Lubbock, Take 2

Yes, I’ve been back a bit from my Lubbock trip.  No, I did not forget to post, but it was a long show, a long trip back and I sort of got the flu.  And then, yes, I forgot to post.  But I have some pretty cool pics from the trip from Lubbock to Tucson, where I stayed the night with my good friends Clare and Tom and a myriad of animals.  All cute animals, I might add.  Clare and Tom are cute as well.

So Lubbock.  We never did get any of the storms that ravaged Oklahoma and other parts of Texas.  How, I don’t know, because we were right in the path of some of the strongest storms.  We got thunder and a little rain the Thursday night I landed there, but that was it.  I, however did not get much sleep as I chose a Motel 6 and the room next to me was occupied by an I-want-to-be-a-hooker-for-the-weekend.  She got evicted the next afternoon after the manager watched a gentleman (?) enter her room around 3 pm and called the police as I guess he didn’t look like a relative (she was white, he was black).  When the police showed up I actually wasn’t paying attention as I had my classical music on in the room to drown out whatever was going on next door, and playing a game on my iPad (there, I said it, I play games on my iPad) but when they knocked on her door (translation = slammed on her door) it got my attention fast, as I thought it was my door.  Anyway, long story short, her parting comment to the management, after the guy was arrested and his car towed but she was let off with a warning not to come back to Lubbock was, “I’m not mad, can I get a refund for the nights I didn’t use?”.  As I said to Kevin in a text, you can’t make this stuff up.

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This is where I spent 2 1/2 days, behind my booth.  A really nice show but not a good show.  I’ll give it one more year and if it doesn’t improve sale-wise, I’m done.  Once the would-be hooker was evicted, the rest of the stay was uneventful.

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So needless to say, I left early on Monday to start my drive to Tucson.  It was to be a 10.5 hr driving day, which isn’t too bad really.  And the drive is amazing, at least part of the way.  It starts out sort of flat, scrubby and not much around.  Of course, the first 2 hours were in the dark but I can tell you after last year, I missed nothing.  The sun actually came up really late, because I was at the western edge of the time zone.  I gained 2 hours that day.  Sweet!  Then suddenly there were oil wells everywhere.  My pictures out the side window did not turn out but trust me, they were everywhere, for like 15 miles.  Nothing but oil wells.  I guess I never realized that so much oil was pumped in New Mexico (I had crossed the state line sometime in the dark – I got up REALLY early). And the land got a bit hillier (not sure if that’s a word but I’m going with it).

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I got to Artesia around 7 (about 4 hours out of Lubbock but I gained an hour) and this statue greeted me.  There are several around the 4 block downtown area.  Sometime I’d like to get there during normal hours and check out the town, but not at the expense of getting where I’m going.

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Then there was this sign, which I saw a bunch of times, I guess to tell the truckers, don’t even think about going this route.  And here is where the beautiful drive begins.

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So, it starts with slightly hilly land that goes on for miles.. And then you realize, wait there are actually hills now, like, big hills.  Then a valley starts somewhere on the left of the road and this valley runs almost all the way to Cloudcroft, maybe 30-40 miles.  Lots of cows and farms and, remember, we are at 7400+ feet above sea level.  It’s beautiful.

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So now it’s 5 hours out and I’m starved.  And I need to use a rest room.  So I stop here, at the Barn Door.  Sign on the door says “restroom for patrons only” so I think, ok, coffee to go and I’m a patron.  Then I walk in.  I should have taken pictures of the inside.  All rough hewn wood, bronc riding photos everywhere, handmade hand carved wooden Calistoga wagons and horses.  Immediately I went from coffee to go to I’m staying and having breakfast.  And I did.  The owners are Vernon Fleming and his wife, who I did not get to meet.  He was a champion bull rider and when he got injured, he turned to photographing the bull riders in action.  He got his pilots license when he was 14 and flew planes with the fire service fighting fires in the mountains as a contractor.  He said his boss would get pissed at him because he would fly below the 1000 ft limit to get at the fires directly and his boss would have to pay a fine for him flying too low.  His great, great, great grandfather came to New Mexico after being in a bar fight with a guy in Texas who turned out to be the nephew of the local sheriff.  The nephew lost the gun fight and problems ensued. The father of his great, great, great grandfather was a Texas ranger so that gunfight was not a hit with the family either.  When he got to New Mexico, it was before it was even a territory, in 1873, so he was safe there.  The farm he established is still owned by Vernon and his wife and the name of his 3xgreat grandfather was eventually cleared.  And I had a great breakfast while all this was going on for $6.99.  AND he brewed decaf for me.  And I can’t even tell you how amazing the view out the window in front of was.  It was one of the best detours I ever took.  If you are EVER on 82 in New Mexico near Cloudcroft, go to this place.  The food is great and the owners genuine.  A true highlight of the drive home.

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So Cloudcroft is really up there at around 8650+ feet above sea level.  And it is very Alpine like in terms of the foliage. The last 3 photos above are taken from High Rolls which is a mere 6750 feet above sea level.  Phht, nothing.  It is something to see though.  All of this is in Lincoln National Forest.  In the second picture, what you are seeing in the distance is the back way into Las Cruces, which is 2-3 hours away at that point.  This is a truly magnificent drive and if you have time to stop in some of the towns (and most definitely the Barn Door) I highly recommend doing so.  Once you get to the bottom of the mountain, it’s a bit of a letdown, as now you are back in desert and the route down is hidden from view.  Looking back up the hills, you would never guess what’s at the top waiting for you.  Amazing.  One of my favorite drives.

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In between Alamogordo at the bottom of the mountain and Las Cruces is the White Sand National Monument, where the missile launching station is.  There are signs on the road that inform you that if a missile is being launched, there WILL be a 2 hour delay.  No thank you.  The sand really is white, though.  I’d like to stop and check it out one of these days.  There’s a museum there as well.

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So, once I get close to Tucson, there is a cool rest area in Texas Canyon.  The rocks are sort of strewn about and it’s really an interesting spot.  On either side of the canyon, no rocks looking ANYTHING like these.  Just hilly, scrubby landscape.  This looks more like being on the moon, or at least how I envision it.

And there my travelogue ends for this trip.  I made it to Clare and Tom’s about an hour later, was greeted by Clare, Tom’s girls, two cats, three dogs and a cute little mouse named Strawberry.  Oh, and there was a new kitty mom and her 4 kittens in my bathroom – being sponsored by Clare and Tom.  Love that house!

Next big trip is Chicago at the beginning of June.  I’ll be in Vegas twice before then, once this weekend (I leave Friday morning) and again at the end of May for the ACRE wholesale show.  Also in Ojai CA Memorial Day weekend but that’s only 45 minutes away, so probably no posts till the Chicago trip.  But I may surprise myself.  Take care all.

Day 2 – A change of scene

I started out the day pretty early thanks to the moron above me and the crack smoker next to me.  There is something to be said for paying more for a room.  But I needed to get going early, so I guess in the long run, it was fine.

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Sunrise was at 5:52 and I was well away from Flagstaff by then.  It was really cold, like 19 and I was not amused.  I like traveling the interstates early, not as much traffic and everything looks great at sunrise.  The cloud cover you see off to the right saved my eyes as it actually rose.  More about those pesky clouds later.

So as you can sort of see from this picture, around Flagstaff you are in what I would call Alpine country.  Lots of firs and pines, some leafless trees, so I don’t know what kind they would be.  It’s at around 7300 feet, give or take.  Hilly and pretty dense foliage.

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About 45 minutes east of Flagstaff, the scene dramatically changes to this, which is flat, scrub and lots of dirt. You’re still fairly high up, around 6000 feet here.  This goes on for miles, actually until you hit the New Mexico border.

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And suddenly, you have tall, staggered cliffs.  Right at the border.  Odd.

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And mesas.  Pretty big ones.  It’s really interesting country.

So weather-wise, today was a dream, no wind at all, until I got past Albuquerque.  Then it was really windy, with lots of clouds boiling up all over and some rain spritzes.  Won’t call it real rain, as it just made my car look awful, not clean.  I managed to get a whopping 43 mpg average today. And the gas is dirt cheap, like $2.31 for Plus. I saw regular for $2.09 at one place.

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I finally made a stop at the Continental Divide, which, I must say, was unimpressive.  Just this sign, which was cool.

Once I started down the NM 84/US 66, the winds got even worse.  I stayed behind a semi for the first leg, as we were driving into headwinds and he sort of acted as a shield for me.  Now off in the distance you could see lots of storm cells starting, and you could tell it was raining like nobody’s business in a few of them.  I managed to stay mostly dry.

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I love the farm landscape, whether it’s here in New Mexico and Texas, or in Nebraska or Iowa or Illinois.  These were taken in Muleshoe, Sudan and Anton, all in Texas.

So back to the weather.  We are under a severe storm alert in Lubbock until around 1 am.  Tornados have touched down around here but not in Lubbock.I’ll hope for the best.  Night all.

Day 1 – SB to Flagstaff

All in all, it was a good day to travel.  Left SB around 8 and hit virtually no traffic, which was amazing as there were 3 active Sig Alerts on SoCal freeways.  However the Santa Anas were ferocious.   For those of you unfamiliar with the term, they are winds that tear down  through the canyons and passes, stripping all moisture from the air (as if we had any moisture to begin with) and take out signs, trees and power lines.  Not to mention the extreme fire danger that is produced.  I am fearful for this years fire season, which could start months early.  Anyway, the winds were really strong all through to Barstow, where I had a reprieve for a time.

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And this is the reason to stop in Barstow to fill up if you are heading east on the I-40.  Gas all throughout SoCal is falling EXCEPT for Needles, CA. Here, they charge anywhere from $1.00 to $1.50 a gallon more.  I got Plus for $3.05 in Barstow, and here it’s $4.19.  Note to self, don’t stop in Needles for gas.  They’re near the AZ border and all the stations charge the same.  Just a heads up if you’re in the area.  It’s near Lake Havasu and Laughlin on the Colorado River.

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The biggest thing that has struck me so far on this trip is that it is DRY, DRY, DRY.  Normally this time of year, it is green in SoCal, in the summer it is golden brown but now it is ash grey.  Scary.  Even in AZ near Flagstaff, it is really dry.

So 9 hours from SB to Flagstaff.  Not bad, considering all the road destruction going on in AZ and fighting side and headwinds most of the way.  Averaging around 34 mpg and that’s with all my stuff in the car, so I’m not complaining.  Tomorrow will be another story, I fear.  It’s a 10 hour + drive but I lose 2 hours going to Central Time.  Of course, coming back will be great, but I can’t go there yet.

It’s going down to 22 tonight.  Not happy about that, although my room in the Motel 6 has a good heater.  There’s still some snow in the mountains around here.  I hope to get a photo tomorrow morning.

Catch you on the flip!

The journey begins – for 2015, that is.

For those of you who know me, you know that I spend a lot of time traveling around the country.  Many of you have asked for photos and more info about what I see and where I go, so this is in response to those requests.

So who am I?  Christine Hartsock, banker turned bead weaver.  I live in Santa Barbara CA and travel around the country doing shows to sell my work.  I see some amazing things, both good and bad, and this is my attempt to document some of those things.  I’m not a writer, so you have to bear with me if the prose is a bit lame but I think you’ll get the idea.

My transport for these trips is a 1999 Honda ,Civic with 275000 miles on it.  She’s a great car and she holds a tremendous amount of stuff.  I call her the clown car, because it’s like at the circus when you see the little car and 20 clowns get out of it.  I might be dating myself with the circus reference but the visual is good.  I did win a $20 bet from a guy in Henderson NV about 5 years ago when he saw what I needed to pack and then saw the car.  I told him I could even see out the back window and he scoffed.  And then he handed over the $20 when he sat in the driver’s seat and looked in the rear view mirror.  But I digress.

My studio is in my home in SB but really it’s anywhere I am – hotel room, good friend’s dining room table – and that comes in handy if the shows are good.  I am leaving for Lubbock TX tomorrow morning, staying first in Flagstaff and then on to Lubbock.  Last year, I ran into a blinding snowstorm leaving Lubbock and trying to get back to Flagstaff.  I ended up turning around and heading south to stay with a friend in Tucson.  This year the PLAN is to go to Tucson when I leave Lubbock.  Plus, that way I go though one of the highest inhabited places in the US, Cloudcroft NM.  I hope to remember to take some pictures because it is truly an amazing place.

So, there it is.  If you tune in from time to time, I hope you enjoy it.  I hope I remember to post daily, as then it’s fresh in my mind.  And if you have a comment, please feel free.