Road Trip: Day Seven

The last full day of the road trip. What is in Texas between El Paso and San Antonio? Carlsbad Caverns, NM of course.

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Okay, it may as well be in Texas, its in the Guadalupe Mountains, which start here.

On the way, we passed through a immigration drug inspection station. At least 15 paramilitary dressed officers, some with dogs and mirrors. The guy pretended to look in the back. As I almost stopped, he told me to have a nice day. I dunno, I was hoping for a little street cred – this guy instantly knew we were innocent.

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We walked the 1.5 twisted path to the bottom of the cave, then another 1.5 miles at 59 degrees before we decided we were not cave people.

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Good thing they have an elevator that shoots you back out to the top. It was interesting, but kinda creepy as well.

In about 200,000 more years, this stalagmite will meet the stalactite.

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We decided as a family not to come back and check. (Picture wouldn’t rotate to correct orientation)

Before taking her shower, Zoe gathered her clothes and pointed out she was on her last pair of underwear. She proudly held them up to show me they had Saturday printed on them. I suppose that means it’s time to be home.

After breakfast we have about 4.5 hours of travel through the Texas Hill Country. See ya in a bit.
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Road Trip: Day Six

Dessert, like a pie, has two s’s because you would want two pies. Desert, like the barren land, has one, because you’d only want to be in one desert. That’s how my sister taught me to spell the two words.

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I like pie. I like the desert; it seems as we age we do. Arizona is full of old people. Old people don’t like cold. Neither does the Saguaro cactus. It only grows where it doesn’t freeze.

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We saw millions of these cactus as we drove through Saguaro national park. It has never frozen here EVER.

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In the cacti mecca, is a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden where we broke up our drive headed east. It was interesting to learn that 2 species of scorpions – one completely harmless, one deadly – look exactly alike. Ya, you can only tell them apart by size … my takeaway, sorry little harmless ugly thing, you gonna die.  

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Similarly with the snakes, who knew there were so many deadly species of rattlesnakes? Be careful you may see some as you walk the paths ahead. Just remember red yellow kill … drink water, stay alert for mountain lions, don’t run, oh, and have FUN!

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It kinda was, the kids had a good time. I did too, but I still want my two pies.

We bedded down in Las Cruces NM, just 32 miles from Texas. Just not quite ready to be back HOME yet.

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Road Trip: Day Five

“Not all those who wander are lost.” (Tolkien)

When we woke, we had no agenda, not even a general idea of direction we were taking. Near our hotel in Williams was Bearizona, a wildlife park, with you guessed it bears!

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Nestled in the tall pines a drive thru safari of bears, wolves, elk, bison and white buffalo. I was reluctant to go, but it was actually pretty cool to see the playful bear cubs wrestle and play like puppies and think, one day this thing will be as big as my car and could maul me.

There were also otter, bobcats, and other animals to see.

Down the road in Phoenix, just two and a half hours, we’d see two more animals: Diamondbacks and Marlin. Yvette checked things to do in Phoenix and Chase Field was top of the list. So we took the kids to their first Major League baseball game.

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They became instant fans! I tweeted a picture if them which made it to the scoreboard. Which we also appeared on as a family during the game.

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Yvette found a hotel 1/2 mile from the stadium, so we didn’t even have to hassle with parking. It was still 100 degrees in Phoenix when we walked back to the hotel at 10pm, so we ain’t hanging around this joint in the daytime.

It’s time to start pointing the car in an easterly direction … where she stops, nobody knows.

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Road Trip: Day Four

At 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and up to a mile deep, the experience of the Grand Canyon is nearly impossible to describe by camera or words.

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The weather was great – 76 degrees. We hiked about 5 miles of the rim. It seems, we saw many of the 5 million visitors that come every year. It didn’t feel crowded, there were just lots of people everywhere.

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It is the third day straight we ran into a family we also saw at Sandia Peak, Humphrey’s Peak and here. Quite a coincidence given the distance and timing necessary for that to happen.

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The guy in the picture above ventured off the path to get a closer look. It was common to see that, in some places and really dangerous.

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In the evening we strolled a historic part of Route 66 and did some shopping and had dinner.

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Our daunting task today – how do we top what we did yesterday?  A good spot to be in while on vacation. ;-)

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Road Trip: Day Three

Flagstaff, 100 foot pines, tallest mountain in Arizona and the ski chairlift in the Snow Bowl of Humphrey’s Peak. This is uncharacteristically Arizona.

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The kids swore we were not being good parents by forcing them to ride the ski lift.

It did get to 45 degrees on the peak, but the ride down on this narrow cable held by a tiny bolt was fun and picturesque. We were 1,000 feet higher than yesterday. Almost 2 miles above sea level.

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A quart of hot chocolate later we were all feeling a little warmer, if not wired.

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On to Sedona, literally just down the curviest road there is.

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Cody bought this hat from whom he claimed was a “fake Indian.” I think I did detect a hint of French in his accent.

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Cody also found a gift shop that had throwing knives, death stars and swords. He muttered, “nice place if you’re looking to murder someone.” We laughed … and agreed, and, got out of there pronto.

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We ate lunch at a restaurant Yvette and I ate at 15 years ago when we were dating. We may have had the same waiter. He says “yes, sure” to everything you order then repeats back what he is hungry for, apparently. We tried 3 times to order a bean and cheese taco for Zoe. We got a bean burro. She would only eat it if we called it a burrito, which it was.

We walked around, let Zoe contract leprosy from this frog, but isn’t it cute? Worth it!

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On a side note, not sure if you can see the poster. But apparently if you let them take a picture of your aura, for a mere $65 bucks they’ll read it for you. I stood by the door and pretended not to break wind.

Sedona is pretty. But has become VERY crowded and touristy.

We soon left there to get closer to the Grand Canyon. Yvette researched hotels, “no one star joints for me,” she says. Between me and you, I think she saw the $ as stars.  They want to stay here permanently.

Cody: why two shower heads in the shower?
Dad: so two can shower at once.
Zoe: mmm, not happening.

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Road Trip: Day Two

We all loved Albuquerque. The look, the traffic, the layout, the weather and the mountains. We rode the tram to the top of Sandia Peak.

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Both kids, were in awe, amazed by what they saw and experienced. I think they got the magnitude of what we were doing and seeing. It made Yvette and I proud.

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We also visited Old Town where Zoe befriended a Navajo jewelry maker who told Zoe if she made her purchase in cash she would cover the tax. Zoe later whispered, just like the box of smokes we can buy on the reservation you told me to tell Larry about. This time only daddy was proud.

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We left our favorite city behind for the Flagstaff / Sedona area. While driving to our hotel Zoe sees a restaurant called restaurant. “Who does that?” she said, “How Lame!” We thought it was a sign, did some research and found out the place had been built in the 60s, on the original route 66. It was actually called the Crown Railroad Cafe . We drove up, it looked a bit rough.

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The other side of the sign was worse.

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Apparently they used a special neon no longer available after 1965.  Inside was like walking back in time.

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The food was great. If you’re ever in Flagstaff stop by. Hurry though it is getting harder to find with each passing letter.

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Road Trip: Day One

West Texas, north of Midland, the Llano Estacado – largest table mesa in North America – means staked plains in Spanish, though a more appropriate definition would be, “holy sh#!, there is literally nothing out here.” The kids didn’t mind, “check the back seat Yvette, are they still there?”

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Occasionally we’d hear the shutter sound of a camera, an oil well, less of those than the massive turbines of the wind farms. Coexist I thought, then nah, out with the old in with the new.

The only reason we made it to Albuquerque in 11 hours, which ironically is how long it took me to learn to spell it, was the kids. Not one complaint, unscheduled bathroom break or argument … which also means not one “are we there yet,” which is kinda sad.

Zoe’s take on the day …
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Freedom of the Road

“Are we there yet?” We’d frequently ask. The longest road trip we did growing up, was from Maryland to California, then a flight to Hawaii. I remember some of the trip. I was young. I remember sleeping in a car some nights because we couldn’t find a place to stay.

Okay, so yes there is risk. We have a destination in mind, but I don’t really care if we get there. We’ll head out – west. Seven days of clothes,  some cash and a credit card. Where we end up in a week — we’ll just have to see.

We have a few places in mind. There will be mountains, canyons and lots of road, but there is freedom being on the road, we get to pick the agenda, propose it to the kids, set the GPS and wait … “are we there yet … almost.”