2. Texas Glamping & Palo Duro Canyon…4.2018

Day 7
Jill was sick.  Not sure what had happenedfood poisoning or virus, she felt like crap.  We were headed to Palo Duro Canyon State Park  about 40 minutes away.  She drove there hoping shed feel better quickly.  Our camping spot for the next four nights was pretty, even though the canyon is more desert than not.  Trees surrounded us, high red walls & a tiny river were in our back yard.  She rallied to get the camper unhitched & hooked up, but then faded fast.  Her stomach was not going to settle easily.  She finally was ready to sleep & suggested that I go on & hike.  I left for a couple of hours, took a walk on a little path & got something to eat.  Note:  Palo Duro is about 15 miles from the nearest town of Canyon.  There is only one place to eat in the park.  The trading post sign advertised World Famous Burgersbut I was skeptical.  Its easy to get away with mediocre & bad food when theres no other choice.  I didnt want to go in the camper & cook, because I didnt want to disturb Jill & when you’re not feeling well, who wants to smell cooking smells.  So, I ordered a cheeseburger & was delighted that it was really really good!

I went back to camp, sat in the warm sun, read a book, drank a beer & watched as a ton of wildlife strode through camp.  This would happen every day.  At least when Jill was upright, she could look out her giant window next to her bed in the trailer & see the wildlife.

Day 8
I made coffee in the cool morning & listened as the troop of turkeys goobled around me.  Jill came out of the trailer & sat in the warm sun & we visited for a bit.  She was thinking the worst was over.  I offered to follow her back to Dallas if she was ready to call it quits, but she was content in her sweet little home away from home…well not exactly content, but if she was going to be horizontal for awhile, she was enjoying all the variety of wildlife & the many, many birds flittering around.

So, I went hiking.  

The iconic hike at Palo Duro is a 6 mile hike to a rock formation called the Lighthouse.  It was a fairly flat trail (this is Texas after all) but it was a beautiful day & I loved hiking at the base of these colorful canyon walls.  The hike was easy, until near the end.  Then it’s a scramble…up a steep steep incline & over big rocks & scree…looks more  like a wash & nothing like a trail.  My brain thought about the hike back down, but my body kept going up.



I carefully climbed back down the trail, tempted just to sit down on my butt & slide, but managed to stay on my feet until I got to the actual trail.  

Once back to camp, I checked on the patient, who was still laid up in bed but feeling better.  She was eating a little bit of food & we were both hopeful she was over whatever was making her sick.  I went back to the Trading Post for another cheeseburger, always sitting outside enjoying the nice warm weather.  It seems like it’s been a long winter & the older I get, the more I want warmth & sunshine.  Then I drove down to the end of the canyon, maybe 8 or 10 miles, not very far, but I wanted to see what it looked like.  Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the country…#1 being the Grand.  I don’t know how they measure canyons, but this one is not as deep or long as the Black Canyon in Colorado, but it was pretty.  I headed back to camp, & enjoyed my afternoon/evening routine of book, beer, sunshine & wildlife.

We had no cell service in the canyon but had to go up on top near the entrance/overlook to even get one bar to talk. There was no internet until you got to Amarillo, about a 30-40 minute drive. I called Danny daily but Jill was able to text Greg from down in the canyon using a new GPS device she’d bought for traveling.  It came in very handy for the two of them while she was sick.

As the skies grew dark, I could hear coyotes howling & owls hooting.  Awesome.

Day 9
Whatever Jill ate yesterday, didn’t set well & she was back down in bed for most of the day, only coming out of the trailer a couple of times.  Jill & Greg had Plan B going by now…he’d fly to Amarillo on Friday morning & drive her & the trailer home.  I drove into Canyon & bought her some groceries I thought might make her better…sick food.  Once back & I knew she’d just rest & try to eat a little for the rest of the day, so I went hiking.

The Rock Garden hike is rated strenuous…it climbs 600” in 2.5 miles.  It’s Texas after all, so if you don’t hike in the mountains that might seem like a lot.  But, it was an enjoyable hike that continues up until you reach the top of the canyon.  It was a pretty view from the top & I’d brought some hot tea & an orange with me, so I sat & drank & ate & took in the big view from up high.

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I just love hiking so much…this was a really nice hike.  The trail went up & down & was surrounded by huge boulders.  Back in camp, Jill came out of the trailer & we both visited for awhile.  But she felt pretty icky…the violent stuff was over, but it left her feeling weak & tired.  After she went back inside, I went back to the Trading Post for another cheeseburger…yes, I know, I’m crazy.

Then back to camp to enjoy a couple of beers (I was working on the stash I’d brought with me), a long long book & new wildlife!  I’ve never seen a roadrunner before except alongside Wylie Coyote!  Beep! Beep!

Day 10
Jill wasn’t any worse, but not really better either.  She asked if I’d make another trip to the store, which I was happy to do & call Greg for his flight info.  Once in cell range, on my way into Canyon, I called Greg & made the suggestion he fly in today.  Jill was being a trooper, but it was obvious that while she was on the mend, it was slow going.  And no one likes to be sick away from home.  He’d texted me back before I left the store with his flight info for today.  I’d make the jaunt back to camp to deliver groceries, move some stuff around in my car, then go pick him up at noon in Amarillo.  And, that’s what happened.  

We made it back to camp & I know they were both really glad to see each other.  It’s no fun being sick & away from home, but sometimes I think it’s harder on the person back at home filled with anxiety & worry because they can’t see how you’re actually doing.  About 8 or so years ago, I took myself to the ER in Aspen, CO with some strange allergic reaction (I had while hiking in Snowmass) & the “most impressive case of hives I’ve ever seen” as stated by my ER Doc (yes, I gave permission to let all the doctors take a peek at my swollen up hived over body).  I know Danny was worried about me when I called to tell him what had happened & then they admitted me for THREE days.  So, I know it’s worrisome to be the one at home.

They talked about whether to leave this afternoon or tomorrow morning.  It was about 2pm & I was hungry & wanted to give them time alone.  So I asked Greg if he wanted me to pick him up something to eat, but he rode with me to the Trading Post.  I, for the fourth day in a row, bought a burger!  We took the food back to camp  & all of us sat out in the warm sunshine & visited (only Greg & I ate).  They decided they’d head home now.  So, they both did all that’s required when you have a trailer…unplugged, hooked up & battened down the hatches.  With a giant long hug, Jill & I said good bye with hopes that our next adventure, this summer, will be a healthy happy one.  I waved good bye as they headed out to drive down to see the other end of the canyon before they headed back home to Dallas.

I backed my car into the campsite, loaded up my pack, put on my low hikers & walked to the trailhead.  This was the GSL (named after three guys last names that I can’t remember).  Rated strenuous at 5 miles RT with an additional 2.5 loop in the middle of it.  I loved this trail!!!!  It was a little up & down, but not much.  It took you way back into the canyon right next to the canyon walls.  It was great!  About one mile in, the wind picked up.  It picked up big time.  My hiking poles were swinging in the air when I’d lift them to step.  My hair (it’s very short now) was blowing sideways.


About this time, I’d pulled off my pack to take a Talie-pic (my travel project for Emma). The spot I was in was a little more protected from the brunt of the wind, but it was still noisy & I heard some tiny little sweet chimes.  I hadn’t seen anyone else on the trail since I started…but yet there were musical sounds.  This wasn’t a Vortex hike like Sedona has…had the wind scattered my brain?  Was I in a sacred space?  I was just lolling my head around like it was going to fall off & trying to figure it out, when I turned around & saw a biker behind me, now having to slow down because I HADN’T HEARD HIS WARNING TO GET OFF THE TRAIL.  I can be such a ditz somedays.  He was nice & probably thought I couldn’t hear him because of the wind, but sometimes my brain looks for the unexplainable answers instead of just the obvious (to everyone else) answers.

It just kept getting windier until I got to the loop.  The Little Fox Loop was more in the trees with a little cover, but also I was now in a different part of the canyon.  I hiked by a sign at the base of a tiny little hill that said Petite Teton.  The trail swirled up around the edges of the miniature mountain & this is what I found when I got to the top with a beautiful view of the canyon.

A huge gust of wind made me stagger in the small space so I quickly hiked back down the trail.  You can’t help but think about those whom you’ve known & those who you’ve never met, that have died & are no longer able to be part of life.  Whatever you want that life to be.  She was only a little older than I am.  Life is too brief for some; too long for others. 

Not too much farther down the trail, I was delighted by this unexpected sign: 

And next to it, was paper & pen to write your thoughts.  

“I feel so grateful to be healthy & able to enjoy this beautiful experience”…is what I wrote & was feeling.  The two moments coming back to back made me pause.  Someone who loved this place so much, was no longer here to enjoy it.  I was new to this place & loving my hike.  Life.  Rarely fair, sometimes horrid, joy filled times, miracles, tragedies, memories, love, tears of happiness & sadness.  Life.  

I ended the loop & began backtracking to the trailhead.  The wind continue to pick up & all there was to do was smile.  I ran out of water 1.5 miles before the trailhead…not smart, but no consequence.  I’d end up seeing a couple of other bikers coming towards me, so no more ‘chime-experiences’.  I hiked back to the campsite, drank two full thermos’s of ice water, put on my chacos, & doused my face & hair in cold water.  It was evening & air temp was dropping.  I started a new book, had my last stout, & looked at the sky.  I tucked in early but couldn’t get to sleep until about 3am. Busy mind, tired body, happy heart.

I’d enjoyed getting to know Palo Duro Canyon. 

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Day 11
I pulled out of the park about 7, cheating & not making coffee.  I stopped at Starbucks in Amarillo & to gas up.  Then I headed east for 4 hours, then going through Oklahoma, then north for 4.5 making it home about 3:30. There was nothing to see on the way home….I was back in Kansas. Danny was at work, & my cat is always mad at me when I’ve been gone.  She can simultaneously be angry with me & constantly wanting attention at the same time.  I was home.

At least for a few days.

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It was really fun to see all the creative ways the Wonderful Women of Waxahachie (the name of the event) could decorate their trailers.  I was so surprised to have enjoyed this event so much…the women that make up this tribe is what made it such a lovely time.  I hope to go next year & see some of my new friends & meet more new friends.  I’ll definitely be joining the Sisterhood (goal:  how to pack a costume in the most efficient way).

In our camp in Palo Duro, across from us was a couple traveling in a little Scamp trailer.  They were the Welcome Wagon of the campground.  They approached everyone walking by.  They gave their full story everytime.  They were loud.  They interrupted everyone….including each other.  They’d been on the road for 13 months, with the intentions of staying on it for another 5 years.  After they’d accosted each person walking by, they’d sit & talk to each other…until about 8pm each night.  They were never quiet.  I could hear their entire conversation.  I was rather amazed that: 1) They’d never approached me; 2) how quiet it became once they were inside their trailer; & 3) how they could find things to discuss with each other after being on the road in a small space for 13 months with only each other. Wonders never cease.

A small dog walked by leashed to his owner as I was sitting in the back of my 4Runner at camp one night.  It was so cute!  I’ve never been a Corgie fan, & this looked a little like a Corgie, but a little different too.  As my loud super friendly neighbor attacked—I mean greeted— the dog walker, I heard the owner say it was an Auggie—an Australian Shepherd Corgie mix.  Colored like the shepherd but built like a Corgie (with slightly longer legs & slimmer) it was cute.  His name also happened to be Auggie.  I’m in trouble if I ever run into an Australian Shepherd or Blue Heeler in need of a home.  I love those types of dogs.  But, I don’t want a dog.  My cat would never forgive me.

Another time, sitting in camp, a camper across in another direction walked over to speak to me.  He told me that earlier in the day, a herd of wild turkeys were pecking on my car (he pointed to Jill’s Mercedes SUV).  He said the paint is so shiny they could see their reflection & somehow that made them want to peck at car.  I looked for damage while telling him I owned the 16 year old SUV with the not-too-shiny paint….no turkeys pecking at that baby!  There was no damage to Jill’s car.  Good to know that Mercedes car paint can withstand pecking turkeys.  I’m sure that was the intention all along.

Speaking of turkeys, at dusk in camp one night I heard this loud noise behind the campsite.  Five turkeys had roosted up in the trees for a good nights sleep.  Kind of cool.

Winner! Winner!  I have had an on going battle to try to make Danny more comfortable for the week he spends with me in Colorado every July.  His body is over sleeping on the tent floor.  One year I bought him a thicker mattress; didn’t help.  One year I bought him one of those beach couches that you trap air in & you lay comfortably in the middle of it; didn’t work but it was an hilarious experiment.  Last year I offered him my cushy bed in the 4Runner & I would sleep in the tent; he turned me down (chilvary’s not dead).  Also, last year, Jill went on a frantic search for a cot for him before he came out to Colorado…the stores in Denver were empty of camping cots.  So, this year, when the Girl Camper podcast & Kamp-rite Tent cots offered a charity raffle at the Waxahatcie event, I was all in.  I popped for $10 in tickets & kept my fingers & toes crossed the whole time.  When the time came for Janine to pull out the winning ticket, my hopes were high (as were Jill’s, JoLynn’s, Barbara's & everyone who knew I was hoping to become a winner).  AND I WON!

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We’ll see how this works out. YAY!  & THANKS!  

One final note:  I hate it that Jill was sick.  She’d missed my birthday trip back in January & was so disappointed because she’d had the flu for 3 weeks, but it’s probably worse to be on a trip & be sick.  When I met up with her in Florida in February, I brought a cold, sore throat & nasty cough with me. Then, I re-caught my cough just before this trip.  I’m grateful she was healthy during the Waxahatcie part of the trip…I know she had a blast & will certainly be meeting up with the Sisters of Texas & some of their events.  I have talked with her everyday since she left camp, & she’s doing much better…on the mend for sure, but glad to be back home getting stronger.  Travel can sometimes take unexpected icky turns, but she was a trooper.  Palo Duro will happen again for us sometime, I believe.  It’s a great early season trip & not too far from either of our homes.  And, this summer we’ll be meeting up for our annual Colorado trip…all healthy & ready for adventure!

Stay tuned in…my next trip right around the corner.  Actually, it’s next weekend.  Danny & I make our super anticipated 4 day trip to Orlando to see Claire, Emma (who has changed so much since February), Sara & Kevin.  

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