Blue’s First Cross-Country Trip – Part 2
Chesapeake to Las Vegas - Days 5- 8
OK-LA-HO-MA … a fine start to Day 5 as we crossed the Arkansas River. I serenaded David with Oklahoma show tunes until I saw a sign that we were entering the Cherokee Nation tribal lands and then launched into Paul Revere & the Raiders’ ‘Cherokee Nation’. It was clearly too much for the driver. By the time we reached Henryetta, he was anxious for a respite.
We saw a sign for ‘G&H Decoys … Decoy Capital of the World. Visit our showroom.’ Screeeeeech … we turned off US 40 onto the exit and headed to the decoy factory. G&H Decoy has been family-owned and operated since 1934 which is pretty impressive. Hard to believe, but we really didn’t have any working knowledge of bird decoys and there was quite a bit to learn. First of all, there are lots of duck species like mallards, gadwalls, wood ducks, blacks and bluebills and they have decoys for them all. Blow-molded and hand-painted by locals, these decoys are pretty lifelike, especially the automated ones that swim around in the lakes and rivers to fool the real ducks. And it’s not just ducks … we spotted coots, turkeys and geese, too. Despite the fact we’re not bird hunters and weren’t buying, Ward, the sales and marketing manager, was gracious enough to answer our questions. Thanks, Ward!
Back on the highway, we sped through Oklahoma City with signs announcing the city as America’s Corner (huh?). Tribal casinos beckoned along the route, but we resisted the temptation. We’re not gamblers and besides, we’re heading to Las Vegas. Duh! The wind was definitely ‘sweeping down the plain’. Wind farm after wind farm covered the plains and churned out power. At 25-30 mph and higher gusts, we watched our gas mileage dip nearly a mile/gallon.
When we saw the sign for Yukon, we thought we’d made a drastically wrong turn. Yukon is, by the way, the ‘Home of Garth Brooks’ as proclaimed on the town’s water tower. Though we drove along Garth Brooks Boulevard, we didn’t see him … but we did find coffee.
Route 66, the Mother Road, parallels Interstate 40 for quite a stretch. We stopped in Elk City to see the world’s largest Route 66 sign.
Crossing into Texas late in the afternoon, we headed to Amarillo for the night. We were familiar with some of the roadside sights along the way from our last trip like the leaning water tower at Britten. Errant cotton boles clumped like snow mounds in the Texas fields. As we traveled west, not only the geography changed but the language to describe it … arroyos, cañons, mesas, buttes.
Day 6 was a short day. We were headed to Albuquerque and a short visit with our niece, Gentry (JALF’s webmistress) and her family. We’d suggested a visit to the American International Rattlesnake Museum which had been on my ‘must-see’ list for ages. No, I don’t like snakes at all, but who could resist the chance to visit a rattlesnake museum? Located in the Old Town section of Albuquerque, we found the small museum, paid our admissions to the affable host and began wandering.
Lots of snakes … most with rattles! The museum touts ‘the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the world’ and in fact, it’s home to 34 different rattlesnake varieties. Who knew? We peeped into terrarium after terrarium and the hairs on my arms were standing at attention as some started moving, rattling and slithering up the glass.
Part of the museum's mission is to provide rattlesnake education ... which gave us food for thought. What must rattlesnakes learn to survive? We decided they needed to be educated in rattling, slithering, hiding and finding food and other snake-y things. Your thoughts on this?
Later we wandered around the traditional Spanish plaza of Old Town. The church bells of lovely St. Felipe de Neri summoned parishioners to Mass as we passed by.
We helped to celebrate the 13th birthday of our grand niece, Jada, and then sped across the Rio Grande. We raced past Sky City, home of the Acoma people and Malpais National Monument and the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. We had stopped to explore all of them in years past, but now we hurried along. Scattered snow field patches dotted the sides of bluffs and cliffs. Signs for Indian jewelry and pottery, petrified wood and ostrich petting … 50% off meteorites! Roadside signs and billboards abound here.
In Kingman, Arizona we exited Interstate 40W and headed north on Interstate 93 … only a hundred plus miles left to Las Vegas. The home stretch past Lake Mead and over the Colorado River, spitting distance to the Hoover Dam, through Boulder City and at last … the end of a journey. Total mileage: 2750 statute miles (vs nautical miles ... we've got to make some adjustments here!).
Lots more to come in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.