The art project sign by a white wooden house in Amarillo, Texas reads, Who knows how long I have loved you, on a blue diamond background "Who knows how long I have loved you" The current series of adventures and misadventures began when we confused Abilene, Texas, with Amarillo, Texas. We knew we wanted to drop into our official home state in order to get the truck inspected. We saw Amarillo on the map east of Albuquerque, but when it came time to make reservations we said Abilene. We also ordered a package of mail forwarded from San Antonio to Abilene. Fortunately we discovered our error in advance, changed our reservations, and had the package sent on ahead. Why did we make this mistake? Surely not because we're getting older! It must be that the song about Abilene got stuck in our heads.

Amarillo has a certain fey charm. On a previous trip we had found the strange road signs which are a city-wide art project; this time we saw An old pickup truck is hooked up to provide motive power to an early Texas oil pump with the drilling rig standing above Old oil rig in museum a few more. It is startling to see a road sign which should say, for example, Soft Shoulders but instead says I Saw Her Again. Or, on a dirt road at the edge of town, Road Does Not End.

We stopped at the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, south of Amarillo. The area history and economy is featured, with emphasis on the oil business (one entire room contains nothing but the drills for drilling through different kinds of rocks. The interests of local benefactors of course color the exhibits (women's fashions, buggies and wagons, minerals). Just east of Canyon, Palo Duro State Park boasts Lush green chaparral fills the foreground of this scene of the reddish rock and high cliffs of Palo Duro Canyon, Texas Palo Duro Canyon view a scenic canyon which at this end of a wet spring was full of lovely wildflowers.

Having accomplished our Texas business we resolved to head North until we found cooler weather. There is a paved road going due north out of Amarillo, but (notwithstanding what was shown in our Texas road atlas) it becomes a dirt road at the Oklahoma border. We can attest that if you travel north across the fifty miles of the Oklahoma panhandle, you encounter precisely two paved roads. The one that goes east-west we've been on before, stretching all the way from New Mexico to Oklahoma City. The one that angles to the northeast eventually gets you to Elkhart, Kansas. That's the road we took.

West Kansas is not filled with historical museums; the reason being that the land has been reclaimed since the dust bowl days of the 1930s, and the earlier history is somewhat obliterated. But irrigation from deep wells has turned the region into waving fields of golden winter Puff-ball flowers with a white center and hundreds of feathery purple strands in the Palo Duro State Park, Texas Texas wildflowers wheat, and green vistas of young corn. The farms are big, and there aren't too many buildings. At lunch the big interest was the "Harvest Lottery" to guess the date on which the first farmer in the county would bring the first load of wheat in to the grain elevator. We'd seen the combines one county to the south, so the winner in this county would be known soon.

Over the years we've been accustomed to seeing an increasing variety of livestock on farms and ranches. Goats are popular where the pasture is not too rich, llamas are also getting pretty common, but Friday we saw our first herd of camels. The adults were in the pasture, the juveniles closer to the farm buildings. A straight flat dirt road flanked by empty green pastures stretches as far as the eye can see, next to the open door of our truck. Empty Oklahoma panhandle road

There's an old saw, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." It might have been coined by a camel herder, for the sight of the adult camels pressed close to the ground, their spindly legs folded beneath their humped bodies while their heads snaked on long sinuous necks beneath the lowest strand of barbed wire to reach out a couple of feet and graze on the forbidden grass was truly marvelous. To us mere humans, of course, the grass inside the fence appeared equally green!

We asked about the camels in Colby, Kansas, but the folks in town had never heard of them.

More serious misadventures awaited us in Colby. We were quietly proofreading some genealogical papers when the computer screen went blue, An adult camel and two young camels are seen behind a typical post and barbed wire fence Kansas camel ranch and Mr. Gates' minions told us that their software had shut down to protect Mr. Dell's minions' laptop. Of course that was all flummery, and in fact the computer had crashed - hard. It was on a Friday, and with our other working computer we surfed the web looking for solutions. We had to get to a real city to find computer stores.

Perhaps we should have headed west to Denver, but we didn't. Instead we drove east and north to Omaha. Big mistake, because of CWS. We didn't know what that stood for either, but we soon did. This year the College World Series of baseball was being held in Omaha, and what few hotel rooms were left were going for twice the normal price. There were signs posted saying "no cleats in the lobby." So we headed back to Lincoln for the night. Wahoo boasts of five men

In Lincoln, we discovered that Mr. Dell's website was down, and we could not "chat" with a service assistant, so we revised our strategic plan. We accepted the fact that it would take a while to repair the broken computer, and decided to buy an inexpensive laptop for a backup at the CompUSA store in Omaha.

The store didn't open until 11:00 a.m., so we took a little driving tour. We passed through Wahoo, Nebraska, whose welcome sign proudly proclaimed it was the home of Five Famous Men: Darrel F. Zanuck, "Wahoo Sam" Crawford (Baseball Hall of Fame), C. W. Anderson ("World Famous Artist" ), Howard Hansen (composer), and George W. Beadle, Nobel prize winner. In Omaha we found the Old Market, the Slovak An elaborate white and gold shrine supported on six pillars separated by curved arches over a decorated blue base is pulled through the streets of Omaha by a pickup truck and escorted by men in dark pants and white shirts. Omaha's Santa Lucia parade neighborhood (which we recognized by the Sokol Gymnasium and Kuta's corner bar), saw the Italian parade in honor of Santa Lucia (shrine and all), and even drove past the site of the CWS where parking was $10 (per game) and dozens of tents featured beer and baseball hats. Alas, the famous Omaha Union Stockyards are no more; they've been levelled, no doubt out of environmental and health concerns. Of course the cattle business in Nebraska is still big.

We're still heading north in search of cooler weather, but it was 95 in each of three neighboring towns -- South Sioux City, in Nebraska, Sioux City, in Iowa, and North Sioux City, in South Dakota. Ain't geography fun? Of these three, Iowa appears to have the upper hand because they've legalized gambling, and there's an entire block of casinos near the state line.