San Diego July 28, 2014

Grand Canyon to San Diego

Grand Canyon to San Diego

We arrived about 3:00 am in San Diego on the morning of the 27th.  We had originally planned a stop at Joshua Tree on the way from the Grand Canyon but once we realized we were going to be so late getting to San Diego we scratched it.  When we were planning our road trip we knew which cities we wanted to hit but didn’t make many plans of what to do once we got there.  This was good and bad.  Good because we had the option to change things up and just go with the flow.  Bad because we really didn’t plan enough time in our schedule to do a whole lot so when we decided to do something that took a few hours it really put us behind on our travel schedule.

When we woke up that morning in San Diego and I looked out of our hotel window I was so excited, it was simply beautiful.  The water was sparkling and it was dotted with sailboats.  Then when we went to breakfast our view was of the marina and there were so many sailboats and boats!  I have no idea how a person could even get their boat out of that mess.  It was so neat though.

View from our hotel

View from our hotel

My one goal while in San Diego was to walk along the bay.  I just wanted to soak in the sun and the sounds and smells of being by the water.  It was so nice and relaxing and it was so nice for the sun to be shining since it had rained on us the past two days.  We were down there around lunch time and I saw a guy in a suit sitting in his car eating lunch.  That’s where I want to have lunch every day too.  Jealous.  While we were walking along Cole points out something out in the water…it was a sea lion!  I couldn’t believe it!  He was too far away and moving too quick for me to get a picture but I was just so excited to see one just out and about.

Taken while walking along the bay

Taken while walking along the bay

Cole really wanted to go to the infamous San Diego Zoo but I looked up the ticket prices and for both of us it was going to be $92 for us to go!!  What?!?  It’s a zoo!  So we decided against it and were going to find something else to do.  I decided to call and see about a military discount and I’m so glad I did because Cole got in for free and I got a 10% discount.  It was still steep to pay $42 for both of us to go to the zoo but it was a lot of fun and a really nice zoo.

He looks extremely happy even though his hump is so sad.

He looks extremely happy even though his hump is so sad.

For those of you who know Cole is aka Panda so it was a necessity to see the pandas…well that and we’ve never actually seen one in person.  When we walked up to the exhibit it said there would be a 45 minute wait to see them.  Wowza!  Luckily it was only about 25 minutes but you know I would have waited the full 45 because they were so dang cute!  I didn’t get any pics of the mama but the baby was just so cuddly looking.  I wanted to squeeze him and hold him like a baby.

Look at that face!

Look at that face!

Baby Panda

Baby Panda

For them to be “giant” pandas they were a lot smaller than I expected.  The San Diego Zoo is a definite must if you are there and have the time.

I forgot to mention this in my last post but when Cole and I got to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert there was a sign that military got in free.  When we got to the gate we showed them our IDs and they gave us an annual membership pass.  I was so excited!  Between there and the Grand Canyon this saved us almost $50 in park fees.  So don’t forget to ask about those military discounts, up to this point in the trip we had saved over $100 with our military IDs.

 

Arizona July 26 – 27, 2014

Petrified Forest to Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon

Petrified Forest to Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon

Arizona Sign

After a full day in Santa Fe & Albuquerque we began our drive to Arizona.  We really underestimated our drive and almost didn’t make it to the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest before dark.  It is a 26 mile drive through the national park where you start at one entrance and can exit at the other entrance.  We started at the Painted Desert entrance and I’m so glad we did…it was amazing!  After going through my pictures I realized that I didn’t get any pics that did it justice at all.  At least this one has a cute couple in it 🙂

The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert

Several of the informational signs mentioned monsoons and lightning storms during the summer months and we didn’t really think much of it.  Well sure enough about half way through the park it starts lightning, a lot!  Then the temperature dropped about 15 degrees suddenly and then the rain came.  It was crazy.  We got to see enough of the Petrified Forest to know that it was just a bunch of dead fallen trees lol.  We weren’t impressed.

Lightning at the Petrified Forest

Lightning at the Petrified Forest

Although Santa Fe was pretty it was absolutely no comparison to the beautiful
landscape of Flagstaff. When we arrived the night before it was dark so we
didn’t see it until going to breakfast. We are driving to Denny’s and turned a
corner and we were both in aw of the beautiful mountains. Cole and I both agreed
that it was a view we could get used to.

Our first view of Flagstaff

Our first view of Flagstaff

I found information on a ski resort in Flagstaff that uses it’s ski lift during the summer months to give tourists an aerial view of the mountains. It was a 25 minute ride to the top of the lift (can you imagine skiing down that far??) and the temp changed about 20 deg from the bottom of the lift to the top.  When we were waiting to get on the lift operator told us that they were expecting rain that day and with it being at such a high altitude that it could occur at any moment.  Well about five minutes into our lift ride it starts raining and it got so cold.  Thankfully Cole had the great idea to bring a blanket on the ride, it saved us! The view was amazing even through the rain and it was pretty romantic.  When we got to the top of the mountain it was so cold that we just got right back in line to ride back down.  On the ride down it stopped raining and the closer we got to the bottom the warmer it got…so weird to have those temperature changes so quickly.

Panoramic view from the mountain in Flagstaff

Panoramic view from the mountain in Flagstaff

Flagstaff5

Elevation 11,510 ft!

After the aerial ride we drove a couple hours to the Grand Canyon.  There was nothing along that drive so we had to eat at this weird Flintstones themed restaurant, it was just so random.

Flintstones Restaurant

Flintstones Restaurant

At the Grand Canyon we had more lightning storms and rain but because of that we saw multiple rainbows!  It was beautiful to see them spanning across the Grand Canyon.  I even saw a double rainbow that was side by side so that it looked like it was extra wide.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic of that one but I did get a couple decent ones.

Rainbow over the Grand Canyon

Rainbow over the Grand Canyon

Rainbow over the Grand Canyon

Rainbow over the Grand Canyon

I guess because of the electricity in the air everyone’s hair was standing out all over the place.  It was really funny to see all these women walking around with their hair standing straight up.  Leaving the Grand Canyon park we saw our first wildlife of the trip.  We saw three elk standing on the side of the road.  You could tell they were used to the crowds because they were completely undisturbed by the passing cars.  I even saw one woman standing fairly close to them getting her pic taken with them.

Next stop: San Diego!

New Mexico July 26, 2014

If you are viewing on a mobile device some of the pics may be sideways.  I’m trying to figure out why it is doing that…I still have no idea what I’m doing here lol.  You should be able to view the pics correctly on a computer. 

Santa Fe, NM to Flagstaff, AZ

Santa Fe, NM to Flagstaff, AZ

This morning we woke up in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  We got up, repacked the roof bag, and explored historic downtown Santa Fe. It was really neat there with a lot of history. First we visited the Loretto Chapel with the miraculous staircase.  

“When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.”

Read more about the staircase here it’s a neat story.

Loretto Chapel

Miraculous Staircase

Loretto Chapel

We also toured the oldest house in the US. It was tiny so the tour lasted about a 45 seconds lol.  It was only two tiny rooms but it dates back 800 years so I guess a tiny house was better than sleeping outside!

Front of the Oldest House

Front of the Oldest House

You can see how small the doorway was in the house.

You can see how small the doorway was in the house

Across the street is the oldest church in the US.  We didn’t go in but got a couple pics.

San Miguel Church - The Oldest Church

San Miguel Church – The Oldest Church

The Oldest Church

The Oldest Church

Next we drove to Albuquerque and drove immediately to Walter White’s house (hello Breaking Bad fans!).  We were excited to see it but it turns out it is just a house and isn’t anything special.  Someone lives there and they were home sitting in their garage. That made it hard to take a pic. They also had security cameras everywhere. All in all it wasn’t that exciting lol.

Walter White's House

Walter White’s House

While in Albuquerque we also visited the
aquarium and botanical gardens.  They had a huge shark tank there so that was really cool.  There was someone in the tank cleaning it while we were there (crazy person).  The sharks were cool but I really loved the stingrays.  Ever since I got to feed them in St. Louis I’ve found them so fascinating.  I love that this guy looks like he is smiling at us.

Shark & Stingray

Shark & Stingray

He was smiling at us!

He was smiling at us!

Jelly Fish

Jelly Fish

After the aquarium we hopped in the car and headed for Flagstaff.

 

 

Oklahoma & Texas July 25, 2014

Sherwood, AR to Santa Fe, NM

Sherwood, AR to Santa Fe, NM

The first day of driving wasn’t very exciting. If you’ve driven through Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle you know what I mean. Our only tourist stop the first day was the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo. If you are ever out that way it is worth the stop. It’s free and it’s open during daylight hours so why not? Make sure you take a can of spray paint with you when you go though because you have the opportunity to paint all over these old Cadillacs sticking out of the ground. Kinda neat and a good time to stretch your legs. The first night we drove to Santa Fe and we got in about 1:00 am.  Arriving late at our destinations seems to be a reoccurring theme on this trip.  On this first day we were in four different states and it was starting to feel real.

Oklahoma State Sign

Oklahoma State Sign

Texas State Sign

Texas State Sign

New Mexico State Sign

New Mexico State Sign

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX

Not for Good

I’ve lived in several states during my 32 years but there is no doubt where home is. Home is hot, humid, gun-toting, hog-calling, sweet tea drinking, and southern. And I love it. Over the past few weeks I’ve said a lot of goodbyes and shed a lot of tears. This move is very bittersweet to me. I’m not going to say I’m not ready for the new adventure before Cole and I because I really am but saying goodbye is something I don’t want to have to do. Thank you to everyone who made the last few months so memorable during all the stressful times of this big move. I’ve been told that people my age don’t have large close-knit groups of friends. I don’t know if that’s true or not but regardless I feel incredibly blessed for my motley crüe. No matter the distance we will always be friends and there for each other. Not only do I have a fab group of friends but I’m also blessed with a mom who I’m incredibly close with. I’m so lucky for her and so thankful for everything she has done and does for me. These people are what makes it so hard to leave. This may be goodbye but it certainly isn’t for good. Love you guys!

Jimmy Buffet 2014

Jimmy Buffet Concert June 2014

Races with Whit

Me & Whit at the Races 2014

Cher with Mom

Me & My Mom at the Cher Concert 2014

Christmas 2013

Ugly Sweater Party Christmas 2013