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Saturday, February 26, 2011

VACATION - Looking for Sunshine and warmth - Joplin MO to Wichita Falls, TX

It's Friday morning, day three of our adventure.  We woke up in our quiet Sam's club parking lot...brrrrrr it's cold out there!  About 30 degrees and damp and wet.  Steve took the dogs out while I put a few things away.  He wanted to get some miles under us to warmer temps.  We gobbled down bowls of cereal and headed out by 7 am.  The forecast for here in Joplin is to stay COLD all day and never get above 40 degrees!   So onward south and kinda west we are gonna go.. towards Oklahoma City, and then south towards Texas.  The forcast down by Wichita Falls TX was to reach 80 tomorrow so I think that is where we would like to be!

As a passenger, I am cruising along down the highway ... sitting here sipping my coffee and writing this.  In my flannel jammies, with my big woolen slippers on, a blanket around my shoulders as a shawl.... and off we go!  The motorhome life can be kinda fun.  My head cold seems to be mostly gone, just the voice is missing and raspy.  I have some throat spray and am sucking on lozenges and have some honey which helps.

We passed into Oklahoma at 7:45 am

We just paid a toll for the pleasure of driving the last 20 miles or so on the Will Rogers Turnpike.   $9.75 ouch!    Oh well, I always liked Will Rogers, so I guess we can pay for his turnpike?  LOL LOL  We didn't even KNOW we were on the Will Rogers Turnpike until it was time to pay.  We never saw any signs.  LOL

As we headed towards Oklahoma City, we were contacted by a fellow Safari owner that we know from our Safari Group.  Doug and his wife Ann have been following us for a while on our blog.  We also swap repairs, modifications, sources of parts and supplies, and even campgrounds and directions.

(a note here, for those so inclined to offer some prayers or kind thoughts for their little granddaughter, Lyra, who is putting up a good batter against cancer) 

We followed Doug's suggestions of which routes to take to meet up with them at Oklahoma City.... so the route he put us on was the historic Route 66!   We saw some interesting things, some strange things, some dumpy things and some great scenery.  So much nicer than the Interstate (which was also a tollway again)

 The two lane road wound itself like a ribbon, along the countryside, sometimes in little towns, other times parallel to the busy interstate.   We saw that RV reality show a few years ago, the one with the six families, all in motorhomes?  They drove part of the way on Route 66 too.

Many of the homes were in disrepair, abandoned and falling down.  So sad.  I think of all the cars that has passed by here, and thought of the family sitting on the porch, wishing they were in those cars.. going somewhere.. going anywhere...  just going.

Even new buildings get into the act in some of the towns we passed through.

 and a few murals here and there, painted in honor of the Route 66, and covering up an otherwise ugly shed

What I found the most fascinating were the old gas stations.  Many are made of flagstone and some were painted brick and stones...  some were square and some had arched doorways, all were placed close to the road.  Even the old ones that were falling down were so cool.  Steve zoomed by them so I couldn't take too many photos.  So please excuse the fact that these are taken through a dirty windshield with an aircard antenna in the way!

We wove our way along until we reached Oklahoma City and Doug had guided us right to them perfectly.  We had shot emails back and forth till we connected up together in the parking lot at a Walmart.  They had enjoyed some thick shakes from a local ice cream parlor before we got there.  We gave them the nickel tour of the rig, and shared some stories on travels and trips, motorcycles and scooters, and places to go and see.  Doug wanted to see Steveio's custom made tool drawers before they left.  Steve made some toolbox drawers from a big old industrial metal shop desk by cutting off the top and legs, and removing the center drawer.  He just used the two side sections and bolted them together to set in the basement compartment in our motorhome.  Here are some pics from in my files:

All too soon they had to go to take their granddaughter to a therapy session. After a few pics, we waved them on their way, and took Doug's suggestion on the best routes around Oklahoma City and down on towards Wichita Falls, TX.

As we headed south, the land flattened out more, the landscape got more barren, and where there were cows, so each time she saw spotted ones, our dear Ducky had to bark bark bark at them. (she was scared by spotted cows when she was a pup, and feels she needs to bark at them now to pay them back)  

 The goofy mutt even jumped up on the rocking Euro chair, to see out the windows on the passenger side where some cows were.  It was rocking and dipping and moving, but she ignored it so she could keep out a watchful eye for more cows!

Duke just rides along peacefully, usually on the floor next to me or sprawled out on the couch.  Cows? He could take em or leave em.  

Ut Oh.. another toll...   $3.00  I guess we are on the H.E.Bailey Turnpike heading south and west towards Wichita Falls

and another toll....   $3.25   whew the price is going UP

and another toll ...   $3.00  ....     this time we almost got to go through for FREE!   Duchess leaned forward over Steve's shoulder to stick her big nose out through the side window to the toll gate lady.  She loved her on sight ... and we said: "It's $3 to kiss a collie!"   hahahahha

We finally crossed into Texas at 4:45 pm.   I am really liking this horizon-to-horizon view with blue skies as far as the eye can see.  There wasn't a cloud to be found, no wind, calm and smooth roads.  It sure was delightful to be cruising along with my sweetie.  We are MADE for this life=====

We marveled at the change of scenery, remarked on the different plants, trees and even the grasses.  It was all new to both of us.  Last trip south we had seen a few small oil wells in northern Mississippi, but not nearly as many as we saw in OK and now in TX.  It had been a long day of driving, but we were feeling good and enjoying the views as they unfolded before us.  That big windshield is really a moving Picture Window!

We found our way into Wichita Falls, TX and went to the second Walmart on our GPS which was further back and in a nicer area than the one out by the interstate.  Once each vacation, we do a treat of buying a roasted rotisserie chicken from the Walmart deli.  Yummmmm  for $4.99 we had a great meal as I added mashed potatoes and some green beans.  Besides, the roasted is much better for Steve instead of deep fried for his cholesterol.  Now there are enough leftovers to make some chicken salad or chicken sandwiches tomorrow for lunch.  So that was our *splurge* for the day.

 Oh and I bought a new USB extension cord for the Streets and Trips GPS dongle.  It originally came with a cord but a little wire inside must have broken on the cord.  For now I have been using it stuck directly in the USB port on the side of the laptop, but I am scared it's gonna get bumped or sheared off when I shove the laptop drawer back into the recessed area it stows into.  With the extension, it can be suction cup adhered to the window, where it picks up the 9 satellites signals much easier with a clear view to the sky.  So those were our TWO *splurges* today.

We are keeping a close eye on the happenings back in Wisconsin.  I have had a few people email me to ask why he is not in Madison.   Well, Steve's union has sent down representatives and they have negotiators waiting to be called to the table.  So there is not much he or anyone in his union can do.  Steve's particular union has a contract with UWGB that says they can NOT strike, so that is why they are not travelling the 200 miles back and forth to go to the capitol. So again, it's wait and see.  Who knows, he might not even have a job when we get back.  After 33 years of hard and loyal service. It makes me sick to think of it.

Plus, our vacation was planned for about 5 or 6 months ago.  I have been saving every penny and nickel and dime to go.  With my newest health issues, Steve felt we should go now, use up his banked vacation days before those would get taken away too in this deal.  So that is why we are gone.  LOL  Just in case you guys were a wondrin?

According to the weatherman here on the local tv news, big big winds are heading through this area from the west on Sunday.  Perhaps 50mph blasting us right in the face as we head west? So we are thinking of driving tomorrow towards Carlsbad Caverns instead of down to Big Bend park.  And hole up there for a day or two in a campground or on some BLM land.  Will see when the sun comes up and what direction the motorhome goes in?

Today we drove 371 miles
1,200  total miles so far


  1. Great post! I hope your vacation goes well and you do find some warmer temps. I enjoyed following along with you and looking at your pictures. Take care and safe travels.


  2. Sounds like you guys are having a great time so far & what a nice change for you both to be on the road & actually heading somewhere. Somewhere warm I may add. We stayed at Brantley State Park near Carlsbad for a night while in the area to see the Carlsbad Caverns. There is also a run down campground at White City where you turn off the highway for the Caverns. We stayed one night there & it was fine for an overnighter. Had a good hot shower room as I recall. But, that was all back in December of 06 so things may have changed there. That campground is right behind a larger Hotel at the turn off. Carlsbad Caverns are great. Keep on having fun:))

  3. Glad to see that you've left all the snow behind.

    I'm so glad you were able to go on your trip. Vacations are too hard to come by and too much work to have to cancel at the last moment. I was afraid you wouldn't be able to go.

    We can all feel safe now that the cows have been "told"

    Travel safe...hope the weather is nice for you.

  4. Looks like your moving on down the road smoothly... and having fun! It is a great life we enjoy isn't it? We also stayed at Brantley State Park for a week and really enjoyed it there (price is alot better then the KOA up the road)... Carlsbad is beautiful and easy to walk.
    Have fun & travel safe

  5. I loved this post! It's so much fun to read something that you wrote while riding down the road. Just bought streets and trips myself, since everyone seems to be talking about it. Sure glad you could take your vacation now. Life is too short and things are always shifting and changing. Travel safe and stay cozy!

  6. Welcome to TX.
    "T'is a whole other country"
    Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  7. So glad to see you are getting warmer, the night you left we had 2 inches of snow,Hope Karen gets rid of that bug, Sam had to get up last night and take cold medicine.Won't be long and you will become real tourists and enjoy the southwest sights. That dead chicken looked great we were having a pizza that Nicole made, ( her first one )You guys be safe out there and keep the picture4s and posts coming,Rigg's says to ell Duke & Duchess woof-woof. Sam & Donna...

  8. Go while you can, don't wait on unions or anyone else. There are no guarantees in life.
    Travel safe and have fun!

  9. How do you like the Microsoft Streets and Trips software? Hope you feel better soon. I really enjoy reading your posts as you make your way down the road.

  10. AMEN!! Go whenever and wherever you are able... and be sure to write about it so that we can all follow along! :-)

    Tell Duchess that there are lots of unruly cows here in NW AL... we could use her help getting them under control! Mustang Sally tries whenever she sees one, but since she only comes up to their ankle, they remain unimpressed. lol

    Hope you have a wonderful time and that you find all the sunshine and warm weather you could ask for...

    Stay safe...

    Kerri in AL :-)

  11. I feel so bad for you that Stevio has the job issue dark cloud hanging over his head while you're on your well deserved vacation.

    We'll keep our fingers crossed that it turns out okay.

    Keep having fun (despite all those tolls!). It's your time to enjoy life on the road.

  12. the driving life in a motorhome seems to be the way to travel!..jammies and all!..thanks for taking us along for the ride!

  13. So enjoying reading about your trip! We love those WalMart rotisserie chickens - yum;-) Sadly while you two are headed towards here (we're in Mesa, AZ), we have to leave tomorrow AM to head back to cold, rainy, miserable southern WA to evict our tenant... arghh... We were really hoping to connect with you on your trip!

    Love all the photos of your rig and your pups are gorgeous!

    98 Serengeti

  14. Sounds like you're having a blast! Glad your cold didn't materialize too far. We love those Wally rotisserie chickens too - yum;-) Really enjoyed the photos of your rig! The pups are gorgeous;-) Sure wish we could connect but we unexpectedly have to leave for rainy, cold, southern WA tomorrow morning;-(

  15. We lived in Texas for four years. They were good. They people were the best.

  16. Carlsbad can get pretty windy too, and if you go north, Roswell is known for that blasted (literally) wind. Find a sheltered spot and hunker down if you stay in that area.


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