Wednesday, September 17, 2008

At Copper Breaks State Park where they grow big and noisy

Again, we didn’t go very far. We got away earlier than previous days. We stopped at Wal-Mart so Jim could get some T-shirts as he forgot to pack and a few grocery items. Then we stopped by the Route 66 Museum (at left)and took some pictures only as they weren’t open (either yet or not on Sunday). We went by Braun’s Ice Cream, where a truck carrying the part of a base to a wind turbine had an accident. The truck had passed us earlier when we were coming into Elk City. Thank heavens we encountered him before Braun’s.

We came down US283 thru the little towns of Mangum and Blair to Altus OK.; then, south to Vernon TX and west on US70 through Crowell, turning north on State 6 to Copper Breaks. We stopped at a road side rest area north of Vernon and had a bite of lunch and I gave Jim a haircut. The wind was playing havoc with his long hair! The country is FLAT, unlike Kansas’ flat. Ranching and farming, the little towns are neat and clean.

Here at Copper Breaks, there is only one other camper here in the Park right now and he is from Kansas too. We are somewhat sitting on top of a mesa overlooking the lake to the north of us. There is a nice wind blowing out of a northeasterly direction and it is a comfortable temperature right now. Didn’t take us long to get settled in and we are just enjoying the warm weather right now.

As you enter the Park, there is a herd of Texas Longhorns owned by the Parks and Wildlife Dept. These animals are descendants of original Longhorns that came about from the crossing of two types of beef brought in by the Spanish in the 1500’s: regular cattle for milk and beef and a specially bred black cattle that were used for fighting bulls. Many cattle escaped to run wild and from them developed the Texas Longhorn, a multicolored animal. They weren’t called the Texas Longhorn until after the Civil War. Seven other State Parks have Texas Longhorns.

Today is Day 2 at Copper Breaks. We arose on the late side, fixed a light breakfast, took showers (much nicer showers than at Fort Supply, at least my clothes didn’t get wet), and watched the only other camper leave around 10 am. We just lazed around, reading, working puzzles, fixed lunch. Around 2 p.m., we drove around the campground checking out the view of the Lake and other camp sights, to the Campground office to pay for tonight, looked at the museum information (interesting about Indians and the ranching industry then and now; and, how someone named Blair sunk $12 million dollars into a plan to get copper out of clay and nothing worked, he went broke and left). We drove into Crowell to pick up a few groceries and get some gas; then back to camp, read and BBQ’d some hamburgers for supper. (View of lake at Left above)

If one really wants to get away and have some REAL solitude, no kids running around, no big boats on the lake (not big enough), just contemplate life, read, write your memoir’s, nap, hike (lots of hiking trails), fish a little, smell the rain coming (which it didn’t), smell the rich, wet earth that’s being dug up by some critter underneath your window at night, watch the moon rise, hear the coyotes/wolves howl at the moon, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, watch the wildlife (Jim’s favorite were the roadrunners), or whatever, then Copper Breaks State Park is for you especially at this time of the year. The staff are wonderful. Restrooms are clean and plenty of hot water (what can you ask for when there isn’t anyone else here in the Park). It’s located on State Hwy. 6 between Crowell and Quanah. But bet it’s a hot bugger in the summer!

Tuesday, we head westward on US70 across the lower Texas Panhandle to Oasis State Park in New Mexico, on US70 just southwest of Clovis NM. We’ll probably be there just one night, then continue toward Roswell NM.

They Certainly Grow Them Big in Texas!

Just before bedtime, I headed up to the shower house. When I got about 50 ft from it, I encountered the BIGGEST raccoon I have ever seen rummaging around the trash dumpster. He was huge - as big as a small miniature, tiny horse, as big as a great dane or a standard poodle. I am so glad he thought I was the aggressor and left as I certainly didn’t feel very aggressive when I saw him. He was just HUGE. They really do grow bigger in Texas!

Then around 2 hours after we had gone to bed and I was in a good sleep, I heard a “bump, bump” and a “thud”. Jim woke up with a start, saying “what was that?” I told him it was some critter who wandered underneath not knowing how low it is and bumped himself on the frame or holding tanks, and just go back to sleep. So we settle down and all of a sudden there was the noisiest chattering, snorting and growling going on outside and whatever it was was really mad. He paced 3 times up and down the front of the trailer making his feelings be known. By the time I could get the outside lights on and look out a window, he was gone.

We settle down again, and I’ll be darn he was back again venting his frustrations only this time he banged something to make a metallic sound. Maybe he threw some gravel at the tire rims as all the chairs and table had been put up. If they hadn’t I then would have expected to see a masked face staring at me through the window! This time when the lights came on, I saw him scamper away - looked like a young raccoon as he wasn’t near as big as the one I saw earlier. Then a few minutes later, he came back and made some more noise, except on the back side of the trailer (probably ‘cause his forest protection was closer) and Jim hollered a expletive word at him and we never heard from him again!

We are now at New Mexico’s Oasis State Park, just north of Portales. There is a fishing lake and I understand the locals use it on weekends for their getaways. Cannon AFB is just north of us - west of Clovis. It’s another quiet place with only the camp host’s site and one other site occupied. Deserty with elm trees around the campsites. Sage, yucca, sunflowers along with some grass cover the ground. There are sand dunes just to the west of us, in fact the campground is in a dune area that has been stabilized with the vegetation. Temperature is right at 80 degrees and it’s almost 5 p.m. And dry air. Expect in the 50’s tonight.

There is a little museum here and just down the road is the Black Water Draw Site, a National Historic Landmark. This is a where prehistoric man and animals came to use the spring-fed waters; where the Clovis man hunted. Many archaeological digs have been done here.. The oldest hang-dug well is located here.

Good night.

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