Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 – on our last legs!

Well, Don got the heater to work – thank heavens, we needed it! We were up early this morning to start on the final long leg of our trip. We want to spend a couple days recuperating in Laughlin NV, so that is where we are heading. However, Don did not want to stay in Flagstaff – too cold, so we picked somewhere in between, namely Winslow AZ.

We got here pretty much straight through on I-40. We started out heading for Albuquerque NM. We decided to drive through town on Central Avenue which, low and behold, went by a Waffle House. Guess where we had breakfast? 

As we drove along I was studying the map and the tour book desperately looking for something interesting to do besides driving straight through this beautiful desert country. As I read I remembered former trips through these very same towns, as far back as 1989. Every time I spotted a National Park on the map, Don reminded me when we were there in the past, and I confirmed it by looking at my trip journals. Oh, well, no new passport stamps on this leg of the trip. We did stop in Gallup NM where I had shopped in the past and found lovely jewelry, handmade by the local Indians, mainly the Navajo. I bought a couple pieces again before we got back on the road.

Winslow is a small town on former Route 66 (isn’t every town along here?). We drove through the main street looking for a restaurant for dinner and saw several Mexican restaurants that seemed popular. We chose one and had a nice dinner. We also realized that we had gained another hour, and we are now on California time.

We’re tired so it is early to bed tonight.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28 & Monday, October 29, 2012 – driving and driving!

Today was my brother, John’s, birthday – so Happy Birthday to you! We tried a cell phone call in the evening, but Allen’s conference call failed, so we didn’t get to talk.

We left Monroe about 9 a.m. and got breakfast at an IHOP off the freeway. We were back on I-20, heading for Shreveport LA. I found out in my guide book that a Mr. Shreve spent 5 years breaking up a 165 mile log jam on the Red River in the 1800s. The citizens were so grateful to have their river navigable that they renamed the city in his honor. We wonder how that could have happened?

Then we were in Texas and traffic was pretty light. I guess the truck drivers are taking Sunday off. We got off the Interstate at SH 287, which also turned out to be a pretty good route. We ended up in Wichita Falls and called it quits for the day. This part of Texas is pretty flat – it is cattle and oil country. There was a 5 foot falls on the river running through Wichita (which was pretty impressive in this flat country), so the people started calling it Wichita Falls. A flood on the river washed out the falls, but the people eventually built an artificial falls on the river, and they kept the name. Aren’t people funny?

On Monday we were back on the highway heading for Amarillo TX. Things were starting to seem familiar, so I eventually looked at my former trip reports and found we had traveled this same route in 2007. So, we remembered the good restaurant in Tucumcari, NM and decided to get on I-40 and head for that city. Everyone seems enamored of Route 66 and a lot of places advertise the route. Tucumcari was a popular destination on Route 66 until it was decommissioned. The last time we were there it felt like a ghost town. It is a little livelier – some new restaurants and motels have been built on the edge of town. We drove into town and found Del’s Restaurant. It was as good as we remembered and I am glad we supported them. We also found a painting that we liked, so we bought it.

We had gained an hour, so decided we would continue driving until we couldn’t stand it anymore! We ended up in Edgewood NM where we are recovering from all that driving. It has been quite cold – especially at night, so I am glad I brought along a variety of clothes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012 – our last capital

We wanted to pick up the last capital on our route today; Jackson MS. However, when we got there we found it was closed – oh, yes, today is Saturday. And this looked like it would have been a beautiful building to tour. It has two large wings with domes and the central portion also has a cupola with a golden Eagle on top. We were looking in the entrance when the security guard came out to talk to us. He said we could come in and just look up in the rotunda. The carved wood railings and carvings and murals on the walls were gorgeous. I am sorry we could not see more, and, of course, I missed getting another stamp! The guard told us the building was built in 1902 and the former Capitol is now a museum. The extensive grounds were very plain; no huge monuments or floral plantings.

So, we decided to get a National Parks passport stamp and drove on to Vicksburg National Military Park, on the Mississippi River at the border of Louisiana and Mississippi. This was the site of a decisive battle of the Civil War. We first stopped at the Visitor Center to watch a movie about this important period of our United States history. Vicksburg was a Confederate stronghold. The town was located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and thus had control of traffic at that point on the River. General Grant had been given orders by President Lincoln to capture the town and subdue the rebels. It took Grant almost a year to finally defeat the town with almost constant artillery barrages and a formal siege.

After watching the movie, we drove through the park looking at all the spots where battles had been fought. The most impressive thing was all the monuments from small tombstones to several giant monuments with statues and obelisks. I think they were placed over the years by various regiments, states, and cities to honor soldiers, officers, and troops who had fought in the many battles.

We also spent some time walking around the city of Vicksburg looking at all the historic buildings. The Mississippi has changed course so the city is no longer on the River. We had to drive a little further south to see the mighty Mississippi and cross the bridge into Louisiana.

We made it as far as Monroe, LA before we decided to stop for the night.