Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 21:41 -0400 .

Mile 1884, Canyon, TX.

Daryl: We're sending this message from Amarillo, Texas, the first phone connection we've accessed since Memphis. The quick recap: Graceland was worth it. We then drove from Memphis to Ozark, Arkansas. There, we had a campsite about 15 miles from the Interstate, in a dense woods next to a river. Except for one other tent, we had the whole site to ourselves. The river was refreshing. We swung out over the water on a rope, carefully rigged by some anonymous swimmers, then let go to drop into the cool green pool...

Then, the drive yesterday took us over all of Oklahoma. Flat, green, with subtle changes in the color in the soil as we went on. Midway, we stopped in Oklahoma City to see the spooky monument commerating the 1995 bombing..

In Texas, the land around the Interstate became totally flat. As we entered Amarillo, in the northern panhandle of the state, a giant fiberglass cow lured us into a famous steak restaurant, where we spent too much money and ate too much food. Two musicians, one with a guitar and another with a fiddle, played Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," by request, as we ate..

On the drive south to our campsite, the land was pancake flat and dotted with longhorn cattle and scruffy little plants. Then, quite suddenly, the ground opened up into an amazing red canyon, which we'd later learn is the second-largest in the country. This is cayote and roadrunner country. The road descended into the gorge, and six miles later we pitched our tent for the night. Brian led us on a night hike up the canyon walls to watch the sky turn dark. None of us had ever heard of this amazing place -- perhaps Palo Duro Canyon gets overshaddowed by the Grand Canyon being so much more accessable..

Brian: Don't drink the water in Arkansas, speed through Oklahoma, or drive through Texas without stopping. This canyon is as good as nature gets; road runners, wild turkeys, rabbits, deer, and some crazy climbing trails. The travels in between have been easy, too. Five hundred miles a day can be done, with plenty of time for sightseeing to spare..

The best thing about Oklahoma: They remember with class. They have a war memorial covering every American conflict, and it is cooler than most of the D.C. monumens. And the bombing tribute brings out just the emotions it is supposed to..


Ryan: was neat but I wouldn't go again. Arkansas was a piece of work, now really understand why they make fun of Clinton for being an Arkansonian. We found an intense rope swing, at frst we almost sissied out because the Mulberry River was pretty frigid, fortunately we cowboyed up and got in. It was poetry in motion, the perfect swing. Last night we took a hike in the Palo Duro Canyon under the moonlit sky. The light was really erie extremely bright though..

Quote of the day: "I grew up on cow balls, I eat 'em weekly" our waitor at the Big Texan Steak House.


Tim: Graceland was cheesier than expected. The tour came with a walkman where you coud hear creepy Priscila Presely voice-overs as she remembered Elvis' favorite rooms. You could tour most of the house -- but no bathrooms. Arkanas was, surprisingly, a good time. The rope swing into the river made it all worth it. Texas and Oklahoma are flat. But Texas has a lot more charm. I liked the steak house but the natural beauty of Palo Duro Canyon sucks when you are bombarded by flies. On our way out of the canyon, minor car trouble was fixed with some rope. As always Eagle Scout Daryl is resourceful. Well we're off to New Mexico. -- Tim Swift, CNN, Amarillo Texas

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