A Bit of Winter in July

It’s not every day you can combine two amazing adventures in one. Well, not completely true. In 2013, the owners of Turning Heads Kennel bought Seward Helicopter Tours and began flying folks like Steve and me up to Godwin Glacier for a bit of dog sledding. These aren’t just any old sled dogs. They are canine athletes! They’ve competed in races like the Tustumena 200, the Willow 300 and the Iditarod. Like all athletes, training is important. But how do you train sled dogs when there isn’t any snow? Well, you set up a base camp on a glacier! Then you fly people up there to share the experience.

We began our trip at the Seward Airport. Where we donned over-boots to keep our feet dry and warm parkas which were provided for us because, well, we were flying up to a glacier! Then we waited for our turn to board the helicopter…

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It takes about 15 minutes to reach the basecamp on Godwin Glacier and the scenery was incredible…

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After landing on the glacier, the mushers introduced us to the future stars of sledding – the puppies!

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After getting our fill of puppy kisses, our musher talked with us about what life is like for a sled dog. He said educating people about dog sledding is an important part of the experience. Someone in our group asked, “What makes a sled dog want to pull and run?” And I loved the answer – “What makes a retriever chase a tennis ball or jump in the lake? It’s what they do, what makes them happy.” And the chorus of barking dogs told me these were some happy pups!

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Our team was already hitched up and we got settled onto the sleds to begin our ride…

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The dogs’ excitement was contagious as we started across the glacier. There were two sleds hitched together, our musher stood on the back of the first sled and we all got a turn at standing on the back of the second sled…

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Blue skies and breathtaking scenery helped complete the picture perfect day…

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While Steve was taking his turn on the back, I took a video from the front seat…

And soon, we pulling back into basecamp…

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When our ride was over, we had plenty of time to meet our team and the other dogs who call Godwin Glacier home. I noticed several of the lighter colored dogs had dark circles around their eyes. Our musher explained it is eye makeup and it helps them not get snow-blinded…

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We also got to witness the obvious love the mushers have for their dogs…

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All too soon, our return helicopter landed to whisk us back to the airport…

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It doesn’t get any more exciting than this! Helicopters, glaciers, dog sledding and puppies!

Up, Up and Away

Our adventurous side was calling and Marathon Helicopter Tours answered! We’d seen Resurrection Bay up close on our glacier cruise, but seeing it from the air was an entirely different experience.We checked into their office at the airport, received our safety briefing and were soon ready to take to the air. Our pilot, Mike, has been flying helicopters since 2006 and moved to Seward in 2012. He clearly loves what he does! As we lifted off, he pointed out various Seward landmarks, giving a running commentary on the landscape…

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We hugged the shoreline as he told us how the 1964 earthquake forever changed the face of Seward (and all of southern Alaska).

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We flew over some kayakers enjoying the first sunny day we’d had in a while…

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Soon, we made our way up into the mountains, with stunning views of Resurrection Bay for contrast…

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We saw mountain goats, deftly crossing the rocky outcroppings…

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As the mountains gave way, we got our first look at Bear Glacier and its bay…

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With a practiced ease, Mike swung his flying machine towards the glacier, giving us a close-up view of its beauty…

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Mike explained the ridge of dirt on the glacier is a medial moraine. A moraine is the accumulation of dirt and debris on an icefield. When it is on the edge of the glacier, it’s called a lateral moraine and when 2 glaciers combine, their edges become the middle and a medial moraine is formed…

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As we flew near the edge of the glacier, we could see the lateral moraine forming…

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The landscape seemed other-worldly, as if Mike had transported us to another planet…

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As we crossed into the airspace over Kenai Fjord National Park, we were treated with the sights of glacial lakes and rivers…

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Mike’s in depth knowledge and humorous commentary is only surpassed by his ability to spot wildlife far below of the forest floor…

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We knew our adventure was nearly over as we flew along the Resurrection River with its many creeks and streams…

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It was an amazing adventure! Mike, in one word – AWESOME! The scenery so breathtaking, I’m still winded. If you’re ever in Seward, stop by Marathon Helicopter Tours and they will take you on an Alaska adventure you’ll never forget!

Have you ever been on a helicopter tour? Was your adventure as fun as ours? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

Our Hinkey Summit Adventure

Page had told us about another drive we would enjoy. “If you follow the road through Paradise Valley, you will come to the base of Hinkey Mountain. There is a road to the summit, your Jeep wouldn’t have any trouble,” he said. Frankly, the prospect of getting to do a little 4-wheeling really appealed to me.

First we had to find the road to Paradise Valley. Page had said it was easy. “Head out Hwy 95 for 25 miles or so, when you see a gas station in the middle of nowhere, take that left. That’s the road to Paradise Valley.”  Seems simple enough. Steve and I were enjoying the drive, just chatting about our adventures the previous day (you can read about that here) when I noticed these tiny heads popping up along the side of the highway. “Did you see that? What are those? Look, there’s another one. Slow down, I want to see what it is.” Well, there were cars coming up behind us so slowing down wasn’t an option. Lucky for me, our “middle of nowhere” gas station was just up ahead. Hopefully when we made the left, there would be more heads popping up. Sure enough, as we made our way down Paradise Valley Road, there they were. Steve pulled to the side of the road and I waited anxiously for the critter to makes its appearance. I didn’t have to wait too long…

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They reminded me of the pocket gophers we had seen in Texas but these were prairie dogs. It was comical to watch them pop up and scurry around, only to disappear into another burrow. We watched for a bit then resumed our drive. All the sudden, without a word, Steve banged a u-turn. Huh? What had he seen that I missed? He pulled over again and pointed to one of the prairie dog holes and said “Isn’t that an owl?” We got out the binoculars and sure enough, it was a burrowing owl. The problem was, it wasn’t feeling like being social. Every time we tried to get a picture it either dropped back down into the hole or it would fly off to a fence post just out of camera range. With a little patience we were finally able to  get a few shots…

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Leaving the owls to their activities, we drove on. I was thinking “Wow, Hon, get catch with the owls!” when a pheasant flew into the road. Naturally, it didn’t stay long enough for either of us to get a shot. Now it was my turn…”Pull over!” I wasn’t sure what I had seen, but I wanted a closer look. When I walked over to the fence line, this is what I had seen…

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Hey, it’s still wildlife, it’s just long dead wildlife. As I was getting ready to get back into the Jeep, I looked down the fence line and saw something a little more photogenic…

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Wow, I was loving all this wildlife! Once again, we started back towards Paradise Valley. Finally, we made it and had to get a few pics while we were there. It is another ‘has been’ town with more abandon houses/businesses then occupied, but it has a saloon too…

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We finally found Hinkey Summit Road. It wasn’t going to be 4-wheeling unless the road got a heck of a lot worse further on. With no other vehicle in sight, we crawled along, ever ready for our next wildlife encounter. Steve stopped by a pond and I got out to check it out. Lots of ducks and geese and a couple birds I couldn’t identify at the time…

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American Avocets – Thanks Google!

We came to the entrance to Homboldt National Forest where the road to the summit truly began. I oohed and aahed at the scenery…

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I took pictures of the winding road…

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As we neared the summit, I noticed a natural bridge…

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At the summit, we almost got to go 4-wheeling. There was still snow to play in…

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OK, not really enough snow to 4-wheel in. Perhaps it was the elevation getting to me but I had an idea – I would take a video on the way back down the mountain. Maybe not my best idea ever, but what do you think…

Thanks for coming along.

I am almost caught up. I have one more post about our trip then I will start on arriving in Alaska and our adventures so far (there have been some cool ones!)

A Strange Twist of Fate – aka Unplanned Happiness

Our original plan when we left Texas was to head to the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t been making RV park reservations because we weren’t dead set on the dates we would arrive anywhere. This turned into a problem when I started looking for a place near the canyon. Everywhere was booked solid. Apparently there is a water crisis in the park and outlying parks are picking up the slack. I had resolved we would just drive on to Las Vegas and see the Grand Canyon on some future trip. This had left me a little cranky and it didn’t help that Waldo was overheating – again. As I sat in my seat, sulking a bit, and perhaps muttering a few profane words, Steve pulled off the highway and turned into the parking lot of the Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP for short). Hmmm, maybe we should find an RV park near here and explore. I called the Sunny Valley RV Resort and made reservations for 3 nights. The park was right off the highway and only about 20 miles from the PFNP. We were unhooking the Jeep and trying to get settled in when I noticed another rig pulling in. I didn’t really give it much thought, but suggested to Steve he move the Jeep out of the way because we were about to have neighbors. A few minutes later, I came out of Waldo to see if there was anything I could help with outside. This was the moment my entire day turned around!!!! I was watching the camp host escort the incoming rig to the site next to us. She was walking with the passenger as the RV followed behind. When they got near us, in a less than ladylike fashion, I hollered, “Holy S*#T, I know you!” Technically, I didn’t really “know” them, not personally, but I have followed their blog for quite a while. It was Dawn and Mike from Random Bits of Trial and Error! Luckily, they almost always include what Dawn calls “Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there” so I knew it was her. At nearly the same instant, we ran towards each other, like some corny romantic beach scene, threw our arms around each other and hugged. We’ve been conversing via blog comments and email for close to a year and it felt like meeting a long lost friend. But, just think about this, we only stopped at THAT park on a whim – no planning. I had no idea Mike and Dawn were heading back east. They had no idea we would be there. I can’t even begin to calculate the odds of us arriving within an hour of each other. There are dozens of parks either of us could have chosen, but we both ended up at Sunny Valley.

Steve and I went back into Waldo and had dinner. I just kept saying “How flipping cool is that!” “What are the odds?” I have personally met a few of the bloggers I follow, but it was always by design, not some strange twist of fate. After dinner, the four of us sat out by the picnic table and talked and laughed over a few glasses of wine (well Steve was drinking beer).  It was the perfect ending to what had been such a crappy day. Actually, it wasn’t exactly a perfect ending because the wine went straight to my head (I’m going to blame it on the elevation about 5400 feet above sea level) and I fell off the picnic table. Doh! Thankfully, Dawn and Mike just laughed it off, but I was pretty embarrassed.

Over the next few days, we each did our own thing during the day and spent evenings around their very cool propane firepit. Mike still works full time, so Dawn does quite a bit of exploring on her own. While we were there, she visited the ghost town of Two Guns. I can’t wait to read her post about it and see all of her pictures!

We had dinner together our final night. I brought stuffed shells and she made a huge salad, garlic bread and dessert. I was truly sad we were leaving. Looking back, I’m really bummed I didn’t take more pictures of us together! It was such an awesome experience meeting them in person! Thank you Dawn & Mike for being the best neighbors we ever had at Sunny Valley!

“Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there:”

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If you enjoy reading about cool places and great people, check out Random Bits of Trial and Error

Have you ever accidentally met up with someone on the road? Did it turn out as well for you?

Up next my post about PFNP

Stepping Back in Time

The post title is about the museum, not that I am 3 weeks (or more) late in writing about it. I promise, I am trying to catch up.

When we left Palo Duro Canyon, we stopped in Amarillo at Jack Sismore’s RV Museum. It is free (one of my favorite prices). We drove by and it looked a little tight to get Waldo towing the Jeep in, so we disconnected at Walmart and drove back. I have to say, it was definitely worth the hassle of disconnecting!

We asked the lady at the front desk where the museum was and she happily pointed us to the back door – no really, the museum is in a building out back. We were instructed to stay between the red painted lines and take our time and enjoy ourselves.

Jack Sisemore owned a Chevron station…

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He started renting motorhomes, barely a year later, he had 6 rentals and started Jack Sisemore Traveland.

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The oldest “RV” is a 1921 Ford Lamsteed Kampkar…

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I can’t imagine bouncing around the roads of rural America in this beauty.

He started collecting and restoring unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago and has quite the collection.  See for yourself…

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1946 Tear Drop Kit

One of the neatest RVs he has is the 1948 Flxible which was used in the Robin Williams movie RV…

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He also has the very first Itasca ever built, serial number 1…

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And the world’s oldest Airsteam, a 1935 Torpedo…

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Not his only Airstream…

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He bought this 1953 Fleetwood from an 84 year old lady who had decided it was time to quit life on the road…

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Also pretty neat is the 1976 FMC coach which was owned by Max Factor Jr (1904-1996)…

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Other cool RVs…

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1976 Argosy
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1973 Starcraft
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1970 Avion

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Not restored

To complete the throw-back feeling there is an old A&W drive up restaurant…

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And other vintage items, like this cigarette vending machine.  When’s the last time you saw one of these?

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Not only are the RVs lovingly restored, but there is a ton of period material to make the experience more real…

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Overall, I am glad we stopped in. It really was neat to see these old RVs and to think of how far we’ve come in the world of RV living.

If you are ever in Amarillo, I highly recommend stopping in!

Next post…Unplanned Happiness!

 

 

 

Rolling into “The Big Easy”

And so begins our next big adventure. We have a job in Alaska this summer but we have to get there first. I spent weeks planning our route. Where to stop, what to see, how long to stay…all while keeping in mind we have to be in Moose Pass as close to May 1st as possible. If we had chosen to drive straight there from Daddy’s house, it would have been 4773 miles. Instead we decided to go west, then north, making the trip 6110 miles.

Our first big stop was The Big Easy, The Birthplace of Jazz, Crescent City, New Orleans, NOLA, N’Awlins, whatever you chose to call it, it is a happening place with so much to see! We only had time to stay 3 nights with our somewhat rigid timeline so we wanted to make the best of it. You could stay there a week and never get to take it all in. We used  Pontchartrain Landing as our base camp, only 15 minutes from the French Quarter. With our Passport America discount, it was only $41 a night.

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The first thing we did was drive by the house my dad grew up in. I hadn’t been there since I was about 5 years old and it didn’t look anything like I remembered, but lets face it, that was many years and several hurricanes ago! We wanted to check out some of the plantation homes gracing the banks of the Mississippi River, so we headed towards Vacherie. It was a little further than I thought, but it was a nice ride. Just before we got to Oak Alley Plantation, we caught sight of the Queen of the Mississippi

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We found a place to park and walked up to the bank to admire her. The Mississippi River is a busy river! All types of ships and barges travel it’s waters…

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After watching the river traffic for a while, we got back to the original reason we were there. Plantations! We weren’t going to have time to tour any of them, but we wanted to drive by and see as many as we could. Oak Alley gets its name from the 28 evenly spaced live oak trees lining the front walkway. These massive trees are thought to be about 300 years old, man, if trees could talk!

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My picture really doesn’t do the scenery justice! A bit further, we saw a single live oak in the field, with no one standing near it, it is hard to give a sense of scale, but it was a beautiful tree…

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Not all the plantations have been restored, some are in the works and others are in pretty poor condition. Sugar cane is still grown in the area and we passed lots of freshly planted fields…

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I had to ask Steve to turn around so I could get a picture of this oak lined driveway…

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A quick stop at another plantation…

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Then back to New Orleans and the French Quarter! Parking is very pricey in the French Quarter but I found a neat app called Spot Hero . With the app, I was able to find parking right on the edge of the French Quarter ($17 for 12 hours on a Saturday!) We hit the streets and tried to take it all in…

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There were all kinds of street performers. each vying for your attention (and cash)…

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Then, there’s the people watching! A never ending stream of people from all walks of life…

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At night, Bourbon Street really comes alive with music, neon and people…

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We stopped in at Ticklers and listened to the house band for a bit. I noticed the neon board and paid my dollar to change the phrase of the night…

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This should be quite a year to visit New Orleans as it is celebrating it’s 300th birthday…

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I never gave it much thought, but apparently getting married and parading down Bourbon Street is in!

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The morning we left, I climbed up on top of Waldo to get a shot of the park…

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We will probably go back to New Orleans when we can stay a little longer. There is still so much to see!

Have you ever been to the Big Easy? What was your favorite thing to see?

A Texas Tale

While researching day trips, I stumble across a website listing all of the towns in Texas. As I started reading the list, I laughed and told Steve, “There has to be a story in here.” So, here it is! Everything underlined below is the name of a town in Texas, or at least it was at one time. If you don’t believe me, check out Texas Escapes.


A blog Post by Laura Mahoney

Uncertain of her Fate, Mary stood with her arms around Granny’s Neck, Salty tears streamed down her face. While Granny was Happy to Comfort her, she had Little Hope Mary would not end up in Exile. Mary released her grasp and sat down next to the Running Water of Devil’s River, a Big Stinking Creek. A Big Lump rose in her throat as she sat to Ponder the Odds of her Birthright as the Diddy Wa Diddy of Toadsuck would earn her any Goodwill. Granny was the only person in her family who understood what she had done was as natural as breathing Air or putting Gasoline in a Mercedes. To her dad, what she had done was worse than drinking Java from a Teacup.  Her bothers, Mutt And Jeff, were squarely in Dad’s Corner. There wasn’t much Time to set the Record straight. With Dad being the Admiral of Zipperlandville, he had Ample time to Call Ranger Squeezepenny Who’d Thought It would be Best if Mary lost her Liberty. Squeezepenny was on the Cheapside and wouldn’t be swayed with the Dime Box that Fairy Kickapoo had given her. He had no sense of Fair Play and was, just in general, a Fink.

“Stop Weeping Mary, I have a couple ideas how to get you out of this mess,” said Granny, “I want you to get pen and paper so you can Jot ‘Em Down.”

“Granny, that Round Rock you are sitting on looks terribly uncomfortable. Don’t you think we should Retreat to the Alligator School House and sit on the Couch with a Blanket?”

“We don’t have time to go to the Boys Ranch if you want to keep your freedom.”

Granny was Midway through her sentence when the Bishop from Martha’s Chapel galloped out of the Green Meadow. He rode atop a Grey Mule and his Silver hair shone like a Gem in the Rising Sun.

“Mary!” he hailed. “I’ve just come from The Woodlands. Fairy Kickapoo told me of your troubles. I wanted to be a Good Neighbor and offer a Blessing from Saint Hedwig. And, as a Bonus, I’ve asked Saint Jo to ring the Bells at Fort Godbehere.”

Welcome, Bishop Ysteta. Thank you for your concern for my Welfare. How are things in the Woods?”

“Ah, I’m afraid the woods have turned into a Shadowland. Commerce has slowed down and there is no pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow. Mercury, Pluto and Mars have fallen out of the Zodiac like a Comet and folks have lost their sense of Security.”

“Isn’t a Mercury a Sedan not a Star?” asked Mary.

“Actually, it’s a planet discovered by the Gent on Science Hill. You are thinking of Saturn, which used to be a Car made in Detroit.”

Granny cleared her throat and said Point Blank, “If I could have a Word, Bishop Ysteta, we can Circle Back to your troubles in a moment. Right now, Mary has a few things she needs to do before Sundown! After which, I will be Content to Converse with you over a bowl of Oatmeal, if you brought a Raisin.”

“You are quite right, it won’t be long until Sunset. As I see it, there are Four Points Mary needs to make to keep her Freer than Shacklefoot.”

Three points,” interrupted Mary.

Okay, it’s your Choice, but you can’t make a Circle if you Zigzag all over the place.”

Just then an Easterly breeze crossed the Trio as a Canadian Crow flew to a nearby Arbor. It was like something out of Dreamland, it had a Bigfoot and a Baby Head. It looked more like a Turkey. It didn’t even look like it could Fly. As it started to squawk, a Chickenfeather fell from its beak. Granny turned Lily White and cried “Eureka! Now I know the Link between Frog and Frognot.”

Mary and the Bishop wondered if the entire Universe had gone Plum Looneyville. “Why the White Face Granny,” they cried in unison.

“I know how to get you a New Deal and that Nimrod Squeezepenny won’t be able to get a Nickel from your Old Dime Box! Gather around and I’ll tell you the Ideal plan,” said Granny with a Wink. It only took her Nine minutes to lay out the details. If things didn’t work out, they would have to Cut and Shoot their way back to Utopia.

The first part of the plan hinged on being able to get some Coldwater from the Artesia Wells and the Wizard Wells for a Bath. This would not be an easy task. The wells were at the back of a Cactus filled Canyon, just past the Burning Bush. The Stagecoach only ran as far as Electric City, so the three of them piled into a Van for the remainder of the journey, stopping once at the Oasis Gas Station. They were nearing Bug Tussle when Granny saw the Big Lake created by the Beaver Dam. Luckily, Hinkle’s Ferry was on the far side of the lake, so the Guy piloting it did not have a View of them.

“The canyon should be just around the next Bend,” Mary said. The only container they had to Draw the water was a Leaky bucket Granny had taken from Skellytown.

“We Needmore water or it’s going to look like we came from Mudville,” said the Bishop.

“Well, that’d be a Damsite better than Cementville, if you ask me!” replied Granny.

Thinking quickly, Mary grabbed some Clay and used a Sharp Stick to plug the hole in the bucket. Now I won’t lose another Drop she thought. After cleaning up, everyone put on a Crisp pair of Knickerbocker(s), anxious for the next part of the plan – the disguise!

Granny sat Mary in the Center of Ransom Canyon and wished she could have gone to Paul’s Store or Twin Groceries to get supplies, but keeping the Cost down is the number one Rule when you are on the Run. The Key is being able to Roundup whatever you need.

“We’ll just have to make do Mary. First, we are going to Dye your Golden hair Black, then we’ll use a little Carbon to add a Dimple to your chin. Bishop, hand me those Scissors, I need to Cutoff the Dull Swastika on her shirtsleeve. It’s nothing but Scrap anyhow.”

Granny beamed with Pride as she thought about her days in the Orphan’s Home. Who would have known all those Art classes would come in handy. Now, you couldn’t tell if Mary was a Pearl or a Pebble. Just a bit of Cologne and they would be ready for phase three. They Heard the Boom of the Cannon before they saw the Gunsight, but Mary had Grit and wasn’t about to let the Hunter find her.

“Run child, you know what to do now,” hollered the Bishop as the Impact of the cannonball sent Deadwood flying around them. It was looking like Gun Barrel City as Mary reached the Junction of Moonshine Hill and the Medicine Mound. As she turned West, she saw a Mustang standing on the Lawn of Chapman Ranch, almost as if it was waiting for her. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, she swung her leg over his back and began to gallop. She was beginning to have Hope.  As the Pony began to tire, she decided they should stop and rest awhile near Cat Spring. Perhaps she could catch some Catfish for dinner and she could really use some Coffee or a Coke. She dismounted when she found an area with some Seclusion. She didn’t want the Hunt to be over just yet. Exhausted, she had almost let the sound of the Dripping Springs Lull her to sleep. When she heard a Click in the distance she was instantly alert. Mary yelled Geronimo and threw herself into The Ditch. Keeping her head low, Mary was able to see through the Groves of Cedar trees. It turned out to be Joe Lee from Fort Spunky.

“Mary,” he whispered. “Mary, are you here? Bishop Ysleta send me! He said the password was Ding Dong. We have to hurry, Mary, Ranger Squeezepenny is Hot on your trail!”

Mary rose from her hiding spot and came face to face with Joe Lee. He was a handsome young man, but a bit of a Lone Wolf. Mary was leery of accepting his help, but sundown was only hours away. Without him, she’d never make it across Iron Bridge and would be captured before Dawn.

“Captain Crawford told me to assist you any way I can. I’m ready to be your Shield, Ma’am, your Humble servant. The Captain told me there were others indebted to you but they will remain Nameless.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary, but, you are right, we should ride.”

Joe Lee was not a Novice horseman and the miles flew by. Finally, they reached Newcastle, alit in all its Glory.

As Mary walked across the drawbridge, Prince Onalaska ran to meet her. “Be Careful my dear, the moat is full of Quicksand. How did your family take it when you told them I asked you to be my Valentine?”

Since the Pickens were slim around here, Mary knew she had to get her Hooks in him before the last Sunray crossed the Earth. “Father was beside himself! He sent Ranger Squeezepenny to Pflugerville to find me. They want to exile me! But, my Loving Granny has a plan. She said if I make you my Groom and we decorate a Nursery, they will have to let us live happily ever after.”

Since Prince Onalaska liked living on the Edge, Mary was just his Type. “We will be Trueloves forever,” he proclaimed.

“I will Telephone the Temple and Tell them the good news,” Mary promised.

“And I will send a Telegraph to your father, at once.”

It was a lovely spring wedding up on Flower Hill. Everyone was in attendance and as the happy couple rode off into the sunset, the last thing anyone heard was Goodnight.

 

THE END


Have you ever visited any of these places? What is the strangest town name you know of?