Tag Archives: Palo Duro Canyon

Looking back we did a lot in the short time we spent in Santa Fe. We stayed with my mother’s friend from high school in an actual bed inside an actual house. It was wonderful.

We arrived in Santa Fe about the same time smoke from the eastern Arizona fires did, so although the sky looked pretty blue to us, Maria our host, assured us it was a dull grey.

We arrived and took blissfully warm showers, met their little goddess daughter Ana, played with their adorable dog Finny and then Alejandro ate the best salad he had ever had.

Maria then left Alejandro and I to explore downtown Santa Fe. The town felt like Savannah’s historic district but with a very different type of beauty and history. Then, still full on salad we went out to dinner with the whole family and their son’s babysitter and her boyfriend (both around Alejandro’s age).

Highlights included me saying “hell” at the dinner table (describing last summer in Savannah) and feeling really bad about swearing in front of children. Then, FULL out of OUR MINDS. we went to bed.

Maria then made us breakfast and tried to get us to stay another night. And although the bed and hot shower and great company was tempting, I had made our Grand Canyon reservations half a year in advance and I couldn’t wait one more day.

They were truly magnificent hosts, o kind even though they barely knew me. Hopefully one day in the future their children will be traveling through where-ever we live so we can return the favor.

Google Maps, so hot right now.

P.S. Sorry that this took so long to post, my MacBook Pro was spending some time at the Genius Bar. He will probably have to go back soon, so I apologize in advance for further delays.


Around 3 a.m. thunder rumbled in the distance. I sat up in the tent and woke up Alejandro.

“Thunder,” I said.

He tried to go back to sleep but I convinced him to help me put the protective fly over the tent and move it away from the tree we were under. But to secure the fly we had to put a lot of stakes in the brittle hard ground. It was impossible.

The thunderstorm was getting closer and it was starting to rain hard. At least we had some sort of protection, we thought and dove back inside the tent. We sat by the lantern light and wondered what to do.

Are tent poles the type of metal that attract lightning?
Do you count from the thunder to the flash or the flash to the thunder to figure out how far away the storm is?
Would one thunderstorm cause a flash flood and if so what should one do if they were camping at the bottom of a canyon?
Would the ever-increasing wind roll the tent and everything, including us, inside it?

Thoughts like these were interrupted when Alejandro kicked a wolf* in the face.  It had come inside the fly and the tent less than 10 inches from Alejandro. I didn’t see it up close, but I did see some sort of small pack animal running around in the shadows.

It was around that time that we made the executive decision to leave the canyon before things got worse.

We packed up our sleeping gear and tent in record time. My flip-flops got lost in the move (we found them later, inside the tent) so I was running around the scorpion infested ground with no shoes on.

It was raining hard, the thunder was echoing loudly throughout the canyon. Our neighbors had either already left or were sitting in their cars waiting out the storm. I was cursing my nice secluded campsite because we were a couple of miles from the entrance to the canyon and had three flash flood river roads to cross.

Luckily we left soon enough in the storm that we were able to get out of the canyon. We stopped in Amarillo to get breakfast at 5 or 6 in the morning. We shared The Waffle House with a few otherwise normal looking men in cowboy hats.

We then drove in a haze of wonder. Before noon we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We didn't really enjoy the lone star state.

*The wolf was probably a coyote since they actually live in the canyon, but don’t tell Alejandro that.

So far in our drive we had gone to a lot of states that we had never been to or thought about before. But today we were ending up in Texas and I had a lot of preconceived notions about Texas. Namely that things would be bigger, cowboy-ish and full of pride.

Before we could see the lone star state we had to drive through Oklahoma.

It was a rather uneventful. Cows, land, cows, etc.

By sheer luck we ended up eating lunch in Checotah, home to Carrie Underwood of American Idol fame. But for most of the drive I had “Oklahoma” the musical stuck in my head.  (Side note Hugh Jackman singing “The Surrey with The Fringe on Top,” who knew?)

That night we were camping in the Paulo Duro Canyon, a little south of Amarillo. A place that also hosts the largest outdoor musical in Texas, called TEXAS! I had wanted to go see it but we got there half an hour too late.

As if knowing my sadness, the man behind the counter let me pick out a campsite, told me I’d found a good spot and advised us to watch out for scorpions, pedestrians and deer.

We heard pack animals howling at the moon in the distance.

My first mistake was not realizing that I could take the map of the campground with us, the second was eating our dinner at the scenic overlook right before sunset. By the time we drove down into the canyon it was getting dark and although we could find campsites 1 through 33, the one I picked, 35, proved more difficult.

After pleading assistance from a family from Illinois we learned that the campsite was not closest to the entrance (as I had thought) but farthest from it. Nice, secluded, far from civilization, a good spot.

We set up the tent next to a tree and went to sleep hoping no scorpions weaseled their way into our tent.