Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas

Hey y'all! Where have y'all been? I've missed you! We've been out on the range, and out of range, but you haven't been far from my mind. My head is full of words, and I have so much to tell you! So...let's see...where were we? Oh yes...I was telling you, Texas, how impressed we were with your canyon. You called it the Grand Canyon of Texas, and you weren't just kidding. We arrived late in the afternoon on Friday, under overcast and threatening skies.

After signing in, we headed down to the bottom of the canyon, which happens to be 20 miles wide and 800 feet deep. The state park covers more than 26,000 acres of the northern reaches of Palo Duro Canyon. To get to our campsite, we headed down this 10% grade.

You can get a better look at the steepness of the slope in the image below.

While we were getting set up, this guy appeared and hung around for the longest time. They seem to be following us. Possibly they know an appreciative audience when the see one.

After we were unhitched, we decided to drive back to the visitor center, which we'd bypassed on the way by. As it turns out, it was built by the CCC in 1934, and you know we take an instant liking to anything built by the CCC. In fact, much of the infrastructure of the state park owes its existence to the CCC.

From there, I took this panorama of the valley. We were expecting better weather in the coming days, but we didn't know if we'd return here. I only mention that to say that the colors were a little washed out in this image, but I have a better one coming for you to see.

Here's a less expansive view standing in the same spot.

On our drive back to our campsite, we passed by this flock of wild turkeys. They are so funny.

Once back, the Stanbro Men got out for a walk. Smitty was out quite a few times here. It was a good place for kitties.

The next morning, we got out to do some hiking. We hatched a plan to park the car at a parking lot on the right side of the image below, hike the Juniper Cliffside trail, then cross over the road and hike back to our campsite (yellow "x"). From there, Mike hopped on his bike and rode back to where the truck was parked.

It was a beautiful day...windy and warm...we started out wearing sweatshirts, but shed them halfway through our walk. Before leaving the parking lot, I turned a got a picture of the surrounding hillside. There on the left side of the image is the iconic image of the park. It's called "The Lighthouse."

Here, I've cropped the image in a little closer so you can see a little better. I'm going to show you a different view a little later on.

After that, we got on our way. Right away, a roadrunner crossed our path. I've seen roadrunners before, but these were particularly large. They're almost as big as a chicken. As it turns out, these are the Greater Roadrunner, and they are, in fact, larger than the lesser roadrunner.

Looking across to the other side of the canyon, we could see this:

Along the way, we saw this guy. My friend Google informs me that this is a male ladder-backed woodpecker.

Park literature informs us that "Palo Duro" is Spanish for "hard wood" in reference to the Rocky Mountain Juniper trees seen in the canyon. Here, I thought the waffle-weave of the bark was interesting.

The most important thing we wanted to notice along the Juniper Cliffside Trail was this formation:

And here's an example of it right here.

We came to another, larger example down the trail.

Eventually, we crossed over the road and walked back toward the campground along the Juniper Riverside Trail. There's the river:

As we approached our campsite, we spotted this guy...another roadrunner.

They have a little topknot that they can flare up. Here's another image of the same bird.

The hike that day was not difficult, but we were plenty tired at the end. The next morning, we were back at it. By this time, we'd figured out that we could pick up the Juniper Riverside trail right from our campsite.

So we did that, continuing on to the Sunflower Trail, then taking the Rojo Grande Trail to the road. From there, we crossed the road back to the Juniper Cliffside trail and took that back to our campsite.

This next sign has nothing to do with anything. Nevertheless, I took this picture so that I could remember to use this phrase the next time I want to insult someone.

In fact, let me just try this out right now:  Mr. President, Toad Suck Bog. There, I've said it. Someone had to. (Of course, I'm referring to the president of my local science club. Who did you think I was talking to?)

We hiked in more of a river bottom area on this day.

Here's a close-up of another formation that was prevalent in this region.

This is what a sign tells us about it.

All of the washes we crossed over were dry, but the river ran along side us for a good part of the way. We're told this is the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.

It was warmer on this day with less wind, and so our shadow selves relished the opportunity for a swim.

Shortly after that, we met up with the Rojo Grande Trail.

Here are some of the views we caught along the way.

And eventually, we made our way back to the trailer. Sadie was embarrassed that she was still in the same position she was in when we left.

With such a pretty sunny day, we decided to drive back up to the visitor center. Here are the better, more colorful shots I mentioned earlier. It's amazing what a little sunlight can do to a landscape.

Here, I've zoomed in on the formation known as "The Lighthouse." It looks so much different from this angle.

Also, we drove back to the front gate where the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd was making itself available for pictures. They weren't there when we drove in the first day.

Fortunately, I hadn't yet printed and affixed the "Horny" image in my Sketchbook, and so I'm going to use this one instead. This guy is named "Brisket," and he's much better looking than my previous subject. Also, his horns are longer and have a more graceful curve.

Here's some information about the herd.

Finally, there was one more thing we wanted to see in the park. We were pretty well hiked out, and so we took the lazy way to see the Cowboy Dugout. It was located along the Paseo del Rio trail, which was only a mile long. Nevertheless, we drove to the far side and walked in about 500 feet to see it.

Where we parked, I spotted this windmill.

And this sign was a sight for sore legs and feet.

So...there it is:

The park literature told us to "Take a peek into the life of a 19th Century cowboy," and so we did. I was able to take a picture through the slats using the nighttime setting on my camera. Through one slot, we could see the cowboy's bed. I believe that horizontal beam is the foot of the bed.

Moving to the left about a foot, I could see this through the next slot. Looks like a little table there.

The dugout is a little like a daylight basement in that it is dug into the side of the hill here. The roof is the earth above, and that's the chimney sticking up there.

When we walked back to the truck, I wanted to show you where a bridge crosses the river here. The river is perhaps 10 feet below the road surface there. But check out that sign I've marked with a red arrow.

Here's what it says. Now, you know that was some rain that fell back in 1978. Mike and I reminisced about what we were doing on this date in 1978. We were living in Phoenix, and he was just about to graduate with his engineering degree. Meanwhile, in Texas...

From there we headed back to the campsite and sat enjoying the red cliffs as the sun was setting behind us.

Day is done.

Look up in the upper left corner of that image above, and you can see a little sliver of moon.

While we were in Palo Duro, I was able to finish Block #4 of the Heart and Home project. this one is called "Town and Country." Lots of stitching in that one.

Now I'm pretty well along with the third sundress for the Sundress quilt.

These stitch up pretty quick. Yes, I was supposed to do another one of those dratted cast-on flowers up there at the bodice. One of you sent me a pretty good video tutorial showing me how to do the stitch, but I'm sticking with my "design decision" for the remainder of the quilt. (Thank you, Sue, for reminding me that it is a "design decision," and not rank ineptitude.) It would probably be possible to figure it out from the video, but then I'd need to make a trip to Jo-Ann for some different milliners needles, and I'm avoiding Jo-Ann. It always leaves me in a bad mood.

So, as I'm writing this we're sitting in high winds in Tucumcari, New Mexico. I still have more to tell you about today's drive, but I'll save that for tomorrow's post. You probably want to get back to your sewing, don't you?

17 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

What a pretty place. I love cardinals! I love turkeys! I love woodpeckers! I love brisket!! Sophie does not look the least bit embarrassed, just saying. And what a coincidence -- your toad suck bog science club president doesn't believe in science either?! Small world; small enough, apparently, to go to hell in a handbasket when toad sucking is involved.

crazy quilter said...

Toad suck bog! Pretty funny . You know here is a real place in Arkansas named Toad suck I think it is a very funny name. Glad you enjoyed the canyon. Safe travels and keep on having fun

Quilting Babcia said...

So many questions re Toad Suck Bog, probably better left unasked since I'm not a local lol! This is such beautiful country, not what my mind expects to see in Texas, but then the only thing I recall driving through the panhandle many years ago is the size of the tarantulas crossing the interstate.

Brown Family said...

Texas may claim to have every thing bigger and better, but sometimes our rivers in drought season seem very small and dinky. It does not have to rain in the park for a flash flood from rain further north! I am glad you enjoyed the Canyon. You took beautiful pictures! THe Roadrunners or chaparral are very plentiful in Texas and New Mexico. The info on the holes in the side of the cliff is very interesting. On a hot day, they are a good place to see rattlesnakes. It sounds like you had beautiful weather foe all your hiking!

WoolenSails said...

This is definitely one of my favorites of places you have been, love the rock formations and varying colors of the earth, as well as the wildlife and history, a bit of everything in one place.


Dora, the Quilter said...

And apparently the winds plan to howl all night. As you head west, you might want to take a break at Busy Bee Quilts in Edgewood, NM just a couple of miles north of I-40. Tiny shop loaded with lovely fabrics and owned by a hard working, friendly couple.

Robin R. Klein said...

Wow, that rock awhile to read and PIN some of your fantastic photography. I've never seen a ora!runner except in cartoons. What makes the topknot brill? Glad you got a pic of the male cardinal:) The rocks are amazing. I never appreciated them until I saw the PBS show. I'd love to see them one day. Go Longhorns!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Fabulous photos of another wonderous place in our country. Toad Suck Bog is a great addition to the 'word' list. I hear there are some very high winds right now out that way, so I hope you folks are safe. NOT another element to travel in a big rig.

Debbie said...

Great tour and hiking. Thanks for sharing all the photos and info. Love the roadrunner...beep, beep.

piecefulwendy said...

Toad Suck Bog still has me laughing! I hope to see a roadrunner some day; you got some great photos of them! I'm with you on JoAnn's. I avoid it like the plague. Unfortunately, I need to go for some pillow forms. Hoping I can get there early some day, so I can improve my mood with coffee and other fun stuff afterwards. Haha! Good to hear from you again!

Natureluvr57 said...

I'm enjoying your travels because I'll most likely never get to any of those places. Love your quilt block. Are you using the Perle cotton they usually recommend or regular 6 stranded DMC? I've tried the Perle cotton but can't get use to how thick it is. Love their designs and I may have to get that one.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I think the last time I was at Palo Duro Canyon was high school (the dark ages, but, slightly after the flood). In the summer, there is an outdoor theater and they have a play about the area, with horses, wagons, etc.

Lyndsey said...

Lots of scenic eye candy in this post. I love the longhorn cattle and Brisket is a fabulous fellow. The stitching looks great and the sundress one has me longing for summer.

Kate said...

I think we have some of the same photos from our trip that you've got. It's a beautiful place. We were there in late May (after we nearly collided with a tornado). There are reasons to visit the TX panhandle in the winter! Glad you are able to get out and hike a lot. Really enjoyed your photographs, they bring back some fun memories.

quiltzyx said...

Great shots of all the colors of the land, and yes, a little light does make a big difference! Somewhere I have a baggie with some red dirt from Australia that I want to you to dye some fabric one day.
Wonderful pawtrait of Brisket - cool horns!
The stitcheries look so nice. Oh, you're welcome, a small payment for all the great trips you've taken me on!!

kc said...

Wow, that's some great photography Girlfriend! I loved the roadrunners - sure makes me "home" sick!! We saw them up around Wimberley, but never anywhere else. We did see some LONG eared Jack Rabbits down around Corpus, but likewise, only there. Now, Longhorns, they were everywhere around Victoria, but we got a kick out of seeing them every time. We currently have a small herd (maybe 15?) not far from us here, and we get to see them every week on our way up to dancing. LOVE to see 'em all out on a sunny day! Such graceful beasties.

As always, your stitching is remarkable! So even and precise. But, truthfully, Sadie doesn't look the least bit embarrassed.

Seriously great photos; I'll pass them along to Driver, I know he'll enjoy 'em immensely.

SJSM said...

Lots of subjects in this post. The cowboy dug out seems so small and desolate. It shows how alone many people were back in our history. Toad Suck Bog is a great phrase! I will need to remember that. I was in a toad suck bog the last few days as I worked on my taxes. They really got me down this year. They toad sucked! Yep! Like that phrase.

I was wondering when one would chose to use perle cotton over floss. I bought some "just because". I’ve used a couple of colors a few times but haven’t got the feel for how and when to use it. I wish I could get back to sewing. After the tax bog my home really needs a good pricing up and cleaning. Between catching up on life a trip looms ahead on Saturday. Lana, my kitty is tryin to help type. Better go. Enjoy your travels.