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13 April 2006 - Thursday

     When we awoke this morning it was still dark.  Fred’s watch read 6:00 am so we got up, gathered clean clothes, and with great anticipation headed for the bathhouse.  Upon stepping into the shower we noted that it was equipped with a single toggle switch on the wall.  After fooling with for a while we were able to get some hot water but the weak stream that fell from the showerheads would only stay on for literally 2 seconds.  As we became acclimated to this we were reconsidering our previous nomination for the coveted “Bathhouse Award”.  We certainly could understand the need to conserve water in this dry environment but this shower was nearly impossible so much so that a soapy and generally disgusted Tom had to finish his shower in the stall vacated by Fred.  We doubted the wisdom that went into the planning of this facility since the sinks in the bathhouse could be turned on and the water left running all day!  As a result of this experience our rating for the Santa Rosa State Park had dropped to an average rating of “3”.

    We had a long drive of over 400 miles planned for the day so we quickly went through our routine of breaking camp.  On the way out of the park we discovered that Fred hadn’t turned his watch back to Mountain Time, and that we had actually arisen at 5:00 am!  So for the first time during our trip we had actually gotten an early start to our day.  Soon we were again heading west on Interstate 40 which when built replaced much of historic U.S. Route 66.  The 2,400 miles traversed by this famous road symbolized the renewed spirit of optimism that pervaded the country after the economic catastrophe of the 1930’s and World War II.  Often called, "The Main Street of America" or “The Mother Road”, it linked a remote and under-populated region with two vital 20th century cities - Chicago and Los Angeles. The outdated, poorly maintained vestiges of U.S. Highway 66 completely succumbed to the interstate system in October 1984 when Interstate 40 at Williams, Arizona, bypassed the final section of the original road.   In New Mexico much of the old U.S. Highway 66 (now officially known as Business Interstate 40) is still evident and runs through the various towns.     At lunchtime we stopped and ate hamburgers with green chilies.  A sure sign that we were now in the southwestern United States.  Although Tom had eaten them like this before, the topping was new to Fred. The burgers were delicious and quite popular as evidenced by the continuous line of customers at the counter. 

      About 60 miles into Arizona we exited at Holbrook and began to head southwest towards Payson, Arizona and the home of Vestal and Shirley Jones.  We first drove through a dry lake area where there wasn’t any indication of human habitation for 36 miles.  Soon

thereafter we began our assent of the Mogollon Plateau where we entered the Sitgreaves National Forest.  Although dry, this area produced much green vegetation due to its altitude.  We were treated to many fine views of beautifully forested mountains and valleys.

      We arrived in Payson just before 4:00 pm and soon located the home of our cousin Vestal Jones and his wife Shirley.  We are related to Vestal through John P. Moreland who is a great-grandfather to us all.  Vestal is also a first cousin to Savannah Jordan.  Shirley with whom we had been corresponding for several years greeted us warmly as she was excited to finally meet her pen pals.  Vestal, although 89 years old, is still quite active and sharp both physically and mentally.   We all spent the next few hours discussing our common family history.  Vestal’s ability to recall events in his life was astounding.  He and Shirley had been married for almost 60 years and between them we were able to fill in some of the information gaps we had on the Moreland and Jones families.   As we had just come from researching John P. Moreland and his homesteading adventure in Stevens County, Kansas we were amazed when shown a picture taken in 1909 of John and Lydia along with the Jones family, in that same county.  According to Vestal, John had built a sod house on his land and was raising watermelons for the seeds to sell to a seed company.  No wonder poor Lydia, at age 72, had contracted pneumonia and died in 1913.  After all she and John were literally living in a hole in the ground out on the prairie!  Subsequent to the taking of images of several important documents, Shirley and Vestal took us out to a dinner of all-you-can-eat beef ribs.  Both of us were literally stuffed when we finally quit eating.  Back at the house we finished with the pictures, all the while Vestal displayed his sharp mind with stories of his work as a miner early in his adulthood, as well as a stint with the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.

 

Shirley & Vestal Jones

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