Milestones: I have now covered over 100,000 miles in the last 6 years of traveling. I have had more than 200,000 views of my blog, I have traveled through 44 states, 4 Canadian Provinces, Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands, (Hawaii and USVI by plane), and I've lost count of the number of museums, botanical gardens, monuments, parks and oddities I've seen. The most freedom I have enjoyed has been this summer when I had to pay for only a dozen nights (out of 210 possible) due to my wonderful solar panel.
One paid night was a campground in Oregon, a few more were in the National Parks in Utah, then there were two additional nights on the trip from Ft. Worth to Tucson. It happened because I was determined to find something pleasurable, or at least interesting, in West Texas--and I did.
Leaving the freeway at Abilene I headed south, passed a delightful little town called Buffalo Gap, and found Abilene State Park. This was also a busy weekend so the park was full but the Ranger suggested an out-of-the-way parking area with no hookups that I could have for $10. I took it.
Daisy and I were completely alone except for this herd of feral pigs that surrounded us and drove Daisy crazy.
I couldn't let her out, and frankly, there were enough pigs that I did not feel I could safely walk her. So she dashed from window to window for an hour with her nose twitching wildly.
Another milestone: After open-heart surgery two years ago this month, a pig valve is now riding in my chest.
Modern day science is absolutely amazing! And I somehow feel a strange kinship and gratitude towards these creatures.
We had a nice sunset...
...and the next morning woke up to a herd of deer. Not a bad night for only $10.
Southwest of Odessa, and further down the road, we stopped at the Monaghan's Sandhills State Park and paid $20 for another quiet, though a bit sandy, night.
Daisy was thrilled with the sand and dug dozens of holes to bury her balls.
She didn't seem to notice me going behind her and digging them up again.
These sand dunes are remnants of the inner sea that once covered this area. The night sky was velvety black and sparkled with stars.
It is so surprising what vegetation can find footing and enough water to survive.
My next drive to Ft Worth will include these two parks; they are nice relief for the monotony of the trip through west Texas.
There was one night spent in Lordsburg, N.M. that was both sad and sadly common in much of our country. The heart of this town is almost dead. the vast majority of the businesses are boarded up, and there is no sign of a rebirth.
I found an open restaurant for dinner then went to this truck stop to park for the night. I did not realize until the next morning that the man in that car nearby was homeless, he had two dogs that slept under or around his vehicle, and that crow (or raven) was not afraid of the dogs, Daisy, me or the man in the car.
I watched the crow harass the dogs, jumping on their heads then back on the car.
From time to time, the man inside the car would reach out and hand feed the bird.
Before getting back on the road I took Daisy for one last walk, and suddenly she displayed a lot of excitement including standing on her hind legs.
The crow was following us and trying to get Daisy to play.
The best part of this Odessey has been seeing so many friends and family, making new friends, and discovering what a huge and diverse country this is.
I am back in Tucson for the winter, seeing doctors and dentists, and preparing to move my stuff into my son and daughter-in-laws new house in San Diego (my new winter retreat).
I am making plans for next summer...any ideas?