Archive for June, 2012

Checking in from Idalou, Texas …

Upon leaving Dickens, Texas on Sunday June 10, I have walked through the small towns of Crosbyton, Ralls, Lorenzo and Idalou over the last three days.  These towns are located on the Llano Estacado, which is the mesa extending west from the cliffs of the Caprock Escarpment.  Llano Estacado, which means Palisaded Plains, is one of the largest mesas or tablelands in North American and has an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 feet.  It slopes upward to the west at an almost uniform rate of 10 feet per mile, a rate which is almost imperceptible to a human observer (unless one is walking across the mesa).  The first European to see this vast mesa was Francisco Coronado in 1541, who gave the area its name.

The mesa is a rich though dry farmland with mostly large cotton, bean or grain farms as opposed to the ranches of the lower plains.  Sophisticated irrigation including subterranean drip networks makes the land productive.   The basically flat area is interrupted not far from its eastern edge, just past Dickens, by and area called the Croton Breaks.  This scenic area is marked by colorful canyons, arroyos, buttes and bluffs.  One part of the Breaks is called Blanco Canyon where white cliffs stand out against the reds, pinks and oranges of the surrounding area.  Within Blanco Canyon is a small white hill called Mount Blanco, an erosional remnant that has provided a treasure-trove of fossils from eons past.  Looking at the mixture of rich red-purple dirt and sand in this area, it is easy to understand that this was once the bed of an ocean.

As I approach Lubbock, a city of 250,000 plus, the media has become interested in my walk.  On Tuesday, I did three television interviews with Lubbock affiliates of NBC, Fox and ABC/CBS/CNN combined.  While walking down Hwy. 82/114, John Berry with KCBD/Channel 11 out of Lubbock saw me and turned his vehicle around to film my walk and thought there must be a story there.  After all how many people walk down a busy highway with a safety vest on that reads “Walking Across USA”?  He stopped to talk and ask for an interview.    Vista Bank had set up two more interviews with David Ewerz of (CNN/ABC/CBS) and Justin Calderon with Fox News.  David’s interview was focused more on the health issues of heart disease for his coverage.   I always appreciate the opportunity to promote heart health through exercise and to solicit donations for the American Heart Association.

Late on Tuesday, I crossed another milestone on my journey while trudging across the Llano Estacado—my 2,000th mile.  That means that this wonderful trek is approximately two-thirds complete (though I have the sneaking suspicion that the total trip is a little longer than 3,000 miles).  With summer upon us and both heat and altitude ahead, the last third may be the most difficult.  But Brenda and I are up to the challenge and looking forward to seeing more of our great country.

Thanks to our hosts, Kirk McLaughlin and Troy Stegemoeller of Vista Bank, for providing a parking spot in Idalou and publicity as I approach Lubbock.  We will be in the Lubbock area for the next few days before heading to Brownfield and Plains, Texas and then into New Mexico.

 

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Checking in from Dickens, TX …

Since leaving Seymour on Wednesday June 6, I have walked some 90 miles through the big ranch country of the West Texas Panhandle. Miles and miles of ranch land with a tiny town (each with a population under 300 and each a separate county seat) approximately every 30 miles. I walked into Benjamin, TX on Thursday where we had moved the RV to a spot behind the country store (not to be confused with a convenience store according to the owner) that could accommodate up to three RVs. Benjamin has the second smallest school in the state with just 93 students in K-12 grades. The school is a power in six-man football. I’ve never seen a six-man game, but I’d imagine it is a lot like backyard games most of us have played in our youth. At noon every day, a siren goes off that can be heard for miles around. Coincidentally or not, the siren welcomed me from my morning walk one day and signaled Brenda and me leaving the next.

Just a few miles west of Benjamin, you see the outline of the Caprock Escarpment on the horizon. To a flatlander, this looks like a mountain range. The Caprock is a 200 mile long ridge that runs from the Oklahoma Panhandle through the Texas Panhandle and into New Mexico. It rises rather suddenly 400 to 1,000 feet and is the separation line between the central plains and the high plains. Actually, the Caprock is not a rock at all, but is a higher plateau running southwest to northeast etched over time by the prevalent winds and infrequent but severe rainstorms.

Guthrie, Texas is on the eastern edge of the Caprock. When we reached Guthrie, we stopped by the county courthouse to seek assistance with a place to park. We were greeted by Tracie Butler, King County Treasurer, and Tammye Timmons, King County District Clerk, who helped us locate the RV right across from the courthouse and gave us background on the area. Like many Texans we have encountered, these ladies were very gracious and helpful, providing guidance and advice for the next few days of our travel through the ranch country.

Guthrie is the home to the famed Four Sixes (6666) Ranch. This massive ranch dominates the area and covers some 350,000 acres. That’s almost 550 square miles. The ranch was started in 1868 by a 19 year old named Burk Burnett. Legend has it that the ranch was named for the poker hand that Burnett held as he won the first tract of land that would be the nucleus for this huge ranch. Another version of the start of this enterprise says that Burnett bought his first 100 head of cattle with the 6666 brand which he liked because the sixes were not fully closed and were difficult for rustlers to over brand. Both we and the locals prefer the first version of the story.

Burnett expanded his holdings over the years, first by leases from his friend Quanah Parker who was chief of the Comanches. Parker was the son of a Comanche chieftain and a white girl who had been captured in a raid in the 1850’s. When the Comanches were relocated, Burnett was able to purchase the land from the US Government after going to Washington and making a special appeal to President Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt became Burnett’s friend and a frequent visitor to the ranch to hunt after leaving office. On one such visit, TR and Burnett participated in a “barehanded” hunt for coyotes and wolves.

Four Sixes today is known for both its cattle and quarter horse operations. Some 20,000 head of cattle range across the acreage. Most are a breed developed on the ranch called Black Baldies. This breed of cattle is a cross between a Brangus (which is a cross between a Black Angus and a Brahma) and a Hereford. Black Baldies have a strong resistance to cedar flies which are a problem in the area. I can attest that these flies are a pest.

The quarter horse operation is the showplace for Four Sixes and is renowned around the world. Brenda and I were privileged to visit the breeding barns where we got a tour from Terri and her beautiful toy Australian Shepherd pup Remi. Forty purebred quarter horse stallions were at stud offering champion lines for racers, show horses, cutting horses and performance quarter horses. Names like Hollywood Gold, Tanquerey Gin, Dash for Cash and Steakin’ Six are well known in the quarter horse world. Four Sixes horses and frozen semen from the studs are shipped to Europe, South America and all across the US and Canada. The first shipment of horses is headed to China. Stud fees range from $4,000 to $35,000, and mares, fillies and geldings sell for $4,500 to $25,000. Wouldn’t I love a Four Sixes buckskin gelding or filly?

Four Sixes has another claim to fame for those old enough to remember when cigarettes were advertised on television in the 1960’s. The ranch was the site for the filming of the Marlboro commercials and several ranch hands at Four Sixes were the “Marlboro Man.”

Between Guthrie and Dickens, TX, other huge ranches stretch across the landscape. Spike Box Ranch is known as well for its quarter horses and cattle but is also a destination for wild hog hunting and a source of cactus for nurseries across the country. Pitchfork Ranch is diversified ranch with cattle, horses, oilfields and grain crops. Many of its fine horses are known as “Pitchfork Grays,” distinction gray animals with black manes, tails and lower legs. The ranch is home to Bob Moorhouse, a noted Western photographer. Other large ranches in the area are the Spur Ranch and the Matador Ranch.

When we arrived in Dickens, we stopped at the sheriff’s office and historic jail to seek assistance with a parking spot for our RV. Pattie and Julie were very helpful, finding us a spot at the local Seniors Center. Appropriate, huh? The jail is one of the oldest jails (over 100 years) in continuous operation in the state. Julie gave us a tour including the trapdoor operation where hangings were to take place, though it has never been used in Dickens. With no prisoners currently incarcerated, we were told that Zuzu could run loose in the exercise yard of the jail surrounded by a fence and concertina wire. We politely declined the offer.

On Sunday, June 10, I walked through Dickens and headed west toward Crosbyton. I’ll probably do only a morning walk since our first 100 plus degree day is predicted. Depending on temperatures, the next few days will take us through Ralls, Lorenzo and Idalou and into Lubbock.

Send us cool thoughts.

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SORRY FOR THE WAY THE BLOG TURNED OUT YESTERDAY.  WE ARE IN AN AREA THAT INTERNET RECEPTION IS SPOTTY AND THE LATEST BLOG WAS INTERRUPTED INADVERTANTLY BY BAD WEATHER AND MISSED PLACED A PARAGRAPH.  BELOW IS THE WAY WE WANTED IT TO READ BUT WITHOUT THE PICTURES.

“WALTZ ACROSS TEXAS”

Checking in from Benjamin, TX …

 

“Waltz Across Texas” is a 1965 hit song by Ernest Tubb, the Texas Troubadour, and a blog title suggested by our new friend, Donny Palmer of the Texas Bankers Association.  Am I the only one old enough to remember when Ernest Tubb had a Saturday evening television show in the late 50’s and early 60’s?  Came on right before Lawrence Welk.  My grandparents would never miss it.  I remember watching with them one evening when Ernest’s guest star was Porter Wagoner and his new protégé, a pretty buxom girl named Dolly Parton.  From that day on, my grandfather, George Wood, was a Dolly fan.  Sometime in each show, Ernest would turn around to his accomplished steel guitar player and say “pick it out, Butterball.”  Ernest was born in Crisp, TX (now a ghost town), lived for a while in Benjamin where we are currently and claimed Fort Worth as his home.

 

I would never describe my trip across Texas as a waltz—maybe a walk, a trek, a hike, or a trudge.  Regardless, both Brenda and I are thoroughly enjoying our time in the Lone Star State.  So far, we’ve traversed the Piney Woods section of the state, the Prairie and Lakes section and are now in the Panhandle Plains section.  This is truly a huge and varied state.  We love the changing terrain.  We’ve just crossed a crest area known as the Narrows, which is scarred, by gullies, ravines, canyons, ridges and buttes.   This crest separates the drainage basins of the Wichita River, which flows into the Mississippi River and the Brazos, which winds towards the Rio Grande and Gulf of Mississippi.  The area is a rich ancient hunting ground with fresh springs; plenty of buffalo grass and, for many years, herds of mustangs, which provided mounts for Indian tribes including the Comanches, Wichitas, Kiowas and Apaches.   As a fan of the Western movie genre, I am really enjoying being in Texas and the West.

 

The small towns of this part of the state are pretty far apart, requiring Brenda to drive long distances just to ferry me to and from my start and ending point for my walks (generally two a day).  We stayed three nights in an RV park in Seymour, owned by Judge Glen Moss and his wife Myra, while I covered 30 plus miles both east and then west of the town.  That may become the norm for much of the rest of our journey through West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  While in Seymour, we enjoyed a meal at the Rock Inn Café, which has been named one of the 40 best cafes in the state.  The food was good and the atmosphere was unique at least to

 

In Megargel, TX we came across a cemetery dating back to 1910 with it first interred; a two-day old son, Arza, buried by his father.  Many of the buried were born back in the 1850’s and of Bohemian descent, with names including Kulhanek, Bohac, Kunkel and Pechacek. One grave had a concrete 6-inch wall around it with a decorative weathered wooden fence on top and a tin cross with no name. Others buried here include military veterans of conflicts dating to the civil war and some veterans had coins on their tombstone. But a couple of gravesites stood out with such messages engraved on the tombstone that read, “loved to dance at honky tonks; the man that loved to cook for everyone in the family; dadgumit was his favorite word”.  On the backside of the tombstone it listed his entire loved one, including sons, and brothers and sisters. Several tombstones had oilrigs, trucks, racecars, charcoal grills and campers etched on them. us.  Each table came with its own flyswatter to keep the pests at bay.

 

Insects have begun to “bug” me on my walks—buffalo gnats, mosquitoes, biting black flies, even an occasional deerfly or horsefly.  My legs are apparently target number one.  So I’ve had to break out the insect repellent.  Now if you meet me along the road, I am surrounded by an exotic aroma that is a mixture of Coppertone Sport, Skin So Soft, Sore No More (an analgesic gel) and sweat.  And that’s the good parts of the odor surrounding me.

 

Most all of us are proud of our home states.  Regardless of where we have lived, Brenda and I have always proudly defined ourselves as North Carolinians.  But Texans are fiercely proud and rightly so.  Almost every home or building is adorned with the Texas flag, the distinctive five-pointed Texas star in a circle or some emblem evidencing Texas pride.  After crossing a good part of the state, it is easy to see why.  The land is beautiful and varied.  Big is the order of the day.  The people are friendly, hospitable and often generous.  While many don’t live extravagant lives, they work hard and have a strong sense of accomplishment.  In the small towns, outside distractions are limited, and family and friends become the source of both entertainment and solace.  Texas may represent American values at its best.  God bless Texas.

 

In the last couple of days, the purposes of my walk and our trip have been reaffirmed for me.  Our friend, Myra in Seymour, a heart bypass survivor with a family history of heart disease, informed us that she has reactivated her daily exercise regime after being inspired by my walk.  And late on Wednesday afternoon, a lady named Natalie who was driving from Georgia to Lubbock flagged me down.  She was traveling with three children (Ruthie, Liam and a baby whose name I didn’t get).  She dug in her pocketbook and pulled out $11, which she asked me to give to the American Heart Association in honor of baby Reece Martin, a friend’s child who died of a heart defect.  Then young Liam handed me four quarters, all the money he had.  Generosity like this makes every step of my walk worthwhile.

 

In the next few days, we head into what the locals call the big ranch country (though the ranches we have already encountered look huge to me) and slowly climb the CapRock Escarpment to the high plains around Lubbock.   The schedule for the next few days has me walking on US Highway 82 through the towns of Guthrie, Dickens, Ralls and Crosbyton.    

 

 

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Checking in from Benjamin, TX …

“Waltz Across Texas” is a 1965 hit song by Ernest Tubb, the Texas Troubadour, and a blog title suggested by our new friend, Donny Palmer of the Texas Bankers Association. Am I the only one old enough to remember when Ernest Tubb had a Saturday evening television show in the late 50’s and early 60’s? Came on right before Lawrence Welk. My grandparents would never miss it. I remember watching with them one evening when Ernest’s guest star was Porter Wagoner and his new protégé, a pretty buxom girl named Dolly Parton. From that day on, my grandfather, George Wood, was a Dolly fan. Sometime in each show, Ernest would turn around to his accomplished steel guitar player and say “pick it out, Butterball.” Ernest was born in Crisp, TX (now a ghost town), lived for a while in Benjamin where we are currently and claimed Fort Worth as his home.

I would never describe my trip across Texas as a waltz — maybe a walk, a trek, a hike or a trudge. Regardless, both Brenda and I are thoroughly enjoying our time in the Lone Star State. So far, we’ve traversed the Piney Woods section of the state, the Prairie and Lakes section and are now in the Panhandle Plains section. This is truly a huge and varied state. We love the changing terrain. We’ve just crossed a crest area known as the Narrows, which is scarred by gullies, ravines, canyons, ridges and buttes. This crest separates the drainage basins of the Wichita River, which flows into the Mississippi River and the Brazos, which winds towards the Rio Grande and Gulf of Mississippi. The area is a rich ancient hunting ground with fresh springs, plenty of buffalo grass and, for many years, herds of mustangs, which provided mounts for Indian tribes including the Comanches, Wichitas, Kiowas and Apaches. As a fan of the Western movie genre, I am really enjoying being in Texas and the West.

The small towns of this part of the state are pretty far apart, requiring Brenda to drive long distances just to ferry me to and from my start and ending point for my walks (generally two a day). We stayed three nights in an RV park in Seymour, owned by Judge Glen Moss and his wife Myra, while I covered 30 plus miles both east and then west of the town. That may become the norm for much of the rest of our journey through West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. While in Seymour, we enjoyed a meal at the Rock Inn Café, which has been named one of the 40 best cafes in the state. The food was good and the atmosphere was unique at least to us. Each table came with its own flyswatter to keep the pests at bay.

In Megargel, TX we came across a cemetery dating back to 1910 when it first interred a two-day-old son, Arza, buried by his father. Many of the buried were born back in the 1850’s and of Bohemian descent, with names including Kulhanek, Bohac, Kunkel and Pechacek. One grave had a concrete 6-inch wall around it with a decorative weathered wooden fence on top and a tin cross with no name. Others buried here include military veterans of conflicts dating to the Civil War and some veterans had coins on their tombstone. But a couple of gravesites stood out with such messages engraved on the tombstone that read, “loved to dance at honky tonks; the man that loved to cook for everyone in the family; dadgumit was his favorite word”. On the backside of the tombstone it listed all of his loved ones, including sons, and brothers and sisters. Several tombstones had oilrigs, trucks, racecars, charcoal grills and campers etched on them.

Insects have begun to “bug” me on my walks — buffalo gnats, mosquitoes, biting black flies, even an occasional deerfly or horsefly. My legs are apparently target number one. So I’ve had to break out the insect repellent. Now if you meet me along the road, I am surrounded by an exotic aroma that is a mixture of Coppertone Sport, Skin So Soft, Sore No More (an analgesic gel) and sweat. And that’s the good parts of the odor surrounding me.

Most all of us are proud of our home states. Regardless of where we have lived, Brenda and I have always proudly defined ourselves as North Carolinians. But Texans are fiercely proud, and rightly so. Almost every home or building is adorned with the Texas flag, the distinctive five-pointed Texas star in a circle or some emblem evidencing Texas pride. After crossing a good part of the state, it is easy to see why. The land is beautiful and varied. Big is the order of the day. The people are friendly, hospitable and often generous. While many don’t live extravagant lives, they work hard and have a strong sense of accomplishment. In the small towns, outside distractions are limited, and family and friends become the source of both entertainment and solace. Texas may represent American values at its best. God bless Texas.

In the last couple of days, the purposes of my walk and our trip have been reaffirmed for me. Our friend, Myra in Seymour, a heart bypass survivor with a family history of heart disease, informed us that she has reactivated her daily exercise regime after being inspired by my walk. And late on Wednesday afternoon, a lady named Natalie who was driving from Georgia to Lubbock flagged me down. She was traveling with three children (Ruthie, Liam and a baby whose name I didn’t get). She dug in her pocketbook and pulled out $11, which she asked me to give to the American Heart Association in honor of baby Reece Martin, a friend’s child who died of a heart defect. Then young Liam handed me four quarters, all the money he had. Generosity like this makes every step of my walk worthwhile.

In the next few days, we head into what the locals call the big ranch country (though the ranches we have already encountered look huge to me) and slowly climb the CapRock Escarpment to the high plains around Lubbock. The schedule for the next few days has me walking on US Highway 82 through the towns of Guthrie, Dickens, Ralls and Crosbyton.

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Checking in from Seymour, TX …

All of the above in and around Olney, TX, an oilfield town of 1,400 households. Who’d thunk it?

I encountered the windmills, hundreds of them, on my walk from Jacksboro to Olney on Saturday and Sunday, June 2nd and 3rd. These are huge three-bladed wind turbines with 40-foot blades. They are located on a 33,000-acre strip of land and are owned and operated by BP (British Petroleum) Wind Energy. All around the windmills are working oil fields, grazing cattle and horses, pastures and grain crops. It’s quite a sight that would make T. Boone Pickens proud. The windmills produce enough electricity to power 67,000 homes. Lights will be on in Olney for years to come.

We’ll miss the One-Arm Dove Hunt, which is billed as “Texas Most Unusual Event.” Started as a joke in 1972 by two guys who had lost an arm in oil field accidents, the event quickly grew in popularity. Held annually the first weekend following Labor Day, the event is open to persons who are missing all or part of one arm. Activities include one-armed trap shooting, horseshoes, cow-chip throwing and a “ten cents a finger” breakfast on the day of the dove hunt. In addition to good old-fashioned fun, the event provides amputees with support and tips for living with a disability and is a revenue-generating event for Olney.

Foot-high grasses and wild oats border the roads along my path for the last few days. This is the habitat for millions, perhaps billions, of grasshoppers. It’s hard to walk on the shoulder of the road without crunching on the insects, which are everywhere, hopping and flying around and getting underfoot. I’m constantly wiping them off my legs. My lifelong friend Bobby Lee would claim that the grasshoppers had made an honest mistake—they’d simply confused my hairy legs for another patch of grass.

Just outside Olney is the site of the Little Salt Creek Indian Fight where in 1869, 57 Comanches attacked a group of cowboys at their worksite in an apparently unprovoked attack. The battle lasted until evening when the Indians retreated, taking their dead and wounded. The tally of cowboy casualties was three dead and nine wounded. Even today, the terrain looks exactly as we have come to expect from Western movies for a shootout with renegade Comanches. As I walk down the road and look pass the low grass to the yuccas, scrub oaks and pinyon pines I’m reminded of a line from Larry Verne’s 1960 comic tune “Please Mr. Custer (I Don’t Want to Go)”—“them bushes are moving.”

Thanks go to several people who have helped us over the last few days—Vickie and Larry Rogers of Hidden Lake RV Park in Jacksboro for their contribution to AHA, Jerry and Larry Gandy of Spring Creek RV Park in Olney who comped us a night and Glen and Myra Moss who likewise provided a night at their RV park in Seymour. Not only have we encountered generosity from those we meet on the road but thanks to those who have given donations to the American Heart Association through our website. Your contributions, whether large or small, comes from your heart and we really appreciate your kindness.

Over the next couple of days, I’ll complete the portion of my walk into Seymour and then head west on Hwy 82/114 toward Lubbock. As one local stated, the road gets “long” from here. With only tiny crossroad towns for the next 150 miles or so, we’ll be scrambling for places to park our RV; seeking parks with fresh water and dump stations; and propane. Just today we were extremely low on propane but Jessie came to the rescue and met us after he finished a long day of work to fill our tank. From this point into California, logistics get tough. For the next few days, we’ll be somewhere between Seymour and Lubbock. Also if our blogs get a little irregular, it will be because of lack of adequate Internet connection. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

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DAY 93 (6/1/12)

Checking in from Jacksboro …

My walk on Friday June 1 covered 24 miles from Azle through Springtown toward Jacksboro. The weather cooperated nicely for both a morning and afternoon walk through changing terrain where vegetation is beginning to thin out and hills have become more prominent. (Except for the coastal plain of North Carolina and the Delta region of Mississippi and Arkansas, I would describe all the rest of my track to date as hilly. And there appears to be more uphills than downhills, or so it seems.) The real significance of today, however, is that this is the 93rd day of our journey. The total trip is projected to take 186 days. So by the calendar, we’re at the halfway mark. By mileage, we are over half way to Santa Monica, but the rising heat and terrain are expected to slow me down over the coming weeks. I’m just grateful that I have been to get ahead of schedule.

Even though the terrain is changing there is no doubt you are still in Texas. Ranch after ranch with miles of acreage for each ranch. Occasionally there are these elaborate entrance gates to each ranch, which are worth a second look. Most fencing and gates are made of iron and sometimes wire fencing in between. In fields are huge cactus plants and wild flowers. Cows are wondering in small herds and seem to walk up to the fence just to watch the cars/trucks go by. Some days Brenda feels she is the only one on the road with a car; everybody has a truck but us. And very seldom do you see a foreign car; it is a Dodge, Chevrolet or Ford.

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Jacksboro, TX, birthplace of 4H. Who knew? The first Texas Boys’ Corn Club was founded in Jacksboro, 1908, by Tom M. Marks (1865-1906), first Jack County agent. This was a forerunner of U.S. 4-H clubs, now international, and part of the cooperative extension service. Lack of adult interest in a 1907 corn show prompted friends to tell Marks, You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Marks replied, Then I’ll start with the pups. 111 boys enrolled as demonstrators. Marks’ 1908 show drew national attention, and he was called to Washington to aid in setting up extension program.

We couldn’t resist in trying another Diners, Dives and Drive-In’s recommendation…Herd’s Hamburgers in Jacksboro, TX. It’s not the healthiest food but in Texas beef is the primary food. It’s a small place that looks to be smaller than our RV, which is 200 square feet. When you walk into the door and to your left is the grill, which if I had had a spatula, I could have flipped the burgers from where I was standing. Over on the right side is seating which consist of old school seats with attached arm for your meal to rest. If you aren’t lucky enough to get these primo seats try the stack wooden crates of soft drink bottles. The service is quick so you don’t have to sit long. This is Americana and just what we want to experience.

Keep exercising, keep following Heart Trek USA and keep us in your prayers. Thanks, Friends, for your interest and support.

Projected schedule for the next few days:

Saturday, June 2 … thru Jacksboro on Hwy 199 and Hwy 114
Sunday, June 3 … on Hwy 114 toward Olney
Monday, June 4 … on Hwy 114 thru Olney toward Seymour

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COWTOWN, USA

Checking in from Lake Worth, TX …

Fort Worth, Texas is “Cowtown, USA.”  Fort Worth, Texas is “The Start of the West.”  Fort Worth, Texas is SPECIAL.  And in our case, Fort Worth was special due to Donny Palmer of the Texas Bankers Association (TBA), Terry Almon and Randi Mitchell of OmniAmerican Bank, Mayor Betsy Price, Tammy McKinney of the American Heart Association (AHA) and a host of other people.

After a morning walk Wednesday May 30 from Arlington to Fort Worth, Brenda and I arrived at OmniAmerican Bank for a wonderful welcoming ceremony that had been orchestrated by Randi Mitchell.  Some sixty people had gathered to greet us, hear about our journey and enjoy refreshments provided by US Bank.  The interest and support were tremendous.  We received gifts including a beautiful pair of boots for me.  The event was really special and greatly appreciated, and I love the boots.

Later in the afternoon, I was invited by Mayor Price to participate in her weekly “Tour de Fort Worth” bicycle ride through the city to promote health and exercise.  On a loaned bike from Trinity Bicycles, I joined a large group for a ten mile ride through downtown and Trinity Park.  There were some serious bicyclists, and I was pleased that I held my own on the ride.  Didn’t hurt myself or anyone else and kept up with the group.  Maybe they held back for a novice like me.  It was fun and fit right in with my goal to promote heart health through exercise, be it walking, running, bicycling, swimming or any other form of regular brisk workouts.

Donny Palmer and the TBA hosted Brenda and I, Mayor Price and a small group for a first class dinner at Del Frisco’s Fort Worth.  It was nice to get dressed up a little and have the opportunity to enjoy good company and a very fine meal.  The TBA has been a tremendous asset to my trek in locating RV parking for us at banks across the state.  In fact, we’ve had many more offers of assistance than we could accept.  Thanks to all the Texas bankers who have been ready and willing to help.  Their response was quick and tremendous.

OmniAmerican had arranged parking for our RV next to their main office but actually on property owned by Spring Hill Suites by Marriott.  This was a nice gesture as we took up some of their premium parking spaces.  We had trouble getting to sleep, however, as we recounted all the thoughtful activities arranged for us while in Fort Worth.  It also didn’t help that another big time thunder storm hit in early morning.  Crashing thunder and pounding rain on a fiberglass roof can tend to wake up most anyone.  Even Zuzu needed some comfort during the storm.

I tried to walk early Thursday morning but got only about a mile before the storm cranked back up.  While waiting for the worst to pass, Brenda and I took the opportunity to visit Texas Christian University (TCU), the historic Stockyard area of the city and downtown for some photos (see our Facebook postings at Heart Trek USA).  We thoroughly enjoyed Fort Worth.  It is a progressive city with a rich Western heritage and a strong vision of its future.  After a conversation with Mayor Price, you can have no doubt that this city is on the rise.  And with folks like our friends at OmniAmerican Bank, the TBA and the AHA chapter, the support for the Mayor’s efforts is evident in both the for profit and non-profit sectors.  Thanks for a great visit to a special city.

As the rains subsided, I got back on the trail and headed for points west.  By the end of the day Thursday, I had covered 22 miles and reached the town of Azle.  Here is my schedule for the next few days:

Friday, June 1 … on Hwy 199 thru Springtown

Saturday, June 2 … to Jacksboro

Sunday, June 3 … to Olney on Hwy 114

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