As I drove along in far western Kansas, into the Oklahoma then Texas panhandles, I was lucky enough to experience a great sunset.
The small west Texas city of Abilene has an impressive collection of public art and interesting architecture. Of particular note is a sculpture garden with Dr Seuss characters.
It made a great first stretch stop of day 2.
After an entire lifetime of living in the east, life has dealt us a curveball, resulting in us relocating from Ohio to Arizona. We took the opportunity to take a bit extra time during the 2000 mile move to stop and see a few sights along the way. Some of the more extended stops will have their own posting.
Let’s start by leaving Columbus
Time to head west.
First state – Kentucky
Our first stretch break was south of Louisville at Bernheim Arboretum. In addition to the natural scenery there were many sculptures.
After a very long drive across much of Kentucky, we reached the Tennessee border in the far northwestern corner of the state.
It was on to Memphis for the night. We saw enough sights in our brief visit to Memphis to warrant it’s own posting.
The next day started with a drive across the Mississippi River into Arkansas
After extended stops in Little Rock and Hot Springs (postings follow this one), we found ourselves near the small town of Murfreesboro at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. This park is known for being an open diamond ‘mine’ where you pay $10 and are welcome to go dig around for diamonds.
The park has a sign detailing recent and records finds – each day someone find small diamonds, and every once in a while a big find is made.
We did not strike it rich so we continued west, passing Texarkana, which as the name suggests is on the Texas/Arkansas border.
Our last brief stop of the day was in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Their very nice courthouse square has a public restroom with one way mirrors, so you can ‘take care of business’ while watching the world go by 🙂
A couple more hours lead to a great sunset while arriving in Dallas.
The next morning started out across West Texas, passing the town of Cisco (must be where they got the name of the company)
Our first extended stop of the day was in Abilene (posting to follow).
Texans are very proud of their home.
The drive across Texas continued, passing wind turbines then oil derricks.
After 575 mile we were through Texas (or so we though…), arriving in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Eastern New Mexico was still oil country but it quickly transitioned to the mountains. The peak of our trip was in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
After dropping more than 4000 feet we arrived in Alamogordo, home to White Sands National Park (individual posting later).
The plan was to drive the 70 miles to Las Cruces for the night but there was a landslide, resulting in a detour adding an addition 50 miles, resulting us ending up back in Texas (briefly) again.
Eventually we made it to Las Cruces, and the next morning started on the literal home stretch.
After 2000 miles we have reached our new home state! With this move we have a fantastic opportunity for new sights and experiences, so stay tuned….
Texas is a big state with a great variety of places for photography, therefore this is a LONG posting.
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Austin – State Capital
The Texas State Capitol dates from 1885. The land it is on was acquired in a barter deal, 3 million acres of Texas Panhandle for this land!
Texas shows it’s Tex-Mex history in the state foods…
State Pastries – two – Strudel & Sopiapilla
State Small Mammal – Armadillo
The city of Austin is proud of it’s motto – Keep Austin Weird.
With the music scene, including a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Congress Street bats it is a great place to be.
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Roads & Bridges
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I have more Texas Official Highway Maps than any other state. So many this section has combined the Prairies with the Highways which is appropriate because it features Amarillo and Route 66
You are half way there – IF you are going from Chicago to Los Angeles, or vice versa.
The legendary Cadillac Ranch. For more than 40 years people have been spray painting these cars. The good folks of Amarillo liked the planted Cadillacs they have expanded (in different parts of town) to VW Beetles and Combines.
1953 1959 1970 1993 2017
Terlingua – The ‘ghost town’ of Terlingua is a former mining town, but is not vacant, as it is a destination for tourist from Big Bend National Park.
Once a year they hold the world’s largest chili cook-off.
Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. These two parks cover much of the Rio Grande Valley of West Texas. Their natural scenery is stunning.
A plus is being able to take a row boat across the river to Mexico for lunch in Bouillas.
Marathon – Gage Hotel We had the good fortune of spending the night in this crossroads town on the way to Big Bend. The Gage Hotel is a historic property that attracts people just for the atmosphere and food.
Langtry – Made famous by Judge Roy Bean and his Law West of the Pecos, and even more famous when Paul Newman starred in a movie of the same name. The town is pretty much vacant, but the area is scenic.
Nearby is Seminole Canyon State Historic Park. This park holds significant cave art.
Cities & Beaches
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San Antonio. While the city is large, it has a feel very different than Houston or Dallas. The downtown is much more compact, with a significant amount of Art Deco architecture.
Missions – There are five missions in San Antonio, and four of those are maintained by the National Park Service (the 5th is the Alamo). Mission San Jose is the most impressive architecturally. Our day in San Antonio included a visit to Mission Concepcion.
Alamo – The most famous mission in the state, and likely the country, it is not known for it’s service as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, but more so it’s use as a fort in the Mexican independence effort when a group of Texas soldiers died defending it.
Houston – The city is the 4th largest city in the country, with 2.3 million people in the city. It is the 5th largest metro area (by some calculations) with 7 million people.
The city has more buildings over 150m (492′) than any city in the United States other than New York, Chicago and Miami.
There are still a few historic buildings downtown, but many have been destroyed over the years as they went taller and newer.
Houston Art – One of the great finds in our travels was the very cool, quirky art of Houston. From top to bottom. Giant Presidential Heads – Sanctioned Graffiti – Beer Can House – Luck Land – Smithers Park.
Parks and Rec Houston also provided some unique ‘park’ experiences – from going under the Buffalo Bayou Park to see the Cistern, to the Botanical Gardens, and finally inside for some baseball.
Galveston Another pleasant surprise was Galveston. It seemed like 3 cities in one – the typical seaside resort with amusement rides and motels, a great state park natural area, and finally the historic area on the bay side.
Dallas – Fort Worth While Houston gained lots of photos on this posting I have actually been to Dallas far more, just some time ago and without a camera.
Dallas is corporate, Fort Worth is cowboy (I know – stereotypes, but it seems to fit).
This photography blog started out as a way to share some photos with friends, but after a number of years it has reached a milestone – posting number 1000!
To celebrate I give you my favorite 40 photos of all time. (I tried to make it less but could not)
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Duluth, Minnesota thunderstorm
Yellowstone National Park – All Hail the Geyser Gods
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Mendocino County, California
Cambridge, Ohio lumberjack contest
Cincinnati Renaissance Festival
Loudonville, Ohio – Native American Pow Wow
Columbus – Krampus
New York City subway art
Cincinnati – Rosie the Riveter Contest
Lanai, Hawaii – Cat Sanctuary
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Waimea Canyon Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Columbus – Krampus V2
Washington DC – Embassy Day
Houston – Lucky Land
Amarillo, Texas – Cadillac Ranch
Cleveland – Parade the Circle
San Antonio De Areco, Argentina
Buenos Aires – Casa Rosada
Buenos Aires – Retiro Train Station
Buenos Aires – Recoleta Cemetery
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
La Leona, Argentina
El Calafate, Argentina
Buenos Aires – Palacio Barolo
Igauzu Falls, Argentina
The following are interesting scenes that didn’t fit any of the other postings.
Lajitas, Texas – The only place to stay was a golf resort, but it had a great sunset.
Texas border area – We saw a few instances of the border patrol in action, including going through 2 checkpoints along the highway. Strangely the checkpoints were at least 40 miles from the border.
Marfa, Texas – This town is an artist enclave for New York artists. How and why a bunch of New York artists decided to go to a small west Texas town is far too long for this blog.
Fort Davis, Texas is a historic town with a former frontier fort. Today it has a couple of cool re purposed buildings.
Pecos, Texas – For about 100 miles in any direction from Pecos were new fracking oil wells. The landscape was filled with these towers burning off natural gas, as well as truck traffic jams and RVs parked in the desert for the workers. The high pay also caused our most expensive hotel night in Carlsbad, New Mexico as the demand for housing far exceeds supply.
Roswell, New Mexico – While I have a posting for the UFO industry of Roswell, there was also a very cool airplane ‘boneyard’.
Portales, New Mexico – When we were driving into town the billboard for Burger King said ‘next to the airplane’. They weren’t kidding.
Hereford, Texas – Beef capital of the world. I think they are correct.
Canyon, Texas – A Giant Cowboy
Amarillo, Texas – Much cleaner energy source.
Canadian, Texas – Lonesome train blues.
Near Shattuck, Oklahoma – Folk Art along the Highway.
Fairview, Oklahoma – We were looking for some Good Eats, but needed to find somewhere else.
Jet, Oklahoma – One of our disappointments was being unable to check out the Salt Plains National Refuge – where you can dig around for crystals in the salt flats. Much of Oklahoma was flooded, and it flooded the salt flats.
The cows however were making the most of their new beach.
Somewhere in Oklahoma – The Perfect Farm Photo
Part 2 in a second posting.
For some reason the people of Amarillo, Texas like to take large vehicles and plant them in the ground.
South of town is Combine City. Since 2002 a farmer named Orville Ladehoff has been ‘planting’ old combines in the ground. Today there are 14 of them sticking up in the Texas prairie.
Slug Bug Ranch is east of town. Here there are 5 VW Beetles stuck in the ground much like the more famous one on the other side of town.
There are a few other items on the grounds that are also covered in graffiti.
By far the most famous in town, and likely in the world is Cadillac Ranch. Since 1974 these old Cadillacs have been sticking out of the ground in the Texas panhandle.
Note – they are not supposed to be in a pond, but there had been lots of rain so it appears they are partially under water.
Big Bend National Park is one of the more remote parks in the continental United States, but with some effort – we arrived!
The early morning drive down from Marathon provided an excellent sunrise, giving the mountains great coloring.
Eventually we made our way back down to the Rio Grande River Valley.
Our west Texas days constantly provided interesting cacti views.
The Rio Grande in this area is really just a decent size creek, but the kayaks were setting out for the day.
Our first choice for hiking along the river, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, was closed due to wildfires, so we headed instead for the Boquillas Canyon Trail.
As we made our way along the river an elderly man on the Mexico side serenaded us with songs in an effort to get us to come down to the river bank so he could sell his wares.
The canyon walls continually closed in until we couldn’t go any further unless we went in the river.
We returned to cross the border into Mexico (detailed on the next post) passing more colorful mountains along the way.
With wildfires closing a number of the more popular spots in the park, we chose to go up into the basin and check out the Window View Trail. Again we were treated to interesting vegetation.
Being in the basin we were surrounded on all sides by the mountains.
This view is ‘The Window’.
While it was disappointing that the wildfires impacted the park, there was plenty to see and do for the day.
Langtry, Texas is a town in west Texas, but just barely. In the early 1900s it was a busy place as they built the railroad nearby. Today it is a post office and the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center (detailed on another posting).
Most of the buildings in the area have been abandoned.
Those that remain have a sense of humor, as evidenced by a sign pointing toward the Rio Grande that says ‘Mexico’ this way.
The town does have a beautiful view of the Rio Grande Valley, and the cliffs and caverns across in Mexico.
And with that we took the lonely road west.
San Antonio is a great city, full of character. As usual I find the more interesting sights away from the big tourist spots, but the Riverwalk and the Alamo did provide a few interesting views.
Adios San Antonio!