Heading East

This week I headed back to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

So, over the last 7 days I traveled through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, finding oddities and visiting new places.

But before I left Arizona, Tracy and I visited Dobbins Lookout at South Mountain. The view of Phoenix was beautiful on this clear sunny day.

Dobbins Lookout is 2,330 feet in elevation and is the highest point in the South Mountains.

In this top picture Camelback Mountain is in the middle, that is the one I climbed with my cousin Teresa.

As you know I like the oddities of the world and I usually find them on http://www.roadsideamerica.com. I had a week to take my time and explore these odd people, places and things and share them with you.

I filled the truck up and headed to Starbucks on Monday morning, hitched up and said my goodbyes.

I took Route 60 and then Route 70 through the mountains and it was a lovely drive.

I drove through several small towns and when I pulled into Safford, Arizona I had to see the Silo House. I couldn’t really tell if people still live there or not, my guess is no, but stranger things happen.

I headed south on Highway 191 and found this Polka Dot Elephant. It isn’t very big, only a bit taller than the mailboxes. Interesting nonetheless.

When I got to I-10, I drove to Wilcox, Arizona, where I found the statue of Rex Allen, Singer/Actor born and raised in Wilcox.

Rex Allen’s trademark song was “Streets of Laredo”.

Rex also appeared in the show “Frontier Doctor” and narrated more than 100 nature films for Walt Disney.

Rex Allen starred in 19 action-packed westerns with his stallion Ko Ko.

Arizona Cowboy and Colorado Sundown were just a few of the westerns Allen and Ko Ko appeared in.

Another point of interest in Wilcox was the Railroad Dining Car BBQ.

There is a roadside rest area on I-10 that hosts the Texas Canyon which lies between the Little Dragoon Mountains to the north and the Dragoon Mountains on the south.

So I decided I could fit through here! I did but it was a tight squeeze and a piece of cake for my little girls!

After a nice walk on the rocks it was time to get back on the road. Back on I-10, the next town on my list was Bowie, Arizona.

This is the defunct Tee Pee Cafe in Bowie.

No trip on I-10 east or west is complete until you cross the Continental Divide!

By the way I am in New Mexico now!

My destination for the night was in Deming, New Mexico, boondocking at Walmart.

But first, I stopped by the Veterans Park. How many of you have ever heard about Bataan Death March? I had not.

This is why I am so intrigued by these oddities. I learn things I never knew anything about. I know I didn’t pay a lot of attention in World History class but I am pretty sure I would have remembered this.

The day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor they invaded the Philippines. When they took the Bataan Peninsula, the American and Filipino defenders surrendered.

The Death March was a 65 mile march from the peninsula to a POW camp. Many died during the marches that took 5 days time.

After forty months of torture, depravation and humiliation in Japanese prison camps the P.O.W’s were liberated.

This marker sits at the Veterans Park in Deming, New Mexico in remembrance of approximately 900 New Mexico National Guardsman who never made it home from the Death March.

Monday, 369 miles.

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Worst part about boondocking….No Microwave for my morning coffee!

So it was off to McDonalds for some fresh brew and a breakfast burrito.

On Tuesday I drove the rest of New Mexico and into Texas where I found this lovely lady. No it’s not a statue of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, it’s the Uniroyal Gal and she hangs out in El Paso.

You know who else hangs out in El Paso?

Little green men from outer space.

I got off the interstate and drove into Faben, Texas. Ah Shaddup! I think I found Foghorn Leghorn or maybe his brother.

Question: Does anyone realize how close the Mexico border is to I-10 from El Paso to Esperanza, Texas?

Answer: Really close!

Another Question: I thought the Rio Grande was a huge river. Then why is it dry and full of trees?

Answer: Diversion, warmer weather and less snow melt.

This silo outside Fort Hancock, Texas peaked my curiosity. At first I thought “well maybe they only had six guys that played football” but after a little research it really is “a thing”.

The differences are, they only play six men instead of eleven, the field is only 80 yards long and 40 yards wide instead of 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide and it takes 15 yards for a first down instead of 10.

Along the highways and byways of our great country are some very interesting rest areas.

This is one of those, if you prefer to take a break from driving or have your lunch in a Tee Pee. Just take I-10 to exit 99 for Sierra Blanca, Texas.

I boondocked at the Pecos Rest Area with 342 miles on Tuesday that put my total at 711.

*

Wednesday morning and I am ready to go! But… I had a slight problem, when I did my walk around the camper and truck (as I do everytime) before heading out, I noticed my drivers side rear tire was low. It only had 17 pounds of pressure.

So, I called a few places and Bill Williams Tire of Fort Stockton was able to send someone out. It didn’t take long for them to get there and get me rolling again! Shout out to Bill Williams Tire for saving the day!!

Ever since I hit the Texas line the wind has been pushing me all over the road and that was no different today. Those that have pulled campers in the wind know what I am talking about. Despite my arms being tired I did make it to my destination for the evening.

But first, I stopped in Ozona, Texas, to check out the monument of David Crockett. Ozona is also in Crockett County.

His personal motto was “Always be sure you are right, then go ahead”. (Scratching my head on that one)

Because of the wind I took it slower than usual and I pulled into a roadside rest area.

Here, just west on Sonora, Texas you can sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze in a wagon wheel picnic area.

Before I settled in for the night at the neighborhood Walmart parking lot in San Angelo, I was in search of Mr. Bendo, the Muffler Man.

Mr Bendo is 22 feet tall and was purchased in California in the 1960’s. Mr Bendo was awarded to owner, Marvin Fillup in his divorce settlement.

Thousands of these Muffler Men were made but less than 100 remain today.

I only drove 228 miles on Wednesday bringing my total to 939 miles.

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What a lucky girl I am! I boondocked at Walmart in San Angelo, Texas Wednesday night and right across the parking lot was a Starbucks!!!!

My goal on Thursday was to make it to Canton, Texas. With my Venti White Chocolate Mocha in hand, I am on my way!

As I drive through Miles, Texas there was this! You might be a redneck if you make a guy out of metal then put ripped drawers on him, sit him by a rusted out car and hang a sign in your window that says SHUT instead of closed.

The town of Coleman, Texas has it going on! The people are friendly and helpful and they take pride in their community.

These second story windows all have portraits of cows in them sponsered by local ranchers.

Across the street was this colorful mural of cactus flowers! ♡♡♡

If I say Robert E. Howard does that ring a bell? What if I say, Conan the Barbarian?

Well Robert E. Howard wrote the Conan stories in the 1930’s and killed himself in the driveway in 1936 at the age of 30. So how did the stories make it to Hollywood and why did the movies not hit the theatres until the 1980’s?

Ah, the wierd stuff a person can find in Cross Plains, Texas.

Next stop the Post Office in Eastland, Texas. If you visit some of the older original post offices you will find the most wonderful murals like this one.

This was the real reason I wanted to stop, this 6 foot by 10 foot postage stamp mural.

Postmaster Marene Johnson took seven years to complete it, her own time and her own expense to create this amazing work of art.

There are 11,217 stamps in the “window”, as Johnson called it. Through philately she was able to encourage history and geography to those interested.

One block away is a metal sculpture of “Old Rip” by Joe Barrington.

The town became famous for “Old Rip” the horned toad. Old Rip was buried alive in the cornerstone of the courthouse in 1897. 31 years later the cornerstone was removed and Old Rip was alive. He passed away one year later.

This statue was in the same garden. Not sure who the artist is but I really liked it.

In Cisco, Texas, on December 23, 1927, Marshall Ratliff dressed as Santa Claus along with three accomplices then robbed the First National Bank.

After a shootout with local authorities the robbers made a run for it. It is said to be the biggest manhunt in Texas history.

If you get a chance google the entire story, it’s really quite comical and entertaining.

Ratliff was jailed in Eastland and later lynched by a mob a few blocks away.

Mineral Springs, Texas, was a great find for me! I knew as soon as I drove into town this was going to be exciting!

Mineral Springs is well known for its Crazy Water (mineral water). I stopped to try a sample of the different levels of minerals each contained.

My favorite was #3 Crazy Water because you could faintly taste the mineral content and it was still refreshing.

This was a mural with kokopelli playing different instruments. I really dig kokopelli’s!

This is the “Baker Hotel” historically known for the healing properties of the mineral water.

During the great depression the Baker Hotel was booming with celebrities like Lawerence Welk, Guy Lombardo, Pat Boone, Judy Garland and many many more.

The 1950’s saw a decline in business and in 1963 Earl Baker closed the hotel. It had a brief revival by local investors but closed up for good in the 70’s.

So the reason I found this truly exciting was because the first time I ever heard of Mineral Wells or the Baker Hotel was on an episode of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel. I just love this stuff!

In this picture it looks like a mist in the very middle of the picture.

They say the Baker Hotel will see another rebirth in the future. I will definitely stay there if it does!

Ok I could have stayed and explored for many more hours but I needed to move on.

The next town of Weatherford, Texas, was home of Mary Martin who played Peter Pan in the original movie. This is the statue and tribute that stands outside the public library.

I watched “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Dallas” back in the day so Larry Hageman was a must see.

Did you know he is the son of the above Mary Martin?

I boondocked at Walmart in Canton, Texas and drove 365 miles on Thursday for a total of 1304.

*

Back on the interstate Friday morning but I didn’t stay there long. I stopped at another interesting roadside rest area outside Tyler, Texas where imitation derricks shade travelers along their journeys.

Taking the backroads not only gets you off the boring interstate but it lets you slow down and breathe. If you have the time I highly recommend it!

As I drove through New London, Texas there was a monument in the median of the road.

The monument is a memorial to the students and teachers who lost their lives on March 18, 1937 when a massive explosion destroyed the school. The total death toll was 311. The explosion was due to a natural gas leak under the school.

Due to this disaster, legislation was passed requiring an odor be added to natural gas so it could be detected if there was a leak.

On the walls of the memorial are the names of all who were lost and it sits in front of the new school.

🙁

I stopped outside Joinerville, Texas to seek out Joe Roughneck. Joe is a symbol of the petroleum industry in Rusk County Texas which produced 3.5 billion barrels of oil.

I wonder what they will find in 2056 when they open the pipe!

The “Footprints in the Sand Monument” can be found on the southwest side if Carthage, Texas.

The 14 foot sculpture is called “Carry me Jesus”

Driving the bypass around Carthage and headed east of the city is the memorial of “Gentleman Jim Reeves”. Jim Reeves was only 40 when he died in a crash in his private plane.

I entered Louisiana by way of the town Logansport. A little town that is at the north end of Sabine National Forest.

I have heard the saying “when pigs fly” but the new saying is when “bucking broncos and cowboys fly” according to this building in Logansport! Yee Haw

I am so glad I took the backroads today because the wild flowers and wisteria were everywhere telling everyone that spring is here.

One of my favorite movies is “Steel Magnolias” with Sally Fields, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts. This is the home that was in the movie, in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

I boondocked at a really nice rest area (it had night security) on I-49 outside of Opeluosas, Louisiana after another 330 miles which brought my total to 1634.

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Saturday and on the road again!

In Lafayette, Louisiana at the visitors center under some shade trees is this fun sculpture called “Miss Rose’s Bar” a tribute to Mrs. Maudie McBelton.

Down the road in Beaux Bridge, Louisiana, I stopped for coffee, no I did not find a Starbucks but I did find this big metal sculpture of a crawfish!

I took the River Road south before Baton Rouge, Louisiana and stopped to see a Purple Martin Sanctuary in Plaquemine, Louisiana that happened to be in a back yard on Martin Street.

There I met Mr. John Rosso the creator of the sanctuary. He explained to me that everything there had meaning to him. Friends and nature mostly were his inspiration. He was a very nice man with the coolest cajun drawl.

This is another creation of his in his yard that is dedicated to his friend Chris who passed too young.

John is a welder but also writes songs. If you search YouTube “Drew Brees” (They call him Drew Brees) John wrote and sang this song.

Thanks John for taking a break from mowing to talk with me!

Trucking down the road I am in search of the “Worlds Tiniest Church”. It was tiny but I would have to say the one we found outside Yuma, Arizona was as small or smaller, but it was still cool.

One of the reasons I wanted to take the River Road was so I could see some of the beautiful plantations in Louisiana along the Mississippi River.

Unfortunately you cannot see the river due to the levee.

This was the Houmas House, circa 1840. They were having a wedding this day. This is also the house where “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” was filmed.

At the corner edge of the plantation was a pet cemetery for married dogs. Yes, you heard that right. King Sam and Princess Grace were married November 1, 2003. Weird!

Here is Oak Alley Plantation, circa 1839. Most notable are the 24 perfectly spaced oak trees that lead to the front door.

This one is called the St. Joseph Plantation, circa 1830. The third picture shows the slaves quarters.

“All the Kings Men” was filmed here.

There were other plantations that I passed along the way, I am sure they too had names and history but they were not open to the public.

The San Francisco Plantation, circa 1856. A book called “Steamboat Gothic” by Frances Parkenson Keyes published in 1952.

I am thirsty! This place in LaPlace, Louisiana was packed and the root beer was really good too!

Last stop of the day was in Kenner, Louisiana. The city of Kenner hosted the first world championship heavyweight prize fight. This statue sits in the place where it happened.

I boondocked at Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana. I only drove 270 miles Saturday but it felt like 500. The total 1904 miles to date.

Sunday is here and I am on my way to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a month of relaxation and hopefully a lot of sun. Total miles since last Monday is 2035 with no boondocking for awhile!

I am dedicating this weeks blog to my travel buddy, hiking partner, favorite sidekick excursionist, triominos & yatzee opponent, proof readero, very good friend and sister by fate, Tracy. It has been a great time since we embarked on this journey back in October. Hopefully someday I can drag you along with me again on these adventures we all call life!

Safe travels my friend!

16 Comments

  1. Wow girl! You’re seeing so much! Luv it! The post stamp mural was awesome! Loved the silo house & all the statues! There really was a mist in each of the pics! So cool! I didn’t even know Mary Martin had a son . Travel on, be safe & luv u!

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  2. Lori, you are one courageous and smart lady !! Travelling with friends and then by yourself must be relaxing, intriguing and satisfying in so many ways. I love to read your blogs. I have learned from them and reminisced from others on places I have seen along some of the same routes you take ! Stay safe and travel on !! Your classmate, Mike Meyer

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  3. I’m so glad I found your blog! I solo travel and also travel with my sister. Traveling across country in an RV is my sister’s post-retirement dream. Following for more adventures!

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  4. I read every word looked at every picture with great interest. I’m hoping jim (husbam) and I can travel in that direction next Fall. If not then I’ve sure enjoyed your trip! Thanks so much
    Peg Valentine
    (Tracy’s friend)

    Like

  5. LORI
    Thanks for taking me along on your journey through your words and pictures
    I had a great time!
    Stay safe …

    Like

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