Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Oct 30, 2018 Westward home and trip summary

We had a lazy morning, then we took the scenic road home. Wright-wood is definitely the "land of four seasons," there was a good amount of fall color in the mountains, but more light yellows and golds than brilliant reds and oranges. Still, it was lovely.

We went by way of Jackson Lake, then down to the Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and a lunch stop in Littlerock, before taking the final ride home.

The whole trip: 7902 miles!

Randy's goal is to get to all 50 states, and to get the Sportsmobile van to all lower 48. Together with our 2009 cross-country trip, we almost made it!

The whole trip:  30  states!
Part 1: CA, AZ, NV, UT, CO, NE, IA, MO, IL, IN, OH, NY, VT, NH, ME, MA, RI, CT (return to NY & fly home).
Part 2: (repeat NY for Union Parent Weekend), PA, MD, VA, NC, SC, TN, GA, AL, FL, MS, LA, TX, NM, (repeat AZ, NV, CA)

New states for Randy, Bryn, van; IA, MO; new for Bryn and van: NC, GA, FL; new for van: LA.

Where ever we go, Bryn always wants to see family and friends if possible.

The whole trip:  50 people!

42 we knew:
Vanya, Shawn S, Elaine, Don, Cathy, Matt, Lynn, Tim, Elizabeth, Leo, Mark, Cindy R, Will, Catherine N, Tom, Vinny, Cindy, Maureen K, James, Matt, Patti, Chris, Roz, Steve, Philip, Mary Rose, Bret, David, Marco, Kate, Patrick, Jacob, Sophia, Scott, Donna, Lisa, Anna, Carlos, Maureen C, Catherine M, Ken, Clayton;

and 8 we me for the first time: Joy, Ethan, Melissa, Shawn F, Loretta, Johnny, Kris, Robin.

Regional food: NY apples, PA apples, NC bbq & hushpuppies, Georgia peach pie, New Orleans gumbo, jambalaya, muffaleta, po'boy, beignet, TX bbq, NM style Mexican (sopapillas)

Bookstores: 2. Going to used bookstores had been a favorite activity in the past, especially with the big barn bookstores in the east. Unfortunately, with Amazon and online shopping, these don't really exist anymore. Thank goodness for Bookman's in Arizona. There are several of them throughout the state, we were happy to be able to visit the Flagstaff store. We also went to a Barnes & Nobel.

What's next? Randy, Bryn, and the Sportsmobile have never been to one more state. That will be another trip, maybe next year?

Monday, October 29, 2018

Oct 29, 2018 Westward ho! NV & Wrightwood

It was a beautiful and hot morning in Laughlin, NV.  We saw quail and a roadrunner on our way out of town. We followed the Colorado River south along the Needles Highway, then were welcomed into San Bernardino County. It was interesting that there was not a "Welcome to California" sign on this road.  We went to Barstow and had Mexican food from Lola's for lunch, it was great!

From there, it was an easy ride from the desert to Cajon Pass to the Mormon Rocks, where we followed Lone Pine Highway to Wrightwood. We were back in the pines to decompress before returning home and dealing with unpacking the van, opening a big pile of mail, and getting back to the real world.  We'll have a final blog post tomorrow that will end this cross-country adventure.
Cajon Pass & the San Bernardinos
Mormon Rocks
Entering Wrightwood

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Oct 28, 2018 Westward ho! AZ & NV

Randy found a quartzite core - raw material used to make tools.

Homolovi I site
After breaking fasts and breaking camp, we drove to the south end of the park to visit Homolovi I, a small archaeological site which was an excavated pueblo. The walk was supposed to be easy, but it was surprisingly hilly and very rocky. We were along the edge of the Little Colorado River. The river was fenced off, but there were warning signs of quicksand!

The second stop was the Tso'  Loop Trail. Bryn went on this and took photos of petroglyphs, lizards, and plants. We had talked to the archaeologist at Homolovi I, and he said that the petroglyphs were old, dating to 500 CE.

The third stop was Homolovi II, a larger pueblo ruin. There were views of the San Francisco Peaks to the west and the Hopi Mesas to the north.

We left Homolovi and drove to Flagstaff, going from the desert to the pines. There we visited Bookman's, a favorite used bookstore.

Ancient petroglyphs along the Tsu'Vo trail.
We continued driving west and returned to a desert landscape, and then a riverscape. We ended up in Laughlin for the night, along the banks of the Colorado River.
Homolovi II site

San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff


Colorado River Sunset, Laughlin, NV

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Oct 27, 2018 Westward ho! Gallup & Petrified Forest

As we drove west out of Albuquerque this morning, the autumn colors were stunning and there were four hot air balloons drifting above the city. We definitely need to spend time time.
Our first stop of the day was in Gallup NM, at Richardson's Trading Company on the main drag. It is always a delight to see the jewelry and other art at this classic old trading post.  Yes, they have baskets.

After Gallup, we drove through the Navajo Reservation, the stopped to tour Petrified Forest National Park.  The Painted Desert was spectacular, the vast landscape and multiple colors can't be captured in photos. We made several stops at outlooks and features, and really enjoyed going through the park at a slow pace. After leaving the park, we stopped at one of the several rock shops, and were amazed at the variety of petrified wood items, fossils, rocks and minerals available. If we win big in the lottery, there's a $29,000 petrified wood-inlaid dining room table that I would like to buy!
Petrified Tree

Puerco Ruins

Our final stop for the eveningwas Homolovi, an ancestral Hopi site that is now an Arizona State Park. We drove into Winslow, AZ to buy firewood, then had a nice evening at the campsite, including toasting marshmallows at the campfire and gazing in awe at the night sky and Milky Way.

Oct 26, 2018 Westward ho! Albuquerque

Tucumcari was fine for an overnight spot, but we were eager to get on our way to Albuquerque.
And what did we find - autumn, finally! The cottonwood trees were glowing golden. Albuquerque is a mile-high city plus 10 feet., and our timing was finally correct for finding fall color.

There are hundreds of things to do here, yet for this trip, the focus was on friends. We met up with Maureen at her house, and were delighted to meet her two-year-old grandson. We visited, went to lunch, visited some more. Randy had a bit of an allergy problem due to dogs and hay. Maybe also due to her horses, donkey, goats, ducks, and chickens! We were in a bit of a rural area.

For dinner, we met up with Ken and Catherine at Hot Tamales and spent a couple hours catching up. Later, Bryn and Catherine spent a couple more hours talking and seeing their new home. It was a splendid day of talking and laughing with friends!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Oct 25, 2018 Westward ho! TX - NM

We had another long driving day, moving from a central Texas landscape (cotton fields, corn fields, LBJ National Grasslands) northwest to the southern plains (more ranches and tumbleweeds). Our event of the day was a visit to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, on the Texas A&M University West campus, just south of Amarillo. Amarillo is strategically placed on the map, it straddles Potter and Randall counties.

 At the same time we were visiting this museum, Bret was riding in an underground boat in Howes Cavern, NY, on a geology fieldtrip. We were sending photos back and forth. Technology is amazing! PPHM had gomphothere and eryops specimens on display, plus a lot of fossil bison. For some reason, Bret wasn't interested in getting photos of baskets.

Randy found an excellent Mexican/New Mexican restaurant for dinner, right around the block (Pepitos).  Next we were back in the car, where we enjoyed a spectacular Texas sunset.  And then we crossed the state line, and we enjoyed a magnificent New Mexico sunset.  We ended up in Tucumcari for the night.
Texas sunset, note the bugs on the windshield.
New Mexico sunset, getting too dark to see the bugs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Oct 24, 2018 Adventures in the South 7 - NOLA - Texas

New Orleans in the early morning.

Louisiana sugar cane fields.
We left the land of bayous, but saw lots of black water swampy areas alongside the road as we traveled to Baton Rouge. We started seeing sugar cane farms around Shreveport, about when it started raining again.

And then we were into Texas and heading west.  This was the longest driving day of the trip, 8 hours not including stops. We kept going until we came to McKinney, where we met with friends Anna and Carlos. Bryn went to school with Anna from 4th - 12th grade. They took us to Hard 8 BBQ.  This is a big bbq place with big bbq cookers and big bbq dinners - Texas style.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Oct 23, 2018 Adventures in the South 6 - New Orleans

It rained, rained, rained all day. We left the van at the hotel, and took a Lyft ride across a bridge over the Mississippi River into New Orleans. Destination: the National World War II Museum.  The first stop was to see my dad's brick, which we bought last year. After it was installed, they sent us the location. And it is a prime location too - near two trees, the flagpole, and the street.

We spent the entire rainy day in the museum. There were a lot of interactive things, and many films, and several buildings. When you enter, you are randomly assigned a dog tag, which lets your follow a soldier (or sailor or marine) through his WWII career. Interestingly, I was assigned someone I once met! Barney Old Coyote, a Crow man who had dealings with the Southwest Museum. We ran out of time and didn't make it to the Boeing building that houses six airplanes, and we didn't see the submarine movie, but we were pretty thorough through the rest of the museum. A friend told me it takes a whole day, and she was right. The temporary exhibit about Bob Hope and his USO tours was great, he did so much to keep up troop morale during the war.

After staying at the museum until closing, we took another Lyft trip which was ridiculously long, it took nearly an hour to go the approximately 5 miles to the French Quarter. It was rush hour, but the driver also didn't exactly follow the GPS instructions. We saw a lot of back streets on our way.  We visted some shops, tasted some pralines, had some typical and wonderful New Orleans food for dinner, and we topped it off with a stop at Cafe du Monde. Magnifique!