Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

Found: the end of the world!

NEEDLES, Calif. — Bum Phillips, the late, great football coach, once told a magazine interviewer that his hometown of Orange, Texas, “wasn’t the end of the world, but if you get up on your tippy toes, you can see it from there.”

Well, Coach Phillips, I believe I have found the end of the world. It is here … in Needles, Calif.

This is the latest stop for Toby the Puppy and me as we trudge our way westward and northward. It’s an overnighter, then we head for the central part of the state, where we intend to gaze skyward at some tall timber at Sequoia National Park.

There really is nothing to see here. The highway west from Needles is among the more desolate stretches of roadway in these United States. The next day’s travel will be — without a doubt — the least scenic leg of this journey. I’ll be looking at mountains, but they will be far, far away.

Family members await in Sacramento, then in Santa Cruz, then on to Eureka, Calif., before heading into Oregon.

Toby the Puppy and I have enjoyed plenty of scenic splendor so far. The Grand Canyon is as gorgeous as it gets anywhere on Planet Earth. The drive into and away from Gallup, N.M., presented plenty of eye-popping visuals as well.

A saving grace about our stop in Needles has been the courtesy extended by the campground hosts where we are spending the night. Indeed, we aren’t strangers to this particular site, as my bride and I came here at least three times before while pulling an RV. It’s all changed, of course.

For now, though, I am enjoying the company of my pooch, who — to my total non-surprise — has proved himself to be the King of Road Warriors. His stamina is astounding, not to mention his ability to “hold it” for as long as he does.

The road ahead awaits my puppy and me, even if much of the next leg will be oh, so lonely.


Master of impeccable timing

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — You can take this declaration straight to the bank, because it is the unvarnished truth.

Which is that I am the undisputed master of impeccable timing.

How do I know that? Because I ventured to one of the nation’s most sensational natural exhibits — the Grand Canyon — and got there just ahead of the massive crowd of tourists that stampeded onto the park grounds after Toby the Puppy and I had arrived.

We had the parking lot in front of the visitors center virtually to ourselves when we pulled in. We parked our truck and began our trek along the south rim of the canyon. The sky was overcast, the weather was cool, but the wind was calm.

We took in the sights of the splendor laid out before us. My puppy got lots of love from some of the kids who were out there with us.

As I looked back at the parking lot, I noticed it was filling up rapidly. The walking path wasn’t — yet! — jammed with other tourists.

We finished our sojourn along the rim after about three hours and headed back to the truck. We exited the park around noon.

I then noticed that the entry gate where I had just driven up, presented my Senior Pass and entered the park was backed up more than a mile with vehicles and their occupants waiting to get into the park.

I chuckled.

I also wished them luck as they waited their turn — and then I wondered if there was any place for them to park once they got in.

The day for Toby and Puppy and me, though, was spectacular … and you can take that to the bank, too.


Journey about to begin

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. A strange, but I hope invigorating journey is about to commence for Toby the Puppy and me.

It’ll take about a month to complete. I want to get a couple of points out of the way.

First is the obvious aspect of the strangeness of this trek I am about to take. It will be the first such journey without my beloved bride, Kathy Anne. She’s been gone now for a little more than a month. I decided several weeks ago to take this trip just to get out of the house.

So, I will do so likely before the sun comes up in the morning. I will see plenty of friends and family along my journey westward. I am not looking forward to being greeted by those who will look at me, well … differently. Kathy Anne and I spent more than 51 years together and we did practically everything together. 

Virtually all of my friends have known me only as one half of a team. My much better half won’t be there when Toby and I show up. You get my drift, yes?

Now … that’s off my chest. I want to stipulate a more important point, which is the way I intend to chronicle this journey. I will not dwell on the intense sadness I continue to feel. Instead, I intend to convey the marvelous discoveries I will make along the way.

The Grand Canyon awaits; yes, I’ve been there already, but its splendor is beyond description. Same for the sequoia forests of California; I’ve never seen the monstrous trees, so I want to share my awe at nature’s towers. The Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco to the Oregon border (weather permitting) will get plenty of attention, too.

The return trip from the Northwest will include a brief leg along the Loneliest Highway in America and will take my puppy and me through Santa Fe and into West Texas.

This blog serves multiple purposes. It serves as a platform for me to vent on politics and policy It also gives me a voice to express personal feelings and the joy of living the dream. If a grand jury indicts a former POTUS, well, I’ll weigh in on that at the right time. Absent that and some other things I might notice on our trip, I am going to devote a lot of cyber space recording the joys of the sights I see, sounds I hear and the people I meet.

So, with that, let’s enjoy the ride together.


Itinerary set … ready to ride!

All righty, gang, I am proud to announce that my trek out west has been cast in stone … more or less.

My bride, Kathy Anne, would be shaking her head at me as I planned every stop along the way to the Pacific Ocean and back home. I even went so far as to make reservations at campgrounds and motels along the way.

She wouldn’t have done it that way, but she would be cheering me along the way as I venture away from the house we shared for too-brief a period. I need to get away. And so … I will.

I plan to do some sightseeing on my journey. I am going to spend two nights near the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We went there a couple of times years ago, hiking along the Bright Angel Trail to a plateau overlooking the Colorado River. It was 3 1/2 miles down and, yes, the same distance back. The vertical drop from the rim is about 3,000 feet, which gives you an idea of the torturous hike we took to return to the top of the trail.

Toby the Puppy and I aren’t planning any such hike on this trip.

I am going to spend a night in Visalia, Calif., which is just west of Sequoia National Park. I am going to drive to the park and look at those extraordinarily tall trees.

I’ll be seeing family and friends along the way.

The weather in California has been, shall we say, a bit dicey. I’ll need to remain flexible. I have mentioned already that I am an adaptable fellow. I do not hope to demonstrate my adaptability chops on this trek.

The Pacific Northwest also beckons. It was where I came into this world, where my bride and I got acquainted and where I have many friends and family awaiting.

The trip home will be scenic, too. I’ll be traveling for a stretch along the “Loneliest Highway in the Nation,” U.S. 50 before turning south toward Santa Fe, N.M. and then into West Texas.

More friends and family await in Texas.

All in all, I’ll be on the road just a bit longer than a month. I look forward to this journey. My aim is to clear my head and mend my broken heart.

The head-clearing is easy. The heart-mending? I am not yet sure how that will work. I will hope at the very least that I will be able to return home to North Texas with a smile on my face and knowing that Kathy Anne enjoyed the ride with our puppy and me.