25 June 2014

States I Have Visited

This year I have been able to add two states to the list of states I have visited - Louisianna and New Mexico.  One of these days I will get to all 50 of them.  I am missing large chunks of the country in the south (except for New Orleans) and all of New England.  Plus, I have never been to Alaska or Hawaii.  I guess we should start planning a couple of trips!  Here is a list of the 30 I have been to!

  • 1.  AZ Arizona - a couple of different times, but mostly drove through it when Annie got married
  • 2.  CA California - Disneyland!  as well as San Francisco north to the Redwoods.
  • 3. CO Colorado - Been through most of it.
  • 4.  ID Idaho - Yep, only the eastern half, though
  • 5.  IL Illinois - Drove through it, visited Mr. Lincoln's home (once) and Nauvoo (twice)
  • 6.  IN Indiana - Drove through it, visited Notre Dame and the Indianapolis Speedway
  • 7.  IA Iowa - Scariest Best Western Motel ever, but beautiful rolling corn fields and cool covered bridges
  • 8.  KS Kansas - a long state, but not quite as long as Nebraska.  Bob Dole's home state.
  • 9.  LA Louisiana - Only New Orleans.  Didn't see any alligators.
  • 10. MD Maryland - Drove through it on one trip to D.C., but don't remember much.
  • 11.  MI Michigan - Spent most of our time in the Upper Peninsula while my mom was at some kind of meeting.  The lake scared me.
  • 12.  MN Minnesota - Flew to it and then drove to the UP, Michigan.  I remember lots of trees and the giant mall.
  • 13.  MO Missouri - hottest, muggiest I have every been in my life.  Giant bugs.
  • 14.  MT Montana - Battle of Little Big Horn.  West Yellowstone.  Would like to go to Glacier National Park.
  • 15.  NE Nebraska - You know why Wyoming is so windy, because Nebraska sucks.  Longest state in the universe.
  • 16.  NV Nevada - Las Vegas, Death Valley, Wendover
  • 17.  NJ New Jersey - My grandparents lived there.  It was old.  I liked it.
  • 18.  NM New Mexico - Most recent state.  Cool!  Didn't see any aliens.
  • 19.  NY New York - Only been to New York City.  Like to go back there and visit the rest of the state.
  • 20.  ND North Dakota - they had a bowling alley and a zoo ?!?
  • 21.  OH Ohio - my sister had a bad tummy ache there and I watched fire flies for a really long time.
  • 22.  OR Oregon - Portland, Astoria, and northern coast with my mom.  Lewis and Clark. Southern coast (north of the Redwoods) with James.
  • 23.  PA Pennsylvania - Gettysburg.  Turnpikes.  Lost in Lancaster. 
  • 24.  SD South Dakota - Rount Mushmore (twice).  Crazy Horse.  
  • 25.  UT Utah - Woo Hoo!  I live there!
  • 26.  VA Virginia - DC.  Arlington.  Alexandria.  Jamestown.  Mount Vernon.  
  • 27.  WA Washington - Seattle (only one time in elementary school, first airplane flight).  Drove to Mount Saint Helens and along the Columbia River all by myself one day.  It was very picturesque.
  • 28.  WV West Virginia - Drove through the very tip top of the crown part.  Stopped to use the bathroom.
  • 29.  WI Wisconsin - Cheese?  Drove through it on the way to the UP, Michigan.  Don't remember much.
  • 30.  WY Wyoming - Yellowstone.  Devils Tower.  Martin's Cove.  Little America $.50 ice cream cones.

24 June 2014

B&B 2014: The Last Leg

The last leg of our was the journey back to good ol' West Valley City from Albuquerque.  We got up Saturday morning and hung out at Alicia's for a while, eating cheese quesadillas for breakfast, before making a stop at the "Ward Garden" where Alicia and Stacey have some delicious things growing (and being eaten by something).  The kids and I watched lizards. 

We next went to a Play It Again Sports that sales discounted brand new shoes (from floor displays or overstocks, I think).  Grandma and James both found a new pair of shoes and the kids tried their best to empty the racks of frisbees.  

Eventually we made it on the road and headed north.  We drove through Indian Reservations and even this one town with so many letters and hyphens on the water tower I have no idea how to pronounce it (I wasn't quick enough to take a picture and I can't even find it on the map, now.  Maybe I hallucinated it).

Side note: When we got back home, our neighbor Joe, told us he grew up in southern Colorado and that this area of Northern New Mexico is known as the pinto bean capitol of the world.  If only we'd known.

We were finally ready for a pit stop in Durango, Colorado.  It was a cool little tourist-type town.  It had lots of churches, shops on the main street, and a train that goes down the middle of the street.  It looked like a fun place that might be worth re-visiting on some other trip.

While in Durango, we ate at Max's Big Burgers.  I only got onion rings and ate the kids leftovers, but the burgers looked good.  

Our next stop was Mesa Verde National Park.  This was an option on our original trip itinerary, but Alicia suggested it (and Durango) as the best path home.  (Four Corners will have to wait for another trip).  Mesa Verde is a site with Anasazi cliff dwellings.  We were a little late getting to Mesa Verde and the walkways to go to the dwellings and one of the museums/visitor centers were closed, but I am glad we stopped.  It was quite interesting!

This is the view as you enter the park.

This is the Spruce Tree House dwelling.  We were hoping to be able to walk down to this one, but the pathway is blocked off at 6:00 p.m., so we could only see it from this vantage point, but it was still cool.  Molly and Jack didn't quite fall off the cliff and neither did James or Grandpa.

The next one was called Square Tower House.  I don't think you can actually walk to this one, so this is as close as we would have gotten anyway.

There were also several pithouses along the road.  These were ancient dwellings that likely had thatched roofs over a pit in the ground.  You can still sit the pit and some significant things in them.  I guess I didn't take any pictures of them.

The road closed when the sun set.  We were trying to get out of the park, but had to stop to take a few pictures of the sun setting.

That night we kept on driving and pulled in to our motel in Monticello pretty late.  It was a nice little place.  The bathroom only had a shower and the kids were so dirty from the day before that when we got up that morning, they had to have a shower.  They survived and even thought it was kind of fun (of course, they haven't gotten near the shower since being home.  They are back to the usual bath tub only.)

Monticello didn't really have any places open on Sunday for breakfast, so we stopped at the Maverick, gassed up, and headed north to Moab.  We ate breakfast at McDonald's in Moab and then decided to take a drive through Arches National Park.  I haven't been through Arches except once when I was probably junior high aged and James and his parents had never been through it.

We drove through the parking lot at Hole N" The Rock.  I remember seeing that once on our way to Lake Powell.  I don't know why there is a " after the N.  That doesn't really make any sense.

Here is my beautiful selfie that I decide to take on Sunday afternoon.  One or more of my children may have been screaming when I took this.

The visitor center at Arches had very hot, metal big horn sheep.  There was also a tour bus of Japanese people that created a line at least 50 people long to the women's restroom.  Molly had to wait until the next stop.  Sorry.  Molly may or may not have also shop-lifted a large stuffed animal from the gift shop.  If she did do it, we may have taken it back into the store and put it back with it's friends without bringing any further attention to ourselves.

This is a big red rock.  I may be "Courhouse" or "Organ" or something else like that.  

This is another red rock.  If it has a name, I don't know what it is.

This is another red rock that has a name similar to the others we have seen. 

As you can see, I had plenty of time to take pictures of red rocks while James took pictures of red rocks, too.  I didn't want to break it to him that the things we were seeing had, indeed, been photographed before.  He seemed like he was on a historic photo quest and I didn't want to burst his bubble.

This was our first arch.  It was probably "Window to Heaven" or something like that . . .  maybe "Window to your Soul" or "Window to the World" or "Dust in the Wind-ow."

This was another arch near the last one.  It was called . . . . " ______ Arch."

Finally we got to the most impressive arch in all of Arches National Park, the only arch worthy of being put on license plates.  It was the one, the only . . . .  (oops, wrong picture)

 . . . . DELICATE ARCH!  Molly and I use the "porty potty without a flusher and only hand sanitizer wow look at the hole" at the Delicate Arch viewing parking lot.  Luckily she had forgotten she needed to go to the bathroom between the visitor center and here.  Jack was momentarily asleep in the car.  Dad and Grandpa walked up a slightly longer path and disappeared for a while (though no, we didn't do the long dessert 3 mile trek to the base of the arch).

Molly was almost as impressed with this tree in the middle of the path as she was with Delicate Ar . . . .  I mean with the "porty potties."

Here is our trusty, dusty car parked in the Delicate Arch viewing parking lot.  The car was tired, but after that whole battery incident, it continued to be our trusty dusty car.

We left Arches and didn't stop again until we reached Price.  I thought about finding someplace fun and unique to eat at in Price, but instead we went to Arbys.  It was fine.

After Arby's we began the last, though fairly short, journey home.  Within a few minutes Molly was totally wiped out, with her drink in mouth, rocks, dinosaur, and map of Yellowstone firmly in her grip.

We had a good trip and we are glad we went.  The end!

22 June 2014

B&B 2014: Albuquerque

After we changed our dead battery in Colorado Springs, said our goodbyes again to Amber and Joesy, stopped at Wal-mart, and gassed up, we headed south towards New Mexico.  I was excited to go to New Mexico because it was a state I'd never been through.  Little did I know about the crazy June New Mexico hail storms.

Not too far into New Mexico the hail started.  It piled up on the road.  Cars were pulling off.  We thought if we stopped we wouldn't be able to keep going.  Plus, who knew how long it would last.  We just kept driving.  It was crazy and sooooo loud.  

By the time we got to Santa Fe, it was nearly dark.  The kids were hungry.  We'd been in the car a long time.  It was late.  Jack had been kicking James' seat for quite a while and we were all about to lose it.  Unfortunately we didn't get to see Santa Fe.  I'm sure it is a pretty town, but the actual town is pretty far from the freeway.  After surveying our food options . . .  Pizza Hut, Applebees, or McDonalds . . . we opted for McDonalds.  My sister would not approve that we ate at McDonalds 3 (actually 4) times on this trip (and James didn't really approve either), but sometimes it just works out that way.  It's ok.  It wasn't all bad.

After our long day, we had an equally long night.  Alicia, our host for the next couple of days, was just flying in that night and we were her ride home from the airport (and she was our lodging).  We got to the airport and watched planes for a while until hers finally came in.  Once we picked her up, we went to Kirtland Air Force Base and waited while James and Grandpa got passes for our cars (and us) to be on base for the next couple of days.  By the time we actually got to Alicia's, it was pretty late.  The kids were wired.  Thanks to Alicia's iPad and some "Caillou," Molly and Jack finally settled down around midnight.  Phew.  Long day.

Friday morning was a new day (with no hail storms, though the torrential rain did come later).  The plan for the day was to go to Old Town Albuquerque and then the Natural History Museum.  On our way, we drove along historic Route 66.  We saw Paul Buyon (without arms) watching over a vietnamese restaurant.

The campus of the University of New Mexico is also right along Route 66.  This was just a picture of a store across the street.  I was too slow to take a picture of the campus entrance.  

In Old Town Albuquerque we visited a gift shop and then this old mission church.  It is called San Felipe de Neri and was started in the early 1700's.  It's an adobe building and very southwestern-looking on the outside, but very traditionally Catholic-looking on the inside with many stained glass windows and and ornate alter.  

In the square across from San Felipe were two large military cannons.  Apparently there was a strong Confederate Army group in Albuquerque during the Civil War.  I had no idea!  The Albuquerquians joined the Confederacy (which makes sense since they are right next to Texas) and were prepared to fight off the Union.  There was one little fight in 1862 called the "Skirmish of Albuquerque" where the Union soldiers sent cannons into a Confederate fortification right in what is now Old Town.  Interesting.

After Old Town, we went to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.  We watched a 3D movie about the ice age and then toured around the museums.  Thanks to Alicia, we didn't lose Molly and Jack (despite their efforts).

There were two large dinosaurs out in front of the museum.

Here are our fancy 3D glasses.

Dinosaur bones.

The best part of the museum actually ended up being this little room we checked out towards the end.  It had a lot of hands-on things and some crazy living exhibits with frogs, salamanders, bugs, etc.  Jack is making animal footprints in the sand in this picture. 

After the museum. Alicia took us out for some authentic southwestern cuisine.  We went to a place called Mary & Titos's Cafe.  It was delicious!  I had their specialty with was a sopapilla.  It was basically a large empanda-type crust stuffed with typical Mexican style ingredients and covered with green or red chile.  I had beef, rice, cheese, etc. in mine and covered it with green chiles. 

After eating, we went back to Alicia's for a while and the kids took a nap while we all just visited.  Stacey had returned from a trip to Idaho and brought Fiona the giant Great Dane with her.  Once they woke up, the kids, James, Alicia, and I took Fiona for a walk, the kids petted her and probably drove her crazy.  Jack kept getting whipped in the face with her tail because he was at the perfect height.

Since we had eaten lunch late, we weren't really hungry for the barbecue Alicia had prepared to fix for us, but we decided a milkshake sounded good.  We loaded up to go get one, but first got a tour of the air force base and went to see some classic planes and helicopters. 

We ended the night back on Route 66 at a vintage-style diner and had some pretty delicious milk-shakes!