Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's Been a Week...

A busy week at that and I'm way behind with the blogging. Readjusting to cooler weather and dealing with the rain and the wind and the storms that have been affecting Northern Indiana as well as many other areas of the country. Aaahh Springtime!

My goal of not traveling on the Interstates from Louisiana to Indiana was successful. And I only had to travel on four-lane highways around and through towns and cities. Of course, it took a bit longer but it was worth the extra time and far less stressful.

It was rather startling to go from this (on the Natchez Trace April 19th):

To this (Northern Indiana on April 24th) where the only “green” is the grass:

But, thankfully, all of those April Showers have brought forth the beautiful flowers!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a visit with the doctor earlier this week and I'm happy to report that my leg is feeling much better! An ultrasound was done to rule out blood clots and none were found. The doctor prescribed a pain-reliever/anti-inflamatory drug that has helped considerably. The cause of the pain? Most likely a pulled muscle that will heal itself with time.

I've been taking advantage of the “free wifi” here at my friend's house and working on several projects. Rather got “caught up” in researching a very, very distant relative who just happened to have lived in southern Noble County, not far from my ancestors here in Whitley County. And by “distant relative” I mean really distant. You have to go back to the 1635 immigrant, Thomas Joslin, to get to our common ancestor. It's been fun. Haven't had a challenge like that in quite a while!

What's ahead? I'm working on it, formulating a plan. Really. I had hoped to be able to attend the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June but that won't happen this year. I have to be back in Indiana by June 14th for a follow-up appointment with the doctor. But I've put the Jamboree on my calendar for 2012 along with RootsTech!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Northward Bound

Tuesday, April 19th - - After four lovely days of visiting friends in northeast Louisiana, I headed north on Sunday morning (April 17th). My goal was to get back to Indiana without traveling on Interstate Highways at all and to avoid four-lane highways as much as possible. That I have done thus far but I'm only halfway there!

I stopped at the Civil War Interpretive Center in Corinth yesterday (a post is forthcoming on that visit). Last night I stayed at this beautiful State Park in Mississippi – the Natchez Trace Parkway runs through it – and got on the Parkway this morning.

My campsite alongside the lake at Tishomingo State Park in northeast Mississippi.

The sun had been hidden by heavy clouds all day but showed itself for a few minutes late in the evening.

I just love the “green” all around. Delightful. And easy on the eyes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Journey 2011 Index to Posts :: April

A chronological listing of posts for where I went in April 2011...

Texas (April 1-7)
New Mexico to Texas to Oklahoma (April 8-10)
Oklahoma (April 10-12)
Texas (April 12)

See The Journey 2011 for a complete listing of places visited in 2011.

Caddo Lake Revisited

Tuesday, April 12th - - It seems like it has been much longer, but it was just 12 days ago that I was here at Caddo Lake State Park near Marshall, Texas. There seems to be a little more green now, which is just fine with me ;-) and the water lilies are about to burst out into bloom.

It was nearing sunset when I arrived this time, and like my previous visit the light was amazing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oklahoma Wild Flowers

Tuesday, April 12th - - Alongside US highway 70 in Southeastern Oklahoma. These were about an inch or so in diameter. If you look closely, you can see a bumble bee in the center of the picture. It is in between one of the blue and the red flowers. (Double-click the photo to view a larger version.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beauty Lies in the Eyes of the Beholder

Tuesday, April 12th - - Wildflowers or Weeds? My mama once told me that a weed was anything growing where you didn't want it to be! By her definition then, a flower could be a weed... and a weed could be a flower. We've got thistles in Indiana but I don't think I've ever seen any quite like this! Alongside US highway 70 in Southeastern Oklahoma.

And, for TK, a sight to soothe the soul... In her comment on that post, TK says “I just want to crawl into that picture and inhale it?” Well, that's just how I felt on Sunday! And I must say, Green is gorgeous! Have you ever noticed just how many shades of green there are?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

For much of the past week the winds have been blowing in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. On Sunday (April 10th), after wandering in the dry, arid desert, fighting the 25-35 mph winds (with gusts up to 60mph), seeing nothing but brown earth and beige colored skies, I did an “about face” and headed eastward.

Yes, I know. That's the opposite direction I've been going. But there is another reason for the about face – a doctor's appointment awaits me in Indiana in less than two weeks. It is one that was made in February as a follow-up to the sinus and ear infection I had after Mom's funeral and an appointment which I never canceled. So I knew that if I was going to keep it, I didn't want to get too far west and have a really long drive back. The wind, the brownness, and the wind were just the things that turned me back a little sooner than anticipated.

I had thought about canceling the doctor's appointment, but with the way my leg has been acting up, figured I had better take advantage of it to find out what is going on. I think it is just a pulled muscle, but who knows?

I will admit, I terribly missed the green that I left behind a week ago. I'm not sure why the desert conditions bothered me so easily this time. Last year I spent more than two months in Texas, Arizona and the deserts of California. Perhaps it was a part of my state of mind this time around – thinking a lot (too much) about my Aunt Phyllis, my Mother, and my friend Lorene. Realizing that I will never see them again...

So, I'm going back to Indiana. At least for as long as it takes to find out about what is going on with the leg. And then? Well, I'll let you know when I know! But "The Journey" isn't over yet!

Brantley Lake State Park, New Mexico. April 7th.

Driving conditions east of Amarillo on Sunday, April 10th. The sky was really much more beige colored than gray as this photo shows. This was typical of the drive on Sunday. I was just glad I was going east – the wind was coming from the west. The hundred miles or so that I had to drive north was a real challenge!

Great Plains State Park April 10th. Compliments of Mother Nature throwing a hissy fit – the sand and dust in the air makes for a great sunset filter!

Great Plains State Park April 10th. In southwestern Oklahoma on the shore of Lake Tom Steed, a reservoir that provides water for the area.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Guadalupe Mountains

Wednesday, April 6th - - Continuing north on Texas Highway 54 about 60 miles from the town of Van Horn, you run smack dab into the south face of the Guadalupe Mountains!

This was still about 15 miles south. The mountain rises dramatically from the desert floor. The peak in the center is El Capitan, which has an elevation of 8,085 feet. Guadalupe Peak, the highest peak in Texas at 8,749 feet, is directly behind El Capitan. (As always, double-click on an image to view a larger version! It's worth the "extra" clicks!!)

US Highways 62 and 180 intersect with route 54 just south of the mountain. I traveled a short distance west on 62/180 to take the above photo.

Turning back to the east, highway 62/180 heads into the mountains. (This was taken as I was driving down the highway – not a recommended practice by the way - hence a bit of glare in the center of the picture.)

El Capitan as seen from Guadalupe Pass, which is at 5,420 feet.

The view from my site at Pine Springs Campground in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Not quite as imposing as El Capitan but impressive nevertheless.

I had been told by one of the campers at Monahans Sandhills that even if I did no hiking, it was worth the drive to Guadalupe just to see the Mountains. I totally agree with that assessment.

I had also been informed that it was extremely windy at Guadalupe. In fact, that is the primary reason I didn't go there last year. And, yes, it was quite windy. The van was buffeted all night long as the wind howled through the mountains. They have some nice trails too (some even designated as easy), but I didn't do any hiking – too windy and the left leg is still bothering me.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Into the Mountains

Wednesday, April 6th - - After leaving Monahans Sandhills I continued west on I-20 about 130 miles to Van Horn where I turned north onto Texas Highway 54, which runs in-between several mountain ranges – the Boulder and Delaware are to the east while the Beach and Sierra Diablo rise up in the west.

The photos below were taken shortly after leaving Van Horn. These mountains were on the west side of the highway – a variety of interesting peaks.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Morning at Monahans Sandhills

Wednesday, April 6th - - It was a beautiful morning! Cool temperatures required a sweatshirt but it was quite comfortable. There was barely even a breeze!

Yesterday, I mentioned that the traffic couldn't be heard on the Interstate here in the campground. Today was a different day. You could clearly hear the hum/buzz/roar of the cars and trucks passing by. From the top of the sandhill that I was on you could even see the highway. Nevertheless, it was still quite pleasant.

I may be “off the grid” for a few days and no posts have been scheduled so things will be quiet here for a while...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Monahans Sandhills State Park

Wednesday, April 5th - - Just off of I-20, about 30 miles west of Odessa, Texas lies the Monahans Sandhills State Park. When I arrived here early this afternoon the temperature was in the upper 80s and the sun was shining. There was a little wind, but nothing like it had been the previous three days. Although the campground is just a mile and a half off of the Interstate, the traffic could not be heard. It was peaceful and quiet with only four other campers present.

It never ceases to amaze me how life can get a foothold in such arid conditions. There were signs of several different critters in the sand along with these small trees.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Wandering Along

Monday, April 4th - - Upon leaving Copper Breaks State Park, I continued northwest in the general direction of Amarillo. My intended destination was Palo Duro State Park, which some claim is the second largest canyon in the United States (the largest being the Grand Canyon).

However, I tired of battling the wind which was coming from the north with gusts of 35-50 mph and turned south after about an hour of driving. Several other factors added to the decision to forgo Palo Duro at this time – my left leg has been giving me some problems making hiking on uneven, rough trails a bit problematic – the wind was not due to let up until later in the day – the overnight temperature was going to drop into the low 30s - and tonight Butler was going up against UConn in the Big Game! So Palo Duro would have to wait for another time.

Just east of Silverton on Texas Highway 256 a rest area at the top of a ridge provided good views of the road just traveled.

This simple wooden cross at the top of the ridge honored “Gran” and “Pop”.

And this is the view that was off to the right... looking north.

Looking northeast.

Yes, I stopped at a motel for the night. And was disappointed by the outcome of the game. Neither team played all that good but Butler played a little worse, dashing the hopes of everyone cheering for the underdog.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Heat is On...

Saturday, April 2nd - - Since Butler University, located just five miles from downtown Indianapolis, was playing in the Final Four, I splurged and spent the night in a Motel so I could watch the game! Old news now, but Butler won and will be playing (for the second year in a row) in the Championship Game! My first cousin, Ralph V. Reiff, is the play-by-play announcer for WISH-TV in Indy. I was hoping to be able to watch the game on TV and listen to his calling of the game at the same time but no such luck.

Sunday, April 3rd - - Still heading West, I came across this “tribute” to the Texas Longhorn.

I stopped for the night at Copper Breaks State Park (west of Wichita Falls). Though not far, the drive had been tiring - lots of wind with gusts from 35-50 mph and it was hot! Really hot.

The photo above was taken at 5:24 pm at the campground; the van was in the shade! Yep, it was hot. I did manage to go for a very short walk (about 10 minutes) after driving up to an overlook to get this picture (below) of the lake. The “lower” campground where I stayed was on the left side of the lake. Being lower didn't provide any relief from the wind or the heat.

The sun was completely hidden beneath the hills but for a few brief moments it lit up the clouds like they were on fire, appropriate for such a hot day. The setting of the sun provided little relief from the heat. Even with doors and windows open, it was perhaps one of the most uncomfortable nights spent on the road thus far. Relief did arrive, however, when after midnight a front moved through and the temperature dropped dramatically. When I got up the next morning it was a chilly 48 degrees! And still windy.