Home sweet home
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
We’ve been home about a week from snowbirding in Arizona for two months. I’ve missed the fine Arizona weather, but it’s good to be home and plunk my old rear end into my own comfy easy chair.
Before I put our Arizona experience totally to bed, I want to recount our trip home. We decided to take a leisurely, southerly route home and visit with treasured family and friends on the way.
So, we headed out of Gilbert, Ariz., east on Hwy 60 through Globe. That wuz a fine trip up a spectacular canyon. We arrived in Globe to discover that it’s a rather dingy old strip mining town. We didn’t stop to find out what ore wuz being mined.
Continuing east at a high elevation, we first went out of saguaro cactus country, and then reentered several miles of saguaros. I wuz surprised because I thought those giant cacti were limited to the Sonoran desert around Phoenix and Tucson. I wuz wrong.
Continuing east we passed through some big cotton country where the local farmers were beginning their spring field work. We entered New Mexico, went through Deming, crossed the flat and broad continental divide, then ended up in Las Cruces, home of New Mexico State University Aggie sports teams.
From Las Cruces, we headed northeast through the Organ Mountains, across the government’s White Sands Missile Testing Range, and up, up, up another mountain range to scenic Cloudcroft, N.Mex. It’s right around 9,000 feet elevation and there wuz plenty of snow still on the ground.
When we headed east out of Cloudcroft, we went down a gentle slope for 30 miles down to flat eastern New Mexico. It was on that drive that we saw numerous mule deer along the route. That wuz the most wildlife that we saw on our entire trip.
After passing through Artesia, N.Mex., we entered what I’d call “Petrol Energy Hell” country. Between Artesia and Hobbs, there’s virtually nuthin’ but oil and gas wells, like every quarter mile or less is a well or cluster of wells. Natural gas from the wells was so abundant that there were dozens of places where it wuz still being flared into the sky. Just a note, all those energy companies and landowners have surely taken a big hit with the crash in the global oil/gas market since we passed through.
We overnighted at Hobbs, just a few miles from the Texas border. Just inside Texas, we passed through miles and miles of cotton and wheat fields. Apparently, that is the predominant crop rotation in that locale. We were headed southeast toward our first stop with friends in Leander, Texas, a northwest suburb of Austin. To get there, we passed alternately through rugged dry, treeless pasture land and flat cotton/wheat fields.
Finally we entered Texas Hill Country and arrived in Leander. Our friend there is my fishing buddy, Quirky Kirky, the elder son of my older fishing buddy, ol’ Albie Kirky. We had never met his wife and daughter, so we got acquainted with them, plus his son, who has visited us on fishing trips. Add in an excellent supper.
After overnighting with them, we headed southwest to Johnson City, the home of the working ranch, formerly owned by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, before he deeded it to the U.S. to make it a national tourist site.
The LBJ ranch sets scenically along the north bank of the Pedernales River, which is shaded by lovely, huge live oak trees. The former president’s ranch was surprisingly, to me, commonplace — nothing fancy about the clapboard home nor ranch buildings. The Secret Service command post at the ranchstead was in little more than a converted woodshed.
We drove around the ranch on a self-guided tour of the land, cattle and the facilities. LBJ raised purebred Horned Hereford cattle and in his day they were fashionably short and squatty animals. The current herd of Herefords traces back to LBJ’s bloodlines, but clearly, modern genetics have been introduced into the herd.
At the ranchstead, now sits the original JBJ “Air Force One-Half,” a prop plane that still had the presidential seal on the fuselage. The ranch runway wuz too short for the full-size Air Force One. So, LBJ landed in nearby Austin and took the small plane or a helicopter to the ranch. The park service guide said LBJ loved his ranch and spent more than 400 days of his five-year presidency doing the government’s bizness from the “Western Whitehouse.”
There is a small museum with some LBJ memorabilia such as his famous Lincoln Towncars. The last stop we made wuz at the Johnson/Baines family cemetery. LBJ and “Ladybird” are buried side by side, along with numerous relatives, under some spreading live oaks.
From the ranch we headed for Fredricksburg and were surprised to find that area is huge in growing grapes and peaches. We must have driven by at least 50 fancy-named wineries, plus the famous Wildflower Seed farm which grows acres and acres of wildflower seeds for market. Downtown Fredricksburg is today a quaintly modern town showing the German roots of its residents.
We drove northeast toward Weatherford, Texas, right through the heart of the famous Texas Hill Country. We saw thousands of Boer meat goats and some Angora goats turning the brushy pastures into what looked like parks. We missed the bluebonnet bloom by a couple of weeks.
We overnighted with niece and nephew in their new home on the Brazos River at Weatherford. For breakfast the next morning we met with an ol’ high school classmate, Slim Fella, from Bridgeport, and had a great time remembering our teen years.
From there we drove up Hwy. 81 to Oklahoma City where we spent the night with granddaughter, hubby and great-granddaughter. The next day wuz a short drive home and our Arizona trip was nuthin’ but good memories.
Words of wisdom for the week: Hang on to your investments. They are in free fall. Plus, if we don’t need guns because we have police, then we don’t need fire extinguishers because we have firemen and volunteer firemen. Have a good ‘un. ❖