Brake Issues, A Winery and Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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Updated November 24, 2018
Flower Path

After leaving Caprock Canyon State Park, we started having a brake issue with our trailer. We kept getting a TRAILER FAULT warning on our dash (our F350 came with a factory brake controller). Jonathan could tell that the when he would push on the brake while towing, if that warning came up on the dash, our brakes were not engaging on the trailer. NOT GOOD!

We called around but being a Friday afternoon we couldn’t find a place that was able to look at it until Monday morning. Okay, so we needed to stay near Amarillo for the weekend in order to be close by the shop when they opened. 

We overnighted at a Walmart parking lot. We saw a storm brewing in the distance and didn’t want to drive any further than we had to with our faulty brakes. 

With nothing else to do, I decided to head out and get our laundry done for the week. When finishing up, I glanced outside and noticed a familiar glow. When I walked outside and looked up, I couldn’t believe what I saw. 

I have NEVER seen clouds like that but the color of the sky mimicked that of a sky I remembered in Indiana right before tornados swept through my hometown. I remember watching one in the distance from our front porch. The sky was a odd golden color and the tree tops seemed to have a different tone to them. I remember the smell in the air and all those memories came flooding back when I walked out the door of the laundromat. 


I called Jonathan and he too was outside taking pictures of the clouds! It was the coolest experience. I just wanted to stay there watching them blow by. But my momma instincts said to get home to my family. 

The Wal-Mart security guard stopped by to warn us of the storm headed our way. With hail in the forecast and based on the lightning we were seeing, we were slightly worried about the winds and possible tornadoes.

Last minute, the winds shifted and we didn’t even get a drop of rain. We watched lightning around us in the distance, but we slept like babies that night!

Saturday morning came and we were eager to get out of Wal-Mart. We called Monty from a Harvest Host winery and asked if he had a spot we could stay for a couple of nights. He said he sure did! It was only a 20 minute drive which we were thankful for as we were driving with faulty brakes.

We set up and walked around the property before they opened to see what was around. They have a great set up on a hill outside of Amarillo. Beautiful location with the most amazing sunsets over the back patio. 


Monty was a great host. He told us some of the history from the area and about a guy who cloned racehorses that lives nearby! Crazy stuff! We love being able to talk to people who really know about the area. It’s the best way to find out all the great spots that only the locals know about!

I couldn’t tell you if the wine we bought is any good because we don’t drink - however, I do have a bottle of 8 year old wine waiting for the next awesome people we meet along our way. Hope we picked a good one! Judging by the crowds at his winery, I’d say it must be pretty good!

Saturday was grocery/meal prep day. We realized that the next day was actually Easter Sunday so I found out that there would be a sunrise service Sunday morning in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We’ve never been to a sunrise service so I thought what a great place to go to our first one! 

We woke up a little after 5:30 AM so we could get to the park around 6 or 6:30. I think I can count on both hands the number of times we’ve ever woke the kids up to go somewhere. They’re not huge fans. But they were troopers and we made it in time to get a seat. I thought it would be a bit more crowded but I’m glad it wasn’t. We knew we were in the bottom of the canyon but all we could see is this setting.

Dark Sunrise Service

But as soon as the sun peeked over the canyon rim, everything was slightly magical.

Sunrise Service

It was a much different service than what we are used to. We come from a large Pentecostal church that has an amazing band. The stage was so awesome. I just kept imagining how awesome it would have been with the band from Park West Church!

Just imagine the music building and just as the sun comes over the canyon everyone is singing loudly about our risen Lord. I built it up in my head too much, I guess. 

We decided to stay in the park for the morning and hike as much as we could. We packed our lunch and lots of water and started with an easy trail. Beautiful doesn’t do it justice. The rushing stream, the singing birds, the humming bees. It was magical. And every hike after was better than the last.

Paloduro Hike Flower Path Kids In The Red Rocks On Hike Ada Semba Kids In Cave

As we made it back to camp, we were treated to a great sunset Sunday night which soon after turned into a bit of a scare. As I was washing dishes, Monty came and knocked on our window and said...”You need to come look at this!” He explained what the clouds were doing and showed us his radar. He let us know that the storm that was just about 30 minutes from us was producing golfball sized hail and producing tons of lightning. He was a bit worried which made us a bit worried. 

We had just bought some Refletix the day before to be able to block out sun from our windows so we took that and taped it to the outside of our windows in preparation for hail damage and prayed that the storm would turn. And you know what? A wind came and blew that storm away from us! You don’t have to tell me who is responsible for that. We have seen God’s hand in every step of our journey over the last 2 years. But seriously, it’s time to get out of the Texas panhandle.

We said our goodbyes and left for our appointment Monday morning. A quick diagnostic suggested what we thought all along - the factory brake controller was acting up. They installed a third party controller and so far, so good. Really hoping that’s all it was.

We realized that in all the weather drama we had neglected to figure out where to go from here. We thought about just heading west to Albuquerque but decided to take the Roswell exit instead! I love the flexibility of being able to just go wherever the wind takes us. 

A quick search on our favorite boondock locating site, Campendium, and we found what turned out to be the most magical location to date. Just wait until you see where we ended up! 


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Ashley Longnecker

About the Author

Ashley Longnecker is the fiercely independent tattooed and dreaded half of Tiny Shiny Home. She's a woodworker, photographer and maker of delicious baked goods. She loathes schedules and makes every day an adventure.

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Posted May 04, 2017

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