Weird Thoughts Again

So we drove past a woman and man setting up their harvest decorations in front of their house. Now tell me if you think this is strange? Maybe it is just me, but the Wizard of Oz confirmed, for those of us brought up in the city, that a scarecrow is stuffed with straw. The craft stores for the past decade or so have sold ready made scarecrows stuffed with pretend straw, but they hope it will look like straw to you.

How weird is it that an item built from human looking clothing and filled with straw is then seated upon a bale of straw? Isn’t that like go to the morgue and get a bunch of organs, pile them up and then have your photo taken while sitting upon them? We are such a weird society.

I love candy, but halloween is just weird overall.

Once I was invited as a room mother to attend the halloween march in costume where the kids paraded through the elementary school. When I got there all the other room mothers were dressed as witches. I was dressed as the Holy Ghost, complete with a white sheet, white face, white keds and wooden cross around my neck. As we went room to room I invited the kids to touch the least scary ghost EVER and told them about my role in God’s plan. Needless to say, I was called the following week by the principal. I almost asked if she called the witches representing everything reprehensible to my faith. I was encouraged when we went in one room and the teacher had donated New Testaments to the kids. They were proudly displayed on their desks. Wonder if that is even allowed these 36 years later?

Dallas

Accustomed to seeing Angus cattle, as we drove towards Dallas, we now saw Brahman steer in some fields and even longhorns! We began the day going to the Pioneer Plaza to see the Cattle Drive statues. (Reminded me of the Land Run of 1889 sculptures by Paul Moore in Oklahoma.) This is the second most visited tourist site in Dallas. Each sculpture was created by Robert Summers of Glen Rose, Texas in 1992. They were cast at Eagle Bronze Foundry in Lander, Wyoming. There are 40 steer and 3 cowboys. There is a plan to add more cattle. The day we were there we actually saw 4 cowboys!

They say the steer were cast larger than life, but when we saw a live one it looked this large to me!

Somehow I only captured two of the cowboys. Go figure! Actually I discovered that we missed one that was off to one side, beyond a stone wall. First photo is from online and shows what we missed. The remainder are my photos.

I love how Robert Summers captured the movement of the horse!
Yes, you can actually walk among them 🙂

Now this is what we would call a “Stupidvisor.” Oh, I meant watching person. https://www.americancowboy.com/people/cattle-drive-positions-53630 does not give a name to this man’s position. I wanted to call him the boss, watching the others work.

Was he resting, overseeing or just watching? Cattle drive positions do not include him. His equipment right down to his pistol were impressive.

And then we met cowboy #4! A young man who told us he used to herd cattle on horseback with his father in Mexico. Here is his photo as his girlfriend snapped his picture!

I was impressed that he could clamber up and down the statue without flinching.

And below, just beyond the park, what is said to be THE official horse of Texas!

Yeah, I know, out of focus!

You get the idea? Mobil, then Exxon Mobil Oil in Texas and beyond.

After Albuquerque

As we traveled towards Las Cruces on I-25 we exited onto US 380 a very strange area indeed. We stopped at an old rock shop. They did not have much that we wanted. This area is mostly desert. Along the road there were picnic shelters with a tiny roof for shade. I had to wonder who would go there for a picnic? Perhaps others who were traveling through like us? We went through an area called the Valley of Fires. Here you can see outcroppings of lava flows from an ancient volcano.

Photo by Robert Dutina

The site at https://www.newmexico.org/listing/valley-of-fires-recreation-area-(blm)/1148/ states “Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin with molten rock up to 160 feet thick.” Very strange to be driving through the desert and seeing thick lava along the roadside! Dan had shown us the same phenomena in another part of the state. I do not think I would ever “get used to” seeing that.

In the desert plants are kept alive with drip lines.

Along this road we went through Alamogordo, which to this day I have difficulty pronouncing! (I can do each vowel/syllable, but not sight pronunciation.) We HAD to stop at McGinns’s PistachioLand: Home of the World’s Largest Pistachio. Being a nut lover I had to get a bag or two! They also boast the largest pistachio in the world. Here is a 35 second video of that item!

Then on the White Sands area as we worked our way towards the National Monument.

Wikipedia states that White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) “is a United States Army military testing area of almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR and the 600,000-acre McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south (southeast Tularosa Basin and on Otero Mesa) are contiguous areas for military testing.” I had to imagine with North Korea acting up these guys are plenty busy!

The White Sands National Monument was on our places to see as we had passed through it briefly in 1971. The National Monument gift shop today sells sleds and wax for snowboards as climbing and sliding down the dunes is permitted and obviously encouraged. One of the information rangers told us that the day before they had closed the monument due to such high winds. We had experienced those in Albuquerque and we were so glad we had not left a day earlier! Even this day there was limited visibility. Part way into the park we were both tasting the sand (which is made from gypsum) and I remembered that we had masks in the car console. We both donned the face masks and felt somewhat better. We decided not to get out and hike or slide down the dunes.

Sand blowing in the distance.

To me this is another place of amazement, that the Lord not only created it, but lets us see it! The National Park website states: “WSNM protects the world’s largest geologically unique gypsum dunefield and the flora and fauna living within it.” They occasionally close the monument road due to missile site testing, high temperatures and/or high winds. And we got to see this wonder again. Miles of soft white sand. Dune after dune. We saw people straining to walk in the wind. The vegetation growing out of the gypsum amazed me and their shadows were lovely on the white background. Bob said as the sand on the road got deeper it was like driving on a snow packed road.

Bob’s photo of the sand covered roadway.

Obviously there were some large drifts. Just look at the picnic area sign!

For the most part we had blue skies and as you can see Bob got some lovely shots!

Bob’s photo of the sand blown texture on the dune.

All in one day! Another load of varying experiences 🙂

Las Vegas to Death Valley

On the way, near Nellis Air Force Base, we saw the largest drone we had ever witnessed with our own eyes. Quite intimidating! Nothing the guys below ever experienced for certain!

Yes that tv show is where my thoughts about Death Valley were formed! How about yours? We were privileged to get to see the Valley with our own eyes. Granted it was a somewhat windy day, (never good in a sandy environment) but we were amazed at the contrasts. I was hoping to see the lake someone had told me formed recently from the torrential rains they had experienced. But it was all evaporated by the time we visited there.

We entered at Route 374 near Beatty, Nevada about 3307 ft elevation. The park is over 3,336,000 acres. We saw a tiny portion. Daylight pass was 4316 ft elevation. The basin of Death Valley lies at it’s deepest point 282 ft BELOW sea level. We went to -190 ft that day.

Sand, desolate environment. I cannot imagine being relocated to this area by the military from the Midwest or one of the coastal areas!

In one of my favorite stories, Hinds Feet on High Places, Much Afraid meets little flower called Acceptance-with-Joy.We thought we met that flower years ago when we first visited the Grand Canyon. She seemed to be here, too!

Bob and I both thought of the story when we saw this tiny yellow flower struggling in the harsh conditions.

An amazing place to see. So glad I do not have to live there or cross it in a covered wagon!

The Big Trip – Las Vegas Area

Las Vegas. Oy. I do not have much good to say about the downtown gambling areas. We went during the week for cheaper room rates. Used it as our base location to visit both the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest area and Death Valley.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in “Old Vegas.” Bob took his quarters hoping to use them up with the slot machines. Disappointed that the machines all take paper money now and issue a paper voucher for your winnings. No rattling coins when there was a winner, but plenty of lights and noise! We were easy walking distance to the Fremont Avenue canopy that formed a pedestrian-only gambling mall. At night we saw zip line riders overhead, so many flashing neon lights coordinated with music for six minutes on the hour. Too many weird people. Women in scanty clothes and men too aroused for public display (in my opinion). We were amazed that tourists were there with their children. I never would have exposed my daugher to such behavior as a child or even as a teenager! Yes, I am old and fond of my values.

The “Strip” with the mega-hotels was also not to our liking. Bob was driving and the traffic was awful. Then a truck with a huge advertisement made with led lights pulled in front of us. It literally hurt our eyes. The sidewalks were crammed as bad or worse as the Avenues in New York. People shoulder to shoulder with shopping bags and jaws agape. We did not go into any of the huge hotels as parking was at a premium and we decided we were just not THAT interested.

The drive to the west of Las Vegas was so interesting. We were looking for Red Rock Canyon and did not manage to find it. But we found the scenic road into the National Forest and Charleston Peak Ski area. The cactus were blooming and very fragrant.

Notice one on the hilltop, too!

We noticed the cactus stopped growing at about 7000 feet in elevation, at least in this area. We drove to an elevation of 8,437 feet.

More new sights!

Words and Blog and Death

I am planning to close one of my blog sites and thinking about getting the blog printed so I do not lose the hard work and thought I have put into that. Perhaps one day my grandchildren would want to read it to learn more about me? Discovering entire worlds of on-line services to pay for to get ready to publish and then to actually print. Yikes. Decisions, decisions.

Then I am face-to-face with the reminder that no one will get out of this world alive unless the Lord comes soon. From my journal:

“Judy has died from cancer. Homer dead of cancer. Betty dead of old age and cancer form. Sonia’s mom dead from cancer. Surrounded by death of folks older and younger than me. Disposing of trapped chipmunks, killed on purpose by us.

1 Corinthians Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:51-55 (NRSV)

“Death and life, intertwined. There are just sometimes that the death is more clear than other times when we try to forget it, put it out of our minds, pretend it is not always near. No wonder the men in the NT Bible story did not want to help the man beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. It brought home the fact it could happen to any one of us and death is always near.

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Luke 10:30-32 (NRSV)

“I fertilized new shoots I should not have fertilized. I too kill things. And I will die someday, the day the Lord has appointed for me. “

So perhaps it is important to preserve the blog writings for the next generation to read after my death? Or is it all words? Would I have liked a record of where my parents went in Michigan when they went fishing there years before I was born? Heck yes! All I have is a postcard they sent my uncle which I did not see until his daughters sent it to me after his death.

Is this the best way to spend my saved money? Perhaps it will be valued by my offspring in the future? Maybe not saving it is like killing those new shoots in the garden. The killing was accidental, yet still they are dead. Do I let those words and thoughts that have come out of me go – just perish in the dust of on-line words? Perhaps that is not a good use of my funds or talent.

Oh my, conundrum after conundrum. Would Judy’s boys cherish a memoir from their mother now that she is gone? Perhaps my adult children might cherish one?

I wrote this several years after my mother died suddenly.

Oh the ache
The wrenching tear at your heart
When you want to share joy
With one who has passed over.

Oh the void
When those too familiar arms
Are no longer there
To embrace you.

Tonight I shared an experience
With my daughter
That I once shared
With my mother
“Ice Capades,” with this wondrous four year old!

If my granddaughter ever delights
In the swirling spangles
And enchanted wonderland on ice,
I pray both she and my daughter be spared
The anguish I feel tonight.

Perhaps the future generations of our family might know the joys and challenges of my life by reading what a wrote about this past year. Guess I will pursue publishing. Scary.

Fort Collins to Grand Junction: A Long Day and Long Post!

We were going to drive to Grand Junction, but Bob decided we were too early to check in to a hotel, so we drove on the Arches National Park and then to Green River. What a long, exciting day.

10:58 AM which will matter as the day unfolds.

The drive from Fort Collins goes down towards Denver, then across the Rockies via I-70. This follows Glenwood canyon along the Colorado river. The mountain pass at Vail is 10,603 feet. We saw things that were too far to photograph and new to us. Like not just exits for skiing areas, but actual snowboard courses with people flying down them. Have seen that on TV, but cannot imagine actually DOING snowboarding, or skiing for that matter. I have never been known for my coordination or sports prowess. Ramps and ski jumps and things that amazed me, people willingly riding lifts to the top. I am also not a fan of heights, so there is that wonderment, too!

We saw signs for Aspen, Beaver Creek, Vail, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Arapahoe, and Keystone, all famous ski areas that we had never visited, but often heard about on news and sports channels.

Years ago we took our children to the west coast from Ohio on the Amtrak. The train followed parts of this same road. We were delighted to see the tracks and confirm our memories!

Colorado River 12:25
See the tracks on far side of river!

And such terrain change in one day! Huge mountain peaks, national forests, the glory of the mountains with snow, without snow, river canyon, tunnels, scenic overlooks and then on towards the Colorado plateau of eastern Utah with dry, rocky terrain anywhere from 4,500 to 6,500 feet in elevation at Arches.

Two hours later, 2:35, still Colorado!
Gives an entire new meaning to get out and stretch your legs! People walking along the lower edge, up the path with shadows, and on the ridge if you can see them! 3:11 PM
5:21 PM Long but amazing day! Now in Utah for certain.
5:30 Arches National Park
Is it a Sphynx or a dog?

Bob had to climb alone as the day was wearing me thin energy-wise. He made it into the big arch.

Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints! 6:14 PM
I appreciated the Three Wise Men (shadows) on our way out of the park at 6:40 PM

On our way to our hotel we agreed there were almost more landscape/environmental changes in one day than we could comprehend. Sort of sightseeing whiplash 😉

We also agreed the next day NOT to make such a long day again on this month-long journey.