Archive for June, 2012

Day Eleven: The End

Friday, June 29th, 2012

We made it. I am writing this post from my grandmother’s library where I will be staying for about the next three weeks. After eleven long days of waking up at five in the morning and going to bed at about eleven at night and over 4700 miles later, we are in our home away from home in Bootjack, Michigan.

We spent the entire first half of our day having an amazing time on Mackinac Island. We took the ferry boat across Lake Huron over to the small island where we toured around for several hours. Since we did one of the earlier tours we got to actually go on the ferry underneath the Mackinac Bridge, the largest suspension bridge in the USA. The wind was biting and the spray from the waves was really cold as it splashed all over me and my camera but the view was spectacular. The water was almost more amazing than the bridge itself. One of my favorite things about Michigan are the lakes. Lake Superior is my all time favorite, but Huron was beautiful. The deep greens and blues that cast a gradient of color for all to see was stupendous to behold.

When we reached the island we decided to walk instead of rent bikes because no vehicles are allowed on the island. Only horse drawn carriages and bikes are allowed on the island making for an antiquated but lovely atmosphere for the entire island.

However, since everything was so expensive we were indeed limited in what we could do including not being able to go into Fort Mackinac. However, we recieved an awesome tip from a woman who told us to go behind the art museum where there was a children’s park and a very well disguised set of stairs. The very long set of stairs wove into the forests and high up the hills until we came out on top which supplied an amazing overlook of the island right next to the fort which we could see right into.

 

We even got to see the canon demonstration, where they loaded and fired a canon from the fort. It was very cool, but loud.

Behind the Fort we found amazing wide open fields that we had some fun with as we made our way across the island.

We continued on the wooded pathway all over the island eventually ending up at the famous Grand Hotel, which is so highclass that you are not even allowed to walk around it without a ten dollar fee. Also, no shoulders showing, and no pants for women. It was really quite odd. It did have a nice porch though with lines of rocking chairs overlooking the lake.

Since lunch was too expensive at the Grand we headed back to main where we had lunch at an excellent burger joint called Chuckwagons. It was a tiny little alleyway of a room jammed with chairs and people. We sat at the bar looking right at the grill which supplied all the food for the entire place, which in itself was amazing. The chef and I am assuming owner was working it and he was a constant blurr of action. It seemed like he never stopped, a fine tuned burger making machine. I got the rodeo burger which was sublime but messy. Served on a pretzel bun, these burgers where home made and cooked right in front of our eyes. It was entertaining and delicious. Highly recommended, especially with the price compared to the Grand, which I am sure was not nearly as good as this place.

We also had to stop and buy the famous Mackinac Island Fudge, this little island is known for its rich fudge and there are literally dozens of shops all over the island claiming to be the best. With a lot of contestation about which is best, we naturally had to try several.. which meant a lot of fugde sampling and a very high sugar overload when we were done. After sampling a couple of places I decided that Joann’s Fudge is definitely the best. Their sea salt caramel fudge is amazing and rich with that nice salty bit to counteract the powerful sweetness. Not only was the fudge good but the place was cute, the servers friendly and in my opinion most importantly good at giving samples. They were extremely generous in their samples and made sure you really had a taste for which ever fudge you were thinking about tasting. It was quite the adventure and we really enjoyed ourselves on this beauitful, sunny day in Michigan on the Great Lakes.

We did have to move on and take the ferry back sadly but we kept getting waylaid by more beautiful and interesting things before we even left town. We found a beautiufl beach spot to play around in the sandy beaches and clear waters as well as a magnificent lighthouse right at the foot of the bridge.

But after the crossing of the bridge it was a straight shot to our final destination. We had our eyes on the prize and except for a brief pasty stop, which is always worth it, we headed to our home away from home.

It is so nice to be here again, I quite literally wait all year until I can come back here. I am staying in my grandfather’s home right on the lake where I will be doing my writing and hopefully some good research from my grandmother’s old collection of amazing books. So now starts a new (more relaxed) adventure in Michigan.

0

Day Ten: Mackinaw City

Friday, June 29th, 2012

This is the winding down, the final frontier of the trip: we have entered the state of Michigan. The very tippy top of the state is the goal and end of the trip in Keweenaw County and we stayed the night about the half-way point right before the Mackinac Island Bridge.

We left Cincinnati early in the morning and headed up to meet some of my mother’s old high school friends whom she was really excited to see after to many years. We met them for lunch right above where my mom lived as a child in Birmingham, Michigan. After lunch at Olga’s, an old favorite of my mother’s which serves gyros, we headed down memory lane to reminisce about my mother’s old home. Even though it is no longer there, the house next to cemetery, we still drove by where it once stood and even stopped at a garage sale at the place that now stands in its stead. We drove all over as she pointed out points of interest from her childhood including the cemetery. It was a huge trip down memory lane, even though the town had changed incredibly, we had a great time wandering around.

After Birmingham we kept heading north to Gaylord where my uncle and his family are in order to stop in and catch up with them. We got dinner, visited a small but beauitful lake, and even got to see some elk.

\

We got in really late last night because it was hard to say goodbye yet again, even though we will see them in a couple of more days. We drove to Mackinaw City in the dark and could see the lights blink on the bridge as we pulled in to the city. It was a wonderfully warm night but we were so tired we just collapsed right into bed.

 

0

Day Nine: Cincinnati

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

We left early in the morning from our beautiful riverside hotel room with whispered goodbyes by their door and headed into the Smokey Mountains before the sky was even fully lit. The park was beautiful, a wooded, secluded forest that had the mystique that only pristine wilderness has. A certain quiet that hangs peacefully over the entire park creating a nearly unearthly sense of calm. We drove through the winding mountain roads that were hidden under a canopy of trees. It was beautiful everywhere you looked and it was a huge breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively, to be back in nature enjoying the simple things rather than fancy shops or restaurants.

We drove all the way into the middle of the park up to its highest point, which is right on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee called Clingman’s Dome. In the description it said it was a short mile hike that was supposedly steep that leads up to an observation tower that over looks the misty ble mountains of the area. When we got there we began our trek and for the first time the entire trip it was cold. Not just cold but FREEZING. I was so cold and didn’t even know where I had put my jacket because it had barely gone below triple digits every single day of our trip and suddenly it was so windy and cold on the top of these mountains. So naturally I thought I would run around to warm up a bit. Little did I know that the steep climb was actually a really steep climb and my little warm up left me really tired for going up that huge hill. We walked on the path that goes along on of the hills overlooking the mountain range and by the time we reached the top we were both panting and out of breath from the climb and the elevation which was over 6000 feet. The observation deck was a huge spiral walkway that stopped at a look out and the view was amazing. The mountains were cast in a soft blueish light and hidden among the fog which gives this national park its smokey quality. It was great to stand on top of the world looking around and seeing nothing but beauty in every direction.

After our hike we headed out of the park taking our time on the drive through the remainders of the mountains on the North Carolina side. We drove on the Blue Ridge PArkway which was likewise beautiful and quite fun to drive around North Carolina a bit. It was interesting because I don’t think we ever really intended to go to the east coast but we were technically in a state that is on the east coast so I guess it sort of counts. So technically we drove all the way across the country, nearly coast to coast. But then we had to veer back to our original direction and headed northward.

We made a pit stop at the Cumberland Gap National Park which stands on the corner of three states, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This beautiful area surrounded by rolling mountains, rivers, lake networks, and just all things green and beautiful was a nice little pit stop along the way. It is really our last stop until Cincinnati tonight where we will be staying with a friend of my mother’s who was gracious enough to accomadate us, road mess and all.

Cincinnati was a beautiful city to behold, the river was striking and despite the traffic we got stuck in it was very enjoyable. We were even treated to a wonderful Montgomery dinner of pulled chicken BBQ along with excellent cherries, coleslaw and potatoe salad. We even sat on the balcony that was so nice and warm.

It was a great stop and I am so happy we were welcomed so warmly and I yet again wish we could stay longer but tomorrow we are making the next biggest leap: tomorrow we will be in Michigan.

Yes, we are just a few short days away from our final destination. It seems we may finish ahead of schedule and come in about a day earlier but we will see. Maybe we will make another pit stop somewhere if we wind up having copious amounts of time on our hands but right now we are very focused on the prize, our home in Bootjack (Lake Linden) Michigan.

0

Day Eight: Family, Gatlinburg

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

We started our day out with a little stress over our car. Because we have driven so many miles we decided to get an oil change but when we took it in and only after the oil had been changed did the low oil light pop up. Baffled and confused we spent a good half hour or more trying to fix this odd problem, we eventually reset the light after call Subaru but the threat of something wrong with the care has been looming over our heads ever since. Quite the unnecessary stressor on our shoulders. To remedy the stress we got Starbucks… lots of coffee and visited the Nashville Parthenon.

The Nashville Parthenon houses a huge statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom born from Zeus’ brain. The gigantic temple modeled after the Greek Parthenon houses the statue surrounded by imposing grandiose columns.

Her shield alone was 15 meters in diameter, so you can tell just how huge this statue was in person.

Also the doors are the largest set of bronze doors in the entire world.

Our next roadside stop was at Andrew Jackson’s, the former president of the United States, home. The home, titled the Hermitage, is a huge mansion tucked away in many acres of green lush fields. We didn’t have time to actually tour the place but we looked at all the pictures and admired the scenery from afar.

We drove all the way through Knoxville and into Gatlinburg where we were meeting my grandparents from North Carolina for a short but pleasant while. We expected to be staying in a quaint small little town at the foot of the Great Smokey Mountains but instead we encountered a series of three cities that where extremely odd and quirky tourist traps. These strips of odd sights including many Ripley’s Believe it or Not places, a gigantic fake Titanic, and even an upside down building next to a Hollywood wax museum.

We are going into the park tomorrow morning and its allure is great, just beyond the nearly sickening amount of tourist attractions which have gathered such ridiculous numbers of people who have swamped the streets and shops. Right outside our hotel room is a beautiful river that runs from the mountains down the beautiful sloping hills. It is a taunting foreshadow of tomorrow. We have found that this trip has been hard because we have been mostly deprived of nature. Unlike our past road trips which are mainly National Parks where we hike and adventure among wildlife and majestic landscapes, but this trip we have mostly been in cities or only brief stops in nature. So tomorrow is a well anticipated return to nature, pristine, unpopulated, and uncrowded nature. Hopefully we will encounter some wildlife there as well.

We met our relatives and after a great catching up and sharing session with them we headed out to dinner at the Cherokee Grill which was excellent. It was just so great being able to sit down with them and just catch up for a short time. We talked for hours over dinner and I really was so glad to see them again and I love that this road trip has let us see so many of our relatives we do not normally see.

I decided to try Catfish while still in the south and had Southern Fried Catfish with Baked Mac and Cheese with spinach which was excellent. The catfish was tender, moist, and the batter flavorful and crispy. The mac and cheese was excellent as well, warm and comforting, just as southern comfort food should be. Everything was very good but the waiter was an extremely fast talker and turns out very rushed in everything he did, not just his speech. Otherwise it was great and I would definitely eat there again if we weren’t simply passing through.

We walked around the crowded town and discovered a free Moonshine tasting in an eccentric little place full of the powerful alcohol that was so popular during the prohibition period. It was a cool old southern place filled with old cars, mason jars, shelf after shelf of moonshine, and a whole sea of rocking chairs.

It was just a short visit but we cherished every moment and look forward to the next. Tomorrow we head through the Great Smokey Mountains and up to Cincinnati Ohio for the night.

0

Day Seven: Nashville

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I today was the day we hit “the wall” for road trippers: the point of no more. Today marks the point where we are tired and sight seeing weary. No this does not mean we are done it just means that today was a day off from sightseeing. We didn’t really do anything today and abandoned the initial plan for the day for a shortened and less packed with things to do. In other words, today was a breather day and hopefully tomorrow will be the always necessary bounce back day in the road trip.

Also today marks a different sort of landmark. Today, day seven marks the longest time I have ever been on the road. Six days was my previous record and now we are on day seven, soon to be eight that will keep going up as we continue. So, this is a long trip.

It was hard leaving New Orleans, just as it was hard to leave New Mexico and San Antonio before that. We have had some great stops and I am looking forward to more, but I seriously enjoyed New Orleans. We started our morning with Cafe Du Monde again since it is open 24 hours we went pretty early and got to see the sunrise from our hotel room in the morning.

After leaving our trial of powder sugar behind us and watching everyone else who left Cafe Du Monde brush the remnants of their beignet from their clothing somewhat unsuccessfully, we headed out for a day of driving. We went across three states, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

We only had two stops along our way to Nashville. The first was lunch at the original Whistle Stop Cafe or the Irondale Cafe where the book by Fannie Flag, Fried Green Tomatoes, was based out of. I love that book and the movie and knew once I was in the area that we had to stop for some fried green tomatoes. So we went on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama and found the little trainside cafe with red checkered tableclothes and movie posters all over the walls with a cafeteria style food line up of good old southern soul food. I learned a little something about southern food today called the meat and three; this is a way of describing the amount of food you get (gigantic amounts) being one meat entree along with three sides of choice from a long selection of food options.  So I got their famous fried chicken, the fried green tomatoes of course and mashed potatoes.. and it came with a bun, and sweet tea. It was so much food it seemed really ridiculous, but what was more is that anyone can order as many as they want and it really piles up quickly. The fried chicken was very good, moist, and crispy. The bun and sweet tea were also phenomenal, both where unbelievably good and I wish I could have had more if I wasn’t already so stuffed from the other plates. However, I was pretty disappointed by the fried green tomatatoes. They were greasy, cold, and too acidic even for green tomatoes. It was saddening but for me definitly an atmosphere thing and being able to say I had been to the Whistle Stop Cafe. I definitly don’t regret going because everything else was very good and if not for fear of becoming obese in a matter of days would surely go back for more.

The second stop we made was to the Ave Maria Grotto which is a benedictine monks old pass time making minatures of major monuments world wide. This odd stop in Cullman, Alabama was a large garden where the hills where covered in this sculptures.

Little Jerusalem including Bethlehem

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Even the Campanile.

It was all very interesting but by the time we reached Nashville neither of us really wanted to do anything and just did a brief tour of the city known for its music.

Uneventful day but it is getting us there slowly. Tomorrow is another sort of off day, we are taking another family day and meeting some of my lovely relatives from North Carolina in Gatlinberg for a day. More than halfway there.

0

Day Six: New Orleans

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

We stayed the night in New Orleans and spent the entire day walking all over New Orleans to take in the sights of this complex city. There are really so many facets and corners to this city, I don’t feel anyone could ever fully explore. Because of this we decided to take a little tour of the city to help us gather some semblance of what we were doing. But we first decided to go to the famous and wonderful Cafe Du Monde.

Ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you I do not like coffee, I don’t drink it but I heard two things about Cafe Du Monde; they have amazing Beignets and great cafe au lait. So naturally I had to get both, liking coffee or not, I knew I should try it so I got the frozen cafe au lait and on a hot day made twice as hot by the sticky humid air, it was like heaven. I can’t even explain how great it was, all I can say is I am going back tomorrow and if I ever come back again this will be my first stop. This was also my first ever Beignet and it was awesome. This little french pillow of dough, deep fried and coated in a sea of powder sugar, was delicatable. This french doughnut was definitly a good choice, but also a messy one. It was impossible to eat them without leaving a  trail of powder sugar in your wake.

After that we went on the city and cemetery tour of New Orleans which drove us around talking about the things outside. I am not going to lie, I didn’t really like the tour or our guide but it did give a nice break from driving around, desperately trying to find our way and figure out what to do. So in some ways it was good and we got to see a lot of the city by bus but otherwise, I was not a fan. The guide didn’t really seem to know a lot of anything and kept repeating himself in a bothersome manner. We went to the Garden District and looked at all the old mansions and houses and then went through the french quarter. The only thing we did that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten to do was the St. Louis Cemetery.

We learned all sorts of interesting facts about the burial process in New Orleans for this cemetery which includes the body being exhumed after a year and a day and the bones being crushed and then put in a bag to be placed back in the tomb so it take up less space. Also one tomb can hold up to 150 bodies… or I guess baggies but that doesn’t sound right at all to put it that way.

After that stop we made a depressing stop at the sight of one of the most damaged areas by Katrina. The water here reached up to 25 high at one point and took out almost every single house in the area, only three brick founded buildings remained, all the others floated away or were destroyed. Pictured below is the wall for the levy that overflowed leading to this catastrophe. We also learned that Brad Pitt, ever the hero that he is, decided that someone needed to help, so he did. He is building 150 houses for those who lost there homes here and making them large enough to very comfortably house the displaced families and also powered by solar power to help pay for electric bills.

However, the most depressing part about this stop was not Katrina itself but the fact that this tour group took us here to gawk at the despair of the people who lived and lost their lives here. It felt disgusting to be there in a huge air conditioned bus sight seeing where so man people lost so much, even their lives. It was hard for me to stomach that, the only thing that made it bearable was that thanks to the Brad Pitt Foundation homes many of them seemed to be doing much better. But even then I only saw a glimpse from a tour bus, so what could I possibly know.

On a happier note in this neighborhood is a man who apparently makes the best pralines in New Orleans and he came on our bus from his home and sold us some. It was my first praline and it was very good and had quite the sugar kick to it.

After the tour we returned to the French Quarter and decided to tour the city on our own. We walked all over the place visiting many of the places we had glimpsed in a drive by moment on the tour.

The first stop was to the French Market, this market which is part flea market and part food market was really fun and expansive. Spanning several blocks we wound up and down the isles looking at all that was to offer.

We even found a stand that sold all things alligator including alligator jerky, gator on a stick, and fresh grilled gator.

We looked through all the jewelry, hats, bags, and most important antiques.

Around the corner from the french market we went and shopped for blocks in antique and recycled things stores that were just too much fun. We found all sorts of odd things in this quirky little stores.

The furniture had to have been my favorites, they had tons of old antique furniture that I would have bought in a heart beat if I didn’t have to lug it around the country with me. It was really funny weaving in and out of these shops for what seemed like hours.

Next food stop: muffalata and more pralines- also known as the best pralines. First time eating muffalata which is a meat sandwhich with an olive tapenade like spread which was awesome. Even though I was still full I ate the whole thing. New Orleans is about food after all isn’t it? Oh and personally I liked these pralines better…

We wandered around the back streets of the city going into cool shops and looking at intriguing building and architecture.

One of the types of shops I forced my mom to stop at where Voodoo shops. I have always found voodoo intriguing and have always wanted to learn more about it. Having done a bit of research I had heard the place to go was Reverend Zombies House of Voodoo. This crowded and stuff filled little house was full of little heads, voodoo dolls and all sorts of creepy things. It was very fun to explore in and after some prompting from my mom I decided to have my palms read and future told to me by an odd little woman. It was a strange experience but I think a good one to have. Still nothing out of this world though :)

We also stumbled upon the Faulkner house, where William Faulkner lived and wrote several of his books. This cute little place is now a book store and was fun to poke around in for a short minute.

 

Oh, and we met this guy, and yes that is a washboard he has on and is playing. We found him in the street, no literally, in the street in front of traffic, playing his washboard.

Our last real stop of the day besides dinner was Preservation Hall. I was really surprised about this because I had imagined it very differently. I didn’t imagine this beat up washed out place that didn’t really even have a noticable sign that was right across from the voodoo shop. I don’t know what I was expecting but this sue wasn’t it. And it was closed to boot.

We had dinner at Mother’s Restraunt a local famous place that we heard a lot of hype about, especially for their Po’ boys. Po’ boys are sandwhiches that got their name because originally they were the poor man’s sandwich and cooks would hand out this sandwichs to the poor boys. I got a fried shrimp po’ boy and my mom got some nice gumbo. The food was good but I don’t think it stood up to the hype at all. Good but not anyhting to really rave about in the end. It was still nice to end the day and our time in New Orleans with a New Orleans’ classic like the Po’ boy .

I really enjoyed my time here in New Orleans and hope to be able to come back because I think there is so much left to do here. It also seems as if we are bing chased out of New Orleans by a possible hurricane, so maybe it is time to head out of town.  I am sad to go but the trip must go on, tomorrow we are going to Nashville. This is the big change in the trip, no longer are we going eastward, we are in the final leg heading north now. Half way done.

1

New Orleans Balconies

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Here is a small assortment of the glorious balconies in New Orleans we saw. Some looked like jungles, some were sophisticated with furniture and ceiling fans, and others where filled with flowers and a random collection of items backed by the colorful walls of the homes. Southern homes in New Orleans are very impressive indeed.

0

Day Five: New Orleans

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I can’t believe I am writing this from New Orleans. Ever since about third grade, when I started reading Anne Rice, I have wanted to come here and go to the french quarter. I have always wanted to be here but could never think of a reason to be here, and now, I am here.

This morning we started our day doing the Riverwalk in the morning in San Antonio before anyone else in the city was awake. It was a nice reprieve from the chaos of mid afternoon tourism when the crowds are in full affect. I have defintiely begun to appreciate early morning wake ups to avoid the crowds and actually enjoy what I am there to see.

After the Riverwalk we headed down to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which is a system of four extremely old missions, most being moved to their present day location in 1731. So yes, they are very old. They were pretty fantastic, old crumbling adobe and high reaching bell towers was better than any cup of coffee in the morning.

 

The oldest and most amazing mission in this system of missions is Mission San Jose, also known as the Queen. It was massive and spectacular, overall quite a wonder to see especially because it is over 200yrs old.

Its system of archways and brick lines doors where amazing as well a being accompanied by extremely ornate decorations on windows and doors.

Covered in centuries old frescos these crumbling facades where incredible to experience in person.

After we left San Antonio we started heading east again towards Louisiana for our next night. However, finding ourselves starving in the middle of nowhere we tried to find a place to eat and discovered a little family owned Cajun cooking restaurant called Vautrots. This little place was excellent! It was a first for me in many ways; it was my first taste of creole Cajun food, I got the E’touffee which is a dish somewhat similar to gumbo. It was also my very first time eating crawfish which was excellent. It made me even more excite for when I actually get to New Orleans and I can eat Cajun food in Louisiana.

And of course we had to make some extra stops like at the world’s largest fire hydrant right outside of the Texas fire museum.

 

Before we even crossed over into Louisiana we entered into bayou country. This was kind of an amazing switch in environment, we went from dry  shrubland to swampy marshlands. We saw all sorts of odd things including wild flamingos and spent a majority of our driving time looking for gators as we drove by the lakes, rivers, and bayous.

There was one scenic stretch of highway nearing Baton Rouge which I must say was probably the coolest stretch of highway I have ever been on in my life. The highway was divided onto separate sides of a river and suspended like a dock or bridge over the water and swamps. It was amazing and it was a bit hard to concentrate on driving when you just want to stare at the amazingly new scenery all around you. This swamp area was the most intriguing, with odd like trees and jagged stumps sticking from the huge bayou it looked a bit like an alien planet.

After the swamps came the city. New Orleans, finally here. We got in pretty late so we decided to do what anyone does at night in New Orleans, go to Bourbon street.

The streets where loud, bustling, and dirty but had the charm of a tourist spot. But not always, I must say I saw my full share of things I definitely would have gone with out. Especially being boob flashed right in the face by some random older woman. Also the woman dancing in front of a brothel door with basically no clothes on… yeah could have done without it but it is definelty part of the experience. You don’t go down Bourbon if you can’t stomache the smell of smoke, the profanity, the drunken people, the smell of vomit, and the faint smell of urine everywhere you go. But it does have its charm as well. The glowing street signs casting the street in bright colors add a mystique to the street that is the haunt of New Orleans. We even found our way to the Musical Legends Park and got to listen to some great music, blues, rock, and cajun alike.

I got tossed a few beads and even got to dance with an alligator. A pretty successful night but tomorrow we get to venture New Orleans in the daylight glow. We are staying a full day here just to explore.

0

Day Four: San Antonio

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Today was the beginning of the long haul across Texas. The dreaded day.

I am not going to lie; I had many predetermined notions of what I felt Texas would be like that were entirely ungrounded in reality. And boy am I glad that I was wrong. Surprisingly enough I actually almost enjoyed the long ride across half of this gigantic state. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of greenery compared to New Mexico and Arizona’s stark desert lands only broken up by sparse shrubbery. There were rolling hills and cut out passes for the highway through nice limestone walls and it was rather enjoyable compared with the experience I thought I was going to have today. Touche Texas, touche.

There really was nothing on the way to San Antonio from Las Cruces. Nothing. It was hard leaving Las Cruces and our family behind after such a short visit, expecially knowning that we would be driving all day with nothing on the road to distract us. So to remedy this we made our own distractions by finding obscure and random stops to make. The first of which is the supposed World’s Largest Roadrunner in Fort Stockton. Paisano Pete was his name and he was pretty fun to find and take pictures with in the middle of nowhere.

After that we planned on seeing some road side imitations of the Eastern Island Heads but sadly got lost and never found this little roadside treasure and decided instead to push on to get to San Antonio.

San Antonio also pleasantly surprised me, I really enjoyed this town full of its own old time charm mixed with new ambience. There are a lot of things for us to see here and we were very excited to begin exploring even though the humidity had certainly set upon us.

Our first stop was the Alamo, which was nestled amongst the shops on the Riverwalk. Just crossing the cobblestone streets transports you into the old battelfield that was the Alamo and the history is almost palpable.

Surrounded by gardens and gigantic arching trees this little park was quite beautiful.

We then decided to take the trolley through the city and go visit the Mexican Market Place or El Mercado. This place was amazing. Anyone going to San Antonio must go here, it was so much fun and we got to get a taste of San Antonio and their neighbor’s influence upon them. There was an indoor and outdoor market with shops after shops lined up next to each other, filled with Mexican imported goods, leather works, Mexican and Southwestern apparel, clay and painted pottery and many other amazing things that we couldn’t help but marvel over for hours.

For some reason I really like these little pigs, they make me unexplicably happy.

Outside was beautiful as well, fully decrated and colorful the entire scene was extremely welcoming.

We had dinner in an odd but wonderful place called Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery, which is actually a twenty-four hour restaurant. It was so huge it was mindblowing, it filled at least four very large rooms and had two gigantic patio stretches looking out on the market. Every room was highly decorated with bright christmas like lights, pinatas and colorful paper. It was quite a sight to see.

The food itself was amazing and flavorful though the area was loud and bustling at all times. It was quite the busy hopping place, but it was just the right place for us to be.

It was a great night and I really enjoyed San Antonio, tomorrow we explore the missions and the Riverwalk in the morning and make a desparate drive to see if we can make it to New Orleans. Right now we are not so sure if we will make it, the mission visits are defifintly setting us off schedule a bit. So we will see what happens tomorrow.

0

Day Three: Family Day

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Yesterday was our official rest day that was still extremely eventful. We were staying for two nights at my lovely relatives’ home who where gracious enough to put up with us, dirt balls as we where. We got to stay in their beautiful adobe in New Mexico that had a gorgeous back yard and beautiful southwestern style architecture and of course, sheepdogs. They used to show and breed old English Sheepdogs and so they have four currently living in their home. It was like having a herd of sheepdogs at all times; marvelous, simply marvelous. These fluffy monsters are so much fun and so great I couldn’t help taking a million photos of them instead of simply taking pictures of our temporary home. We where welcomed into their home with open arms and it is sad knowing that we only had one whole day to spend with them, I could have stayed forever.

We decided on our down day to still go National Park hunting so we made the short drive up to White Sands National Park.

This park is full of sparkling white dunes stretching all the way to the base of gorgeous mountains was quite marvelous. Many people take sleds out and sled down the dunes but we had to refrain, maybe another time. We did however run all over the dunes and have a bit of fun messing around in the desert.

After the White Sands National Park we headed over to Old Mesilla, a very cool section of a little town that is full of intriguing shops and great food stops. We had an excellent lunch at Josephina’s that even included eating outside in a very beautiful garden. It was refreshing and enjoyable to say the least. We spent quite some time walking around the town square, going into almost every shop there was in the area.

Everything was so beautiful and scenic; I even found some incredible doors to photograph.

After shopping we went out for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and took a very interesting side trip to a Hispanic grocery store that was just too cool. It was so much fun looking at all the different foods and the eye catching decorations that where hung from nearly everything in the store.

It was a fun day and we are very sad to move on but the trip has just begun and San Antonio is next on the list of stops. The long drive across the entire width of Texas begins now, and believe me, we are none to excited about it.

0