Beautiful day

Today was bright and warm, but very windy. This character was seeking shelter from the wind on one of the crocus blossoms in the front yard when I came home for lunch:

Crocus bee

The crocuses were really putting on a show:


I spent several minutes in the back yard, watching our girls zip in and out of their hive. They seem to be thriving, and they’re obviously finding plenty of pollen — take a look at the bee on the lower left:


We had another glorious sunset this evening, but I didn’t have the camera handy to catch it for you. 😦

I think on Wednesday evening, Ron and I need to go for a walk along the river trail and watch the sun set. I’ll remember to bring the camera along.

Hope your day was as beautiful as mine.


Weekend in New Mexico

My trip got off to an auspicious start Friday, as I headed out of town after work and found myself driving into OKC under the most gorgeous sunset imaginable. My friend Brad called me just as I noticed the pink mackerel clouds off to my left. Five minutes into our conversation, the light had changed colors three times, there were enormous bands of gold streaking across a dazzling blue sky, and wispy pink clouds danced along the edges like the fringe on some giant falsa blanket. I finally interrupted him to ask if he could get to a west-facing window.

He couldn’t.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a fisheye lens or a place to pull over (I was on the turnpike just then), so I couldn’t shoot it for him. But I felt like a bit of a tease, telling him about that gorgeous sunset while he was stuck in a downtown skyscraper, so I made a mental note to bring back a New Mexico sunset for him.

These next three shots are for Brad. Notice Tucumcari Mountain in the background of the first two images:

Tucumcari Mountain



I spent two nights at the incomparable Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. The weather was a little chilly, and it was too overcast to go out and shoot dazzling vistas on Saturday morning, so aside from brief visits to each of my usual haunts (Tepee Curios, Lowe’s grocery store, Coyote Moon, and La Cita), I spent most of the day at the Swallow, reading and napping and taking it easy. Which was fine with me … I’ve made so many manic trips out that direction, it was good to have a little time to slow down and catch my breath.


Inflation forced this bit of neon work off the Swallow’s marquee, but the owner keeps it hanging in a garage to amuse nostalgia buffs:

$3 and up

I slept in a little on Sunday morning, read some more, and then hit the road around 11 a.m. Tucumcari time (which would be noon Tulsa time).

Instead of taking Route 66 back home, as I’ve done a dozen times before, I decided to try something new: I took U.S. 54 to Guymon, then picked up U.S. 412 from Guymon to Sand Springs, which is about 5 miles from where I live. I found a few interesting things on the road.

This great-looking old motel is in Nara Visa, N.M., about five miles from the Texas border:

Western Stars

As I was shooting this theater in Dalhart, Texas, a guy jogging down the otherwise deserted street said, “The inside is even prettier.” I can well imagine. Too bad it wasn’t open.

Theater in Dalhart

This monument to the XIT Ranch is also in Dalhart:

XIT monument

This guy is standing outside an abandoned steakhouse between Dalhart and Stratford:

Big guy

This abandoned house east of Guymon looks like something out of The Grapes of Wrath. There are a lot of abandoned houses like this in western Oklahoma:


I think this next image is from Woodward, but I didn’t take notes, so I could have shot it somewhere else:

Mystery motel

I didn’t know this was possible, but I think Oklahoma has actually one-upped New Mexico for gorgeous scenery. Look at the striations in these mesas. They look like something out of the Painted Desert, but they’re actually on U.S. 412 west of Enid:

Painted 1

Painted 2

Painted 3

And finally, just to cap the trip, here’s a sunset west of Enid:

OK sunset

I am the Starlight …

The Starlight Express (my Scion xA, so dubbed because of its striking resemblance to a roller skate) and I are back in town.

I am pleased to report that it was a wonderful, relaxing trip, and by the grace of God, the Starlight Express and I shattered our old gas mileage record (399.9 miles on a single tank) by 30.8 miles, posting an impressive 40.712733 mpgs tonight after getting caught on the Cimarron Turnpike with a tenth of a tank and 395 miles on the trip odometer. The gas light came on at 400 miles … five miles past the sign that said, “GAS — FOOD — NEXT EXIT — 35 MILES.”

There was nearly a gallon and a half left in the tank when I finally fueled up.

Mind you, the Starlight Express is not a hybrid … just an inexpensive, well-designed Japanese ICE that’s got an EPA rating of 38 mpg highway but easily outperforms that if you drive like a hypermiler. I highly recommend the xA if you need something inexpensive, reliable, and cheap to feed.

More details from the trip when I get these photos worked up.