October 19 – 28, 2015 Amarillo, Texas

Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park

Ten Days in Amarillo – Prius Repair

( I am now ( Nov. 1st ) safely camped at my winter destination at the birding site in Salineno, Texas, where I am cohosting for the next five months. Unfortunately there is essentially no internet signal here so posts may well become infrequent until I can figure out how to gain internet access. Bear with me please. )

After arriving in Amarillo and getting setup at the Oasis RV Resort, I took a trip into the city to the visit Select Toyota dealership and see if they could fit me in to get the body work done on the Prius. But, same as at the last two Toyota dealerships I inquired at, they do not do body work on their own line of automobiles, seems strange to me, but what do I know. They did give me the name of a local body shop where they send their customers, Soncy Road Auto Body, so off I went.

The folks at Soncy Road said they could get the work done by next Wednesday if that would work for me, so I had them give me an estimate and when I saw it was for just a little under $3000, I gave them the go ahead to order the parts and finally, maybe, my Prius will be made whole.

During my Alaska adventure the Prius windshield took a few rocks and the cracks have since spread into the driverside line of vision, so I went online and found a local Safelite shop and scheduled an appointment for them to come to the RV Park and replace the windshield. I must say that the experience dealing with these people was absolutely top notch, from the operator would scheduled the appointment and dealt with my insurance company to the installer who did a quick and excellent job and left the car cleaner than it was when he began. What a pleasure to deal with an outfit that actually provides great service!

I am to drop off the Prius at the body shop Monday at 8 AM so on Saturday I decided to check out a couple of nearby spots for photo ops. First I took a trip out to Buffalo Lake NWR. The place was absolutely deserted and I saw all but nothing to shoot, one mulie ran in front of the car and there were some meadowlarks here and there ( but I think I got enough of them at Las Vegas NWR ), and at the very end of the park road there was a water impoundment with quite a few geese, ducks, and of course, coots swimming around in the distance, but nothing close enough to shoot.

Campsite at Buffalo Lake NWR
Campsite at Buffalo Lake NWR

There is a very nice primitive campground in the refuge that might be a good place to vegetate for a bit if one was so inclined.

Palo Duro State Park

Sunday morning I headed out to Palo Verde State Park and that proved a little more interesting.

Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park

The park features some very interesting and picturesque geology, explained quite well in a nice Visitor’s Center.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park

There are four separate campgrounds in the park and they were mostly full, it being a weekend morning, and for the locals, this place must be a very nice change of pace to the boring flat terrain surrounding Amarillo. The campgrounds would not be my cup of tea, as usual, much too crowded and certainly looking like they see a lot of traffic and not enough upkeep. The whole park looks like it is a bit tired, but still has a lot of unique natural beauty, with lots of hiking trails.

Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro canyon wall
Palo Duro canyon wall

After viewing the amazing geology from a distance, I took a couple short hikes to check out some interesting formations up close.

Palo Duro canyon wall
Palo Duro canyon wall

The shot above could have been taken of a distant cliff wall or, as is the actual case, from just a few feet away. The small “caves” and their supporting pillars are actually only two or three inches tall.

Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro canyon wall
Palo Duro canyon wall
Palo Duro State Park
Palo Duro State Park

Very glad I went to visit, and got some nice landscape shots, but feel little desire to return, just too many people in not that large a space.

I did rent a small car from Enterprise while mine was in the shop, but that experience was nothing like the one with Safelite. The office looked like a dump, they charged me twice the daily rate shown on the internet search, and the white car they gave me was entirely covered in bird &#@!*, and I had to convince them that perhaps they should wash some of it off. Being unfamiliar with a different vehicles controls and dash, I was a couple miles down the road before I realized the tire inflation warning light was on. So, I turned around and drove back to Enterprise and one of their salespeople brought out an air compressor and filled one of the rear tires, blaming it on the cool weather and assuring me that the warning light would go out in a few miles. It didn’t. And the reason it didn’t was because the tire had an obvious leak. Fortunately, I have an air compressor now ( after my Alaska adventure ) and I was able to fill the tire the next morning, and the morning I was to return it, but of course didn’t dare drive it anywhere.

When I turned it in, I politely requested a very substantial adjustment, since I couldn’t drive it anywhere other back and forth to their facility and had to use my equipment to even be able to return it. Fortunately, they didn’t argue much about it and since I hadn’t really planned on driving anywhere anyhow, I didn’t mind paying a few dollars for the 10 total miles I was able to go in it.

Soncy Road Auto Body had the Prius ready by close of business Wednesday as promised, and I barely recognized it when I first saw it. Fully detailed and looking like a new car again, they did a great job and were decent folks to deal with. New windshield and new body!

The Oasis RV Resort is not the kind of place I would typically stay at, but I did enjoy my time there. Fairly new, the large concrete pads were fairly well spaced, probably close to 30 feet between sites and the 30 degree angles of the 70 foot long sites made you feel even farther from your neighbors. Full hookups, a $180/week camping fee, good Verizon signal and open skies for satellite reception and star viewing, conveniently close to the interstate and town, along with nice helpful office staff, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again in the future. Only one negative, there is a huge feed lot/dairy operation seven miles west of the park and a few times, when the wind was blowing just right ( wrong? ) it did get a little ripe. When that happened, fortunately, it only lasted an hour or two, but if I had to endure several days of it, I doubt I could have stomached it.

Thursday morning I was up and on the road by 6 AM, hoping it will only take me a couple days to complete the last 700 or so miles of my long journey from Alaska to my winter volunteering stint in Salineno, Texas.

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