Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roadside America and The Rio Bravo Campground

I know you have been dying to hear more vacation tales, so sorry I was busy doing gypsies work (scrub bleaching the camper all good gypsy wives do) and sitting in an eye clinic in the search for answers for my M. 

We woke early, got packed up, hitched up and grabbed giant warm donuts and coffee.  This complimentary donut and coffee thing isn’t hard to get use too.

We had a few goals in mind, and they had Roadside America written all over them.

Roadside America stop one: Cadillac Ranch 

 Spray painting our mark on the cadillacs

We drove off the sound of Bruce Springsteen singing CadillacRanch to us. 

Roadside America stop two: Historic Route 66 Midpoint 
We drove off with the sound of Nat King Cole singing Route66 to us.

We can always manage to find just the right song for the occasion, can’t we?
Then it was straight sailing down the highway. 
We climbed in elevation through the Carson National Forest.  The highest point was over 9400 feet and the temperature dropped to 77*--the windows rolled down and the mountain air whipped through our hair.

Finally we arrived at Rio Bravo Campground.  It is a nice small  first come first serve campground with only four electric/water hook-ups. SCORE!

It sits along the Rio Grande.  We took ourselves down to the river to cool off and catch a few mountain sun rays.  The landscape surround is beautiful.  We all agreed that we felt like the Native Americans should be sitting upon horses on the plateau nodding down to us.  It is so fun to let yourself drift back in time and history when out in the mountains.  My favorite place (better than the beach, in my opinion).

This was one of the few campgrounds on our trip that was still allowing campfires in the fire rings.

Let me add the campground host at Rio Bravo was extremely nice and knowledgeable about the area. He was laid back and talkative, so helpful to us.  Bonus is he is a permanent camp host. He was in every sense of the work a host!  

Tomorrow, new location, new Roadside America and adventures to be had.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Day In Amarillo

Before we set out on a hike in Palo Duro Canyon we stopped at the visitor center and took in the overview. 

We then set out on a hike on the Sunflower Trail.   
The afternoon temperature was a cool 92*.  There was a beautiful canyon breeze blowing throughout the hike.  And, less the humidity we are accustomed to at home, the dry heat and the breeze added to the peaceful feeling felt as we hiked.  
Who’s got the map?  Not I was repeated over and over again, till it was determined that the map was left in the car.  When we came to the end of the Sunflower Trail instead of turning around as we three girls suggested…every good hiker knows deviating from the trail is not good, King Ralph decided to hit the pavement.  Of course I recorded the rising temperature before I stepped out onto the asphalt road 
 I like to refer to this picture as—where is Michael Landon?  That was us hiking the “Highway to Heaven.”
 I swore at anytime Michael Landon would be resuming his role as an angel out to help and save people.  King Ralph has been known to stray from the trails much to our chagrin.  That beautiful cooling canyon breeze was nowhere to be felt on the black paved road.  Of course after about ten minutes King Ralph finally decided to listen to his women--that the car was a long, long, long way down the road and sticking to the trail was the smart way to go.  He, we all turned around. 

We got back to the campground mixed a couple of martinis before showering for an evening out.

In the evening we headed out to dinner to celebrate Father’s Day at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. 

This was another of our Roadside America stops.  You know the home to the free 72 ounce steak—if you woof it down in an hour or less.  There were actually five guys from Australia trying their stomachs at it. 
While we waited to be seated we did the typical touristy snapping of pictures.

Once the night was over we rested and prepared for our next destination—New Mexico.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day On The Road, Under the Amarillo Sky

We hit the road at 7am after a complimentary muffin and coffee in our quest to take in as much Roadside America as we could while traveling to Amarillo, Texas.

We got our Gornicke on while singing the likes of Frank Sinatra, songs like Amarillo Sky and a sing-a-long song--“Beer Run” cruising down I-40.  For Father’s Day King Ralph played a mean air guitar on his knee with his other hand securely gripping the steering wheel while his ladies belted the tunes. 

We took in some Roadside America…a restored Conoco Gas Station in Shamrock, Texas and The Cross in Groom, Texas—the perfect Sunday Roadside America stop.  I was looking for a wandering minister to offer me communion, but no luck.  It was quite the site, watching the cross twenty feet in the distance drawing closer till finally we stood at its base.  The thirteen bronze sculptures and cross around the perimeter told the Good Friday story. 

Amarillo we have arrived.  The Amarillo Ranch RV Park is very nice. Not many tree lined sites but the park itself is neat, clean and friendly.  The camp host who guided us to our site couldn’t leave he said because he had never seen children helping to unhitch and set up camp.  Hmmmm, seem quite normal to us.  We are in this adventure, like all our adventures together.  King Ralph and I told him we are raising our girls to be self sufficient in case the right guy doesn’t come along. 

Once we had camp set we hopped in the truck and headed to Palo Duro Canyon for a little hike.
To be continued....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Avery's Hit the Highway For Vacttion 2012

We hit the road before the sun had a chance to rise.  Gas, coffee and tunes—what more does a family traveling Griswold style need?

Our destination for the day was Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  It was more about stopping after 500 miles of driving than the actual location.  We pit stopped for the night at the Rockwell RV Park.  I don’t have awful things to say about the RV Park but I am not going to rave about it either.  It was camping in an urban area—gravel parking lot, no grass, few trees.  The restrooms were decent enough.  When you have a flush toilet with water that swirls in the porcelain bowl the bathroom rates!   They offer complimentary coffee and muffins every morning; which we grabbed before heading out of town.  The staff was friendly. 

We knew on this stop the one thing we wanted to visit was the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum.  It was beautifully put together.  We first grazed about outside making our way to the museum.  As we rode up in the elevator I began to really feel the heaviness of this past act of terrorism.  I turned to M and expressed my emotion and suddenly felt my eyes well up.  The girls were so small when the bombing absorbed the news waves.  I remember heading out the eye doctor with them both.  Why is it that we always remember what or where we were when tragedy strikes?  But we do.  The older I get the more I feel the heaviness of the situations that infringe upon our country.  The girls, the older they get, the love of country they develop get it, feel it too.

As we took our seats in the second section of the museum to listen to an actual recording of a hearing at the Water Resource Board across the street on that day in April 1995 you are grabbed at your heart as the sound of the explosion is nothing but evident and the lights in the room go black and the faces of the 168 lives lost flash on a screen.  The chairs—sure their representation mark, but the faces, they grab.  Then you see the handfuls of key chains realizing everyone in the building left for work that morning like any other day.  I loved the survivor wall in the outside area.  So many memorials recognize those who sacrificed life but not the survivors--forever changed.      

"Visiting that beautiful Memorial and Museum in 
Oklahoma City is not fun or for the faint of heart, 
but I di think it should be a right of citizenship"
                                                                                              Brian Williams
                                                                                             NBC Nightly News

Then we headed over to Bricktown with its fun, hip urban feel with great restaurants and venues. Next we drove past Chesapeake Arena to take in the excitement of the NBA finals.  

Here we are again this morning cruising down the highway, car choir is full swing, climbing in elevation on our way to Amarillo, Texas for canyon views and big steaks.  Oh ya, and long the way a little Roadside America.   

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer 2012 Trip Kick Off

What the hell!? Why am I awake whipping up a pot of chili and Bandanna style baked beans at 6am?  Aaahhh yes, we are hitting the road tomorrow (before the sun rises) with our house on wheels in tow.

I have wanted, needed this break for a long time coming!  The kind of break that allows me to take in a huge breath of air and exhale slowly with a sigh of relief and time to refocus--come back into one's self again. Looking forward to laughing together. Because that is what we do best.  Singing as we drive down the highway.  Even though our car choir has shrunk by one....

SHRUNK BY ONE you ask?

It was and wasn't a hard decision to plan a trip minus one of the offspring- D. We had originally planned on waiting till D returned from Germany to have a family vacation.  Things just started to get complicated...Princess A at 22 yrs old needs her tonsils taken out.  Anyway after a little chatting we decided to go without D and not feel a bit guilty--SHE'S IN GERMANY FOR GOODNESS SAKE.  So when ever we start to think we left her out we will just remind ourselves were she is and we aren't. And, we will miss her!

Here I am this morning cooking and dancing around the house singing my age old packing song, Beyonce's song everything you own in the box to the left as the bath towels, pots and pans, hiking shoes...hell everything we own heads out the door to the box on the left otherwise known as-- the camper.   

The big stop this year will be New Mexico.  We have been diligently watching the news, checking and calling to make sure the forest fires and smoke alerts have not drifted up state as far north to our summer respite. So far, so good.

So stay tuned to see where we stop in our quest to our final destination.  As always we will have some our classic roadside America stops mapped out.  Because what is a family vacation without seeing the world's largest ball of string?

Now if you'll excuse me I have packing (and singing) to do
To the left, to the left
To the left, to the left
To the left, to the left
Everything you own in the box to the left
In the closest, that's my stuff (did I mention the closest is small but we can really pack that puppy good for five, well four)
Yes, if I bought then please don't touch

Monday, June 11, 2012

Auf dem Weg nach Deutschland

Our castle is a bit quieter today--we are one less princess.  

Yesterday we dropped our baby and her 46.5 pound suitcase at the airport at 9am, bound for Stuttgart, Germany to reconnect with her German exchange Carmen (who we hosted for three weeks in April).  She was beside herself excited, heading out on a new adventure with some of her best friends in tow.

D was stoked to be using her passport for the first time and mark herself a genuine international traveler.  She was as giddy as a small child on Christmas morning.

What did my good friend say?...aaahh yes, traveling is not for the weak of heart.  An 11:30am flight to Newark, New Jersey didn't leave till 2:45pm.  Which meant they were most likely going to miss the connecting international flight and be stuck in Jersey till Tuesday.  LUCK or God just happened to be on their side yesterday--it was Sunday after all-- and United decided to hold the plane for them--all twenty-seven of them.  That deserves an Amen! 

2:35pm STL Time, 3:35pm Jersey Time
When D finally boarded the plane bound for Stuttgart she began to text, her stress evident
D: Here on the plane
Me: Sitting next to who?
D: I'm sitting next to two random people
Me: Well, make good conversation and share your Swedish fish. Love u xoxo
Me: Dad says to scare them and read the vomit bag. 
D: Ha ha. They put my carry-on bag some other place and I didn't any time to get out my stuff.
Me: Well maybe they can help you later.  Tell them you need your candies lol
D: I thought I would at least be sitting by someone from my group. :-(
Me: Are they old or people my age?  Hopefully they will be interesting and interested in your lively ability to chat and tell good stories.
Me: This whole trip is about new experiences.
D: Yes, both older but idk
Me: Older folks like to talk to the young.
D: Ugh this is stressing me out.
Me: Babe you can read and sleep. Remember the end result--Stuttgart and Carmen. All will be good. You are friendly. You are the perfect person to sit by randoms.
D: I guess, but they both have on their headphones and I'm in the middle. :-(
Me: Introduce yourself and ask business or pleasure for them.  That is an icebreaker.
Me: Well when the head phones come off strike up chat.  The headphones may be a flight take off distraction for them.
D: Am I allowed to get my bag down?
Me: Yes, ask the flight attendant later in the flight.
D: Ok I guess I should go now.
Me: Have a good flight love you xoxo Remember, time of your life!

2:34am STL Time, 9:34am Stuttgart Time 
The made-it-here call went something like this...  
Mom I'm here in Germany.  Waiting for my luggage. Boy I'm tired. Oh and you are going to kill me, I left my debit card at home, realized two hours before we landed. 

9:55am STL Time, 4:55pm Stuttgart Time 

 D wanted to Skype, telling me all about the flight that turned out to be full of good conversation with the randoms and little sleep...and no carry-on retrieved candies.  She told me how she has been awake for so long; calculating in the time zone change, for 36 hours.  She was tired but is staying awake till it is bedtime.  Whacking that jet lag like a warrior. She was excited to show me the stamp in her passport, her bus pass and all the necessary maps she got at the German school.  She talked of her first meal with her German host family and how she and Carmen got in trouble in school for looking at a magazine together and she wrote a paragraph for Carmen on multimedia in her English class.  She said she feels less stressed at the notion of speaking German all day long and she understood most of the conversation she had with her host family.  D said where there were voids she filled in just fine.  She talked of attending a BBQ this evening at one of the other German girl's home. She showed me the view of vineyards from her bedroom window and said the cool air of Germany was an inviting change from our already hot summer.  Then we discussed how we were rescuing her from her left-behind-debit-card debacle.  

So you can say her stress level has lowered and her advance supply of Euros should hold her for the time being.  

I suppose since it is past 10pm for D she is finally fast asleep preparing for another day of German schooling.

Remember baby girl--TIME OF A LIFE!