Our plans for this trip changed a few times due to weather and sweet Buddy. The things you do for your “children”! A lot of people asked after our last trip how Buddy did with the new Airstream. Well we didn’t feel that he was comfortable enough to leave in the trailer while we skied so we boarded him in Boulder and decided this next trip should be about making him comfortable. So we headed South to Texas for some hiking. Somehow Ross found out about Palo Duro Canyon State Park and read that it is the 2nd largest canyon in the US. After having completed the Rim to Rim trail in the Grand Canyon a few years ago we were curious. So off we went. To be honest I question how this canyon got it’s ranking as number 2. It is beautiful and there is lots of hiking, but it doesn’t come close to the Grand Canyon.
The day we arrived it was a bit grey and thunderstorms were predicted but Ross, Buddy and I headed out for a beautiful 5 mile hike. The rock and sandy paths are a glorious red and there are lots of dry river beds that we crossed. Just as we were finishing the hike the thunderstorms came in. We drove back up to the rim (where we were camping) and the fog was so thick we could barely see 10 feet in front of us.
Day two was a raining day so we decided to make the most of it and go into Amarillo to run errands and see what the city had to offer. Let’s just say Amarillo TX is a place that is functional but lacks a bit in energy and charm. The evening prediction was for severe thunderstorms and wind. Well the predictions were accurate and we spent our first night riding out a storm. The lightening was amazing to watch through our skylights and it is good to know that we can survive strong winds. We were fortunate that no hail came through and we are still in one piece. We awoke to sun but the winds were ferocious. We managed to get in a hike in a slightly sheltered section of the canyon with some beautiful views. As we came out of the canyon we were greeted by winds like I have never experienced.
We decided to go and see an art installation called The Cadillac Ranch which is located outside of Amarillo and is part of Route 66 tradition. It is a famous landmark where a group of artist have placed a row of Cadillacs buried into the farm land that are continuously being spray painted. If you want more information here is a link: https://www.wideopencountry.com/cadillac-ranch/ . We got to the site and the winds were so strong that Ross could barely open the car door. Our walk to see the Cadillacs was an adventure. According to our phones the winds were about 60 miles an hour with gusts up to 80 miles an hour. I’m glad we went to see the Cadillacs, and it was an experience to walk through wind gusts like that, but once is good enough.
Unfortunately due to the weather I haven’t been able to paint outside so once again I choose to paint a few watercolors inside. One from our last trip at the Great Sand Dunes and one from our hike during the day. I generally am painting these paintings in about an hour and using photos that I took from my phone. It is has been a good exercise for me to work on getting the feeling of a location rather quickly.
Because the wind continued and Ross and I felt like we did most of the hikes that we wanted to do at Palo Duro Canyon we decided to head a little bit further South to Caprocks State Park also in Texas. We were both pleasantly surprised by this park. It is a beautiful little canyon and the red cliffs were absolutely striking against the blue sky. We did a long hike that started at the bottom of the canyon in the middle of amazing red cliff and rock formations. We hiked through sights including the Dancing HooDoos, The Fern Cave, and then up to the top of the cliffs for some wonderful scenic overlooks.
Tired and content we headed back to the airstream for a nice BBQ and hot shower. I should add that Buddy has been loving the hiking and seems to have settled into this new lifestyle. At first he wasn’t sure what to make of all of this but he is adjusting just fine.
The next day of adventure was started off by a beautiful hike through the valley of the Canyon. Surrounded again by glorious reds with beautiful blue sky backdrops, more hoo doo formations or as Ross and I started calling them, “Rockin art”. And then it was time to hit the road and start heading back north to Colorado. Our intention was to drive and camp in the Comanchee National Grassland which is about half way to Boulder. But we soon found out the Grasslands are nothing but open fields along the side of the freeway. So we ended up driving a bit farther and got to Lamar.
After spending the night in Lamar we made a quick stop at the Sand Creek Massacre National Monument on our way home. Ross is a bit of a history buff so this was a stop that he enjoyed. This is the site where in 1864 the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes were massacred by American troops which was a significant in US history. Not the most uplifting of stops but sometimes it is good to reflect on these events.
Overall it was a successful trip. We got in some good hiking, saw some areas of the US that we had never been to and Buddy fell in love with the Airstream life. It wasn’t as successful on the art end, but I am realizing that that will come more with the good weather soon.
A few quotes to end this blog:
“A Happy Dog is a Happy Wife and a Happy Wife is a Happy Life!” – Ross Gallagher
“A good Artist must first be a person – that is an individual with fine qualities” – Isabel Robinson (the Art School Teach at Palo Duro Canyon 1936