Monday, October 12, 2015

Across the USA 23 Days

Bosco says goodbye to a fun year in DC
First night camping and my shoes were left outside. They filled to the tops with water. This was Bosco's solution. And it worked. I expected shredded shoes by the end of the day's driving.

On the BBQ trail, here in Asheville. They have delicious food and entertaining signage.

Highest point in Asheville, best sunset and 180-degree view of the mountains

We visited my cousin Meredith and her husband Chuck, in St Simons Island, Georgia. Loved the Live Oak Trees

At Fort Frederica on St Simons, I got to play out my colonial fantasy.

First Zombie sighting. Santa Rose Beach Florida.
Sunset at Grayton State Park

Bucks Almost Famous Smokehouse, Destin, Florida
Sunrise at the Gulf Shores campground
George Orr Museum, Biloxi, Mississippi. Building designed by Frank Gehry.

George was known for his sense of humor and his wacky moustache.

New Orleans 

Lunchtime cocktails and Cafe Degas

The New Orleans Sculpture garden was one of my favorite visits of the day

Here we are with Bosco's cousin and her husband. They showed us all the New Orleans highlights we could see in one day.

Great music everywhere on Frenchman St. Our favorite was the Blue Nile.

"Phone booth" at the artists night market - off Frenchman St.

Couldn't leave town without beignets

Lower 9th Ward still has many abandoned properties and vacant lots, 10 years after Katrina.

New experimental housing with solar, built to stand up better to floods.

That very spot in 2005

Bosco has space envy. The 5 giant engines of the Saturn rocket.

Our 3rd visit to a NASA site (the other 2 in DC and Dulles) Sadly, we couldn't go inside the Michoud Assembly Plant.

Airboat ride through the Louisiana swamp. It goes FAST.

Met a friendly cutie popping up to say hello

Water lilies make great hats to protect you from the hot Louisiana sun.

Our lily only improved with age. It dried out and curled up the next day. Here with his new 3 cornered hat, Bosco was ready to face another day of driving.

Guess what state line we just crossed?

Marfa, Texas. Best visitor center ever.

Hummingbird probably hit the glass window. Donald Judd stainless steel cubes in the background.

We didn't get to go to burningman this year (though we did send surrogates and they had a great time) Here was one of the many times on this adventure that we thought we were on the playa. Here just outside the town of Valentine, Texas is a "Prada Store" No way in and no way to "consume" any of its products. I love the randomness of it and that 2 employees from a local AutoZone shop were checking this art piece out.

This is what you look like when you arrive at Hueco Tanks, just outside El Paso, Texas and you have the entire campground to yourself. The ranger informed us that there was no NPS staff on site that night so the campground was closed. They had to let us in because we had reserved in advance. So they gave us the lock code for the gate and we enjoyed the one tine in our lives we ruled an entire campground. And they had showers. On this trip the internet and showers were only sporadically available.

In the morning walking back from the bathroom, we ran into 3 Javelina! Then on a ranger hike later that day, we saw another Javelina and 2 rattlesnakes. 

Very old graffiti. Nicely designed except it was over an even older native petroglyph painting. Bad Wayland.

Only 70 people a day are allowed at Hueco. We were so happy to find these drawings. Is it a clown face over our heads? Gave up a day of rockclimbing for these beauties.

Best viewing position

This group of drawings were found by sliding through a very narrow chamber and not allowing yourself to feel claustrophobic.

This is a hueco, a recess in the rock that collects water.

Outside of Carlsbad Caverns. Roswell is a few hours north and obviously some aliens had fled south.

This is the entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns. I had no idea how big this was going to be inside. We walked down and through - 2.5 hours, about 3 miles. There are so many more miles underground that tourists are not allowed into. 

56 degrees all the time under here. Took an elevator 745 feet to the surface. 75 stores. The ride took 1 min.

Four Corners - New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. Our visit, in that order.

Valley of the Gods. Our campsite for the night. Bosco sets up our "fort". It was so peaceful. It had a view of Monument Valley off in the distance. 



Sunrise. A previous camper made a fireplace and kindly left us some wood.

We lived by the sun. Shortly after sunrise and breakfast, we are ready to drive again.

First side trip of the day, Muley Point. Also would have been an excellent camping spot. 

Utah has some of the best rock formations

Petrified rock

You can't collect any of this amazing rock, but wouldn't this look great as a coffee table?

Another amazing sunset


Bryce dwarfs Bosco

We walked about 8 miles that day. This was our last stop, Inspiration Point for the sunset. Then a short walk back to the campsite.

Bryce is eroding, 1 - 4" a century

Shadow fun. Looks like I am a giant frog sitting with a monkey.

A real cowboy sighting in Utah. They were actually driving cattle up the road.

Zion Narrows

It got more beautiful the deeper in you hiked.

Somehow, I know I heard the ranger talk about the fact that you would be in 53-degree water the entire hike. Still, stepping into the river in my shoes and socks came as a shock.

Lunch break

Adding to the clay wall of fame

Another side trip - Hoover Dam

We arrived at Furnace Creek, an oasis of palm trees in the middle of Death Valley. At 5pm it was 102- degrees. We paid $5 each to swim in the spring fed pool at the resort next door and take a shower. The campground restroom had this chart on the wall about dehydration, pee, and performance. 

Devils Golf course

Lowest point in the US. We were pretty happy there.

This is a thick "carpet" of salt.

Penultimate side trip. Well worth it. Too bad this sign has been used as target practice. Saw that a lot on this trip.

At the beginning of your visit, you watch a 20 min film. In the audience of 6 of us that Saturday afternoon, there was a woman from Lodi, CA, who said she lived in an internment camp in Arizona starting at age 9.

Last unplanned side trip, Devils Post Pile on Mammoth Mountain. We seemed to visit a lot of places with the name devil in them. After camping in 90- degree heat the night before in southern CA, we now were at 9,000+ feet and temps dropped to freezing. Fortunately we were told about a wonderful natural hot spring. We soaked in the hot water under the stars and Milky way and got all warmed up before crawling off to bed.

Mono Lake. The water is highly salty and full minerals and sodium bicarb. Looks like it would kill you, but it actually feels very silky. Super buoyant too. Funny to see the birds float in it. Such a strange place, especially in the rain. We had to go home around Yosemite, as Tioga pass was closed due to a freak morning snow storm.