Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Palo Duro Canyon, Oh My Gosh!!

Just 25 miles south of Amarillo is the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It is a must see. Well, that is what we were told by a cashier at the Walmart in town when we arrived on Friday. After taking the short drive there today I would have to agree. It was well worth the drive.

The weather today could not be beat. It got to 83 degrees with a light wind. It was a perfect day for a trip on the motorcycle down to the canyon. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park has an outlook a mile in from the park entrance.
Then the road winds down to the bottom of the canyon. There are pull overs, rest stops, and several small camping areas. If one was energetic, there are hiking trails as well as horse trails. The park also has an Amphitheatre playing "Texas".

We stopped at the outlook for some pictures and a look in the gift shop / visitor center. While there we met a guy who works for the State Park Service. We had a fairly long chat about travelling, Texas, and the State Parks. We asked about the different areas of Texas, especially the El Paso area, and were given some good local information. He is from the San Antonio area and spent a fair bit of time in and around El Paso. He mentioned the Mexican side is quite rough, and to travel with caution, but El Paso itself is quite safe, one of the safest cities in the USA. That was very good information because we were seriously considering heading south to that neck of the woods. He also recommended some great places to visit when in the area.

There is a creek running through the canyon, winding under the road several times, 6 to be exact. The water is also known to flow over the road and can get as high as 5 feet over the road. During our drive the water was flowing over 4 of the river crossings that we were able to drive over. The road was closed where the 6th crossing was because the water was too high over the road.

While looking around the amphitheatre, I noticed a bug clinging to a door. It is one of those walking stick bugs. Now that is a sign that we are in foreign territory.

It reminded me of the sign I saw at the visitor center in Amarillo that warned about rattle snakes. Careful where you walk!

After leaving the State Park we went to the town of Canyon to get some gas. We also stopped at the local grocery store for a snack. Fresh hot corn dogs and potato salad, now that's a treat. After paying for the food we sat down at some tables set up in the store by the deli section to enjoy our snacks. The corn dogs were great. After eating, Ward sparked up a conversation with the grocery manager of the store. He was sitting at one of the tables watching TV. There was a news show on, discussing the US election, and Romney's comment on cancellling Big Bird and Sesame Street. We ended up talking for quite a while about politics and our adventure in the RV. He said it was his retirement dream to just take off in the RV. We hear that from so many people. After talking with him, he said we gave him a lot of good ideas. I think we almost had him convinced to hop in his RV tonight. Maybe we will see him down the road some day.

We rolled back into the Walmart in Amarillo, past a few RVs, and over to our home, just where we left it. This Walmart has about 14 RVs every day stopping in. Some stay a few days, others pull in for an hour or two. One of the more colorful visitors to the Walmart parking lot was an old converted school bus. It was here for a day and a night. Of course Ward went over to the bus, knocked on it's door, and started a conversation with the people in the bus. It turns out they were headed to the Emerald Triangle in California. Apparently the crops are ready for harvest.

These folks were not the only ones in the lot on their way to that location. It seems there is a migration of sorts to the area when picking time arrives. We met another group when they came knocking on our door to see if we could help with some problem mechanics on their older Class C model. The issues were beyond our scope, but that did not stop the conversation.

We seem to be meeting a lot of people along the way, from all walks of life. Either in a store, in the Walmart campground, at tourist attractions, or where ever. America is a friendly place, and we are loving it.

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