What The Heck Was That?

When we arrived in Shamrock, Texas on Thursday, we had already decided to stay three nights. We were ahead of schedule for our destination of Flagstaff, and we needed to buy two new tires for the trailer. The tire store here in Shamrock treated us so well last fall that we decided to give them our business again. So, when we checked in at the West 40 RV Park, we signed up for three nights.

Thursday evening, the wind got up. I mean, it REALLY got up! It was blowing 40 to 50 mph with gusts up to 65 mph. Our trailer was not only rocking, it was swaying back and forth. The windows by the dinette were being sucked open, then let go so it seemed like they were flapping wings, trying to take the trailer off into flight! It blew the tonneau cover open on the truck. I was afraid to cook for fear the pots would slide off of the stove!  I was thinking that not even one of those heavy duty awning tie down straps would help in that kind of wind. These high winds went on like that until around 6:00 p.m. on Friday, when just as quickly as it started, it stopped.

While this was all going on, I thought about those windmills we passed in Oklahoma on the way here Thursday. I could just imagine them spinning like a child’s pinwheel in those high winds. I wondered if they ever broke off and took off across a field? A google search found this one, that happened in Denmark. While it didn’t actually spin off across a field, it did break and cause damage. Wow!

Going To Alabama IV

We started out the day climbing up those Sandia Mountians at Albuquerque. After less than half an hour, we were on flat land again. And it stayed flat most of the day.

Evidently, New Mexico does not have any laws against having billboards on the side of the highway. There seemed to be groves of them:

Billboards in New Mexico

We saw several wind farms off in the distance. This modern windmill is in Tucumcari, New Mexico:

A modern windmill in Tucumcari

After we filled up the truck at Flying J in Tucumcari, FabGrandpa decided to drive over the scales. Ooops, maybe I DO have a tad too much fabric after all. Hmmm, I’ll toss groceries first if push comes to shove. We’re still under, but can’t buy anything else!

Weighing in at Flying J

So, we officially left New Mexico and crossed over into Texas. New Mexico is one of the only states I have been in that has a sign telling you you are leaving:

Leaving New Mexico

It’s a good thing they told us, because west Texas was more of the same flat landscape, for miles and miles.Here is your RV minute for today, showing just how flat and lonely it is out here. This is I-40, going east, west of Amarillo, Texas:

There were more wind farms closer to Amarillo. I especially like this photo of an old fashioned windmill with the wind farm in the background:

old and new

We made it through Amarillo before the five o’clock rush, which is great!

Amarillo

Because a few miles outside of town, we heard a POP! The rear driver’s side tire on the trailer blew out! We had to stop on the side of I-40 and change the tire! It was pretty scary out there with all those trucks whizzing by! This was the same tire that blew out the first time we were going to Arizona in April of 2008 (well, not the same tire, but in the same position on the trailer) Wonder what is up with that?

blowout!

We made into Shamrock, Texas to the West 40 RV park just at sunset:

Sunset in Shamrock, Texas

I made us a “Road Trip Seafood Platter” for dinner: Tuna salad with avocado, smoked oysters, pear salad, and crackers. I had Glutino gluten free, he had Ritz. Yummy!

yummy "seafood" platter.

A Little Tour Of The Mixes From The Heartland Plant

Look at all that gluten free goodness~!

The first thing you see when you walk in the door at the Mixes From The Heartland plant are shelves and shelves displaying all the products they make here. And the next thing you notice is the aroma!  The smells of all those delicious mixes wafts from the packaging area in the back to the lobby and offices in the front. It was a wonderful experience to go there, and meet Teri, the owner, in person. I have been corresponding with her for about a year now, and it was high time we met face to face.

Teri, the owner of Mixes From The Heartland

Teri invited me and FabGrandpa into her office, where we talked for an hour or so. She has been in the gluten free food business for 5 years, and is getting ready to move the plant into a larger building. She has lots of plans for new products, and is introducing a new buying club on her website.  There are lots of benefits to becoming a member, including discounts and access to new recipes.

Packages of mix waiting to be sealed.

We took a little walk around the back, where staff members were busy filling bags with product, which today was a Tex-Mex Rice mix. The seasonings smelled soooo good! I noticed that everything was so clean and neat in there, too.

Ingredients in bins waiting to become part of a mix.

Teri explained that one of the secrets of her success for flavor is that she uses freeze dried ingredients. She gave us a sample of the freeze dried corn–it was so sweet!  It tasted like fresh corn, only dry and crunchy. No wonder that corn chowder she makes is so good!  And she makes sure every ingredient she buys to make her mixes is from a gluten free source.  Her products test at 5 parts per million, which is well below the US standard to be labeled gluten free.

Me and Teri of Mixes From The Heartland

Teri gave me an assortment of products to take home, including my favorite, the Country Dumpling Mix. I had not had my favorite southern chicken and dumplings in more than three years before I found this mix. I loved it so much that I made it three times in one week!  Now I can’t wait to get to my summer home so I can start cooking some of these things up!  I made some of the Sweet Potato Brownies tonight, though. Easy peasy!

El Toritos Restaurant

Before we left to come home, though, Teri and her Aunt Marilyn took us out to lunch at El Toritos Mexican Restaurant in Amarillo. I had the Tamal Dinner. Boy, was it ever good!  I haven’t had tamales that good since we worked down in south Texas in 2002.

Teri and Aunt Marilyn enjoying lunch at El Toritos

We finally had to say our goodbyes, but not without making plans to stop in again on our way east next fall. Can’t wait to see what new products she has by then!

A Rainy Night In Amarillo

It started raining  just about the time we finished setting up the trailer. We had already talked about going out to dinner tonight because we have been eating at home every night since we left Alabama. We had been seeing the signs on the highway for The Big Texan Steak Ranch, and that was where we wanted to go.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo

They advertise a FREE 72 oz top sirloin steak dinner–IF you can eat it all in one hour. Not just the steak–you also get a salad, three shrimps, and a dinner roll. If you don’t get it all down in an hour, it costs you $72. We had no plans to try for the free dinner, but geez, can you imagine eating four and a half pounds of meat at one sitting? Apparently, there are more than 7,000 people who have done it over the years since 1965.

The clock is ticking down the hour! Did he eat it all or not???

Darren, a young guy from Annaheim, California, came in and ordered the 72 ounce steak while we were there.Now, when you order the 72 ounce steak, they seat you at table on a stage, and when the dinner is served, they start the clock counting down one hour.  I took some pictures and left him one of my cards, so I hope he emails me to let me know if he did it or not.

Darren from Annahiem digging in. Look at the size of that steak!

My dinner was a 12 ounce rib eye. It was quite delicious, but still, I can’t even imagine eating six of them at one time. I didn’t even eat all of the one I got–I brought some of it home.

12 oz rib eye with sauteed mushrooms and minced garlic.

It came with a Texas Beefsteak tomato salad and a baked potato.  FabGrandpa got the top sirloin. He brought some of his home, too.

Beefsteak Tomato and Red Onion Salad

Most of the time when we go out to eat, we don’t get dessert. But tonight, we splurged. I had a Texas Chocolate Sunday. FabGrandpa had the Black Forest Cake with Cherries. Mmmm, delish!

My sundae.

FabGrandpa enjoying his Black Forest Cake.

Of course I had a good time!

Wichita Falls RV Park in Wichita Falls, Texas

At least we waited til after the sun came up to leave Tucumcari.  We saw lots of windmills and wind turbines in New Mexico. The old fashioned windmills pump water for the many cows and other agricultural uses:
And the modern wind turbines produce electricity. If you click the photo below to enlarge it you may be able to see the turbines on the ridge across this field. I counted at least 60 of them over there. They are HUGE! A sign we saw says that each one produces 1.5 megawatts of electricity. I don’t know exactly how much that is but it must be a lot.

 Ok, so I looked it up for us all to know. From this website: Oregon Power Solutions:

“…How many homes can one megawatt of wind energy supply?
An average U.S. household uses about 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. A one-megawatt wind turbine can generate between 2.4 million and 4 million kWh annually, depending on the average wind speed at the site. Therefore, a single one-megawatt wind turbine generates enough electricity to power 240 to 400 households….”
So, if there were 60 of those things, they could produce enough electricity for up to  24,000 homes. Wow!

 
The turbines were out in the fields, so a farmer could still use the land to ranch or grow cotton or peanuts, and also receive lease payments for a power company to put those wind turbines on their property.  That is a good use of resources in my opinion. 


 
 
Another thing that was amazing to me is that there was so many ranches and farms, and you could see at a glance what these people do to make a living. They grow cotton, peanuts, sorghum, and corn. We saw a peanut processing plant, cotton gins, feed lots, feed and seed silos, farm implement sales lots. I guess I lived in cities for so long I either never knew or forgot about all the agricultural occupations that existed. See how beautiful that cotton field is?

 
We saw flocks of geese flying south for the winter. That is also amazing to me how those birds know when the cold weather is coming, and take flight before the first snow. 


 
 
We DIDN’T see any rattlesnakes, but this sign had me looking for them. This was at a rest area east of Amarillo on Hwy 287. 

 
We stopped for the night at Wichita Falls RV Park in Wichita Falls, Texas.  The guy who works in the office there can not give directions. We called him twice, and he failed to give correct directions both times. If you are going south on Hwy 287, take exit 1-A, get all the way over to the right, turn right at the first light, and stay on that road until  you see the sign for the RV park. That guy had us running all over Wichita Falls pulling that trailer. It is hard to turn around when you have a 34′ trailer behind you, ya know?  They weren’t making any dinner for us, either, so I made some potato salad.


 
 
And this was a little interesting: a collection of fire hydrants, each one painted a different color, at the RV park. Hmmmm……
 
We made about 410 miles today–not bad. Tomorrow, we head for Shreveport.

Scenic Sunday


We drove from Georgia to south Texas in our pick-up truck, pulling a pop-up camper in 1997. We camped at Bentsen Rio Grand Valley State Park in Mission. This was on an oxbow lake near the Rio Grand River. You can no longer camp at this state park. We were very lucky to go there when we did.

To see more photos from Scenic Sunday, click here.