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April 11, 2024

Capturing the Eclipse

Safely parked in the side yard of the family estate outside Dayton Ohio.  A perfect spot for a mini-watch party with the family over.

This is why we timed the trip.

Rufus at home for the next few weeks, as the eclipse begins

The eclipse occurred directly overhead.

Looking like Pac Man

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It's dark and chilly the last minutes before totality
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The Diamond Ring as the sun begins to reappear

Quite a few planes giving eclipse tours

And of course there are always chores to be done while here.  First off the hot water heater was leaking.  Yikes!  I took a look at where it was leaking at the drain valve.  And of course it began gushing!  More than the basement floor drain could handle :(  I shut off the water to the heater and its gas line.

I’ve used Kettering Plumbing before and they were here immediately, drain cleared!  And back the next day with a brand new 40 gallon water heater heater.


Out with the old

In with the new

In the next week the once beautiful maple tree in the front will be taken down :(

Yup it's a big'n
They were to start today, but it's raining.

Once we get the 'got-to-do' list checked off, we’ll have time for some fun!  Looking forward to some up coming fun!


April 07, 2024

Chasing the eclipse 4 - OK-OH

US 40 crosses the US ‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ often parallel to Historic Route 66.  We often look for a Route 66 stop along the way to explore.  Fran, showing her Irish roots, chose Shamrock TX.

The town is noted as having the tallest water tower in Texas  So that was our first stop.

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Like in many towns, murals are used to attract the tourists.  Many nice murals to be seen in Shamrock.

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At least to us, the town should be noted for having the only piece of the Blarney Stone outside of Ireland!  In the late 1950s the town negotiated to have a slice of the Blarney Stone delivered.  It was not a popular decision with the Irish, but the stone arrived in an armored car with police and military escort in 1959.


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On a mother-daughter trip, Fran's mother and sister all went to Ireland.  There they had the chance to kiss the original Blarney Stone.  So Fran also need to kiss this stone.

We stopped at this Route 66 art deco diner for lunch.  The diner is pretty much original, but the Conoco station and bus stop is now a gift shop.

Elvis was here!

There was a town councilman in the diner.  He was excited to talk about Elvis, as his mother was his waitress!  As he chatted on, I forgot to ask about the coins on the Blarney Stone.  I know why coins are left on graves, and the denomination of the coins have meaning.  But the Blarney Stone?


Google didn't help, can you?

Shamrock in now noted as the official, and biggest, St Patrick's Day destination in Texas.  As 20,000 ‘Irish’ descend on the town for 4 days of parades, music, dancing and green beer.

High winds increased with gusts to 60+ as we continued to pass through Oklahoma.  We joked about these puffy clouds wanting to join us for the eclipse.

After entering Arkansas, we soon dropped south to US64 to follow the Arkansas Wine Trail.

We’ve done this before, from the east.  From the west this time our first stop was Mount Bethel.  It was our favorite last time and their dry reds were still very good and reasonably priced at $14 ea.

To paraphrase Suzi:  "Oh Fran"

Fran, the awesome navigator, found a nice recommendation for Petit Jean State Park, just a few miles after the end of the wine trail.

We did not know at the time we headed that way, that USA Today ranked Petit Jean the best state park destination in 2023! That article is HERE!  The parks they rated:

  • No. 10:
  • Curt Gowdy State Park - Cheyenne, Wyoming

  • No. 9:
    Lost Dutchman State Park - Apache Junction, Arizona

  • No. 8:
    Red Rock Canyon State Park - Cantil, California

  • No. 7:
    Palisades State Park - Garretson, South Dakota

  • No. 6:
    Cape Disappointment State Park - Ilwaco, Washington

  • No. 5:
    Tishomingo State Park - Tishomingo, Mississippi

  • No. 4:
    Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park - Middle Brook, Missouri

    No. 3:
    Cheaha State Park - Delta, Alabama

    No. 2:
    Custer State Park - Custer, South Dakota

    No. 1:
    Petit Jean State Park - Morrilton, Arkansas

    We’ve now been to 4 parks on this list.  How about you?

Our campsite was right on the lake.


The roads were beautiful and uncrowded.

We enjoyed the short hike to Cedar Falls.


Fran on the Bear Cave Trail.

The Gravesite of Petit Jean


And her forever view over the Arkansas River

Certainly wish we had more time there.

Back on the road, as US 40 drops south to Little Rock, US 64 continues due east and that’s the direction we want to go.  The wind remains relentless!  Our campground sign was blown down as were several signs along the highway.  We stopped a bit early to do some laundry.


The following morning we wanted to follow Jim and Barb’s tire tracks and taste a bit of the Bourbon Trail.  Alas the wind continues and now rain!  Heavy at times … ARG.  We crossed a few very narrow bridges!  


The next skinny bridge had an accident, which backed up traffic for miles!


We pulled into a Cracker Barrel near Georgetown KY at the far end of the trail, without  bourbon :( Nice long pull through parking for RVs in the back).  When we arrived there were 2 RVs and 3 SUVs taking advantage of the overnight spots.  We scored the far spot with a patch of grass that allowed us to extend our slide.

There was a little traffic noise from I-75 and a couple trains.  But it was FREE! and the wind died down overnight.

Traditionally our first stop as we approach the family home is Marion’s.  Their pizza is just that good and a bit different.

When we first put the Michelin Agilis tires on, Rick asked how we liked them. HERE

Rick – So glad we did not wait!  They are quieter than the LTX they replaced and roll smother, and handle the rain well.

It should be a consideration for anyone looking for tires.  However like the LTX the tread captures the gravel many stops use.  So there is that first mile of pings as they are released.

Next up the ECLIPSE!

April 01, 2024

Chasing the eclipse 3 - NM-TX

‘ln the morning we left the west side of New Mexico with the east side as our destination, specifically the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  This is a new destination for us.

It’s COLD it’s WINDY, but we did venture a couple short trails.

from the Pine Springs VC we followed the path to the Pine Springs Butterfield Stage Station.

All that is left is this one wall that is reinforcement from behind.

From here we moved on to the Frijole Ranch.

The spring generates 6 gallons a minute, and the cool water helped preserve fruits and vegetables.

My daughter has a persimmon tree.  Not a grove just a tree.


But check out the bark pattern!  Her tree has not yet developed this texture.

Our next stop was Frijole Ranch.  The site museum was closed on this Easter Sunday,  I think it would be an interesting visit.

The spring is still producing fresh water but at a far less significant rate.

With the day in Guadalupe I am able to add another sticker to my water bottle.

Our last stop in New Mexico was Clovis.  I specifically wanted to see the Blackwater Museum.  It was closed!!!  ARG!!! Do a Google search on ‘Clovis Man’ for an idea why I wanted to be there.

It is the site of the oldest known use of tools in North America.  Clovis Points are unique.  It is also a supported theory that all Native Americans are Clovis descendants.

So with my disappointment Fran suggested the Norman Petty Rock and Roll Museum. 

Radio studio:

A typical soda fountain in the early years of Rock and Roll.

Memphis is credited as the Birthplace of Rock and Roll (Elvis 1953), But Clovis is credited as the Heartbeat of Rock and Roll.  Who knew ???

Many artists recorded here,


I’m a huge Buddy Holly fan!  He recorded “That’ll be the Day” here first, followed another couple dozen!  Roy Orbison, Bobby Vee, and others wanted that Clovis Sound.

And the Fireballs “Sugar Shack”, a #1 hit for them was recorded by Petty.

If you’re a Rock and Roll fan do your own research on the unique Clovis Sound.

And you’ll notice how it still influences music today.

The original studio is on 7th street.

Thanks for the detour, Fran!  What a serendipitous stop!