Bury us not on this lone prairie
Sun, Oct 7, 2007
1,831 miles from home
Roswell, New Mexico
Well, it turns out that our sure-fired plan to keep the air mattress from deflating
wasn't, technically, sure-fire, in the sense that it didn't work at all. The air
mattress slowly deflated and deposited us (once again) on the ground.
This time, though, we left the inflating foot pump connected to it. Of course, this
meant that we had a choice: uncomfortable sleeping or getting up in the middle of the
night to pump air into the air mattress for about five minutes (which, we should point
out, requires a certain amount of awareness).
And the pump wheezed like a squeaky toy being mauled by a pit bull. So there we
(Robert) were, pumping with one foot on a wheezy squeaky toy, trying to stay awake
enough not to fall over, but not so awake that it'll be impossible to get back to
sleep. Wheeze, ooomph, wheeze, ooomph.
We're pretty sure that our RV neighbors thought we were doing something obscene with
an inflatable doll.
But we did make it through the night and we got some sleep and (most important) it
only cost us $25. It's chilly this morning, but as the sun rises it's warming up
quickly, which draws the flies out again. Our flytraps are working great and we laugh
as the flies get stuck to them, hoping there aren't any giant alien flies lurking
Roswell, New Mexico
We pull out of our parking space, headed for "downtown" Roswell. Along the way, we
pass a "Cowboy Church," which gets us to wondering: what makes it a cowboy church? Do
they say "Yeehaw!" instead of "Amen"? If so, we would totally join.
We also see our fifth Roswell Police car. Until Roswell on this trip, we've seen only
two police cars (despite Robert's tendency to travel at near-Warp speeds). In Roswell,
however, every time we turn around there's another cop car. Guess they want to be on
the scene as credible witnesses if the aliens return.
We reach downtown Roswell and park the car, figuring we'll walk around and get the
flavor of the place and find somewhere to eat. It's Sunday morning, though, which
means just about every place is closed, so we're limited to peering in windows.
The perfect place to eat, The Cover-Up Cafe, is out of business. We notice a lot of
"For Lease" signs on downtown businesses. Guess there's only so far the whole Space
Alien gimmick goes.
There are times when it's really annoying to travel with Robert. He'll make some idiot
joke or talk when you don't feel like talking or decide that the radio should be tuned
to country-western because "we're in the western country!"
He makes up for all this, though, when he goes into Grip-n-Grin mode and starts
chatting up folks. This morning, he accosts a restaurant owner who's busy blowing the
dust off his pictures with an air hose. His restaurant is closed, but he gives us
directions to another nearby restaurant that's open AND isn't a chain.
During the conversation, Robert discovers that there's such a thing as "New Mexican"
cuisine. It's described as "totally different" than Mexican cooking and "way
different" than Californian-Mexican and "completely different" than Tex-Mex. Of
course, this is a restaurateur we're talking to, so we suspect a bit of exaggeration.
We're standing in the buffet line at "La Posta" a nearby "Mexican" restaurant
(although now we're not sure what type of Mexican it is) helping ourselves to burritos
and tortillas and eggs with peppers and some dishes we can't identify, but which turn
out to be extra yummy.
We think this might be New Mexican food, because the spices are different
(everything's mildly spicy and flavorful) and the soup looks very strange—like it has
pieces of cabbage in it. Good chow worth three trips to the buffet.
Roswell, New Mexico
We point our faithful PT Cruiser in a North Easterly direction and bid a fond farewell
We're in the Salt Creek Wilderness (NM) passing over the Pecos River.
We pass a number of towns that exist only on the map: Acme, Elkins, Boaz. Robert's got
the GPS fired up so he can tell when we pass through each town—but when we look
around we see just a house (sometimes a barn, too).
Kind of a shame—we would have bought anything that said "Acme" on it (Acme matches,
Acme coffee cup, Acme jet rocket).
We've gone 40 miles without seeing a single building, just lots and lots of flat
prairie and telephone poles. In the distance, a building appears and grows closer.
It's just one building in the middle of nowhere.
It's a bar.
We think if we lived out here, we'd want to have a bar, too.
Man, there's still lots of nothing. Nothing. Not even any geology to break up the
nothing. Just flat nothing.
All that nothing makes Portales seem like a giant metropolis. It is a
good-sized town, since the Museum of Eastern New Mexico is stashed here.
Robert is disappointed—the GPS says there is a donut store here and he's been whining
about donuts for the last two hours. Using space-age technology we navigate our way to
Daylight Donuts only to find that it's closed on Sundays. Robert whimpers pitifully
and we continue on.
1:08 pm ==> 2:08 pm
We leap ahead an hour on our watches as we enter: Texas!
At first glance, Texas looks a lot like New Mexico (even though it's further in the
We look out and see a vast sea of cows. There're cows standing, sitting, chatting with
telephone poles running through their midst. We're a little concerned that the cow
revolution has happened until we realize that this is the Cargill feed lot.
When cows get all grown-up, they leave home and go to feed lots, where they get all
the grain they can eat. They get to lounge around all day eating the cow equivalent of
Twinkies and cheese puffs and getting fatter and fatter.
Then they have one bad day. And we get a tasty steak.
We drive by another Daylight Donuts store. This one is closed, too. Doesn't anybody
around here eat donuts on Sunday?
Another feedlot. This sea o' cows is the Cattletown, Inc. feed lot. It looks a lot
like the other feedlot. Guess we're in Texas, now, huh?
We're entering Canyon, which proudly proclaims itself the Home of West Texas A&M
University. What we notice is that the humidity has shot way up and there're
fierce-looking black clouds in the distance.
Laura helpfully points out, "This area is in 'Tornado Alley' isn't it?"
We're approaching Mary Ann's home, out in the country southeast of Amarillo. What we
thought was a subdivision is turning out to be increasingly rural. In fact, all we're
seeing is broken-down trailer homes.
We're beginning to get worried that when we get to Mary Ann's house, there'll be a
washing machine in the front yard.
But, it turns out they live in a lovely manufactured home (about three times as big as
our apartment) with an immaculate front (and back) yard.
MA is at work, but her husband Jim is at home, so we chat with him for a bit before we
head to the guest bedroom and pass out for a short two- hour nap.
MA comes back from work—she works as a LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse, the occupation
formerly known as Practical Nurse) at a local retirement home. She works long shifts
(6:45 am to 8:00 pm) but gets three or four days off in a row.
We find out some interesting things about Texas (because they've lived here for 8
months, they know WAY more than we do):
In Texas, school kids pledge allegiance to the Texas flag, not the US flag.
And, as a matter of fact, Texas would be better off if it were its own country.
But where would that leave the US of A? So Texans figure they should stay.
We're in the square part of Texas so we're still on our Square State Tour (bonus: all
the counties in this part of the state are square).
The technical name for the tab part of Texas (the square bit along the top, where
Amarillo is) is "The Panhandle."
There're about 173,000 people who live in Amarillo, which makes it bigger than
Also, there's apparently not a lot to do around Amarillo, because there're quite a few
offbeat attractions in this area. Mary Ann, being related to Robert, has found most of
them and plans to show us around on Tuesday. We'll see what we can come up with on our
own for today (Monday).
Tomorrow: Texas' reverse mountains
Robert & Laura
Square State Tour