Trip West 2014: Traveling West

This is a long post, so I don’t blame you if you only look at the pictures and don’t read all the details.

This summer, Tony and I had the chance to go out west. Aunt Jane invited us to the ranch again (thank you!) and I really wanted to visit Jean. I don’t fly and Tony and I looked into taking the train, but the timetable was ridiculous, so I drove (with Mom) and Tony flew out to meet us.

Day 1

I drove the first day – through Virginia, Tennessee, and part of Arkansas (we stopped in Little Rock). I wanted to make good time in those states because I feel like we’ve already seen most of what there is to see between here and there – at least on the interstate. I really wanted to make it further west before we played.

Day 2

The second day, Mom drove through part of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and part of Texas (we stopped in Amarillo). These are some of the highlights:

I was pretty excited that my phone could get the crop dusting plane in the picture.

When we stopped for lunch (Massey’s in Okmulgee, OK – it was good) we noticed just how many bugs we’d splatted. Imagine what the windshield looked like….

Since we’d made it across the Mississippi River (and then some), I was good for stopping. I wanted to do something in Oklahoma, so we stopped at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma. I thought it was a good place to stop – it wasn’t so big you felt like you had to spend a lot of time there, but it was big enough to feel like I got my money’s worth. They had a smallish room set up for each decade, so if you’re looking for a lot of detailed information about Route 66, I don’t know how satisfied you’ll be, but if you’re looking for a get-out-and-stretch-your-legs stop that isn’t too museum-y, this is a cool place to stop.

We finally made it to Texas! Which was a lot greener than I thought it was going to be.

Day 3

While we were in Texas, we stopped at Palo Duro Canyon.

The prickly pear cactus was in bloom, as were lots of other plants.

This lizard was poking around in the dirt when we saw him. It looks like he was eating some bugs or something (he was poking his tongue at the dirt while I was photographing him).

We were really disappointed to find that one of the trails we chose to walk was closed. Unfortunately, no one mentioned it when we entered the park or at the visitors’ center. We had a nice hike, but we were disappointed we had to stop earlier than we’d planned.

We had lunch at Boot Hill in Vega, Texas. It was really, really good. Even the vegetables were cooked well, and that’s saying something.

The car started acting up when we were in Texas (we suspect it was an O2 sensor), so I was glad we pushed as hard as we did through Tennessee and Arkansas. We stopped at a garage in Tucumcari in the afternoon and they were awesome dealing with me (honest, explaining what was going on and how they reached the conclusions they did, and not at all expensive), but they didn’t have the parts to fix the suspected problem. We thought we might be able to get the parts in Albuquerque, so we kept driving. We didn’t make it a whole lot further before we just called a tow truck (Mom has AAA, so it wasn’t a huge deal, other than the fact that we had to wait a really long time).

Day 4

We had planned to arrive at the ranch on this day, so I was pretty upset to wake up in Albuquerque with a broken car. We took it to another shop to get it checked again and they reached the same conclusion as the first shop did (much more expensive, but they were also willing to talk to me like I knew what I was talking about, which was nice).

We finally made it out of Albuquerque before lunch. I have to say, New Mexico and Arizona are awfully pretty….

We had planned to stop for lunch, but couldn’t find the place, so we pushed hard to reach the ranch before dark. That, at least, was successful.

There are more pictures in the album.

The following are the posts in this series:

  1. Traveling West
  2. Activities at the Ranch
  3. Wildlife at the Ranch
  4. Cowpunchers
  5. Las Vegas with Dad
  6. Jean’s Promotion
  7. Visiting Jean & Family
  8. Return to the Ranch (Friday)
  9. Return to the Ranch (Saturday)
  10. Teturn to the Ranch (Sunday)
  11. Return to the Ranch (Monday)
  12. Nevada and Utah
  13. Utah and Colorado
  14. Colorado, Kansas, Missouri
  15. Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Home

Another New Vegetable Bed

Apparently, at our house, there is no such thing as enough growing space. We spent last weekend building a new bed. I had so many plants in pots that I really needed a space to put them. I was out of space at Aunt Denise’s and out of space at the house. So we made more space.

We laid out the space, tilled it up, marked out the paths. You can barely see one of the beds we already had in the left top corner of the picture.

Then, we put some of the plants in, put mulch on, and added more plants. It was kind of chaotic because we kept finding more plants to put in.

So, here’s a final picture. I see this as a starting point for a much larger bed in the front. Eventually, that path will continue to where I was standing when I took the picture.

Tomatoes, Peas, Squash, and Mushrooms

The peas are producing! And they’re delicious; a lot of peas don’t even make it out of the garden. I managed to control my appetite long enough to get some home this last time and I’ve been enjoying them as a snack when I’m munchy.

This is something else I learned at my job. Instead of putting tomatoes in cages, I put some sticks in the ground with string/twine between to support the tomato plants. The idea is to add string/twine as the plants grow to support them as they grow. We’ll see if it works when they get larger. I think the thing that made it hardest to move this idea from work to my garden is that the farm I work at grows in rows and I plant offset. I made it work, but in the bed not pictured, it was a little more…interesting.

The squash is coming in (as you saw in the post yesterday). The other day I went out while the dew was still on the ground. I liked the fringe on the squash leaves. As is often the case, the picture isn’t quite as dramatic as it was in real life.

Finally, a bonus picture: a mushroom that was in the yard when I was walking around.

Squash Blossoms

The other day, I was working in my garden and I stopped to talk to Aunt Denise. She has a squash plant in front of her house and she was wondering what kind it was. I told her I didn’t see any female flowers to give me a clue. We started talking about male and female flowers on squash and I thought I’d make sure it was big enough for her to see (rather than sending pictures in a text message). So, Aunt Denise, this post is for you.

As you can see in the picture above, squash plants have both male and female flowers. The male flowers are on a fairly, thin long stem, while female flowers have a short stem, the fruit, then the flower. There’s a lot I don’t know about squash production, but the females have to be pollinated in order for fruit to develop (the squash in the picture below didn’t ever seem to open and eventually looked like it was rotting, so I pulled it off, but it is another female). I learned in some of my research that the male flowers are how you can enjoy eating squash blossoms without sacrificing your squash production (just don’t pull all the males off).

So, while I still don’t know what kind of squash you’re growing, Aunt Denise, this should answer your question about how to tell the males from the females.