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by Lloyd Treichel
"Adventure is worthwhile." - Amelia Earhart
Dateline: April 1, 2002 -- San Antonio, Texas
When I start to write the column each month, I want to tell about all I did -- the stops and the knowledge that I acquired. Obviously, that would make for a very long tale, so I include some things and leave a lot out.
Before I left Tucson there were a few things on the tourist check list that I had not done. One of those was the Pima Air and Space Museum. This museum presents the history of air travel from the Wright brothers to the Mars exploration. All forms of air transport are presented including planes for fighting wars and an Air Force One that was propeller driven (Douglas VC-118). This plane was used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson when airport runways were too short to handle the new jet powered planes.
Near the Museum and on the tour is the United States' "airplane bone yard" for the planes that have outlived their usefulness, but can still be used for parts. Some are sold to countries that are beefing up their "third world" air force. If there is no more value, they are cut up for scrap.
They also make sales to the public. If you want a fighter jet to park in your front yard to command respect from your neighbors, here is the place where you can get one.
Adopt a highway sign identified the Southern Arizona Naturist Society as the adopters of a stretch of I-10 east of Tucson. This is probably one of those times where clothing is not optional!
Willcox, AZ ... was a stop after leaving Tucson. The town's claim to fame is that it is cowboy movie star and singer Rex Allen's birthplace. Featured at the Rex Allen Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame is the story and memorabilia of Allen's life. Also included is a tribute to the real cowboys whose real lives formed the basis for the cowboy mythology.
I have a fondness for anything western including western music (not to be confused with country). During my short stay in Tucson, I had the opportunity to see Rex Allen Jr. perform and on a separate occasion, the Sons of the Pioneers provided their old standards and a few that I had not heard before.
Chiricahua National Monument is about 35 miles from Willcox. The mountains have been eroded and carved into interesting shapes and leaving many balanced rocks on pedestals. Though few of the shapes are named, one can imagine faces, castles, and animals. Hiking through the canyons, there were numerous scenes of shapes and very unusual eroded formations. There are times one would believe that the laws of gravity are being defied. Some of those rocks should fall down!
Driving through west Texas ... proved to be desolate terrain. There are no trees or mountains to stop the eye as it scans the horizon. The vegetation is mesquite and cactus and other desert adapted plants. To find it fenced for ranching is a surprise. It is hard to believe that they can actually pasture animals there. There doesn't appear to be enough grass in 100 acres to keep an animal alive. It seems the animal would expend more calories looking for grass than was available. Perhaps it is a US government subsidy that makes it possible for a rancher to continue.
Crossing Texas on this stretch of US Highway 90, the few towns that did exist are slowly dying and disappearing into the landscape. An Interstate highway which routes cross country traffic far from these towns plus improvements in automobile gasoline mileage has spelled death for many towns. It seems similar to the death of some towns in the 19th century when the railroads selected routes that favored one town over another.
Big Bend National Park is located in south west Texas on the Rio Grande River. The park is not on the way to anything. It is south of US highway 90 about 100 miles from the town of Marathon. Once at the park, hiking, learning and exploring occupied my time. Night time was one of the best times. Since it is so remote, there is no light pollution. The stars are very visible -- all of them.
One can stand on the banks of the Rio Grande as the river flows through a canyon. Across the river is Mexico -- I stand on soil of the USA. The Rio Grande is less than two feet deep and about twenty to thirty feet across. This would be a great place to "escape to Mexico". Right! How easy could it get considering my current life style?
The little village of Boquillas, Mexico is across the river. To get there, you flag down a rowboat entrepreneur from Mexico to come get you. Once across the river, you hire a mule to take you to town for lunch. I did not take the tour, but that trip would be a time warp! There is no electricity and the usual form of transportation is by mule or horse.
Oh! and did I mention? There is no cell phone service here -- on either side of the river.
Alamo Village ... is where western movies are made in Texas. It is located north of Brackettville on a working ranch. The set is a reproduction of the Alamo, an adobe mission and a western town. It was originally built for John Wayne's "The Alamo" of 1960. Since then, it continues to be a location for many western movies, documentaries and commercials.
Due to its remote location and no other tourist draws in the area, this western movie set is nothing like Old Tucson Studios. There are no re-enactments of gun fights or stuntmen falling from buildings.
Hiking ... continued during my last weeks in Tucson. In fact one hike included a stretch of trail that was covered with some icy snow.
Del was a frequent hiking partner during my stay in Tucson. When we were speaking of our plans for the next winter, I said that I was planning on Florida. Del asked if I golfed. No. So what was I going to do there. Very good point! I am already reconsidering my plans. The plan may be to visit Florida and then head to the west coast for most of the winter to indulge my passion for hiking.
On my Tucson hikes, it was not unusual for the trails to have elevation gains of a 1000 feet in a mile. Keep that up for two miles and you have a workout. Although my hikes in Texas were four or more miles, they were more like a walk around a city park.
Cinnamon Roll Search ... Before I left Tucson, I found a cinnamon roll at the Italian Bakery and Cafe. In fact, they had Italian pastries, Danish pastries and turnovers. They also had good breads. The Cinnamon roll was pretty good, but not quite to my standards.
When I was looking at the bakery goods at one of the grocery store chains in Tucson, I came across Cinnamon Crispies. They reminded me of a tortilla that was sugared and heavy on the cinnamon and then baked until it was like a hard cookie. I actually liked them. They came in quantities of six so I had some for a few days. The nice part is they keep for a few days -- not like a fresh cinnamon roll.
And so I continue my search....
English changes ... Seen on a billboard ad by Southwest Airlines, "Byte-sized fares". ... Is "byte" an alternate spelling for "bite"? ... Was this intentional? ... Was everyone involved in this ad campaign from the technical side of the computer industry?
Latest Read ... "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nasar. When I had told someone that I was reading the book, they said that they had seem the movie. As they related some of the movie, I realized that the book was very different and so much more than the movie.
In addition to relating research on schizophrenia, the book covers the evolution of advanced math studies in the US. Did you ever wonder how Einstein had come to Princeton of all Universities in the US? Even if you have seen the movie, read the book.
Vanity Plate ...
In answer to the question, "Where ya' goin'?", the response was on this plate... "DAMFINO"
Bumper sticker ...
There were very few to choose from so here is one of the few: "I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it."