by Mike Bailey
Westward Ho!: Copyright (C) 1987, 2002, 2016 by Michael T. Bailey Sr., Marietta, Georgia. All rights reserved. Reproduction, adaptation, or translation
without prior written permission is prohibited, except as allowed under copyright laws. Contact information:
In some respects, the following narrative might look skimpy in overall content considering the fact
that four people spent 16 days on the road and covered almost 6,000 miles.
Well, the log only touches the surface of a most joyous, wonderful, and adventurous journey by four
people who love each other very much.
From June 26 through July 11, 1987, Deanna and Mike Bailey, Barbara and Jim Davis, trekked
across the southern half of the United States through Big Bend National Park, up through Carlsbad
Caverns, then on through White Sands National Moment to the desert southwest and across the
border into Mexico, then back up through the Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley and
over the Rocky Mountains to Denver, and then across the wide plain's states to St. Louis, and
finally back to Marietta, Georgia.
They did all this and more with smiles on their faces, wonderment in their eyes, and stood together
in many places along the way and quietly said thank you for their freedom to see so much of God's
handy work in the physical world around us.
I spent five wonderful and exciting months planning and detailing every step of our pending
journey. Each person gave me a list of places they wanted to see "out west." Looking back on all
of this now, I think I planned it right because we all saw everything, and more, on our list.
We went together, we saw together, we cried together at all the beautiful sunsets, and we laughed
together for 6,000 wonderful miles.
Thank you, Deanna, Barbara, and Jimmy for allowing me to be your tour guide -- you made me feel
wonderful on such a long journey.
It should be noted that Barbara wrote most of this log and the writing (original) was unusually bad
(looked like a chicken wrote it with a broken quill pen) because she had had surgery on her hand
only four weeks before the trip, and also because most of the writing was done while the car was
There was no rain from the time the trip began until it ended except for nine tiny drops one day
somewhere in the middle of New Mexico.
I translated Barbara's handwritten log notes into the computer. I also filled in some additional
narrative here and there -- hope you do not mind, Barbara.
Mike Bailey, 1987.
3:00 p.m. Jimmy and I left Asheville for Atlanta to meet Mike and Deanna.
7:30 p.m. Arrived Atlanta. Mike and Deanna were busy getting the car ready -- washed and a trial
run at trying to get the trunk packed. Jimmy and Mike finally figured out how to get all of our stuff
in that small looking trunk (experience from the Navy I guess).
We finally decided on what we were going to take and what we were going to leave behind.
Everybody was starting to get "yancy" about getting "on the road"
10:20 p.m. Left Atlanta (early). Odometer reading: 0.0
We couldn't stand it any longer -- hit the road Jack! We are going to try to get to Birmingham
Alabama and find a place to stay so we can get a head start on the trip to Sabra's house in
11:35 p.m. Crossed the Alabama State Line -- making our way.
Turned our watches back one hour. This will be the first of many time changes we will go through.
12:00 p.m. We're on the by-pass around Birmingham, Alabama trying to find a place to stay the
night and get some coffee. No luck, this place is dead -- not a place in sight!
|Day 1 - Hit the road Jack
|Day 2 -- Jimmy quits driving
12:30 a.m. We've come to a command decision. The heck with Birmingham, let's drive all night and
straight through to Sulphur.
2:30 a.m. Stopped at a small truck stop near the Mississippi State line for coffee and something
Everybody groggy and asking "What are we doing here and where are we?" Mike ate a hamburger
(with onions) -- yuk!
3:00 a.m. Jimmy is driving now and says he thinks we are on I-20 -- or maybe we're on an old
roller-coaster track! Everybody so punch drunk now that both answers seem right.
3:05 a.m. Entered Mississippi. I-20 along here is really in bad shape. Car is still bouncing up and
down -- maybe we ARE on a roller-coaster!
4:00 a.m. Jimmy retired from driving -- says he will be navigator for the rest of the trip.
5:10 a.m. Breakfast at Jackson, MS, International House of Pancakes.
Boy! Was this a welcomed pit stop. Everybody seems to be getting their second wind. Mike said he
wished he hadn't eaten that onion at 3 o'clock this morning!
Mike and Deanna have stopped here for breakfast before -- once going to Sabra's house and once
going to see Michael at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
6:00 a.m. Left I-20 and entered Natchez Trace. This is a road like the Blue Ridge Parkway -- no
commercial traffic -- great leisurely drive.
All sorts of great landscapes -- heavy forest (canopied over road), open meadows -- just peaceful.
We also have seen hundreds of turtles crossing the road. A lot of them didn't make it.
7:15 a.m. Stopped at a wayside park for potty time. Walked down to a river -- very steep, sudden
drop off from the river bank. Refreshed (even though the rest rooms were not) and on the
8:04 a.m. Drove through historic Natchez, MS. This is a beautiful place -- would like to return
someday and really tour the town. Mike wouldn't stop for coffee!
8:10 a.m. We are crossing the mighty Mississippi River and into Louisiana.
The land changes so drastically here. Looking back, we can see Natchez high up on a bluff over
looking the mighty Mississippi. Ahead of us, the town of Vidalia, Louisiana and the flat lands
beyond -- signaling the start of the vastness of the "West".
Mike still wouldn't stop for coffee!
9:30 a.m. Alexandria, LA. Mike finally stopped for coffee! (Barbara said for me to add that in
La., counties are called parish, rather than county.) Mike again said he wished he'd not eaten
The ride from Vidalia to here was interesting. The land is so flat and lots of water everywhere
(small lakes, etc.).
10:18 a.m. Off to Sulphur, LA. The land is kinda rolling -- like traveling over an ancient sea bed.
The road is straight as an arrow.
Along the way we saw an interesting sight. Running parallel to each other was an airplane runway,
a train track, and our highway. The graphic on the caution signs at intersections showed all three
-- never seen this anywhere else.
12:18 p.m. Arrived at the home of Sabra and Denzil Cooper (Mike's sister and brother-in-law) in
Sulphur, LA (elevation, 16 feet). Beautiful home -- beautiful people.
We had an excellent supper -- shrimp Creole and peach ice cream for desert. "Riding high tonight!"
While Mike and Deanna sacked out, Sabra and Denzil gave Jimmy and Barbara a tour of Sulphur
and the lake front around Lake Charles.
We all turned in early -- it's been a long day since we left Atlanta!
6:20 a.m. Left the Cooper residence and headed for the Texas border. Our "Westward Ho" trip
really begins now in earnest!
6:43 a.m. Entered Texas. No breakfast yet! Odometer reading: 712. Jimmy commented that he had
never seen an Interstate Exit Number so high -- 879. Mike told him that's how far it was (on I-10)
to El Paso Texas! Big state … really big state!
7:15 a.m. Breakfast! Stopped at the ole standby -- McDonald's in Beaumont Texas.
9:15 a.m. Passing through Houston Texas. Big town -- lots of pretty buildings in the downtown area.
The drive over from Beaumont was almost boring -- I-10 just rolls on and on -- flat, very few trees,
12:20 p.m. Arrived in San Antonio, TX. We took a side road into town -- mistake! Road detours had
us wandering all through parts of town I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce hasn't included in their
"sights to see in San Antonio."
12:53 p.m. We had lunch across from the Alamo in famous old restaurant -- Burger King #7011.
Neat place -- we ate upstairs, overlooking the Alamo and the tourist infested park below.
After lunch, we went through the Alamo. Seems out of place here in the middle of a busy city -- all
the movies show it out in the middle of "nowhere." Anyway, a fascinating place -- history all around
us. The preserved Alamo area takes up almost a full city block.
The grounds around the chapel are beautiful -- big old oak trees, flowers, etc.
Found out that a Bailey from Kentucky was one of the defenders of the Alamo -- got to be kin!
We took a boat ride through downtown San Antonio. The river is lined with many shops,
restaurants, and has atmosphere.
The river was packed with boats. Each boat held about 40 people. The kids driving the boats acted
just like kids -- gunning it, fast turns, etc., all with a flair of "piece of cake."
Cost was $1.50 -- well spent.
3:18 p.m. On the road -- US 90 to Del Rio to spend the night.
5:30 p.m. Arrived in Del Rio Texas. The drive over from San Antonio was not too bad. The land is
starting to look pretty bleak -- fewer trees, lots of rocky-looking land, wide open space!
We checked into the Ramada Inn and then decided to cross the border into Ciudad Acuna, Mexico
for dinner. The manager at the motel said to go to a place call Mrs. Crosby's. It is in a hotel by
the same name. Easy! Walk across the border, go three blocks and you're there!
What she forgot to tell us was that it's over a mile from the border to where the "three
We parked the car in a protected area by the U.S. gate and walked into Mexico because we found
out our auto insurance was no good in Mexico. Protected area? The protected area was a
ramshackle old taxi cab building with a chicken wire fence around it! We just knew that when we
got back the car would be sitting up on blocks and stripped!
The walk into Mexico started on the U.S. side by each of us having to pay a dime to get through the
first gate. Then we walked about a mile to the actual border, crossing it when we walked over the
bridge crossing the Rio Grande River. Entering Mexico through their gate was easy -- nobody paid
any attention to us, including the Mexican Border Guards.
Oh yea, while walking over, two kids from Atlanta stopped and asked if we needed a ride -- small
world isn't it?
Ciudad Acuna! What an experience -- dirt and poverty everywhere! All the buildings looked rundown,
shabby, and even frightening to some degree. People, both young and old, just stood
around -- looking at us or just looking off into space. Desperation was on a lot of their faces --
desperate to escape, to survive, or to just live as we appeared to be living. The young ones beg for
money -- the old ones act like they don't care one way or the other (defeated?).
Lord! This really makes one appreciate our America. We take so much for granted.
We ate in Mrs. Crosby's -- a beautiful restaurant -- 100% authentic Mexican food. The inside of
the restaurant was so dramatically different from the outside world. On the street, everything was
dirty, old, and depressing. Inside, it was bright, clean, colorful, and the people were all dressed in
native formal dress.
Mrs. Crosby's has been around awhile. For instance, there were autographed pictures on the wall to
the owner from Pancho Villa and other notables from the days of the Mexican Revolution!
When we had entered the restaurant, it was still daylight outside. However, when we left the
restaurant, it was dark and we really felt unsafe. We decided real quickly to get a cab back across
the border. Jimmy and Mike stood out in the middle of the street and stopped the first cab that
came down the street.
The cab "looked like" about a 1970 Pontiac -- filthy dirty, no A/C, no nothing! At the U.S. border,
the guards there seemed more interested in the cab driver than in us. They make absolutely certain
that the driver turns around after discharging his passengers.
Back in the good ole US of A!
Have decided we should give all the land from San Antonio westward to Del Rio back to Mexico
because the only Americans you see are tourists. No one speaks English!
This was Deanna's and Barbara's first time out of the U.S.
Stopped at a local supermarket on the way back to the motel to get some supplies. It looks like 95%
of the cars and people here are from Mexico. Don't see how they can afford to come over here
7:05 a.m. Leaving Del Rio for Big Bend, by way of Judge Roy Bean's Museum in Langtry. Weather
overcast -- land flat.
7:42 a.m. Driving west from Del Rio, this land sure does look strange. Terrain looks like ranges as
far as the eye can see, then low mountains on the horizon, yucca plants everywhere, ground looks
very rocky, no tall trees -- just looks like bushes, no homes or buildings but we've seen several
cowboys riding across the ranges. Don't know what they're doing or where they're going!
Lots of rock formations (beautiful) dry creek beds, goats and sheep!
9:21 a.m. Leaving Judge Roy Bean exhibit. It was great. He was quite a character, truly the "law
west of the Pecos." He was a beer drinking, fine levying frontier-man of the West. He even named
the town -- Langtry. He named it after the actress Lilly Langtry for whom he had a lifelong crush.
He died one year before she came to see the town "named" after her.
There was a walk-through trail of the native plant life. Everything was used for something -- from
food to liquor to kidney disease, and venereal disease. From there we drove through a "dead" village
to a canyon -- indescribable sounds like a jungle with all the wildlife noises in the lush green thicket
surrounding the Rio Grande River below us.
We could see vast caves and somewhere below in green thicket was the Rio Grande River. We were
warned of snakes but didn't "experience" any. Across the thicket was the rocky cliffs of the
canyon -- Mexico.
We are now headed for Big Bend National Park where we've just been told today's temperature
will be 105 degrees! Here it is cloudy, windy, and pleasant.
10:10 a.m. We are having trouble with Mike again. Everyone wants to stop for a drink but "NO."
Mike says it has to be an official rest stop area!
The saying of the crowd now to every comment of why would anyone want to live here or why is a
home way out here, etc., is "because their father and mother did."
Oh yes, of course Jimmy had to buy his morning paper and he informed us that the headline stated
that "Burt Reynolds was seen dining in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico last night!"
10:45 a.m. Stopped at one of Texas's famous rest stops. Large pull off, with concrete picnic tables
and shade buildings. Behind the picnic area are two sets of steps (on opposite ends of the pull off
area) that go up and over the fence surrounding the whole area.
You guessed it -- one's for the boys and one's for the girls. You're on your own to find a "bush" big
enough to hide behind. Jimmy was the only one brave enough to give it a "try".
Deanna was getting ready to go until she saw a snake -- turned out to be just the skin from a dead
one. Didn't matter! No way she was going across the fence.
Talked to two ranchers (had a ranch down by Big Bend) who were on their way to San Antonio with
some horses. We asked them about the trash cans we'd noticed in all the roadside parks -- they
were mounted leaning over to one side.
In typical Texas fashion, they answered "They were straight when we put them up but the wind
blows so hard in Texas it bent them all over!" As they left laughing at the four "tourists" from the
East, we decided we'd better hit the trail also.
11:50 a.m. Arrived in Marathon Texas. Stopped for gas and food for a picnic at Big Bend.
Between Del Rio and Marathon, the wildlife we saw was several vultures perched on posts, a huge
rattler, a tarantula (yuk), hawk, rabbit, and a roadrunner.
12:52 p.m. Arrived Big Bend National Park, Texas.
The ride down from Marathon was beautiful. The land really opens up -- the vastness of the Big
Bend area really starts to overwhelm you. Mountain ranges surrounded us as we threaded our way
south into the almost barren, rocky landscape called Big Bend.
1:10 p.m. Stopped at the ranger station at Panther Junction. Went through the museum there -- got
a good overview of how the park was laid out.
Temperature really rising now and we're all getting hungry. Asked a ranger where would be a good
place to have a picnic. Said there was a neat place right down the road -- Dugout Wells. Plenty of
shade, quiet, off the beaten path, etc. Sounded great!
2:23 p.m. Just finished the picnic lunch. This may be the low point of our trip. The lunch was fine
but it was a fight to the finish to see which could be eaten first -- the lunch by us or us by the bugs
and the flies. We ate under the only two trees in the park. They were fed by water brought out of
the ground by an old windmill. The green area gave the appearance of an oasis.
Behind us are the Chisos Mountains. Rising up out of this vastness surrounding us, they look so
majestic yet so lonely! All of these rock mountains were mainly formed by volcanic activity many
years ago. Lots of dinosaur bones about, along with fossilized oysters, clams, and other sea life.
When you look out over this vastness, you feel you would know what the ocean today would look like
if the water disappeared.
Soil is dry and actually looks like ground-up rock. The rocks are all different colors. There is a lot
of color in the low lands from the various cactus flowers. The park is 740,118 acres.
2:30 p.m. We found out that is 115 degrees! It is a different heat from ours -- dry period. You
don't feel as hot or sweat as much.
We were going to head down to the east end of the park but decided to turn around and head for
the Chisos Mountain Basin area.
3:00 p.m. The basin -- what a spectacular place. The road up to here was something else. After we
got pass the road construction (had to follow a pilot car), we turned off the main road and
When I say up -- I mean up. The road climbs at about a 14% grade. After threading our way up
through the mountain switchbacks, canyons, and steep grades, we popped out in an area completely
surrounded by high mountain peaks.
There is a motel here, run by the Park Service, and also a place to eat. To the South was a gap in
the "rim of rock" surrounding us and we could see the valley floor below us -- beautiful!
Heading down now, off to see the Santa Elena Canyon area.
4:55 p.m. Santa Elena. This place is beautiful. Of course the trip over here from the basin was
interesting also. When we got back down from the basin, we had to negotiate the road construction
again -- followed another pilot car through the maze of dirty, dusty machines and people working
on the road. Oh well, it was worth it.
We parked the car and walked down through a green "thicket" of weird looking bushes to the river.
It was so hot (115 degrees) here, especially in the thicket area where there wasn't the slightest
hint of a breeze.
Here at the river we saw where the Rio Grande separates the U.S. from Mexico -- a canyon cut by
the river through solid rock. The canyon walls were about 1,400 feet high, rising almost straight up
from the river flowing below. Awesome!
The water felt about 80 degrees and was moving right along. We had to walk across another "dry"
creek bed to get to the river. This dry creek feeds into the river at the canyon cut and was not
really dry. In fact is was muddy -- had to walk carefully. From the size of it, it must really roar
when it rains.
Mike "stole" a rock from there which is strictly prohibited!
5:35 p.m. Heading for Study Butte. There's a short cut we could take but the ranger said it could
really get rough. So it's back the way we came and through the "road construction" again.
6:13 p.m. Leaving Big Bend National Park. What a place! Awesome, vast, beautiful, lonely, dry,
6:30 p.m. We just saw our first bona fide tumbleweed blowing across the highway!
6:33 p.m. Arrived Study Butte. Had a scare when we first got here. Rounding a curve, we saw the
city limit sign for Study Butte in front of the most dilapidated buildings you ever saw. All of them
were clustered together under a ragged old sign that said "Study Butte Mall." You have gotten to
Past the "mall" and around another curve was our motel -- looked great! We all sighed with relief.
When Mike went inside to register, before he could say anything, the motel manager looked up and
said "Hi, you must be Mr. Bailey from Atlanta." We never did figure out how he knew! Must have
looked like a tourist from the East.
Asked the manager did he recommend eating in the cafe next door. Quick and to the point -- NO.
Said to try a place down in Tellirude (a ghost town) call La Kiva.
7:45 p.m. Just finished dinner at La Kiva restaurant. It was an underground deal (had to go through
a "mine entrance-type door" to even get inside). No waitresses -- place your order at the bar, get
your own silverware, and they'd holler out when your order was ready!
Atmosphere -- this place was unreal. Bones and skeletons were everywhere. The tables were cross
sections of old trees. Had to be careful when you put your drink down -- one false move and it
would fall through the cracks! The chairs were homemade (looked like by a drunk Indian) -- all
rickety and falling apart.
While waiting on the food (which by the way was excellent) we sipped our drinks and tried to figure
out who in their right minds built this place. Out back, through a patio door, was a neat
garden/verandah area -- beautiful bougainvillea vines covering one whole wall, grape vines over the
old timbered verandah roof.
Sitting inside (were it was quite dark) and looking outside at the patio (still some daylight), we could
see one of nature's little side shows -- the pinkish-red flowers from the bougainvillea vine that had
fallen onto the patio floor were scooting around like miniature ice skaters. The wind whipped them
around in circles, long glides, and then after spinning them around, they came racing back. Such a
delight to watch.
8:00 p.m. We are back in Study Butte. It is dry, dusty, and in the middle of nowhere. All I can see
is Uncle Joe's Cafe. It's virtually a ghost town. Only the absolutely beautiful sunset keeps one from
saying "why does anyone live here?"
Television here at the Best Western is great -- if you like news. The only reception they get is by
satellite and the only program their disk is tuned to is the CBS evening news. The same program,
over and over and over.
Jimmy thought he was having a nightmare until he went down to the motel office and saw that
that's what they were watching also. Guess they never heard of "Dallas" and "Days of Our Lives."
|Day 5 -- Buffalo warriors
7:10 a.m. Leaving Study Butte. This area is referred to as the "Y" because of the roads that fork in
the middle of the town forming the Y. One leg leads back to Big Bend, one to the Mexican border,
and the other back towards civilization in Alpine Texas (where we are headed).
7:22 a.m. Just saw a beautiful coyote lope across the road -- breathtaking. There are no houses
visible from the road but periodically, you see a mailbox and a small drive continuing as far as the
eye can see. Still no trees.
Land is advertised at approximately $1,000 for 20 acres. It is so flat that at times you feel as if
you are looking across the ocean at the horizon.
7:50 a.m. Just saw another tarantula on the road. Stopped to look at it -- ugly! There was a road
construction crew here and one of the guys had the sucker pinned down with a big stick. Found out
they are poisonous but not deadly.
Seeing some adobe structures now. That is, when you see something, which is not often.
8:18 a.m. Just saw a young deer. There is a creek visible now so we are seeing a few small trees.
We are actually seeing green again. Just found out we are passing through Green Valley. The ground
almost looks green too. The mountains resemble huge "chimney rocks."
Average ranch size here is 23,356 acres. Brewster County, Texas is the largest county in Texas
and is larger than Connecticut and Delaware combined. Elevation varies from 1,700 feet to
9:24 a.m. Leaving town of Alpine in Brewster County. Stopped for gas and lunch essentials. Had to
find a car wash because on the way up from Study Butte, we went through another road
construction area -- this time, about 25 miles worth.
They had sprayed water on the road to keep the dust down. Well, the water and whatever kind of
dirt that was on the road made glue! You would not believe how the dirt and gravel were stuck to
the sides and underside of the car. It took about $4.00 in quarters to get it off the car!
The dirt was hanging from the fender wells like snow/ice does in the winter time. Hunks of it
dropped off the car for the next several hundred miles.
I can see it now -- some farmer in Kansas saying "what in the world is this?" and "where did this
stuff come from?"
Alpine is a nice clean town. First normal town we've seen since Del Rio. Lots of vegetation. Heading
now on Texas Scenic Mountain Route 118.
Just saw another deer. They are very different from ours. These have dark and white faces, very
agile and pretty.
We are headed for Fort Davis (got to be good).
11:14 a.m. Leaving Fort Davis. This was a very interesting place -- lots of history here. The fort was
established to protect the San Antonio-El Paso Road against Indian attacks. The total spanned 580
miles! The fort was 200 miles from San Antonio "whence we came."
Most interesting was a barracks set up and fully equipped as it was when being used, from the straw
mattresses to the boots. The troops were Blacks and were named "Buffalo Warriors" by the
Indians because of their hair and their ability to fight.
Looking at the early maps (Civil War time) of this part of the country was interesting. It was
nothing for them to get on horse back and ride down to the Rio Grande River or run over to El
Paso. We just drove up here in an air-conditioned car from the Rio Grande area and I just can't
imagine doing it routinely on horse back.
The Park Service is doing a fantastic job at restoring as much as possible of the remains of the old
fort. Several of the buildings in addition to the barracks we toured are open for viewing also --
like the commanding officers house (beautifully restored) and one of the kitchens behind one of
the junior grade officer's house. This kitchen was actually being used today by a lady
demonstrating how cooking was done when the fort was occupied during the late 1800's.
Headed now for the big telescope up the road.
11:40 p.m. Arrived at McDonald Observatory. The drive from Fort Davis was beautiful. The land
north of the fort is getting very mountainous -- great views, trees, meadow lands, etc. We could see
the telescopes on the mountain top long before we got there.
12:33 p.m. Leaving McDonald Observatory. Felt like we were on top of the world. That telescope is
one big sucker! It is operated by the University of Texas, Austin. Mike is ready to move here.
Austin is over 300 miles away. The telescope is one of the world's most important telescopes --
was the second largest in the world when completed.
There are neat houses up on top of the mountain. The astronomers that work here year round stay
here plus there are houses for visiting astronomers.
We toured inside of the 107-inch telescope complex. Had to climb up at least 4 flights of steps but
it was worth it -- awesome!
Headed now for Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, approximately 150 miles. On the road again.
12:45 p.m. Stopped for a picnic lunch at a nice picnic area at Madera Canyon. Neat place -- lots of
picnic tables, river bed close by with lots of people over in there poking around (never did find out
what they were looking for).
Car pulled up in the site next to us -- from Cobb County Georgia! Spoke briefly to the travelers.
Said they were coming from the Grand Canyon (where we are going) and headed to Big Bend
(where we just came from). We both said "you'll enjoy where you going!"
1:17 p.m. On the road again!
2:36 p.m. Changed time zones for the second time (4:36 our time). Just entered Guadalupe National
Forest. Elevation here is 5,860 feet.
2:57 p.m. Entered New Mexico! Odometer: 1,841. Land around us is not as "green" as it was down
around McDonald Observatory. Lots of mountains, kinda barren -- small green trees (shrubs)
If we hurry, we can make the last tour at Carlsbad today.
3:24 p.m. Arrived Carlsbad Caverns. As we approached White City (that's where the caverns
actually are), we could see a flat mesa type mountain on our left. Way up on top and at the edge,
we could see the sun reflecting off of lots of cars. Couldn't figure out what in the world could be
We are now at the top of that mesa we saw from 2,000 feet below -- never dreamed the cavern
entrance was on top of a mountain!
5:11 p.m. Leaving Carlsbad Caverns -- indescribable. You'll just have to see it for yourself. We
went down 750 feet from the top of the mountain to begin touring the caves. We took the easy way
-- the elevator. The other way is actually climbing down through the natural cave entrance -- an
hour and a half 1.5 mile steep descent! Thank goodness for elevators!
Reaching the bottom is quite an experience. Stepping out of the elevator, you are immediately
aware of the cool (constant 54 degrees) temperature -- sure glad we brought our jackets. The
other thing that strikes you is that this doesn't look like "any hole I've been in before." Clean,
paved walkways and a restaurant. Looks like something out of one of the "James Bond" movies.
So vast -- breathtaking - many places looked like ice or crystal fairylands. We rented these
carry-along radios that told you about each place you approached along the 1.5 mile tour.
Felt sorry for those who didn't have one of these radios -- made the tour very enjoyable.
When the tour was over we went back topside and headed for the town of Carlsbad, 18 miles away,
where we will dine and spend the night.
7:27 a.m. We are leaving Carlsbad after a night in the Comfort Inn and a free buffet for breakfast
of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, gravy, biscuits, coffee and juice. Last night we had dinner at Furr's
Cafeteria -- very enjoyable.
Now we're headed for Lordsburg, NM, a long way to go!
8:38 a.m. We're encountering our first rain. We're stopped at Hope, NM, but since it's only rained
five inches this year, I don't think we'll get much. We didn't -- nine tiny drops and "that's all she
wrote." The average rainfall per year for this area is about eight inches.
Hope also has the cleanest restrooms in New Mexico! The place where we've stopped is quaint -- an
old filling station. One car outside, an old police car (probably won't run). An old man and a boy are
in the garage area of the station working under a car. They just let us wander around the store part
of the station (unattended) -- told us to help ourselves to the coffee and if we needed anything,
just "give us a yell."
Thought it was great to see someone again that trusted folks, even if they were funny
The land around Hope is your basic flat! Telephone poles disappear into a dot on the horizon. Saw a
cow so they must raise cattle around here.
9:45 a.m. Stopped for pie and coffee break in Mayhill, NM The café was what one would have
expected -- clean, friendly, and cowboyish!
Mayhill is an old town (founded some time in the late 1800's). The entire business district was only
two blocks long. Although the buildings were old (all wooden except the post office), they had
character. The building that the café was in was actually several businesses -- café, gift shop,
several others. You could go in one door and come out several stores down.
Inside the café was an old rancher, sitting at the table across from us. He acted like he'd never
seen a tourist before. His face was so weather-beaten -- deeply tanned and looked like
10:15 a.m. On the road again!
10:35 a.m. The terrain has really changed suddenly. We're gone from barren, rocky mountains to
scenery that looks like Madison County, NC -- lots of green vegetation and trees for the first
time in many a mile. This is a snow skiing area.
Just passed through Cloudcroft, NM. People around here think this place is greatest place in the
world -- real resort like atmosphere. Compared to the desert (that's not too far away), I guess it
is a pretty place -- big trees, etc.
10:53 a.m. And just as suddenly, the scenery changed again. We're back to little vegetation, no
trees, and rocky mountains. We're quite high in elevation (6,000 feet) and now, as we round a
curve, there is in front of us the bona fide desert as we've imagined it -- as far as the eye can
see. What a sight!
We've stopped at an overlook and I found out I'm looking at the White Sands desert area --
filling the valley below us from mountain range to mountain range. We can see all the way across
the desert to the other side where the mountains start up again (about 65 miles from where we
We can also see in the valley below us the city of Alamogordo. Don't know what the temperature
will be down there, but right now it's clear, hot and breezy. As we descend, one can actually see
the boundaries of where the desert begins -- trees one moment, scrub "nothing" the next.
11:15 a.m. We're now in Alamogordo and headed for the Space Hall of Fame and planetarium.
1:27 p.m. Leaving Alamogordo. The Hall of Fame was interesting, but the highlight of the visit was
the movie of the Grand Canyon shown in the planetarium.
The screen was the largest full-circle screen ever. We dipped down into the canyon so many times
in a plane that it was hard to keep your breakfast down. Then we hang-glided through and then rode
the rapids. I'm sure we experienced things we won't in reality when we actually get to the canyon.
It was awesome. No way to describe it.
The Hall of Fame building was neat. Very modern, new, and different from the way most museums
are laid out. Here, you ride an elevator to the top floor, then you walk all the way back down. Each
floor is an exhibit area, connected to the floor below it via a long curved ramp.
Each time I decide this is my favorite part of the trip, something else spectacular comes along.
Mike sure is a great tour director.
Off to find somewhere to eat lunch. Everybody has got the "hungries."
1:57 p.m. Lunch at Burger King over. Now it's onward to White Sands National Monument.
Hot! It even looks hot around here -- you can see the heat simmering on the pavement and out
across the flat valley area. The road we are on is straight as an arrow. Whoops -- road just
turned. Looks like it's at least another 15 miles before it twitches again!
3:21 p.m. White Sands! Now this is definitely my favorite. It doesn't look or feel like sand. It
appears to be snow. Gracious, everyone must see this to believe it. The elevation is 4,000 feet, yet,
except for the dunes, it's flat as a pancake with the San Andres and the Sacramento Mountains
surrounding the desert.
The highest dune, which we walked up, is 60 feet tall. The view from the top is fantastic. You can
see forever in all directions.
The "white sands" below us seem to ripple outward like a storm-tossed ocean. One would expect the
sands to be piping hot, but to our amazement -- they were actually cool to the touch.
Once you start the loop-road tour, even the road looks snow- and ice-covered, but it's not even
paved. The plow just comes through and moves the shifting sand and then it is packed down solid by
the cars. The pull offs, where there are picnic tables, give the appearance of ice-skating rinks.
What can I say? GO SEE IT!
Now, we're headed to Lordsburg to spend the night. But before I end, I should say the sands are
not really sand but tiny grains of gypsum.
Also, I should have mentioned that this was the area where the first atomic bomb was exploded!
The Trinity Site is about 60 miles north of here.
4:14 p.m. Entering Las Cruces, NM, third largest city in New Mexico. The Rio Grande passes
through here -- seems like we keep on crossing this river! The land around here is a continuation of
the low desert. One can see for miles. Mountain ranges are still all around us -- beautiful.
5:52 p.m. Crossed the Western Continental Divide. Odometer reading: 2,223. We're about 25 miles
The land around us is very bleak looking -- can see forever it seems. We are running parallel to the
Santa Fe railroad tracks and we've seen several trains -- even saw one derailed! One was loaded
with all sorts of army stuff -- tanks, heavy trucks, etc.
As we approached Lordsburg, we noticed a lot of trains just sitting there -- engines running. Found
out later that six trains were backed up because of the derailment.
6:20 p.m. We finally made Lordsburg. Took us awhile to find a motel we wanted to stay in. All of
the businesses in this town are of course lined up along the railroad tracks -- that's why the town
is here anyway!
|Day 7 -- Tombstone Territory
6:09 a.m. Leaving Lordsburg, thank goodness! This place is a ghost town and doesn't even know it!
The most exciting thing to do here is ride through the cemetery. Even that was very poor. The
graves are marked with homemade crosses and faded plastic flowers adorn all the graves.
The motel choices were poor, and the restaurants even poorer. Consequently, you pay premium
prices at both. But I guess there's a bad apple in every barrel. I hope out of our 6,000 mile trip,
this is our bad apple.
7:43 a.m. Odometer reading: 2,318. Good-bye, New Mexico -- hello, Arizona.
We are traveling south on old US 80, having left I-10 about 20 minutes ago. We ran parallel to the
Arizona border for about 30 miles before we actually crossed over into Arizona.
The views and landscapes are changing all around us -- beautiful mountain ranges, valleys,
wildflowers growing right up to the side of the road, and of course, the ever present "vastness"
that so overwhelms you.
8:15 a.m. We can see the city of Douglas, Arizona ahead of us in the distance. The city is down in a
valley and I swear, it seems like you can see the Mexican border -- the land color changes along the
fence line. I guess that the difference between 'watering' plants on one side and not on the
We have decided to go over into Mexico, again! Anything has to be better that the border crossing
at Del Rio!
8:25 a.m. We parked the car down by the U.S. Border Station (much cleaner atmosphere than
before) and walked across the border. Well, things didn't improve much (as compared to Acuna).
Dirt, poverty, and the "standing around" were still very much in evidence.
Could not figure why so few shops were open -- all locked up with iron bars, gates, etc. Finally
found out that Arizona (and this part of Mexico) didn't observe daylight saving time. We were one
hour ahead of time. Lord, here we go again changing clocks. Oh well, might as wander around a bit.
Now the shops are starting to open up.
10:00 a.m. Just leaving Aqua Prieta (Dark Water), Mexico. We ate in a quaint restaurant (coffee
and sweet bread). Laughed the whole time. The more you chewed, the bigger the bite got. The
bread was absolute bone dry -- it sucked all the moisture out of your mouth. If you spoke, you
sprayed the other three. The sun light was coming through the windows and you could see the
millions of bread crust particles floating about the room. When we laughed, we spewed out more.
The people who worked there thought for sure that we were one bunch of "crazy gringos."
We had a great time shopping. The peso is so devalued it takes about 1,300 to equal a U.S. dollar.
If we would have had more room in the car, we would have gone wild. The prices were unbelievable!
Again we left Mexico with mixed emotions. Crossing back into the U.S. felt so good. The shop
where we bought all of our "goodies" gave us an itemized list of the goodies we bought so we could
"get" them back into the U.S. Well, just like at Acuna, the border guards acted like they couldn't
care less about us. One did ask Barbara "What ya got in the bag lady"? After replying "souvenirs"
we were on our way.
Next stop, Tombstone.
10:36 a.m. Just made an unscheduled stop at Bisbee (Cochise County), Arizona, to see a huge
open-pit copper mine (called the Lavender Pit). The mine is closed now -- waiting I guess for the
price of copper to go up again (the mine has reopened several times for this reason). Up and over
the hill pass the mine was the town of Bisbee. A really neat town.
Because the streets are so steep here, there is no street mail delivery. The houses are built on the
side of a canyon.
12:44 p.m. Just left "Tombstone Territory". It was nice because it has been kept as it was. This
is where Deanna bought her topaz necklace and bracelet. We had lunch in an authentic saloon and
post office. The saloons back then were really ornate, beautiful wood. Jimmy and Mike went to the
Epitaph Newspaper while Deanna and I visited an old store.
Then we walked through "boot hill" where you could just feel the history. Everyone died young and
most died violently by hangings, shootings, and many by suicide.
The graveyard is different from what you'd normally expect of a graveyard. First of all, you have
to take into consideration the environment of the land here -- desert, hot, bone dry, dusty, and
sparse vegetation. All of the grave sites were marked by piles of rocks, mounded up like a
protective cover. Most sites had crude wooden or metal grave markers.
Several of the sites are "unmarked" and are in serious danger of "passing back into the desert",
that is, bushes are growing out of the sites and the rocks scattered to a barely discernible outline
of a once "known" grave site.
There's now a three-hour difference in time from home. Our bodies have no idea what we expect
On the road again to Tucson!
1:55 p.m. We're on the southern outreaches of Tucson now, headed for the Pima Air Museum. The
ride up from Tombstone was nice -- beginning to see a few of those tall cactus plants (Saguaro)
we've seen pictures of all our lives.
Civilization is surrounding us now (we're also back on I-10 -- glad when we get back off). Lord, is it
hot and depressing on the Interstate!
2:50 p.m. Leaving the Pima Air Museum (just south of Tucson). Jimmy and Mike made the tour. They
said it was nice. Jimmy said he saw the plane (a PBM) Frank Jr. (Jimmy's brother), flew on and the
one he (Jimmy) worked on (F4U Corsair) when he was stationed on the USS Midway. It was
restored and displayed inside.
Now it's onward to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum northwest of Tucson. We can see all the
airplanes that the Air Force stores over at Davis Monthan Air Force Base -- looks like thousands
of them! They are all lined up, sitting there I guess, awaiting their "recall to glory" or most likely,
the call of the wrecking ball -- how sad.
3:00 p.m. Tucson city limits. Saw the IBM plant -- large complex spread out in low profile against
the hot desert terrain.
3:20 p.m. Arrived at Desert Museum. This museum is also called the Living Desert Museum because
everything possible has been done to show the natural splendor of both animal and plant life as they
struggle to survive in such a harsh but haunting environment.
If it lives in the desert, they have a specimen here -- really fantastic.
Folks, let me tell you -- it is hot, very hot, (108 degrees) but it is great. With the humidity at about
2%, it is not all that bad. The views here at the museum are great since the museum is situated half
way up one of the mountain ranges that surrounds the desert here.
Off in the distance (30 miles to be exact and clear as a bell) we can see Kitt Peak National
Observatory, perched on top of a mountain. Below us, we can see the desert simmering in the
afternoon sun -- how can one describe such vast beauty?
We went through several caves (all man made). One showed the structure of caves that can be
actually found in the area. The "fake" cave was so realistic that we had to confirm our suspicions
with one of the rangers.
The other cave-like structure housed cats -- small cats of the wild (not domesticated cats). So
small (as compared to Bobcats or Mountain Lions) yet so beautiful. The cave had exposures to the
outside, with wires preventing the escape of the cats. Of course Deanna wanted to bring all the
cats home with her! The cats here and for that matter, all the animals (both large and small) we
saw, seemed perfectly content with their captivity. Such a stark contrast to some of the zoos back
home where the animals act like they're going stir crazy.
Another great place was a huge aviary where the birds pay absolutely no attention to you. If you
sit down quietly, you can experience all kinds of birds (and bird droppings). The sounds coming
from there were fascinating. What was also interesting was the appearance of birds on the
"outside" trying to get in. As compared to the real desert surrounding us, this aviary was a real
Elsewhere throughout the museum we saw snakes, scorpions, bears, pumas, otters, coyotes, foxes,
and many others.
As I said, it was hot, but bone dry with a breeze. If it had been this hot at home, there's no way we
could have been outside and walking.
5:40 p.m. We've left the museum and are headed back down to Tucson to find a place for the night.
Close by is the old move set left over when they made the movie "Tucson" back in late forties. The
set is still used for making westerns and is used full time as an amusement area.
We have wound our way up and over the mountain separating us from the city of Tucson. The road
was narrow and winding. The area behind us at the museum is actually inside of the Saguaro
National Monument -- set aside to protect the largest concentration of Saguaro Cactus in
It looks so strange to see these towering giants growing right up the side of the mountain we are
crossing -- they look like sentinels, lonely but diligently protecting the mountains from invaders.
Below us now to the South is Tucson, spread out over the desert floor like a sleeping giant --
beautiful. I can see why so many people love it out here.
6:20 p.m. Arrived at the Ramada Inn -- took some looking but we found it. The Inn is very large --
covers a whole city block -- buildings around the outside, courtyards and swimming pools in the
middle. The room was great, overlooked the courtyards below with the Tucson skyline over the top
of the Inn.
We ate dinner at the Inn, excellent meal and very plush surroundings.
6:34 a.m. Leaving the Ramada Inn -- headed for Show Low, Arizona. Of course, the first order of
business is to find somewhere to eat breakfast! Got to have that coffee or none of us will talk to
7:18 a.m. Finished breakfast at Burger King. On the road again!
10:43 a.m. Coffee break in Globe, Arizona. Homemade cinnamon rolls and chocolate cream pie.
The ride over to here has been great. Desert like country side is still around us. Mountain ranges
are on both sides of us. Part of the trip up to Florence Junction was on a kind of Parkway -- no
trucks allowed, etc., and all the plant life identified along the side of the road. Passed through the
town of Florence. Not much here except the Arizona State Penitentiary (and signs warning motorist
to not pick up "hitchhikers").
Globe is (was) and old mining town -- trailings from one of the mines we passed was as big as a
mountain. They mined copper here. The little café we're having coffee in looks like it's been
around since day one -- built out of native stone, pennies (copper) lining the tops of the walls in
some sort of design, every floor leaning in a different direction. Old but great!
Note: Today, we have been on our trip for one week and have traveled 2,653 miles.
11:15 a.m. On the road again. Land really changing now -- getting into some beautiful
11:30 a.m. Man, what a view -- Salt River Canyon. I can't imagine that the Grand Canyon is better
than this. Of course Deanna and Jimmy had to run down to one of the "overlooks" past the
guard rail. Bunch of dummies -- standing on the edge of a 1,000-foot sheer drop off so Barbara and
I could take their pictures!
Leaving now -- winding our way down to the bottom of the canyon. In looking back where we've
already been, it looks as if we were practically hanging onto the side of the canyon as we wind
11:55 a.m. Now we're winding up White Mountain Canyon in the Apache Reservation. It, too, is
12:40 p.m. Entering Show Low, Arizona, (odometer reading: 2,730) where we'll spend the night
(elevation 6,300 feet).
Lots of activity here because of holiday parade, rodeo and state softball championship.
After checking in, we took a stroll down into town (about 5 blocks). After doing a little shopping,
we decided to walk back towards the motel and beyond to the city park area where all the ball
The walk was worth it. We first watched a little league game for a while and then moved over to
another playing field and watched the seniors finish up a game and then watched a men's league
play. I tell you, these folks take their softball very seriously. Sitting in the crowd we could hear
them talking about all the games they play, "flying" here and there to play -- must be nice.
Maybe it's the thin air, bright sun, or something, but these were the healthiest people we've seen
in 2,000 miles.
|Day 9 -- Shooting the anvil
4:30 a.m. BOOM! What is going on? Horns blowing and about ten minutes later, BOOM again.
Turned out to be a man and his son starting the fourth off with an old custom of "Shooting The
Anvil." This is done by placing one anvil upside down on top of another anvil with 10 pounds of black
power between them. Lighting the power blows the top anvil about 10 to 15 feet up in the air.
They do this all through the town and by the time they reach the other side, EVERYBODY IS UP!
They also have quite a crowd (cars, people walking) with them by the time they quit.
6:32 a.m. Leaving Show Low. Had breakfast at motel (Best Western) and headed for the Petrified
Forest. On the road again. Land is still flat, even though elevation is high.
Gas has been over $1.00 a gallon since we left Alabama.
8:23 a.m. Entering Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert (cost: $5.00).
11:50 a.m. Leaving Petrified Forest/Painted Desert area. Maybe this was my favorite? (27 miles
total trip.) The petrified trees look like they are made of marble. The Painted Desert is beautiful.
There are sections of shades of blues, reds, purples -- really something to see.
At one of the pull offs, we could see 100 miles and see the San Francisco Mountains. The plains are
very barren, brownish in color. The Apaches, Hopis and Navajos are all in this area.
We had lunch in the cafeteria at the Painted Desert museum center. We had earlier (when we first
entered the park) bought samples of petrified woods, fool's gold, and geodes.
We're headed now for Meteor Crater.
1:10 p.m. Odometer reading: 2,915. Stopping for Meteor Crater.
2:31 p.m. Leaving Meteor Crater. That is one big hole! Three miles in circumference, 570 feet deep,
as big as 20 football fields on the bottom.
It was very windy. At the highest lookout point, the wind actually took my breath. Sometimes
during a wind or sandstorm, they have to close the highest lookout point.
The astronauts trained there prior to moon landing.
3:49 p.m. Leaving Sunset Crater National Monument. A volcano erupted 700 years ago. An
unbelievable sight -- hardened lava as far as the eye can see. Looks like mountains of cinders or
clinkers piled up.
A ranger told us the volcano will not erupt again but they have reason to believe another is being
born in this area.
5:45 p.m. Entered Grand Canyon. Odometer reading: 3,051.
9:52 p.m. We've been here at Grand Canyon for a day and a half, and there's no way to describe it.
As Mike says, the "Big Guy" really did it right this time. Each view is more spectacular than the
previous. We could stay a week. It's the biggest natural object I've ever seen. It certainly is one
of the "seven wonders of the world." Each time you view it, you see something different.
It literally takes one's breath. It's a sermon within itself.
The motel is also very nice. In addition to an elegant dining room with live music, there's a pool,
tennis, game room, pool tables, bowling alley, and live bands.
Tomorrow, we're headed for Utah and Monument Valley. Everything here (at Grand Canyon) is high
because there is no water. It's trucked in. The motel where we stayed trucks 12 tanks a day. They
also have to furnish living quarters for the employees.
Temperatures ranged from 80s during the day to high 30s at night.
6:28 a.m. After breakfast at McDonald's, we're headed to Utah. On the road again!
6:47 a.m. Just saw five deer cross the road in front of us -- beautiful. We're still in the canyon.
8:15 a.m. Stopped at a roadside stand to look at jewelry. We all ended up buying some, as the
prices were less than half than at the gift shops.
The two Navajo Indians running the stand were both college graduates -- one an ex-homicide cop
from Scottsdale. They live in a tent year round with two Dobermans, a wolf and a colt.
All the animals run free on the open range.
10:15 a.m. Stopped in Black Mesa for a coffee break. We had a Navajo treat called fry bread with
cheese. It was wonderful!
11:04 a.m. Entering Monument Valley, AZ.
11:26 a.m. Crossing State line into Utah -- still in Monument Valley. Odometer reading: 3,308.
Low lands with huge rock formations that look like monuments. Rainfall for this area is less than
five inches annually. Real stark beauty. Monument Valley Park (run by the Navajos) "scenic road"
was so bad (17 miles) that we decided not to see all of the valley.
On the road again!
12:30 p.m. Entering Mexican Hat, UT. Decided to take a side trip to Natural Bridges. We turned
on UT 261 and headed north up through an area called "Valley of the Gods." Unique rock
formations jutting hundreds of feet into the air. The "inhabitants" of the valley are imaginary
animals, stately gods, or whatever the imagination inspires.
Uh oh -- pavement ends we're on a gravel and dirt road -- Moki Dugway. Looks like it must go
straight up the side of the mountain because the view in front of us looks like a 1,000 foot high,
We are now at 6,425 feet -- on top of Cedar Mesa. We have our paved road back. We've climbed
over 1,200 feet in about two miles to the top of Moki Dugway. The view is spectacular back down
into the Valley of the Gods.
The road was a narrow (very narrow) and switchbacked all the way to the top and had NO guard
rails! Mike was not a happy camper, especially when a 18 wheeler came up behind us. How in the
world he could go up (or down) this road is a mystery to all of us.
As Jimmy said, "A white knuckler!" Whew!
1:30 p.m. Arrived at Natural Bridges National Monument and took the eight-mile loop ride to see
the bridges. We could only see two of them from the scenic-view areas, and we were too tired to
hike down to the third.
We are now heading for civilization and some lunch.
2:30 p.m. On Utah-95 heading for Blanding, UT. Spotted the Rockies on the horizon with snow on
the top. All the countryside we've driven through today has been open range. It seems so strange
to see cattle, horses, sheep and goats standing on the side of the road.
We can see a huge range fire in the distance and have been told by the locals that they have been
fighting several the past few days.
This section of Utah is covered in oil rigs from the edge of the road to as far as you can see in
3:06 p.m. Entered Colorado. Odometer reading: 3,477.
We are headed south for Four Corners -- the only point in the U.S. common to four state corners --
Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
4:25 p.m. Entered Four Corners Monument. Odometer reading: 3,492. Elevation: 4,800 feet. The
site is run by the Ute Indians and other than the bronze marker where the actual state lines meet,
there's nothing but "old, tired looking" gift shops. And yes, we all took turns standing on the
bronze marker on the ground that marked the actual "four corners." One foot print covered
We can see the Ute Mountains in the distance. It looks like an Indian Chief in full headdress lying
down with his arms folded.
We're on our way north to Cortez, CO, for the night.
5:25 p.m. Cortez, CO. Odometer reading: 3,532. Hunting somewhere to spend the night and eat
dinner. We've been on the reservation of Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, and Ute.
Unlike our Cherokees of the East, all of these Indians speak the native language all the time unless
speaking to gringos.
|Day 12 -- Cliff dwellers and snowballs
7:56 a.m. Leaving Cortez, CO, after spending the night at a Motel L. We had a great Italian dinner
last night at Nero's, and breakfast this morning at the Pony Express. Never did find out what the
"L" stood for.
We're on our way to Mesa Verde to the Cliff Dwellers, only nine miles away.
12:43 p.m. Leaving Mesa Verde, and it was wonderful. The park itself is beautiful and the deer just
wander around abundantly. The whole area is so green and beautiful that one can understand why
the cliff dwellers settled here.
The cliff dwellings are unbelievable. They are built in the side of the cliffs way above ground.
Behind the dwellings, there are caves going back into the cliffs. They are natural, not dug by
There were toe and finger holds still visible that the dwellers used to climb up the cliffs behind
the village, but for modern-day tourists, there were ladders.
The museum there was excellent. They have so many artifacts that they have been able to piece
together a pretty complete history of the cliff dwellers and their environment and habitat.
They even have several skeletal remains of the inhabitants. The life expectancy was 30-34 years.
We actually see trees again -- pinon pines and spruce. There is a fantastic view here of the
snowcapped Rocky Mountains. We each had bought a sand art picture (done by the Navajo) on our
way into the Grand Canyon. We bought small pieces of pottery and a cochina doll (used for all
kinds of ceremonies) and Mike is going to make us a curio cabinet for them. We bought the
The prehistoric inhabitants here were called the Anasazi. Deanna loved this place -- did not want
On the road again! In Arizona and Colorado, we keep passing these round, adobe-looking, one-room
houses that are still being lived in by Indians. We just found out they are called hogans.
2:48 p.m. We've just climbed to 10,000 feet and still climbing. We're going from Dorango to
Silverton. Topped out at 10,680 feet -- beautiful. There is now snow both above and below us.
The Rocky Mountains are very different from the mountains we just left in Arizona. They look huge
-- blue, grey, rock covered with snow. We're also seeing some waterfalls coming down off the
mountains -- snow melts.
The valleys are dotted with pretty little lakes, whereas Arizona didn't have a drink of water
anywhere. We're seeing lots of ski resorts. Lots of trees now at this elevation (but not at the top
of the mountains), but not many varieties; mainly spruce. Seems like they should all be decorated
with Christmas lights.
The main industry through here is still mining -- silver -- although the tourist trade is
3:15 p.m. Entering Silverton, elevation 9,318. We can see the melt off streams coming down off the
mountains in all directions. These runoffs provide water for people many, many miles away.
We're headed for Ouray, surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, elevation 12-13,000 feet.
3:27 p.m. Deanna and I just had a snowball fight!
4:30 p.m. Leaving Ouray (elevation: 7,211 feet) after a nice refreshing pause in a unique little café.
The steps up to the café looked like steps to the top of one of those Mayan Temples down in
Mexico. Would hate to have done that every day!
Note: Jimmy left his "USS Frank Cable" Navy hat in the café.
This quaint, clean little town is nestled between two mountains. It has a hot springs that they swim
in all year -- lots of snow -- avalanches! It's called "USA's Little Switzerland."
Looking back after we leave, the mountains look like the Alps, snow covered.
5:11 p.m. Arrived in Montrose, CO, a complete contrast to the area we just left. Elevation is twice
that of Asheville, but flat as a pancake.
We've gone from the green, rolling San Juan Mountains to an elevation of 5,820 feet,
tabletop-smooth land that looks like we're back in Utah.
5:20 p.m. Cannot believe the number of bicyclists we have encountered throughout our whole trip.
People are literally biking through America. Don't see how they do it on a lot of the steep inclines
we've been on.
7:10 p.m. We have started a slow climb into Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet. The land is changing again
and we're seeing lush green and pines again.
7:30 p.m. Cross Continental Divide.
7:55 p.m. Entered Salida -- staying the night here. Elevation: 7,036 feet.
6:48 a.m. Leaving Salida after spending the night at the Western Holiday. Had some good country
eating last night and this morning at the "Country Bounty."
We're now headed for the Rocky Mountain National Park.
8:10 a.m. Very gradual, picturesque climb to Leadville, elevation 11,000 feet. The town dates back
to the 1800s and is full of old Victorian homes. This is the town where Molly Brown made
9:34 a.m. Lizzie Green's Parlor -- quaint -- where we stopped for a coffee break. Now we're
headed for scenic rail ride.
9:45 a.m. Stopping for Georgetown Loop train ride. It was great. The scenery was outstanding. We
passed by fierce-moving mountain creeks, over high bridges, and through the mountains.
This railroad was actually used for mining in the 1880s. It runs from Silver Plume to Georgetown.
This is a rich gold-and-silver area. In the 1880s, over $200 million dollars worth of ore was
brought out. Back then, that was a lot of money!
This track was more narrow than the standard track in order to adhere to these mountain sides.
11:30 a.m. On the road again!
11:47 a.m. Continental Divide. Elevation 11,308 feet.
1:32 p.m. Leaving Granby, elevation 7,939 feet, where we stopped for lunch at the Longbranch
Restaurant. Had good reuben sandwiches and French fries.
1:55 p.m. Entered Rocky Mountain National Park.
3:49 p.m. Leaving Rocky Mountain National Park. This was one hairy ride, but absolutely beautiful!
Lots and lots of snow. High winds and cold! The highest peak we were on was 12,500 feet.
Note: I would not look out the side of the car when the drop-off was on my side. Mike said it even
made him feel uneasy -- when he looked out the right side of the car, all he could see was
These mountains are very different from the ones in Arizona. They have lots and lots of trees that
abruptly end at the "tree line" -- around the 10,000 foot level in elevation. Above that the tops
look like solid rock with snow caps. Also there are many glacial lakes interspersed.
We're now driving through Estes Park, a little community at the foot of the mountains. It is just
like our Gatlinburg, TN -- wall-to-wall people, shops, and cars.
If we ever get through this traffic, we're on our way to Boulder. On the road later on, we passed
through a very winding, narrow gorge with a river running alone side the road. Was very neat
looking -- until we saw the warning signs posted along the highway.
"Warning! In case of rising water, leave car and seek higher ground immediately!" Oh yeah, neat
place all right!
5:10 p.m. Arrived in Denver, population 400,000 plus. Will spend the night here at Travelers Inn.
Called Aunt Anne Ackley and her daughter Mary Noler. We spent several hours with them.
5:40 a.m. Leaving Denver. Heading home. Will cross Kansas today. In fact, we can "see" it from
here -- the land now is becoming almost tabletop flat. We've lost our air conditioning. That ought
to be fun!
8:29 a.m. Entered Kansas.
9:00 a.m. Stopped in Goodland for coffee break. Kansas is definitely flat with miles and miles of
corn and wheat. Air conditioning has returned! On the road!
12:05 p.m. Arrived in Scott City, population 2,983. The city has a brick road running through the
3:18 p.m. Have I mentioned that we have again changed time zones? Done it so many times we've
just about given up on changing our watches.
Leaving Dodge City. We had lunch at the Golden Corral and then toured the Front Street and Boot
Hill Museum. Saw a movie of the settling of Dodge City. This is really cow country.
We've passed several feed lots, as they call them, where there are cows as far as you can see being
held and fed until slaughtered. Whew! You wouldn't believe the odor. It "stank" so badly we had to
hold our breaths for a mile!
Kansas is plains as far as the eye can see and no mountains. We're still seeing some oil wells (rocking
horses) and lots of sheep and horses in addition to the cows. There are lots of windmills, wind, and
huge co-op storage tanks for the grain.
6:15 p.m. Leaving McPherson, population 11,753. Beautiful restored 1886 courthouse. Stopped for
gas and coke break. Very clean, quaint town.
7:36 p.m. We're a few miles from Emporia, central eastern part of Kansas. The landscape is now
becoming green with a few trees and some rolling hills, but still not mountains.
We appear to have left the oil wells behind, but still lots of cows, horses and corn. The topsoil
appears to be very rich, black in color. We're also seeing a lot of soy beans.
7:00 a.m. Leaving Olathe, KS (outside of Kansas City). Spent the night at Best Western. Had supper
7:22 a.m. Entered Missouri and headed for St. Louis. Had free continental breakfast at motel, so
will stop about an hour down the road for full breakfast.
8:50 a.m. Leaving Sally's Café, after a breakfast and gas stop.
Breakfast mediocre. Elevation: 958 feet.
11:05 a.m. Odometer reading: 5,058. Crossed the Missouri River for the first time.
12:00 p.m. Took two-mile detour to ride through the town of Herman, settled by the Germans, who
made steamers and established wineries. Full of German culture and names.
4:10 p.m. Leaving St. Louis, MO, on the river front. What an experience. Big riverboats are up and
down the river front. They have food, shops, shows, boat tours and helicopter rides. We ate there,
visited the shops, and Mike and Deanna took a helicopter ride. They said it was really a thrill.
Then we went to the Arch to ride from end to end (630 feet), but there was a two-hour wait, and
we didn't have time to wait, so we just went into the gift shop in the arch.
Note: Mike was "praying" that the line would be even longer -- he had NO desire to ride up in an
elevator that eventually went sideways at the top! Jimmy was not real trilled about the idea either.
4:20 p.m. Crossed into Illinois. On the road again -- headed towards home.
7:36 p.m. Crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky.
8:15 p.m. Stopping at Paducah, KY, for the night at EconoLodge.
|Day 16 -- Got the Tee-shirt
6:30 a.m. We're beginning the last leg of our trip home after spending the night in Paducah. We
just left Denny's after having breakfast and we're on I-24 headed toward Nashville (124 miles).
7:53 a.m. Tennessee welcomed us! Odometer reading: 5,478. Not long, we're zooming past Nashville
and headed for Chattanooga on I-24.
11:48 a.m. Welcome to Georgia! Odometer reading: 5,646. Back into our time zone.
11:52 a.m. We're back into Tennessee! Just saw first sign for Atlanta -- 122 miles. I-24 dips down
into Georgia for about a mile where it connects with I-55 that runs down to Alabama. Almost home!
We'll have a lunch stop in Chattanooga.
12:25 p.m. Finished lunch break at Wendy's. On the road again!
12:35 p.m. Reentered Georgia again. Odometer reading: 5,666.
2:10 p.m. Odometer reading: 5,758. Deanna's and Mike's driveway -- 5,758, long, tiring, wonderful
Sitting there in the driveway we all looked at each other and laughingly said in unison "Been there,
done that, got the Tee-shirt!"
|Letters from the travellers
July 11, 1987
What a fantastic trip this has been!
There is no way this diary or the pictures taken can describe the beauty
we've seen. This is a trip you must take and see for yourself. We've only
scratched the surface of things to see in this great U.S.A., and it has
made me want to see it all.
I hope someday my grandchildren and their children can stand in the same
spots we have stood and all of this beauty will be preserved for them.
My only advice for anyone taking this trip is to get off the Interstates so
you can see America as it really is.
Thanks to our tour director (Mike) and traveling companions (Barb and
Jim) for two weeks I'll never forget.
July 11, 1987
Being a tour guide for three virgins travelling to the desert, Southwest,
and Great Plains is, to say the least, terrific!
The journey out west, retracing frontier trails at times was an
experience to remember.
The trip gives one an acute awareness of the trials and tribulations our
pioneer ancestors must have experienced in their journeys westward.
To those that have gone before and to those who shall cross the vastness
in the future -- enjoy, savor, be thankful it belongs to all of us, and most
of all, feel the freedom that belongs to us.
July 11, 1987
How can I say only a few words about our "Westward Ho" trip?
Everyone should make this trip, but in order for it to be as completely
enjoyable and rewarding as it was for me, one must take along as a guide
one Mike Bailey, and as companions, one dear sister (Deanna), and one
loving husband (Jimmy).
The trip really brought out the patriotism in us all -- never have I felt as
close to my country's history and never have I felt as proud of my
heritage. Every scene was different and every scene was breathtaking --
from the desert plains of Arizona to the snowcapped mountains of Colorado.
The trips into Mexico, and the poverty witnessed there, helped me to
understand the tremendous advantage one has being an American.
I only hope that reading this log and seeing the pictures we captured for
posterity will make our own descendants determined to make this same
trip, and maybe they will even use the exact same agenda as ours and
think of us, and our great love for them, in doing so.
I will remember and reminisce about our trips for all my remaining years.
Thanks to the three who made it possible.
July 11, 1987
The "Westward Ho" trip is over -- much too quickly.
What a trip. Areas I have never seen -- breathtaking views, and scenery.
A two-week trip that could be taken only by four people who get along
very well together.
A trip to be remembered for a long time. The morning pastry breaks, the
pony at roadside jewelry stand on the reservation, the "arch" in St. Louis
that Mike wanted to go up in so badly, miles and miles of barren land. A
very different and varying land of many faces.
But even though we saw many beautiful places, it reinforces my belief
that good old WNC is the best place to live I have ever seen.
Looking forward to our next trip -- "somewhere."
James S. Davis
|The Unofficial Log Of a Fantastic and Crazy Sixteen-Day Journey