Scorpions, Spikes, Black Flies, and a Dead Phone

Scorpions from National Parks Exhibit. The one in Annie’s bowl was a medium sized one.

The Texas Panhandle gets my Least Favorite Part of the Trip Award. I woke up overlooking Greenbelt Lake. That bit was lovely. Then I realized my phone was dead. No amount of plugging it in to various sockets and using different cords helped. Not a glint of life. There went my GPS, my phone, my Google, my camp-site-finding app (AllStays), and the photos for the previous three days (now posted, so you know this story had a happy ending).

I packed up and drove the 300 feet to the little Marina. The man running the general store/marina/license office/bait shop welcomed me with his friendly Texas drawl. After a brief conversation about the raccoon I scared from under my van when Annie and I opened the door to get out first thing that morning, I asked if he had Internet access. (Since my phone wasn’t working then, I can’t show you what he or the low-tech shop looked like.) The closest thing he had was a Yellow Pages book for Amarillo (closest city) from 2006. I was not surprised there were no listings for Apple or T-Mobile.

Good news, as I reached the outskirts of Amarillo, I found a visitor center that had enough Internet access to let me send emails to my kids not to worry that I was out of touch. But not enough access to allow me to use a search engine to find an Apple Store. The lady at the Tourist Desk found the T-Mobile office in Amarillo. Thankfully, the young woman at T-Mobile was able to jump-start my phone because the nearest Apple Store, my son informed me, was in Albuquerque.

Re-armed with my iPhone’s most valuable tools, I drove to the next National Monument on my map, Alibates Flint Quarry NM , which is right by a National Recreation Area, Lake Meredith (where, theoretically, I could have camped).

All my photos of these parks are on my Fuji camera because my iPhone was still charging. I’m glad the National Parks are preserving this quarry where the American natives have been mining a unique and high quality flint for arrows, scrapers, knives, and drills for 9,000-plus years. And they offer a short trail. But go there without a dog or children and when it isn’t 98 degrees out.

Sprinkled along the path are these horrible Sputnik-like stickers. Annie yelped in pain when a giant one (four times the size of this one from another park) punctured her paw and caused a lot of bleeding. I got one in my hand trying to get the dozens off her. The spikes are hard to pull out. Soon we were both bleeding and I hobbled back to the van and high-tailed it out of there.

We skipped looking at the lake.

I made it as far west as Santa Rosa, New Mexico, where I found a nice State Park overlooking Santa Rosa Lake, which is actually a reservoir.

It was a beautiful place, but the black flies and ants prevented us from sitting outside. There were rattle snake warnings everywhere. We ran into none of those, but somehow a scorpion found its way into my van. It drowned itself in Annie’s water bowl, which is where I found it. I didn’t think to take a photo before throwing the water and scorpion out the door of the van. Needless to say, I kept a sharp lookout when I walked anywhere from then on.

Good news is that the campground provided electricity needed for the air conditioner since it was still horribly hot. Bad news is that the shower was cold.

We are heading toward Pecos National Park near Sante Fe hoping the higher elevation will provide cooler air and fewer creepy animals.

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