The Vagabond -  Chapter 2 -Continuing the trip through the USA…….

Nashville is a conglomeration of people. Artists, singers, southern gentry, and tourists. Things are not yet back to normal. Thou the singers on street corners are out. My daughter Jodi moved there 6 years ago to try and break into music business. She soon realized that the people singing on street corners were more talented than she could ever be. Then she fell in love with the city and decided to stay.

After 3 days of hardimage 7 work, we left and headed back to Joplin for an adventure with my daughter and granddaughter. We headed for Table Rock Lake in northern Arkansas at an RV resort. Over 200 RV spots for sale or for rent. Gorgeous layout and beautiful panorama views.

To get there requires some Dramamine. Most of the two-lane roads have no shoulders with a drop off cliff next to the road. There are at least two 90 degree turns within every mile, with roller coaster hills added on for excitement. These were designed from old native trails used by the ridge runners. The closest Walmart is 2 hours away.

There are three pastimes that are traditional to the Ozarks. Talking and eating and of course….drinking. It was great to hear the people and their discourses, in a very unanimated way. Though money was evident with the million-dollar motor coaches and 5th wheels, the people were down to earth in their manners and conversation.

Unfortunately, Whit and I did not share this adventure with Bre’s family. They had a motor coach fuel pump failure on the day we left. We returned to Joplin at the end of Memorial Day weekend to say goodbye and headed for the next adventure. Fate seems to toss those inexplicable events my way, I just go to plan #225; whatever that may be.

My wife, Whit, the interpeptide shopper, suggested we go to shopping at Waco, Texas.  Home to Magnolia, Enterprise of Chip and Joanne Gaines of TV Fixer Upper fame.

The route that we elected would take us through Dallas. The last time we went through Dallas was a nightmare. The Romans would be proud of the road designers. There are roads that seem to go nowhere or on top of each other and navigating them is like running a maze. We took the slightly longer route by way of Fort Worth.

I should add that we picked up a passenger while in Joplin. She will be with us for the whole trip. A female black lab/pit/whippet mix, 5 months old and as lovable as a lab can be.

The story begins with the loss of my blue healer of eight years, two weeks before the trip started. I’m one of those guys who must have a dog for companionship. A Lab puppy was instrumental in my finding Whit.  Our family has always had labs, the healer was a rescue and almost a lab as temperament was concerned. I put out the call for a rescue lab. Unfortunately, the shelters I called required an application to be filled out. I failed the questionnaire….to old, not enough property to exercise the dog, wrong town, or county.

Then came the call from my daughter in Joplin. She told me the story on how she found, Kiera. It seems her neighbor was driving into town. Stopped behind a car stopped at a red light. The car in front opened the passenger door and threw out two dogs and sped off. The neighbor was able to corral the dogs and took them home.  Word got out and Bre went over and looked at them. Both females, one black and one chocolate. They appeared to be well cared for and as lovable as can be. Bre took the black and sent me pictures of her. Sold….today she is in her kennel, next to my chair, traveling to Waco. Fate instills in my life inexplicable situations. In the end we now have a great companion.

We left Waco headed for the Grand Canyon to meet up with some friends and see the  Canyon from the North end. Last year we saw the south end and did a helicopter tour. We decided to follow the fabled route 66.

Route 66 is the original route west. Starts in Chicago and heads southwest through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before terminating in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). If you remember the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the e Route 66 television series, which aired on CBS from 1960 to 1964; you are ancient. In John Steinbeck's classic American novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the road "Highway 66" symbolized escape and loss.

We picked up US 66 outside of AmarillImage 4 Copy 2o, TX which runs in conjunction with interstate 40. West Texas is no-mans land. It switches terrain from rolling hills to a flatness like that of a griddle. As we drove west, I saw in the far distance what might appear as drilling rigs or oil wells. As we got closer it turned out to be a wind farm. Over 100 windmills and no oil drilling rigs.

It turns out that Texas has the largest wind energy of any other state in the US. Go figure.  As we went another 100 miles, we encountered acres and acres of solar farms.

As we got closer to New Mexico, a wind farm with a lone oil pump. What a parodox…..

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We crossed into New Mexico at Glenrio and proceeded toward Gallup. The original Rt 66 still parallels I 40. Outside of Santa Anna NM Rt 66 turns north as originally designed toward Santa Fe and then down again toward Albuquerque. Today the original can be difficult to navigate and drive. It is possible to get lost and never come back to civilization. As is evident by the picture. 

At Albuquerque the original road heads south and then makes a U turn and reconnects to I 40.

You can travel either on I-40 or take the off shoots as Rt 66. 265 miles of the old route still travelable, which gives the motorist a look at some of the original boomtowns made by the traffic from Route 66: Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Albuquerque, Grants, and Gallup, among others. The traveler can count on the essential hallmarks of Route 66: motels, diners, souvenir stands, and an abundance of neon.

We left New Mexico’s varied terrain and hit Nevada headed to meet up with friends in Wallace NV. Wallace is a gateway to the Grand Canyon. The best way to get to the Grand Canyon is by a 2-hour train ride. Unfortunately, being the first week in June, all the rv spots were filling up and we got the last spot outside of Wallace. Train ride also was full, and we would have to be there a week before a reservation opened. Our friends decided not to go to the North rim as the forecast for the Grand Canyon increasing temperatures, reaching 120 F.

Our next stop was Lake Havasu. We were experiencing 100 in Wallace and Havasu was forecast 115. This weather was supposed to last a week or more. We decided to head for home. We will continue the trip in the fall in cooler weather.

The return took us through Las Vegas. No stops to throw money away at the Casinos. It is mid-June, and the campgrounds and RV parks were full. With the receding Covid, it seems everyone is hitting the road. Since we usually don’t plan to far ahead, we would have to take what is available. If we had no reservation by three in the afternoon, we would plan on cold camping at what ever Walmart, airport, shopping center, or truck stop.

Our route home took us out of Las Vegas on I-15, with a possible turn on to Hwy 93 which is a more direct route north to I 85. However, it is basically dessert and the road temperatures where more than 120 degrees. We continued onto I-15 toward St George, UT.

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There was a short stop at the Valley of Fire, but it was partially closed. The parts we were able to se where all spectacular. With  the sun setting the valley comes afire with all it colors and different shapes.

Leaving the valley, we head northeast on I- 15 toward the Great Salt Lake and the traffic mess around Provo and Salt lake City.

Along the way, there were many other wondereful places to see. They will wait for another time. We need to get home before this heatwave starts to melt the asphalt on the highway.

We all have seen this country from the air but have we seen it from the road. A road trip is  a must before we get to old to drive. We have met people from within our living area, but we have never met the deversivived people in the rest of the country.

The pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Until you meet the people who make up this deversified nation, we will be ignorant of what makes this country great.

We arrived home with a new addition and made it home safely. We will pick up the next  leg of our trip, hopefully, this fall.

……….There is a side story regarding  our new traveling partner, the four legged Kiera, a rescue labwhippet mix.

We had an opportunity to visit  my son, new wife and in-laws in Carnation, WA. We took Goliath, the name we gave our 34 ft diesel motor coach, since it is huge and powerful. We thought we would do some cold camping along the way. All the rv spots were all sold out;  Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA had one spot left. When we got there we found out that the speedway was havinga race that weekend. In getting out of Goliath, the roar of the engines doing pre race practice was deafening. Kiera was becoming scared and in one of her panic moments, she yank the leash out of my hand and headed out of the park and down the road. The retractable  leash bouncing behind her. Since she had Whippet in her, she was moving in access of 30 mph, while the best that I could do was 20 ft per minute. To make a long story short, we looked for her for the next 8 hours trying to find her. A passer-by noticed that a dog ran into the woods. It was worse than woods. It was a black berry patch that encompassed about an acre of woods. We called and called and no response. One thing about Whippets is they do not like to bark.

Luckly my son came over about 10p and we set out to find her. He an I used to hunt together, and he was an excelent tracker. He found a metal fence post with a wedge at the bottom which he used as a machette. We would slash our way into the blackberries and stop, call her name and listen. Eventually, he heard her tags gingling. With that we slashed some more and listened. She was found hovering in a rabbit hole with the leash caught in the brambles.

Having been discarded on the road with her sibling and having my daughter find her and then the experience of being lost, she has about as many lives as a cat. But just in case, she is now wearing a GPS collar. I will find her anywhere in the world if she is taken or decides to take a trip.

There is never a dull moment in the Sakas household, thanks to the  Fates.

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                                                                              Kiera and her GPS    


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