Wednesday, November 10, 2010

SEGMENT 23--Final Destination Reno, NV

So folks, this adventure comes to an end. I'm flying back to Kona today. Grandpa and I have driven 7,036 miles in the SunSeeker and have seen some amazing places. 
We have seen small towns and big cities. We have seen churches, lots of churches, and a few rock formations.
We have seen memorials for people who have passed at Hoover Dam, Oklahoma City Bombing, Martin Luther King, and Elvis.
We have viewed museums like the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Civil Rights Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Bourbon Heritage Museum, the Alien Museum, Tinkertown, the Kentucky Derby Museum, and the Louisville Slugger Museum.
We have seen roadside oddities like the Wigwam Motel on Route 66, World’s Largest Fire Hydrant, and Cadillac Ranch.
We have seen abundant road kill. Did you know the most popular road kill across the country by far is the raccoon? 
We have eaten at some incredible restaurants. The most memorable were the Big Texan for the 72oz steak, Goodson's for Chicken Fried Steak, and ribs at Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous. 
We have survived on Wal-Mart's across the country, buying groceries, cooking supplies and halloween decorations, and using their parking lot as a safe place to sleep.
We have been blessed with absolutely gorgeous weather every single day, and have seen the wonderful changing colors of fall leaves.
We experienced Talladega.
And of course music, music, music.
I told Grandpa I realized this may be the last time I see him. And he told me, “No, no. I plan on being around well into my 90’s. Except for this damn back thing, I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve got all my mental faculties. My hearing and eyesight are great. I don’t have heart problems, or wear diapers. The only thing wrong with me is that I’m an old fart. I will be around for awhile.”  So we planned another road trip for his 90th birthday, probably to Alaska. 
I am grateful I had this opportunity to spend with my grandfather and I got to know him much better. It’s fun to see how similar we are to one another. Grandpa Paul is truly an amazing person. For an old guy to still be able to drive and remember jokes, what a memory.
I will leave you with one last Grandpa’s Joke Corner:

Charlie and Maria are an old married couple sitting on the porch having a cocktail and preparing to start dinner on the Bar-B-Que.
Charlie feels a little flippant, and tells his wife, “Maria, your butt is getting so wide. Why it’s nearly as big as that there BBQ.”
Maria turns around stunned, and says, “Charlie, I’m not going to fire up this BBQ for one tiny weenie.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

SEGMENT 22--Carlsbad Caverns and Roswell, NM


We got to the park first thing in the morning and Grandpa wasn't feeling up to seeing another cave, so it gave me an opportunity to explore the long hike of the natural entrance of the caverns by myself. It's about 2 1/2 mile hike down 750 feet below ground, and I had the whole cave virtually to myself. Dark, cool, peaceful and quiet. Beautiful. Other worldly. Natural art pieces composed in total darkness.  Until one day they were unveiled for the world to see.

As I hiked the caverns I imagined what it might be like if this place was filled with water and I were SCUBA diving around in here like a mermaid gazing on all the fish and creatures of the sea in this great underwater cave.

I also imagined this cave being in the ocean somewhere and the aliens live here and are hiding out observing us from under the sea.

I also imagined a huge earth quake rocking the place and I would be impaled by a falling stalactites.

This is such a remote part of the country that I couldn't pass up seeing Roswell, New Mexico on this trip. I'm all down for checking out the aliens. I'm convinced after seeing the Alien Museum that they did crash land in Roswell in 1947 and that the government did a lot to cover up that fact.

One weird thing....I think the aliens abducted my cell phone from just outside Luckenbach to about an hour outside of Roswell. It shut off with no service for about 30 hours. I looked at a Sprint coverage map on the Internet later and it showed I should have received coverage all the way on Highway 10, in Carlsbad and in Roswell. That was weird.

I have a picture of my own that I took just outside Carlsbad of a UFO. What do you think...?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

SEGMENT 21--Luckenbach, TX The Cowboy Way of Life

Leaving San Antonio heading North we drive through Texas Hill country. We are headed to Luckenbach, Texas made famous by Waylon Jennings song. This part of Texas differs from where we have been, it’s not flat and we see walnut, and live oak trees everywhere. We are out on Farm Road 1376 just outside of Fredericksburg. Luckenbach is so small, Rosie Beth, my GPS gal cant even find it. The sign says population 3. 
We head down the tree covered dirt road of Luckenbach Lane, and arrive upon an old little Post Office/ General Store/Bar. I investigate and tell Grandpa it is well worth him taking a look. Grandpa and I belly up to the bar (it’s only 11AM) order two beers and enjoy the warmth of the wood burning stove. We sit back and admire all the graffiti, pictures, stickers, hats, signs, plaques, and tourists that blanket this place. The mood is calm and easy. Miles away from city folk, and Grandpa and I find ourselves very much at home here. 

We take our time with our beers and look around the general store and buy some souvenirs and get a bite to eat. They are having a live band and a dance tonight and I do not want to leave. I think Luckenbach will be etched in my mind and Grandpas mind forever.

Grandpa tells me he once saw Waylon Jennings in concert at Sharkey's Casino in Gardnerville, Nevada before he was famous.

Did you know it's something like 850 miles across the state of Texas? That's like three days! People told me it takes forever to cross Texas, and now I know why. I thought I would go the whole 850 miles through Texas without seeing an oil "pumpjack". Finally, I was rewarded just outside of Fort Stockton where all the green has gone and the desert flats have begun.

Tomorrow is Carlsbad Caverns and Aliens at Roswell.

Grandpa's Joke Corner:

WARNING: Grandpa says this one is dirty......

Two cowboys were sitting in a bar getting drunk.

One cowboy said,"We have a lot of riding to do tomorrow, I think I'll call it a night and head for camp"

The other cowboy said, "Well I'm having a good time, think I'll stay here. I'll catch up to you later."

'Round 8AM the drunk cowboy finally rode into camp with his with his saddle on backwards, and facing the wrong way on his horse. 

The first cowboy said to the drunk cowboy, "Quite a night huh? What the hell happened to you?"

The drunk cowboy slurred, "I had a hellava night. Someone cut the head off my horse, and I had to hold my hand over his juggler vein the whole way home."

SEGMENT 20--Natchez, MS-- San Antonio, TX

Natchez, Mississippi (sounds like matches) is a small cotton town nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River. This town was first settled by the French in 1716 and became a commercial cotton and cultural capital of the Old South. The homes and buildings around here have been preserved for almost 300 years. It rained all day, so Grandpa and I did the driving tour of the town instead of walking, but we got to see some beautiful old Antebellum mansions.

After Natchez, we headed South toward Baton Rouge on our way across Louisiana and the Bayou. We stayed the night in a truck stop just outside of Beaumont, Texas, and in the morning I was able to get a picture of the world's largest fire hydrant. We are on our way to San Antonio, Texas one of Grandpa's picks.

We stayed two nights in San Antonio at a RV Park close to Downtown. As we we packed and headed to town on the city bus, Grandpa in his motorized scooter and me in comfortable walking shoes, we were set to load the handicapped capable city bus. The ramp was a little steep and listening to the "well experience" bus driver, Grandpa accelerated up the ramp at full speed, and as the scooter hit the ramp it proceeded to tip over backwards, popping a wheelie and taking Grandpa with it over backwards. I was there along with the other passengers to catch him before he hit the ground, so thankfully he wasn't hurt. We got him upright and eventually on the bus, this time we backed up the ramp. Every time I think about the thought of Grandpa popping a wheelie and going over backwards I bust out laughing imagining what the people on the bus must have thought. Holy Cow. Funny stuff.

Anyhow, San Antonio Downtown River Walk is a beautiful example of what a city has done to improve a downtown area and bring in tourists. The San Antonio River runs through the middle of downtown and they have lowered it below the city streets to create a placid waterway with Venice type gondolas, cobblestone walkways, arched footbridges, specialty shops and restaurants.

Grandpa and I went "street-side" to get a beer and visit the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum where they sport all sorts of horned animals  and oddities from around the world, including a 78 point whitetail buck. After our fill of dead animals hanging on the wall, we rounded the corner and stumbled across the Alamo. Wow, what a let down. I thought it would be bigger. Not really much to see here except history. Grandpa and I aren't particularly interested in history. OK so off to lunch in a rotating restaurant high above the Texas skyline in a tower similar to the Space Needle in Seattle. Grandpa has been to San Antonio four times before and has eaten at this restaurant every time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SEGMENT 19--This is Talladega

Through our travels around the mid west and south east we have been seeing the occasional old barn with words painted on the roof "See Rock City".  I asked Grandpa, "What the hell is Rock City?" and he had never heard of it. Just so happens, we stayed at a campsite only two miles away from Rock City, so I HAD to check it out. I am really glad I did. Rock City is the personal garden of Garnet Carter set high up on a rock in the North West border of Georgia. The gardens are set along the Enchanted Trail, which weave you through incredible and strange rock formations on your way to the top where you can see seven states at the overlook as you stand above a waterfall. Rock City is enchanting and endearing. It is really well done and the marketing is very creative and works to get people like me to visit this out of the way place.

This rock place is well worth the time to see over the "rocks" of the petrified forest.

After Rock City we headed to Birmingham, Alabama to pick up my boyfriend Arron and his friend Dan and we were off to the NASCAR race at Talladega Motor Speedway. We spent four days camping right at the racetrack.
Talladega is the biggest race track in NASCAR at 2.25 miles around it is huge and it is a huge party. There must have been at least 10,000 RV's camping at this track this weekend.  It was Halloween this weekend so of course we decorated our motor home with scary lights and lots of folks were in costume, and Saturday night we even had Trick Or Treater's.
This was Grandpas first NASCAR event and he enjoyed it very much. If you've never been to a NASCAR race, this is something you should witness for yourself.

This morning we dropped Arron and Dan off at the airport and we headed to Natchez, Mississippi for the mad dash home. I have ten days to get back across the country.