Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Road Trip 2021 Is History; Part One: The Buddy Holly Trail

Buddy Holly Statue at Lubbock's Walk of Fame

Road trip 2021 may be history, but it will likely prove to be one of the most memorable ones I've ever taken. I left home early on Sunday, July 18, along with my nineteen-year-old grandson, with zero miles on the trip-counter, and we completed the trip on Sunday, August 1, with 5,035 miles on the meter. 

This is a quick summary of the 15 days we were on the road:

  1. Houston to Lubbock, TX: all about Buddy Holly,
  2. Lubbock to Clovis and Roswell, NM: personal tour of the Norman Petty recording studio in Clovis where Holly recorded the hits,
  3. Roswell, NM to Albuquerque, NM: the "alien" sites in Roswell along with stops in Lincoln, NM (site of the Lincoln County War) and White Sands National Park,
  4. Albuquerque to Kayente, AZ: with a long visit to the famous marker in Four Corners, USA, where you can place yourself simultaneously within the boundary of four different states,
  5. Kayente to Kanab, UT: with a Navajo guided tour through the beautiful Monument Valley,
  6. Kanab to Page, AZ: in between the two cities, we spent much of the day enjoying Zion National Park with my step-grandson who is interning there this summer,
  7. Page to Cedar City, UT: with an invigorating visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that we enjoyed despite all the smoke from this summer's wildfires,
  8. Cedar City to Evanston, WY: with visits to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and to the Great Salt Lake itself,
  9. Evanston to Cody, WY: spent the day in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park (which was overwhelmed by tourist traffic) before arriving in one of my favorite cities,
  10. Cody to Sheridan, WY: after spending much of the day exploring the wonderful Buffalo Bill Cody Center,
  11. Sheridan to Rapid City, SD: visited Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument (both with good crowds),
  12. Rapid City to Ogallala, NE: highlight of the day's driving was the fascinating Wall Drug, one of the most iconic "tourist traps" in the country,
  13. Ogallala to Dodge City, KS: with a fun visit to the Boot Hill Museum in town,
  14. Dodge City to Lubbock, TX: to complete our Buddy Holly tribute by visiting the museum that was closed on our earlier visit to Lubbock,
  15. Lubbock to Houston: a ten-hour day of travel to complete the circuit
The first two days were largely spent immersing ourselves in the tragic history of one of both our favorite singers, Buddy Holly. Buddy was from Lubbock, Texas, but he did his earlier recordings at the Norman Petty recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico, so we spent time in both cities walking in Buddy's footsteps. Sadly, Buddy's career lasted only 18 months before a 1959 crash in a small plane claimed his life along with the lives of Richie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and the plane's pilot. 

We both find the man's music to be so much fun that it's impossible not to be in a good mood when you're listening to the songs. 

Buddy Holly (Holley) Gravesite in Lubbock, Texas



Lounge Area of Clovis, NM, Recording Studio (everything is original)


We had a wonderful tour of the Norman Petty studio, just us and a man who spent much of his life working with and for Petty. We were able to spend some time not only in the studio itself but also in the small apartment attached to it that was used by the musicians when they recorded all night long. All of the original furniture, pictures, etc. from back in the day are still in place there. It was like waking up in the 1950s. 

25 comments:

  1. You were in my stomping grounds coming through Salt Lake City! That's where I live. But isn't it sad how low the Great Salt Lake is right now? Both Zion Nat'l Park and Monument Valley are two of my favorite places to visit because the scenery in both is just so amazing! My parents took my family to see Mt. Rushmore when I was six, but I don't remember it very well. I'd like to go back someday. And Roswell is also high on my to do list. What a fun road trip! :D

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    1. I didn't realize you lived in the city. We were there on a Sunday, so traffic around Temple Square was really pretty light. But the traffic lights were long, long, long. I can imagine what weekday rush hour must be like.

      You're definitely right about the lake. I was kind of shocked to learn firsthand how bad it smells, how many flies are around...even to floating dead in the water. That didn't stop a few people, though, from swimming in the lake since it was on their "bucket lists."

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  2. I'm curious to hear what it was like visiting White Sands. I read a book set there once.

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    1. It's pretty well organized, Jeane, but understaffed to the point that some people are walking in areas they are not supposed to be intruding upon. There's plenty of designated white sand for everyone to get their fill of it, including some pretty high dunes, but some people don't think the rules ever apply to THEM.

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  3. I love Buddy Holly. That part of the trip must have been a lot of fun, and how wonderful that you both appreciate his music.

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    1. I asked him when we were almost home what his favorite spots had been...and Buddy Holly sites in Lubbock and Clovis were at the top despite all the unbelievable natural wonders we saw. He is a huge fan of Buddy Holly and the Beatles as a result of me taking him to and from school for three years. That's all we listened to...that and Dwight Yoakam's Bakersfield Beat station on SiriusXM.

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  4. What a fabulous 2-weeks and spending that much time with your grandson who seems to enjoy the things you do is extra special. I was in Houston a few times in August on business years back and it was hotter than a hoot owl LOL and I've been to NM, Albuquerque, for the October Balloon Fiestas and Santa Fe (my favorite). Welcome home.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. It's good to be back...and so far, at least, neither of us seems to have picked up COVID along the way. Another day or so, and I'll feel confident that we didn't.

      You nailed Houston weather in August...my wife can barely tolerate it, but it's my favorite month of the year here because I tolerate heat much better than I do cold.

      It was a great trip, and most importantly, a whole lot of quality time with my grandson that I may never get again.

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  5. What a fantastic trip you had. You visited several places that are favorites of mine as well and how wonderful that you were able to spend that time with your grandson. And he's a Buddy Holly fan, too! What could be better?

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    1. The trip, with one exception, ended up being as much fun for both of us as I'd hoped it would be, Dorothy. (The exception came at the end of the first day when some fool managed to hit my car while crossing a Walmart parking lot at a 45 degree angle. I'll be dealing with the aftermath of that for at least two more weeks.)

      He's a real Buddy Holly apostle.

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  6. What a fabulous trip! I'm sure that time with your grandson was priceless. The recording studio is such a blast from the past... almost looks like an old sitcom set. You visited a few places we loved and several more we'd like to see one day. Unfortunately the one time we were near White Sands, it was closed sue to a federal shutdown.

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    1. JoAnn, I'm really happy that we decided to risk the trip (both of us are fully vaccinated) because it is likely to be one of the last chances we will have to do something like that together because he starts college in a couple of weeks. The recording studio was one of the highlights of our trip, for sure...probably his favorite stop of them all.

      Sorry you missed out on seeing White Sands National Park...spectacular white dunes there.

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  7. Wow, it sounds like you had a wonderful trip! You covered a lot of territory and did some really interesting things. I'm glad you got to see so much beauty and soak in so much history.

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    1. It was wonderful, Susan. Lots of natural beauty, American history, and silly, fun stuff like the recording studio and the whole alien scene in Roswell.

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  8. Did you take the all-day tour of Monument Valley? Denis and I did that, and also took the all-day tour of Canyon de Chelly. Loved 'em both.

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    1. They were pretty shut down, Cathy, because the Navajo tribe has been so devastated by COVID-19. The only tour offered us was a two-hour one via a van driven by our guide...masks were required pretty much everywhere, indoors and out, when on any of the reservation land we were own, including the hotels.

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  9. Wow, that sounds amazing, Sam. I love American road-trips as everything is just so easy... accommodation, food, the roads. And how wonderful that you and your grandson both love Buddy Holly. I have my grand-daughter staying at the moment, she's 21 and we're just having a great time.

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    1. Funny you should mention the "ease" factor of American road trips, Cath. It's much easier in the UK now than it used to be, but your comment brought to mind the very first UK road trip I took with my wife back in 1982. No GPs, etc., only paper maps...and we were shocked at how hard it was to find refreshments, even water, while traveling during the middle of the day. (Still my favorite road trip ever, though.)

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  10. Buddy Holly is a legend and agree his music is so much fun and optimistic. Glad that you and your grandson had such a wonderful time. I have visited AZ, UT and CO in my life. My days of flying are over but if they weren't I would sure revisit these beautiful states.

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    1. I don't fly anymore either, Kathy. It's been years since I've felt any desire to fly...50 roundtrips to Europe/North Africa had that effect on me.

      If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend that you spend some time in Wyoming. I've come to really love that state.

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  11. Oh, Sam! This sounds like such a wonder trip! And thanks for including "Oh, Boy" which always sets my feet to tapping. :)

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  12. It's always hard for me to listen to Buddy Holly songs while sitting down, Jen. LOL

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    1. I think I listened to it three times before I could move on. :) Buddy Holly is a time machine. It's on my list of feel good music--the kind that has a sense of joy and optimism. How many categories of music do I have? Plenty.

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  13. Your trip sounded fantastic. I have visited quite a few of these places: Great western spots! You must be a true westerner through and through. Buddy Holly's songs are classics ... and I wish he had not be taken! He would've had so many more hits ... but I love listening to the ones he sang

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    1. The trip was wonderful...even if I'm still dealing with the minor accident that happened on the very first day of the trip when a truck cutting across a store parking lot clipped my front bumper and caused almost $2000 in damage. Still worth it. :-)

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