Our Final State

First I will start with another apology on the pictures. Seems that a lot of these RV parks use the same internet service and it simply won’t download these larger picture files. So you will be stuck with just text and your imagination to visualize these stories.

So today it was time to leave the sin city and head to Cali. This is the ninth and final state we will be visiting. We got an early start so that we could get through the desert before the heat really kicked in. So early that everyone was still in their pajamas when we left (except me). After another $125 of gas and a cup of coffee at the Circle K we were on our way.

The ride through the desert was extremely uneventful. Our first stop was Barstow which was a fairly depressed town similar to Kingman. It was made famous by the Santa Fe rail yard running through it. After a couple of pictures from the RV we were on our way again.

After and Barstow and just beyond Helendale in Oro Grande there is a folk art stop called the bottle tree ranch. Unfortunately we did not run into its creator, Elmer Long. He created this attraction with junk that he used to collect with his father. Over 200 of these bottle trees are at the ranch. Sitting in the middle of nowhere it was a rather cool spot. You can find pics of it on the internet. Quite unique if you are interested.

After the bottle ranch it was time for lunch and we had the just the spot. Emma Jean’s Holland Burger in Victorville was our destination. Made famous by “Kill Bill” and Diners Drive ins and Dives this joint was the real deal. Jacob might have replaced Sid’s (from back in Oklahoma) with this place as his new favorite burger.

With our stomachs full we continued on our journey to San Bernardino, Rialto, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga (I really like saying that), Upland, and Claremont taking photos of the Rt 66 icons along the way.

Now it was time to get to our final spot for the day, Anaheim. The Anaheim Resort RV Park is nice, clean and safe. We parked, got hooked up, and then headed out to Downtown Disney for some jazz music and Cajun cuisine. Before dinner we bought our park tickets for the next two days. You cannot believe what it costs for a family of four to go to Disneyland. Anyone who complains about the price of gasoline should go to a Disney park and pay admission. $125 on a tank of gas doesn’t seem so bad now.

We called it an early evening because the next two days will be long as we hit the parks. Tomorrow we hit the main Disneyland theme park. Plan to get an early start and probably a late finish. If I get back too late I may postpone the next post to Thursday. Stay tuned…..

Vegas Attractions

Today we should have been able to slow down the pace. Well we thought we should but our 12 hour day on the strip seemed to be full of activity. I will also apologize again for the lack of pictures. The internet connection at the KOA in Las Vegas simply will not download the pics to the blog site. Hopefully once I get to California I can catch you up on pictures.

Can’t start a day in Vegas without a breakfast buffet. The Circus Circus buffet was just the perfect setting for that start. With items on the menu like chicken fried steak (who eats that for breakfast?…well Jacob actually tried it) to the traditional breakfast selections, the buffet lived up to the very low standard we had set for it.

After breakfast it was on to what Vegas has to offer for those who don’t want to gamble, drink booze, or chase women. We started with the CSI attraction at the MGM hotel. Here we got the chance to solve a crime by examining the forensic evidence. It was a lot of fun and we all earned our CSI certificates.

Next was the Mob exhibit at the Tropicana. Here we learned about the mob’s dynasty in Las Vegas and even got to participate in some mob “activities”. That is until Ryan got us all wacked. There was also a video about the making of The Godfather and how the NY mob’s participation in that production. It was a very interesting story.

Now it was off to the Luxor Hotel where we checked out the Scores attraction. This was an interactive sports exhibit where we could learn some sports history and also test our athletic abilities. In the end we were awarded sports contracts with Debbie earning the highest signing bonus of $20 million (boy I wish!).

As hunger set in it was time for another……buffet! Yes this time at the Luxor we enjoyed a variety of foods from around the world ending with some sweet temptations. Actually the dessert wasn’t bad. All in all another low quality meal (as expected).

Finally we headed back to Circus Circus for amusements in the Adventuredome. This indoor theme park allowed us to ride a roller coaster, play laser tag, and compete in bumper cars. The boys were hopping from ride to ride until we finally had to pull them out of there at 8 PM.

Afterwards, we played some cards and cooked some dinner in the RV. Now its time for bed for everyone….including me. Tomorrow we head to Anaheim for a few days at Disneyland. However, not before hitting some other Rt 66 towns (sing the song and see if you can figure them out).

Good night!

Grand Canyon to…..Vegas baby!

So yesterday we got an early start again to continue our journey westward. Sunday our final destination was Vegas but not before we made a few stops.
The internet service here at the KOA in Vegas simply wont let me download pictures so this post will be sans pics (sorry).

We first stopped in Williams, AZ for some breakfast at the Grand Canyon Coffee and Café . A small town feel this spot gave us our breakfast with a southwest flair. I had the canyon burrito which for those of you who know me knows that burritos are not on my usual menu anymore. I think when I get back from this vacation I will be on a strict vegan diet. Nonetheless, it was Surriena’s birthday and this breakfast was a great start to the celebration.

We passed on some of the small towns along Rt 66 to keep on pace with our schedule and stuck to I-40 but did make a stop in Kingman, Arizona. We took some family pics and a visit to the Rt 66 museum.

In much contrast to Williams, Kingman is quite a depressed town. As we pass through these small towns along the route I have found that some have done better than others. They all primarily rely on the tourists that pass through. Kingman unfortunately has not benefited like others have.

So Surriena and Adam were off to Vegas but we wanted to make one more stop before catching up with them. The Hoover Dam is only 30 miles south of Vegas so it was only fitting that we got a look at this engineering marvel (here comes my inner geek again). It took 5 years to complete and was constructed of enough concrete to build a 4 foot wide sidewalk completely around the equator. Another interesting fact is that the heat created by the hydration of the concrete would have taken 100 years to cool based on the amount of concrete that was poured. However, the engineers designed a cooling system that was built into the concrete (via an embedded pipe system 582 miles long!) allowing construction to be signicantly reduced.

I have to take a minute to tell you about our encounter on the Pat Tillman Bridge (looks over the dam). See on Thursday we were at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. Along the 28 mile route we met a young man on cross country trek from NY. He was a teacher for autistic children in Long Island and after 6 years decided he needed a change. He found himself a new job doing the same type of work in Hawaii. So he packed his car and headed west with the intent of ending up in Hawaii to begin his new job. Now along the Painted Desert road there are several stops and it seemed like we kept running into each other at the various stops. I guess that seems reasonable since we were headed on the same path. However, you can guess how surprised I was when 3 days later and 340 miles further….yes I ran into him. Walking along the Pat Tillman bridge I turned to my right and there he was standing there. So of course we had to take a picture of that (which I would show you if I could)!

Ok, now on to Vegas where it is HOT! All that dry heat crap is meaningless. 105 degrees sucks whether it is wet or dry. We parked our RV at the Circus Circus KOA (aka the roasting pan) got changed and then met Adam and Surriena for dinner at Ferarro’s Italian restaurant. Dinner was great and had to end with the proper birthday tradition of a piece of cake and some poor singing of happy birthday.

After watching the volcano erupt at the Mirage, we enjoyed Love by Cirque du Soleil. This acrobatic show played to the tunes of the Beatles was just awesome. Shout out to TR for the recommendation. It was a great way to end our day.

Well that is it for now. Today we had a full day of amusement in Vegas which of course included terrible buffet food. Can’t wait to give you the reviews….

A Grand Day at the Canyon

So for those who looked at my last post prior to the time of this post please note that I updated it so that the title makes more sense. We did stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona….and it was such a fine sight.

So yesterday we hiked the canyon. The park service provides ranger guided hikes that provide tips and information along the way. The hike we chose was at the South Kaibob trail which required to get on the 6 AM hikers express bus from out lodge. Another early morning but absolutely worth it.  Walking out the door of the lodge we were greeted by the mule deer getting breakfast on the lawn.

I just want some breakfast

I just want some breakfast

The early start also meant I could catch a picture of the sun rising over the canyon.

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We got to the South Kaibob trailhead around 6:30 and had a little time before our hike to get a family photo.  A really special day for all of us to be together.

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We would walk 3 miles round trip and our hike would be 1120 feet down into the canyon (and back up—ugh!). It was diverse group of people with a couple from Denmark, a young chap from Sweden, and some grandparent with their grandchildren (as young as 7!) that had hit 7 national parks already. It took us about an hour to get down and an hour an a half back up. Trail was steep but we trudged along and made it back safely. Of course we were rewarded with some great views.

Our guide gives instruction

Our guide gives instruction

And down the canyon we go

And down the canyon we go

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Afterwards we had some lunch then walked along the rim trail headed west. Another nice walk and nice views of the canyon. By this point we were exhausted and took a few hours to rest. Enjoyed some dinner than a program at an outdoor ampetheater on some Grand Canyon history and we called it a day.

Today we head to the Hoover Dam and then Vegas baby! Not sure you will hear much about that. As you know “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

Standing on a corner and then on a canyon – July 5th

So I am a day behind on these. Yesterday dinner ended late and we were tired so did’t get the post out. Will talk about today’s (July 6th) activities in the next post.

So after the kids finished their all you can eat pancakes on Friday morning at the KOA (was told they were pretty good), we headed out. Couldn’t leave Holbrook without a picture at the Wigwam Hotel. For those who know the movie Cars, this hotel is the inspiration for the Cozy Cone Hotel.

Are those guys lost?

Are those guys lost?

We then headed to Meteor Crater, the largest preserved asteroid crater in the US. I find it amazing that they never found anything other than small fragments of the meteor.

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After meteor crater we had to stop in Winslow, Arizona because we were looking for a girl in a flatbed ford. Amazingly enough the Kaufman family donated some land to create that exact scene. So we found that girl and the flatbed ford.

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We headed to Kingman, Arizona for a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives lunch but as the song goes we could not forget Winona. The problem is we got off the exit and before we could blink we were out of Winona. I guess that is why it is often forgotten….

Off to the Grand Canyon to meet Uncle Adam and Surreina for our two days together at the Thunderbird Lodge. We entered the park at the southeast end and stopped at the Dessert View point. Got out fitst pic of the canyon.

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Pictures don’t do this justice but I will try and take as many as I can.

Aren't they handsome?

Aren’t they handsome?

Well that is yesterday in a nutshell. Will get today’s post out later hopefully. We had a great day. Stay tuned…..

Happy birthday America

Our day began very early yesterday with a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Our pilot Jonathan gave a super smooth ride up as high as 3000 feet above the ground. What a cool way to start our July 4th celebration.

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From there we set out to the petroglyph national park and hiked the boca negra canyon to check out the petroglyphs left by the pueblo Indians in this volcanic site somewhere between 1300 and 1600 AD. We enjoyed the short hike here up to the top of the Mesa.

 

Next we were off to the ice caves in Grants, New Mexico. This is another volcanic site on the continental divide that was created by a collapsed lava tube. The tube is a 20 foot pool of ice that is maintained by a unique set of conditions that keep the cave no higher than 31 degrees. It does not sit that far below the surface so it is quite an interesting phenomenon.

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Now I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our brush with disaster. Running out of gas as we approached the exit to the ice cave, I passed on the most viewable gas station which was about ½ mile in the opposite direction we were headed. I decided to head towards the cave in hopes of finding the first gas station in that direction which was 25 miles from the exit. Well as civilization continued to dwindle I should have realized that we were not going to find that gas station. Now I knew we had enough gas to get to the ice cave. The question was would we get back. Its embarrassing enough for a gasoline trader to run out of gas but even worse than that is how much it would suck if we ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Alas we made it safely back to the gas station and crisis was averted. However it did cost $185 to fill us up.

Well from the ice caves we were headed to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona (the 7th state on our RV tour). We followed the 28 mile road taking stops to check out one of nature’s wonders. It was really quite beautiful. Here are a couple of pics.

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Petrified wood

Petrified wood

Finally we made it to our campsite in Holbrook, Arizona. We got our laundry done and enjoyed a traditional July 4th barbeque right there. After a dip in the pool, we promised Jacob we would make smores. Unfortunately there is a ban on campfires in the state of Arizona. Persitance prevailed and using a lighter and a fork we roasted those marshmallows and enjoyed our smores at our campsite. We also were able to see the town fireworks in the distance from the campsite completing our July 4th celebration.

Today, we head to the Grand Canyon to meet my brother and spend a few days in a hotel. While the RV accommodations are actually ok, not having to hook up a hose for water is a nice thought.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more stories of our tavels…..

Half way accross

So we got out of Palo Duro around 9:30 and our phones reconnected to our electronic world. Our stay there was very nice but we had a schedule to keep and needed to get back on the road.

On Wednesday we needed to get to Albuquerque, NM. We first stopped at the famous Cadillac ranch just outside of Amarillo. Created in 1974 by three hippie artists the ranch remains in place with visitors spraying their own graffiti on any of the ten cars buried on the ranch.

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From the Cadillac Ranch it was on to breakfast at the midway café. In Adrian Texas, this is the midway point between Chicago and LA along Rt 66. Can you believe that we are half way through the Rt 66 leg of our trip?

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Standing on the half way line

Standing on the half way line

While at the café, a group of overseas bikers riding the route stopped in for a cup of coffee. Members of this tour group spanned as far as England, New Zealand, and Australia. For some this was not their first ride along the famous road. In fact one biker was so wrapped up in the hype that he permanently inscribed the road on his body

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Crossing over into New Mexico we then we checked out a tee pee built into a building in Tucumcari. Basically we stopped here so we can say we visited a place named Tucumcari. Kind of rolls of the tongue…

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From there we hit Santa Rosa and the Rt 66 Auto Museum. In existence for 13 years the museum is packed with cars from all eras. We all dreamed of the car we would take for ourselves but everyone seemed to agree on the 57 chevy convertible.

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Finally it was time to get to Albuquerque. The RV park here is basically a trailer park with many RV’s permanently grounded and spots for visitors like us. The main attraction in Albuquerque is Sandia Peak which sits about 11,000 feet above sea level. Access is via the longest tram in the world (or so they claim). We rode the tram to the top and enjoyed dinner at the restaurant High Finance. The name lived up to the price but the food quality was only fair. What was most special was the view. From the top you can see 9% of the entire state of New   Mexico (over 10,000 square miles).

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Well that sums up our day. Had to get to bed early (well everyone but me it seems). Today we have a 6 AM hot air balloon ride. A potential highlight of this trip….