Saturday, July 26, 2008

Halfway through vacation: and I ate something that disagreed with me.

Let's see, Saturday night a week ago was Memphis, TN. We were only there long enough to eat supper at Corky's (great barbecue) and sleep. Sunday, we reached Oklahoma City but since it was Sunday night, everything was closed.

Monday morning we toured the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and I took lots of pictures. Many of them even turned out, a few decently. Tuesday night, we reached Amarillo, Texas, where Dad's upset stomach sent him to bed early. The hotel was obviously wonderful in its day. But it has not been maintained. And they canceled breakfast with no provision or more than perfunctory apology made. The desk said that the reason was maintenance. It's possible that they were doing something in the kitchen, but there was no sign of it. I'm sure that the desk staff caught hell for something that they could do nothing about.

Kathy & I ate at the Big Texan, a place that looks like a tourist trap but has incredible steaks. They're the home of the 72 ounce steak. If you can eat it, and the trimmings (salad, roll, etc) in an hour, the whole meal is free.

Wednesday, we got to Santa Fe, New Mexico, early enough to go downtown. We went to the governor's palace and I met some of the local Native American/Indian artisans (some people prefer one term, some the other). I bought a barrette, two pairs of earrings, necklace to match one pair of earrings, pendant and a piece of pottery. I could have bought so much more. It was all just gorgeous. And everyone was so nice. The woman from whom I bought the barrette has a son at Camp LeJeune. He just came back from two tours in Iraq.

I bought some magnets for my coworkers and a hat for myself. I finally found a straw hat that I'm willing to wear in public. Naturally, it's in the cowboy style, black. Dad went back to talk to the artisans and rest his legs. Kathy & I hit the shops. We went through this wonderful art gallery. I finally understand why someone, who has the room in their house, would buy a waist-high statue for the entryway.

We ate at a rooftop cantina, Coyote Cafe. The food was good and the breeze on the roof was perfect. I am such a wimp when it comes to spicy food. The 2 on the waitress's scale of 1 to 10 was almost too much for me. It's a good thing I changed my selection. My original choice was a 3.

Thursday morning we left for Ouray, Colorado. We stopped at the Continental Divide and took pictures, both of the new sign & the older, more informative one. We had to cross the modern, 4-lane, highway to reach it.

We spotted a sign for a park, Aztec ruins, and had to stop. I can't remember if it's a National Park or a State one but oh, how neat. It's an ancient Pueblo ruin, c. 1300, I think. They've reconstructed the main kiva and you can walk through some of the housing. It was well worth the stop. We stopped by a nearby trading post as we left and I bought a bookmark. It's tatted by a woman in Farmington. I plan to give it to Kathy when we get back to NC.

We had barely reached the mountains when it started raining. The scenery was breathtaking. There were mountains all around us. The road was a mass of narrow hairpins. The sign 'shoulder drop off' was on the white line because the only shoulder was about 1000' feet down (I exaggerate, maybe, but that's certainly what it looked like). There is no guardrail so your view is completely unblocked. We finally reached the summit, Coal Bank Pass, some ten thousand plus feet elevation. Despite the cool temperatures and drizzle, we got out to look.

When we reached Red Mountain Pass, eleven thousand plus elevation, we just kept driving. Dad was very tense and did not look at any of the scenery. Occasionally there were pull-offs so that the tankers and other semis could get off the road and let the traffic that had built up behind them by.

We got to Ouray just before dusk and checked into our room. It was long and had really high beds. Literally, the bed was hip high on me. Dad had to use a stepstool to get into it. We had a second floor room and left the window open so that we could hear the river all night. By the way, Ouray is pronounced 'You-ray.' We ate at a local hotel/restaurant, former saloon. It has one of the 'faces on the barroom floors.'

The next day we went for a walk by the river and then hit downtown Ouray. I bought a lovely black leather jacket, trimmed with tan and elk bone. I also bought some beads to make into a tatted bracelet later. We had packed everything but our swimsuits before we went shopping.

That was because we decided to go to Ouray's swimming pool. It's fed by a hot spring. Ohhhh, it felt so good. The part closest to the dressing rooms was as warm as a late afternoon Miami swimming pool. You know, after it's been warmed all day in the sun. A wall, just a little higher than the water separated it from the cool and hot area. The cool area is probably close to the same temperature as a typical swimming pool and the hot area ranges from 102-106F. Mmmm. I basked in that a few times. I saw one guy swimming it but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that.

We got to talking to some locals and found out that we had come in via the Million Dollar Highway; the two worst passes in Colorado. No wonder Dad swore to never drive that way again. I also got a sunburn, mostly on my right shoulder. And guess who decided not to pack her aloe. I guess even SPF 30 wasn't enough, although if I had used the waterproof, it might have been. We were in the pool over an hour and only stopped for a quick lunch before heading for Manitou Springs.

We didn't have time for any stops, especially since it started raining again. Fortunately, the pass out of Ouray towards Colorado Springs is a lot milder (it has a guard rail for one thing) than the one by which we had entered Ouray. Our motel in Manitou Springs was a little thing, also old but well-maintained.

Friday morning it was up to Pikes Peak via cog railway at 8 am. Wow, what a ride. We had a very good conductor who was full of anecdotes and humor. I bought a windbreaker at the gift shop at the top. I only brought one jacket and Dad couldn't bear for me to use it. It's an old suit jacket that I picked up at the thrift shop but he wouldn't see the moth holes, etc and just kept saying 'it's too nice to stuff into a bag like that.' I borrowed a light knit jacket and a windbreaker from Kathy for the trip up. It was nice to wear my own jacket on the way down.

Truth to tell, a couple of the canyons were cooler than the top. I guess because there wasn't much wind and the sun was shining. What a view from the top. I think that we could see Kansas it was such a clear day.

It was another quick lunch and we headed for LaJunta. We checked in, to our hotel and at the reunion. We unpacked the car and went to the welcome barbecue. We did catch part of the rehearsal for Friday night's show and Dad ran into several people that he knew.

The show Friday night was great. They had alumni dancing as well as current Koshares. Most were in garb but some were in every day clothes. I wish I could have gotten pictures but my flash was useless.

I started laundry today, after we had breakfast at the reunion. Kathy brought me some lunch but I didn't realize until too late that there were onions on it. So I'm still doing laundry while Dad & Kathy get to go listen to the Navajo code talker. I won't talk about it because I get depressed every time.

I hope that my stomach is better in time for the banquet tonight. Speaking of which, it's time to get ready.

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