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News Letter May 2007
Oklahoma To Alaska via New Mexico and Utah
May 16 Day 1 (65691) Gas 308
Today was an uneventful day. I got started at 11 A.M after getting things loaded, afew grocery items secured and finally on the way. I Left from McAlester up the Indian Nation Turnpike to I-40 then west to Oklahoma City and on to Dumas Texas.
Stopping in Amarillo for gas was a shocker. The day before it was 2.81 now it was 316, but yet Diesel was 2.52. Something is very wrong with this picture. I arrived in Dumas around 9 P.M. and just crashed in the Wal-Mart parking lot for the night.
Miles traveled 410.
Day 2 (66210) Gas 3.39 Raton N.M.
Today was a good day. I got going around 8 A.M. and by 10 A.M. was in Raton N.M. where I gassed up, 3.39 it seems gas is just getting higher. This day would carry me through Angel Fire and the Vietnam Memorial there. The ride into Angel Fire is beautiful as it winds through the canyons.
click all images to enlarge
I spent several hours there, looking around, remembering, and taking pictures. They have a book there of poems and stories, many of which are quite gut wrenching. I read for quite some time, and feel they should publish them all in book form. They would make several volumes. I started to spend the night in Angel Fire, as a big bash was planned for the next day. Angel Fire was to be the gathering point for the annual "Run to the Wall" in D.C. Memorial Day weekend. I finally decided against it, as I would blow off a whole day waiting.
My day would end in Chama N.M. what a pretty drive over the mountains and dropping into this gorgeous valley. Chama is noted for its outdoor activities, hunting, fishing, camping, and skiing. The whole area is infested with trophy mule deer and elk and is also becoming a retirement community. Walter Billingsly one of our Little Bear crewchiefs recently built a cabin there
Mule Deer Outside Chama
I met an old World War II vet and we sat and drank many beers during the evening, so I just left my little camper parked where it was on Main Street Chama and crashed for the night.
Miles traveled 270
Today was a tough day to get started because of my late night antics the previous night. It was nearly noon before I got out of Chama headed to the Indian Reservation to gas up before. Gas was 3.16 there so I filled up the 5 extra 5 gallon cans I had with me just incase it got worse again. I would end my day at Farmington New Mexico. I tried to call Dave Stock a couple times, but got no answer.
I had several friends in Farmington from my jockey days. Wes Giles had a string of horses that was managed by his wife Jill. I hadn't seen her in many years. The track was running that afternoon, and Jill had a horse entered so I made it a day at the races, lost a little money, had a few beers and talked about the past and how much the purse structure has changed over the years because of the slot machines. I spent a good bit of the afternoon taking pictures of the horses and paddock items, the jockeys etc.
I got a chance to talk to Jill for a bit after the race, and she invited me to the barn the next morning to visit and meet the guys, so I accepted. The fair grounds has a nice RV park there, and it is free, so I just parked my little trailer there down by the river and made a night of it.
A day at the track
Day 4 Still in Farmington
Today began early. I was up at 6 A.M. to the track kitchen to get coffee then it was off to Jill's barn to meet the guys, visit a little and watch some horses train, along the way I snapped some pictures to give you guys a feel for what the morning side of horse racing looks like.
Today was also Preakness day, and a chance for Curlin to redeem himself after a really tough trip in the Kentucky Derby where he finished third. I have been around a lot of good horses I my life, but none had affected me like Curlin except Sunny's Halo and Swale back in the 80's, both would be Derby winners. Curlin came through winning by a head over the winner of the Kentucky Derby Storm Sense. I managed to recoup my losses from the Derby plus afew hundred. I guess this journey is paid for so far courtesy of Curlin.
There was a big crowd in Farmington for the Preakness and a special card for the day. I again took several pictures of the races, and people that make racing what it is, a very special sport that today's younger set just doesn't appreciate. I guess it is harder to figure out than pulling a handle on a slot machine.
I had a fun day, and again would spend the night at the fairgrounds RV Park.
Day 5 and 6 Mesa Verde National Park Colorado (gas 3.39in Monco just outside park)(328 miles traveled within park and on to Moab Utah)
I didn't get going real early today after a busy weekend and posting many of the racing pictures to ronleonard.events.com so the guys could find them (you can also, it is where all my sports pictures go). I finally got started about noon, but I didn't have far to go, less than 200 miles to Mesa Verde National Park, not far from the four corners area and nine miles west of Cortez Colorado. It is really a neat place. It was the ancient home of many Cliff Dwellers around 1200 AD and the ruins that stand today are really something special. It is not a huge park and can easily be viewed in a long day if you didn't hike to some of the far off ruins. The main ruins consist of the Banquet House, which requires a pretty strenuous guided tour. I was not up to that, but managed to make it to an overlook that allowed me to look back into it with a powerful telephoto lens. The other is the Castle House, which is a multi-storied affair that also requires a guided tour; again I could view it from a vantage point across the canyon. To learn much more about Mesa Verde, I suggest you look it up on the net. It is an intriguing read. I would list it on my must see list if you happen to be in the area.
I spent the better part of two days there taking pictures and marveling at the scenery. The first night got cold; a little rain mixed with snow, not at all what I was looking for.
Soda Canyon Panorama
The ruins all lie in the walls of this canyon
Cliff Canyon Overlook
(description and location of ruins)
There are 4500 ruins in the Park, these are but a few of them