Monday, October 31, 2011

October Fests - 4 - Alamosa

On the last two Sundays in October we drove with Matt and Suzy to and from Alamosa, CO, home of Adams State College where grandson, Andrew Hinkle, is a freshman and playing on the college's soccer team.  Two gorgeous fall days.

Here's a picture Susie insisted I take (never would have occurred to me).

The object of their attention, that tall guy in the white uniform just left of center, is Andrew.

Soccer is a new sport at Adams State and the team is mostly freshmen, so they've struggled at times.  The future looks bright, though, from the two games we saw.  They tied one team well above them in the conference standings and they played Fort Lewis College, the top team in the conference, also one of the top teams in the country in their division, even at 1-1 until late in the game.  Two late scores, one clearly offside, made it a win for Fort Lewis.  Wait'll next year!

Here's a family picture.

That's it for October. 


Susie and Rob

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October Fests - 3 - Jemez Canyon

Last Tuesday, Susie and I took a trip together - to the Jemez Canyon about an hour NW of Albuquerque.  Susie had heard a newscaster say the cottonwoods were at their golden peak, and they were!  Enjoy:

All this wrapped around lunch at the Los Ojos Saloon and Restaurant in Jemez Springs, with a Johnny Cash album booming away for ambience, made for a great New Mexico fall outing.

Susie and Rob

October Fests - 2 - Oklahoma

The second weekend of October I made a driving trip to Oklahoma; Susie flew out to Las Vegas to visit daughter Heidi and her husband Joey.

I had three reasons for going to Oklahoma:  visit what I call the "Bennett farm," the 320 acres in NW Oklahoma that I inherited from my Mom, Bonnie Mae Bennett Easterling; attend the Tonkawa High School Homecoming; visit my sisters, Connie and Verla, and their families, in Edmond.  So, I loaded the Explorer with junk food and gatorade, cranked the XM bluegrass channel up to Very Loud, and off I went.

Got lucky and found the Midway Cafe in Adrian, TX just in time for lunch, and it was open. (On our last few trips through here the cafe had been closed.)  Adrian is located at the mid-point of historic Route 66, which ran from Chicago to Santa Monica.  This is a website picture.

In addition to good food, they've got a nice Route 66 souvenir shop.  So, remember Adrian, TX, any time you're driving I-40 between Amarillo and New Mexico.

West of Amarillo there is a famous row of buried, spray-painted Cadillacs; pictures and story here.  East of Amarillo there is an anonymous row of buried, spray-painted Volkswagons.  I discovered them on a previous trip and I happened upon them again when I exited from I-40  (exit 96) to angle NE across the TX Panhandle to OK.


Spent the night with my cousin Ross and his wife Marsha in Laverne, OK, and had a good and hospitable visit as always, then went on to Buffalo to see my cousin Dennis, who farms and takes care of my part of the Bennett farm and several other parts: Grandpa and Grandma Bennett had five daughters, all deceased now.

Dennis and I drove out to the farm.  The drought has been very severe this year, exacerbated by record high temperatures, so things are very barren right now.  Dennis had recently sold his cows, which was a wrenching decision.  He would have had to start feeding them now, then through the winter, and the cost would be greater than the money he would make from selling the next crop of calves. (Marsha had told me earlier, Ross loves his cows, they're his babies.  There's a bond there you may not realize.  Dennis told me his sons are worried about how Dad will get along without having his cows to tend.  He says he fine with it, though.  Wait till next year.  Farmers are tough - sensitive, but tough.)  Here are some pictures.

The following view is looking north about a mile and a half to what once was the town of Selman.  This is where my parents met: she a HS sophomore, he a newly minted HS teacher and basketball coach.  He needed a place to stay.  Grandpa Bennett was the chairman of the Selman Board of Education, the rest is history - a true-life story of the farmer's lovely daughter and the handsome visitor.

Here, again from the long view, is the Bennett home place, where Dennis' son and wife live.  Dennis inherited the 320 acres that includes the home place.  My land is the adjacent 320 acres to the south (might want to take a google earth look at all this).

This is a special place to me.  The summer after my junior year in HS I worked for Grandpa Bennett - drove a truck during the wheat harvest, drove a tractor, did other farm work, engaged in mischief with Dennis and his brother, David, who lived on their family farm a few miles south.  Morphed from a 98-lb. weakling into a 150-lb, sun-tanned, hunk (HA! in my dreams). 

Went on to Tonkawa for Homecoming weekend.  There was a parade, with firetrucks:

This inductee, next picture, into the THS Hall of Fame was a long-time coach and teacher at the HS.  Prior to that, though, he and a good friend had played baseball in a "negro baseball league."  They're both white.  The friend, who came to Tonkawa for the induction, has written a book about that unique experience that has gotten some visibility - TV interviews, book is available from the Cooperstown bookstore, etc.  At first, he said, nobody believed this had happened, but he could prove it.  So, now you know, too.

There were queen candidates.  If I had a vote, she would have gotten it.

Here are some of the Class of 1961.  I had several close friends from this class and it was good to see and visit with them.

The downtown merchants got the Buccaneer Spirit.

Another downtown shot, early Saturday morning, so the street was not thronged:

Note that the MALL is clearly identified.

There was a Saturday morning alumni coffee at a bank meeting room and I took this picture of a lovely painting of Tonkawa:

Ain't that purty.  (Sandy Reinert, from Eunice, NM, always teased me about Tonkawa.  Wish I'd had that picture to show her.)  Unfortunately, the town fathers and mothers haven't maintained the elevator and here's how it looks now:

My classmate, Joe Brining, who lives in Tonkawa and is a major town booster, mover and shaker - I stayed with him - said some folks don't want to have the elevator painted, for reasons that aren't clear.  By contrast, though, the train station, seen in pictures above, and which is just across Grand Avenue from the elevator, has been nicely preserved.  The town calls itself The Wheat Heart of Oklahoma, and that motto and accompanying heart have just about disappeared from the top of the elevator.  Joe told me to write a letter to the newspaper and see if I can stir things up, so I plan to.  Your paint and PayPal donations welcomed.

Earlier, on Friday morning, I went out to NOC - Northern Oklahoma College (formerly, NOJC, J for Junior - it is a two-year college).

At the campus I met this year's recipient of the Verlin and Bonnie Easterling Scholarship.  This goes to a sophomore social sciences major, with an emphasis on history, my Dad's love. 

The recipient, Meagan Tiemann, grew up on a farm in the Tonkawa area and plans to continue her post-NOC education with a double major in history and English and the aim of being a writer and then one day becoming a museum curator.  My folks would have been pleased.  Also in the picture are the Director of the NOC Foundation (l) and the recently appointed President of NOC (r).

On to Edmond, where I had Saturday lunch with Connie, then joined Verla and her son, Sterling, on a trip to nearby Oklahoma City where they were celebrating the refurbishment and re-opening of a downtown park and botanical garden. Verla is the activity director at an Alzheimer's facility and she, some other staff, and several members of residents' families took a small group of residents on this outing.

Here's the outside of the botanical garden, called, I think, the Crystal Tunnel:

And some inside scenes:

That's Sterling, there.

The park is adjacent to a gleaming new skyscraper, way taller than any other building in the city, being built in downtown OKC.

 A major reason for being in downtown OKC, though, on this particular Saturday afternoon, was that Verla's favorite folk/bluegrass local band, called Horseshoe Road, was playing.  Here she and they are:

The band features an amazing fiddle player, Kyle Dillingham.  There's a YouTube video here, for your listening pleasure and amazement. 

Later we gathered at Verla's house for some visiting.

The fourth sibling, brother Lael, has been in Australia, though we heard just recently that the weather in Sydney, where they have been living on their sailboat, was so miserable that they were coming back to the States for a while.

Coming home on Sunday, I drove a few remnants of historic Route 66 in western OK and in TX.  Some Oklahoma scenes:

The South Canadian River bridge:

Gas station and cafe in Shamrock, TX:

Another gas station, this one in Glenrio, TX, right on the NM border.

Earlier, I pulled off at an I-40 exit just west of Amarillo, to make a phone call, or find a ball game on the radio,something, and saw this sign.  Sorry, I didn't make a note of the exit number so I can't advise you on where to stay.  Just look for sign.

Fun trip.



October Fests - 1 - Balloon Fiesta

Greetings Family and Friends:  No Tuzigoot trips this month, but some short trips that might be of a little interest.

I went out one early morning to what was to be the Special Shapes mass ascension at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  High winds aloft kept the balloons on the ground, which wasn't all bad because it gave you more of a chance to get around and see many of them up close.  Here's a sample:

Mild weather, not too crowded (this event was on a Thursday morning), traditional breakfast burrito and hot chocolate in the dark, had a good time.

Oh, on the bus from a shopping center parking lot in town out to the balloon field I happened to sit next to a good old boy from Houston.  Told me about three times that he used to come to the Fiesta every year because he really liked the nice pins commemorating each year's Fiesta.  A few years ago, though, the pins got kind of chintzy, so he quit coming.  He decided to try again this year, and the commemorative pin is much nicer, thank you very much.  Turned out that he drove to Albuquerque in his Tiffin motor home (which is what Tuzigoot is), so we had that common connection to discuss.  I didn't see him again after we got off the bus, but I wonder if he went on to the field or if he just hung around the pin shop telling other people his pin story.

Next: Trip to O-O-OKLAHOMA, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plains.