6-20-00 - Amarillo, TX - Cadillac Ranch - to Clovis, New Mexico - Oasis, S.P.

The days will be getting shorter little by little, day by day now, as yesterday was the Summer Solstice.

I woke up this morning and looked out the window only to see about 5 cars parked right next to mine. Strange I thought...they couldn't have been camping. I looked out the back window and saw a group of students in chairs with drawing boards facing the canyon wall, sketching, and painting with watercolors, talking and laughing, the way you do in an art class. I figured they were college students.

I got up and out of the van, folded the bed up and what not.

Before long they needed water for their water colors. The closest spigot was the one next to the van....just a few feet away.

A blonde girl came over to fill a cup as I was taking down the windshield screen. I saw her fill the cup out of the corner of my eye and then noticed she was looking in the open back door of the van.

"This is a really cool van you've got." she announced.
"Thanks," I replied, "it's like my little house on wheels."
"It's like a hippy bus huh?"
"Yeah, pretty much." I replied.
"Wow." she paused, "What's your...." she began, but finished with, "My name's Leslie."
"Hi, I'm Dave." I said.
She took off her sunglasses and we shook hands.
"So you guys must be in an art class huh?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah, we meet down here every day at 7:30. It's an outdoor painting class." she answered
"Well, I guess if I was going to have a 7:30 class I'd want it to be out here." I concluded.
"Yeah, it's fun," she agreed, "where are you from?"

So I went on and told her where I was from and what I was doing.

"Well, come on over and sit down with us if you want, you can come over and paint if you want." she invited.
I thanked her.
As she returned to her group with the news of the guy in the white van next to the water spigot a few of them looked over their shoulders at me.
I continued to break camp, and while I was tempted to stay and try my hand at painting the Texas landscape I decided I'd move on. I took a few pictures of them and gave the the web address. They were from West Texas A & M.
Now that I think about it I should have stayed, if not just to keep talking to Leslie.

I headed North towards Amarillo and then turned West onto I-40. My first stop was to be another piece of American folk art. I'm sure you've seen Stanley Marsh III's famous Cadillac Ranch. 10 finned Cadillacs from various years stuck into the ground nose first....perhaps a statement of some sort about the material excess spawned by the Texas oil business? I don't know. In any event, it's a cool place. Quite simply, just a reason to stop the car, get out and walk up to these cars about 200 yards from the road in the middle of a field. They are regularly spray painted by local teens. I think this is the only place that it doesn't really matter if you write graffiti all over the place.....the interesting words and different colors of paint seemed to add something to the place, and the next time I visit, it will be different. Several photos here, one is a fin detail...ahhh, gotta love Detroit. I took a unch of pictures witht eh digital camera, many others with the old Pentax SLR with black and white film.

This is what I saw by the time I walked back to the van, ready to get back on the road. While I was out by the Caddilacs a couple pulled up in this old pick up truck. It was a greasy type of guy, probably in his late thirtes with a young girl, should couldn't have been more than about 17 or 18. It was an odd couple, walking arm in arm, kissing each other as they walked closer to the cars in the ground. I couldn't help think that they were running from something, not running to anything in particular, running away from something, somewhere, or someone... all their belongings in the back, heading east to a new life together.

This is a good example of being at the right place at the right time with a camera. I don't think it would be half the picture it is if the rear fender of the car was the same unfinished, unpainted rusty color as the front fender... I've never seen primer grey look so beautiful.

After a last look and a few more pictures... I continued west on the Mother Road.

I turned off of Route 66 in Vega and headed Southwest....I am departing Route 66 for a while to make a detour into Southeastern New Mexico...Roswell really. I just have to see that place for myself.

I stopped for lunch in the small town of Friona, at "Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant." I figured I would try some real, authentic Mexican food, as I was closer to the border than usual. There was a table full of policemen inside having a late lunch. I ordered a burrito. It came, but wasn't like the huge burritos you get in Chicago...."As big as your head" as they advertise. This one was much smaller, but still enough. It was pretty good. (Photo of Los Arcos below) I guess it used to be a bowling alley from the pins and ball on the side of the building. They were concrete actually, about an inch and a half thick attached to the building. Wouldn't they make interesting stepping stones along a garden path?

I continued on through Texas. The last little town in Texas before New Mexico is appropriately named...Farewell. The first little town in New Mexico is called Texico. From Texico, New Mexico I mailed a postcard home....a postcard of the largest Totem Pole in the World I had seen in Oklahoma a few days ago. A very small little town. Across from the post office was "The Spur Restaurant" - boarded up, but for sale if you're interested. All the equipment is still inside, just waiting for you.

New Mexico is a wide open place. I was really in the Southwest now...very dry and flat in this part of New Mexico...amazing clouds. I tuned to a "Tejano" radio station, as I had done a few times in Texas and cranked up the volume. Tejano music is a type of music generally created by Mexicans living in the United States, or from Mexican border towns heavily influenced by the U.S....Texas, New Mexico, etc. Of course "Tejano" means "Texan". the music usually consists of a constant electronic drumbeat with an accordion and horns added to it...and of course a guy singing in a high voice about, "mi amor". Always about finding love, or losing love, or wishing he had found love or wishing his love hadn't left him. I love pulling up to a gas station with that stuff blaring. People look at me funny, it's a good time.

I arrived at Oasis State Park just North of Portales by about 3:00pm. I had a nice chat with the ranger there...he was originally from Ohio, but moved out to New Mexico after his career in the Air Force. It seems that a lot of park rangers are ex-military guys.

I hadn't been there for too long when I saw a white Eurovan Camper with California plates tool through scoping for a campsite. The shaded sites were few and far between. I chose one of them, the other nice one was the site next to mine. So this couple pulled in there. I greeted them as they got out of the car..."Great looking van!"
"Thanks, I like yours too." the man replied.
They set up camp and before long the guy came over to talk Volkswagens.

"Hi, my name's Dave Tobin" I said with outstretched hand.
"My name's Bart." he replied, we shook hands.
He had owned several air cooled buses before he got the Eurovan. He commented that they were leaked on, through the roof a little bit one evening when it rained. Apparently Winnebago didn't seal the roof properly.
To digress for a moment....historically, Westfalia Werk G.m.b.h. of Westfalia, Germany completed the camper conversion on the Volkswagen vans sold officially through Volkswagen's dealership network. When they discontinued the Vanagon (the model I've got) they replaced it with the Eurovan. For the first few years, Westfalia did the camper conversions on those in Germany too, but eventually Volkswagen contracted Winnebago in Iowa to do the Eurovan conversions for the U.S. market.
Bart seems to think the Westfalia conversions are of higher quality, as his Van was a 1999 model it was a Winnebago....in any event, he and his wife were traveling in high style.
"I wish I had a 6 cylinder engine in here." I commented pointing to the Westy.
"Oh yeah," Bart began, "it's great, I can cruise down the highway at 75 without even thinking about it."
I told him what I was doing on the trip and we chatted for a while.
They had driven from a town by the name of Ruidoso, NM that day. He recommended Ruidoso to me as well as the town of Lincoln, NM.
"It's a nice little, place, I think you'd like it" he said, "It was Billy the Kid's hang out, a real historic little town, and you'll have to give me that web address." Bart said.

I went to take a shower and figured I might as well check out Ruidoso and Lincoln, they would be on my way to Santa Fe from Roswell. I found that this park has the nicest facilities I've seen yet. I'm sure the dryness out here helps that, the bathroom and shower are well vented, but also cleaned very well every day. The fact that we were about the only people in the place helped too. Taking a shower in the middle of the desert like that is great....you get out, and in like 3 minutes you're completely dry. You're never cold because it's so hot. If I ever live in the desert I'd like to have an open air shower...out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe just a brick wall with a shower head coming out of it, facing South so I could bask in the sunshine....man, that'd be great.....I'd never need a towel again.

I cooked dinner and took a few pictures. One of my campsite with Bart's campsite in the picture too, you can see his white Eurovan. The other picture is of the New Mexico sky from my campsite....the clouds roll in each afternoon like that.

Bart came by again on his way back from the bath house. We talked some more.
"You know, I am envious of you." he said, "Write a book. Get it published." he added
"That's funny you mention that," I began, "a lot of people tell me that. You know, it's meeting people along the way, who encourage me to go on. Especially older folks, well people with more life experience than I've got anyway." I corrected myself, "That's what inspires me out here on the road."
"Well then, tell 'em that a retired police captain from Santa Barbara inspired you." Bart replied.
"I will." I said.
I gave him the web address and we exchanged email addresses, he said he'd email me when he got home to see how I was doing.

It really is meeting people like Bart that keep me excited to get on the road each morning...a real nice guy.

What I saw out the back of the van, art students.

West Texas A & M art class.

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, TX

Fin detail of one of the Caddys.

Adobe building ruin.

Los Arcos Restaurant - Friona, TX

The Spur Restaurant - Farewell, TX

View from the campsite, Oasis S.P. - New Mexico.

Bart & Sue Shrum's Eurovan camper and the Westy.

The vehicle