Thursday, 7 May 2015

Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado...farewell USA

We had a few days to get back to Colorado before we flew home so we left Missouri, drove down in to Arkansas, Oklahoma
 spent the night in Oklahoma City, stopping in to see the Capitol Building, where we were made to feel so welcome...having come all the way from Australia to visit! And even the Governor welcomed us with some icecream...or maybe it was just the people from the Real Estate Conference, that was being held at the Capitol Building, who had left over icecream and needed to get rid of it.  Either way, they were lovely to us.
The next morning we continued on the I 40, passing windfarms with literally hundreds and hundreds of turbines, as far as the eye could see and plenty of fields
on our way to Texas.
We had to spend some time in Amarillo, because of the song and we found plenty to do there...a bit of Route 66,
a free RV museum...gotta love the airstreams...
and Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which was described as the Grand Canyon of Texas...errr, no.
But it did lead us to this guy, Big Tex from Canyons, Texas!
I had heard about Cadillac Ranch, (which is not to be confused with Carhenge in Nebraska)
and sure enough there it was, in an empty, dusty paddock...painted Cadillacs buried in the dirt!
While we were there, a helicopter was doing dramatic flyovers over the cars,
with a reporter hanging out the door.
It landed and out got this guy...bloody's Ron Burgundy from Anchorman. 
It was a group of guys doing a fundraiser from LA...pretending to be the Anchorman crew and they had heard about a "car pile up" in Amarillo, Texas and were doing a "news story".  They then proceeded to interview Stu. Funny guys!
We crossed into New Mexico
arriving at a small town on Route 66 called Tucumcari. Once we had settled in we went for dinner and did a drive around the town.  Turns out we had been here before but didn't realise.  It is a dying town due to the Interstate being built, but it still had plenty of character and lots of original buildings and signs from when it was the only road,
and they had done the supermarket up since we were last there, making use of the towns iconic location.
Stu visited a Thrift shop (and bought some "magical New Mexican egg shaped rocks" which are supposed to encourage our chooks to lay) and the old guy who owned the shop told him about a route we could take on our way to Sante Fe, via Las Vegas, New Mexico and not on the I 40.  It was a great road, NM 104, no cars and lovely scenery.
a little bit of wildlife near Conchas Lake State Park,
interesting clouds,
abandoned buildings
small old towns,
and great stretches of road
that eventually took us to Las Vegas, San Miguel County, New Mexico.
Which is NOTHING like Las Vegas, Nevada! There were some lovely old buildings, on big wide streets
and we found this beautiful church just off the road.
The best part of Las Vegas?  Going to Rough Riders Antiques and buying this little gem that made it all the way home in one piece!
Next overnight stop was Santa Fe, NM.  We had been here before but it was still good to see the beautiful architecture...
When you leave Santa Fe you drive under these gorgeous bridges (America is good at their bridges!)
past some markets where we stopped to get lunch and discovered we had about $3 cash on us, so the lovely Indian lady felt sorry for us and gave us a meal worth $8 for $3!
and up to El Santaurio, de Chimayo, New Mexico..another place we had visited before and which is beautiful.  This time there were more people, so it had a different feel to it than when it was just Stu and I there.
We were planning on staying in Colorado Springs that night and were pushed for time, but still managed to stop at my favourite NM shop.
These guys looked a little out of place..
and Stuart promised me he would make me one of these.
We did a little bit of shopping...we still had a few kgs to stretch the baggage allowance...and I'm pretty happy with our purchases.
We said goodbye to New Mexico and hello to Colorado.
We were on State Hwy 159 and drove through San Luis, the oldest continuously populated town in Colorado.  It was getting dark and cold, so unfortunately we didn't have much time to look around
but we did get a great view down the valley towards the gorgeous snow capped mountains.
Up on a hill overlooking San Luis was a church.  We wanted to see it and spent ages trying to find the road,  Eventually we gave up and continued on to Colorado Springs, before coming across a gravel road. 

We hoped it was the road to the church and sure enough (despite the lack of distance signs) we eventually made it up the hill to beautiful Sangre De Christo Catholic church.
and where there is a Stations of the Cross Shrine, which is a hike up a hill, that unfortunately we didn't have time to do.
So we continued on to Colorado Springs enjoying nature's amazing views,
arriving there late in the evening. Next morning we drove into Denver to Connie and Bill's place.  Our last full day in the US.  The four of us went out to an old favourite for lunch....Costco, we packed our bags, snowboard and boxes...and enjoyed happy hour and a delicious meal with Connie and Bill and their friends Russ and Darlene, and a game of Aggravation where the only concern of Stu's was to not leave America a loser.  Fortunately for him he was 2nd last loser!
Connie and Bill were so generous with Winter Park and their home and it was so sad to say goodbye to them. We can't wait till they come out to visit us next year.  We had another fantastic, amazing, wonderful trip back to the US,
seeing more of this great country
and meeting some lovely, generous people.  The US has become like a second home to us and we will always treasure the time we have had here forever.