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Sunday, March 15, 2015

From Santa Rosa, NM to Guymon, Ok

Sunday March 15, 2015 Comfort Inn Room 219 Guymon, Oklahoma

On the road yesterday by 930 and headed east on I 40 toward Tucumcari. There are mesas and plateaux in the Northeast corner of New Mexico so the landscape is still somewhat interesting. This is Union Pacific territory and I’m always amused by the huge American flags on their locomotives and patriotic slogans on some of their cars but the cargo boxes they transport are filled with Asian imports picked up at various ports and carried throughout the country.

At Tucumcari we had the choice of following old 66 through the town or going to the Main Street. We opted for the latter, having seen so many towns devastated by the loss of 66 and we’ve seen the empty restaurants and motels here before. The downtown is worse—it is dirty and desolate and broken down and doesn’t have the neon signs to at least provide nostalgia. It is a sad, poor town. It does have an old man of the mesa as you arrive from the West however and one huge pinwheel.

At the east end of town we turned northeast through Logan, the home of Ute Lake, it’s only claim to fame, so far as we could see. On to Nara Visa whose existence, as the historical sign indicates, is the result of a spur of the Rock Island Line coming through. But, once more, the significance of the railroad has diminished and so has the importance of the town. The high school and gym are two beautiful buildings, set outside the pretty dead town,and used now as the community center, but it seems the community must be far outside the village. The 2000 census shows a population of 112. The name comes from the family, whose name was used as the original town name—Narvarez—seems none Spanish speakers sort of mangled its pronunciation and it stuck.

Here, four miles from the Texas line the topography changes drastically to flat, flat, flat and dry. We found the paving method rather interesting—I guess it is a cost effective savings of blacktop—just put it where the tires go. The outlying high plains from Dalhart, Texas are filled with feed lots. The first one on my side did not smell too badly but as we passed another large outfit on Bill's side we discovered that we were upwind of the first and most assuredly downwind of the second. OMG, one of the worse odors in the world—thousands of head of cattle consolidated in a small space make for a mighty odiferous atmosphere. Dalhart seemed a company town—Cargill. On the other side of town we continued through the high plains of West Texas. Mirages, beautiful farms separated by miles (  one of which with a beautiful tree lined drive was for sale) and lots of flat, flat, flat grazing land. One road leaving the highway and extending for miles into the open land was named East Lonesome Lane—someone has a sense of humor or despair—not sure which. I’d go mad. And the wind blows even  on a day as lovely as ours. Some of the fields were irrigated so the yellow grass in them was a lovely shade of green.

Bill and I noticed two years ago, that as soon as the border between New Mexico into the panhandle of Oklahoma was crossed all the fields were green. Well, that is true crossing into the panhandle from Texas, too. Still the land is so flat that you can see for miles—we saw Boise City five miles before we reached it. I laughed and said if they have an old fashioned 4th of July with fireworks in Boise City they could be seen 50 miles away in any direction. Not sure though, if they’d do that—prairie fires move quickly, especially with a bit of wind.

We stopped in Boise City at No Man’s Land jerky—our primary reasons for coming this way to Guymon. They were closed but posted a sign that the jerky was available in the Love’s across the street or back west at Moore’s market. We went back to the market and bought lots of the stuff. It is some of the best we’ve ever had. Plus Bill wanted to pick the guy’s brain about making it, since he makes it using the dehydrator I bought him several years back.

Though it was tempting we didn’t break into it since our next stop was Eddie’s Steakhouse in Guymon. Three miles out of town I was watching a herd of horses coming up on my side and one really caught my eye. Its back seemed so deformed and I just kept staring at it. As we drew closer I said to Bill look at that poor—oh, my goodness, it’s a camel!  We stopped and backed up. The camel was curious and started slowly toward the fence while continuing to graze. I spoke to it and asked it to hold its head up—it did, half way. Then I said, come on, give me a nice profile and with a strange sort of moaning sound it did. LOL  Figured I’d bothered it enough so we moved slowly off, I asked the horses if they’d noticed the camel among them and the gray looked at me with a look that said, Lady, you’re an ass. As we drove back onto the road, I noticed two buffalo farther out on the prairie.

Continued into Guymon and Eddie’s. It was open at 4 but the kitchen wouldn’t be open until 5. That was fine –we had one of the most fun evenings and meals we’ve had in a long time. Only one lady was there—Kim—a grade school teacher in a nearby town. We chatted about kids and teaching and salaries—Oklahoma is 48 th in the nation and doesn’t attract many applicants for any opening.We laughed about kids we’ve had, experiences we’ve had with administrations and parents –at times we were hysterical with laughter. Soon we were joined by Shelby, who is an Osage on one side and a Seneca-Cayuga on the other. We spoke of the Iroquois Nation about which she knew little, though she did know that the Indian in the Cupboard was a Seneca. And then Julie arrived. She is a teacher as well although she is now an administrator for Federal programs, primarily for literacy, and is no longer in the classroom Needless to say the question of reading and stories about kids again had us laughing uproariously. We also chatted about Eddie, who was not there. Two years ago he had told Bill and me that he wanted to retire but that his two boys are settled in careers—an orthodontist and a real estate man in Dallas—and have no interest in taking over the restaurant. Since we saw him Eddie has become quite ill with COPD and can’t walk across the room unassisted. He went to Florida last week to try an experimental stem cell transplant procedure but the doctor is not terribly optimistic. Eddie felt it was worth the try. Kim said that the staff put an article in the local paper about the situation and the phone has been ringing off the hook and the restaurant has been swamped. It has been a landmark steakhouse for 35 years and it may be that if he doesn’t recover it may be gone. It would be so sad for us, so I imagine the community must be very sad, too. While we ate several diners came into the dining room and I heard two or three ask Kim or Julie about Eddie and his health. A gentleman came into the bar and we got talking—he thinks we’ve met there before and that may be. He has a winter home in Casa Grande,  near Phoenix and lives in Rochester , Minnesota. He is on his way home and Guymon is half way between his two homes so he stops going and coming. He was sad to hear of Eddie’s condition, too.

He didn’t come to Guymon through ShowLow this time though we chatted about the Salt River Canyon. Apparently, the River runs right through Phoenix. He offered to take me through on his motorcycle—he’s 75 for Pete’s sake—I told him he was just too kind. This whole conversation provided the three ladies, Bill and I and Mr Minnesota even some more hilarity. Soon our meals were done, we’d had our last Shiner, saw the old lockers in the backroom in which patrons stored their own bottles when this was a private club, said good night to all and headed out.

Bill and I admired our Minnesota friend who’d left Casa Grande that morning at 2 am and covered the same territory that we took three days to cover. Held the door open for two older ladies arriving for dinner and knew that things were going to get busy for Kim,Shelby and Julie, since there were already several parties there, several had called to make reservations and two more customers were on their way in. We truly hope they’ll be here next year and that Eddies will still be open and that Eddie will have been able to return to his table from which he’s always greeted his customers.

When we woke this morning we decided we liked our room and wanted to just veg for the day. So we renewed our reservation, did the laundry, read the Sunday papers, I took a long leisurely shower instead of the usual in and out and hit the road. Watched a couple of futbol games and the Wisconsin-Michigan basketball game. Now there is a special on tornadoes, just what I want to watch while in Oklahoma. But, tv is okay tonight. Tomorrow, it is back on the road to Texas and several days checking out some new places.

So, hoping all is going well with all of you—two of you are out in Palm Springs, San Diego area enjoying the sun and warmth, others are still in the deep freeze but it seems there are a few bare spots and the snow is melting a bit. Even the temps have risen above freezing at least during the day. All sounding good for our return, reluctant on my part, but Bill gets antsy around this point so there is probably just about two weeks left before we are heading due North.

Trying not to think about it . Until next time, good night from the Two Traveling Peas

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