Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thursday: Cars, Craters, and Canyons

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Rob and I stayed at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona Wed night. It felt like we had entered right into a scene from the Cars movie...The parking lot around the teepees was filled with old time cars and historic signs from the Route 66 days. We arrived late Wed night, so the hotel staff left our key under the mat and also left the light on for us. Small town hospitality and trust is something we very much appreciated.

Breakfast for us was enjoyed at a local cafe called Joe and Aggies.

During breakfast, we asked our waitress about the town - famous for dinosaur sculptures and petrified wood from the Petrified Forest - and she explained that the man who had created the concrete dinos had plans to create a dinosaur museum in hopes of attracting more visitors to keep the small town viable. After dying a few years ago, his dream never came true. The kids sold many of the dinosaurs and the town never got its museum.

She also explained that Radiator Springs in the Cars movie was actually based off Holbrook and two other towns in the area. The movie producers came out to see the town and start drawing! It was cool to see the book of Cars drawings and then look out the window and see the buildings that inspired them.

After breakfast, we walked across the street to see some of the dinos and the petrified wood.

After the dinos, we carried on westward towards the Grand Canyon! Two desperadoes on the road again. Crank up the Willie Nelson!

Before arriving at the biggest ditch in the West, we took a short detour to see the Meteor Crater, the breath-taking result of a collision between a piece of an asteroid traveling at 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. It is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep.

p.s. Check out where we were...middle of nowhere.

We arrived to the Grand Canyon early afternoon and enjoyed a 5 hour hike down the Canyon and then back up. Icepacks for the calves anyone? This was my first time visiting the Grand Canyon aside from seeing it out of a plane window, and man oh man- what a sight! The depths and angles and massiveness of the place was absolutely breathtaking. I could have stayed there gazing for hours. This was definitely one of God's greatest works of beauty.

I'm almost hesitant to post pictures, as they just don't do the place justice, but it does give you a good idea.

We hiked down a trail that started about seven miles from Grand Canyon Village called Hermits Rest. It was pretty easy going down the rocky canyon trail, seeing the beautiful formations, the changing landscapes and the incredible views. We started late, so we were some of the only people on the trail, which made it seem like we found a private untouched place. Every so often, we would look up and splendor to see how far we came, but then we would shutter thinking about climbing back up to get back!

We made it back up huffing and puffing, wishing we had worked out a little bit more and vowing to hit the gym again when we got back to our respective cities.

After enjoying a breathtaking sunset sitting on the edge of the canyon, we headed back to our hotel to end another very fun day.

Things Learned Today:
"When traveling in the West, pack more than one sweatshirt. Those desert nights sure are chilly."
"Tumbleweeds explode when you hit them while driving on the Interstate."
"Be nice to everyone who takes your picture at the Grand Canyon. You may run into them again the next day at a small gas station 70 miles away."
"Always stretch before hiking down the Grand Canyon."
"Drive slow down the barren Arizona roads and watch out for cows"
"The word 'moderate' when describing Grand Canyon trails really means 'sorta extreme.'"
"Sammy Hagar was really describing Rob's car when he wrote his song 'I can't drive 55.'"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday: Pedal to the Metal

For those of you who are reading my blog each day, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to write last night. During the last leg of our Wed trek, we decided to watch the movie Cars instead(I watched and Rob listened). Why Cars? Well, we ended our night staying here...

The Cozy Cone Motel in the movie was based off this Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ. More about that for tonight's blog post. Back to yesterday...

Last minute on Tuesday night, we decided to call the Big Texan motel in Amarillo after seeing signs on the side of the road. They still had rooms available, so we entered our saloon style room, complete with Wanted signs wooden shutters, and swinging saloon doors (Ours was in the Cattleman's Hotel).

Wed morning, we went to breakfast across the parking lot at the Big Texan restaurant - famous for it's 72 oz steak. If you eat the steak meal in under and hour, it's free! If you don't finish, it's $72. According to the steak dinner legend, in 1960 on Route 66, a table full of hungry cowboys competed for Big Texan bragging rights by eating 1 pound steaks over a 1 hour period of time. When the hour ended, one cowboy had eaten four and 1/2 one pound steaks, shrimp cocktail, salad, baked potato and bread. From then on, the tradition lives on. The current champ finished his 72 oz steak meal in 8 minutes and 52 seconds.

After the delicious breakfast, we headed deeper in the heart of Amarillo to see these...

Rob shrunk again! These were very impressive and so random. There were even cows grazing nearby. I wonder what they think every time they look up at these naked legs intruding their pasture space. Down the road, we found this giant cowboy standing outside of a restaurant..

Hopping back into the car, we drove a bit further down the road and stopped at Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation that consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of early Cadillacs; the tail fin) from 1949 to 1963. I'll let the pictures explain.

After Cadillac Ranch, we continued west, had lunch at a Route 66 Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico (This was my first time in New Mexico, BTW).

The reason for the title of my post is because Rob's car had quite the experience hauling its trailer up the gradual rolling hills of New Mexico. Sometimes, he had the pedal all the way to the floor and it wouldn't go past 60 mph...but so far so good, and the car is doing one heck of a job getting us to L.A.

When we reached Albuquerque, N.M., we decided to hop off the Interstate and drive Historic Route 66 for about 20 miles. The nostalgia and old neon lining the streets took us back in time to what this place could have been like for those living during that era.

We also stopped and walked around in Albuquerque's Old Town, complete with street vendors, tiny old shops made of stucco, and Hispanic heritage.

After that, we drove all the way to Holbrook AZ, aside from stopping at Blakes LottaBurger for a nice greasy dinner. Yum!

Things Learned Today:
"Food eaten in local diners always tastes better than the chains."
"There is only one clear radio station in between Amarillo and Albuquerque."
"The game of 20 questions is the best when you are trying to get the other person to guess Roadkill."
"Cars can haul Uhaul trailers just long as there is some coolant on hand at all times."
"Gas is much cheaper out West."
"Bugs Bunny always takes wrong left turns in Albuquerque."

Question of the Day:
"I wonder who lives in those lone homes out in the middle of the desert..and what is their career?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Amarillo By Morning

It is currently 12:30 p.m. Indiana time and Rob and I are still driving to finish out our Tuesday. And my what a Tuesday it has been. Let me show you...'

So you remember that Bed and Breakfast I was telling you about last night. This was my first B and B experience and it was quite enjoyable. Each room in the Walnut Street Inn was themed after a famous person from Springfield, MO. We were placed in the O'Neil room...after Rose O'Neil. She was a famous illustrator who first created the Kewpie Doll. Look it up..I'm sure you will recognize it!

Here is the Inn from the outside and inside.

We started out our Tuesday heading to the first and largest Bass Pro Shop in the country. 150,000 square feet and about every wild animal you could imagine..stuffed, posed, and placed in natural looking man-made environments. The entire time, I was thinking, "Would you like some merchandise with these museum scenes?" It definitely made for a fun shopping experience.

Next, we headed to the World's Largest Fork also found in Springfield.

Then we visited Askinosie Chocolate Factory ( Our B and B innkeeper told us about this hidden treasure found in the rough part of town. The founder first spent his time in Springfield as a criminal defense lawyer, making big bucks defending criminals. After some time, he decided to quit and make chocolate. Not just any chocolate. His is unique in that he has complete control over the entire process of the chocolateering, including the bean itself. He has visited numerous countries around the world, creating a more economical point of sale for bean farmers by introducing them to profit sharing. He made sure the communities he sought out were one of low economic growth, so that the bean production would bring it back onto it's feet. We tried chocolate from beans grown in Tanzania, Ecuador, Philippines, and Hondorus. Each one was a little different, but all were so good. (I even bought a chocolate bacon cupcake).

Next on our stop were The Fantastic Caverns, the only drive-through caves in North America. They was discovered by a farmer who immediately called for people in the town to come help him explore further. Twelve women were the only ones to show up to do the exploring. Ya! During Prohibition, a back cavern in the cave served as a speak easy for the locals needing a refreshment.

Even though we weren't able to take the jeep ride through the cave because of flooding, we did get to walk though and see some of it..for FREE.

By this time, it was noon and we hadn't left Springfield. Hence why we are still driving at 2:30 a.m. Amarillo by Morning! On with the trip...

Our plan for lunch was to eat at a cliff side restaurant embedded in the side of a large hill in the Ozarks, but the flood waters kept us from getting there. Not without a fight though!

Here's Rob maneuvering his big rig backwards. This was before we tried another route, just to get turned down again by high waters.

So, we drove on towards Tulsa, stopping along the way to see this large concrete beast in Catoosa, OK.

Can you find Rob in this photo?

We arrived in Tulsa and found our very first Tall Man at a traveler's center. And check this out...something crazy happened when we were there...

Rob Shrank!

And I Grew!!

Next stop...Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. Home of the World's Largest Praying Hands.

To all my Jasper friends and Family, check out below to see what we found!!! Made me miss those arcade games and free plastic checkered cups.

After Tulsa, we hopped back on the road and headed for Oklahoma City, searched for a giant Indian, jammed to "Runnin on Empty" and debated about where we wanted to stop for the night. We still had a couple stops to go, so we kept on moving!

Our last stop in Oklahoma was a giant wind turbine (photo on Rob's Camera), and then we cruised on into Texas. Texas greeted us with a lighting show on the horizon that we quickly caught up to. At that time, we welcomed back our dear old friend...rain. From here on out though, it should be clear blue skies.

About 45 minutes ago, we left a small town named Shamrock, Texas - a town complete with an Irish Inn, Blarney Inn and Shamrock Country Inn. They even still had their St. Patrick's Day decorations adoring the streets. We couldn't find the famous Blarney Stone, but we did find a mural and plaza dedicated to their Shamrock Water Tower. Yeah...who knows! We were a little disappointed there were no stores open to buy official shamrock paraphernalia. What? No where open at 1am? :) Honestly, who can blame them?

Well, we are almost to Amarillo and after I get done blogging, the sweet sound of George Strait will be filling our ears as we arrive at our final destination to crash for the night. I'm excited to see what tomorrow holds for us!

Oh and Mom, I promise we will not make it this late tomorrow night!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Little Mazda That Could

If you have been reading my posts for the past couple of days, you should know I am now traveling across country with my boyfriend, Rob, to help move him to L.A. If you haven't, check out my post titled L.A. or Bust to find out more.

We started our trip this morning around 10 a.m. packing a few odds and ends and stuffing his final pieces of furniture into the U-Haul trailer.

His '97 stick shift Mazda 626 has never hauled anything other than passengers before this trip, so he didn't know what to expect. Not only that, the weight limit for the trailer is 1000 pounds. Well, the trailer is filled beyond its capacity, so the drive has been interesting to say the least. Everything has been fine so far, but it has taken some getting used to...Especially when going over roads like this in St. Louis...

We were searching for a place to park our 25ft ride and were forced to drive down this narrow one way bumpy road. After a few hitch drags and bounce outs, we found a spot about 20 minutes from the Arch. A fun little jaunt in the pouring rain led us right to the metal gates of the Arch being closed for the day.

We missed it by just a few minutes!

But that didn't stop us from taking some pictures!

As we speak, we are still on the road, driving in the rain, recovering from a food coma induced from a meal of fried chicken and fried potato wedges. It feels like State Fair already!

Lee's Fried Chicken in Rolla, MO is famous for their potato wedges, so we didn't pass at the chance to try them. They were soft, yet flaky and oh so good.

We are trying to stop at restaurants neither of us have been to before (non-chains if we can), and have been successful so far...ok so Lee's is a chain, but neither of us had heard of it, so we dove in for some greasy goodness.

In Marshall, IL we found Los Tres Caminos with tacos as big as your head! Well Rob's was anyway.

Well, that is about it for tonight, folks. I better get back to keeping my awesome driver company for our remaining 30 miles to Springfield. A key will be waiting for us at the quaint Walnut Street Bed and Breakfast. when we arrive. A hint to all on the day you are staying and you get a huge discount. Worked for us!

until tomorrow..Goodnight!

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