The Interstate 20 en route to Dallas, but stopping just shy and heading down a notch to drop into Stephenville, Texas, is a route I remember as far back as I can remember.
Once you hit Indio, just outside of Los Angeles the landscape doesn't change much for a few long days of driving, amazing mesas and plateaus and desert for as far as the eye can see.
My family made this pilgrimage year after year because that's where the lion's share of our family lived.
I drove the route on my own when I was 16 years old and a summer with my grandparents was the best option for all involved.
I have since driven across this country many times, taking several different routes.
The I-20 across Texas being my least favorite. And yet I found us taking that leg for a short span on our last tour because we were meeting up with one of our favorite home school families who had just recently transplanted to Plano.
That was the theme of the camp I was part of at Burning Man and it continues to be a theme for us on our latest adventures and travels.
We went to great lengths and expense to share the incredible experience of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival with Cindy and as a family that Skye and I had a couple of years before.
Unfortunately the morning we went, after waking up before 5 am and then sitting in traffic for a couple of hours, the wind was too strong for the balloons to take off.
We checked out of our hotel and went back to the fairgrounds. Only to hear a lot of varying opinions and forecasts as to whether the "Night Glow" would happen latter in the evening. And the predictions for the balloons going up the next morning were even less optimistic.
We decided to cut bait and head east, because we were now on a schedule.
We did get a few hours and a few hundred miles taken off our next days journey.
But we ended up in Amarillo and the worst motel we'd stayed in to date on this particular road trip, only to find out that the Glow and the Accession both ended up happening.
After deciding to opt out on a far less than par "continental breakfast" we back-tracked to check out the famous Cadillac Ranch, a Route 66 American Icon must see, that I have blasted past for years.
It wasn't much too see and given what we had missed to gain a few hours, well, like they say hindsight is 20/20......
We continued on, of course and before too long we were in the Fort Worth/ Dallas super-suburb landscape.
We passed the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum.
I have been told that one of my great uncles has a plaque there or something of the sort. But I have never taken the time to find out, even though I've passed by it several times in the last decade.
When we finally go to our hotel in Plano, I had a few minutes before we went over to our friends house for dinner. So I decided to check up on my uncle.
It turns out he had passed away just about a year before.
Cindy had met him around 15 years back. He was in his late seventies but up at 5 am to do farm duties and then still out dancing up a storm past midnight. He whirled Cindy around with a Texas two-step at City Limits.
I didn't get to spend much time with Whit Keeney, but the time I did was magical and quite amazing.
Whit R. Keeney, 94, of Stephenville, passed away Thursday, October 13, 2011 in Stephenville.
Whit was born on February 14, 1917 in Erath County to the late James F. and Fannie Martin Keeney. He married Mary Purdom and she preceded him in death in 2002. Whit served in the U.S. Army Airbourne during WWII.
Whit started rodeoing in 1932, and joined the Rodeo Cowboy’s Association in 1944. He won the doggin’ in Baton Rouge, LA, Little Rock, Ark, and Memphis, Tenn. Everett Colborn hired him in 1947-48 to travel with the Lighting C Stock Company owned by Everett Colborn and Gene Autry to produce rodeos in New York at Madison Square Garden for 32 performances. He worked their rodeos at Ardmore, OK, Fort Madison, Iowa, and Boston, MA. Whit, also worked for rodeo producer, Homer Todd of Fort Smith, Ark.
He has won 37 trophy saddles most of them for winning all-around cowboy honors. He won his first saddle in 1957 when he was 40 years old. Eight saddles were won in the National Organizations of Rodeo Cowboys Association for competitors over 45 years of age. In his younger years at Baton Rouge, LA, he set a record for the fastest time ever in bull dogging at 2.4 seconds.
He owned and trained “Whit” the 1987 P.R.C.A. Horse of the Year. “Betty Crocker” and “Cooper” are two well known winning doggin horses he trained. They became famous for their keen athletic skills. Much like their owner they gave their all to win and be champions.
Whit has trained the finest cow dogs in the country. His border collies are much in demand for their keen, fine tuned athletic abilities to work cattle.
He received his PRCA Gold Card Membership in 1967, and continued to rodeo thru his 81st birthday. Whit Keeney is a cowboy’s cowboy.
from the Stephenville Funeral Home website.
I was stunned when I read about his passing; that we were so close to his home on the 1st anniversary of his death; that I hadn't heard about it, even with all of our cyber-connectedness.
And yet I shouldn't have been.
He was from such a different time and I hadn't been in touch with that part of the family, well since cell phones have been around. And yet again, it was the internet that enabled me to find out about death and a lot about his life that was fuzzy at best in a manner of minutes.
In the few minutes I had before our dinner engagement.
And that is another story.