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  • J.F. Rowan

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon TX.

Campsite View

What the heck happened? One day we were all “up and at em”, with Caprock Canyon State Park and then when arrive at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, it’s as if someone slipped us a Rufi in our morning coffee. We left Cap Rock canyons and all that it had to offer and headed north by way of those famous Texas “Farm Routes”. We arrive in the smallish town of Canyon Tx., just 12 miles away from our final destination. We take care of some tasks such as laundry, grocery shopping and a quick stop at McDonald's for a little free WiFi. We scope out a great place to eat for lunch. “Pepitos” is our choice and we savor some quite tasty (and fresh) Mexican food that we count as our big meal of the day.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park View. Canyon, TX.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a CCC enhanced park and it’s buildings show the usual rustic wood and stone architectural characteristics. We check in and proceed into the canyon. Unlike Caprock Canyons State Park, we will be camping in the bottom of the canyon as opposed to camping on the upper rim. We have a reservation and assigned spot. Normally, if we don’t like the spot we can survey the park and find an alternate. However, there seemed to be a high number of filled spots so we end up staying with our assigned spot, which isn’t all that bad. In fact, it turns out that fate fancies us and it would have been our choice anyway. We back in, install the pilot wheel and swing the trailer around about 90 degrees to give us better access to the trailer’s kitchen. We have electric at this site, so we take advantage of the 30 amp service.

Wandering Toms

As we do at every stop, we play a game called, “How many digital channels will we get today?” Using the “Price Is Right” rules, each person tries to guess the number of channels we can receive during our TV’s initial digital channel scan at our now new temporary home. The one who guesses closest is the winner. The loser is in charge of dishwashing. Lately, it’s been a tie at most sites as our reception wherever we go usually results in a big fat “0” in the number of channels received. Being in the bottom of the canyon, it’s pretty obvious that today will be another tie score, and sure enough, zero channels. And, as it would turn out there would be no phone service (Verizon) or truck hotspot service (AT&T) either. Such is life right?

Tossing up some beef lo mein

Hungry Yet?

Our time at this park was a bit dampened by high winds, cold and drizzly weather. We spent those days cruising into town trying to do some additional errands including heading to a newly opened “Gander” store in Amarillo to get Yvette a pair of replacement binoculars. And, I’ve taken to writing more so I spent some time catching up on some blog and journal writing. Yes, I do write in a journal. I started during a stay in Albuquerque. (Practice makes perfect?) As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very comfortable with writing, some days it’s like pushing mud uphill. Why? Primarily because I didn’t pay attention in school, especially during English class. Sentence structure and the rules of writing I find difficult and I’m sure is often revealed in my posts. When I write, I try and picture myself standing up in front of an audience and telling the story verbally. A.D.D. maybe, but more than likely my inattentiveness probably stemmed from the ever-present blond haired Kristie Taylor. From second grade on, there were strong forces at work pulling my focus away from academics and re-focusing them in on something more in the romance department. Ahh…boyhood. But I digress. We do try and find ways to keep ourselves from being cooped up inside the coach when it’s inclement. We thought it might be okay to stay inside and read or write etc. There really comes a point when you have to get up, get out and do something, anything to get the blood flowing and the brain stimulated. Whether it’s driving into town to do errands, or just go out and explore other things like museums, galleries and the like.

During this state park visit though, we just could not get into the spirit of our surroundings as we did in Cap Rock Canyon. There were several contributing factors and now when I think back on it all, it’s sort of been a progression as to the lack of energy. Something has been eating at us and we have since discovered what it is, the wind. Freaking non-stop, howling in your ear, dust blowing, tumbleweed tossing, got sand in your teeth kind of wind. A wind like the famous movie, “Grapes of Wrath” but only as Steven Spielberg would produce it. Our ears rumble constantly and unless your good at reading lips, you say the word, “Whhhaaattt?” about thirty times a day. I also hold the wind somewhat accountable for my left ear have some issues at this point. You’ll also read later in the coming days about how the wind would get worse and force us to turn things around. (Sorry, no hints.) I will say this though, as I write this we are in a much better place now.

During our final days at Palo Duro, we planned the next leg of our journey and just like every other time we move, we prepare by packing up the night before, go over our itinerary and check the weather. I really like this process as it reminds me of flying; planning out the route, fuel planning etc. We decided that we wanted to get off the grid for awhile and so we picked Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, just west of Canyon Tx. An easy 30-mile trip. As we relaxed to see our final Palo Duro sunset, with a beverage in hand a Roadrunner came through our camp, hunting lizards and bugs. I was able to get a photo of one during the day, but seeing one up close was pretty interesting. At one point there were two and we were amazed at how close one came to us, maybe 5 feet. It made me smile as I observed how close the personality of these birds is to their cartoon counterpart.

Roadrunner near our campsite.

Off to bed early for some reading and a good nights rest. Oh, I almost forgot. A mammoth class A motor coach rolled into camp as the sun was setting. The nice couple parked their rig in the spot right next to us. When I say this coach is big, I’m mean, “Throws it’s shadow in two counties” sort of big. Anyway, they settled in pretty quick and the Lady of the coach ambled across the street to take a shower, returned to the coach newly dressed. She seemed to walk up the coach, pull on the door handle, and everything seemed normal. the next thing I know, she walked right (towel wrapped, hair wet) up to us and said, “I’m afraid I have made the most horrible, terrible mistake!” Yvette and I just looked at each other and then back to the women, and you’ll never guess what she said. So, you’ll just have to read the next blog. HA!

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