Trailing down the Canyon

IMG_1275 Tom Turkey
The gobble-gobble of wild turkeys woke us to a brilliant rain-washed day–our chance to explore this grand (with a small ‘g’ canyon)  The Palo Duro is the 2nd largest canyon in the U.S. Seems strange to think it’s been sitting here in all it’s glory for so long  without our having heard of it till now.   Its awesome vistas  defied my ability to capture them in 4X6 dimensions… But I couldn’t help trying.
And of course I found a trail I just had to try. It just doesn’t seem like you’ve really experienced a place until you’ve planted your feet on it and gotten a closer look.  I opted for the downhill version of the hike and Jim offered to drive down and meet me.  Sarah, to run on ahead.  Perfect.   Alone with birdsong I dawdled down into the canyon along the old CCC trail (Civilian Conservation Corps)  snapping photos as I went.

Splendid way to spend a morning!  I just love a new trail…don’t fence me in! ( ;

Texas Weather!

Wow!  Texas is big and wide open and how I love its big sky and fluffy clouds…

We were having a delightful bit of driving yesterday heading up the panhandle to Palo Duro State Park..  I was absorbed in cloud gazing and wishing I could somehow capture them in a picture…
We would soon have opportunity to discover what goes with big skies and big clouds and glorious days in spring when the weather is just right…
But we were just driving… taking our time to check out little towns along the way.  Sections of old Hwy 66 lie along this route, and old brick streets dating from WW I, and quaint practices like scattering Longhorns throughout the town for decoration and advertising…
The day was bright and sunny but increasingly windy and chilled as we left Plainview heading North.   My big fluffy clouds were taking on an ominous gray…
Suddenly the highway was wet ahead and the sky dark, very dark.  Within a few miles there were cars huddled under highway overpasses and others off the road in the ditch.  White stuff carpeted the shoulders of the highway, a good inch thick! Further on it was piled inches high!   We had missed the hail but not the wind and stinging rain.  Then with a thundering fury it became icy –sounding like gravel hitting the windshield, bucketsful of gravel.  The roar of it was so loud we had to yell at each other to be heard. 
Jim wondered out loud about whether this could be the makings of a tornado.  I doubted that but not for long.  Suddenly the emergency broadcasting system cut in on our radio music with its ominous beep,beep,beep and then an authoritative and urgent voice proceeded to say scary things about the weather system all around us being prime conditions for the imminent formation of tornados.  Those in motor homes were warned to abandon them NOW and seek more substantial cover.  The prospect of half-dollar size hail was announced….The names of towns like Happy and Tulia were mentioned–the very ones we were just between… Suddenly it made sense why cars were huddling under overpasses.  These Texans know about weather, about hail, about tornadoes…
I pulled out my journal in the middle of it all to take notes–what an adventure!  We kept on not seeing any clear alternative, past the exit for Happy and on to Canyon to our campspot.  By the time we reached our exit a half hour away, the weather had settled down to a controlled shower…We pulled in to the ranger station just ahead of the gates closing.  The gal at the desk was all excited about the storm reported to be on its way there.  She apologized for her eagerness,  but said they hadn’t had a good storm for a long time and no significant rain since October!  In anticipation of  flooding all the tenters in the lower half of the park were in the process of being relocated and spots were in short supply but we were directed to a site with high ground…
And that was all our excitement for the moment–sorry to be so anticlimactic but we had arrived safe and sound, not at all disappointed;  except I think Jim had quietly harbored  hopes of seeing a tornado…
We set up the Boler and went back into town the showers having stopped, to find a good Texan dinner…
But actually, our excitement was not completely over.   After we  returned  to the campsite that night, the rain commenced with a fury–a deluge complete with intermittent hail–and gave us such a lightning storm as we have never seen.  It went on and on for over an hour, with great claps of thunder right overhead.  We were thankful to be deep inside the 2nd biggest canyon in the U.S. –cozy in our Boler (poor tenters!) watching the storm and writing e-mails…  ( : 
And so has grown our appreciation of the big skies and fluffy clouds of Texas!