Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Barstow for the night.

What a day. Thankfully I felt better this morning, and we allowed ourselves to sleep in and get a slow start today. We didn't get on the road until 11. Today we took the longest stretch of original old Route 66. We stopped first in Seligman, AZ at the famed Delgadillo's Snow Cap. This place is truly an awesome piece of history. Angel Delgadillo has been running the barber shop since Route 66 was the only way to go. His brother Juan, who died a few years ago, ran the Snow Cap cafe and his family now keeps it going. This little crossroads town that is far off the interstate was crowded with tourists, which was really nice to see. The greatest part of all was when we actually met Angel and he played with Matthew. He showed us his barber shop and joked with us for a while. He was such a sweet man who obviously is in love with the Mother Road and all it's patrons. You've seen this guy if you have watched the "bonus materials" in the move Cars. They interviewed him for 2 hours in research for the movie. We were so lucky to meet him and hear his stories.
Then it was on to Kingman and a little mining town called Oatman. This was another mining town perched on the side of a windy crazy road up a mountain. It was the coolest little wild west town with donkeys roaming the streets and pretty much begging food off people. You could see the old gold mines and walk the planked sidewalks...looked just like an old western movie...apparently some movie that Ronald Reagan was in was filmed here. Loved it...and the road was much like the one we were on in Jerome, so I was a little less anxious...a little. At this point we were in the Mojave Desert and it sure felt like it. It went from 85 degrees to 105 in a couple of miles....and it was hot. hot. Lots of cactus and sand out in these parts. I've never seen anything like it and I'm totally loving all the different types of environments we're going through.
We made it to Barstow, CA for the night and are a bit ahead of schedule. We only have 180 miles left of our already 3500 mile journey. We plan on getting a slow start again tomorrow and checking out a little ghost town a bit North from where we are now. Then we're going to follow the Mother Road as long as we can in through San Bernadino and then on to Santa Monica. I've read that it's tough to stick with it in the megaopolis that is LA, but we're gonna try. I have to say we've made a pretty good team with Matt's stellar driving and my precision navigation, and of course Matthew's comic relief. Staying on the old Route 66 is really tough to do, but we managed to be on it at pretty much every opportunity. I'm so proud of Matthew for hanging in there with us...he's really been great. We only have one more day of driving, and I'm sure he's ready to not be in the van for a while.
It's kind of bitter sweet to be almost done with our adventure, but I guess in a way it's really just beginning. Our drive has really made quite an impact on both of us, as individuals and as a couple. Being able to step back in time at points was really a treat. Tomorrow we say goodbye to the Mother Road...but we're sure to visit her again some day.

America the Beautiful

So we left Holbrook early and headed West for the Grand Canyon. On our way to Flagstaff we stopped at the meteor crater, which is the world's best preserved meteor crash site. Could have been the ELE that killed the dinos some think. Look at it on Google Earth and you'll get a good enough view...I don't recommend paying the $15 per to get in to look at a hole. The Appolo astronauts practiced here for the moon walk since the surface resembles that of the moon. Kinda cool.
We got to Flagstaff and headed North to the big hole. It was about an hour and a half drive up through the Painted Desert and I mean UP. We began to climb in Flagstaff and were at 7200 when we finally made it. The landscape was beautiful as it transitioned from arid desert to lush mountain forest. The Grand Canyon was just that, grand. Not much to say about it other than you really have to see it to be able to grasp how amazing it is. Matt and I have decided to come back in about 10 years so that we can all hike down. There was so much to do in the area, but not so practical with a 2 and a half year old. We pretty much just drove along the rim and got out every once in a while to take in the scenery. People were just tightening up their laces and putting on their back packs and heading down the cliff...looked like so much fun. We'll have to come back.
I thougt that we would be going down once we left the Grand Canyon but I was wrong. We headed back to Flagstaff and stayed between 7000 and 6000 feet elevation the whole way. We drove down a different way than we drove up and the landscape was forest the whole way, very pretty land.
We went through Flagstaff and on South toward Sedona. Now, mind you by now we've been driving for 9 hours and were pretty exhausted already. I was really feeling ill because I'm congested and the elevation was killing me, and Matt didn't sleep a wink in the teepee so he was beat. Matthew was taking it better than either of us. I'm thankful that his congestion has gone away so his ears weren't doing what mine were. It was only about 100 more miles South to Jerome and Prescott Valley where we were slated to settle for the night. We were thinking it would only take us about an hour and a half tops to get there. Wrong, so wrong.
I really wish we had been in a better state to truly enjoy the beauty that was around us. I'm telling you, it is probably the most beautiful part of America. And I feel I can say that with a good basis for compairson. Unfortunately pictures aren't good enough to show how majestic this land is. The red rock and the bright green and yellow of trees, and the blue of the sky. Amazing! It was treacherous driving though. You're on the edge of cliffs and the mountain shooting straight up your other side. Lots of switch backs and really slow going. People live here though. Really rich people I suppose, because to get a house here can be no easy feat. We got through Sedona which was beautiful and obviously a great tourist destination and headed on to Jerome. This is an old copper mining town perched on the side of a mountain. It was a ghost town for forever when the miners left, until some hippies and artists discovered it and made it their own. Such a great place, but I have to admit I was seriously nervous driving on this road. Well, Matt was driving, but I was still nervous. At this point we thought we'd never make it to our hotel. I can't stress how totally breath taking and spectacular this region is though. I've never ever seen anything like it. It was a really rough road to travel but I'm really glad we did. By the time we FINALLY made it to Prescott Valley I fell into the bed and passed out at 8. Now here it is almost 10 on Saturday and I really want to be done. I am enjoying it, but I'm ready to not have to be in the van all day long.
We are headed back to I-40 today and are going to take Route 66, the old road, the rest of the way through Arizona. There is apparently tons to see on this, the longest stretch of uninterupted Mother Road. Looking forward to it, and trying to shove the cold aside so I can really enjoy it. Will land in Barstow, CA for the night, our last night on the road. Then it's on to San Diego.

Have you slept in a wigwam lately?

I'm catching up on my updates since we weren't able to post yesterday or the day before. Thursday morning we awoke in Gallup and headed North to the Four Corners. The drive there was quite interesting since we were driving through Navajo Nation. Pretty much all of the western half of New Mexico and the eastern half of Arizona is sectioned off to the different tribes. Zuni, Hopi, Navajo to name a few. The land seems quite uninhabitable to us, but they seem to make it work. It was about an hour and a half drive up through it and by the time we got to the Four Corners...we were officially in the middle of nowhere.
The Four Corners was cool though. We all stood in 4 states at once, and then walked around and looked at the Indian crafts. I bought a gorgeous marriage vase made of horse hair pottery. It's beautiful, I wanted to buy so much more.
We left there and headed back South through the Arizona half of Navajo Nation. We saw some crazy things on this little leg of our trip. First of all there were tons of hitchhikers. The crazy thing was that there was no civilization (that we could see) for a hundred miles in either direction. There was a guy hearding his sheep along the side of the road with his two dogs. There was a donkey literally standing right on the edge of the road. It was cool to look around at the occasional shanty. I noticed that most of them had a little octogon shaped hut near them. Not sure what those are used for, but they were all the same size and of varying states of disrepair or new more modern ones. Some were made of sticks and some were quite fancy with tile roofs.
We finally made it back to I-40. Unfortunately the Mother Road was buried under the highway for most of eastern Arizona so we had to stay on the interstate. We then went to the Petrified Forest National Park. You start off driving through the Painted Desert, then wind your way south through the Petrified Forest. While this was cool, it was nothing like we had pictured. It's not like a forest of trees that are made of stone. Apparently years of erosion have exposed these logs that a zillion years ago comprised a lush fertile forest. A volcano in the area buried the forest in lava and the earth continued to evolve. Now what you can see is what just looks like charred logs lying on the ground. I have to say that it was more neat to see the shops in the area that have cross sections of the logs for sale and on display. Pretty crystals in the center. If you ever go, do drive through but don't expect to see anything spectacular...the story behind it is the best part.
We settled for the night in Holbrook, AZ at the Wigwam Village. SO cool! It's pretty much like glorified camping, but well worth the sacrifice of comfort. Don't get me wrong...the accomidations were nice, it just wasn't the Hampton Inn. It was like 15 teepees in a semi circle, all with a cool old car parked out front, reminiscent of the 30s and 40s. This place inspired the Cozy Cone in Cars, and they did a good job in that movie imitating the look. There is even a Doc Hudson and whatever that VW bus was named...they are both parked in the lot here. The bed was teeny tiny, and the shower was about big enough to fit Little Matthew, but it was so fun to stay there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Land of Enchantment

Is it ever! This is the most beautiful state. Our drive today took us from Tucumcari to Santa Rosa to Santa Fe to Albuquerque, then finally to Gallup. We covered a lot of ground. In Santa Rosa was our first side trip. The Blue Hole is just that...a 60 feet across by 80 feet deep hole filled with crystal clear, blue water. They had a whole park built around it with a fun looking slide and diving boards. A favorite spot for scuba divers, you can see so far down, I'll bet that would be awesome to see what's all the way down there. There was a playground for Matthew to stretch his legs in too, so we had fun there for a bit. Then it was on to Santa Fe. The drive there was breath taking. Matt and I have never seen anything like the terrain out here. We are at about 7000 feet elevation, and the cliffs and plateaus and mountains are so so cool. We took a million pictures, but they don't even come close to doing justice to how beautiful it is.
We stopped for our second side trip at the Pecos National Historical Park. Here we saw ancient Pueblo We hiked about a mile and a half up and around the ruins. Yes, Matthew was right there with us loving every minute. There were informational markers so you could get an idea of how the residences were laid out, and the churches and businesses. This pueblo was home to 2000 people when it was built.
Santa Fe was awesome! Such a cool city, the buildings look nothing like our buildings out East. They are all low to the ground and stucco, pueblo looking. Really really neat. Santa Fe seemed to be very natural and environment minded. Everything was organic, or natural in the restaurants. We ate at this really cool place called Cowgirl Bar and Grill. The food was great and we were sitting in a "kiddie corral", so there was a play ground again for Matthew to play in. We could have spent a week in Santa Fe, and have decided to vacation here one day.
But on to Albuquerque. The drive was more of the same, yet so different. Everywhere we looked was something we had never seen before. Albuquerque was another cool city. Much bigger than Santa Fe and more cityish feeling. But pretty none the less. We crossed the Rio Grande and with that left the plaines behind us and began our climb to the Colorado plateau. There were plenty of cool things to see between Albuquerque and Gallup, but we were just ready to get to the hotel. Unfortunately we think we passed up some cool stuff...but we've just vowed to come back again someday. We did pull off to check out the continental divide...pretty cool.
We were going to explore Gallup tonight, it has the most "dazzling display of neon" on the old Route 66, so we wanted to see it at night. However, little Matt had other plans. Poor thing is so sick of being strapped to the chair. We decided to pass up a cool restaurant for dinner, and opt for something in the room. Matt is out right now probably grabbing a pizza. We'll be sure to check out Gallup tomorrow before we head North.
Tomorrow we are going to the Four Corners! I'm excited for that one. AZ, CO, UT, and NM all at once. Ending up in Holbrook, AZ for the night.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

High Plains Drifters- by hubby Matt

On the 8th day we arrived in the 8th state. Since we began this journey, we have traveled from our home state of VA, TN, KY (my home), MO, KS, OK, TX and now NM. Yesterday I would have said that I had seen enough of these states to warrant a catchy monicre like "worldly traveler" but I would have been wrong. There is so much out there to see that so often we take for granted.
We couldn't wait to get out of Oklahoma 'cause let's face it, it's Oklahoma. No offense, but damn. Texola, the last "town" (pretty much a ghost town) in Oklahoma had some attractions. Like the one room jail cell and one of the most interesting quotes I have ever seen. I posted a pic of the quote written on the side of a metal building on Facebook. Texas is Texas. There are some seriously bored folks around that place. Which lucky for us makes for some very interesting travel scenery. Our travels again centered around staying on what we have affectionately began calling the Mother Road. Sometimes, it is impossible to maintain our MRD (Mother Road Discipline) as the road just up and stops. And since Becca will not let me put 35" tires and a lift on the van, we must stay on the interstate. We breezed through several towns in Texas with some interesting history. Like the town of Alanreed that used to be known as Gouge Eye. Big suprise, that story has something to do with a saloon brawl. We saw a 350 lb man eat a 72 oz steak, and several cars, foreign and domestic growing out of the ground. The van (new nickname "Routie") developed an eerie whistling noise somewhere in the middle of nowhere that had us a little nervous. We hoped that we hadn't ran over a vagrant or something when we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch. Seems it was just the wind. Big relief. We then saw the lower plains of the eastern panhandle rise to the caprock of Texas or Llano Estacado (staked plains). The landscape is so flat and featurless, they had to use stakes back in the day to identify plots of land. Cool. These gave way to the high plains of New Mexico. I must say, NM is beautiful. Huge sky and no people. We settled for the night in Tucumcari. A place that is right out of a movie. Tucumcari is actually still a thriving community comapared to all the other towns we have ventured. Little Matt absolutely loved the dinosauer museam here in town. He is a trooper, being straped in a car seat most of the day will make anyone cranky. Especiallly a two year old but he is doing well. We toured the little town and loved all of the old neon signs that are still around.
Tomorrow we are headed to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Maybe on to Gallup depending on how much we stop to smell the roses. We have been tending to do that a lot on this trip.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh Oklahoma...won't you ever stop?

This state started out boring...and that's how it stayed. Alllll day long. Thankfully, there were some pretty cool things every once in a while. The first place we stopped was the Totem Pole Park in Foyil. Matthew loved it, which made it really hard to leave. He is beginning to get pretty road weary, and therefore quite testy at times. He did NOT want to leave the dinosaur's cage...which is what he called the biggest totem pole because of the big eagle feet coming out from the bottom of it. I guess they looked like dinosaur feet to him. cute.
Will Rogers said, "But if you want to have a good time, I don't care where you live, just load your kids, and take some congenial friends, and just start out. You would be surprised what there is to see in this great country within 200 miles of where any of us live. I don't care what state or what town." How true Will. You can even live in the most bland of states, no offense Oklahoma, and drive a little while and find a huge blue whale in a swimming hole.
Tulsa was....well it just left much to be desired. We just drove through, and this was no small task. Construction was all over the place and half the roads we needed to take were closed. Not good for people who have no clue where they are.
When Route 66 was originally laid, OK didn't have much money to build it's stretch so much of it is one lane and barely there anymore. The jog between Tulsa and OK City is known as the "Sidewalk Highway" for this reason. We were able to hop on the OLD old Route 66 at times and this was quite fun. Windy roads and old bridges...the road even turned to gravel at times...we were really sticking with the oldest part we could most of the times. Much of the old route was also the Ozark Trail and Trail of Tears. Really neat to picture the history that surrounds these plaines.
We stopped at the Shoe Tree...just a dead tree that people for years and years have just tied their shoes to...not sure why but ok. We contributed my old flip flops and left our mark on Route 66. If you're ever at the Shoe Tree in Depew let me know if my orange flops are still there. Stopped at a cool old joint for lunch called the Rock Cafe. This place was made of busted up OLD route 66 rock.
While our route was dotted with cool old abandoned gas stations and motel/efficiencies, it was for the most part pretty boring.
Oklahoma City, much like it's younger brother Tulsa, was VERY anticlimactic. We kept waiting for something cool with no luck.
Aaaannnnnd for about the next 60 miles it was pretty much the same. We had decided to stay in Clinton, OK at the Trade Winds Motel. Apparently Elvis stayed here often as it was a good day's drive out of Memphis for him. I'm sure it was nice and fancy back in the day...but the Hampton Inn down the street was calling our names. No WiFi at the Trade Winds. We kinda feel like we wimped out but...whatever. :o)
Tomorrow's trek is into Texas to Amarillo then on to New Mexico, probably ending up in Tucumcari. Hopefully the weather will be nicer too so we can roll the windows down and really enjoy the beauty of the Mother Road. She really hasn't let us down yet...just got a little sleepy on us.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Mother Road

Today we traveled through the Ozark section of Route 66. It is quite a chore to stay on old Route 66, but I think we did a great job. It's worth the effort too because you really hit some super cool places you wouldn't see unless you slow down. It seemed like Missouri would never end...we averaged 45mph and only covered like 250 miles today. Kansas was only 13 miles or so, but probably the coolest stretch yet. TowMater sits in front of an old gas station in Galena. Baster Springs was kinda cute...untill you look a little harder and it's pretty seedy. We were going to stay in the Baxter Inn until we got there....probably not a good idea. Really shady lookin' guy in a hoodie sitting in a swing in front of the door. We just kept driving until we got to Oklahoma.
Tomorrow should be cool because there is tons to see in OK.
Matthew is quite a trooper. He's just going with the flow so expected. Hopefully he won't get tired of it. We do stop quite often so it's tough to get bored. I wonder what World's Largest whatever we'll see tomorrow...

KY to MO

Well we were in four states yesterday...Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. It's quite obvious why they call it the "heart land". It's pretty flat out there but totally beautiful. Matthew is doing great so far. We think he's developing a bit of a cold...which would suck. But, hopefully it won't be anything more than a sneeze every now and then.
We got to the MO side of IL and found the old Route 66 in time to see the World's Largest Catsup Bottle. Then we headed in to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals game. That was a ton of fun...not the part when they lost, but... The Busch Stadium was really pretty. Matthew really hung in there too. He loved the Red Bird and all the clapping and cheering...although there wasn't much of that. On our way to the stadium we had to find our way around the city to find a place to park. Hilarious. We wanted to be kinda close to the arch and the stadium but ended up close to neither. Not before we ended up going the WRONG way on a one way street. Thankfully it wasn't too busy, but there were some friendly locals kind enough to honk at us and let us know that we are dumbasses. Fun. The arch is nothing less than amazing.
We drove about an hour out of St. Louis to try to stay at the Wagon Wheel luck. The office was closed and no one was around. Sooo we ended up in a boring Best Western. Hopefully we'll find a cooler 1940s motel tonight. Not sure where we'll end up but probably OK. Depends on how much cool stuff catches our eye today.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Here we go!

Well, this first leg of our journey has turned out pretty uneventful. Loading up the van was a chore, especially with the two dogs and two cats. We got the roof bag up and packed, and everything else shoved in with an itty bitty spot for the dogs. The cats I figured would be OK on the floor behind the passenger seat... We got to the end of our street and Matt headed home and (jokingly) threatened me with leaving the cats at home if I didn't cut their nails. So we got that done and as we were headed out of town they were freaking out. It was hilarious. Kiki was yowling so loud and Lacy was panting like a dog with her eyes as wide as can be. Finally things got settled down, but it was kind of an interesting start.
Dropping Jake off at the foster home was no fun at all. They seem like very nice people, but I'm gonna miss that dog! Matthew kept pointing to the back of Dad's Jeep telling me not to cry because Jake was back there. :o( Ah well...
Tomorrow we head to KY to see Matt's family then it's on to St. Louis to catch a Cardinals game. From there we hop on Route 66 and the fun really gets started.