Heading Towards Albuquerque, NM

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Note: Most photos on today’s blog were borrowed from the internet as the onboard photographer’s shutter finger was sore. Or something like that….

Our normal routine in the morning was no different than normal. Walk the dogs, pack up, pick up, jacks up and away we go. But were are running an hour later than our normal 0800 hr. departure. Why? Daylight Savings is now in effect. So we left at 0845 and headed west on I-20. Sunday morning traffic is usually light and this morning was no exception. Originally we were going to stay a couple of nights in Lubbock (256,000 souls) but the coming severe weather event scheduled for Monday night and Tuesday scared us off. We transition on to US 84 at Sweetwater heading north towards Lubbock.

Lubbock is a big city, the eleventh largest in the state. You’ve heard that everything is bigger in Texas and for the most part that’s true. An example of big is if you enter Texas from the west on Interstate 10 near El Paso and exit at the Louisiana border one would travel 877.5 miles. That’s longer than runner up I-5 that runs the length of California from the Mexican border to the state of Oregon by 85 miles. Third place goes to I-20, also in Texas.

Lubbock is located in northwestern Texas in a region known historically and geographically as the Llano Estacado, the Staked Plains. The Llano Estacado is one of the largest mesas on the North American continent at 37,000 square miles. That’s Texas big! Legend has it that when the Spaniards explored this region they drove stakes in the ground so they could find their way out. The plain rises from 3000 feet to 5000 feet at a steady rate of 10 feet per mile and tilts southeast to northwest. One can actually see the shoulder of the mesa as we drove north.

The city celebrates rock and roll legend Buddy Holly with the Buddy and Maria Holly Plaza, hosts the Buddy Holly Music Festival, renamed the Lubbock Music Festival, and a new performing arts center. It is also home to Texas Tech University. Five major wineries are in the region, the National Ranching Heritage Center, the American Cowboy Culture Association and much more.

Texas Tech University

Weather wasn’t too bad on this leg of our trip. It rained off and on for a couple of hours, the wind blew constantly coming mostly as a quartering, following wind so I didn’t feel like I wrestled that 400 pound gorilla again. We drove through miles of prairie with only a smattering of cattle visible. Then we came into more fertile land, or maybe more abundance of water, with big farms producing- nothing- remember its winter. But we did see hundreds of huge rolled bails of cotton as this area is the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world. We also passed several large dairy farms and growing lots with plenty of very young black and white cattle.

US Highway 84 takes us through mostly cattle towns south of Lubbock but then there’s a change on her north side. Starting in Anton (1100 souls) we see huge storage silos which prominently poke up 100′ in the air. Cotton doesn’t require silos so they are used to store other main crops such as corn, grain sorghum and peanuts. Sudan (1100 souls) sports a six silo grain elevator that is in sad shape and obviously not being used. Unlike most of the other communities we pass through Sudan looks like its dying.

Mule Monument in Muleshoe. Notice the Grain Elevators in the Background

Muleshoe, on the other hand is a thriving community of 5,000 souls, seat of Bailey County. It’s home to the National Mule Memorial, and the Muleshoe Heritage Center which commemorates the importance of ranching in West Texas. Twenty minutes away is the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, the oldest of its kind in the state of Texas. I know, your dying to learn how Muleshoe got its name. It was named after the nearby Muleshoe Ranch.

Right on the Texas/New Mexico border is the town of Farwell, Tx (1360 souls) and right across the railroad tracks is Texico, NM (1100 souls). They are that close. Farwell is the seat of Parmer County. Farwell began as a cow camp for the XIT Ranch and named after the two Farwell Brothers who built the state capital building in exchange for 3.05 million acres of virgin ranch land. Ever heard of the Red River War? It was the largest military operation for the U.S. between the times of the Civil War and WWI. Five armies converged on this part of the High Plains, ultimately defeating the main Comanche force in Palo Duro Canyon by driving off and killing the Comanche’s horses. By the way the XIT Ranch failed because of massive cattle rustling, ultimately the ranch was sold off in parcels to families drawn by the cheap price of land.

We finally reach Clovis after what seems forever. We’ve been limiting our travel days to 150 miles, more or less. This one was 120 miles longer. We aren’t used to traveling that far anymore. The elevation of Clovis is a surprising 4200 feet, a gain in elevation of 2500 feet since leaving Abilene. We worked our way up the mesa’s tilt not realizing that we were gaining 10 feet of elevation every mile. We look at each other a say, “Heck, it looks pretty darned flat to me!”

Clovis-Gateway to the Sierras?

We slide into the outskirts of Clovis heading west and we spot a park- and we have room to park the beast! As we walk passed the kiddie play area a soccer field emerges. No one is around so Jil unleashes our Lab Megan. The next thing I know Jil is yelling her head off for Megan to come back to her. Megan had left the soccer field and went running into a vacant lot. When I see her she is running fast to one place, slams on the brakes and heads in another direction. Her antics continue running to, slamming on the brakes, then running fro. And so does Jil’s yelling for her to return. I ask “What the heck is going on?” And this is the reply, “She’s chasing prairie dogs! When she gets close to one they duck into their burrow, then she chases after another, then another!” The lot is a full blown prairie dog town! Megan finally comes back out of breath. It wasn’t funny that she wouldn’t come back to Jil but very amusing that she was playing Doggie Wack a Mole (OK Prairie Dog).

Excerpt from Wikipedia: Clovis is largely an agricultural community, closely bordering Texas, it is noted for its role in early rock music history and for nearby Cannon Air Force Base. After the discovery of several “Clovis culture” sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the New World. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway system helped to establish Clovis over a hundred years ago, and for that railroad and its successor BNSF Railway continues to be a major hub of operations. Also notable is the Southwest Cheese Company, the largest cheddar cheese producer in North America.

ClovisSo here we are in Clovis (39,000 souls), staying at the Travelers World Campground. It’s located on US 84 with railroad tracks running a hundred yards behind. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too noisy at all. Grass separates the sites. I should say dormant grass separates the sites. The access roads and site pads are gravel. All four sides of the perimeter are doggie friendly mowed grass, but don’t let the furry ones wander off of that grass as the dreaded goathead stickers lurk!

One night here and hopefully we’ll escape the predicted severe weather beginning tomorrow evening and head to Albuquerque. Albuquerque will only have occasional thunderstorms, non predicted to be severe.

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