Sunday, November 13, 2016

Road Tripping USA Part Eleven by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


www.joandonaldsonyarmey.com
 
Author’s Note

I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in October 2014.
     We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
     Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

 Road Tripping USA Part Eleven

     Mike and I drove into a different time zone and arrived in New Mexico. At Robo Canyon Road we turned to go to the Carlsbad Caverns. Mike wanted to rest so I bought my ticket at the visitor’s center information desk. It was 1:45pm and I only had until 2:00pm to begin the hike down into the cavern. Anyone coming after 2:00pm had to take the elevator because of time.
     I began the paved switchback trail down to the Natural Entrance. Once inside the cavern I continued downward on the Main Corridor. There are dim lights giving off just enough light to see but not too bright. I tread my way carefully, sometimes ducking under huge boulders, sometimes walking through narrow openings in the rocks, sometimes walking on the edge of drop-offs. I passed the Bat Cave, the Green Lake Overlook, and walked beside Iceberg Rock, a 200,000 ton boulder that fell from the ceiling thousands of years ago. I went slow relishing my time, sitting on benches to gaze at the beautiful formations. I was even passed by one group.
     I was introduced to caving when we moved to Vancouver Island. I heard of the Horne Lake Caves and the first summer I made three trips to the caves taking my children and grandchildren when they came to visit. There are different tours and each summer we would go further into the cave. When I was planning this trip I made sure that the Carlsbad Caves was one of our stops.
     At the bottom of the corridor I was 750ft (229m) underground and at the Big Room. The Big Room is almost 4000ft (1220m) long, 625ft (191m) across and 255ft (78m) high at its highest point. I began the 1¼ mile (2km) walk around the outside of the 8.2 acre (3.3ha) room in awe that I was in the Carlsbad Cave considered by some to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the World. I wandered along the paved path enjoying the different sizes and shapes of the stalactites, stalagmites, the columns, draperies, and the soda straws all formed over thousands of years by the single drops of water.
     Stalagmites form when droplets of water containing calcium carbonate fall from the ceiling and begin to form a mound on the floor of the cave. Stalactites form on the ceiling when the calcium carbonate is left once the drop of water has fallen. When they meet they are called columns. Some of these formations are tall and huge and when you consider that it takes about 100 years to grow just one inch, you realize just how many millions of years this cavern has been here with these creations slowly growing.
     I didn’t want the day to end but I finally took the elevator up to the visitor’s center, one of the last to do so before closing time. I bought two travel mugs at the gift shop and went to the camper.

West of Deming we crossed the Continental Divide again, drove through Lordsburg and entered Arizona. We turned onto Highway 90 towards Tombstone and drove into town looking for the OK Corral. The main street was blocked off so we found a place to park. At that moment four men in long black coats, cowboy hats, and boots strolled out into the street. Mike stayed in the camper as he wasn’t sure how fast or how far he could walk and the show looked like it was about to begin.
     I walked to where the four men stood in the middle of the road. Tourists took turns having their pictures taken with them. I bought a ticket to see the performance of the Shootout at the OK Corral. I walked out the back of the building past a buggy display, the prostitute’s crib, and C.S. Fly’s Photo Studio to the gun fight stage. Actors portrayed the events that led up to the gun fight and then the shootout itself. Virgil Earp, (the Marshall), and his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday were up against brothers Ike and Bill Clanton and brothers Frank and Tom McLowery (also spelled McLaury). At the start of the fight Ike Clanton, who was unarmed, ran off. After thirty shots in thirty seconds the McLowerys and Bill Clanton were dead, Virgil, Morgan and Doc Holliday were wounded and Wyatt was uninjured. I recorded it for Mike to see on my camera.
     With the ticket to the show I could also get a free copy of the edition of The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper that was put out the day after of the shootout. Besides the testimony of witnesses to the shootout there were advertisements for Pioneer Baking Soda, the Tombstone Carriage Shop, the Arizona Mail and Stage Line, and a $400 Reward was offered for the apprehension of the murderer of William C. Drake (late private of Troop G, 4th U.S. Cavalry, Fort Bowie, Arizona.). I also bought two bottles Sarsparilla.
     We drove to the Boot Hill Trading Post. We went through the building to Boot Hill cemetery to look at the graves of Frank and Tom McLowery and Bill Clanton. I dropped a post card in a box in the gift shop for mom.

 We stopped to visit friends, Berny and Barb in Yuma for a couple of days and they took us to a Mexican Flea Market. It was outdoors and large. We wandered up and down the aisles. I bought some boots and lots of material to make throws and pillows. Mike found a couple of hats. We listened to a Mexican band playing music. The whole market had a happy atmosphere.
     After saying goodbye to Berny and Barb we headed north towards Parker. At Quartzite we stopped to check out a flea market. All the vendors were inside tents or buildings. Mike saw a vendor selling a variety of tools, rocks, and small equipment so he stopped there. He was looking for a knife and he and the seller started talking. I was quickly bored so I went to the clothing store next door.

     I tried on a few jackets and shirts before I found two of jackets that I liked. One was pink and one was blue and they fit nicely. Mike came in and bought them for me. Sandra, the owner, asked us where we were from and Mike told her, Vancouver Island and ran through the spiel of going to Sarasota for a breast cancer survivor dragon boat festival.
     “My sister in Kentucky just had breast cancer surgery and is going through treatments,” she said.
     She had a computer on her desk. “Look up the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission web site,” I said.
     She saw the pictures of the venue, the races, and the opening and closing ceremonies taken by the drones.
     “I’m sending this to my sister,” she said and forwarded the information.
     Before we left I gave her a set of my novels and I am happy to say that Sandra and I are now friends on Facebook.

 We reached the Pirates Den campground in Parker, Arizona, on the Colorado River. Our friends, Deb and Duane and Rosalie and Mike, were camped there. Deb and Duane are our son’s in-laws and Rosalie and Mike are Deb’s sister and brother-in-law. Although our son, Oliver, and daughter-in-law, Sherry, and another couple, Dean and Kate, were staying at an apartment in Lake Havasu, they were all at the campground when we arrived.
     We all were invited to Rosalie and Mike’s motorhome for supper and a visit. I brought out one of the bottles of Satsuma rum and poured everyone a glass. It was a hit and I should have brought more than two bottles. After the meal the two couples headed back to Lake Havasu. After we got back to our motorhome, I went down and put my hand in the Colorado River.
     Deb and Duane have a pontoon boat and the next morning I went with them and Rosalie and Mike to Lake Havasu. We drove across the Arizona Bridge, formally the London Bridge, to the island where Oliver and Sherry were staying. Duane launched the boat and the seven of us (Dean and Kate had other plans) sailed up the narrow canal. We went under the London Bridge then around the island. It was so bright and sunny and peaceful. We sailed back the way we'd come.
     Lake Havasu is a manmade lake formed by Parker Dam. Lake Havasu City was established in 1963 by Robert McCulloch on the eastern shore of the lake. He purchased the famous London Bridge from London, England, in 1967. He had the bridge, which had been built in 1831 and spanned the Thames River, dismantled and brought to Lake Havasu City. He built a reinforced concrete structure and covered it with the exterior granite blocks from the London Bridge.
     The next day we went across the lake to a casino on the California side. Oliver had suggested we each play $20.00 for fifteen minutes and then we would split the winnings. Sherry and Duane won at slots and Oliver won at the blackjack table. The rest of us lost. When all the money was put together it came to around eighty dollars and we gave the money to Duane and Deb for gas for their truck and boat.

On the US Thanksgiving we said good bye to everyone and headed to Mesa. Before going to see our friends, who spent the winters there, we went to a Walmart for some groceries. We were in our seats making a grocery list when a truck pulled up beside us on the driver's side. A young Hispanic woman and a child got out. They came over to our motorhome. Mike rolled down his window and we smiled at the woman.
     “Are you having a Thanksgiving dinner?” she asked
     “What?” Mike said.
     “Are you going to have a Thanksgiving dinner today? We have lots of extra turkey at our place.”
     We were both taken by surprise. I stumbled as I answered.
     “Um, we are from Canada and we were going to some friend’s house here in Mesa,” I said. “But thank you very much for the invitation.”
     We were so impressed that they would invite strangers into their home on Thanksgiving. They must have thought that because we were in a motorhome we wouldn't be doing a big celebration dinner. I regret not going with them. It would have been nice to get to know such wonderful people.
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