Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home Safe and Sound

1,915 miles in one week.

Bob’s sister and her husband planned their 30th renewal vows ceremony for one year. We got an invitation in January, and thought to ourselves that it seemed so far into the future, and what with James’ graduation from college, and commissioning, and the nephew’s wedding in Georgia the end of May, I don’t know that we formally committed until all other activities were over.

All of Bob’s siblings made it, with their families and folks from his sister’s church, and even some cousins from Flower Mound and a long, lost cousin that lives close to where they held the vow renewal. (I kept calling it the re-enactment, but my family would laugh at me when I misspoke).

Some camped out at the site, the rest of us weenies camped out at the hotel in Bernalillo near Albuquerque. Bob and I enjoyed the top of Sandia at 10,678 feet. It was nice and cool up there. And as we proved, a gravel road 8 miles long where you cannot go faster than 8 mph means an hour drive. Bob SO needs a four wheeler.

The renewal ceremony was fine, and the food good, and the company even better. It was a family reunion. The little kids played well together. And the breeze whispered in the pines. Back at the hotel, more visiting, and stories shared, and a game of Scrabble or two.

Bob received the greatest gift—he got to see his own mom and aunts and grandparents on an old home movies tape his cousin shared. Bob said he had never seen his own mom in a home movie. And she was holding him as a baby and while there was no sound, she was doing word play and obviously enjoying him. Same with his mom’s Mom---she had a big grin on her face truly enjoying all the blonde grandchildren lined up with her.

We drove on north after the family reunion and wonderful lunch at the cousin’s ranch. Bob wanted to see some mountains and enjoy some cooler air (cooler than Texas). We stayed at Farmington, New Mexico and then drove to Durango and Silverton, Ouray, Montrose, Gunnison and Salida. Years ago we had taken the boys on the Durango train, so in my mind it is an all day trip from Durango to Silverton, but driving it is much better. Better view of the mountains and the towns.

At one scenic viewing spot, the helpful signs brag of the best and cleanest air, but the portapotty facilities quickly diminished that fact. Waiting in line behind an Australian lady, she commented, “whew—thunderbox”

From Salida of-no-cell-coverage to Canon City where they do not open the Royal Gorge park until midmorning, we drove on south to Pueblo, Raton, and the Capulin Volcano in the NE corner of New Mexico. We had enjoyed it last July when it was lush and green from lots of rain and during the ladybug migration. This time, it was dry and brown and in the middle of the gnat invasion. Bob walked the trail in under twenty minutes. There is this cool trail along the rim. It was too hot there for me. But, you can actually see the highest peak in Oklahoma from there, and along the road back into Texas. Dalhart to Channing to Amarillo. And I must brag again about THE best bathrooms on 287. Combination new plus museum plus architectural wonders and so clean you could do surgery on their floors. They are only a county apart, but I wonder if they had a competition or something. One each side of Childress and Quannah and Hedley.

Now a paragraph about the signage. Deer signs have this perky jumping deer complete with antlers. Some give mileage, for example, so that you know that for the next three or 26 miles to be on the lookout for perky, jumping deer. The only actual deer we saw on the entire trip was after Raton on the way to Capulin, and they were eating quietly beside the road camouflaged by coats the same color at the dried grass. Some signs ramped it up a bit with a bigger deer---maybe and elk or a moose? Have there been any moose spotted near Albuquerque?? And we saw a few sheep with horns, like a ram, near Monarch Pass. The milk cow sign near Capulin was a laugh, as all the cows in the nearby fields looked like black angus, but the sign showed udders.

I want to remember the tram at Monarch Pass. 11,312 feet. The operator up top said they had only been open three weeks because of heavy snows. 500 inches. It is a privately owned little operation, but well worth the visit. Clean bathrooms, and a huge gift shop, and museum pictures of the disasters and snow. There is an empty cement pallet on top near the observation station. It was so fun to lay down on top of it and watch the clouds roll by. I did back exercises, and wrapped in a heavy jacket we watched the wind pick up to 40 miles an hour, then die down to a breeze, and then howl again. It was hard to imagine 500 inches of snow, as that would have covered the two story tram house and observation deck. Pretty flowers dot the landscape, and I only saw one tiny bee trying to pollinate the flowers. This was the second time we had donned our jackets.

Now we are home, and the cat was glad to see us. She was needing a good scratch, and we are both now covered in cat hair. Laundry is a humming.

Someone or some group is smart and building three and four story new hotels throughout the country. They have about thirty rooms per floor, and an inside pool, and breakfast bar. The Comfort Inn in Amarillo had a Texas shaped waffle iron this morning. And the Holiday Inn Express hotels we stayed in were all nice. I like their peppery shampoo. We saw new Quality Inns, and Best Westerns---all in that rectangular shape. And all doing good business. The tubs at the Comfort Inn were too slippery, and the bathroom door arrangement irritatingly stupid.

I am not too sure what all is entailed in “antler products” near Trinidad, Colorado. But we saw lots of places with antlers piled high in wagons and adorning doorways and roofs.

Dishrags knitted and distributed to sisters-in-laws that like them, and a bag ready to mail to Suzanne. Bob did all the driving. I lost count of how many I knitted.

We kept in cell phone contact with James checking in each night. And marveled at all the rock formations to tell Lauren about. Lauren would love to see the rock formations near Bob’s cousin’s house where they filmed the movie, 9:10 to Yuma. Bob’s cousin said that sharks teeth had been discovered nearby, and gastroliths—stomach stones from whales. The rocks near the tunnels are Precambrian. Silverton is surrounded by pinker rocks, but the iron ore rich streams are orange. The falling rocks signage should be Colorado’s motto. And we also noted that there is plenty of real estate for sale in Colorado.

Cheapest gas was 3.85 in Childress, Texas today. Highest we paid was 4.17 in Raton, New Mexico.

My thanks to all who organized the family reunion. You know who you are. Now get busy on the sisters’ big five-oh in Branson in October.

And what a gift we were given in getting to meet a cousin only two months older than Bob. Bob had told me stories about their adventures growing up visiting relatives in El Paso and Carlsbad. This cousin only has one sister, so he seemed to be enjoying being reunited with eight first cousins, and numerous second cousins. He is talented and has a beautiful wife, and wonderful ranch. I hope we can get a copy of his home movie tape and get copies made for all the siblings. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a movie is worth a library, in my opinion.

1 comment:

Bob said...

It was a fun trip. The Quanah and Hedley rest stops may be nice, but the award for the best honey pit goes to Monarch Ridge.

By the way, we did see one other deer on the trip. (But you told me not to remind you of that bloated fly lure... So I won't.)