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The Big Trip: Week One.

Why are you taking this trip alone? I get that a lot. I've travelled quite a bit both in the states and internationally, but there's still so much I haven't seen. And, if you believe as I do that this life is a gift, then embracing that gift through travel and art is my way of giving thanks. And...I'm not getting any younger. As a matter of fact, in this morning's call with my sweet husband, I mentioned, "I looked in the mirror while brushing my hair and thought, boy do you look tired. And it was the same yesterday. I don't mind getting older, but I don't have to look it," He laughed and said "Some mornings I look at myself and say 'man you look're Arnold Schwarzenegger,' and then there are days where I think I look like a slowly melting ice cream cone."

He nailed it. At 70 I look like a slowly melting ice cream cone...with a sprinkle or two still hanging in.

Where am I going? Well, I'd planned to leave the house at 10am so as to arrive at Lake Murray State Park in Oklahoma by about 4pm. Of course, it didn't quite work out like that, but that's why one has contingencies. Things I discovered from week one:

Day One: Firestone offers free air checks for your vehicle. I had my tires rotated before I left,...I did not specifically ask to have the tire pressures topped off however, so my 80 psi rear tires were now on the front, and the 55 psi tires were on the back. Sweet husband told me that the Harps in town had a metered fill station and so off I went. Harps did indeed have a metered air station that took my 5 quarter offering, but neither engaged, nor did the machine return my quarters. I headed to O'Rileys to buy a pressure gage sufficient for my bats (big arse tires) where Dan, the manager and my go-to guy, said "why don't you just go down the street to Firestone? They'll fill you up for nothin." There you have it...there are still places that offer just what you need when you need it for free.

I had planned two rest stops for the 318 mile journey thinking that Dakota (dog) and I would have to recycle coffee and doggie treats, and Minerva (van) would need gas. In fact, we stopped 6 times: twice for gas/said recycling, and four times to secure the wooden cutting board that came sailing off the counter as we witnessed Oklahoma's best road hazards, to install additional weatherstripping in an attempt to offset the wind noise from my driver's side window threatening to push me over the edge, once because we saw something pretty, and once to make lunch. We arrived at the Cedar Cove campground about 5:45.

This is a beautiful park. No dump station at the site, but this is a converted van...not much going down my sink. I stayed at site #17 with my own stand of cedar trees and lovely golden sand beach. Dakota and I slept with the windows open to the sound of the surf and a full moon shining silver beams that danced along the crests. She only snored a little.

Days 2 & 3: my youngest brother and sister-in-law met me at the park in their 34-foot pull behind trailer, which I must say, was a great way to ease into the trip. He made all of the meals while she and I caught up...her smile can light up a room. There's something about being lathered in love and support that gives one wings, and so after breakfast and a quick loop around the campground to ensure blood flow to my extremities for the next six hours, we set off for the Texas panhandle.

Day 4: Remember the wind noise over my left ear around 40mph? I have a feeling that the previous owner used the door to hoist himself into the driver's seat and no amount of weatherstripping will fix the leak, so I'm just calling it "white noise."

Palo Duro Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful, but what my camera cannot capture is the smell of sagebrush blooming in the spring, and how pin-droppingly quiet it is here. The weather called for sun and 68 degrees, but of course this is a journey and what's a little journey without a red-banner fire alert, and chance of thunderstorms. Luckily, we've had neither, but it's only 8 am. Time for coffee and the next leg of our trip: Albuquerque. By the way...Dakota kicks in her sleep. I'm sure it had something to do with the roadrunner she so desperately wanted to meet.

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Day 5: I lived in Las Cruces, NM in the late 70's/early 80s and would occasionally make the drive to Alamogordo, but today it's not recognizable as the town I remember. I stayed in a decent RV park on the I-40 frontage road. You can find more about it here. Very clean and secure, with two dog parks and two full laundry facilities. Not especially scenic or peaceful, but practical and I needed to do laundry and sleep. Tomorrow's forecast is for winds at 30 with gusts to 50 mph. That's a bit excessive, if you ask me.

I have to say that I miss the New Mexico desert. The mesas can be breathtakingly beautiful. Other than a quick stop at the Continental Divide, we were just passing through enroute to the Homol'ovi State Park in Arizona and will cross my fingers for dark skies. First, a quick trip through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks.

Day 6: We arrived at the Homol'ovi State Park in a gale. A hold your doors least they blow off the hinges kind of wind which, of course, preceded rain. In between the drops, Dakota and I took a stroll through a desert in full bloom. If there's good news to the weather, snakes dislike cold and rain, meaning Dakota could sniff to her heart's content without a trip to the vet.

I'm hoping for a break in the weather to tour the petroglyphs before we leave in the morning for the next leg of the Big Trip. I'll leave you with a sunset. See you next Sunday!

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Isn’t it great to be alive and able to do stuff? I actually think rocks are alive but they are SO SLOW! Looks like you’re having a genuine adventure. Stay frisky my friend.



Your solo trip is giving me such a vicarious thrill! I love traveling alone and haven't had the opportunity to do so in years. Even short solo trips are blissful in being able to stop when I want, go where I want, detour if I want or even just turn around and go home if I want, lol.

Donna Hanson
Donna Hanson

Exactly! I'm looking forward to a rock-bashing weekend when I get home...will be bringing you a little of the desert southwest. <3

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