Saturday, May 31, 2014

We ARE In Kansas Toto .. I Mean Cooper!!

First time ever in Kansas!  I'm pretty leery about this prospect since I've always heard about all the tornados around this area.  Barbara made me feel better yesterday by saying that Wichita was MUCH worse for tornados than Liberal, where we spent the night at the fairgrounds.  GREAT parking for $10 a night if you only use power.

First however, lets finish the Panhandle-Plains Museum in Amarillo.  From dinosaurs to transportation, a history on oil, gas and Indian relics, to an entire old west town built inside the building complete with real log cabins ... this museum has it all!!
Acoma and Hohokam pots with wonderful designs ... it's hard to believe the Indians used these vessels on a daily basis.
About half of the first floor is a recreation of an old west town, including this original cabin which housed six families during an Indian battle.
It was VERY small, but well furnished!  Can you imagine six families in a one room 20 x 30 foot cabin??  
Barbara couldn't either ... in this dress she would have been in a magnificent mansion at the other end of town!!
One entire room was dedicated to women of the west ... these are some of my heroes!!
Early Friday morning we made a quick trip out to Cadillac Ranch.  Not what you would expect a ranch to be, but apparently this multi-millionaire oil baron buried these Cadillacs on his property, nose down.  This happens to be another cache ... one that's called cache in, trash out.  Somewhere along the line people started spray painting the cars, making them impossible to recognize.  Instead of taking their empty cans with them, they just dropped them on the ground.  How rude is that??  Now the owner has to deal with thousands of spray paint cans, and is thinking of bulldozing the cars down.  If you stop here, bring a plastic bag and carry some of the cans out to the huge "empty" garbage container right by the gate as you exit.
I would call this Colorful Cadillacs!!  A little bit muddy, it rained the day before we arrived.  Everyone says it hasn't rained in a VERY long time ... but everywhere we go, there's rain!!
There's even a marriage proposal here ... how romantic!!
One last stop in Amarillo ... upon a recommendation from Nick Russell of Gypsy Journal fame, we stopped at this lovely restaurant called Coyote Bluff Cafe.  Normally, you would just drive right by ... but don't!!  By 11:15 the place was packed with no empty seats (they open at 11:00 am).
Luckily, we got one of the last tables and were able to chow down on this Bacon Cheeseburger fit for a King!!  Dan Chance ... you're gonna LOVE this one.  Crispy on the outside, cooked perfectly medium on the inside, this half pound of beef was the best I've ever had!!  Covered in melted cheese and three huge pieces of smoked bacon, it was over 4 inches tall!!!  Served on your choice of roll it was a feast!!  Their french fries are better than McDonalds!!!  Barbara had buffalo chicken wings that were HUGE, with just the right amount of spicy hot!!
So full I know I won't eat dinner, we packed up the rigs and headed off to Kansas, passing by the many oil rigs dotting the countryside.  No wonder there are rich farmers here ... they all own Texas Tea ... oil that is!!!
It was a pretty uneventful drive ... the road is straight and goes on for miles!!  No sign of any mountains around here, just a few rolling hills when you cross a wash.  One thing you WILL find here on the Texas Oklahoma border is the biggest silos I've seen in my life.
Wheat is the big crop here and it appears the farmers all bring their crops to these centrally located skyscrapers!!
Finally we officially crossed into Oklahoma when we passed this tiny sign.
Wow!!  THIS is big blue sky country ... except for those clouds.  Again we have been told that this area is starving for rain ... well just wait a little longer, because it's following us everywhere we go!!  Heard of amber waves of grain??  It's here on the prairies in Oklahoma!!
Oh no .... we definitely are in Kansas now!!  I'm beginning to get a little more worried as we pull into Liberal Kansas, home of Dorothy and Toto!!  Hmmmm it looks like a regular town, but all the houses are made of brick!!  Barbara pipes up ... "that's because they have tornados here!!".  Yikes!!!!!
I'm trying to appear calm until she mentions it's worse in Wichita and not to worry, you can always see them coming!!!  I thought that burger might give me a heart attack, but now I'm SURE it will be the weather in Kansas!!   As I mentioned, the rain follows us everywhere, and at midnight, right on schedule, it started to come down.  It's not a downpour ... yet ... just a nice make-the-lawn-green drizzle.  This morning we head out for the five hour drive to Wichita.  Keep your fingers crossed for us and pray for SUNSHINE!!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Everything's BIGGER in Texas!!!

Or so they say, whoever "they" are ... but I guess I would have to agree from what I've seen so far.  Their freeway entrances are a little weird, but they have the biggest grain silos I've seen, the biggest feedlot, huge tracts of land that go on forever, the biggest horse ranches and now ... wait for it ... the biggest STEAK in the country.  You KNOW we couldn't pass up The Big Texan Steak House!!

Our main objective today was to see the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum located just south in Canyon Texas.  What an amazing museum it was!!!  The designer of this building not only takes you around three floors of amazing artifacts, they do it in a way that you can just get an overview, or you can delve a little deeper and see what was actually going on back then, or you can go even more into the subject and read every single bit of information available.

We started out at Through the Ages ... Triassic, Jurassic ... you know, like the movie!!  Like a lot of places in the US, Texas was covered with a sea, resulting in a sea of artifacts that are amazing to see.
Being a diver, I'm always looking for the underwater creatures, and found many that I could easily identify because they are still growing in our oceans.  Thank goodness THESE guys aren't around any more.  The Allosaurus would probably have us for dinner.
Here's a water guy ... an amphibian that I wouldn't want to meet.  He's got teeth like a shark ... rows and rows of them!!

You KNOW I'd show an image of this guy ... Scott's horse, followed by a dog bear, a saber tooth tiger and an American bison.  They're BISON by the way, NOT buffalo as I was taught in school.  Someone needs to change the schoolbooks!!
There were spectacular displays of Indian beadwork from the 1900's.  These were from a collection owned by Miss Allen.  She bought up everything she could get her hands on and eventually donated it all to the museum.
This pair of beaded gauntlets were from the Northern Plains in Wyoming, purchased in 1925 and purportedly worn by Jack London, author of "Call Of The Wild".  
I think I took a picture of every basket in the building.  Baskets and pottery are my thing, but all are behind glass, so some will have those dreaded reflections.  This is an Apache storage basket.  They use such small fine pieces of grass in the construction, it must have taken many months to complete.
Here's an interesting one ... maybe 4 inches across, it's covered in feathers.  These were made to place on the funeral fires as an offering.  Such a shame that THAT kind of work was just set on fire!!  Thankfully this one survived to show the beautiful art they created.
This is a Cheyenne beaded bag.  Just one of MANY amazing pieces of art that the Indians used on a daily basis.
From there it was on to transportation, starting with this Solex Electric Bike.  How cool would it be to cruise the streets on this baby!!
And you thought electric cars were a thing of the future ... you'd be wrong, as was I!!  This is an electric car from the early 1900's that carried 42 batteries (half under the hood and half in the back) and ran for 80-100 miles before needing a recharge.  
Here's a cutie ... the picture on the wall is of the owner driving this beauty.  When it quit running, he parked it in the barn where his kids would play.  They drug it out and pulled it up the nearest hill, then jumped on for an E-Ticket Ride to the bottom, occasionally hitting bushes and trees, which is why all the fenders and engine cover are missing.
This is a 1933 Pierce Arrow V-12 in immaculate condition.  When donated to the museum, it was driven here.  I just can't imagine how much money this cost in those days.
Then there was Tom's favorite ride ... a fire truck!!
I took a couple hundred images, all of which I don't have space to show you, and you would probably be bored anyway ... so I broke them up into two days.  I'll show you the rest tomorrow.  Look for Barbara in the early 1900's!!

With hundreds of signs along the road on the way in to Amarillo, you couldn't miss the offer of a 72 ounce steak FREE!!  Here's where you get it!!  Located on I-40 on the West side of town is THE BIG TEXAN STEAK HOUSE, complete with longhorn endowed limos to pick you up and bring you for dinner.  
The restaurant is BIG, the gift shop is BIG and this hereford bull out front is BIG!!!  Of course you know the deal ... you pay for the steak ($39??) and if you can eat it ALL in 60 minutes, you get it free.  It probably involves LOTS of paperwork, since the guy sitting down the table from us had to fill out TWO sheets of paper and show his drivers license to get his FREE birthday dinner!!
I passed on the steak and opted for the chicken fried chicken with gravy that was downright the best I've ever had!!  The mac and cheese was as close to homemade as you can get and was DELICIOUS!!  Are you hungry yet???
I only ate half ... since on the way in I saw THIS baby in the cold case.  No way was I going to pass up a piece of carrot cake this BIG!!  A good ten inches tall and 4 inches thick, I dove in with my fork and got all of one tiny section down before I was stuffed to the gills.  All the leftovers came home for breakfast!!  The cake will last three days!!!
I'm pretty glad they make everything BIGGER in Texas so I can taste that carrot cake for several more days.  We have a few miles to get under our belt before Kansas City, and Wichita is our current destination for repairs to my electrical system.  So far being plugged into only 30 amp has worked fine.  The puppy pen was perfect and they were cool and comfy when we returned last night.

Time to zip up the rig for travel ... see you tomorrow for the rest of the museum!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

TEXAS Q!!!! BBQ That is!!

By 9:00 yesterday morning, I buttoned up the rig getting ready to head across the border into Texas!  I literally gave up on having any electrical connections, but with that very last ray of hope, I plugged in to the 30 amp service, said a little prayer and flipped the switch.  It actually worked for two minutes, at which time I didn't want to push my luck and I turned the breaker off.  Thank you everyone who pushed pins into your voodoo dolls!!  I'm hoping it was enough to unload that ghost as we continue East on this Great Adventure!!
There's really not much to see out here, just rolling hills as we left New Mexico .....
and crossed the Texas line.  Looks like New Mexico won the sign contest!!  I wonder who owns the land in between the two signs???
Coming in to Amarillo, we passed by a huge feedlot.  There was a big sign that said BEEF ...  being a real live cowgirl, I KNOW these are dairy cattle ... holsteins to be exact.  I'm sure other people noticed the same thing!!  At any rate, there were a mess of 'em!!  This lot rivals the Harris Ranch feedlot East of Coalinga in California.
We arrived at the Elks Lodge just in time to get the last two spots ... 50 amp for Tom and Barbara and 30 amp for me.  Everyone held their breath as Tom plugged me in while I kept an eye on the Progressive unit monitoring the volts and amps.  I nearly jumped up and down when all the readings were normal and the power kicked in.  It's pretty hot here and the puppies wouldn't have made it without A.C. .. let alone me!!  

Then Miss Pansy Kitty decided to give us all a heart attack!!  I heard Barbara say "get Jessie and see if she can find Pansy".  WHAT????  As Tom looked under the rig, I walked around calling, but she wasn't to be found.  My heart started racing!!!  I went back to the rig, got Jessie on a leash and headed directly to their site.  Jessie raced up the steps, but that was as far as she got.  After moving the chairs and checking every corner of their rig, Miss Sneaky Britches crawled out from under one chair!!  Crises averted!!!  But I think I lost a few months of my life there ... and I'm sure Tom and Barbara lost more!!  

Here's my new solution to puppy problems when I'm away for more than a couple of hours.  I saw this in Yuma at the flea market, then found it online for less money.  I did a test run yesterday afternoon and it worked perfectly.  They're too busy eating to say cheese for me!!
Barbara is a computer/phone/notebook wizard, as I'm sure most are aware ... and it didn't take her twenty seconds to come up with the best rated BBQ place in the city.  Located just a couple miles from the Elks is Tylers Texas BBQ.  Definitely stop here!!!  I had chopped brisket and ribs, Tom had ribs and Barbara had a plateful of sides because they ran out of chicken!!  That was a shame, because the meat was amazing!!  Their homemade sauce was perfect too ... leaving me just enough for breakfast this morning!!  YUM YUM!!
On the way back to the rigs, we stopped at Petco for some Pansy supplies and Michaels for a couple of yarn projects.  Later in the evening, a chocolate fudge sundae from Brahms was calling Barbara's name, so Tom and I relented, and not wanting her to feel bad, we ALL had a sundae!!  One quick cache on the way home and it was Night Y'all ... the time has changed yet again.  I'm thinking this time thing may be a problem by the time we get to Kansas City!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Ghost Of Tucumcari!!

You know that bad ghost that took up residence in the Westerfield's rig last year??  Well he found me yesterday morning and is wreaking havoc on my rig now!!!  How irritating is that???  Yesterday morning my Progressive system protector starting kicking on and off and when I checked my inside, small plug-in voltmeter, it was pegged!  I raced back outside to unplug from the post, thinking it was the RV park.  When Tom and Barbara came over later, we tried every combination we could of 50 amp, 30 amp, inverter, no inverter ... nothing worked.  The RV host brought his meter out, and the post appeared to be fine ... all the readings were correct.  Must be the rig!!

I called Tiffin who said to do a hard reset on the inverter.  It took us an hour to even find it ... but eventually we were able to complete that maneuver and plug back into the 30 amp.  It's working ... but only if the inverter is off.   At least the AC was working for the dogs!!  I called around and finally got an appointment in Wichita Kansas at a Cummins Coach Care to check it out.  So we left to visit the local Museum, giving the ghost plenty of time to set up housekeeping!!

The museum is in an old brick school building with this windmill out front.  The fans are made of wood!!
Inside, this building has three floors, with more antiques and one-of-a-kind items stacked floor to ceiling than I've ever seen ANYWHERE!!  Entire family picture albums that you can flip through, including some showing 5-Mile Park with it's amazing swimming pool.  On the stove below, on the left, is the earliest pressure cooker I've every seen!
A round ice box with lazy susan shelves .. anyone ever seen that??  As I walked around looking at things I had never seen before, I was distracted by the electrical problem in my rig.  I just kept having this nagging feeling.
Now here's a machine for you ... a Permanent Wave Machine!!  Yikes!!!  I can't imagine being wired up to this monster and plugged in to electricity!!!
Around the main building are several other buildings full of everything imaginable, and surrounded by covered wagons, fresno plows and VERY old equipment for bailing hay and tilling the fields.
This particular building had a roulette wheel from one of the old saloons.
Here was an amazing piece, made by Wurlitzer.  It's a juke box of sorts, playing old 78 rpm records.  What a beautiful piece of art!!
Here is an early 1900's fire engine that needed dusting!!  Honestly, there is so much stuff in this museum that the two or three people that keep it going don't even have time to keep it dusted.
On the grounds, they also have an old caboose, donated by Southern Pacific, that is completely intact inside, including a toilet, beds and leather seats that are still in great condition.  
This is the wood stove the train crew would cook on.  All around the walls are instructions on the use of various items ... like NEVER flush the toilet when at a crossing or parked at a station (because in the old days, it just fell down on the tracks ... there was no "containment" like today).
I'm restless ... not feeling very good ... and still worried about the power problem, but we went to Rockin' Y for lunch/dinner and had a great meal with the friendliest people!!!   They serve chicken strips with GRAVY!!!  Not barbecue, or honey mustard, or ranch .... chicken GRAVY!!!  Boy were those good!!!

Back at the rig, Barbara and Tom's friend Steve (from Johns Truck Service) stopped by to visit after having done a radiator flush on their rig.  When he offered to check out my electrical, I said sure.  He found nothing ... NOTHING!!  With an $800 meter, he checked everything and it all seemed fine.  We even plugged into the 50 amp service and it was ok!!  When he left at 9:00, I was still leery, but decided it was just a ghosty.  BAD decision ... BAD!!  I should have left it on 30 amp.

At 10:54 my carbon monoxide alarm went off ... I jumped up and hit the reset button!!  Nothing like a rude awakening.  Just as I fell asleep again, the circuit breaker kicked on and off twice.  I raced outside and flipped the breaker off.  So much for everything working!!  I left the inverter off and went back to sleep.  This morning at 5:30, I tried plugging into the 30 amp again, praying it would work.  No such luck!!  I threw the cord on the ground, went inside and said "might as well replace everything" ... and turned on the inverter.  It's working perfectly!!  Course my batteries won't hold out long ... maybe the generator will work THIS time!!  Frustrating to say the least ... and now we must reroute to Wichita to get it fixed.  Much as I love my RV, I'm not cut out for ghosts invading my space, so I'm asking everyone to get out their little voodoo dolls and help me chase him off while I down a few more Excedrin Migraine pills!!!