Monday April 4, 2011
Hello from Brownwood Texas. . If you are wondering now why hasn’t he written anything lately? The answer is pretty simple. I’m calling quits, I’m outta here for good! That just doesn’t sound very convincing does it? Never having given up on anything in my life I just could not and will not quit this little adventure that Mary and I are on. Yes there have been some days that I question myself. The main reason that I will not stop is all of you folks out there that have signed our guest book with a lot of very nice compliments and words of encouragement. Just last night a lady told me how she had started reading our travels from the beginning to the end and says she is looking forward to the next time I update the web site. I have been unable to get connected to the internet out here for the past two weeks. From what I’ve been told if you use the service with all those red dots they show during commercial break it just won’t work here. For those of you that have been following us along from the beginning you may recall I had this same problem while rolling thru Western KY. May be in a few days we will have moved far enough along that the red dot folks will have us back up and running. We can’t even use our phone out here. But why should I complain? Not so long ago the only phones we had were those in our homes or on a pole down the street. We have been camped here at the front of the Wal-Mart parking lot since Friday afternoon. Since our last publishing we have really been meeting great people and just enjoying life. I’m not sure what day I will be able to publish this but I will get it done as soon as I am able to. Thank you all for being patient. .
Tuesday morning March 22nd after having our morning coffee we loaded the wagon and said our good byes to Robert, Debbie, Colin, and Perry. The wind was still blowing a little harder than I like but I’m finding out that the wind blows pretty hard in this part of the country most days and all you can do is deal with it. With the girls harnessed and everyone else in their place. Pete and Jr. up in the wagon and Dan and Dusty tied to the back. Mary and I climbed onboard while Perry with video cam in hand recorded our departure.
From Perry’s to the HWY 36 we traveled along a dirt road for the first three miles past ranch’s and a game reserve (not a game preserve I’ll explain later) across the narrow single lane bridge over the Leon River to the black top of HWY 36. Between Perry’s and the highway we had to cross over three cattle guards. Crossing over the first two was no problem as they were filled in with dirt. The third cattle guard was a bit of a problem. This crossing had not been filled in with dirt all the way and convincing Pearle and Pauline to cross it a few days before had been a real problem. It wasn’t a problem for Dan and Dusty, we just untied them from the wagon and walked them around it. We couldn’t do this with the girls and get the wagon across at the same time. With a little coaxing from Mary and some creative tip toeing on the girl’s part we were able to get across. I was afraid to try this maneuver again so with the help of Perry and a large sheet of plywood we were able to get across. Not without some fancy and cautious hoof work by both girls. Mules are pretty funny about where they will place their feet. If a puddle of water is dark and cloudy they will try to walk around it first if that doesn’t work you may have your hands full getting them across or through it. Anything in their path on the road way will upset their stride. Mules will stop to investigate a railroad crossing or before stepping over or a seam in the road. It’s not that they are scared they are very careful about every step this trait has saved us more than a couple of times while crossing fields with deep grass I have been unable to spot holes or other obstructions in our path. Thanks to extraordinary eyesight on the part of both Pearle and Pauline they have stopped before any harm came to any of us. It’s not just a myth that mules are sure footed it’s a well known fact. What makes them so sure footed is that a mule is the only animal in the World that can see all four of its feet at the same time. Getting back to walking on the plywood. Both girls stopped fast and were not about to step on the plywood to get over the cattle guard. Mary has a way with both the girls at times like these. I have nick named her the “Mule Whisperer”. Without fail each time the girls have refused to walk up a hill because they were getting tired or cross over something that had them spooked Mary has always been able to coax them along. Like the pied piper they just walk along behind her. After a few words of encouragement they very gingerly stepped on the plywood and crossed over.
As we were crossing the narrow bridge we met a semi that was approaching us a little faster than he probably should have been. In a cloud of dust he was able to get the semi stopped in plenty of time and only had to back up a few yards as we squeezed past on the other side of the bridge. Not too much further along the road we came to a pasture with about fifteen horses in it that all came running up to the fence to see what all the commotion was with the wagon rattling along. Horses and mules are so funny at times. Each time we pass a pasture they will always run up to the fence and follow along as far as they are able. Cows will most times turn tail and run in the opposite direction.
In less than an hour’s time we were at the end of the dirt road and fixing to cross the highway and get on our way to Hamilton. We checked traffic in both directions and with the all clear I stared to move out when one of Pauline’s trace chains came loose. The pin on one side of her tree (the part of the wagon that the harness chains too) came all the way out and fell on the ground. This isn’t a big deal to fix it’s just not something that you would want happening while trotting along or going downhill. We were lucky that we had been stopped and as soon as I gave the command to step the pin fell out. While Mary held the reins I climbed down and was able to locate all the pieces and along with the help of a guy passing by had everything back together in less than five minutes. Our wagon is now over a hundred years old and we are going to have hundred year old problems. No big deal we just take these problems as they come along. The great thing about these old wagons is that they are very simple to maintain. They had to be. They were built in such a way that the average person with just a few hand tools could keep his wagon rolling along. Those old timers didn’t have garages scattered all along the way that they could just pull into and get serviced.
With the pin back in place we pulled out on 36 west and began the sixteen mile long trip to Hamilton. Once we were on the road the wind settled down and we were given a nice sunny day to enjoy. Rolling along we saw another game reserve. You can usually spot these because unlike a cattle ranch that has a fence about four feet high these game reserves have small mesh fencing about eight to ten feet high to keep in all the game the owners are reserving. Reserving for what you may be wondering.
First let me clarify myself. Not all of these high fences are reserving game animals some of them are actually helping to preserve the game they fence in.
The reserves that I write of are those places where some fat cat rich guy and his buddies or some wannabe big game hunters shoot unsuspecting prey usually at spot where they are feeding. The wannabe’s pay huge sums of money to come to these reserves to bag an elk or big buck or some type of imported game. Before the big game hunter can take his shot at the trophy of his dreams most times a price has to be settled upon before the trigger is pulled. Don’t get me wrong here I enjoy hunting, not target shooting. For most of us that have hunted deer or elk or some other large game we have rarely shot the animal that we were hunting. I have been on hunting trips several times and come home empty handed like so many others. On the game reserve that’s not the case. You pay and you are guaranteed a trophy in your price range. Maybe I shouldn’t have written that last part. If I have offended any of you I will not apologize. Freedom of speech is one of those things we As Americans have on our side. And we all know the saying that we all have opinions. Nuff said there.
Maybe I’m getting off track here after all Mary and I are out here seeing a lot of really good things and meeting some really great people. We had a good day of travel stopping a few times along the way to tell people of our travels and pose for pictures. The girls are very photogenic. Sometimes I think they really are hamming it up for the cameras.
We roll along at a pretty slow pace usually about three miles per hour so when we are able to pass cars and trucks it’s a real treat for us. We were cruising along the shoulder at our usual pace when up ahead traffic had come to a standstill and a long line of cars and trucks was forming. Not for us. We rolled along on the shoulder past all of those stalled motorists who just moments before had whizzed past us at high way speeds. While traffic had been reduced to a single lane in either direction we were unaffected by the road construction and were able to roll through. OK this was short lived and within a few minutes traffic was rolling and once again passing us by. As soon as we reached Hamilton we stopped at a gas station to refill our gas can. While Mary was getting the gas, Steve a local rancher accompanied with his two very large dogs offered me a bale of hay and asked where we would be setting up camp. Not knowing the area Steve recommended Pecan Park not too far from the gas station. With Mary back in the wagon we Followed along behind Steve thru a neighborhood getting every bodies attention as we past their homes. A little girl wanted us to stop so she could pet the animals I told her she would have to come by the park (I didn’t know the park was a mile further). We had gone about half a mile when I realized this horse crazy young lady had been running along behind us just waiting to get a chance to pet all the gang. We invited her to hop up in the wagon ride the rest of the way to the park. As soon as we got to the park I handed our hitch hiker my phone so she could call her mom and let her know where she was. As you can imagine Mom was a little upset about Abby (our hitchhiker not so much for chasing us down but for hopping in the wagon with a total stranger). While Abby was waiting for her mom she lent a hand setting up camp and walking Dan around.. Abby’s mom and her sister arrived in a few minutes. Mom settled down quickly she understands that Abby like so many other kids her age (about 12) are horse crazy. Abby and her mom and sister stayed around for a short time so Abby could spend a few minutes with each of our pets.
Pecan park is a well used and cared for park, with a stream running through it Pearle, Pauline and Dan were in seventh heaven..I had to tie Dusty to a tree away from the stream, there just wasn’t enough room. I mentioned that the park is well used. There are swing sets, rest rooms, a pavilion with electricity, a jogging or walking path wide enough so that bicyclists can also enjoy the park. With water, electric and rest rooms we were at the Hilton yippee! We stayed in Hamilton two nights and were greeted by most of the park service’s people that were interested in our journey so far and welcomed us to the city, During our stay we a met quite few people and did an interview for the Hamilton Herald news paper. Bill a city employs helped Mary by taking our water jugs and refilling them. We didn’t use much water while in Hamilton. Dan, Pearle and Pauline drank from the trim and waded around in it. I felt kind of bad for Dusty not being able to cool his feet in the stream. A few extra treats and a extra scoop of grain seemed to the trick.
Up Until 1880 the folks that were attempting to settle in Hampton and the surrounding area had their hands full with the Indians who were set on keeping the white man out of this area. With the arrival of the Rail Road in 1880 Hamilton was finally settled. Located at 113 w. Henry St. in what at one time was the jail is now the home of the Hamilton County Museum. Today Hamilton has a population of 1,977 residents.
I had made a doctor’s appointment in Hamilton just for a routine checkup. Pecan Park is just about a mile from the clinic and Steve had offered to come by and drive to the clinic. Steve arrived Wednesday the 23nd. Steve has two really big dogs that ride on the flat bed of his truck. The female of the two was in heat and driving Big the male dog crazy. Big hopped off the bed of the truck getting his rear leg hung iup on the truck breaking his leg. Steve took him immediately to the Vet’s .The last we heard that his leg should heal up nicely. Love truly is a hurtin thing.
We didn’t have a whole lot of visitors in Hamilton. I spent part of the day on Wednesday wandering around town taking a few pictures. Thursday morning we broke camp and headed out for Gustine about sixteen miles up road. The weather was cooperating it was day to spend outdoors. Not far west of town is the Circle T Ranch. The Circle T has not only an arena but a really huge Hotel. They were having a rodeo on the 26th and 27th.
Going west from Hamilton is a very nice ride . This time of year the trees are starting to bud out and the leaves are getting green. Between Hamilton and Gustin is the very small town of Lamkin with a population of eighty eight. Lamkin has not always been so small. From about 1840 to 1935 Linden was hopping place. Twice the town burned and had to be rebuilt..Back in the 1800’s it not uncommon for eitire towns to burn completely. We didn’t see any business’s in Lamkin and the residents we saw were a few goat and some sheep.
We were nearing the city limits of Gustine not knowing where we were going to camp for the night. We found an old picnic area but the exiting side was blocked off. We stopped by a house with a small arena and asked about camping . The lady that Mary spoke with pointed us towards the Arena in town.. Finding the arena without any trouble we were invited to stay the night. The arena is also known as the Gustine Rodeo Club. I had driven the girls to the front of the arena with no way to turn around without opening a gate to a pasture with about six jacks and jenny’s that up unit now had been peacefully grazing.. Mary opened the gate and I drove the wagon in to turn around. The residents of the pasture all fell in line behind Dan and Dusty and may have come on out the gate with us if not for the help of a guy getting the hate closed back up.
We were given permission to camp for the night and were told that we were welcome top stay over. In the arena riding her first horse was a young lady by the name of Katelyn with her friend Sydney. These two young ladies are about twelve years old. While we were getting the girls out of their harnesses both Sydney and Katelyn came over and lent a hand helping me to get everybody watered. These two gals were full of questions about us the wagon and all the pets.. While I was busy answering questions members of the Rodeo Club were busy fixing a plumbing problem in the rest room. We had a great night there in Gustine. I was able to buy from Rudy a bale of hay. Sydney’s mom supplied us with dinner. A real bonus I didn’t have to cook. We had a spaghetti dish made with cheese, rotelle and mushrooms that was great. After dinner Sydney and Katelyn brought us over each a slice of homemade chocolate cheese cake. Who can in their right mind turn down cheese cake of any flavor?
We enjoyed a peaceful night of sleep knowing that all the pets were secure and in no fear of wandering off in the night. Most nights we have to stake them out or chain them to trees or fences. I worry about our little family and all thru the night I’m up and down checking on them to make sure they haven’t gotten loose or tangled up around a tree or fence post. Dan is the one I worry about the most. If he can find a way to get his self in a jam he will. Just to keep me on my toe’s he didn’t let me down this night. I went over to pet Dan after I got out of bed and what do I see but a long wide gash in the middle of the white blaze on his face. Sometime in the night he had managed to scrape his face on a barb wire fence. I cleaned his boo boo and sprayed some Bluecoat medicine on the wound. It should heal up in a few weeks and the white hair should grow back.
I was so busy yakking away with these two girls I forgot to get a picture of them and by the time I got up the next morning they had already caught the bus for school. We had the wagon loaded and the girls harnessed in almost record time .By 10:30am we were on the road and headed for Comanche.
We had been given directions to the arena in Comanche. In between Gustine and Comanche there’s some really nice country side. From Gustine to the arena in Comanche is a distance of about thirteen miles. Coming into Comanche the road comes to a “T” where you have to turn either right or left. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal. We sat at the stop sign there holding up traffic for what seemed like a really long time waiting for that right moment when we could turn left and roll across four lanes of highway. Those behind us in their cars and trucks were very patient and eventually we were aided by a gentleman from a business across the street that came out and stopped traffic so we could get across. Thank you who ever you are. And I’m sorry but Pearle and Pauline are not for sale. But if you get in touch with me I can tell you where you can find some pretty good mules that are for sale.
We rolled thru town past several old buildings and the town square before stopping in at the Post Office to pick up our mail from Dwayne.
Comanche has a population of 4,085 residents. The town square has been preserved with many of the old buildings from the 1800’s still standing. “Old Cora “An old log court house built in 1856 in the town of Cora and then moved to the town of Comanche is the oldest original Texas court house still in existence. Comanche had its problems with Indians and outlaws back in the day. On the south west corner of the town square stands an old oak tree where in 1854 young Marshall Flemming hid behind thios same tree from Indians that were searching for him. Today a drug store now occupies what was in 1874 a saloon. It’s in this saloon that John Wesley Hardin already known as the fastest gun in Texas was visiting the town for the horse races when a Brown County Deputy attempted to arrest Hardin. The two each drew their guns Hardin being the faster of the two killed the deputy. Already a wanted man he was now wanted for killing a lawman. Hardin was tracked down and arrested in Alabama and brought back to Comanche for trial; and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
On Moorman Road is the Comanche County Historical Museum that houses many relics from another day. Like so many other places here in Texas Comanche has a lot to see. For more info on Comanche contact their Chamber Of Commerce...
We finally made it the arena after stopping by the Post Office.. The Comanche Arena is really nice with lots of shade trees to camp under and stock pens to keep Pearle and the gang in. The only drawback was getting water but we managed to keep everyone from getting too thirsty during our stay. The stock pens hadn’t been used in some time so there was plenty of green grass for grazing.. Across the road from the arena lives Brandon his wife Belinda and their daughter Bailey. Each day during our stay Brandon made sure we had plenty of water. We were waiting for more mail to arrive and we planned on pulling out Tuesday morning for the small town of Blanket.
Friday night was pretty peaceful the only sound to be heard was a little road sound from passing semis. Saturday morning I saddled up Dan and we went for a ride into town. So long as we stayed on grass or dirt our ride was good as soon as we got on pavement Dan would have a rough time keeping his footing. This is my fault. The last time I had him shod in Teague I didn’t use “Drill Tek” shoes. Dan is a gaited horse and has a really nice gait when he’s not slipping about. All in all we had a pretty good afternoon of riding. I don’t get to ride Dan as often as I would like to and Dan is the type of horse that you don’t just jump up on and think you are going to go for as ride. When Dan hasn’t been ridden for a couple of weeks he tends to be a little more than frisky and can be a real hand full to get under control. Usually after a few minutes of playing around he settles down and all is well, we go for our ride.
Sunday morning a lady was in the arena working with two of her horses barrel racing .Mary (the lady in the arena) had brought two horses with her this morning to work with. She was only there for about an hour or so.. It wasn’t long after Mary had left that a water truck arrived to wet down the arena. Before we knew it there were at least twenty five kids from three years on up to sixteen years. They were all members of the (I hope I have this right) “Small Town Riders Comanche 4-H Horse Club”. What a fantastic day Sunday turned out to be.. These kids were practicing dressage. Now this dressage was pretty interesting to watch and I hope I don’t get any bad press for this next bit of writing.
A little girl about three and her giant horse “Little Bit” were in my eye’s the most entertaining. These two didn’t put on a show for any type of award or anything else. I just really enjoyed seeing this little girl and her pony together. Sometimes Kaylynn would lead after awhile Little Bit would take over. Seeing all these kids riding around in the arena brought back some pretty good memories of when I was a member of the “Antilles Riding Club” at Fort Buchanan Puerto Rico. But that’s another story for another time. We met so many people that Sunday and as bad as I am at remembering names I apologize if I don’t mention yours.
While I was busy at the arena watching the kids drill their horses I met Larry Hamilton a fellow gold prospector. Larry was here to watch his granddaughter ride. Aside from being a prospector Larry is also a realtor for United Country if you are looking for property in this part of Texas give Larry a call at 254-592-5353 or e-mail him email@example.com or log onto www.brownwood-tx-realestate.com . I wasn’t aware that there was any gold to prospect for in this part of TX. Larry told me about a few places with some dust but not very many nuggets. Now here’s the number one thing you have to know about gold miners. We all lie! Their aint no way you will get a miner to tell you where the gold really is. And like the fish that got away we have already sold off that really big nugget or left it with a pretty girl in another town.
While I was busy talking with Larry, Mary had made a new friend Donna Merworth. The two of them took off in Donna’s car and went sightseeing and a little shopping too. Donna and her son Trooper loaded us up with can goods and other treats and sweets. At this time I believe Donna has gone through her knee surgery. Hope all went well Donna and you have a speedy recovery.
At the end of the day while everyone was loading horses into trailers Heather and Rachel gathered up all the riders and we all posed for pictures in front of the wagon. This was a really great day before they all left each of them taking away with them a post card..But the day wasn’t over yet!
Saturday I had met David Woolem a well known figure about Comanche with his six miniature horses and his wagon. David had stopped by the day before to look over our wagon and check and see if we needed anything. I mentioned that we could use some water in our jugs. We loaded the jugs in his truck and took them over to his house. David had been telling me about the “Chuck Wagon” he has spent the last two years putting together a chuck wagon. Everything on this is handmade right down to the spatula. Now I’m no expert on wagons by any means but WOW! What a wagon David has put together if there is such a thing as wagon shows he would surely roll away with a trophy. The attention to detail is fantastic. David has a pretty closely matched team of mules to pull his chuck wagon.
Everyone had loaded their trailers and all except for Heather and her kids. Across the field we see David in one of his smaller wagons drawn by a team of four miniature horses with two leading along side. It was an impressive sight. David offered to take me for a spin but first Kaylynn had to go for a spin around the field.. Now came my turn David handed the reins over to me and off we went. Everything was going just fine until I decided to make a left turn. Running a four up is a little trickier than it looks. Those tiny little horses are a whole lot stronger than they look. Having not worked a four up in over thirty years I was more than a little rusty. I’ve gotten pretty good at driving my two girls before I can hook up two more mules and take off I will need a lot more practice.
David didn’t show up empty handed he brought along with him a trough made from plywood and an old inner tube. I wish I had thought of this idea. With this trough all we had to do was jack our wagon enough to get the wheel inside and then lower it into the trough pour in a 50/50 mix of linseed oil and turpentine spin the wheel a couple times to mix the solution. Now that the wheel is soaking you just sit around swapping lies turning the wheel ever so often. What a great idea.
David also brought with him a drill so that we could drill a whole into the pin that came loose on Pauline’s tree. With that done all there was to do was sit around and watch the oil drip..
Now that the wheel was soaking nicely I needed to go into the city of Brown Wood. Brandon and his brother Chris gave me a lift into Brownwood. Comanche and Brownwood are separated by twenty five miles. Brandon and Chris showed me a few possible camping sites along the way. About half way between the two cities is the small town of Blanket and if you didn’t know any better you would drive right on past the town never knowing it was there. More about Blanket later
By the time I made it back from Brown Wood it was time to fix dinner. Feed the gang and call it a night.
Monday morning we had nothing to do except sit around and watch traffic go by. About 1:00 pm I took a stroll over to the saddle shop. Now here is where things such as my inability to remember names is once again going to embarrass me. I stopped in saddle after going over to the Chamber of Commerce to get some info on Comanche. I walk into the saddle shop and am greeted by the owner and for the life of me I cannot remember his name this is really embarrassing because this gentleman gave me a gift that I hope to use for many years to come.. He gave me a new Leatherman tool in a very nice sheath that he had made. We visited for about an hour before I headed back to camp.
Most of Monday was pretty slow and relaxing. With all the gang munching away in the pens Mary and went for a stroll in a pasture on the back side of the arena. We had been seeing as few deer each afternoon just before dark at the back of the stock pens. Each afternoon they would come by and graze on an old round bale of hay. Mary and I tried to sneak up on them in hopes of getting a picture or two. I don’t know how those wild life photographers do it. We were able to get pretty close but not close enough to get any pictures. What we thought to be only three or four deer turned out to be a small herd of seven. As soon as they got wind of us (must be my deodorant) they bolted across the pasture to the other side and into the safety of the trees and bush’s.
Monday night the temp started falling and by morning it was downright cold along with the wind blowing it seemed much colder. We decided to stay put in the wagon and try to stay warm. I have to admit here that I was totally unprepared for another cold snap and had not bought enough propane to keep us warm Tuesday night when it got really cold. Down in the thirty’s. Lucky for us Brandon brought us over a nice sized electric heater that I could run off the generator. Thanks to Brandon and his wife Belinda we were toasty and warm all night.
As I’ve already mentioned the town of Blanket is pretty small I don’t know the population. I was just informed that the towns of Comanche and Brownwood are so cold that they put a blanket between them. Hey I’m just repeating what I was told. Any way Wednesday morning looked to be a nice day to travel. The sun was out and the sky was clear. The day was warming up nicely. We loaded the wagon and rolled out onto HJWY 67/84 headed for the city of Brown Wood about twenty five miles away. We had no plans of reaching Brownwood this day hoping to find a place around Blanket to set up camp for a night or two. Larry Hamilton had stopped by to see us off and gave us directions to an arena in Blanket.
Off we went on our way to Blanket. I was in hopes that somewhere along the way my phone would once again pick up a signal and be of more use to me than just a way of telling time. NO SUCH LUCK!
From Comanche to Blanket is a distance of about thirteen miles. Thirteen mile is a distance that stands out a lot in the history of our country. A days ride was usually about twenty-six miles on a good horse or wagon. Most of the old stage stops were about thirteen miles apart as were a lot of the towns as our country was growing. A person could in a day’s time ride to the next city and return back home later in the same day.
Most of our day was pretty uneventful until we passed by a ranch with a really nice looking sorrel stud horse running up and along his fence line. Whinnying and carrying along as we passed by. As we passed by the gate to this ranch I took notice that the gate was closed. And it was closed. After went by the gate Dan and Dusty started carrying on at the back of the wagon. Mary looked back to check on them only to find that we now had three horses. This big boy had gotten loose and was trotting along with us. I stopped the wagon and with lead rope [e in hand attempted to catch him and put him back where he belonged. He was excited and not about to let me catch him. I wasn’t having much luck most animals are frightened of my crutches at first. I was beginning to worry that he might get hit by a car or a truck. This almost happened once when some idiot in a small red Ford pickup just couldn’t seem to take his foot off the gas for even a second almost hitting the horse and our wagon. Yakking away on a cell phone and in a big hurry to go nowhere. Thankfully A couple of trucks pulling horse trailers stopped traffic and lent a hand in catching this now very excited horse. We were all able to get him close to his gate while one of the guys slowly approached him calming him down enough so that he could get my lead rope around his neck. Another guy had gotten the gate opened and we were able to get him back home. None of us could figure out how he got out only that he must have jumped the gate after we passed by. With him back at home and traffic moving again we got back on our way with this same horse running along the fence line with us but not getting back out.
Rolling along our way past cattle ranch’s up hill and downhill we were having a nice day of traveling. Along about two thirty in the afternoon we arrived in Blanket. Now I mentioned that if you weren’t looking you could go right past Blanket and never know it was there. This is true. It’s not that the town is so small. No it’s just well hidden. As you come into Blanket all you see is a gas station and an RV center. To get into the town you have to turn off at the gas station and go over the rail road tracks and back in the opposite direction. Then there’s the town well hidden from the high way.
Larry had given us directions to the arena and we had no problem finding it. What we didn’t know was that the arena belongs to the Blanket School. We rolled into an open pasture behind the arena to the back side where we saw a truck and some people. We asked the owner of the truck about camping for the night that’s when we learned that the arena was school property. Justin the guy we were talking to is the AG Teacher here at the school. Justin asked the principle about us camping. No problem. What a neat school they have here in Blanket. The school ranges from pre-k all the way up to grade twelve.
We pulled the wagon alongside the bleachers and started getting set up for the night. As soon as recess started a large group of the students stopped by and asked all about the wagon some of them had seen us along the road while others had read about us in the paper. We were very impressed with the students that we met there that after noon. They were all polite and courteous and full of questions.
Justin helped to get us set up with water and electric before having to get back to class. After school was let out for the day Justin stopped back by with a bale of hay and a sack of feed he donated to us. No sooner had he done that then Larry pulled in gave us another sack of sweet feed..
Justin had animals to tend to so he bid us fare well d=for the night. A few families showed up to practice their barrel racing . We were also visited by Justin’s mom and his three children who can really ham it up for the camera. We had a great afternoon. Every one that we met in Blanket there at the school were just great. The further along we get on our trip the better it gets. I cannot say it enough we are having a wonderful time meeting all of you on our trip across the greatest country in the World. We were eating a BBQ lunch one afternoon at Hydens BBQ in Teague Texas compliments of Randy Hyden. Randy made this statement and I will quote him now. As you travel west across Texas you are going to meet the nicest and most hospitable you will ever meet anywhere. I have to say this now Randy you weren’t lying we really have been blessed to meet all of you and look forward to meeting many more good folks.
We stayed two nights at the Blanket arena I think that last cold snap took a little energy from me. Whatever it was it passed quickly. Mary and I were very lucky this past winter with all the cold weather we stayed healthy all through it. We rolled out of Blanket Friday morning April 1st. bound for Brown Wood. Just as we were getting ready to roll out a lady from the school cafeteria came over to see us and to bring us a snack for the road. The last p[lace in the world I would ever expect to get sushi would be at a high school (Well maybe in Beverly Hills). The plate she brought us had not only the sushi, there were slices of smoked deli ham and cheese and crackers bread and two different deserts that I had never seen before and cannot tell you anything about them except that it was good. We never ate that well when I was in school. Down the road we rolled munching happily as we went.
Blanket to Brownwood is about a thirteen mile ride through the countryside. The day was pretty peaceful with not much else to do except to keep the girls walking along in a straight line and check my phone every so often to see if it had a signal. I thought I was going to get lucky once or twice at the top of a hill when it had a signal for all of about ten seconds. The most excitement we had all afternoon was when a lady stopped to offer us a donation. The poor girl when she looked in her purse all she had was a check book. No problem though. We gave her a post card anyway. Before she left on her way she told us to stop by the feed store in Early as we passed thru and there would be a sack of feed waiting there for us.
Early is a little town that if not for the metal long horn cattle silhouettes on either end of town you would think that you were already in Brownwood. Just as we came into town we stopped by a gas station to fill our gas can for the generator. With that done we had just gotten back on the road when two teenage boys came trotting across the road one of them carrying a bag of feed over his shoulders. I’m glad they did this because I didn’t see the feed store.
We were told that we might be able to find a place to camp behind the Mall in Early so we rolled through the parking lot and around the mall not seeing anything that looked right for us and back on the road into Brownwood.
Brownwood has a population of 19,235 people. Brownwood has a pretty colorful history. Settlers here found themselves right smack in the heart of Comancheria. The land they settled was hard fought for. Not only was there Indian trouble from 1882 thru 1883 “Barbwire War” This area was originally open range and the smaller ranchers fought to keep it that way while the larger spreads fenced off as much of the land as they could. Not only cutting off grass lands for grazing but in many areas the much needed water for the cattle. Before a law was passed making it a felony to cut fences a lot of damage was done.
One of the largest murals in the state, the three story “Wall of Light” at Macarthur Academy of Freedom”.
We were unable to visit many of these sites during our stay in Brownwood (not to many places have ample parking for the girls). Camp Bowie Memorial Park honors the men of the 36thInfantry Division with exhibits of the equipment they used during WWll.
I’m told that there is also a jail that resembles a grim looking castle. We didn’t see that jail but we did pass by the juvenile correctional facility. It’s not a place I would want to be if I were still a kid.
Brownwood offers a lot for a city of its size along with a Veterans Outpatient Clinic and a hospital. We were taken by surprise as to how large the city actually is. We were rolling past the local Wal-Mart when I had the bright idea that maybe we might be able to find a place to set up camp for the night out behind the store in a grassy area away from traffic. I was more than just a little surprised when the Manager of Wal-Mart suggested that we go ahead and set up our camp at the front of the parking lot under some shade trees in clear view of the store and all those shopping. It was a win win for not only Wal-Mart but also for us. We were told we could stay over the weekend if we wished.
We camped there until Tuesday morning and by the time we pulled out and headed for Bangs TX my voice was all but gone having talked to so many people during our time in Brownwood.
Mary and I had a very good time visiting Brownwood all through the day from about 9am until the sun went down each day we were visited by so many people. Thank you to all of those that stopped by and visited with us during our stay in your city all of you made Mary and I feel very welcome.
As we were setting up and getting the girls out of their harness’s the first lady we met was Joan Witscher AKA around town as the lady that paint’s rocks. Joan was fascinated about our travels, helping out as we got everything set up and even took me to fill up our water jugs. Joan is quite the artist and is at this time building her home with her own hands when she isn’t painting rocks. More about Joan and her painted rocks later. Joan is also planning to ride on horseback from Texas to Washington State in the not too distant future fulfilling another of her dreams.
Friday afternoon and evening right up until the sun fell from the sky we met so many people all interested in our trip the wagon and most of all the pets. Dusty who is normally skittish and always on the alert of anyone walking up to him even got in on all that was going on. For the first time he was allowing young kids to walk over to him and pet him. Dan as always was the show off and was in his element with all the attention he was getting from the smaller kids. Pearle was enjoying all the treats that were coming her way as was Pauline.
We met so many people that it is impossible to remember all their names. Over the weekend we became somewhat of a daycare center for parents watching over children while they were able to shop in peace if you can call shopping a peaceful experience. I can’t tell you how many people stopped by asking if we were giving pony rides and a few even inquired about buying our pets. Since we stated out last May we have set up camp in a lot of different places and met a lot of people. We never even considered camping at Wal-Mart. I have to tell you that the exposure was more than we expected. By the end of the weekend Dans back had to be feeling the strain of so many children posing for pictures from his back. All in all we had a fantastic time.
Saturday morning for breakfast Wal-Mart sent us donuts and around lunch time we were treated to pizza from Pizza Hut. We were interviewed by the Brownwood Bulletin who sent us over a DVD of the interview.
We owe a special thanks to two very nice ladies who saw to it that our stay in Brownwood would be one that we will never forget.
Marsha stopped by several times checking on us. Refilling our water jugs and helping me locate bales of hay. If not for Marsha and her pickup truck I don’t know how we would have gotten water for the pets. Marsha tried all weekend to get a chance to bring her granddaughter over for pictures in the wagon. She was finally able to snag her away from her parents for a short time so she could get her pictures. Thanks Marsha for all your kindness and just for being a friend..
Brenda is another lady that took it upon herself to adopt us for the weekend. Thanks to Brenda Pearle was in snack heaven. Once again we were waiting on mail from Florida. Saturday morning Brenda took time from her day to stop by and drive me over to the Post Office. Brenda also brought the younger members of her family, she saw to it that were never out of ice and restocked our supply of venison. Given a choice I would rather eat venison over anything else from a meaty market. Brenda loaded us up with all sorts of venison from burger to breakfast sausage. The last time we had so many choices was back in Arkansas in November. Thanks Brenda.
All day Saturday and Sunday we greeted everyone that stopped by for a visit by Monday morning my voice was beginning to get raspy from speaking with so many people.
Saturday Wal-Mart was having a side walk sale so as you can imagine the place was hopping. Sunday morning was pretty quiet until church let out then the day was pretty much a repeat of Saturday. We had planned to pull out Monday morning. Late Sunday night the wind began to pick up at times the wind would gust so high that we feared that the wagon was going to be blown over. By Tuesday morning the wind had settled down and gave us a beautiful Texas day to roll along and enjoy the scenery.
Several folks over the weekend had warned me about a hill going out of town towards Bangs. Everyone was concerned for Pearle and Pauline fearing that Bangs Hill as it is called would be to hard a pull for the girls. Crossing thru Kentucky the girls had pulled us up some pretty steep mountains sometimes needing a little assistance from a chain and a pickup truck. Marsha was one of the many that were worrying that I may ignore all warnings and attempt Bangs Hill. Marsha took me for a ride to show me just how steep Bangs Hill was. At a glance and even riding up it didn’t look so bad that the girls couldn’t pull us along. When we turned around to come back down is when I realized just how steep this piece of real estate is. Marsha and Linda both gave us directions around Bangs Hill. The route around the hill took us through some really nice country side.
Even with good directions and a ride to shoe me the way I still wound up missing the turn I was shown. No problem though we were able to get back on track without going out of our way. As it turned out the path we chose took us right in front of the elementary school there in Brownwood. The kids were all out enjoying recess as we passed by. I would like to thank the teachers that rounded up all the children led them in a line out to the side walk so they could all get a closer look and wave us on.
Just past the school we made our turn onto the right road to Bangs. Just past the elementary school is another type of school for children of a different learning level. Not exactly a school but a place of learning all the same. Kids this is not the type of private school you want to attend. On both sides of the road is the “Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex”. This isn’t a school for higher learning and the fence around it isn’t there to keep people out. Before you decide to take that CD from the store without paying ask someone to drive you past here or any other Juvenile Hall. Enough about kiddie prison and onto better things. This road is old and narrow and free from heavy traffic. A little farther up the road Mary and I both saw something that our eyes at the same time. The best description I can make is this. Up ahead of us still to far away to really tell what we were seeing were bright colors scattered all along a hillside. The first thing to come to mind was it looked as if a hot air balloon had crashed and pieces of the ripped and fabric had scattered about (yes I do have an active imagination at times). As we drew closer I realized that we had stumbled onto the art work of none other than Joan Witscher “The Painted Rock Lady”. Joan really does have a talent for brightening up the landscape. She has painted rocks to resemble state flags . the old stars and bars and other designs.
On past the painted rocks we rolled past ranch’s and farm land. A gentleman in a pickup pulled up alongside and introduced himself. Mr. Wayne Lynch a man who was born and raised right here in a house not too far away stopped and ask if we would like to stay for a bit at his ranch just outside of Bangs. Sure we took him up on his offer and agreed to meet him at his home as soon as we could. Mr. Lynch’s home still about two miles ahead./ With a place to camp for the night we rolled along for the next two miles enjoying the scenery.
We rolled into Mr. Lynch’s place down the drive way and thru a gate into a fifteen acre pasture with a round pen and a holding corral. It was still early in the day so we weren’t in a big rush to get everything set up. We took the harnesses off the girls and along with Dan and Dusty took them over to the round pen. With all the pets taken care of Mr. Lynch offered to take us to dinner in town.
The three of us hopped into his truck and headed for town. We took the scenic route into town with Mr. Lynch as our tour guide we toured the south end of Bangs ending our tour at the Mexican restaurant. Mr. Lynch insisted that dinner was his treat. Besides us there were two or three other tables with people enjoying their dinner. Mr. Lynch, Mary and I had a very good dinner. I have a weakness for Mexican food and will go out of my way to find a good Mexican eatery. We were not disappointed with the food everything was tasty and fixed the way I like it.
As I have already mentioned Mr. Lynch had insisted on treating us to a dinner. I also mentioned that we were not the only diners there at the time. Mary and I stepped outside while Mr. Lynch took care of things inside. After a few minutes Mr. Lynch joined us outside and offered to pay me back for the meal. I told him I hadn’t paid the bill. Back inside the restaurant he was told once again that our bill had already been taken care of. We still haven’t been able to figure out who picked up the tab. whoever you are we would like to thank you at this time and if you are reading this please sign our guest book.
We piled into the truck full bellies and resumed our tour of Bangs. The old high school that Mr. Lynch attended more than fifty years ago is still in use as the middle school with a few additions added on. Across the street is the new high school. We finished our tour of Bangs and headed back out into the country just riding along as Mr. Lynch showed us all the new and told us about the old. We came to the entrance of the subdivision where Joan lives. We weren’t too sure how to find her house. It wasn’t hard to find Joans place. As we came up a narrow street at the top we found her place very easily. Unlike so many new homes in the area with that cookie cutter look Joan’s place is a reflection of her colorful personality and a canvas for her to show off the artist that she is. Joan has more than just a couple of acres to express her artistic side and will be busy for a long time brightening up her corner of the world. We visited with her for a while taking a tour of the hour that she has built by herself. She still has some work to do before she’s finished. Without saying a whole lot more about her house I will say this. Great job girl!
After our visit with Joan we headed on back to Mr. Lynchs place and a peaceful night free from the sounds of the city. Mr. Lynch was still determined to buy us a meal so we loaded up in truck and headed back to the Mexican restaurant for breakfast. We all enjoyed a good breakfast when it came time for the bill Mr.Lynch made sure he had it hand this time. While he did appreciate someone picking up the tab the night before he wanted to be the one to treat us.
After breakfast we headed back to the ranch to get loaded and on our way. The house that Mr. Lynch lives in has been in his family for more than a hundred years. It’s not a real big or real fancy house. In my opinion it’s what a home should be practical and comfortable without a bunch of useless frills.
We pulled into the drive to see that the round pen that I had left the girls along with Dan and Dusty was now only occupied by Dan who was having a fit because he couldn’t get out and join the others. The only thing I can think that went on during our absence this morning is that Pearle who is a master at untying knots took it upon herself to open the gate ad take the others with her. Here’s the strange thing. Pearle, Pauline and Dusty were wandering about the pasture grazing; Dan was still in the round pen unable to get out because the gate was tied shut! Just another one of those things that makes you go HUMMM!
Pearle, Pauline and Dusty were all three grazing happily when we pulled to the yard. With fifteen acres to romp and run free in most horses and mules would be hard to catch. Not our little herd. All you need to catch them is a bucket with a little grain. Shake the bucket and get Pearle’s attention and the rest will come running. Once we had them in a pen by the wagon I went over to get Dan who by this time was going completely nuts. With Dan I don’t need lead ropes just let him go and he will join up with the others.
While Mary was busy loading the wagon I was grooming and harnessing. Joan stopped by to lend a hand and see us off. Before rolling out onto the road we took turns with each other’s cameras posing for pictures and saying our goodbyes
We rolled into Bangs stopping at the feed store for a sack of corn. Just as we were fixing to get back on our way the Manager of the grocery store here in Bangs walked over to us and handed Mary a very nice sweat with BANGS embroidered on the front, We were stopped one more time before getting out of town by a reporter for the local paper. It was still early in the day when we finally got out of town heading for the town of Santa Anna only about eleven miles west on hwy 67.
Coming out of Bangs the road stretches out for miles ahead with a view of the Texas landscape as far as the eye can see. Far off in the distance is the flat top mountain of Santa Anna named for a Comanche Chief. Along way we passed by a road leading to Trickham,. Coleman County’s oldest settlement now a ghost town that was started by cattleman John Chisholm originally called “Trick-Em” for the jokes played on Chisholm’s cowboys. It is said that John Wilkes Booth was once the school teacher here.
Before entering the town of Santa Anna you pass by the mountain. At the foot of the mountain stands the old rock house built in 1873 now a museum and Texas Ranger Memorial Park. The old house is also the office for the Motel and RV park here at the base of the mountain. Like so many of the towns that we pass through and visit there
es so much more to learn and not enough time to see everything. Besides if I were to write about All there is to see and do what would there be left for you to go see?
Santa Anna,. Texas
What a great stay we had in Santa Anna. Thanks to Terry Bartee, Pat and Karen Redmon the owners of “Redmons Hungry Indian BBQ Restaurant” and most of all the three Vern’s. Vern Haak his son Vern and grandson Vern put us up during our stay in Santa Anna. We were told to make ourselves at home and by te time we left out for Coleman we felt as if we were leaving home. Now to make all this easier for my readers I will refer to the three Vern’s as Vern 1, 2 and Little Vern.
Terry Bartee met us a few miles from Santa Anna and made the arrangement for us to stay at Vern Haak’s business in town a metal fabrication shop just as you enter Santa Anna from the East. Terry not only found us a place to stay but also set us up with showers at hotel at the Texas Ranger Memorial Park. I wasn’t able to thank the folks at the hotel for their hospitality because we never were able to meet them.
Our first night in town Pat and Karen of the Hungry Indian fed us some of the best BBQ ribs, chicken and beef that I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Across the street where we were camped the gang was busy munching away on hay courtesy of Vern 1. The building that Vern 1 has his business set up in didn’t have the water turned on yet so we were getting our water from a hose across the field at a garage that the school district has. Vern 1 was busy getting the water turned on here. Since he has another business in town selling used cars he hadn’t needed the water here but was in the process of having it turned on since he is going to be using this building more in the future.
After a good dinner and showers we were ready to call it a night. Our first night in Santa Anna was pretty peaceful. The next morning and most of the day were pretty quiet. Later in the afternoon we met Vern 2 and Little Vern. Little Vern hopped out of his dads truck and made a bee line for us. Little Vern is Five years old and is a big fan of cowboys. He told me this as he was showing me his silver belt buckle and new boots. Little Vern took an immediate liking to Dan and was telling me how he liked to ride horses when he was called away by his grand pa for dinner. Vern 2 and Terry had to take off to go get a travel trailer to bring back to town that was going to be home for Little Vern and his dad.
Still hungry for bbq, Mary and I walked across the street for dinner. Sitting across from us was Vern 1 and Little Vern. All through dinner Little Vern and I talked about horses, sheep and cows. He told me all abouit how when he was bigger that he was going to rope sheep and cows. I found out over dinner that he didn’t have a lasso to practice with. In the wagon it just so happened that I had a spare lasso that was just the right length for him to hone his skills with so after dinner I made it a gift to him. After a few lessons he was off trying to rope anything that he could. What Little Vern really wanted to do was to go for a ride on Dan. By this time Terry and Vern 2 were back and busy setting up the RV so with his das permission I took Little Vern for a ride on Dan his first of many rides to come over the next few days.
By the time we left town Little Vern and I had become best friends, each day he rode Dan with me leading him around one afternoon we went for a ride down the back streets and along the rail road tracks. Little Vern was so excited about riding Dan each day that he followed me everywhere making sure that I hadn’t forgotten about our daily rides. On the days that he was in school I kind of felt lonely not having him around but all that would change as soon as school let out each day.
Saturday morning Little Vern like most boys his age was filthy from playing hard. Vern 2 cornered him and told him it was time for a shower. I’M NOT TAKING A SHOWER! Could be heard all over town. I thought giving Jr. a bath was a hard task. I have never seen a little boy go to such lengths to get out of taking a shower it was comical. In the end he lost out and had to get cleaned up.
Saturday afternoon we were visited by J.C. Butts along with his wife and three daughters. They brought us over milk and boxes of cereal. I have never met a box of cereal that I didn’t like, this was a nice treat. J.C. had just bought a new propane grill and a brisket to break it in with and invited us over for dinner the next afternoon.
Sunday morning Little Vern woke me up to let me know that as soon as he was back from church we were going horseback riding. I went back to sleep and slept in for a little while anyway until Jr. let me know that it was time for me roll out of bed. I had busy day ahead of me. I got out of bed and cooked us alla breakfast of venison sausage patties, home fries and scrambled eggs in Vern 2’s wok on a propane cooker. After church Little Vern, Dan and me all went for a ride around town. Later in the day J.C. arrived to pick us for dinner. Mary wasn’t feeling well so she stayed behind while I went with J.C. he had cooked up a pretty good brisket not bad for his first attempt. Along with the brisket he had prepared stuffed and grilled jalapenos (these things were awesome) I could have eaten my weight or tried to anyway. Along with the corn on the cob and the macaroni salad we enjoyed a good meal. Before J.C. drove me back to Santa Anna we loaded up a plate to take back to Mary. Before leaving J.C. also gave me several new pairs of jeans that were the wrong size for him but fit me great after a slight alteration courtesy of Joan Witscher the Painted Rocks Lady who fixed me right up.
Back at camp Vern 2 was getting ready to prepare a meal of fajitas in the wok outside on the propane cooker. By the end of the night I was so stuffed that crawling up into the wagon for bed was a chore..Vern has this really neat homemade wok that is perfect for cooking large meals in on the propane cooker the type used to deep fry turkeys. Each evening we took turns cooking something for dinner. Monday evening Lupi and her son “Southside” Caesar joined us all for dinner. Lupi works at the grocery store there in town. Her son Cesar who I believe is eleven years old plays baseball and trains as a boxer. I didn’t get to spend a whole bunch of time with Caesar but he seems like a pretty good kid with a good head on his shoulders and always smiling.
Monday morning was too quiet. I was lost and alone my best friend was nowhere to be seen. It was then that remembered that he had gone to school. Things were pretty quiet most of the day. Pat had to deliver a brisket over to the high school for a track meet they were hosting so I rode along to get a look at the school. Santa Anna may be a small town but they have a pretty good size high school and a really nice track to host track and field games on. I was told that there was eight different schools competing there that afternoon.
Our last night in Santa Anna I made a grill out of an old tree stand and an oven rack that we carry in the wagon just for such occasions. Thanks to Vern1’s ice chest filled with different cuts of venison I was able to prepare some really good burgers. They must have been good because there weren’t any leftovers. In the wok I fried up some fresh cut French fries. Tuesday night was our last night in town and we really hated leaving. We really did feel as if we were leaving home as we pulled out Wednesday morning. The three Vern’s made us feel right at home and we are looking forward to coming back after our trip is ended. We made some pretty nice new friends there in Santa Anna. Terry Bartee tried several times to take Jr. home with him and each time he got loose and was hard to find Mary would blame Terry. We had a wonderful time in Santa Anna. Thank you to everyone we met
Wednesday April 13 2011
We left Santa Anna and headed for the town of Coleman. Our plan was to go as far as Coleman and find a place to camp for the night. Leaving Santa Anna we got on HWY84 North and headed for Coleman. The weather was perfect, sunny skies and a light breeze. The girls were full of energy from their time off and ready to work we made the eight miles into Coleman in just under three hours. Arriving in Coleman we took another road out of town HWY153 towards Winters. I’m not real sure when Coleman was settled. Today it has a population of 5,295. The town was originally noted for it’s wide street so that the old freighter wagons could turn around. This something that I can appreciate since our wagon doesn’t exactly turn on a dime. At the airport there is a group that refurbish’s airplanes from the Second World War and the Korean War. Along with a museum in town at the park there is also Camp Colorado a ghost camp that visitors can tour. We were stopped for a few minutes in town by a reporter before we had to climb one of the steepest hills yet. At the end of town is a hill that looks so steep I doubted that the girls could pull us to the top. With no apparent way around we started up the hill. About a third of the way up the girls came to a stop. I had to lock the brake to keep the wagon from rolling backwards and pulling the girls back with it. Mary the “Mule Whisperer” hopped down from the wagon. I don’t know how she does it but each time the girls have had too much Mary can always get them to follow her. With Mary out in front bit by bit Pearle and Pauline pulled us to the top following Mary as she walked ahead cheering them on. At the top I thought we were done. We had a couple more hills to go up to get out of town but nothing near as hard as the hill we had just climbed.
Outside of town we were keeping an eye out for a place to pull off and set up camp. We had gone about four miles when we were stopped by Jim and Joyce Carpenter. Jim drove off in his pickup and left Joyce by the side of the road. They had stopped to ask if we needed a place for the night. Joyce a lady in her seventies climbed right up in the wagon quicker and easier than most people half her age have. Jim had driven down the road a ways and had pulled off waiting for us to bring Joyce along. It turns out that our wagon isn’t the first that Joyce has hopped up into. Bob Skelding another fellow traveler and friend of ours had also picked up Joyce while passing thru here in his travels. Joyce let us know that her house was five more miles up the road and that they would love to have us stay the night with them. Jim and Joyce were on their way to pick up a tractor tire for Joyce’s old 1947 Ford Tractor. Joyce still needs a tire for her tractor so if any of you out there have an 11.228 tire just laying around collecting dust how about calling her at 325-636-4495 you would make an old lady happy.
By the time we made it their gate it was almost seven o’clock and the girls were ready to get out of their harness’s. We rolled into the barn yard and I circled the wagon around and got it parked. Both dogs were out and running looking for bush’s or whatever else it is that dogs look for. At the back of the wagon Dan and Dusty were having a fit. They were fighting with something but what I couldn’t see. My curiosity was satisfied when I got out of the wagon and walked around back. There behind Dan and Dusty creating as much of a problem as he could was Nugget, Joyce’s miniature stud horse. This character has a bad case of Chihuahua syndrome. This little midget of a horse was trying his best to get into a fight with Dan. As quickly as I could I had both horses untied from the wagon and on long ropes to tie them out. Dan was trying the whole time to get at this little trouble maker. We all tried to catch Nugget and piut him away with the other miniatures but he was having none of it, he had him a new herd and he was going to let us all know that he was the big stud in charge. When Nugget wasn’t testing his luck with Dan he was trying to win over Pearle for her affections when that wouldn’t work he would charge at Pearle staying just far enough away that she couldn’t land a hoof on him. I have several choice names for Nugget but since I’ve learned that several of my readers do read this to their children I will keep those names to myself.
Joyce is a real sweetheart. Before I could get the stove out and dinner going she brought out to us roast beef sandwiches and chocolate pudding pie along with a pot of coffee. Joyce and I got into a conversation about cooking and different meals. She mentioned several different ways of cooking grits, I told her my favorite grits were made with cheese and sausage nothing special. By the time we had eaten and Mary had the insde of the wagon ready to sleep in it was nearly 10pm.
All through the night the wind picked up and Nugget kept everyone on wits end. With all that went on in the night we still managed to get pretty good nights sleep. With the wind as high as it was we decided to stay over one more night. Joyce called us in for breakfast. What a spread. Joyce had not only cooked my favorite grits we also had scrambled eggs toast and several kinds of jellies and jams along with coffee and milk.
All day long the wind increased and shook the wagon. While Joyce and Mary ran into town I laid in the wagon trying to get caught up my writing and snoozing a little. Jim and I sat around part of the day discussing one of favorite subjects “old Harley’s” Some of the things that these older guys did on these bikes in the forties and fifties would put these high flying kids to shame today with their made for jumping suspensions.
The wind was still blowing hard about the time I was going to fix dinner, so hard that the stove would not stay lit or on the table. We still had some cereal left so we dined on cereal. As I said before I’ve seen a box of cereal that I didn’t like and can eat it for any meal.
Friday morning the wind was still blowing but not nearly as hard so we loaded up and prepared to hit the road for a day. Nugget was still creating as much trouble as before and still couldn’t be caught. Jim came out and tried his luck getting a rope on him to no avail. Jim was worried that Nugget would follow us out the gate. I had Mary and Joyce keep him back as I drove thru the gate and Mary closed it off as soon as we passed thru. Mary got onboard and said so long to Joyce. We weren’t a quarter of a mile from her ranch when I see Nugget running alongside the wagon. This determined little runt had crossed over a cattle guard to be able to follow us. Our first concern was that he may get hit by a car or a truck. Several vehicles passed by all slowing to avoid hitting him all except for one inconsiderate jerk who was in to much of a hurry or to stupid to be considerate. I thought Nugget was going to hit by this idiot. Luckily he stepped out of the way and with the help a young man passing by Mary and Joyce were able to chase him back into his pasture and away from the cattle guard. Nugget just didn’t want Pearle to walk out of his life and he was doing what comes natural to a young stud horse. Even though he is much to short to be a threat.
We passed thru the town of Glen Cove a town so small that there isn’t even a population sign. As we were passing by the church a young lady and her little girl were waving to us. Not far out of Glen Cove Joyce came racing up around us and parked on the side of the road. Joyce had been kind enough to fix us lunch and drive it out to us. Thanks Joyce.
A little further up the road we were stopped by the young lady and her little girl from Glen Cove. They had loaded up a box with tomatos and assorted peppers. She had been yelling to us to stop as we rolled past her earlier but with the wind and the noise from the wheels we didn’t hear her. A school bus was stopping and she wanted us to show the wagon to all the kids.
We fought the wind for a few more miles before stopping in Crews. The town of Crews no longer exists it’s just a cross roads with a historical marker. If you look closely past the marker and behind a large propane tank, back down a dirt road is the old school or what is left of it. Down this road about a hundred yards stands the old gymnasium. The school house was originally built in 1890. Beside the gym still stands an old wooden frame Methodist church falling into a state a state of disrepair. The block gymnasium that was built by the “Works Project Administration” (WPA) from 1938 to 1940 is still in very good condition and looks as if it may still be use for meetings. Outside the gym on either end are the old out houses that still work just fine. The school was closed in 1948 when it consolidated with other schools in the area. Several of the foundations can still be seen. We camped beside the gym for the night to get out of the wind. Jr. and I went exploring the area while Pete laid around camp and caught up on his sleeping. Pearle and the rest of the gang enjoyed grazing on the tall grass around the gym.
We woke the next morning to calm winds and sunny skies . After coffee we loaded up and traveled the eight miles into Winters.
Saturday April 16th we rolled into Winters after passing by several acres of farm land growing either hay or rice I’m really sure. The scenery from Coleman to Winters has been constantly changing from a land covered in mesquite to low oak trees and hills to flat land dotted with cattle or agriculture with the flat top mesas in the distance.
We rolled into Winters around 3pm and stopped at the first open gas station we found to ask for directions to the arena. Winters a city of about 2,974 was founded about 1880 and id the birth place of base ball Roger Hornsby. In 1930 the first charter for the Future Farmers of America chapter was granted in Winters. Just west of town lies the ruins of Runnels City the one time county seat. When Runnels was passed by the rail road the whole city was taken apart stone by stone and board by board and hauled in wagons to the new town now known as Ballinger. I’ve heard that some of the best fishing in this part of Texas is near here at the Elm Creek Reservoir. The old Calvary Fort Chadbourne is also just west of town.
We rolled north out of town about a mile to the Winters Rodeo Arena as we rolled into the arena there was a small weekend event going on with kids on horseback and others playing a game of get the ribbon from a goat tail. We asked and were given permission to camp until Monday Morning. The arena is a nice place though it could use some TLC. Here we had some of our favorite luxuries electricity, running water and a bathroom. Whoohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We had invited Joan Witscher from Brownwood to come and ride along with us anytime she felt like it. Joan called and asked if she could meet us in Winters and ride with us for a few days. I made arrangements for her to park her truck at the arena while she rode with us . Joan pulled in Sunday afternoon and we pulled out on Monday morning to ride over to Robert Lee.
When we arrived at the Arena on Saturday we were told that there were several fires some of them pretty big between Winters and Robert Lee and that some of the roads had been closed. When we left Winters on Monday the wind was blowing a little hard and off in the distance was a large cloud of smoke rising several thousand feet into the sky. We were stopped by a Sheriff who ask our route and informed us of the fires saying that they had evacuated the town of Bronte the night before along with a few other places. All thru the day C-130 aircraft loaded with the fire retardant chemicals passed overhead. As we rolled along the girls Mary and Joan had to make a stop. I saw an old farmhouse ahead and pulled off there. The night before I had warned everybody about rattlesnakes and that they were coming out of hibernation and too look where you step or put your hands. Both Mary and Joan came back to the wagon almost out of breath. While searching for treasures around this old house they had come upon a steer’s skull with horns still attached, a pretty good find. Except for the rattlesnake that was calling it home at the time. Luckily no one was bitten only shaken up. I would have grabbed the horns too. To hear it from them this was a monster of a snake. Any rattlesnake striking at you is a monster and twenty feet long just as anyone with a loaded bb gun pointed at me is carrying a shot gun. I don’t wannabe shot or bit.
We weren’t having much luck finding a place to camp alongside the road and with the fires so close to Bronte we didn’t want to get to close to town. We were passing by a ranch so I had Mary go and ask about camping for the night. Mr. Ken Bledsoe and his sister in-law Pam showed us to a place in a pasture to camp for the night and said we could fill our water jugs up the next morning at the house on our way out. We set up camp amongst the mesquite. We still have our tent so Mary and Joan put it together for Joan to sleep in. Ken had mentioned that there was a good chance that we may be evacuated in the night so be ready to jump and run at a minutes’ notice. Thankfully the wind died in the night and the fires were put under control in this area at least. There are still several large fires still burning out of control to the west of us. We will just have to take it day by day and try to keep a safe distance from the fires.
Tuesday morning we loaded up and refilled the water containers at Ken and Becky Bledsoe’s house and headed for Bronte.
We left the Bledsoe’s and rolled out to HWY70 and into Bronte a trip of only about eight miles for the day. Before arriving in Bronte Pam Mr. Bledsoe’s sister in-law had called to let me know that she was trying to make arrangements for us to camp at the Arena in Bronte. Pam also wanted us to bring the wagon by the school for the students to see.
In town I pulled over at the hardware store and bought a sack of sweet feed and waited for Pam to show us over to where we would be camping. The town of Bronte has a population of about 924 people but appears to be slightly larger. I don’t know a whole lot about Bronte except that from we have seen it is a very clean and nicely preserved older town with most of the old downtown buildings still standing and in use as business’s today. The town was named after the English Novelist Charlotte Bronte. I don’t know if she ever lived here or not.
Pam was unable to get us camping at the arena but did one better. Pam arranged for us to set up camp behind the arena at the stables belonging David McCullen and his wife two very nice folks who came over and turned on the electricity for us so we wouldn’t have to use our generator.
With two acres to run and play in and stalls to get under from the sun the gang is having a great time. The past few nights the moon has been full and with no clouds in the sky and plenty of stars it has been pretty bright at night. I wake up all during the night checking on all the pets. Each time I’ve woke up and looked outside I’ve thought it was early morning as bright as it has been. Last night I was able to look out into the field that the Pearle and the gang are in and see them just fine without a flashlight.
Joan called to check on her horse Shadow and dog Jimmy. Jimmy has been going through separation anxiety and having a hard time without his owner going so far as to bite the guy that has been going by to feed him. Pete has this same problem when he’s not with me. He doesn’t anybody but he can be a real problem to handle and he pulls his hair out. Anyway Joan had to return home this morning to take care of Jimmy. We didn’t know how we were going to get her back to her truck at Winters. Luckily Marty and Sharon two folks who live right here beside where we are drove her to her truck this morning and she is now back at home. Joan is planning to ride along with us again hopefully in New Mexico. Joan is still building her house so getting away even for a short time can be hard to arrange. Joan is building her home by herself and like most of us today on a tight budget. I have a lot of respect for Joan she is building her home by herself with her own two hands and has been living in a small cabin with no plumbing or any of the niceties of a house or apartment. She has most of her home completed now and isn’t living in her tiny cabin that most people would call a shed. All I can say is this ATTA GIRL JOAN!
After Marty got back from winters he was nice enough to take me and one of the wagon wheels over to Paul’s Body Shop here in Bronte where Paul was good enough to weld a spot up for me on the steel tire. One of the tightening bolts that hold the tire to the wooden rim had snapped out and needed to be welded back in place. It only took Paul less than five minutes to do the repair for which he refused any payment. Thanks Paul.
So here we sit in Bronte until tomorrow morning when we will head out to Robert Lee if the fires will allow it. I do apologize for not having posted anything in such a long time but we have been unable to get a signal from our internet provider in this part of Texas or to even use our phone. Here in Bronte we now have a signal again. Hopefully this will be the last time we have this sort of problem.
Until next time Take care Support our Troops and get out here and see America.
One more thing. I am writing a series of children’s books to be called “The Adventures of Pearle And Pauline” As you know these are our two mules. The books will be all about seeing America thru the eyes of these two girls. Each book will be filled with all sorts of Facts about America and places to visit. Each book will be a learning experience for children. The books will each be about 120 to 160 pages in length. The first book will be titled “The Adventures Of Pearle And Pauline In Kentucky”. The books will be written state by state. The first book will be available on disc through our web site store. Log on and tell me what you think about it. Take care Chuck, Mary and the Gang (Pearle, Pauline, Dan, Dusty, Pete and Jr.)
Thursday April 28 2011 thru May
WOW! What a time we have 8 2011had getting from the town of Bronte Texas to Colorado City Texas. High winds and wildfires. A few times we were warned that we may have to evacuate from an area due to the wildfires that have scorched almost two hundred thousand acres in the past two weeks. I would like to thank the many people in law enforcement all the firefighters that were concerned for our safety and kept constant tabs on our whereabouts. As we entered Coke County on Monday April 18 the wind was blowing hard off to the west the sky was filled with a smoke cloud that rose up into sky. All thru the day C130 aircraft, DC-10‘s and helicopters loaded with fire retardant chemicals passed overhead. These fires had started days before on Sunday night April 10 near the upper end of a place named Mountain Road west of the town of Robert Lee as the result of a lighting strike. By Monday afternoon Volunteer Fire Departments from Robert Lee and Bronte had the fire under control only to have it flare up again the next day due to high winds. Once again the fire was contained, by Thursday the fire was blazing out of control.
The fire was spreading thru canyons and across hills at an alarming rate. At times firefighters faced twenty foot high walls of fire being pushed by thirty mile an hour winds. Fire departments and volunteers from several of the surrounding counties pitched in to fight the blaze. If it were not for the efforts of all these men and women giving of their time and risking danger to them, the towns of Robert lee and Bronte could well have been removed from the map.
Luckily there were no fatalities there were several injuries mostly from smoke inhalation and dehydration. Some heavy equipment was consumed in the fires; these are things that can be replaced.
If you were unable to help fight these fires a thank you to all those who pitched in I’m sure will go a long way in letting them they did a job well done.
At no time do I feel that we were ever in any danger of being injured. THANK YOU EVERYONE! With that said let me tell you all about our travels from Bronte to Colorado City.
Before we could roll out of Bronte we were invited to stop by the Elementary School so the students could get a look at the wagon and ask questions. We rolled up in front of the school just as recess was beginning. As you can imagine we were a hit with the kids and a few of the adults as well. After a short question and answer period we hit the road for Robert Lee about thirteen miles west of Bronte.
In an effort to keep the fires from jumping across the road way and spreading even further firefighters had graded both sides of Highway 158 from Bronte to Robert Lee.
Rolling along Highway158 to Robert Lee we were enjoying a sunny day and for the first time in several days the wind wasn’t howling. Along the way we were stopped by news reporter and her husband the county Sheriff. No sooner were we back on our way we were hailed once again by a gentleman who just had to get a look at the wagon and satisfy his curiosity. We are ask to stop several times each day by people with cameras and children. This may have a lot to do with why it’s taking us so long to get to California. We never turn anybody down when we are ask to pull over for pictures or questions; it’s all part of what makes this so much fun.
About half way between Bronte and Robert Lee is a historical marker. Highway 158 was the original stage coach route for the Butterfields Stage Line up until 1861 because of the Civil War stage service was halted in this part of Texas.
We rolled into Robert Lee around 3:30pm after stopping at the rest area at the top of the hill just outside town. As you come into town you pass by the golf course. I found this unusual for a town with a population of less than twelve Hundred people. For miles around in any direction the grass is dry and burnt but not at the golf course. I’ve always thought that a golf course would make an excellent horse ranch with all that green grass and water hazards. Can you tell I’m not a golfer?
Robert Lee was settled in the late 1800’s and still has several of the original buildings along its main st. Our first stop in town was at the feed store where I asked about finding a Ferrier. Dan was in need of new shoes with one of them about to fall off anytime. We met Cody at the feed store he knows a Ferrier and after calling him to make arrangements Cody ask us to follow him and his wife and daughter to the home of Luis the Ferrier. As we were following Cody we were stopped by Troy Montgomery the City Commissioner. Troy has a large ranch outside of town and invited us spend the night in one of the old army barracks that his dad had placed on the property several years back. We gladly accepted his offer explaining that we had to get Dan shod first
Luis got right to work on Dan as soon as we pulled in. As he worked he would stop every few minutes and talk about all sorts of stuff. It took a little longer than usual to get the job done but we didn’t mind we were having a good time and besides Luis had already worked a full day before we arrived. When it came time to pay Luis was kind enough to give us a huge discount before wishing us well on our journey.
With Dan now sporting new shoes and the sun setting we headed for Troy’s place. We were in for a surprise. The barracks that Troy was setting us up in may look like a barracks from the outside but the inside is more like a house. Entering the old barracks I had some sort of a flash back to Fort Buchanan Puerto Rico and the year 1970. I started my school year there in an old Army barracks almost identical to this one. Troy rents this building to a local band “Rough Creek”. Because of all the fires the band had moved most its equipment to a safer place. What a great place to spend the next two nights. We had everything including ice cold air conditioning rest rooms and hot and cold running water this is five star accommodations for us. Outside Dan, Dusty and the girls were free to roam around a huge field full of good grazing and plenty of water.
After we were settled in Troy returned with two plates of bbq beef brisket that was so tender you didn’t need a knife. After a great dinner we both fell right to sleep.
The next morning Troy came to get me and show me around town. We went to the old Cook County Jail that is in the process of being restored. The jail was built in 1907. The Sheriff lived in the downstairs area and the prisoners were housed in seven cells upstairs. I went upstairs to take pictures of the cells and day area. In the middle of the day area hangs a noose with a black hood. I just figured this noose was a kind of gag. Downstairs in what would have been the Sheriffs bedroom looking up at the ceiling Troy pointed out the trap door for the gallows. According to the history of the jail no one was ever hung inside the jail. I did read in a book a few days later that a prisoner had used the trap door as a way to escape.
Troy had been working day and night for ten days on the fires and was worn out and tired as were so many others that had been fighting these fires. I mention this because as tired as he was this man took the time to give us a place to rest up and fed us dinner both nights of our stay. Most people in his shoes would have driven right on past us and went and got some well deserved rest and could you really him if he did? The residents of Robert Lee are lucky to have him as a neighbor and Commissioner. Thanks Troy.
Before we left David Sheldon one of the Rough Creek band members stopped by leaving his number and insisting that if we needed anything at all to call him. It seems everywhere we go we continue to meet the best people. Some might think this is luck. I use to think just that. I was wrong. There really are a lot of good folks out here in Small Town America and all along the way. If you find this hard to believe just hop in a covered wagon and go for a ride.
Saturday morning April 23 we said our thankyous and good byes to our host Troy, harnessed up the girls and got back on the road for the town of Silver about eighteen miles north on highway 208. It was a great day to be traveling the sky was clear and free of smoke. From Robert Lee to Silver the scenery is spectacular. I say this but a lot of the folks that live in the area don’t share my enthusiasm. I guess it’s like that everywhere else, you live in an area so long that you begin to not see all the beauty after awhile. Same old mountains and trees etc. Although this area has suffered a drought for the past three years and all of the streams and creeks have long since dried up and the grasses have turned to brown the mesas and canyons are still a sight to see. It’s difficult to look at these mesa’s and canyons and not think about how threatening all this may have seemed to settlers over one hundred and fifty years ago on the constant lookout for hostile Indians.
It was just a short time ago that all the mesquite trees were bare of leaves and appeared to be dead giving the countryside a look of despair. Overnight it seems that has all changed the mesquite has bloomed and turned to green bringing the desert to life. The drought continues but even in the driest of places the mesquite thrives. Many ranchers find this tree to be a major nuisance, like a weed it is very hard to kill having a root system that can draw enough moisture in the driest of conditions to continue to grow unchecked. While it makes for a very nice flavoring of smoke in our bbq grills it’s a thorny tree that will cut you to ribbons if you’re not careful. In the southeast we have that nasty green vine that chokes out all life suffocating the pine trees and bringing down the mighty oak a nuisance that’s proving almost impossible to get rid of the Cud zoo vine is the mesquite of the east. Unlike the cud zoo at least the mesquite has some value. From what I’ve been told by a few ranchers is that the mesquite tree is not native to our country it was supposedly brought over here by the Conquistadors as a source of feed for their horses and like most unwanted weeds it just got out of control.
Getting back to Saturday and our trip to Silver. We rolled along taking in all the beauty of the mesas and canyons. At three miles an hour and slower at times one really gets a chance to see everything and study it as you pass by. Gazing up at the mesa with my binoculars I could see slabs of rock that have broken off the sides of cliff faces and slid or tumbled down the sides while larger boulders or giant slabs of rock almost seem to be suspended on the cliff sides of the mesa just waiting for the right breeze or small bird to land in just the right place helping it to continue on its way to the bottom. In a few places I spotted a tree growing out from the side of a cliff face almost like the coyote in the Road Runner show might be hanging onto before falling thru the air becoming a puff of dust at the bottom. These are just some of the natural wonders that we are lucky enough to be able to take in each day at our slow pace of travel. I’ve been able to see all this before thru the windshield of a car or truck or over the handlebars of my motorcycle at sixty plus miles per hour. I’m telling you right now that it just doesn’t compare.
Another of the things that seem to occupy my small mind as we roll along is how vast the land is out here. You can see for miles but unless you feel like straddling a barb wire fence you’re not going to walk across it. I can almost imagine how those old cowboys must have felt when they started realizing that they were getting fenced in. All along either side of the road the land has been fenced in to keep cattle in while in other places the fences are a lot higher to keep in the hormone fed genetically enhanced reserved big game. Canned hunting areas are popping up all over the state of Texas from I’ve seen and been told by a lot of ranchers. From what Mary and I have seen though if you really do like deer hunting there’s no need to waste your money at one of those places. Texas has a very abundant supply of deer and wild hogs and let’s not forget some really great fishing. I just learned that the largest bass ever caught was caught right here in Texas nearly twenty years ago. Having lived in Florida for some time I was under the impression that Florida lakes held the World record bass. Louisiana license plates have printed on them “Sportsmen’s Paradise” and who am I to say that they aren’t right? All I’m saying is this. Texas has a whole lot more area to hunt in and it all appears to be pretty well stocked.
Just outside of Silver we were stopped by Lonnie Bloodworth. Lonnie invited us to stay over the weekend at a place he has just as you enter Silver. Now heres the thing you have to know about the town of Silver Texas. There is no town of Silver Texas. Not that there wasn’t at one time not so long ago. I wasn’t able to learn a whole lot about Silver. At one time Silver was a prosperous little town with business’s a school and church and several hundred people employed in the oil fields around the area. Today the town no longer exists there are still several residents living in the area but all that was Silver has closed up and in many cases the buildings have turned to ruin falling in on themselves. Looking to the west of town far off in the desert there are several giant wind turbines with their giant white blades turning away generating power for homes and business’s further away. Another thing that I just recently became aware of is that Texas leads the Nation in Wind Turbine Power.
At one time Silver was the only place to stop and get gas or a cold beverage between Robert Lee and Colorado City a distance of forty five miles.
Lonnie invited us to stay at a place he owns right on HWY208. He has a four acre piece of land with a house and a hunting lodge that he leases out to deer hunters each season. The property is fenced in so we were able to let the pets loose to graze and explore. Lonnie had the water shut off but did have electric and gave us the use of the lodge and brought in by truck 2 fifty five gallon barrels of water for us to water all the pets..
What a great weekend we had. The lodge that Lonnie gave us the use of had a full kitchen and beds for us to sleep in couch’s to lounge around on and a porch to sit and watch traffic go by on..
Sunday was Easter and Mary and I had planned on just kicking back relaxing and watching the animals graze. Pete., Jr, and I went out exploring the area while Mary caught up on her reading. Other than that we had no big plans. For dinner we were going to snack on whatever was handy. Lonnie had other plans for our dining. Later in the afternoon he brought us over a spread like you wouldn’t believe. I had been craving meatloaf for several days and someone must have heard me. Lonnie arrived with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad, veggies and deserts. While we were relaxing on the porch like a couple of old timers recovering from our huge dinner we were visited by Charla and Penny they also brought us some dinner. An out of this world pasta dish made with chicken, cheese and veggies. By the time the sun went down we were stuffed and had plenty of left over’s for the next day.
Just as the sun was going down the sky stated to darken with rain clouds the thunder rolled and lightning filled the sky. Lightning bolts shot from the sky some straight up and down coming from thousands of feet before striking the ground while other bolts traveled across the sky line spreading out in long terrifying fingers then the thunder would boom so loud the lodge would shake. The temperature began to drop and the wind picked up. Mary and I rushed out to get the wagon covered with the tarp before the bottom fell out.
I had Dusty tied up in front of the lodge so he could get a full measure of grain without Pearle helping him to finish it. As the wind increased and the thunder grew louder he became more and more frightened.
All of a sudden the rain came down. A few scattered large cold drops then heavy cold rain falling almost sideways. Just when I was thinking this was as bad it was going to get the hail started to fall. This was the last thing that I wanted to see. I had nowhere to put Dan, Dusty and the girls where they would be protected from large chunks of ice falling from the sky. I was really beginning to worry. At first the hail was only pea sized then it started getting bigger. I’ve heard stories of hail getting as large as footballs in this part of Texas and wanted no part of it. The hail increased in size to about marble size and only lasted a few minutes before blowing through as fast as it arrived.
As bad as rain is needed here we were hoping that it would rain all thru the night. But like most rain storms we’ve seen here lately it was very short lived. By ten o’clock the next morning the ground was just as dry as before the rain.
Monday morning we were on the road pretty early since we didn’t have to pack the wagon we were able to get rolling by nine thirty. Lonnie came by to see us off and wish us well. From Silver to Colorado City is a distance of twenty five miles. I don’t normally ask the girls to pull us more than twenty miles in a day but I made an exception this day. It was a long day for them but thankfully it wasn’t very hot and a nice breeze kept them from sweating all day. They did have to pull us up some pretty long hills that while they weren’t very steep they were long. Outside of Colorado City we were stopped by a very nice couple who chilled us down with ice cold beverages from Mexico. A mile or so up the road a pickup truck pulled up alongside us on the right hand side a large white mustache wearing a white cowboy hat ask us where we were staying when we got into town. I didn’t have an answer. The mustache spoke again and invited us to come stay at the old sale barn in town telling us as he departed that he would meet us there and have the water turned on and the electric ready for us when we got there. As he pulled off we asked ourselves Who was that Mustached Man? Really he didn’t tell us his name. A few minutes later we were stopped once again by Jim Baum “The Voice Of Mitchell County” Jim is a radio announcer and ask to do an interview. I explained that it was getting late in the day and we really needed to get to the sale barn first. Jim agreed to meet us the next morning for the interview. No sooner were we rolling again than we were stopped by Randy Peacock. Randy is a Hell of a nice guy and I’ll explain more about that Later. Randy offered to let us stay over at his place by rthe lake./ We had to turn down his offer explaining that we had already made plans for the sale barn. Randy started handing Mary dollar bills one right after the other along with his business card. Randy along with his wife Robin are the head bottle washers of Peacock Enterprises at Lake Colorado City in Colorado City Texas Randy is also known as Handy Randy man of many hats and talents your local fix it man. If you need it fixed or tor down call Randy at 325-728-0049 or e-mail him at XSFHARLEY@YAHOO>COM 24 hours a day. Randy left us telling us that if we needed anything at all to call him. By this time I was starting to wonder if we would get into town before dark. The girls were walking slower by the minute they were tired and letting me know it.
Just as we rolled into town we stopped at a the Gas N Grub gas station for a few items before rolling on over to the sale barn.
While Mary was in the store I was entertaining several people at the wagon. A man ask where we were staying and I told him about the mustache that had invited us to stay at the sale barn. He described the man to me and also said he couldn’t remember his name either but said he was pretty well known around town. About that time he pulled up just checking on our progress. Again he left still not telling me his name.
Mary climbed back up into the wagon and we headed on over to the sale barn after saying so long to all those that had stopped by at the Gas N Grub.
When pulled into the parking lot at the sale barn and were met by Pastor Greg Crawford (The Mustache) his wife Sandy and their son Jacob along with Kyle a Youngman who keeps several head of horses at the sale barn. Now before I go any further I really should explain myself here about my description of Pastor Greg. Greg is the Pastor of the Covenant Ranch Fellowship the Cowboy Church here in Colorado City that is also here at the sale barn. The best way to describe Greg is as follows. Greg has this huge white mustache (I’m jealous mine won’t grow this big) that arrives long before Greg does along with the white cowboy hat atop his head Greg looks to be more like a Texas Ranger of yester year than the Pastor that he is.
As soon as I had the wagon parked and before I could get down Greg and Mary had set to work getting the girls out of harness and into the feed pens along with Dan and Dusty. The sun was fast falling and it was getting dark. We secured the wagon and fed the animals putting Pete and Jr. in Jacob’s back yard we all piled into Greg’s SUV and headed into town for a Mexican dinner courtesy of Greg. Kyle and his wife joined us for dinner. We all enjoyed a very nice dinner while yakking away getting to know one another. Dinner wasn’t the only treat that Greg had in store for us.
After dinner we went back to the wagon to get the dogs an some fresh clothes to carry back over to the hotel room that Greg and Sandy had paid for us to spend the night in. What a treat a bed a shower air conditioning and a TV WOW! We were floored to say the least. Dinner and a place to camp was more than enough. What a great treat.
We stayed the night in the hotel I spent most of the night watching television I hate to say this but really did enjoy watching the idiot box.
During the night my left leg had started to give me fits and by the next morning I was in so much pain I needed to go to the Emergency room and get a shot in the hip. Pastor Greg dropped me off at the ER after we stopped by the wagon leaving Mary there with all the pets. While I was at the ER I met Dr. Bill Everett. I’ve met quite a few doctors in my time and don’t think very highly of the medical profession as a whole but I have to say this. The people of Colorado City are very fortunate to have a doctor like Bill Everett at their call. Thank you Dr. Everett. Nuff said there.
Back at the wagon I spent the rest of the day posting all that I written before arriving in Colorado City.
Monday night the wind began to really howl by Tuesday morning dust filled the air from the high winds then we caught that all to familiar smell of smoke in the air. Wildfires had kicked up again and all around us fires were quickly spreading with the high winds. Pastor Greg was on his cell phone calling out to local ranch’s and anyone else with animals that may need to be evacuated offering his services and the many feed pens here at the sale barn to house any stock that might need to be moved out of harm’s way. All through the night and on into the next day the fires once again raged out of control in many areas. From what I understand no one was killed but several head of cattle and some horses were destroyed.
With the winds and the fires all around we decided to stay put in town until it was safe to get out on the road again.
By Friday it looked as if all the fires were out or under control. From where we were at no smoke could be seen just clear skies but the wind was still pretty high.
I had a few things to straighten out with the VA and Randy Peacock came over and offered to drive me to Big Springs TX to the VA office there so I could take care of what I needed to. On our way into Big Springs the skies were clear as we rode along I-20 everything looked good no fires or smoke to be seen. Along I-20 just outside of Big Springs is an oil refinery that exploded a couple years ago making national news. From the interstate the blackened ruins of this refinery can still be seen it resembles a scene from a movie about a nuclear war. In broad daylight this is a spooky looking place. When this refinery exploded amazingly no one was killed. I was told that large pieces of burning metal flew through the air over a mile landing on Interstate 20.
Not three hours later as we were on our way back to Colorado City the sky was filling with smoke the desert was on fire again the wind was picking up and the air was filled with smoke and ash. Off in the distance the thick smoke was moving fast toward the interstate. I looked out into the desert and could a few homes that looked as if they might be threatened by the fires at any time. We made it back to Colorado City with burning eyes from the smoke and ash.
Randy took me out to his house to meet his wife Robin and his spoiled rotten lab. You gotta love a spoiled dog. While Randy was showing me around his place Robin was busy loading up a bag with all sorts of canned goods and peppers. I mentioned before that Randy was a helluva nice guy. Randy and Robin live out at Lake Colorado City a lake that is nothing more than a small pond right now thanks to this long drought. I stood on the bridge that goes across the lake and took pictures of a dry lake bed witrh boat docks and piers going out over dry land. I’m not just exaggerating here when I write about how dry it is out here in West Texas these people really do need some relief in the form of a lot of rain. As you walk across dried brown grass you not only here it crunching under foot you can feel it crunch and crumble under your feet. So many fires have been started just by someone pulling off to the side of the road and catalytic converter under the car has ignited a fire. We see the burnt grass all along the side of the highway as we roll along. Miles and miles of fence posts have been burned. I was thinking the other day about the rail road and wondering how much track they have lost from all these fires.
Earlier I mentioned that Jim, Baum “The Voice Of Mitchell County “ask to do an interview with me. Jim stopped by on Tuesday morning and we did a twelve minute radio interview. I had a blast during that short interview talking with Jim for his listeners. Jim is on AM and Fm radioKVMC1320AM and KAUM107.7fm you can also check out Jim at www.KVMCKAUM.BLOGSPOT.COM or at KVMCKAUM@SBCGLOBAl.NET you can also call Jim at 325-728-5224. During my interview with Jim he told me about some of the services his station does with the community things that would never take place in a larger city heres just one example. Someone in town finds or loses a pet Jim and his station will put the word put over the air .Ain’t it great to live in a small town?
We spent the entire week in Colorado City there at the sale barn. Pastor Greg opened up the church for us so that we could use the kitchen and dining room and be able to get in out of the wind. Each morning Greg would stop by to feed his horses and again in the afternoon There was also Don and his fifteen year old daughter that would stop by each day to feed their horse. We met a lot of really good folks there at the sale barn and Cowboy Church Pastor Greg gives a very good sermon on Sunday’s so any of you out there that would like to attend a good non-denominational service on Sunday’s come on down to the Covenant Ranch Fellowship and enjoy meeting a few of your neighbors Pastor Greg and some of his members are also starting up a horsemanship class for any one that may be interested The Covenant Ranch Fellowship is located at the Mitchell County Sale Barn in Colorado City on West point AVE .If you need to talk with Pastor Greg call him at 325-737-2597 or 713-408-8805
I did witness one thing during our stay in Colorado City that doesn’t sit well with me and maybe I shouldn’t use this website to voice my anger but I’m going to and if the person I’m writing about doesn’t like it you can do something about it by feeding your horse. During our stay I started feeding a big paint horse named Blue. Blue spends most his days standing around hungry waiting for his oversized owner to stop by and toss him some feed and fill his water barrel. We were in Colorado City for eight days during that time this poor animal was only visited by his owner three times and fed hardly enough grain to survive on. I took it upon myself to see to it that Blue was fed each day I will not watch an animal starve. This poor animal has been eating so little that he resorted to eating his own droppings. If you don’t have the time to spend with a horse each day and you can’t afford to feed one then please don’t get one. If you presently own a horse and you are unable to feed it please give it to someone that will. Horses, ur travels, what we’ve seen where we‘ve stayed and just how bad did that rattlesnake bite me the other day. That’s right I got nailed by a rattler but more about that next time. Until then ya’ll stay safe feed your animals and please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS ! Texas isn’t the only place that’s really big and has a lot to see and offer. All of America is out there waiting for you to come and visit. Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang
dogs, cats parrots whatever kind of pet they all rely on us as their owners to care for and feed them. If I have offended any one with my remarks TOO BAD YOU PROBLY NEED TO BE OFFENDED! Enough about that I got it off my chest but not out of my mind.
As in all the towns and places that we have visited along the way we had a very enjoyable time in Colorado City. I do need to apologize the manager of the grocery store there in town for not stopping by with the wagon on our way out of town. We had to go by the Mitchell County Veterinarian Office to get the yearly Coggins Test done on Dan and the Girls and by the time we were finished there it was well past noon and we had a long day ahead of us. I am sorry.
Today is Sunday Afternoon Mothers Day and we are in Snyder Texas we had a pretty good trip from Colorado City to here but I’m running out of time today and really need to get this published on the website so all of my faithful readers can enjoy it. I am trying harder to keep this website up dated as often as possible. I have received so many encouraging e-mails from so many of you out there that I feel; obligated to keep all of you informed about our travels. Like a TV series tune in next week for more of our travels. Untl then stay safe feed your animals and please SUPPOET OUR TROOPS
Saturday 14 May 2011
Hello I’m back with more stories from the back roads of America. On Wednesday May 4th we rolled out of Colorado City for the Cowboy Church in Dunn TX about thirteen miles up Hwy208. Pastor Greg came by to see us off and to offer a prayer for the road. Before we could leave town though we had to roll on over to the Mitchell County Veterinary Clinic to have the yearly Coggins test done on Pearle, Pauline and Dan. Dusty’s test is good until November of this year. Before you can cross state lines with your horses or mules they must have an up to date test and you had better have the papers ready to produce when asked for. We have never been asked to produce these papers by anyone official yet but just let me cross a Stateline and not have theses papers in order and sure as shootin someone’s going to want to see them.
It was a short trip over to the Vets office and they were able to get the blood drawn from each of the animals for test pretty quickly even though they were pretty busy that morning with a waiting room full of not so anxious patients and one puppy that was running around loose greeting everyone that came thru the door.
The Mitchell County Veterinary Clinic offers 24 hour service to all animals large and small and is located at 2145 South Highway 208 in Colorado City Phone 325-728-8055. Wed didn’t need to make an appointment to be seen but I’m sure it would probably be best unless you have an emergency. Everyone there was very cautious. The price we paid for the Coggins test was more than reasonable.
With the test complete we were on our way. For the first time in days the wind had slowed down giving us a very nice day to travel.
Not to far out of town we were stopped by two very nice ladies that just wanted to pet the girls wish us well and give us a donation that we were not ready for. If either of you two gals are reading this the post cards that you went away with do not come anywhere near satisfying the gift you gave us and we would like to thank you once again.
The girls had been off for over a week and were ready to trot. We covered the thirteen miles to the Cowboy Church in just a little under three and a half hours. HWY208 to Dunn is not to hilly and the pulling wasn’t to hard at all for the girls. Wwe rolled thru the countryside passing farms and ranch’s all along the way. The traffic was so light that sometimes it would be ten minutes or longer between cars or trucks. I think we may have seen more horses in the fields than cars and trucks that day. A few people that passed us turned around up the road ahead of us and came back to check us out and take pictures. It’s a funny thing when you think about it. Not so long ago if we wanted to take a picture we had to have a camera along with us, something that very few of us carried on us at all times missing so many great opportunities for photo memories. Even then if you had a camera with you, you never knew what the picture was going to look like until it came back from the photo lab. We sure have it good these days. It seems that just about everyone that has a cell phone has a camera built right into it. We no longer have to wait for developing, it’s right there for our approval and if we don’t like it we just erase it and take another. Another great invention is the digital camera WOW this little jewel has made so many of us professional shutterbugs. Thanks to modern technology we have had our pictures taken by thousands of people since we started out in Kentucky last May. Yes last May. Come the 20th of this month we will have been on the road for a year. A whole year and we are barley half way to California.
Some folks have said that this is taking us longer than it should have and they may be right. We could have completed this trip in about six months or so if we were in a big hurry and to have done so would not have been near as much fun as it has been. Anyway we’re not in a big hurry and to do so would be a lot of work and not as much fun. Not to mention the hardships it would put on all the animals not just Pearle and Pauline. At the pace we are traveling the girls get plenty of rest and have not lost any weight or had any problems with harness sores or leg troubles. Before Mary and I the pets all come first. Besides that I have been dreaming about this trip since 1969, that’s a long time! I don’t want this to be over in the blink of an eye I’ll just have to find something else to do then and then there’s always the problem of convincing Mary to come along and be a part of whatever it is I dream up next. Convincing her to do this was a hard enough sell. I might be pushing my luck a bit too far after this is over. Mary has seen a lot since she met me and lived a few of my adventures. Just to name a few. We have lived in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for over a year gold mining. Then back to Daytona Beach and a couple of hurricanes. Myself I have been sailing since I was a boy and love the ocean. Mary and I bought a sail boat and moved onboard. Mary is not a sailor and does not share my love of the open ocean to her credit she tried it for two years and two hurricanes before telling me enough is enough. It was about this time that she informed me that if I wanted to see America in a covered wagon I had better get on the ball. As Paul Harvey would have said it “Now you know the rest of the story”
We rolled into Dunn about four o’clock Wednesday afternoon. The town of Dunn is not very large and doesn’t boast a population on the city limits signs so I really don’t know how many people live here. There are no stores of any kind but there is a U.S. Post Office and a couple of churches. I wasn’t able to find out when Dunn was founded but while walking thru the cemetery I did come across a grave dating as far back as 1893. More about the Dunn Cemetery in a bit.
Pastor Greg Had told us about the Cowboy Church in Dunn and it’s Pastor Chris Donaho and his church here in Dunn. As wse approached Chris’s home there beside the Cowboy Church a trio of kids came running out to the drive to greet us they were all three excited to see us. It’s not every day that a covered wagon comes rolling up the highway and then turns into your front yard. Donavan his sister Keelee and younger brother the youngest of the three Michael could hardly wait for us to get the wagon parked so they could all three get a chance to pet the animals. As I circled the wagon around the backside of the church and out to the front again all three of them were in hot pursuit.
Chris and his wife Diana helped us to get the wagon parked and all set up for our stay providing us with electricity and water and all the hay we could take off a round bale he had beside his goat pen. The three children that were all lending a hand in any way that they could are Chris and Diana’s grand children. Donavan is the oldest about ten I think with Keelee a few years younger and Michael about four years old. Donavan is a horse lover and wanted badly to hop on Dusty or Dan and take off for a ride.
Chris was having a service that evening in the church so we set camp up as quick as we could so that we could attend. I have to describe the church. The church itself has been here since 1889 it started out as a Baptist Church well over a hundred years back. The main building the church is really nice inside. As you enter the doors you can’t help but feel comfortable as you take in the beauty of it all. It’s not that its fancy or overly decorated inside quite the opposite it’s an old fashioned church very simple in décor. The pews and the walls are lightly stained giving the inside a bright airy feeling with the stained glass windows that open out to let in sun light and breezes. Hanging on the walls are black and white pictures dating back as far as one hundred years. An addition to the church added on many years ago is a kitchen and dining area and a couple of small offices and restrooms. Chris was kind enough to open the church up to us so that we could have the use of the kitchen and restrooms. Across the road from the churc is the Dunn Cemetery.
Services started about seven pm. As the parking lot was filling up I noticed a truck with a welding rig in the back. I introduced myself to Jarod Tanner the driver of the truck and ask him about doing some welding on our wagon wheels. No problem he said he could come out the next afternoon and get us taken care of.
We all enjoyed a nice service that evening and even seen a couple of familiar faces from Colorado City, Scott and Jeannie Jaco a couple we had met at the Cowboy Church in Colorado City drove over to attend the service this evening.
At the end of my last writing I mentioned being bit by a rattle snake. Wednesday evening before church I was raking up some hay from a round bale that Chris has set aside for his goats. I raked up a nice size pile to feed Pearle and the rest of the gang with. I reached down to get an arm load and before I knew what was happening I was bitten in the right forearm by a rattler. I like to think that I know better than to allow this to happen, I’m always on the lookout for rattlers and know the types of places that they will curl up in. Hay is a real good place to find a rattle snake and with this in mind I thought that I had been pretty careful before putting my hands in the pile. A rattle snake will not always rattle to give you warning and this was one of those times. Even though I was bitten I was very lucky that this rattle snake had a conscience or may he just felt that since he didn’t give me fair warning there was no need in loading me up with a lot of poison. The bite I got was a dry bite other than being a little tender for a few days ir was no big deal as I said I am very lucky. The first question everyone asks is how big was he? I really don’t know how long this snake was he slithered away so fast rattling his way into the hay I didn’t get that good a look at him. J can tell you this the two holes in my arm are about an inch apart. The actual bite itself happened so fast that it wasn’t painful at all but it sure did shake me up and wake me up.
We stayed at in Dunn for two nights before continuing on our way. With nothing much to do all day Thursday except wait around until Jarod arrived to repair the wheels I took a walk down the road to the post office to mail out a few post cards. After my walk to the Post Office I grabbed up my camera and walked across the road to the Dunn Cemetery where I wandered about checking out the dates and inscriptions on the head stones. Now some of you might think it odd to wander about in a cemetery. I have learned that you can glean a lot of information about a town just by checking out the names and dates on the markers. The oldest head stone that I came across was dated 1893. I found a few graves of veterans from the Civil War several from WWII the Korean War and Vietnam. One of the saddest things that you will find in an older cemetery is an abundance of child and infant graves sometimes as many as five or six from the same family. Life was tough years ago and right on up into the 1950’s the infant mortality rate was very high. I’m not trying to depress anybody here with my walk thru the cemetery you can see a lot of pretty catchy sayings on some of the older head stones some of those old timers had a pretty good sense of humor.
Later in the afternoon Jarod stopped over to do the repairs on all four of the wagons wheels. The wheels are over a hundred years old and still in very good shape. The spokes are wooden and the tire is two inch wide steel. We keep the wooden part of the wheel swelled up with oil and water. Over years of use along with the heat from the road surface the steel tires had loosened up and needed to be tightened the only way to do this is to cut a small section out of the tire clamp it back together tightly and weld it shut. The wheel that was causing the most concern was the front wheel that had come apart on us back in Arkansas. I thought that since I was getting this wheel tightened up I might as well go ahead and have all four of them done at the same time eliminating any further troubles.
Jarod backed his truck up to the wagon while I jacked up the wagon with a bottle jack. In less than an hour we had all four wheels good as new and he rushed off to attend a t-ball game with his son over in Snyder. If you are in need of a welder that can come to you and does a good job give Jarod Tanner a call at 325-207-9485. He’s a really good welder with a young family and like the rest of us he’s just trying to get by and he ain’t afraid of a little hard work.
Donavan was still trying to get a ride on one of the horses and it just seemed like each time he came to ask me for a ride I was busy with something else. The last time he ask me I was busy in the kitchen frying up some chicken for dinner. It really bothers me not to be able to find the time when a kid asks me to do something with them like going for a horseback ride. I really do hate myself when I have to turn down a child. I was horse crazy as kid and still am today. Mary says I’m just a big kid. Cool!
Even though I was unable to take him for a ride he still lent his hand every chance he could when it came to feeding and watering and when we started to harness up on Friday morning he was right there helping out with the grooming
Before we pulled out on Friday Chris and his entire family there posed with Mary in front of the wagon for pictures. Chris gave Mary a new ball cap with the Cowboy Church silhouette of a kneeling cowboy with his horse in front of a cross. The Heaven Bound Cowboy Church is right on HWY208 directly across from the Dunn Cemetery in Dunn Texas services are at 10am Sunday morning with other services during the week for more info give Chris a call at 325-574-1407. Also The Heaven Bound Cowboy Church will be raffeling off a really nice high back saddle in the near future. Save a few tickets for me!
About noon we rolled out onto HWY 208 and headed for Snyder. I had been told that there was a car show going on all weekend in Snyder and I wanted to get into town and get set up so I could go check out some hot rods.
Snyder a small city with a population of 11,502 has a lot to brag about from its dubious beginnings in 1877 right up to present day Snyder has played an important part in the history and growth of Texas. Sitting in Scurry County one of the richest oil producing counties in Texas Snyder hasn’t always been the the award winning handsome community that it is today. Beginning in 1877 as a town of dugouts set up from an ox team supply train as a buffalo hunters camp Snyder was also known as “Robbers Roost”. The town took it’s name from a Texas Confederate War General. Today a white buffalo statue stands in center of the town square as a reminder to the past. Famed buffalo hunter J. Wright Mooar brought down over 20,000 buffalo in this area including a rare albino buffalo. Mooar originally from Vermont relocated to this area to become a buffalo hunter after leaving his job as a Chicago street car conductor using the money he earned from buffalo hunting he then became a rancher building a huge mansion about ten miles from town that today still stands. The Scurry County Museum sits on the Campus of Western Texas College on TX 350 south as you enter town from the north. Oil was struck in 1923 and forty years later Snyder celebrated it’s one billionth barrel and is still going strong today. A gold barrel saluting this feat also sits in the square. In 1967 without the aid of not one single penny from the Federal Government Snyder set out to beautify itself and within two years earned All American status. There is so much more of this small city to write about but if I did that what would there be left for you to come and find out for yourself? Something that I wanted to see and completely forgot about is the prairie dog town a local favorite for kids of all ages and the loco-motive located at Towle Memorial Park. Further out of town off of hwy 84 is Lake J.B. Thomas.
Dunn to the Snyder city limits is only about eleven miles thru the country past horse and cattle ranches. The girls pulled us into Snyder in just under three hours. As soon as we entered the city limits off to our left was a car dealership whose lot this day was filled with all manner of shiny used cars of all makes and models. No these cars were not for sale they were all part of the May Day Car Show that I was soon to learn was taking place all over town. I know that some of you car buffs out there have heard of Turkey Rod in Daytona Beach or Hot August Nights in Reno. May Day is nowhere near as big as those two rally’s but never the less the eye candy is on display here! On Saturday they even have a burn out competition ( I missed this ). As we rolled down the main drag of town it was difficult for me to keep Pearle and Pauline walking in a straight line I was so busy looking at all the cars parked along the street on display. We must have been a sight ourselves for all the participants and the crowds I don’t think anyone expected to see a covered wagon with mules and horses passing thru at this time. As we were passing thru town I began noticing more and more classic old cars in need of restoration all about town stuffed away at different business locations many of them with for sale signs on the windows. I would have never guessed that Snyder Texas would be a place to find a restoration project! It’s just not in Snyder though all across Texas in pastures and in yards I have spotted countless old cars and trucks begging to be found by the right person. On a trip into Big Spring I passed by a junk yard full of 55, 56, & 57 Chevy’s. Yes I do love old cars and trucks also.
We rolled all the way to the other end of town before finding a place to set up camp for the weekend finally stopping at B&J Welding Supply where Ted Cooley gave us permission to camp out behind the store in a field with plenty of trees to tether the mules and horses and a long water hose for watering not to mention plenty of tall grass for grazing. The good folks there at B&J provided us with a place to camp until Monday allowing us to use all the water we needed. B&J Welding Supply Ltd. Is located at 2603 25th St. in Snyder phone 325-573-0404. While I was in the store purchasing a couple of very colorful welders caps I ask about some borum rods for our horse shoes. These rods are quite expensive selling for around $45.00 a pound but when applied to horse shoes a set of shoes will last several hundred miles. All they had for sale was fifty pound tubes of these rods, no way I could afford that much! Ted called his boss and before the end of the day he had dropped by the wagon with Mary about five pounds of rods at no cost. He said he had picked them up off another job where they weren’t needed. They are very much needed here and I surely do appreciate the donation thank you again.
After we had set up camp and we were sitting around enjoying a couple of beverages that can only be purchased in a wet county Bobby and Lou Ann Grice stopped by on their way to a graduation to introduce themselves and ask we would be needing a ride to the store the next morning or anything else. I made plans to go shopping the Saturday morning with Lou Ann. Bobby and Lou Ann are mule breeders and trainers we had passed Bobby earlier in the day while he was leaning against his truck talking on a cell phone and watching us roll past. While we were talking Bobby mentioned a few really neat items that he has sitting around his yard that I just had to go check out the next day. Bobby and Lou Ann left us to go to the graduation no sooner had they left and the sky turned dark and the temperature dropped, the wind started blowing and the sky lit up. A few drops started to fall as we unrolled the tarp to cover the wagon. As soon as we had the tarp unrolled the bottom fell out. We hurried as fast as we could to get the wagon covered. Whew! With the wagon covered and both Mary and me soaked to the bone and shivering from the cold rain. Guess What? It stopped raining all together and the sky cleared right up. That’s how it has rained just about every time it has started to rain. In Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi the Army Corps of Engineers are blowing huge sections out of levy’s and opening flood gates that haven’t been opened in nearly forty years and Texas can’t get enough rain to fill a thimble. Just doesn’t seem right does it?
After drying out and making sure all the pets had what they needed for the night we ate our dinner and turned in. About 10am Lou Ann pulled up in her truck and took me for a tour of town and a fun filled morning of shopping. Yes shopping can be fun if you are with someone like Lou Ann. Our first stop was the feed store where I picked up three bales of alfalfa only because it was priced a dollar more than the Coastal hay they were selling. I’m sorry but I don’t care what state you are in and how fry it has gotten you just don’t rob your customers’ by jacking up the price of low quality hay like you are in cahoots with the oil companies. The Alfalfa wasn’t priced to far out of reach and with it loaded in the truck we took off for Wal-Mart for a few items and then across town to another grocery store with better prices and more selections according to my shopping guide. BOY! Does this lady know her way around the store and where all the best deals are I was having a great time just following along behind her from isle to isle. In hardly anytime we were checked out and in the truck on our way over to her house so I could see some of these neat things Bobby had told me about the night before. Before we get to the house we pass one of their holding pens where inside are two very young little mule colts playing together as their mothers watched. In another pen Lou Ann has three more mules a grey a sorrel and a white all just as spoiled as our two. On the other side of the yard Lou Ann left me to wander about in awe at the really neat stuff while she went inside to get us ice waters. The really neat stuff is a 1947 Gray Hound Bus ann old flatbed truck and several very old tractors the newest being a 1939 John Deere side piston diesel. I was in heaven. I have been wanting an old round bus like their Gray Hound for several years as an RV. I could have gotten one last year when we bought our travel trailer but decided against it for a while. I can wander about looking at antique cars, trucks and tractors all day and be happy. Mary says I should have owned a junk yard.
With a bag of ice melting on the rear floorboard of Lou Ann’s truck we decided that we needed to get back to camp. Before we could leave she had to take me over to another pen where she had some more mules and her favorite Jack. Lou Ann and Bobby like Mary and me have a bunch of very spoiled animals and why not spoil them? If their animals are anywhere near as spoiled as our six they really have their hands full (in a good way).
Back at the camp Mary had been busying herself with laundry and had it all hanging from the clothes line I had strung for her earlier. As soon as we started unloading bags from the truck Pearle started dancing around and braying getting all the others worked up. Just like a bunch of kids as soon as mom comes in from the grocery store their all asking. What’d you get for me? Pearle and Dan are the worst of the bigger pets Pete has always been this way. Before Mary could get the groceries unloaded and put put away I had to break out the carrots just to settle Pearle down. She really is funny to watch just like a dog I can get her and Dan to speak.
Lou Ann and Bobby Grice call thjeir operation %G Mules they breed and raise saddle mules and have mules for sale at this time they are located at 291 Bonham Road. Snyder, TX 79549 phone 325-207-6628 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
After getting everything put away and satisfying Pearle’s snack tooth I ventured back into town around the square to take in some of the car show and dream a little. After wandering around a bit I went back to camp to get dinner going. The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful we had a few folks stop by for a little while. Where we had camped at behind the welding store it was hard to see the wagon from the road and those that did stop into see us had followed our tracks down the road and thru town right to our camp.
Monday morning we loaded up and said so long to our hosts and hit the road for Gail in Borden County a distance of thirty two miles. We have never traveled thirty two miles in a day and never will. The girls are strong enough to pull us that far in a day but I don’t see any need in putting them thru that kind of abuse.
We rolled out of town planning to get about half way to Gail before pulling off for the night and setting up camp. The weather was perfect for traveling a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine. We traveled a total of about eighteen miles Monday May 9th to an old oil platform out in the desert about fourteen miles east of Gail. All of the pumps and equipment have long since been removed from this platform leaving a hard packed surface to camp on. The surface of this old platform was topped with a really hard fill dirt and stones and I mean hard. I started pounding in the fence posts to stake out everybody and thought that I would never get the first post in the ground.
After we had camp all set up and everyone tethered out I went for a walk, not far from camp I found the skeleton remains of a very large wild boar. On his snout were tusks measuring just over three inches long. Back at camp I sat on the back of the wagon with the binoculars Mary and I took turns watching a couple of deer out in the desert poking around. As soon as the sun went down so did we it had been a long day.
Tuesday morning while Mary was getting the wagon loaded and I was getting the pets ready for the day I found something I had not seen since I was a kid, a horned toad lizard. Mary had never seen one so I called her over and after assuring her that it wouldn’t he she chased it around and managed to get hold of him so I could get a couple of pictures before letting it go.
All loaded and on the road we took off for Gail only fourteen miles to go. The road from Snyder to Gail I mostly pasture land filled with mesquite and the odd herd of Texas Long Horn cattle. We passed by a small herd Long Horn cows with their calves so young they were still nursing and their horns were only about five or six inches long. A couple of bigger ones were lying down and had horns well over eighty inch’s . Along a stretch of highway for about three miles we rolled past land that had been recently burned from the many wildfires. One side of the highway is untouched while the other side is scorched for miles. Further up the road the land has been cleared and plowed for cotton. As we were rolling ionto Gail the Highway Dept. was resurfacing the roadway we passed by a guy holding a stop sign who waved us past. For over a mile no one passed us in either direction we both thought this a little odd but hey traffic was light that day. As we got further up the road traffic was stopped going the other direction. These poor people had been sitting stopped in their cars for almost half an hour waiting on us to come slowly rolling by. Nobody seemed to mind as several waved to us and others took pictures. About a mile further up the road was the big city of Gail Texas population about 690.
It was about three o’clock as we rolled into Gail past the RV park and arena to the caution light in the middle of town. The middle of town consists of the country court house on the southeast corner the U.S. Post Office on the south west corner the Coyote Store and Grill on the northwest corner and a closed up junk store on the northeast corner. Now that’s a description of the downtown area but there’s a whole lot more to Gail than you will see passing thru town. This little town really has it going on and has a lot to boast about and be proud of. Gail is one of the smallest county seats in Texas. Named after Texas Revolutionary and inventor of condensed milk, Gail Borden. In 1902 when the state was granting sections of land for ownership in Borden County ranchers sent their cow hands into town wearing blue ribbons on their arms to file claims for the land and the so called nester and farmers wore red ribbons on their arms as you can imagine their was a lot of fighting and this episode has gone in history known as the “War of The Ribbons” for three days the sheriff made sure everyone was unarmed but was still kept busy with knock down drag out fights many of them right there at the claims office window. In the end the larger cattle ranchers won by starving out the smaller nesters reclaiming the land for cattle. Today Borden County is largely unchanged except for all the oil wells and wind generators.
Bewfore we rolled out of Snyder Mary had walked over to a gas station to use the ATM machine only to find it out of order. No problem, I thought. We were told that there was a store in Gail what we weren’t told is that this store doesn’t have an ATM machine and does a cash only business. By the time we made it to Gail we were in need of a few things like ice and as much as I hate to say it cigarettes. With no cash and no way to get any out of the bank we were for the moment broke. Things always seem to work out for us and while Mary was across the street at the Post Office getting our mail I was able to sell a few post cards.
I inquired about camping at the arena and was sent over to the court house to see Judge Ross D. Sharp Borden County Judge. Judge Sharp was more than happy to grant us use of the arena for two nights and along with most everyone else in the court house was eager to hear all about our travels. Judge Sharp said he thought the water may be off at the arena and directed us around to the side of the Sheriff’s office to refill our jugs. While we were filling water jugs Sarah Sharp the Judge’s wife stopped by and gave us a case of bottled water and visited with us for a few minutes. Just as we were loading up to roll over to the arena Cody Hill the County inspector pulled up offering to show us the way to the arena. Cody gave me directions and offered to give Mary a more comfortable ride in his truck.
The Borden County Sale Barn and Rodeo Arena are both new facilities and are lacking for nothing from what we saw. The arena in one of the nicest arena’s that we have stayed at. The arena is brand new and is also portable. If for any reason that the arena ever has to be relocated to another place the entire facilty can be taken apart and reassembled.
We were able to set up alongside the sale barn with a covered patio and table there for our convenience. We were able to turn the gang loose in the arena and to our surprise the water had not been shut off. Cody made sure we were set up and comfortable before taking off promising to be byu in the morning to take us to breakfast at the Coyote Grill in the morning.
We were visited by a few of the locals before the sun went down and we went to bed. Jerry Vaughn from the store stopped by for a visit and told us some of the history of Gail and a little about all the improvements being made to the town and most of all the school.
About 8am Cody picked us up for breakfast. After we had eaten Cody took us for a tour of the town and the school. Ass we drove down the street to the school we couldn’t help but to be impressed. As you enter the school grounds you pass under an archway that reads “Home of the Borden Coyote” this was just the beginning, along the street leading up to the campus are houses on either side of the street. These houses are for the teachers. I have never seen a school that offered housing for their teaching staff. Over at the football field and track area I was stunned to see a high school football field with astro turf. Out behind the football field under construction is a new baseball field that will also have astro turf. This is one really nice school for all grades from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I felt as if we were on a college campus. Each year before the beginning of the new school year all across America the education budget is cut in some places by several million dollars it’s good to finally see a county that instead of cutting the budget they are adding to it not only giving children a nice place to learn at here in Borden County the students are being taught more than a yearly test. Every student that Mary and I met during our short stay in Gail was polite and they all bragged about what a great school they have.
Borden County is one of the least populated counties in Texas with less than seven hundred residents you might ask how they can have such a nice school. I don’t know all these answers and I won’t try to answer this for fear of being wrong. I do know this much many of the students attending class here are from neighboring counties. Many of these kids have to ride a bus for over an hour to get to class but I don’t many of them seem to mind the ride. These students really do have a state of the art school to attend and are very proud of it.
Wednesday afternoon our last night in Gail we were treated to some first class steer wrestleing and roping by sixteen year old Riley Smith. Riley and his friend Sean Tucker after putting our gang in a holding pen unloaded several steers and calves from a trailer so they could practice their roping skills. Sean was having an off day and was a little upset at his performance. I assured him that if this was as easy as it looked everyone would be doing it and besides that we all have off days. Riley on the other hand was not having an off day. I was able to get some video of him that I will be adding to our photo gallery it is impressive. In under eight seconds Riley has a calf roped out of saddle and three legs tied. Riley is sixteen and still perfecting his skill trimming his his time down. Eight seconds is fast for any age amateur or professional. Riley plans to attend college and is hoping to find a college with a rodeo program. Both Riley and Sean are very polite and courteous. Later that evening after Riley and Sean had loaded up all their animals and took them home Riley returned with a bale of hay for the gang. Thanks Riley.
Another roper stopped by to see the wagon also a student here in Gail and a friend of Riley, McLean was interested in the wagon the mules and our trip. McLane had been a football player for the Gail football team but has had a few injuries. What I forgot to mention about Borden County’s football team is this. Since they don’t have enough students for a regular sized football team as here in Texas they play six man football and last season Borden County lost the state championship by only one point. Losing by one point has got to be hard to accept so for all you other counties out here in Texas be aware that these guys are not going to allow that to happen again.
McLane visited for about half an hour before leaving the next morning as Mary was getting a pot of coffee going McLean stopped by on his way to school dropping off two more bales of hay to us . Thanks McLean and I really hope I haven’t spelled your name wrong..
We gpt the wagon loaded and the girls harnessed and took off for Lemesa about thirty two miles from Gail it would take us until the following day to arrive in Lemesa. On our way out of town we stopped back by the court house so we could get a few pictures of the Borden County Jail a small rock hewn building that was made to be escape proof. The story goes that only one person was ever held in the jail an out of town bootlegger,. I have been told that while this old jail never saw a lot of use it did have more than one visitor. It’s not a jail I would want to be locked up in it looks pretty small and tight. Behind the court house is also the Borden County Museum if you stop by the museum and the door is locked don’t panic just walk over to the court house and ask for the key. Just lock the door when you leave and return the key.
We stopped by the store to say goodbye to Bertie and Jerry and to mail a few letters before rolling out. Leaving out of Gail once you pass by the mesa at the edge of town it looks as if the road just goes on forever through the desert pas a few mesas and land dotted with mesquite trees. About fifteen miles from town the road starts up a fairly steep hill about a mile long. This late in the day after having walked all day the last thing I wanted for the girls to have to do is pull us up a steep hill like this. With nowhere to pull off and camp we had no other choice. This hill it turned out took us up on the cap rock. I was hoping when we reached the top we would find a place to pull off for the night. What we saw as we reached the cap rock was plowed ground for as far as the eye could see in any direction with binoculars. We felt as if we had landed on another planet there was no gradual; scenery change just BLAM! No trees no rocks no mesa’s to be seen anywhere just plowed ground. We had landed in cotton country. It looks just like the cotton country of Missouri. We rested the girls for a bit before rolling on. ASbout a mile up the road we pulled off and ask about camping for the night. Lee the had a couple of dogs that like to chase horses so he made a call and found us a place to camp just a half mile behind us a place that we had just passed. We turned around and went back to the place where we were met by Theresa Youngblood the owner of most of the land we could see for miles. Theresa set us up with water and electric and a holding pen for the Dan, Dusty and the girls and a hoe for Mary. No Mary didn’t have the hoe to do any gardening work. Theresa was worried about us running into rattlesnakes having killed two in the past few days right on her porch. We didn’t have to kill any snakes that night and we had a very peaceful night. The house that we were parked beside is Theresa’s office so we were alone to our selves. In an old barn full of hay over in one corner sits an old wagon slowly being eaten away by termites. A piece of farm equipment that has long since been replaced by something pulled with a tractor instead of horses or mules.
WOW! What a fantastic place to visit
The next day after a good night’s sleep we were on the road and headed for Lamesa about sixteen miles away. Along the way we came to the town of Key nothing more than a cross road with an old store that has been closed for several years now. We rolled into Lamesa about four o’clock Friday afternoon Friday the 13th. Rolling thru town we passed by something that almost every town had not so long ago some towns having three or four. What could that be? A drive in theatre that still shows movies. Now there’s something that really brings back good memories a play ground under the big screen a cartoon before the show and intermission before the second movie started.
Lamesa is in Dawson County during the Second World War Dawson County had per capita more men enlist into the armed forces than any other county in Texas. Lamesa has a population of 9,952 down by almost fifteen hundred since the last census something that is happening to small towns all across America.
At one time this area was home to one of the largest herds of buffalo to roam the American south west cattle ranchers replaced the buffalo and the Indian tribes that followed the herds. More recently the ranchers have been replaced with cotton farmers. The rich soil here yields large crops of cotton and alfalfa. Lamaesa is the county seat and to secure that seat in government many years ago the cowboys from the Barto Ranch wrote an actual wagon load of letters to the U.S .Postal Service hoping to impress them it worked and the town received the name Lamesa . The cowboys wanted the town to be named Chicago for the small town of that name just two miles south. They accepted the name Lamesa and absorbed the little town of Chicago.
Lamesa today is a busy community with many of its residents employed by the large cotton farms. The downtown area of Lamesa has been very well preserved with many of the older buildings still standing and in use. In the center of town is the court house. Many of the streets in the downtown area are still made of the old paver bricks that are very slick on horse shoes as Dan found out .
Our first stop in town was at the local grocery store where we were immediately surrounded by people. While Mary was in the store getting a few things I was busy answering questions and posing for pictures with the gang.
The first lady we met was Diane White a city employ who offered to wait for Mary to get finished in the store and then escort us to the rodeo arena at the other end of town. While I was waiting I met George and Inez Ortiz. George and Inez live close by the arena and in the days that followed we would get to become very close to George and his family.
Diane had called Police Chief Richard Garcia to obtain permission for us to set up camp at the arena, no problem. With Mary back in the wagon we took off following Diane and her husband Butch with several others in tow behind us we had a small convoy rolling thru the back side of town. We were stopped once by a woman and her very nice little girl. As we were trotting thru an intersection paved with the old paver bricks Dan slipped and fell but regained his footing quickly and was uninjured. This little girl was very concerned about Dan and since we had no way of knowing he had even fallen we were more than happy to be stopped so that we could make sure he was OK.
We rolled past the park and into the arena grounds where I turned the wagon around and parked it alongside a fence under some large shade trees. Before I was able to get down from the wagon we had so many visitors that I lost count. It was great!
Police Chief Richard Garcia stopped bye to make sure we had everything that we needed and to ssee that we were comfortable with the camping arrangements. While Mary and I were getting the girls out of harness Herrell from the Lamesa news paper was snapping pictures patiently waiting for me to finish caring for the animals so he could get an interview. Several others were watching us and asking questions and lending a hand here and there.
With all the pets in their place and taken care of I was able to talk with Herrell and several other folks. I think almost everybody that stopped by left with a post card. On the way into town somewhere along the way one of the welds on the left front tire had snapped and the metal tire was broke and in need of repair. Luck for us it didn’t come apart again like it did back in Arkansas. Luck was still with us George Ortiz and his son in law Matt Hogg with his family were there with us I showed the George the break. Matt called his dad E.L. Hogg a welder. E.L. was there in about five minutes. I jacked up the wagon took off the wheel and we loaded it into the back of E.L.’s pickup and off he and Matt went. Within thirty minutes Matt and E.L. were back with the wheel repaired. They did it so fast the wheel was still hot to the touch as I found out while I was putting it back on.
During our stay in Lamesa we met so many really fantastic people. I’m not sure what is happening and I am having a difficult but happy time with my thoughts. All across America since we began our trip nearly a year ago we have been blessed to meet so many good people and have had such a good time. Our trip is getting better and better with each new day and town that we pass thru. Life really is good.
Back to our story.. Friday evening we enjoyed the company of Matt and Gina Hogg along with their very energetic and pretty little girl Breanna age two. Breanna keeps everybody on their toes. You need a pair of running shoes just to keep up with her. Also there to help keep track of Breanna were the grandparents E.L. and his wife Carolynn and George and Inez Ortiz. We all visited until well after dark.
The next morning Dale Swartz stopped by to the see the wagon he also rode me into town to the grocery store as I was walking out of the store I passed by a newspaper rack and saw a picture of the girls and me on the front page. I had to buy a few copies to send to friends. Back at the camp a few other folks had dropped by and dropped off gifts of canned goods and other assorted goodies. I noticed an elderly lady walking around the wagon with cane in hand and all of about four feet eight inches I just had to talk with her. For the next hour and a half Eulus Damron and I sat around gabbing away to each other. Eulus arrived in Lamesa from Oklahoma in 1924 in a covered wagon. Eulus told me all about her childhood in Lemesa and all she could remember about the wagon trip a lot of which was related to her by her mother. What a sweetheart of a lady I really enjoyed my conversation with Eulus.
Later in the day Don and Carol Sitton from the radio station stopped by for an interview and so many other people most of them bringing with them their children who all seemed to have a great time petting all of our pets. By Monday morning I’m sure that Pearle, Pauline, Dan and Dusty all had tender noses from all the petting they received over the weekend.
Inez stopped by with her friend Mary Pfaffenberger for a bit before leaving Mary promised to make us some tamales and cactus for dinner the next day. A very nice lady named Betty and her granddaughter Laynie and Laynie’s mom stopped by. Laynie was having a blast with all the animals and checking out the inside of the wagon from front to back. I made sure Laynie left with a post card and several pictures of her around the wagon. Betty invited us to church the next morning. And plans were made for Betty to pick me up Sunday morning.
George and Inez came by and we sat around talking up until almost 10:30 that night. We had a wonderful day meeting so many people.
Sunday morning Betty picked me up for church, Mary stayed with the wagon to keep an eye on the dogs. Pete will get loose and run all over town searching for me if he is left alone. Before church started I had a few minutes so I walked around the neighborhood for a bit. When I entered the church Laynie was sitting on a pew showing another little boy pictures of her at the wagon she looked up and saw me and yelled THERE HE IS! This as you can imagine got a laugh out of several people. I met all those that were there for services that morning and before going back to the wagon Ida Hinckley Betty’s mother insisted that we send our laundry back with Betty so that she could wash it for us. Laney rode back to the wagon with us and before she and Betty left to take our laundry to Ida I was given the privilege of signing Laney’s very first kindergarten year book. I felt privileged and honored.
Mary’s daughter Doris Corty stopped by to see us she and Mary hit it right off. Doris asked if her dad had been over to see us yet when she learned that he hadn’t been by she took off to fetch him over. A little while later Doris showed back up with George and her dad Shorty. Shorty is eighty-five I Had just as good a time yakking with him as I did Eulus. Shorty and I talked about old cars traveling mules, horses and sorts of other stuff while everyone else busied themselves with other things. Thank you Doris for bringing you dad by.
As promised we were brought a dinner of tamales, cactus, Mexican rice, cabbage and refried beans and a pile of homemade tortillas. Inez and Mary prepared for us a dinner that was out of this world. The cactus was like nothing we had ever eaten I could eat my fill of just the cactus. Inez also baked us a lemon cake.
Sunday afternoon Chief Garcia and his kids along with Lonnie Sherrilll and several others along with their horses all showed up at the arena for an afternoon of team roping. I was able to get some video and several pictures. Lonnie unlocked one of the smaller holding pens that had good grass for grazing so I could let the gang run free. Earlier that morning a little girl found a set of keys in the dirt and handed them to me. When Chief Garcia arrived I handed them to him come to find out they were his set of keys for the arena that he had lost back in January. How lucky was that?
Later in the afternoon after all the ropers had gone home we were still getting visitors. Bud Smith showed up and dropped us off four huge bales of high quality hay and Dewayne Merritt supplied us with a fifty pound bag of dog food. Matt and Gina replenished Mary’s library with a box of books and E.L. and Carolynn gave us a new ice chest (our just wasn’t holding ice very long).
Sunday night was to be our last night in town we thought. George and Inez came over and as the night before we sat around gabbing by the time 10:30 rolled up on us and we were saying good night Inez was in tears hating to see us go.
Monday morning came around George came by to carry me over to “The Country Store” for a couple sacks of feed. The Country Store is owned by Lonnie Sherrill and his wife Jennifer. Lonnie also cares for the steers at the arena stopping over each day to see th their needs and watering the grazing areas they are in. The Country Store is a just that, a feed and tack store ion an older building on the edge of town, it’s the kind of place that you immediately feel welcome in. I paid for the feed and before I knew what was happening it was being loaded into the bed of George’s truck. Try getting personal service like that at a big box store. The Country Store Farm and Ranch Supplies is located at 603N. Lynn Ave. Lamesa TX. 79331 the store phone is 806-872-2422 or e-mails them at email@example.com .
As I said we had planned on pulling out Monday morning but with so many visitors over the weekend I was unable to get caught up on my writing fir the website so we decided to stick around until Tuesday morning. This made Inez very happy she and Mary have become great friends in just a short period of time and I really enjoy hanging out with George. Through George I have learned quite a bit about cotton farming. George is semi retired from the business. He likes to think of himself as being retired but admits that every planting season when his old boss calls and asks him to come in for a few weeks he never turns him down.
Most of the day Monday was pretty quiet and I was able to get started on my writing. But as you are able to see I had so much to tell you all that one day just wasn’t enough time. I really am trying harder to keep all of you our faithful readers and supporters caught up on our travels as often as I can. Some days after riding all day in the wagon and the getting camp set up for the night after dinner most nights I just want to fall in bed. I’m tellin ya there have been nights that both Mary and I have been so tired we have gone to bed as soon as the sun set. I was so tired one night that after I went to bed I heard a knock on the side of the wagon I got up to see who was knocking only to find that it was my tired butt finally dragging in.. OK I know that’s probably not the best joke ever told. There have also been a lot of times where it has been impossible to get a signal for the internet out here in the great wide open. I thank all of you for being so patient.
Monday afternoon Billy Shofner a local cotton farmer stopped by camp and invited me to come have breakfast with him and his fellow members of the Lamesa Optimist organization and to tell them about our trip. Billy said he would be by around 6:30am to pick me up. I had never heard ot the Optimist before organization dedicated to the youth of our nation. I was also very much impressed those before we all sat down to eat and get the weekly meeting underway we all stood and faced the American Flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance. This was something that we did each morning in school before class started way back when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was still considered by most Americans a proud thing for children to know back before the misguided few stirred up a bunch of trouble and had it removed from school’s around the Nation because it was said to be a prayer. I’m told that there still are some schools that have not given in to those who would like to have God removed from our day to day lives. I enjoyed and felt honored to be invited to attend this weekly meeting. It makes me feel very good inside to know that there are so many people out there that want to know all about what Mary and I are doing.
After the meeting Billy took me back to the wagon where Mary was already hard at work getting things ready for us to hit the road. Inez and Breanna came by to see us off. Inez’s son Mario and one of his co-workers also stopped by bringing with them a case of bottled water for the trip. Mario works for the city on this day he was out in search of a water leak. As dry as Texas has been this year a water leak is a serious thing. I’ve learned from several farmers and ranchers that the ground water tables are so low that it may take several years for them to raise back up to the proper levels. All over the state water tanks are dry. Not being from Texas and unfamiliar with the lingo here the first time a tank was pointed out to Mary and me we were both confused. We looked for a tank but all we could see was a dried up pond or watering hole for cattle. Boy did I feel dumb.
With the wagon loaded and a tearful goodbye from Inez we rolled out onto highway 137 headed for the town of Welch Texas. We had a wonderful time in Lamesa meeting several new friends. Saturday May 14th a vote was taken in Lamesa from where we sat at the arena we could see all the voters turning out to vote. Lamesa residents no longer will have to travel to the next county for alcohol. As you can well imagine this was a defeat for some and a win for others. For those who feel as if they lost don’t feel that way. Voting is the way things are supposed to be done in this country this is just one example of why we enjoy so many of the freedoms we have here in America.
As usual the wind was up and creating dust devils all the way to Welch. Normally these dust devils or whirly winds wouldn’t be so much of a nuisance but now is the time of year when the fields are bare of any plants to help keep the dust down. All the way to Welch we were blasted every few minutes. You can see these miniature tornados of dust come ripping across the open fields sometimes as fast as a car traveling down the road. When they hit the canvas side of the wagon sometimes it almost feels the wagon is going to tip up on its side. Lucky for the girls they have blinders over their eyes and it helps to cut down on some of the dust. As for the rest of us it can be almost blinding at times. Riding along the road to Welch the fields are dotted for as far as you can see with oil wells pumping away resembling some giant robotic horses head and neck.
We arrived in Welch around %:30 in the afternoon after a twenty mile ride. The town of Welch is not very big so I’m not sure what the population is. There is one store with a deli that just recently opened. They sell ice and really tasty beef brisket burritos and two brands of cigarettes full flavor and lights. The largest building in town is 438 feet long by 130 feet wide belonging to the Clint Williams Company Western Division. In this enormous building they store peanuts. I never thought of Texas as a place for growing peanuts especially out here in the west Texas desert I’m told that this area and surrounding areas like Meadow, Levelland, Plains and Brownfeild grow some of the best peanuts to be found in the U.S.. With Texas claiming that everything is bigger in Texas the peanuts grown here are larger than those grown in Georgia and other southern states.
There is a neighborhood of several newer style homes and a high school. As I’ve already mentioned there is a store And deli but as of this time they don’t sell gas or diesel so if you are traveling between Brownfeild and Lamesa make sure you have enough fuel for the forty mile trip.
We didn’t see any place we could pull off and camp for the night so as we were passing by a house with a barn and a couple of horses we saw a man coming out of the barn and I ask if we could set up camp for the night. Gordon Drennan the owner here invited us to set up and stay as long as we needed. He said we could let the pets run free in his roping arena complete with a round bale of hay for them to feed on. Gordon and his wife Cathy have two very well fed and curious quarter horse mares in the barn. Gordon is the Buying Point Manager for the Clint Williams Company now you know why I know what I do about Texas peanuts and the Western Division.
We stayed over two nights with Gordon and Cathy. We didn’t see much of them since they both work for thr same company and have to travel to each of the storage faculties each day leaving home as early as 6PM each day and returning home at dark. We had a pretty good place to camp with electricity and water along with feed for the larger pets. Pete and Jr. were having a blast running thru the wheat fields beside Gordon’s place. Gordon doesn’t grow wheat as a crop. To help keep the cotton seeds from blowing away at planting time cotton farmers around here will plant wheat in their cotton fields and let it to a certain height before planting the cotton (I learn something new every day) I’ve been told that I have a head full of useless information and that I might do well on Jeopardy, I don’t know if all this use less or not and as far as Jeopardy I’d probably fall flat on my face I have learned that these Texas peanuts are pretty tasty Gordon gave us a ten pound bag of the roasted in shell peanuts two pounds of honey roasted a pound of Cajun and a pound of salted peanuts. We’re going to be snacking on peanuts all the way to California.
We loaded up and hit the road for Brownfeild on May 19th another windy Texas day. We were stopped a couple of times by people with cameras and questions. From Welch to Brownfeild is twenty miles. About half way to Welch we were stopped by some folks in a grey SUV what a nice surprise. In this SUV who should hop out but Gina Hogg and her boss and his wife. Gina’s boss wanted to snap a few pictures. We had a nice but short visit with Gina before getting back on our way.
Other than the wind everything was going just fine the girls were trotting along full of energy and we were making pretty good time then it happened. All of a sudden the right front side of the wagon just fell to the ground and the wagon quit rolling. This happened so fast that I was almost thrown from the wagon and Mary was tossed over into me along with carefully packed boxes and totes getting shifted around mostly on top of Pete. Getting out of the wagon I found that our right front wheel had come completely apart. There we sat on the side of highway 137 with all the spokes broke out of the wheel and laying on the ground. Unlike a car we don’t carry a spare and you just don’t pull into a tire store and replace the wheel. While I was standing there thinking about what to do next and not having any bright ideas coming to mind I looked out across miles of plowed dirt thinking that there wasn’t even a place to unhitch the girls and them up. We were truly screwed or so I was beginning to think. There wasn’t much traffic passing by but still being stranded there with no way of getting Pearle and the rest of the gang off the road to a safe place wasn’t looking to good. We weren’t straned for long only about ten minutes.
Just when I was fixing to start worrying four big service trucks belonging to the Lyntegar Electric Cooperative Inc. of Tahoka Texas pulled off on the other side of the road. As luck would have it one of these trucks was a boom truck. Within about fifteen minutes we had the girls tied to the back of the wagon with Dan and Dusty and the front of the wagon up in the air. With Mary riding along in one of the trucks I sat in the wagon with the dogs and down the road we went at about five miles per hour all the way into Brownfeild to a park full of shade trees at the Terry County Show Barn and Rodeo Arena. Justin, Dwayne, Monte, Johnny and Eusevio took time out of their work day to recue us stopping at intersections to stop traffic as we slowly rolled the five miles into town. I really gotta hand it to these guys. They had worked a full day and were on their way back to their shop to call it a day and go home instead they stopped and took it upon themselves to see to it that we were taken to our destination. I felt really bad when they got us to the ark and all we could offer them in a way of thanks was our gratitude and a few post cards. If there is an employee of the month program where these gentlemen work I think next month it should be shared between all these guys. Saying thank you just isn’t enough.
Good things were still in store for us the day wasn’t over yet. Several young men from the Rodeo Arena made sure we had a place to camp set up a pen for the pets Vic who also works at the post office made a call to Bill LaRue a man known locally for working with wagons. Bill called me on my phone and said that while he did work on wagon wheels he didn’t have anything to fit our wagon but knew a man who might be able to hook us and did we have any transportation? I told Bill that other than the wagon I had Dan to ride me to the store and where ever else. Bill said he would be by the next morning to pick up the wheel and drop off a truck for us to use while we were in town
Friday morning Bill came by to look at the wheel and to drop off the truck he was loaning us. Bill looked at the wheel and said he was pretty sure that his friend could repair it but it may take a few days. A few days suited us just fine we were happy just knowing that it could be repaired. With that Bill loaded up the wheel and took off. That was Friday May 20th.
May 20th marks the anniversary of the day we left KY. One year ago. It’s been a great year we have travelled just about half way to our destination and a little over fifteen hundred miles. We have seen allot of this country and learned a lot along the way and met so many people that have shown us nothing but kindness and support of our journey. We are living a once in a life time adventure collecting memories and making new friends all along the way. We are looking forward to the next fifteen hundred miles.
Today is Tuesday May 23rd we are still waiting on the wheel to get back to us but this isn’t time wasted. Pearle and the rest of the gang are enjoying the time off grazing and laying around. Last week just as we got to town we learned of a new disease that originated in Ogden Utah a very deadly and contagious form of Equine Herpes, Equine Herpes virus-1 (EHV-1) has no known cure and if not contained could kill a lot of horses and mules. The horses that were at the horse show in Utah have for the most part been tracked down and quarantined. At this time as far as I know no horses in Texas have been infected and only one case has been reported in New Mexico. Everything happens for a reason and just maybe this wheel breaking is a blessing in disguise. I only hope that this disease can be contained and that not too many horses are infected.
Saturday afternoon George and Inez drove over from Lamesa and spent the afternoon with us sitting under the shade trees here around our camp. We had a nice visit. If they keep following us along at every stop we may have to load the two of them up in the wagon and take them along with us. Mary would really like that her and Inez have become pretty good friends.
Just about dark we were getting ready to get up in the wagon and call it a day when Matt, Gina and Breanna rolled in. We all sat around until almost 11:30 that night. Matt and I were at the wagon talking while Mary and Gina were over at the truck with Breanna watching Dora the Explorer. What a great way to spend an evening.
Sitting here outside of town tucked away under the shade trees we haven’t had a lot of visitors so it’s been pretty quiet here. We filled up a large trough with water and have been soaking the other three wheels in water making sure all the spokes are good and tight before we hit the road again. While Pearle and the others are doing their best see to it the grass here is mowed down and properly fertilized. Hey! We are doing our part to keep America green.
Well that gets us all caught up for now. Our next stop after leaving here will be Levelland TX and then on to Muleshoe TX. I will get you all caught up on our stay here in Brownfeild the next time I publish new stuff. I really want to get this posted. I hate going this long without updating everyone out there. Untill next time be safe and careful. And PLEASE SUPPRORT OUR TROOPS!.Without them we wouldn’t be as free as we are to travel all about this country and enjoy ourselves
Valley of Fires State Park, Carrizozo NM
27 August 2011
No we haven’t gotten lost or given up or anything like that. I would like to apologize to all of you who have faithfully followed our journey through America up to this point for not haven updated our web site in so long. After pulling out of Brownfield Texas my computer crashed and had to be sent off to be repaired. The repair took some time to complete but thanks to the good folks at N-Tec of Levelland TX. They were able to not only do the repair they were able to save all my files. Unfortunately when the time came to pick up my computer I was unable to pay for their services so I had to wait until the funds were available. Thanks to a loan from Nelda Merritt of Muleshoe TX. And a ride from her sister Wannie back to Levelland I was able to retrieve my lap top.
At this time we are camped at the Valley of Fires State Park located on Highway 380 west four miles west of the town of Carrizozo NM. It is very easy to get behind and even harder to get caught back up. Please bear with me and over the next few days I will have you all caught up and up to date on our travels. Believe me when I say there has been a lot happening since my last posting.
I have a lot of writing to get you all caught on up on adventures and travels. Since we rolled out of Brownfield TX. On June 4th we have passed thru the towns of Levelland TX, Whiteface, Morton, Muleshoe and Lariat TX. On Sunday July 4th we crossed over into New Mexico at the town of Texico before stopping for the night at Joe’s Boot Shop in Clovis NM. With all these towns we passed thru and visited I have a lot to get you caught up on. It wouldn’t be fair to try to pass onto you a convinced version. With that said let me get to writing.
As you already know on May 19th just one day before our one year anniversary of beginning our trip a few miles from the Brownfield City limits our right front wheel came apart. There we sat stranded on the side of the road if not for the help of the guys from Lyntegar Electric and their boom truck I’m not sure how we would have made it safely into Brownfield.
During our stay in Brownfield we were very fortunate to meet Bill LaRue a fellow wagon owner and wheelwright in his own right. While Bill was unable to the necessary repair to our wheel Bill was kind enough to give us the loan of a Chevy Suburban while we waited for another Wheelwright Mr. Edwards to of New Home Texas and from what we understand to be the only man alive in West Texas able to rebuild a wheel of the type our wagon uses. Mr. Edwards is a about seventy five years old and master of not just wagon wheels but everything associated with wagons. It took Mr. Edwards a little over two weeks to rebuild our wheel but when he delivered it back to us it was worth the wait. Mr. Edwards made all new spokes and a new steel tire. Riding around on wheels that are over one hundred years old the first thing you come to realize is this. If you break a wheel you don’t just pull into the nearest tire shop and buy a new wheel. We were very lucky indeed to have broken down where we did and to meet all the good folks that we did.
While we were camped in Brownfield we met so many good people in and around town. For those of you who stopped by to visit with us while we were in town I apologize if I have failed to mention your name with so many visitors each day it’s hard to remember all your names but please know that Mary and I are happy to have all of you.
Memorial Day in Brownfield was very special for me as a Vet. There are two cemetery’s in Brownfield as I drove past each of these cemeteries I was proud to see how many people took the time away from their holiday BBQ and showed their respect for our past Veterans’ by not only placing flags on gravesites honoring these brave men and women. The thing that impressed me the most was the amount of family’s not just individuals. Thank you all for passing this tradition on to the younger members of your families. I woud like to extend a special thanks to Pete from the park services and his not only attractive but very friendly wife Maria who spends her days working for the local Wal-Mart. Also to Vic Goldston and all the members of the “Sheriff’s Posse” for all your support during our stay.
With a new wheel and fresh supply of feed for the pets we departed Brownfield Monday June 6th for Levelland TX. about thirty miles north. On our way out of town Irene a very nice elderly lady who had gone out of her way to locate us a Ferrier Mr. Wade Smith the owner or Smith Horseshoeing phone 806-891-8537 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I was getting nowhere finding a Ferrier and had it not been for Miss. Iren’s help I may not have been able to get Pearle, Pauline and Dusty fitted with new shoes. On our way out of town Irene pulled us over to say good bye in the sweetest way, in her hand was the sweetest homemade pecan pie Mary or I have ever had the pleasure to consume.
All day long as we rolled along both Mary and I were hearing all sorts of strange sounds coming from the wagon. There was nothing wrong with the wagon just our ears. Each new squeak or creak saw one of us leaning out the wagon checking over the wheels. PARANOIA!
About ten miles south of Levelland we found an old cotton gin to camp at for the night. I pulled of the road while Mary walked across the road to the home of Treva and Danny Phillips who contacted R.H. Reeves the owner of the gin and obtained permission for to stay the night. Tuesday morning before we hit the road again Treva stopped over donating to us a couple bales of hay and passing along to us a funny story about the free RV Park on the south end of Levelland. A funny story for us but not for our friend Bob Skelding WWW.Wagonteamster.com . Bob while traveling across the USA in wagon was evicted from the free RV park in Levelland because someone with a nice air-conditioned RV took offense to Bob’s horses and some self important official of the town saw to it that Bob was run out of town. To get the full story here check out Bob’s webpage. We had heard this story from a few other residents of Levelland who felt that this action was uncalled for and gave the city a bit of a black eye. Mary and rolled thru town taking in a tour of Southern Plains College Campus a very nice looking place to attend college. Our plan was to stay the night at their arena but unfortunately at each entrance you have to cross over a cattle guard so we were unable to stay at the college. We were able to find a really great place to stay the night on the other end of town at the City Park where we were treated very kindly by the folks there in Levelland. We had a lot of visitors that evening along with the local news paper who wrote a very nice piece on us and I learned a new game that I am looking forward to playing again. I’m not sure of the games proper name. I have never been a fan of golf until I learned about Air Golf or Disc Golf. In this game instead of a sack of clubs the player uses three different sized discks similar to a Frisbee. Just like golf you have fairways with Pars instead of a putting green you toss your dick into a cage. This is a pretty popular sport in Levelland that I may have never played had I not parked the wagon in the middle of a fairway. The threesomes and foursomes that played thru us didn’t seem to mind my error and even invited to teach me the game. Levelland has a very nice City Park that is enjoyed by many of the folks that reside there.
Wednesday June 8th we rolled out of town for Morton TX about thirty miles north. About halfway in between is a wide spot in the road the very small town of Whiteface and the home of Bobby Neal of Neal and Neal Farms. Mr. Neal stopped us on our way into town and offered us a place to camp for the night.Bobby Neal is not only a major cotton farmer he also sits on the board of Regents at Southern Plains College. After we had our camp set up Bobby drove me to the only store in town where he refused to let me pay for my shopping he also gave us a five gallon bucket of pecans a new ball cap from Southern Plains for Mary and a very nice Remington folding knife for me ( I’m afraid for Mary to have a knife around me ). We headed out for Morton the next morning where once again Bobby took care of our purchases at the store. Back on rthe road again we were stopped by a gentleman with a bag full of fresh apricots.
Just outside of Morton we were stopped David Greenberger a representative of the town of Morton stopped us and gave us directions to Morton City Park and RV Park complete with electric and water. Morton TX. Is the home of the yearly gathering each June of the Buffalo Soldiers. On July 26 1877 African American Calvary Soldiers from Company A of the Tenth Calvary while chasing after Comanche Indians they were led away from vital watering holes. Led by Captain Nicholas Nolan he led his dehydrated troops after 86 hours without water desperate and dying several soldiers left camp in search of water four of them died and are buried just north of town at the cemetery marked by grave markers and a historical marker their names are Pvt. John H. Bonds, Pvt. Isaac Derwin, Pvt. John Isaacs and Pvt. John T. Gordon. Each year in June the city of Morton honors these men during the annual Buffalo Soldiers Reunion.
Our first night in Morton we were visited by at least fifty people the next morning got real interesting when were visited by the entire summer school class of Morton in two groups of no less than thirty five kids in each group. I told the kids all about the wagon our trip the animals and answered all sorts of questions before turning them all loose on Pearle who is in her element when there is a group of kids. Both Pearle and Pauline as well as Dan can really ham it up for a group of kids. Before the walked back to the school the were all given a post card. I really enjoyed yhe morning.
After the kids left we loaded up and drove about three blocks over to the home of James and Jeannine Whitehead the owners of Whitehead Carriages. James and Jeannine have been married fifty-nine years James has a collection opf wagons like you cannot imagine. James runs a carriage business providing carriages for events like wedding or almost any other reason you may want to rent a carriage. James has a beautiful matched set of paint horses that pull his many carriages and wagons. If you would like to book them for an event give them a call 806-266-5832. We stayed with the Whiteheads for 10 days. James showed Mary and I all around the area. I lent a hand around their place helping out with the gardening and the many horses that James has. James has a couple of daughters that while they were growing up competed in barrel racing events winning to many saddles to count. James also participated in several wagon and chariot races. At 78 James no longer competes and his daughters are grown with kids of their own that adore Grand ma and Grand pa.
James is a wealth of information when it comes to horses and wagons and along with his wagon collection he also has on display in a field across the street from his home a collection of all sorts of horse drawn farming equipment from plows and planters to hay cutters.
It was during our stay with James and Jeannine that my lap decided to crash. Part of the reason we stayed so long with James was the high winds and temperatures of 110 and higher.
During our stay I was able to ride Dan a few times and do a little work with Dusty who is coming along fine although he did buck me off in the round pen one afternoon. I can’t really blame him for bucking me off and he didn’t hurt anything but my pride. As I was trying to get on him he spooked and the rodeo was on.
One afternoon I went to the grocery store and picked up some corn on the cob, pork chops, beacon, cream cheese and Jalapeño peppers that I cooked on the grill. I stuffed the peppers with cream cheese and wrapped them in beacon. James who normally doesn’t have a large appetite ate his fill that nite and asked me to do a repeat performance before we left.
Each day for lunch Jeanine would fry up some of the best fried potatoes that I’ve ever eaten. Jeannine is a very energetic little gal for her advanced years. She is out in the pens with the horses each day checking on them many times climbing over the fences rather than going thru a gate. She reminds you of a little grey haired tomboy. After fifty nine years of marriage Jeannine still dotes over James as if they are newlyweds
Our mornings at the Whiteheads were spent watching re-runs of Gunsomke and Bonanza after all the ani9mals were seen too the afternoons were pretty much the same just lazing around catching up on television.
Not all my time was spent in front of the idiot box there was a couple days that Dan and I took in the sights of Morton. Morton isn’t really a very large town so on our rides we would circle the town a couple of times. I’m a sucker for old cars and trucks and Morton has a very large selection of both scattered about town in back yards and storage lots. One thing I have noticed in our travels across Texas, there are a lot of very restorable cars and trucks all across the state. The dry air and lack of salt helps to keep these treasures virtually rust free, it’s like a hot rodders heaven.
A few days before we pulled out of Morton we all rode over to Levelland for a chicken dinner at the Colonels (KFC). On our way back to Morton James took us by a place that will forever stay in our minds as one of the worst places in America. For all of you out there that love horses and mules as much as Mary and I do this place would break your heart. Before I go much further I must tell you that what you are about to read is not very happy and I am at this time asking your help in getting places such as this closed down.
Just outside the town of Morton Texas is an old slaughter house and feed lot at one time this slaughter house not only processed beef it was also the last stop for many horses. The slaughter house has been closed for some time now but the feed lot is still going strong. While this feed lot still fattens up a few head of beef and American Bison its main stock is horses. For a few years now it has been illegal in this country to slaughter horses for any type of food it is not illegal however to truck these unfortunate animals across the U.S. Border into Mexico where they are slaughtered and then processed for the meat markets of Europe and Asia where horse meat is eaten like we east beef.
We were given permission to walk all around this feed lot as long as we didn’t take any pictures. On this day there were well over three thousand horses and mules more than just a few had foals still nursing from their mothers. I began to notice that several of these horses had a brand on their hind quarters. The brand was the brand of the Bell Ranch in New Mexico. Mary and I stopped counting Bell brands when we reached fifteen hundred. No I am not exaggerating. Most of the horses at this feed lot were not sickly or old. Most of the horses appeared to be young healthy animals with white spots on their withers where they had worn a saddle many of them had just recently had shoes removed from their hooves.
What happens to these animals is far from humane. I was told that these horses are trucked down to Mexico after leaving the feed lot in Morton where they are then butchered. Once they arrive in Mexico they are taken to the slaughter house where their spines are severed the then paralyzed horse is then hung upside down by its rear legs and its throat cut and bled out. I have not actually seen this happen I have only been told of it through several organizations’ that I have contacted in my goal to stop this practice.
I looked up the Bell Ranch on the internet the following day and learned the Ranch had been sold as of last August 2010. I then contacted the new owner and asked him if he was aware that so many horses wearing his brand had been sold to this feed lot. Chad the new owner informed me the that the Bell Ranch has never had that many horses. Poor Chad somebody has stolen his branding irons and is running all over New Mexico branding horses just to make him look bad. That last statement was not meant to be funny in any way. The bell Ranch along with so many other ranches are not the only ones profiting from the practice of over breeding horses and then sending them south of the border. One of the biggest contributors to the Mexican slaughter houses is the breeders of the American Thoroughbred breeders. Not every race horse that is born makes it to the winners circle. Most of them never even see a race track. More than eighty percent of those born wind up in the slaughter houses of Mexico or Canada I am told.
There are far to many horses being bred in this country that like the beef we eat never reach the age of two years old. If you pick up a magazine dedicated horses and those of us who ride them in almost every magazine you will come across an advertisement for wild mustang and burro adoption. Almost every month somewhere in America these events take place. The idea is to get you to adopt a wild mustang or burro in hopes that you will take it home and love it and train it to be a wonderful horse for your child to ride. Some of these horses do make fine saddle horses when properly trained. Why then can’t the same thing be done for all these other horses whose only crime is that their owners have bred too many and can’t afford to feed them?
In the United States we have several hundred zoos and the lions, tigers and other carnivores have to be fed daily. Some people would say yes feed them all these over bred horses. I don’t think this is the answer. Yes there are sick and dying horses that should be put down and yes the meat could feed zoo animals. I feel the answer is that breeders should be held accountable for all the horses that they breed and the practice of shipping them off to slaughter in either Canada or Mexico needs to be stopped. If you can’t feed them or find homes for them then stop breeding them. Not every Thoroughbred is going to race in the Kentucky Derby and not every high school football player isn’t going to be drafted by the NFL.
With that said if you feel the same as we do please contact your state representatives and pester them to put an end to this practice.
On Tuesday June 21st we said good bye to Lames and Jeannine and headed for Muleshoe TX a two day trip. On our way out of Morton we passed by the graves of the four Buffalo Soldiers who had lost their lives while chasing the Comanche Indians.
About twenty miles outside of Morton is a rest area that overlooks the Muleshoe Wildlife Preserve it was here that we decided to camp for the night. While we were setting up camp Rebecca a very nice young lady along with her brother stopped by to see if we needed anything. Rebecca was drinking a Fresca soda I mentioned that I liked Fresca but was unable to get it in Florida and hadn’t seen it sold anywhere in quite some time. She offered to bring us back a bag of ice and to my surprise she also brought us back a twelve pack of Fresca.
Wednesday morning as we were drinking our morning coffee another very nice lady who I hope will forgive for being able to remember her name stopped by with cups of coffee and breakfast burritos.
We were only a few miles from Muleshoe and the home of Jackie Wayne Burris. Rebecca had called ahead to Jackie and had made arrangements for us to set up camp at Jackie’s pond about three miles outside of town. I contacted Jackie and got directions from him. Before going to the pond we rolled into Muleshoe to get a few supplies and to meet Jackie. Jackie is very well known about town. If you ever have to take a ride in an ambulance or need a Paramedic Jackie is the man to see, He is in charge of the EMS Service in Muleshoe.
Before we met Jackie we were stopped in the middle of the street Nelda Merritt a spunky little old gal who is one of the Jenny Slippers a local organization of ladies that are all about keeping the tradition of the mule alive and strong in Muleshoe. Nelda was very taken by Pearle and Pauline and almost immediately began convincing us to stay in town for the Muleshoe Days Parade on Saturday July 2nd. Nelda was very persuasive. I just couldn’t say no to her especially after she saw to it that her sister Wannie gave me a ride all the way back to Levelland a distance of over sixty miles so I could retrieve my lap top from the repair shop.
I left Mary and the wagon with Nelda while Jackie took me around town to get my supplies and also showed me the way to the “Dusty Rhodes Rodeo Arena” (no relation to the wrestler).
After getting our supplies we rolled on back out to Jackie’s pond. What a place!! Jackie and his wife Stacy who runs the local day care center have a pond that could be on a post card. As soon as we pulled in Pete was out of the wagon and in the water. Pearle couldn’t wait to wade out chest deep as did Pauline, Dan and Dusty were not as quick to wet their feet.
Jackie told us the pond was stocked and to go ahead and try our luck. I waited until the next morning to cast a line and in under fifteen minutes I had caught two nice sized bass for our breakfast.
We stayed two nights at Jackie’s before going over to the Rodeo Arena for a couple of days to take in a little calf roping. Dan and I also toured the town stopping by to see Pete the life-sized statue of a mule at the visitor center and Chamber of Commerce.
Dan and I stopped by the seed store and met Mr. and Mrs. Jarmin the owners who I visited with for over an hour the next morning Mr. Jarmin came and gave me a tour all over the county and into Portales New Mexico. On our drive he showed me several historical sites one of them being the 6666 Ranch that has a very neat story behind it. Way back when the state capitol was looking for someone to design and build the capitol building the Governor of Texas offered three hundred thousand acres to whoever could design and build the Capitol Building. A firm out of Illinois won the contract but in doing so also managed to have an additional fifty thousand acres added to the deal. I hope my memory was correct in the naming of the ranch.
While in Portales we stopped by a house whose owner collects windmills. The owner wasn’t at home but I was able to get a few pictures. There must have been at least fifty wind mills of all different designs and colors on display in the yard. On our way back into Muleshoe we stopped by a car show and a farm equipment auction. What a day I had a blast.
Back at camp Nelda stopped by bringing with her a mule shoe pitching set. Just like horse shoes except with mule shoes. Nelda is very dedicated to keeping the tradition of Muleshoe Days going and can use all the help and support that she can get from all of you that live in Muleshoe and enjoy Muleshoe Days. While Nelda was visiting with us a huge dust devil came up out of nowhere blasting right through the middle of camp, the wind was so strong that it sent everything flying. Our stove and coffee pot went sailing along with plates, pots and pans. I5t6 was as if a small tornado had whisked right thru camp. One second everything was calm and the next we were bracing ourselves against the wind. It was all over within just a few seconds. No damage was done and it only took a few minutes to get everything picked up and put away.
Thursday morning we loaded up the wagon hitched up the girls and headed back over to Jackie’s pond for a few days of rest and a little fishing. Jackie and Stacy are really great hosts stopping by each evening to chat with us over a few ice cold beverages. While staked out around the edge of the pond the gang was doing some yard maintenance clearing away weeds and grass around the edge of the pond making it easier for anyone to fish. Pearle likes to wade in the cool water, one problem though. She is so heavy that her feet sink into the sand and she has a hard time getting back out of the water.
Saturday July 2nd was the Muleshoe Days Parade, we rolled out of bed early groomed all the pets harnessed up and headed for the ball park in town to get our place in line for the parade. Ahead of us were all the marching entries along with the cars, motorcycles, tractors, floats and kids in go carts. Walking along behind us were three of the best looking Texas Long Horn Steers that I think I have ever seen followed by a small cowboy on his Shetland pony and two horseback riders. Just ahead of us were the Muleshoe High School Cher Leaders in the back of a pickup truck tossing out more candy than any float ever entered in a Mardi Gras parade. It was like Halloween in July there was so much candy on the street. Kids and adults too were on their hands and knees in the street loading bags with candy. I had to stop the wagon several times for youngsters to scoop up candy before the wheels of the wagon ran it over. As we passed by the Judges stand we were awarded the Best Horse Award, we’re not sure if was Dusty or Dan that the award was intended for so we’re letting them both share in the glory. Not only was our wagon the oldest entry Pearle and Pauline were the only two mules in the parade this year. All in all we had a great time participating in the parade it was an honor just to be invited.
After the parade we circled back around town to the MB Mexican Burrito for some lunch. Mary went in and got us each a steak fajita with a side of hot salsa and I do mean hot salsa it was some of the hottest stuff I have put in my mouth. After two bites my mouth was so hot I couldn’t eat anymore and nothing I tried would cool my mouth off.
We rolled on back out to the pond for the night and headed out the next morning for Clovis New Mexico. Heading out of town we stopped by the visitors center for a few pictures of the Muleshoe statue of “Pete” the mule before stopping by the grocery store.
While Mary was in the store Nelda stopped by to wish us well on our journey. It is with this that I have a small request to make of the folks in Muleshoe. Nelda and her Jenny slipper ladies are trying so hard to keep alive the traditions of Muleshoe Days please lend them all the support you are able.
Normally we don’t travel on Sundays this Sunday was an exception. We rolled out of Muleshoe for the small community of Lariat about eleven miles north of town where we made our last camp in Texas at the roadside park. Outside of town as we were passing by a dairy another huge dust devil came out of nowhere. Luckily we were not in its path. This thing was a monster as it ripped thru a horse pen off to our right it picked up in its path a feed sack lifting it over 500 hundred feet in the air and carrying it along for over ten minutes and about two miles. Each time the sack would start to fall from the sky it was lifted again finally landing in a field far from where it started.
We made our final Texas camp around three thirty in the afternoon at the Lariat roadside park. All was peaceful until around ten pm when we started seeing lightning and hearing loud thunder. Our last night in Texas we finally saw some much needed rain, unfortunately it was a fast moving storm and very short lived. By morning all that remained were a few small puddles in the pavement. We sure hope Texas can get over this drought.
Monday morning July 4th we hit the road again our destination Clovis New Mexico and Joe’s Boot Barn. Joe’s Boot Barn has not always been in Clovis. Joe began his business in Muleshoe several years ago with just fifteen pairs of Tony Lama boots it was several thousand pairs of boots and many years later before the move was made to Clovis New Mexico. But wait we’re still in Texas.
We were off to an early start July 4th we were less than ten miles from the state line and the town of Texico just across the Stateline. With the dry weather and the constant threat of wild fires much of the western part of Texas had banned all sales and use of fireworks and fireworks displays however the City of Clovis New Mexico had decided to have their fireworks display. A lot of the folks in the area had decided to head to Clovis for the festivities. As we rolled along the highway toward New Mexico several people we had met over the past few weeks passed us along way headed for Clovis waving and wishing us well as they passed. We crossed the Stateline in Texico just before noon. We had been in Texas since December 8th. We had a great time rolling across Texas and met so many wonderful people along the way. Mary and I learned so much about the State its history and the people. Myself I have always liked Texas and thought several times about relocating to West Texas. We may have crossed over into another state but Texas has not seen the last of Mary, I or the rest of the gang. While we were passing thru we decided to purchase forty acres of land around the Van Horn area a little over a hundred miles east of El Paso. It’s a hot dry part of the state that I have passed thru several times over the years always wanting to return. The price on the land was right and we both like the area when we finish our journey across America we will be coming back to Texas to live. Well Texas so long for now we are looking forward to the day that we come back for good. As al;ways be safe We hope your summer was full of travels. Please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.