(Click here to read about the first day of our trip to Red River, New Mexico.)
A thick stench fills my nose when I open our room to the morning air.
Cattle feed lots and their resulting dung dunes surround Amarillo. For the uninitiated, a feed lot crams all the beef cattle it can into the smallest space possible. All that eating means a lot of crapping, and that leaves locals praying the weather provides favorable winds.
Ben and I navigate the crumbling walkway to the uninspected elevator to check for a Continental breakfast. Downstairs, Ben sees the pool through its chain link fence. “Daddy, I want to go see the pool.”
“That’s as close as we’re getting to the pool. Come on, son. We need to do this fast so we can get back to the room.”
“So we can get back on the road.”
“So we can get to our cabin as soon as possible.”
“Let’s just keep going, Ben.”
We find there is no Continental breakfast. It was a long shot, anyway.
We leave Stinkfest 2007 behind and head north up Hwy 287 to Dumas. That last detail becomes critical in the next sentence.
(click any pic to make it bigger)
After a 42-minute grocery and forgotten toiletry stop at the Dumas Wal-Mart, we keep going north.
Somewhere in Oklahoma’s panhandle, in a section called “No Man’s Land,” we get hungry. I stop in Boise City, fuel up Homer, and then call my folks to touch base with them. They’re already in Red River.
“Well, where are you?” Dad asks.
“Boise City, Oklahoma,” I reply.
“Oh, you went way too far north.”
Apparently I should have turned west at Dumas. Still hungry, but with Dairy Queen the only restaurant we’ve seen, we head on down to find the next restaurant. We reach the town square, which has been converted to a large roundabout with the courthouse as a centerpiece. I go around it until I reach the highway we’re supposed to take.
About a mile later, we realize there are no other restaurants. I turn Homer around to head back to Dairy Queen. It’s a good thing, too, because it allowed me to complete the roundabout.
Ben chimes in, “Why are we just going around and around again? I thought we were going to the cabin.”
You can always count on a kid to say what everybody else is thinking.
Our bellies full of junk food, we get out of town. Finally, we reach New Mexico, and Shannon gets a pic of the sign welcoming us to the Land of Enchantment.
Shannon’s lens cover doesn’t quite retract all the way any more.
More and more mountains become visible to us as we head farther north and west. In Clayton, one of my father’s former haunts, Shannon catches sight of a sign bearing a dinosaur. Ben loves them, so I turn around and follow the sign’s arrow.
There, in a small park with dilapidated swing set, seesaw, and merry-go-round, stands a dinosaur statue inside a chain link fence.
A sign on the lot’s corner announces a 6.3 million dollar wing of the local medical center coming soon. This is a tiny town with tiny homes. Well kept, sure, but small. We posit that Clayton must be a retirement village.
The first mountains we see up close come in Cimarron. We stop at Palisades Sill, where only the Cimarron River and a few trees separate the road from rock cliffs towering hundreds of feet above.
Ben and I kick off our shoes and get our feet wet. The cold mountain water feels good on my feet after their full day of being cooped up in shoes. (Press play and wait a moment.)
When we arrive at our cabin, Mom and Dad are walking through the gravel parking lot from their camper, bearing fresh ground beef, pasta, and red sauce. They whip up a spaghetti supper with Mom’s trademark garlic toast made of regular sandwich bread laid on a cookie sheet.
Easily filling the role of doting grandparents, they celebrate Ben’s fourth birthday. He shovels in the chocolate cake and rips open the gifts like a kid who opened more than 20 presents just the day before. Oh, wait…
Cabin pic by Shannon.
Out on the front porch that night, we enjoy the babble of the Red River. It runs literally a few feet from the porch.
Click the play button to listen to the river from the porch.
Or download the sound by right-clicking here.
That wraps day 2. Next up: Our first views of snow on mountains in July. What renders the roast beef broth inedible? How far can Ben walk without asking to be carried? When stewing prunes, is three enough, or are four too many? (That last one is a nod to Fletch, so don’t come back here expecting to find the answer.)