Double Loop, Days 1-4: Kansas & New Mexico

June 9-12, 2022 | Photo Album

Meador Selfie Profile Pic

June is when Wendy and I usually escape Oklahoma for an adventure out west. As the initial Omicron variants of COVID waned, I considered flying to southern Oregon to enjoy the coast and the redwoods in northern California. But the cost of the flights was too high with skyrocketing fuel prices.

So I opted to return to southwestern Colorado with a few nights in Ouray as the centerpiece. I briefly drove through it in July 2011 when taking the San Juan Skyway route, and I had filed away the possibility of returning to explore it. Over a decade later, that ambition was finally realized as part of a giant figure-8 loop we drove across Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Our figure-8 loop; click to enlarge

Trailer Trash Tammy

Before the pandemic, Wendy and I enjoyed a live performance in Arkansas by Randy Rainbow, a YouTuber that Wendy discovered in the Trump years. Wendy has also enjoyed the ribald humor of Chelcie Lynn as Trailer Trash Tammy on YouTube, so she bought us tickets to a live show of hers in Kansas City. That event kicked off our vacation.

Rather than the usual routes through Kansas, I opted to steer the minivan up along Interstate 49 in Missouri this time for the journey to Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. We dined at the Cheesecake Factory and then checked in to the Courtyard by Marriot. A little window above the bed afforded a view of the nearby Plaza.

Country Club Plaza view from our hotel room

Then we headed to the Uptown Theater for the show, where we may have been the only masked members of the audience. We enjoyed the middle segment by Libbie Higgins the most, but you’ll have to ask me in person if you want me to recite any of her piquant observations.

The next day we had lunch at Stroud’s in Overland Park before heading to our next hotel room in Dodge City. That would break up the long drive from Kansas City, MO to Santa Fe, NM. Along the way, we stopped in Topeka.

Mulvane Art Museum

Joab R. Mulvane, 1837-1929, came to Kansas in 1876. He was the president of at least nine railroads and presided over the Chicago, Kansas and Western Railway Company when it built over 900 miles of rail lines for the Santa Fe. In 1922, Mulvane pledged a gift to build an eponymous Art Museum at Washburn University, and the building opened to the public in 1924. Its interior was replaced after a 1966 tornado destroyed or heavily damaged every building on the campus.

Wendy and I were amused by how an old cigarette vending machine had been repurposed as an Art-o-Mat.

Art-o-mat at the Mulvane Art Museum

Wendy enjoyed Frosty Morning by John Fabian Carlson and Sun, Sand, and Shadow by Frank V. Dudley.

My favorite work was hanging in a conference room: Canto No. 20 by Cheryl Wall.

Canto No. 20 by Cheryl Wall

We rolled onward to a Best Western in Dodge City. We had already seen enough of Dodge in a previous visit, and quickly departed the next morning for the long roll down across Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle, through northeast New Mexico to loop around the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo mountains to Santa Fe. I played Bob Wills’ & Tommy Duncan’s 1960 album Together Again as we rolled through the Panhandle. When Tommy sang Dusty Skies, Wendy remarked how perfect it was for the setting:

Dusty skies I can’t see nothing in sight
Good old Dan you’ll have to guide me right
If we lose our way the cattle will stray
And we’ll lose them all tonight
Cause all of the grass and water’s gone
We’ll have to keep the cattle moving on

Sand blowing I just can’t breathe in this air
I thought it would soon be clear and fair
But dust storms played hell with land and folks as well
Got to be moving somewhere
Hate to leave the old ranch so bare
I’ve got to be moving somewhere

Get along doggies we’re moving off of this range
I never thought as how I’d make the change
The blue skies have failed so we’re on our last trail
Underneath these dusty skies
These ain’t tears in my eyes
Just sand from these dusty skies

Cindy Walker wrote that song in the mid-1930s. She was just a teenager, inspired by newspaper accounts of the Dust Bowl. Cindy went on to have top 10 hits spread over five decades. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys eventually recorded over 50 of her songs, including Bubbles in My Beer. More than 500 of Walker’s songs have been recorded and her songs made the Top 40 charts in country or pop more than 400 times.

DoorDashing in Santa Fe

I noticed that Boise City no longer featured the courthouse square display about the accidental dummy bombing there in World War II. There isn’t much else of interest in Boise City, so maybe it will be restored someday.

We were glad to finally roll into Santa Fe that evening on the Old Pecos Trail. We were unwilling to brave the crowd at Tomasita’s, both out of concern about the circulating Omicron variants and being road-weary. So we just had DoorDash deliver our delicious meals to our nearby Casita Bonita. It was delightful to enjoy them in the peaceful courtyard.

Our favorite place to stay in Santa Fe

The next morning we drove to the Santa Fe Plaza for some shopping and then looped around the Valles Caldera on our drive to Durango, Colorado for a chuck wagon music show that night. I’ll cover that in the next post.

Photo Album | Double Loop, Days 4-5

About Granger Meador

I enjoy day hikes, photography, podcasts, reading, web design, and technology. My wife Wendy and I work in the Bartlesville Public Schools in northeast Oklahoma, but this blog is outside the scope of our employment.
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