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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Reflections on a road trip

Uploaded: Oct 7, 2014
Last week, I drove to Memphis with my daughter who is moving here to join friends who are planting a non-traditional Christian church.
We did the 2,000-plus miles in three days?two of which stretched into the evening?with intermediate stops in Flagstaff and Amarillo. The first day was one of contrasts as Interstate 5 gave way to Highway 58 across California to connect with I-40 that took us the rest of the way, mirroring famed Route 66 in many places. The California stretch demonstrated which growers had available well water?green fields of even pasture crops such as alfalfa, while along I-5 almond and citrus growers were tearing out dying trees because they had no water. We didn't go near Fresno, which is the epicenter of the citrus problem with the heavy freeze last December damaging trees followed by the reality of no water deliveries in the extensive canal systems-none was available to the growers.
One surprise while crossing the Mohave Desert near Edwards Air Force base was seeing from a distance the mothball yard for commercial jet liners taken out of service awaiting a buyer or a better economy (there were plenty of Continental tail colors).
The surprise of day one was Flagstaff, an old railroad town that was at an elevation of 7,000 feet surrounded by wonderful pine forests?a part of Arizona that I had no clue about. After traveling through 80 and 90-degree temperatures with the AC going, we were reaching for coats. It would have been fun to have a couple of hours to explore, but the road and deadlines beckoned.
Stop 2 was Amarillo, Texas where we met up with a friend of Glenalyn's and enjoyed Texas barbeque. It was my second visit to Texas within six weeks and we tried barbeque both times. A slight difference in the ribs, but precious little green stuff was offered. Mac-and-cheese, okra (token green), corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, fresh rolls and lots of meat choices?sausage, ribs, pulled pork, chicken, turkey?all coming off the barbeque. Ribs in Texas certainly were good, but our No. 1 choice is the wet roasted Memphis ribs that literally fell off the bone. And Corky's actually had several green salads on the menu ?a treat for this California guy.
The BNSF railroad parallels I-40 across much of the New Mexico, which was characterized by seemingly endless stores selling Indian moccasins and blankets with plenty of billboards announcing it was time to stop and shop. It was striking to see a train with flat railcars carrying huge steel cylinders 30-40 feet long. After some pondering, we concluded they were components of the giant windmills. Across Texas and Oklahoma, there were many of these huge windmills (you see a few in the Altamont Pass area), but these new wind farms are using these huge machines.
They are enormous. The G.E. model has a 212-foot tower with 116-foot blades rising to a height 328 feet, while a Danish model has 148-foot blades that reach to a total height of 410 feet with a sweep that covers 1 ½ acres. For perspective, the 328-foot sweep is taller than a 20-story office building.
There were plenty of these farms across Oklahoma in particular with fewer in view in Texas.
Our time in Memphis has been focused on setting up Glenalyn's room, including building a bed platform with storage underneath from pallets available from a downtown hotel at no charge. Kudos to the Home Depot staff?I have come to know a few on a first-name basis?but one gentleman heard us asking about pallets and recommended we check out the hotel that gives them away. We did; the hotel did; and that's the frame for the bed Glenalyn will sleep on tonight.
So, any reports on tourist stuff will have to wait for another visit?very unlikely that it will be a road trip.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Oct 7, 2014 at 9:25 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

I share your surprise regarding Flagstaff.

One year on a trip to the Grand Canyon, we made side stops in Flagstaff and Sedona and had a chance to experience the beauty of the mountains in the area. Like you, we were completely taken aback by the beauty of that part of Arizona. Stunning!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Oct 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

Two of my most memorable trips:

a. Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis - MUST BE EXPERIENCED!
b. Grand Tetons - How American once was...

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