Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dust Storms and Running on Fumes

Early June found us heading north to Canyon, TX. Canyon is just south of Amarillo, and is home of the majestic Palo Duro Canyon State Park...also known as the "Grand Canyon of Texas."

*I'll post more pictures of Palo Duro and the other various places in a separate post.

Unfortunately, we were only able to hike for a few hours.  Thus, we didn't get to see everything there was to see at the park.

It's a beautiful place, and I cannot recommend it enough!  The only thing I would suggest is maybe going in late fall or early spring to avoid hot temperatures.  Due to the hot weather, we didn't end up completing the 6 mile hike we set out for.  Josh didn't think Evan and Peaty could safely complete it, and he was right!  It would have just been too much for that time of the year.  

Before leaving Amarillo, we stopped at Amarillo Botanical Gardens.  Though not very large, it was just right and so beautiful!  The staff (I believe they are all volunteers) were out of this world friendly, the gardens amazingly gorgeous, and they have this HUGE greenhouse with tons and tons of tropical foliage and really neat stuff.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX

Due to a family emergency, we had to leave the Amarillo area for Albuquerque, NM.  Josh dropped off Evan and Peaty and I at a friend's house so he could head up north to Colorado to care for a family member who was in the hospital.  Our original plan was to be home by the first Friday in June, but we were stuck out of town for nearly two weeks!  

Thankfully, the Lord worked it all out and the family member who was near death not only survived, but is doing 

We are blessed with quite a few really, really god friends!  Thankfully my very good friend Angi and her family just PCS'd (military permanent change of station) to Albuquerque! They were more than willing to house and feed us as long as needed! Thank the Lord for good friends!  

While in Albuquerque, we did a lot of hanging out at their house while the children jumped on the trampoline and had water balloon fights, took in Happy Hour at Sonic, visited Jericho Nursery and met the owner Mr. Rick, visited a couple of health food stores, hiked at Petroglyph National Monument, walked the dogs (our vizsla and theirs plus their little doggie), shopped at Costco, ordered Papa John's pizza, and all kinds of other stuff!  Overall we enjoyed our time.  
Evan and Peaty at Petroglyph National Monument

Evan and Brailynn at Petroglyph National Monument

Josh came back to retrieve us and we took off the next morning (it was nearly afternoon) way later than planned (it was my fault).  I'm not good with goodbyes!  We decided to take the route down through Roswell and Carlsbad, NM.  I must say that New Mexico is a beautiful state!  High desert, cacti, open land, lots of small towns and ghost makes for a nice change for our family.  We enjoyed the drive up until about half way, and then it went downhill...FAST!!!

First up:

  • Horrible dust storm somewhere between Carlsbad, NM and Pecos, TX

We've never seen nor drove through anything quite like it!  At times, there was zero visibility.  At other times, we could taste the dirt.  And at other times, it looked like tornadic activity was somewhere out there in the dusty horizon.  We would later learn that, yes, indeed, there was tornadic activity that occurred in the very storm we drove through...we're just not sure if the activity occurred exactly where we were or AFTER it had pushed on through further east.  

Second up:

  • Running out of fuel out in the middle of nowhere between Ft. Stockton and Ozona, TX.  For real.  No joke.  Yes, I ran out of gas!!!  Totally MY fault!  Yes, the woman that keeps a year's worth of toilet paper on hand and ALWAYS keeps gas in her tank ran out of gas at the WORST possible time!
The not so pleased passengers hanging out on the side of TX 290 near Sheffield, TX.

Making the most of a crummy situation...why not explore at 10:30 at night out in the sticks!

The van...dusty, dirty, and empty of fuel.

Okay, so the running out of gas thing was much more terrifying than the dust storm that looked like it had tornadic activity event!  First of all, we were in the middle of nowhere, had no cell phone coverage where we broke down, and it was 10PM! Thankfully, we had a cooler full of food and water, had a dog, and were protected in the event someone came by and tried to start trouble.

Backing up a bit in the story...I could have filled the van up at Ft. Stockton. But I didn't. Once we got down the road a ways, I started to get sick to my stomach and feel very uneasy.  Josh was confident we would make it to Ozona, but I told him there's no way.  So he looked on his phone GPS and found that there was this little town called Sheffield and another called Iraan.  What we didn't know is that we should have headed towards Iraan, not Sheffield because Iraan had the gas station open late at night.  Well, we coasted on through Sheffield and past Fort Lancaster (which we didn't even know existed, and plan to visit again some day).

The van suddenly stopped at the most perfect place (on a little inlet intended for cars to pull over to perhaps take in the scenery?).  We accepted our reality and started to assess the situation.  Josh hiked up the road to find cell phone service.  I was scared to death and panicking. 

 And then, I remembered the Lord is always with us...and I started to feel peace.  The Lord took care of us that night, and set things in order so we could be on the road again within an hour and a half. 

Not far up the road was cell phone service, so I called USAA for towing and labor service. After explaining where we were located (it was difficult for the representative to find our location), we were set up for service.  While waiting, we enjoyed the cool breeze at the top of the hill and the full moon.  

Off to the north was a really nasty looking storm (remember that dust storm?), which was the very storm we intercepted in eastern NM.  We would learn later that the storm hit the very spot we were stranded at with some pretty intense winds and hail!  Thank goodness we were on the road and not stuck in a nasty storm!

Peery with Sheffield Towing came to our rescue!  He brought us 5 gallons of gas at no charge, and we were on our way.  Thank you again, Peery!!!  FYI...we did fill up the tank at Ozona.

We made it home at 3:15AM.  Yes, you read it the middle of the night! Thank the Lord He protected us and got us home safely!!!