we encounter head winds going west through Texas and New Mexico then we will need to purchase more.  So maybe I have enough to get me to Arizona at least.

This is the fuel amount I put in my truck.  Gulp!  Hey, it is UNDER $3.00 a gallon so this is a bargain.  I hate to think of what the cost of diesel is in Europe.  They go by the liter, I think, and it is way, way more than what we pay here.

Okay, I’ve got to get going.  Won’t get to California if I stay at this crazy machine.

ComCheck Scam

Why oh why can’t we find the people that deliberately cause others grief because they are too lazy to get a job???!!!!!

Or they want big money fast at the expense of others!!!!  Tar and feather them.  Used to work long ago.

As truck drivers we need the ComChecks to pay for our fuel and other expenses on the road.  Because of the very nature of these checks they are like a bank Cashier Check.  The money is good on these checks and there is not a fear of bouncing.

Someone, or some people, have decided this would be a lucrative avenue for quick items.  According to the gossip I’ve heard….and I’m calling this gossip because I have not read the new story or seen it on television.

The scam has been used against the person in financial difficulty that has a car to sell.  They advertise the car then a smiling buyer comes along and talks the car owner into accepting a ComCheck for the purchase of the car.  The ComCheck is just as good as cash they are told.  When the car owner accepts the check, hands the keys over to the smiling thief the end result is the car owner looses the car and the money and the thief gets away with a free car to take to a chop shop or where ever they take them.

Evidently this has happened enough that our bank won’t accept ComCheck deposits through the ATM system.  They have to be handled directly through the tellers.  Last Sunday we were in a huge hurry to get out of town.  The bank closes at 4 p.m. and we had just missed getting in by a couple minutes.  Our branch is in a grocery store.  Their lights were out and the two tellers were busy doing up the closing things they do.  We were told to put the deposit in the ATM machine and they would handle the deposit in the morning.

Ya, sure…..boing, boing, boing.  We had checks bouncing all over the place.  The deposited items in the ATM are transferred to some other business that handles the transfer of these ATM deposits to a main banking system.  Someone at the main banking system took one look at our ComCheck and put a small sticky note on it saying “Non Negotiable Funds”.  It was mailed back to us.  What a mess that created.

Going to our mailbox I found the envelope from our bank and Joe was ready to tear  heads off.  We went to the bank and that is when we found out about the scam with the ComChecks.

So….if you have any items for sale BEWARE.  Someone comes to you wanting to pay with a ComCheck and it is not your normal practice to deal with ComChecks then just flatly tell the person NO.  That person can go to any bank and cash the ComCheck then come back to you with cash in hand.  If it is a true ComCheck it will be accepted at banks and they know what has to be done with them.

Hold on to your goods until the person comes back with the cash.  Don’t let them persuade you to take the ComCheck and let them go with your personal item.

If you don’t know what a ComCheck is and someone offers to give you one….DON’T TAKE IT.

When Did I Miss Memorial Day?

I thought Memorial Day was the last Sunday in May.

Has there been an event sneak up on me that I’m not aware of?  The reason I’m asking is this…

I-70 Western Kansas

We were headed home from McCook, Nebraska.  By this time it was early afternoon, around 2:30 p.m.  I was driving east on I-70 in Kansas…somewhere east of Russell.  At one overpass I saw several people walking on the overpass.  One was carrying a folded American flag.  I wondered about it but was gone before I saw what they were doing.

About 20 miles later, approaching another overpass it was lined with people and flags.  I honked and waved as I neared it and received waves back as I traveled beneath them.

Traveling further another overpass had a smattering of people and just a couple flags.  One woman brought a lawn chair to sit in while she held her flag.  I honked and waved at them also.

By this time I had to question Joe.  When is Memorial Day?  I thought it was the LAST Sunday in May.  Have they gone and changed the date on us?  He looked in his iPhone Calendar app….nothing noted as to what would herald the display of flags.

I-70 Western Kansas

Seeing these flags standing out and waving in the wind we had is quite a sight to see.  I could see them long before I came to the overpass.

There was enough time to get Joe to pause the poker game he was playing on his iPhone to take this picture for me.

After we got off I-70 and onto I-135 headed south through the remainder of Kansas and on into Oklahoma there were no more flags at the overpasses.

This display of patriotism had me choked up a bit.  Do other countries have these spontaneous displays of patriotism?  I have no idea if they do.  I just know that even though our country is going through a rough patch there are still people that are not afraid to display our flag in a setting such as a highway overpass and not be considered a lunatic.