Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the month “May, 2017”

Meade City Park

Go back to a time when rustic cabins were proofs of talent… A raised concrete “patio” is within the low walls, and is still in remarkably good condition.

Meade City Park dates from 1920, when one Earnest Fletcher goaded the Meade Commercial Club into purchasing four acres of farmland from J.J. Stalder, christening it the Artesian Valley Camp Ground. The Club was well aware of the potential revenue generated by automobile tourism in those days, and became determined to build an “auto camping ground” to bring people in. Once the area was fenced in, they badgered residents to donate 30 ash trees to supplement the shorter-lived cottonwood trees already in place. If you volunteered a tree here, you were also expected to help plant it and take care of it.

By 1921, the city’s small bandstand was hauled over from the other side of town by two Fordson tractors. Three artesian wells were drilled in preparation for a swimming pool, which was to become The Big Deal of the park’s existence. The planned 50’x100′ pool was estimated to need Read more…

The Nature of God – Part 2

[If you are just now stumbling onto this post without having read the first part in this series, I urge you to go back to the start and continue on from there through each successive post. None of these individual entries stand on their own, and you may wind up with little but confusion and unanswered questions by starting here. That is easily done by entering “The Nature of God” in the search box on the home page, which will list links to all available parts.]

Ask any honest witness to an event what he or she saw, and it’s unlikely to perfectly match the actual event in every detail. He or she may miss things, read into actions, inject their own emotions and biases, and basically twist it a bit. And it gets worse as time passes. Without microphones and cameras, it can be hard to know what actually happened. And even with those, there’s creative editing.

I’m aware of this whenever I consider the several weird occurrences in my life, of becoming convinced that there actually is a God, and of discovering what He is like. I don’t doubt these occurrences myself, because I easily recall my mindset and expectations of the time, and their failure to match what resulted. These events aren’t exactly something that a camera can capture. But you’ll have to make up your own mind, and perhaps recall strange or unexpected occurrences in your own life. You can review and accept them, or play Scrooge and assign it to “perhaps a bit of bad beef”. I’ve never been much of a fan of the metaphysical, which is pretty peculiar, considering my spiritual faith. But, there you go.

I figure that if I first present some of the events that have influenced my faith, then you’ll be better equipped to mull over any other statements that I make, or at least have a handle on why I present what I might in any someday future posts. You can decide to either let them on through, or to engage your shit filters. That’s up to you. My difficulty has always been that when Christians meet together in a small group for the first time, it’s a common thing to go around the circle and summarize “how you came to Christ”. Most often, these are single-issue things that people are able to gather up into a few sentences, and they have a ring of authenticity that is unmistakable. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a way to succinctly summarize how God steered me to Himself, since the process was a bit of a marathon. Or like a pinball game, actually. That was because of me. When my turn comes in such a group, my response tends to be, “Uh…uh…how much time do you have?” So it is here that I at last have the time and space to cover what actually happened, and can avoid giving short-shrift to meaningful events. So it begins:

When I was a kid, my parents both attended a local Methodist church, and dragged me along. I initially sat in Read more…

Meade, Kansas

The young man of this couple was playing the harmonica outside of a truck stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico. I found this example of busking to be deeply disturbing, principally because I’ve had a small blues harmonica for many years, and can’t play it worth the spit I put into it. He was playing his great. Dang.

The dinosuar museum in Tucumcari that I’d hoped to visit is closed on Mondays, so I pressed onward for Kansas. Route 54 is the best and quickest way to get to Meade, Kansas, and along the way, the terrain change was interesting. It cuts through the corner of upper Texas, and the other thing besides the 75 MPH speed limit on a two-lane road that was notable was the utter flatness of the terrain. Talk about big sky! You can see as far as the atmospherics allow. Ranch entrances were here and there, but no ranch houses were in sight. Texas-sized ranch acreage, I guess. There’s some kind of weird vibe in such rural areas of Texas, something which Read more…

Tucumcari, New Mexico

The Rio Puerco Bridge on Historic Route 66.

Today was a novel day. I got a few miles in on what is now cited as Historic Route 66. Many exits on I-40 have signage to that effect, but most often, the start of the route itself is nowhere to be found. Without having pre-prepped routing independently, I either wound up on wrong choices or kept getting shunted back to the Interstate. Whatever. The Rio Puerco bridge you see above came to be in 1934 and became a late alignment of Route 66 in 1937. (Parts of Route 66 changed continually since its start in the 1920s as various pavements were upgraded to handle the traffic. In some cases, paved roads replaced dirt roads.)

Looks like a single lane bridge by today’s standards, doesn’t it?

This bridge is one of the longest single span steel truss bridges (250 feet) built in New Mexico, the result of an effort to avoid using a center truss in the river bed. The Rio Puerco is one of those rivers that had (has?) floods violent enough to cause bad erosion, and it had a penchant for collapsing every Read more…

Bluewater, New Mexico

That little red & white camper behind the blue semi is the Mighty Intrepid. The semi left a half-hour later.

Day one brings the Bowlin’s Bluewater Outpost Travel Center. That’s along I-40, and I gotta say, the scenic views along I-40 in both eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, well, there’s just nothing like them. The red dirt in Arizona goes as far as the eye can see, and in New Mexico shifts to a light tan color. Flat-topped formations with a layer of boulders on top like icing, which spills down at the edges. It’s several hours of wow.

This outpost is jammed during the day, offering a Dairy Queen and all the baubles you could think of. At night, it’s all cleared out. There’s a very busy set of railroad tracks in back of me next to Route 122, a divided four-lane that stands out as a peculiarity in the middle of nowhere like this. Turns out, it’s the original Route 66, so I plan to take it eastward until it merges with the Interstate. Most of my daily drives are no more than four hours, so the slower pace of 66 should be just fine. It’s about the trip as much as arriving back in Illinois, thus I’ve been plugging along at 65 MPH instead of the 75 MPH speed limit. Saves a couple of miles per gallon, which has been between 14-15 so far. Driving here always ruins me for the flat cornfields of Illinois that come later!

Elden Pueblo

It’s hard to believe that one can just pull off from US-89 in Flagstaff and be transported back close to 1,000 years.

Tomorrow begins the 8-day commute back to Illinois, so I resupplied one last time in Flagstaff, Arizona and found a comparatively noisy haven at a Conoco Travel Center on the far north side of the city. Literally across the street from the so-called Carter Travel Center at 7180 US-89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, is the Elden Pueblo, a very early settlement of what have been later dubbed the Sinagua People. It seems that when Sunset Crater Volcano, 10 miles northeast, erupted in about 1,000AD, it coincided with a 20-year drought and motivated the locals to move to higher, moister elevations than before. Being Puebloan people, a few families set up camp and started construction.

I won’t get into the rather extensive details provided by a brochure at the site (which gets into a spot-by-spot description of what you’re probably looking at), but I will recite the points that I found notable. More people moved in, and by 1150AD, this site became Read more…

A Lesson for All of Us

A tree, just like any other tree, only more so.

Looking out the driver’s side window of the Intrepid this week got me frequent views of a pine tree. Well, I was surrounded by pine trees, but this one was special. This particular pine tree has seen better times. Caught in a forest fire at one time, it survived. The draft side of its trunk and branches are pretty well burned out. The large divot you see at its base is trunk burned away at ground level, and you can see plenty of branch stumps and scars higher up. But branches on the wind-facing side are still there, and since it can no longer grow upward at its trunk, it’s doing what it can to grow more substantial branches outward on the side that’s still there. It’s older than most of the trees around it, the others probably having perished. Though deformed from its trial, it also shows its glory, its victory in surviving. “I’m still here!” it seems to say with some defiance, “I have not given up!”

I found it inspirational. I know people like this, fortunate to have survived their crises at all, and they’re still cranking away, making the best of it, delivering a message merely by continuing to exist. They persist, and do not give up. That’s life, one very important opportunity, and one worth pursuing until the day when time finally draws it to its natural end. Keep going!

Overland Expo West 2017 – Part 2

It must be nice to have the means to support a Unimog 4×4, in a way. I wouldn’t want one, but I still think they’re slick.

Opps! Hit the wrong button! Oh well. Enjoy!! This post is much more pictures than text, so let’s get at it! –

This Oregon Trail’R was one of many teardrop trailer variants. This one trades artistic integrity for utility. Trail-friendly, roof rack for holding an awning, solar panels, or what have you.

Land Rover debuted their reimagined Defender from a legendary boxy fossil to a thoroughly modern SUV compromised enough to appeal to the Starbucks-slurping crowd. Despite a very sophisticated and capable 4WD drivetrain, forward progress is in the eye of the beholder. (This example is not actually tipping, it’s simply revealing its street car design priority.)

Read more…

The Nature of God – Part 1

Oh no! Look at that title! Not a post about religion! Not another gag-inducing diatribe from somebody trying to shove their beliefs down my throat! I’m not gonna read it!

Relax. You don’t have to. You’re free to stop right here and go on your merry way. It’s called “free will”, and I’m all for it. Whenever I find something else that’s interesting to write about, those articles will be right here as always, posted scattershot as usual. This post is one piece of a lengthy series, each part of which will be added now and then.

But why would I even bother posting a series about my personal beliefs here on a travel blog, when the topic itself has selectively become a pariah in our culture, and merely sharing one’s faith is often now viewed the same as force-feeding? Even Dr. Francis Schaeffer, an influential 20th century theologian, noted, “Non-Christians don’t care what you believe.” I suspect that he’s right. After all, people come to this blog merely to find out how just one more ordinary guy is exploring a somewhat unconventional mobile lifestyle, and to find out what he’s seeing or discovering or thinking about along the way: information, quasi-adventures, mishaps, outlooks, and little victories. Why louse up a good thing?

The answer to that is easy. First, I won’t actually be rummaging through my beliefs as such, the doctrine and dogma of some denomination within the Christian church. That’s not what this series is for. What I personally find interesting are people’s stories – the why and what that happened in their lives to put them where they are now. When they share, I don’t necessarily want them to do nothing but recite the pithy points of their current outlook to me, but instead to describe the why of that outlook – what they observed and felt as each event unfolded and how their reaction to it shaped them. What were their thoughts, and what did they walk away with? Different people react differently to the same circumstantial blessings and hardships. It’s only then that I can properly understand any outlook that someone may present. What you’ll get in this series is as close to the “what happened” as I can muster, with my takeaways from those experiences – brilliant or faulty.

Second, the story that is behind what I believe has been shaped by my experiences, and this blog has from the start included those as well as my own reflections upon them. Just like the rest of it, this is part of what I’ve discovered along the way. After all, this hasn’t really been Read more…

One Confused Camper

The new campsite in the daytime. The “trail” is actually a camping loop.

I resupplied in Flagstaff yesterday, and on the return decided to check out the “dispersed camping corridors” in the Cononino National Forest, using the MVUM (Motor Vehicle Use Map). According to the map’s instructions and those on the Internet for that forest:

“When dispersed camping (or “car camping”) on the National Forest, refer to the designated camping corridors shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map. In these designated corridors, visitors may drive their vehicles up to 300 feet from the road to car camp. Also, visitors may park alongside any designated road’s edge and walk to their campsite anywhere on National Forest System lands, except where specifically prohibited as indicated in closure orders. When parking along a designated road, drivers must pull off the travelled portion of the roadway to permit the safe passage of traffic. These rules only affect motor vehicle use. Forest visitors can always hike to campsites at farther distances from the roads.”

Officially, these “corridors” seem to be the only permitted locations to camp, and doing otherwise Read more…

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