Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day Sixty-Eight: Movie Day

After looking through some magazines, taking up some more time, we decided to do some "work". We put Twilight in for our background movie and did some work. We pointed out the places we've been. Some applications were worked on, some blogs were updated, some e-mail was checked, etc. Erik wasn't too annoying watching the movies, which is a plus for him. After a while, we needed a break, so we made some dinner and played with the puppies for a while. Woody was excellent tonight! He only barked once and licked my hand a little. He's coming around to us, I think. Afterwards, Erik came home from work and we finished our Twilight day. I think we may work on some more craft projects tomorrow. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day Sixty-Seven: What an Interesting Night...

So, I have been told that it takes too long in between blog posts and that I'm not keeping up with them very well. (Thanks, Sarah...) So, here is today's post. On the correct day. We started off today by stopping at Starbucks, in order to get a daily dose of caffeine. I finally beat Erik at something, but I guess it's not something to be proud of. He gave in way too easily! We then went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for dinner and dessert tonight. We're making some brownies tonight! So exciting!
In the afternoon, we tried to reintroduce ourselves to the dogs. Luna was fine once she found her ball and started playing with us. Woody has a massive bark for such a little pup and kept on barking. Hopefully he'll come around to us soon. We spent most of the afternoon crafting for Halloween. Since Sarah has her decorations up, she wanted to add some more to her get-up. We made some lanterns (which are super awesome, if I might say!) and some mice. They found their way through the house. Not my idea... Anyway, after that, we decided to take a break and spend some time making brownies. For gluten-free brownies, they were delicious! They weren't dry and crumbly and they tasted great! We watched a movie, too, as we were making dinner, which was boneless buffalo chicken. It was a little too spicy, but eatable. With a little help.
Erik had to work, so we spent the night updating the blog, looking on-line, etc. We've learned some interesting (although maybe not necessary) information. Sarah and Erik would like a longer blog post tomorrow, so we were trying to plan something. By the looks of it, it will be a short one tomorrow...

Monday, August 29, 2011


We hope everyone back on the East Coast made it through the hurricane without too much damage.
I know it's been a while since we've updated the blog. We are slowly trying to catch up with our days. So, with that, here are some pictures. They go back to Northern California and end with some of Arizona. Hoping to finish everything tomorrow!! Love to all!

Life is a Highway pictures

Day Sixty-Six: Another Manic Monday

Actually, no. It was very laid back. Erik had to work early today, so us girls spent the morning talking. By the time we were finished, Erik came home. After a few minutes of "What do you want to do today?" we decided to go out. We drove through the Dallas area. We didn't get too lost, until we tried to get back to the house. Luckily, we had the GPS to get us back, and to a gas station. Also fortunately, we didn't have to push the car to the station!
After getting back to the area, we went to Joann's to get some stuff for some projects. Erik was not very happy to be there (apparently, it's his least-favorite store. I don't know why.) We had everything under control, but it was taking too long for Erik. So, like a man, he took over the list and delegated. We were able to find everything, so now we'll have a project for tomorrow.
When we got back to the house, we watched a movie and made dinner. We spent the night watching another movie and now it's time for bed!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day Sixty-Five: I Know Today is Sunday, but...

So we found out that today is Son's Day. What the heck is Son's Day?? Isn't Erik's birthday enough?? I get Mother's Day and Father's Day, maybe we should have a Daughter's Day? Perhaps the 3rd Sunday of July... What do you think?
Anyway, so after sleeping till 11, we went out for "Son's Day Dinner" to BJ's (not the wholesale club!) They had a ton of beers to choose from! And really good food that we brought home for leftovers. After lunch, we went over to PetSmart and found some Halloween fairy wings and bones. We also played with the kittens who were up for adoption.
Then we went over to Sarah's parents' house and met the dogs! They are Luna (a pound puppy mix of somethings) and Woody (a rat terrier). Woody's head is too small for his body and gets made fun of for his not proportional body. (He also has a nubbin for a tail...) They like to bark a lot. Especially Woody. We're working on being friends. Luna likes to play ball and is a good sharer. Then we watched Tangled, a movie I can relate to on several levels. Now, it is time for bed. These time changes are throwing us off big time!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day Sixty-Four: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Since we weren't able to get to the Four Corners yesterday, we started off today with it. We were able to pack everything up in 20 minutes and were out of the campground by 6:00. After stopping for gas and breakfast, we headed out to the Four Corners. Once you leave the town of Cortez, Colorado, there isn't much to see. The 4 Corners landmark is managed by the Navajo Tribe. We were able to get there at 7:05. We walked around to the corners of each state, read the marker for each of them, took some pictures and then headed off. We were glad we got there early, but it would have been neat to see the exhibits and shops the people were setting up. We didn't want to waste too much time, so we would be able to make it Texas tonight. After the 4 Corners, we headed towards Texas. We were told it would take 14 hours to get there. We already lost an hour or so, and we were super confused with the time changes. The first city we got to was Albuquerque, where we stopped to load up on some snacks (because that's what we do). We were told there wasn't much to do here, so we continued on.
After what seemed like driving through New Mexico for EVER, we made it into Texas. The first big city we got to was Amarillo. We stopped to get some coffee- boy, are there some strong accents here!! Eventually, the sun started to set, so we missed everything in between. We heard that was a good thing, since it wasn't very attractive. We did stop at one of the nicest rest stops- playground, picnic area, and tornado shelter! Even Sarah knew which one I was talking about when I mentioned it to her! (She says she knows all of the rest stops in the South.) Finally, we made it into Dallas-Fort Worth, which was the only point where Robyn got feisty with me- which is totally impressive at 11:00 at night. Although, I must say, the GPS was the culprit! We finally made it to Erik and Sarah's at 11:30 at night. We spent a while talking and catching up, and now it is definitely time to got to bed after such a long day!

States Visited: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho,Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming (19/50)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day Sixty-Three: Experience the Impact!!!

We decided that today would be a good day to leave Arizona and head for our next stop. We started a little later than we would normally have liked, which kind of changed our plans for the day. After leaving Scottsdale, we headed towards Colorado, with a few stops in between. The thing about Arizona is that there are only two major roads in the state, so we ended up having to backtrack to Flagstaff, and then out to New Mexico. Our first stop was to Meteor Crater (that's where the title comes from). It is in Winslow, Arizona (made popular by the Eagles' song, "Take It Easy"), which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Everywhere you look around you, it is flat. As you drive, you can tell where this hole is because it kicked up some of the earth. So, in the middle of flat land, there are hills, with the hole on the other side of them. The hole is ginormous! It's about a mile wide and 500 feet deep. There are points of interest, such as the rock the size of a house and the astronaut in the middle of the hole (they used to train astronauts here because it was supposed to mimic the moon). There was a lightning storm in the distance, which was neat, and luckily we were there before they closed it due to the weather.
We continued along I-40 (the one route east and west), and went to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Also, in the middle of nowhere. We weren't exactly sure what was supposed to be there, but we went anyway. It was totally worth it, though. The first part was the Petrified Forest. When you enter the park, you expect a 'forest', but it is far from that. There are no big trees standing up. There is a ton of petrified wood, which is is wood with quartz and other minerals. If you look at it from afar, it looks like a regular log, but when you look closely, it is obviously rock and mineral. There are also "tepees", which are huge rock formations that have multiple-colored rocks. The layers are all different colors. They also have a large collection of petroglyphs, which were interesting, too.
Like all of the parks we've been to, it took us longer than expected to drive through. We continue on through the Arizona desert and into New Mexico. There's not much in between. We stopped to refuel ourselves at Starbucks and continued on. We were able to see the sunset, but it was behind us. Luckily, since the sun was set, we didn't have to see everything, or nothing. Since it was so late, we weren't able to go to the Four Corners tonight. We were looking to get it done tonight, and not have to worry about it tomorrow. Now, we have our first stop tomorrow. Around 10:00, we made it to our campground. We were able to set our tent up in 10 minutes (new record), before it started to rain. Now, it's time to go to bed to wake up nice and early tomorrow morning!
(Annie and Tyler- Thanks for everything, guys! We appreciate everything. It was great to see you guys again! Annie- Robyn was not very happy with you and your sneaky ways...)

States Visited: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho,Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming (19/50)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day Sixty-Two: Good Times with Great Friends!

To everyone else, the last few days would seem kind of boring, but let me be the first to say that Arizona is a difficult place to spend a lot of time outside. Annie and Tyler are hard workers and Robyn and I are the boring ones!!
So, we decided to do what we do best, and did some shopping. We found the craft store, and since we haven't been to one in two months, it was like walking into a candy store for us! We came up with a few more projects we would love to start, including ideas for our scrapbooks. We also caught up with all of the new stuff that has come out since we left, (especially the Cricut cartridges!) We got some stuff for a project we are going to work on with Sarah. We went to a few of the other stores there, too.
Later, we went out to dinner to a Mexican restaurant. We had a few drinks and spent the night talking. (Katie- you were missed!!) It was a lot of fun remembering some random things. It was pretty late before we headed off to bed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day Sixty-One: The Land of Red Rocks

Today we decided to go to Sedona. It is about 90 miles away from Scottsdale, and is supposed to have a "vortex" and a place of healing. Luckily, we are all healthy enough and didn't need to worry about it. We left somewhat early, so we wouldn't have to hike in the nasty heat. Toby really wanted to drive, but had to sit in Robyn's lap, instead.
We got to Sedona at about 10:00. We decided to take a shorter trail (compared to some of the recent ones). The entire trail was about 1.5 miles. There was a little stream that followed the trail, so Toby enjoyed that a lot. He didn't find the sticks that were thrown to him, though. The end of the trail was at Cathedral Rock. It is a huge monolith in the middle of open land. It was getting warm, so we decided to head back to the car. Toby wanted to take another swim, but there were two dogs on the other side. I guess that's good, because no one wants to spend an hour in a hot car with a wet dog!! The way home was uneventful- Toby and I took a nap in the back while Robyn and Annie navigated us home.
When we got back, Annie gave Toby a bath. He ran around the apartment getting everything wet. Or so I'm told. But he did smell good afterwards- with his curl-enhanced look. Since Annie and Tyler both had to work, we made them dinner. We hung out a little and now it is time for bed!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day Sixty: Another Low-Key Kind of Day

It has been so nice relaxing for the last few days. I feel guilty that Annie and Tyler have to work. Since they were working, Robyn and I had some free time. We didn't do too much. We spent some time playing with Toby (can't help it!). We also went to the store to spend some more time. Robyn made dinner for everyone (delicious!) and she was so happy to spend at least some time in the kitchen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day Fifty-Nine: Dog Days of Summer

We spent today hanging out with Annie and Toby. Tyler had to work today- he was missed, of course!! We started the day at the dog park- we bought Toby along, of course! We met all of the local dogs, like Dogstein and Shorty (and their mom). A lady there asked if we were mother and daughter (sorry Annie- it's unfortunate, you're the older one!!) We then went to Starbucks, to cool down a little bit. It is unbearably hot- record high heat, around 114 degrees. Yuck! Anyway, Toby picked up all of the old guys, and the old gals, too! We stayed there for a while, then headed back to the apartment. We learned all about potentially harmful bites and stings that can happen here. It's a long list that I'd rather not have to deal with. I could do without scorpions and snakes.
Our afternoon was rather exciting. Robyn and Toby took naps while I tried to look through all of our pictures. After dinner, we went back to the dog park. There were a lot more dogs there tonight. We met a few more puppies, got up close and personal with some of them, too. After the park, we went out for some frozen yogurt. These do-it-yourself yogurt places are awesome! After talking for a while, we headed back and headed to bed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day Fifty-Eight: It's Great to See Friends!

So after a nice breakfast (that didn't consist of dry cereal!) it was off to Scottsdale to see some friends! It was about 2 1/2 hours down. We made a couple of stops along the way, but finally got there! It is too hot down here! I don't know how they live here. I guess the AC and misters and pools help, but still! When you start sweating as soon as you walk outside, gross! After a hardy lunch and some time to cool down, we went for a hike. We went to Phoenix to Camelback Mountain. Apparently it is something to do when you come down here. I wonder why... It was probably the toughest three mile climb. It was harder than yesterday's hike. It was more like rock climbing, which they didn't warn us about... After yesterday's hike, and then this... But, when we finally got up to the top, it was totally worth it! The view from the top was amazing! We were able to see all of Scottsdale and Phoenix. The way down wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. We were able to see the sunset, which was beautiful! It got dark pretty quick, but we made it down just in time. After the hard workout, we went out to dinner, and came back to the apartment. Since everyone is pretty tired, we are heading off to bed, to recoup from the last few days!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day Fifty-Seven: Down is Optional. Up is Mandatory.

Since we finally decided that we were going to hike the Grand Canyon, we set our alarms for an early start today. It turns out, our alarm was going off for 30 minutes, and we didn't wake up. We woke up to our neighbor packing his tent, and fell back asleep. When we finally woke up, it was like 7:00, which was actually much later than when we wanted to start. And it was another hour to get there. Everything that we read tells you to start before 7:00. Off to a good start!
In the car, we decided which trail we were going to take. One was for experienced hikers (not us) and another was longer, but got you to the same place. We decided to take the shorter one. This was the trail we started yesterday. There was a sign that said "Can you run the Boston Marathon?" (If I qualified for it...) Then it continued with something along the lines of "Well, so-and-so could and she died here". Great...We decided to continue. For the first 4.5 miles, they have water and aid stations. They also have rangers who warned us against continuing today because it was so hot out. At least we were somewhat prepared. We had a gallon of water and some food. There was a family of four from Albania in front of us. They had one water bottle to share between them, the mother and daughter were wearing sandals, and the son kept running down the trail. We told ourselves we would keep an eye on them. At Indian Garden, which is the last aid station, they stopped. They were the smart ones. There was a thermometer that said "This is your brain on sun" and it was at 90 degrees. And we still had another 3 miles to go to get to the Colorado River. We ventured on anyway. This was when we stopped seeing people...We figured that as long as we saw or smelled the mule poop, we were heading in the right direction. The bad part was that you could see the trail all the way down from that spot. It's one thing to know that you have to walk another 3 miles, but when you can see it and tell that it is actually quite far down with all the switch backs, it doesn't look fun. There were a couple of nice little streams along that part to cool off, which definitely helped. We finally reached the bottom, around 12:00. The Colorado River was quite swift today. We took our pictures near it, but didn't want to go in because the signs said that it was dangerous to go in. Don't want any accidents. We spent a few minutes down there and started on the way back. We would've waded in the little spring that was down there, but it was crowded! Go figure!
The way back was not as much fun as the way down. I think we had talked about everything and anything on the way down, so there wasn't much more to say on the way up. We decided that it would be best to just talk in the shady parts and get through the sunny parts. There weren't many shady ones! We passed a couple of people back on the way up. One kid (not really a kid, our age probably) lost the rest of his group. "They were too slow for him." We ended up meeting up with him again back at Indian Garden, so at least he wasn't lost too, but he hadn't seen them yet. I hope it wasn't the couple that we saw farther along and that he was actually behind them... We had lunch there and made acquaintances with another group of hikers. The squirrels are smart there. They definitely knew we had sandwiches! One of them kept trying to jump onto the bench with us. He made it, but we kept startling him when we would jump up! Needless to say, he didn't get any of our sandwiches, or the other group's sunflower seeds. I think the squirrels were bummed about it! Back at the 3-mile rest area, the signs said to wait till 4-4:30ish to keep going since most of the trail is shaded. So we spent some time there, having some snacks and water. We didn't wait quite that long, but knew that we only had 3 more miles to go, so we pressed on. We took short breaks every 10-15 minutes which definitely helped. The trail wasn't really steep, but after 12 miles, it was steep enough! We made some more acquaintances along the way. One group hiked down one side and across the river and back up! Crazy! We got to the point at which we turned around yesterday, so we knew we were close. We basically ran the rest of the way up. Okay, maybe not ran, but were really excited! We made it back to the top around 5:00, so we still had a couple more hours till sunset. We were again going to stay till then, but decided that if we were going to make it to Flagstaff before it got too late, we should get going. We took a few pictures back at the top and went over to the bookstore. I'm glad that we didn't see their best-seller beforehand! It's called: Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. It has a skeleton laying on the ground of the Canyon, and a nice rainbow going across the sky, as if that helps. Well, we didn't get that book to read.
We then stopped at McDonald's to get some nice salty French Fries. Mmmmm... and headed out towards Flagstaff. Luckily there were only two directions- 30 miles down one road, 30 down another. We did see a bear crossing the road (haven't seen one since Montana, which is a good thing!) We had decided that after that 15 mile hike today, we would get a hotel, which was definitely a good thing, so that's where we are now. Hotel was a great choice! Off to see Annie, Tyler, and Toby tomorrow!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day Fifty-Six: Another State, Another Park, Another Successful Day

Today was a pretty full day. We started today by finding the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign (luckily the back says "Come Back Soon".) I think this is the first time we have been successful in finding something so easily!! We took some pictures there, and our next stop was to Dunkin Donuts. We found it! It was right near the sign, so it was rather convenient. It was a little disappointing, though, because the girl who made it was new, so it wasn't as good as it could have been. I'm not one to complain too much about a cup of coffee, though. That made us two-for-two, which is an awesome percentage for us! An already successful day!
After that, we headed towards Arizona. We stopped by the Hoover Dam. The patrolman sounded a little skeptical when we said we were on vacation, but let us through anyway. Good thing we weren't trying to cross any borders! We drove a little more, but then saw that they charged to park, so we turned around, and went back to the free parking area near the new bridge. We walked over the bridge, which spans the border between Nevada and Arizona. It is also a great place to take pictures of the Dam, since you can't drive over it anymore. We walked back and kept going with our drive.
Our next stop, of course, was the Grand Canyon. After a few more hours of driving, we passed the campground we are staying at, and had to keep going for another hour. We finally got there, and walked around the South Rim of the park. This is where all of the tourists are. The views out were amazing, though! We walked about two miles out, found a trail, and walked down it a little. We wanted to stay to see sunset, but since we were tired and hungry, we walked back to the car. On our way back, some older Italian guy started hitting on us, saying we had some "wonderful blue eyes" and asking if he "could at least give us kisses", or so it sounded like. We kept walking. We also saw a lightning storm over the Canyon, but once we were ready to take pictures, it was over.
We drove the hour back to the campground and watched sunset. It wasn't quite as exciting as seeing it at the Grand Canyon, but at least it looked pretty! Soon, all of the stars were out, too. Somehow, from 3,000+ miles away, Dad was able to talk us into hiking down the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I guess as long as you have more than just lemon juice and you stick to the path. So, after we pitch our tent, it's time for bed so we can start super early tomorrow...

States Visited: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho,Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming (17/50)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day Fifty-Five: What Happens in Vegas...

After a fun-filled night, we slept the morning away. It was a good thing that we didn't have too much planned for today. After finally getting out, we went out to lunch and walked down the other side of the strip. We walked through the shops at the Palazzo and Venetian. We saw the gondolas and moving statues. One had a huge smile on her face! We heard the Italian singers, but couldn't find them. After that, we went to the Flamingo, and saw their flamingos and birds, and then to the MGM Grand to see the lions. Those are some lucky lions- they spend 18-20 hours a day sleeping. Needless to say, they were asleep when we got there. The last hotel/casino we stopped at was the Tropicana. It was so much quieter and laid-back than the other casinos. Our task for today was to find the Dunkin Donuts we found on our GPS, but couldn't find it. Hoping we'll be more successful tomorrow! Since it was later in the afternoon, we headed back to get ready for tonight.
We spent the night at "The Lion King" at Mandalay Bay. It was absolutely amazing! Totally worth it. They did an excellent job putting the movie into a musical. The costumes and puppets were awesome! They even threw in some hilarious jokes based on Las Vegas! "You're bringing me down. Sing something upbeat." "Viva Las Vegas!!" "Anything other than that!!" Sorry... We would totally recommend seeing it! After the show, we got some coffee and took our time walking back to the hotel. We took some time to plan tomorrow's trip to the Grand Canyon, so it's another somewhat-early night so we don't have to drive through the heat of the day tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day Fifty-Four: Viva Las Vegas!

Cliche, I know.
We spent today walking up and down the Strip. We stopped at all of the hotels and shops and looked around. We walked down to Mandalay Bay to buy tickets for "The Lion King". We were shooting for tonight, but the only tickets that were together were for tomorrow night. So, we bought them and look forward to seeing it tomorrow night! Since it was so hot today, once we got down to the end of the Strip, we decided to walk back to Treasure Island. We spent some time cooling down inside.
At night, we decided to go down to 'older' Las Vegas. We walked down to the Riviera and Circus-Circus. We walked under the 1,000+ lights (read somewhere that was supposed to be on the 'to-do' list here). We also watched one of the circus acts at Circus-Circus. We were going to stay longer, but after the first act, it was another 5 minutes for the next one and we didn't feel like waiting around for it. This act was pretty cool, though, because it was two aerialists. The arms on the girl!! Sheesh! Wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley...
After that, we decided to walk back to our hotel because for the night. There were a lot of "weird" people coming out, so we decided to go in. We did watch the nightly show at Treasure Island, called "The Sirens of TI". It was not a very family-friendly show, which kind of surprised us, since so many of the others are. It was pretty much a bunch of girls dressed as pirates who overtook the Captain of the guys' ship and it ended with a dance party. I guess everything has to end in a dance party.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day Fifty-Three: If You've Never Had the Chance to Drive to Las Vegas....

Keep it that way!! Not much out here, except for maybe heat rash...I guess this means that we are now headed on our way back. We have now completed 2 sides of our circle (fully aware circles don't have sides)
We woke up quite early this morning to some drunk neighbors. (Not tent neighbors, neighborhood neighbors.) Really drunk. And really mad at each other for some reason. They went on for like 2 hours yelling at each other. Found out this morning that a bunch of them were arrested and that we would (maybe) be getting a refund for the night. So after being able to fall back asleep around 2, we woke up at 5:30 to start our day. We figured that if we left early enough, we would be able to get to Las Vegas before it got too hot for the car. We packed so quickly that we were able to leave camp before 6:15. (I'm pretty sure that the staff member thought we were packing up early because of what had happened during the night.)
It's about 5 1/2 hours from San Diego to Las Vegas, with maybe 3 towns in between! OK, maybe five in California and three in Nevada. And there wasn't much to see on the sides of the road. We had to make sure that we had enough gas to get out here. Everyone warns about making sure you have enough so you don't have to push. I don't think it would be very fun to push a car 30 miles in 100+ degree heat. Lucky we had enough to get about half way out before filling, and then decided to refill just to be on the safe side. After we got out of the San Diego metro area, there was one other rather large area around Riverside and San Bernadino. Beyond that, nothing. The other two towns we passed through were Barstow and Baker. (Baker has a population of 600, but makes the map because it's your last chance to fill up.) This is also the area of the Mojave Preserve. On the other side was Death Valley. We took a few quick pictures of the signs pointing that way, but there was no way we were going to turn off the road!
After miles and miles of desert and Joshua Trees, we finally made it to Nevada! It's state number 16 on our list. It was kind of funny because the sign said that Primm (the first town in the state) was 3/4 mile away and it looked like it was literally right behind the sign. I guess that's what happens when there is nothing around. It was a small town, but it had 3 or 4 different "casinos" and an amusement park. One of them was called "Terrible's". The gas station also had over 30 pumps! I've never seen one that big before! And some slot machines. Just for fun! Forty more miles to go to Las Vegas. After we left California, there were no other large cities to give mileage for alongside the road. The first one we saw was Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. Vegas had a distance, but it was blank for SLC. On the next sign, it said SLC was 502 miles. Not much else in between, I guess!
Around 12:30, we made it to Las Vegas. It was amazing to see the city among the desert. We also saw a sign for Dunkin Donuts- which made us really excited!! We continued down I-15 and saw all the hotels and everything everyone always talks about. Since we still had some time before check-in, we decided to go to the outlets at the end of the strip. It wasn't unbearably hot, but they had water misters, and it actually made it a little uncomfortable. We did some shopping, and then went to Treasure Island to check in. The wait wasn't too long. The room is gorgeous! We are on the 29th floor with a view of the strip. We can see everything out our window. I am pretty sure the bathroom is larger than my bedroom!! The beds and the pillows are super comfy- can't wait to sleep on a bed for a few days!! After settling in, we went downstairs and looked around a little. We decided to go out and do some more shopping- got some new outfits, too! We walked down to Caesar's Palace. That hotel is absolutely amazing! The fact that they have a spiral escalator!! We walked through the shops, stopped at Peter Lik's gallery and looked at some of his pictures. They were neat, but then we walked through some more and saw very similar pictures. After awhile, we decided that it was dinnertime. We got down as far as the Eiffel Tower. Since we had some long days recently, we decided to head back towards the hotel. We played a little on the machines (we were up $10.00 on our $2, but kept going till we had nothing left. High rollers, I know!!) After that, we came upstairs and now it's time to rest up for another long day!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day Fifty-Two: Apparently, 'D' is for Toucan. Who Knew?

Since we didn't have as much planned out as we probably should have, we decided to do two things on our list. Luckily, they're in the same complex, so it made it super easy and convenient to make it a successful day. After starting our day at a relaxed pace, we decided to go to the San Diego Zoo first. We saw everything there, except for the reptile house! We saw their two polar bears (who are twins!) and five or six different elephants. One of the elephants is missing part of its ear because of a Hollywood mishap (he was in a movie and something happened to his ear. I couldn't understand what the guide was saying.) We saw the foosa from Madagascar, and the lemur they have to keep away (everything I learned about Madagascar, I learned from the movie). And we saw a group of meercats. One was sunning itself while the others were trying to get at something on the other side of the glass. There were two peacocks roaming around- one almost flew and knocked a lady over!) Other than the peacocks, there were a ton of birds there. They have at least three different aviaries there, including one for just hummingbirds. Of course, we saw some otters! They were so cute! They were swimming around their tank, rolling around with each other. Last, but not least, we saw the giraffes. They had four adults and one baby. Little party trivia: did you know that giraffes' tongues are blackish in order to prevent it from getting sunburn as they try to reach for the highest leaves? Interesting.
After the zoo, our second stop was to Balboa Park (home to HS XC Nationals). This park is huge!! There are around 30 museums there, including the San Diego Natural History Museum, a golf course, a rose garden, a cactus garden, and the Zoo. And that's only the part that we saw! The architecture on the buildings is amazing. Most of them are in the Spanish style. The carvings are so ornate, it was very impressive. I think my mouth dropped as we walked by them. It was getting late, so we didn't spend too much time here. We got back to the car with no problems. We headed back to camp to clean up and pack up. It is now bedtime. We have an early day tomorrow!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day Fifty-One: Our California Adventure

Our plan for today was to head back to DisneyLand, for all of the things we missed, and then over to California Adventure, for everything else. We finished DisneyLand with Star Tours, which was the same as the ride in Florida. We wanted to get Erik something with Jedi Mickey, but couldn't find anything suitable. Sorry! We went on Space Mountain. I wasn't ready for it. They take you up two large hills at the very beginning, so all I could think was "Where is the huge downhill?" Since it was so dark in there, you couldn't tell where it was coming. Around every turn, I was freaking out a little. Robyn was next to me and just kept laughing!! We were really hoping to do Nemo's underwater ride, but it was closed when we got there. We had done everything that we wanted, so we went to a gift shop to do some shopping, and headed out of DisneyLand. It was sad.
Afterwards, we went next door to California Adventure, which is where they have more of the "adult" things to do. You could tell you're in California, when DisneyLand has a winery and cellar on the premise! Our first stop was to their "Hollywood Pictures Backlot". We were excited because we had just been there! We decided to go to the MuppetVision 3D. So much cooler than the one in Florida!! It starts off with the 2 old grumpy guys sitting in the balcony, criticizing the show. It had all of the "cheap 3D tricks" (like Kermit promised against) but newer ones, too. Somehow, they had Fozzie shoot a water gun at you and they had bubbles all over the place. They also had some more characters come out of doors and stuff. At the end, the building 'blows up' and it looks like there is fire coming out of the walls and stuff. When the show was over, you couldn't even tell what had been there. It was so cool!
Our next stop was to the Monsters, Inc. ride. At the end, the train stopped at the old boss lady. We figured that it was to let the cars in front of us off. No big deal. Then she started talking. She was like "Hi girls. You two in the third row (where we were sitting), are you two twins or something?" "Uhh... " after being in shock, "...yeah...". "Oh, nevermind, you humans all look the same." The girl in the front kept turning around to look at us. I was still in shock. After that, we met Sulley (also from Monsters, Inc.) and he gave us a great big hug and kisses! (It makes you wonder who's actually under the costume...) Anyway, it made our day!
The Tower of Terror is right next to it, so, since I promised Robyn I would do it, we went in that direction. Luckily, there was hardly a line (surprising) and we were able to go up rather quickly. I was shaking the entire time! Apparently, though, I have grown up a lot since Florida, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The picture at the top says otherwise, though, because I definitely covered my face at the top. They opened the doors to the outside twice, which made it worse because you knew that the only direction to go was down. It was a good thing we went when we did because the line when we got out was huge. We walked through "a bug's land", which is set up to be you walking around like a bug. Everything is high above you. We took pictures with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from Cars. After that, we walked around their Paradise Pier. It's designed to look like a boardwalk pier, and has shops, restaurants, and more rides. We went on the "Toy Story Midway Mania", which is a ride where you have to hit the target to get points. There are a bunch of different games that you play. It is another competitive one. Robyn won, but it was close! There is also a Ferris wheel there, with a huge picture of Mickey in the center, but we decided to head out and try to find the "Soarin' Over California" ride. It is one of the rides they pride themselves on, so we went for it. It is also one of the more popular rides, which made for a super long wait. It was about an hour until we actually got to go on it. They set it up to be sort of like an airplane, but once it starts, your feet end up dangling off the floor (our would anyway!) They take you over Yosemite Falls, Redwood Creek, the Golden Gate Bridge, Napa, and a few more. It was nice to see the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day, but I don't know if I would have waited in line to go on it again. I'd rather see the real thing! Since it took longer than we wanted, we didn't have time to do much else. It was a little disappointing, but we did everything we wanted to. We didn't do a very good job of planning- another day would have been perfect. All in all, though, DisneyLand was so much fun! It is absolutely amazing how much work and effort goes into running something like that, and as well as they do! And the artistic ability to build the sets and rides! Half the time, we were just looking at everything around us, not paying attention to the actual ride! Each character looks like who it's supposed to be and stuff. It's amazing!!
After Anaheim, it was off to our next stop. Since the last two days had been pretty long, we were going to stop for coffee before we got any farther. Turns out, the GPS thinks that there is a Starbucks in the middle of a gated community in the Laguna Hills. After getting turned around in a very affluent community, we decided to get back on the highway and keep going. We tried to go on the Pacific Coast Highway, but ended up going north on it. After turning around, we decided that it would probably be best to go on I-5 and just get to the campground. Since we couldn't find somewhere to stop, we figured we would get a water from one of the rest stops. It didn't taste 'right,' but it was legit bottled water, so we drank it anyway...Nothing has happened yet... We stopped at the store to pick some stuff up, and finally got to the campground. It's only two hours from Disney to here, but it felt like forever! We pitched our tent and made dinner. Now it's time for bed!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day Fifty: I Kissed a Mouse, and I Liked It!!

What better way to spend day 50 than at Disneyland!! After starting our day with warmed-over French toast sticks (a la Central), we headed over to the park. We saw Goofy as soon as we walked in, but he had a huge crowd around him, so we didn't stop to take a picture with him. We walked up Main Street USA, which is a bunch of little shops and cafes. We started making mental lists of which ears we wanted! (There are so many new ones, it was tough to pick!!) One of the stores had animated windows of all the classics- like Snow White, 101 Dalmatians, and The Lion King. We went on a few rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean (they sure did an excellent job with the movies- Captain Jack Sparrow looks just like the character from the ride), the Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain (the picture at the top was priceless!) Next to Splash Mountain was 100 Acre Wood, home to Winnie the Pooh. We took pictures with Pooh and Eeyore (gave them big hugs!!) Tigger had just left, which was a little disappointing. We went on the psychedelic Pooh ride. Next, we went to the Pirate's Lair, which was a deserted pirate island. They had caves and things to climb in, up, and through. There was also a cage of bones and the pirate's booty!! Then we went to FantasyLand, where we met Tinkerbell and some of her fairy friends. (I don't know why, but Tinkerbell didn't look very happy to see us...)
Since we didn't want to miss Mickey and Minnie, we decided to go on a hunt for them. Luckily, we didn't have to look very hard for their houses in ToonTown. We walked over there and waited for Minnie. Once we got her picture, we walked through her house and took some pictures. Her house led to Mickey's Theater Barn, which is where they were showing all of his old movies. We were finally able to see the Big Cheese!! We took our one chance to give Mickey a kiss on the cheek! Sure hope Minnie doesn't mind!! (As the photographer said, it was our new Facebook picture!) By this time, we felt like total 6-year-olds, so we decided to wait in line with them to see the Princesses. We met Belle (love her dress!) and Arielle, and Tianna. We also saw Aurora tell her story of Sleeping Beauty. Then we went to 'It's a Small World". After that, we tried to watch Mickey's Soundsational Parade, but since we were a little late, we didn't get very good spots. Luckily, most of the characters were high on floats, so we were able to see some of them. Each float had a different character/movie and each had it's own song. It was fun to sing a long with the ones we knew! I didn't realize that Mary Poppins was part of Disney, but at least I knew what the float was supposed to be unlike the person in front of us. He said it was iCarly, and clearly it wasn't. We also couldn't figure out how Arielle got on her pedestal with a fin on, but somehow she did!
After the parade, we went to Wonderland. We went to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and rode in his teacups. We took the Alice in Wonderland ride (and quickly found out some more information about Seattle from the girl at the control). Then we took Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (it wasn't that wild). We took a small break, went back to the hotel to get warmer clothes on (imagine!), and continued on. We spent the evening with the classic Disney characters. We went on a flight with Peter Pan, went on a journey with Pinocchio, and went with Snow White on her scary adventures. When you watch the movies as children, you see the fairy tale in it, when you see them as adults on rides, you realize how creepy some of them really are and are surprised you didn't have nightmares after watching them!!
Since we still had some time before the park closed, we went over to TomorrowLand to Buzz Lightyear's ride. The newer rides are pretty neat because they are all interactive. This one, you help Buzz try to shoot all of the bad aliens. We are the only two who made it rather competitive. If only we had figured out sooner what we were supposed to be doing! After Buzz, we decided to go back to the hotel and rest up for another fun-filled day!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day Forty-Nine: Oooh, That Burns...

Today started early, because we were planning on going to the beach to people-watch. It turns out that our first stop wasn't the beach. We saw the Hollywood sign yesterday. But we wanted to get closer. So, our first try was unsuccessful, in a way. We ended up driving through the hills again, the same direction as we did yesterday. After about 30 minutes of driving along Mulholland Drive, we decided to find an address that was supposed to be the best place to see it. We followed the directions, with only a handful of turn-arounds (it was the GPS's fault this time), and a vicious-looking guard dog. We were able to get there. It's best seen from a little "park" up in the hills. When you imagine it, it seems a whole lot bigger than it actually is. We were surprised at the size. We felt a little better that we couldn't see it before today.
After that, we finally headed over to the beach. We parked at Santa Monica Pier and walked up and down the boardwalk. We walked down to Venice Beach. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. The boardwalk there is lined with different types of vendors. There were artists, tattooists, and (probably most of), medical marijuana joints (pun intended). There were way more than you would expect, and they were all talking very quietly, trying to get people to go in. After a while, we decided to turn around, before it got any weirder (and deciding that not everyone there had talent). We walked back on the beach- talk about a great calf workout! The water was really cold still. We also saw probably the coolest summer camp. The Santa Monica Parks Department holds their summer camps right on the beach- including surfing and beach soccer. Totally jealous!! After we got back to the Santa Monica Pier, we spent a little bit of time walking up and down it. It's very touristy. We were able to see the sign for the end of Route 66 (we also saw one on the actual road, too, today.)
After we were there for a while, we decided to leave and head to Anaheim. We left at 3:00. We weren't sure if we were going to be too early. Turns out we didn't need to worry about that. Today was the first day we got stuck in 'real' LA traffic. After about a half-hour, and no car snacks, we decided that the best way to get through the traffic was to sing through it. So, we sang a few songs, and eventually the traffic eased. We entered Orange County and Anaheim. We found our hotel, which is right across the street from Disneyland!! Talk about convenient!!
After unpacking, etc, we walked over to Downtown Disney. It's an area with a lot of restaurants and stores. When we got there, it wasn't too packed, which was good. We walked up and down the street, looked in the stores, did a little shopping. After a while, we decided to stop for dinner and drinks. We went to a Mexican-themed restaurant. Talk about spicy! Ate about a half of a jalapeno and didn't know until it was too late! The margarita helped a tad. I think my lips are still tingling!! When we finished dinner, we kept walking around. It was pretty crowded by then. We were able to sort of see the fireworks at Disneyland. After that, we decided to walk back to the hotel and get ready to spend tomorrow with Mickey and Minnie!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day Forty-Eight: "I Look to My Right and See the Hollywood Sign"

Well, almost...
It's amazing to see where people are from around here. Most of the cars have California license plates (obviously), but very few are actually from here. Our neighbors are from Burgundy, France and another family is from the Netherlands. There are so many people here- such a diverse area. The only one I've met that does is the lady at the front desk, who's aunt and cousin actually live in Connecticut. (She was disappointed that we didn't bring them- I don't think they would be very comfortable squished into the back seat. I told her that, she wasn't buying it...) After breakfast, we spent a little trying to map out where we were going to go today. So many options! As we were doing so, one of the tour guides came to pick up a group of people, and he asked us if we wanted to go (I'd rather take my own tour), and we said no. (He probably just wanted someone who understood him...) He then asked us where we were from. We said Connecticut and he was like, "Connecticut is one of my favorite states." Robyn acted just a little too surprised!! I guess it would be OK if your friend lives in Greenwich and you live just outside of LA. We finally got our list of places and headed out.
Since we are outside of LA, we have about a 20 minute drive to the city. 20 minutes if everyone just drives the speed limit and uses their blinkers (no one does here). However, this gave us some time to look at the cars drive by us, pretending that there were famous people in them (ie Taylor Lautner). We also saw a military truck drive down the highway. Nothing out of the ordinary, except this one had a "Student Driver" sticker on it! I don't know where his instructor was, because he was driving in the shoulder. But I guess with something like that you can... Also, since there are so many people here, and so many license plates, they started using symbols in their numbers. They have hearts and stars on their vanity plates! I wish we had that!!
Anyway, our first stop to day was in honor of Mom. We headed out to Calabasas, home to the Kardashians. All of the houses there are exactly the same, but they're all huge! It's a small town, though. We passed by their store and took a picture of it. I bet Robyn to go in, but we agreed that we would probably be kicked out before setting foot in the store. We may or may not have seen Bruce Jenner running down the street. I don't know if it was actually him because he was going at a pretty decent speed. We had come up with this whole story we would tell them if we saw them. And funny, it would all be true!
After that minor detour, we headed towards the city, and the first thing we wanted to see was the Hollywood sign. We followed the directions that were given, and somehow missed it. The two of us somehow miss this huge sign. We did find a big 'B', though. (I guess we also missed a 14,000 ft mountain, and we were on the mountain...) We were all sorts of turned around, but did pass by Nickelodeon Studios, Warner Brothers Studios, a few others. By this time, we decided that we needed to find another point to go to. This time, we went to Hollywood and to the Walk of Fame. We were able to find this one with ease!! We also found reasonable parking, which is always good in a city! We walked up and down the Walk, and took tons of pictures of stars. Some more than once. From there, we walked down Sunset Boulevard for a little bit. We ended up back at Hollywood and Highland, which is where the Walk starts, and where all the touristy areas are. We walked through the Hollywood and Highland Complex, which is kind of like an open-air mall connecting the Kodak Theater, where they have all the award shows, and Grauman's Chinese Theater, where they have all the hand and foot prints. They also make it easy to buy an Ipod or Proactive out of a vending machine. This was where we finally saw the Hollywood sign, even though it was kind of small from here. They were shooting a commercial in the complex. This is also where they film a lot of the Hollywood gossip shows- the TV Guide Channel's studio is right down the street.
After we did all of that, we were determined to find the sign again, for some more pictures. We had found a driving tour that was supposed to show it, so we went for it. We ended up driving in the Hollywood Hills (made famous by 'The Hills'). The houses there are GINORMOUS!! But a lot of them were for sale. We ended up driving around longer than we wanted, and only got a few picture of the city from above. Somehow, we still missed the sign. The whole area is a bowl, which should make something like that easy to spot. Apparently not. So, after driving around, we decided to find a few cities. We found Bel-Air (a huge chunk of it is gated off) and Beverly Hills. We drove down Rodeo Drive (complete with 'Rodeo Drive Plastic Surgery', not to be confused with the Wellness Center that performs 'Lipomassage') and Santa Monica Boulevard. We also passed by the entrance for UCLA. Didn't see much of it, but it looks pretty big!!
The last stop we made was towards Downtown LA to see the Disney Concert Hall. It is known for its architecture. It's a pretty neat building. The pictures didn't come out so good because it was getting dark. Between there and our camp, we passed the Los Angeles Times building and the Staples Center. Luckily, nothing was going on because it would have made the traffic a nightmare (it was pretty heavy, even for 8:00). We are planning on spending most of tomorrow here too, before heading to Disneyland tomorrow night!! It's great to feel like a little kid again!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day Forty-Seven: Cruising Down the California Coast

Happy Anniversary, Sarah & Erik!!
We were planning on sleeping later today, since it was only a three hour +/- drive to Los Angeles. The birds had a different plan. We woke up to a rooster set on snooze and a flock of birds in the tree above us. Let's just say they have pretty good aim. Unfortunately. We made breakfast and as we were cleaning up, we saw a squirrel carrying a pinecone. Now, the pinecone was the same size as the squirrel, so to see him carry it up the tree (and doing a flip) it was very impressive!! Luckily, it was only his footprints we saw in all the sand near the tent (we were worried...) After only taking 20 minutes to pack up (new record), we headed south to Los Angeles. We decided that we wanted to take the Pacific Coast Highway as much as we could, because we wanted to drive along the ocean. (Turns out 101 goes right along the ocean, too, just from a little higher up.) There were some spots that there was nothing going on, and then there was one spot where all the surfers were. We also saw what looked to be the Black Pearl, but six more ships came out of the fog, so we decided that it wasn't that! Hopefully we'll be able to see it in Disney! It was also interesting because there is a section of it where people in RV's can rent a spot and vacation right along the road. Doesn't do much when you're trying to take pictures, though.
We also passed a ton more farms today. There were handfuls of people at each one, picking and plucking. We saw the farm land and shipping plant for Fresh Express lettuce and a production plant for International Paper. Pretty neat. There was also a piece of land that was bright orange. We're not sure what they were growing, but it was interesting to see this block of orange in the middle of green. (Yesterday we passed Raisin City, California, home to Sun-Maid raisins. There was a sign along the side of the road.)
Once we got into the LA vicinity, the landscape was definitely not what we were expecting. We haven't actually driven through LA, but did drive through Pasadena. There are huge mountains out here, and the fog/smog is ridiculous. We just hope we'll be able to see everything tomorrow!! After driving around for a little, we decided to head to the campground to set up, and figure things out. (The lady at the front desk has family in Connecticut. We had a nice conversation about it...) We put the tent up and we were going to head out to see what is around here. We are right next to the Fairplex, which is where they hold the LA County Fair in September. We are also near a small airport and a raceway. The train also came by once, but it doesn't seem to bee overly loud here. We needed to get some things at the store, so we went to Walmart. Fanciest Walmart we've been to. We had been playing a game this afternoon, trying to see which cars drove by. The cars in the parking lot were high class. There were Mustangs, Mercedes, and Lexus-es up and down the parking lot. Definitely wouldn't expect that! We got our stuff and headed back to the campground for dinner. We are spending the night trying to figure out how to do the most in a short time. Hopefully we'll be successful! Then it's early to bed to start our day pretty early!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day Forty-Six: Today was a SLO Day

We spent the day exploring San Luis Obispo (SLO) and their beaches!
We planned this stop to be a beach stop, so we headed out to the coast for the day. There are a couple of beach towns down the road, so we chose to go out to San Luis Obispo (SLO). It's right on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). It definitely looks like what an East-Coast girl (like us) would imagine what a California beach town would look like. There are a ton of surf shops (and surfers) and restaurants. We did get a free parking voucher from a nice couple who bought too many hours, which was great! We explored around a little but and decided to head out to the beach to get our tans on! Only, apparently, our New England/Irish skin and SPF 30 really doesn't like the sun, even when it's covered with clouds! Luckily, it's not as bad as it could have been (or has been), but it means that we will need to do even more evening out! We spent a couple of hours at the beach, watching the surfers. When they are all in their wetsuits, I know better than to go into the water! If it's too cold for the locals, it's too cold for me! We stepped in the ocean a few stops back and it was frigid! We did some more exploring around town and found a Starbucks to charge everything. (It's a really good thing we stashed all those gift cards! They've really come in handy.) Then we headed back to the camp. We accidentally missed the driveway/parking lot, so we drove down to the end of the road, to the Santa Margarita Lake. Apparently, the bear activity level here is very high...there was a bear that was trying to get into someone's chicken coop in July. And that was in the city itself. Gotta make sure everything is locked tight in the car!
It's off to LA tomorrow! I hope there aren't too many (or any) bears there!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day Forty-Five: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

We didn't have anyone sleeping on our table today! Well, we didn't have any neighbors, so it's a good thing. That would have been even more awkward. We packed up, and were ready for the guy at the camp's witty comments. (I didn't get the "jumping ship" comment yesterday when he said it...) After yesterday's trip to Yosemite, we decided that we were going to head for Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We figured that, according to the maps, they were kind of close to where we were staying. It turns out that the farther from the coast you get, the farther everything is spread out. It took about 2 hours to get there from the campsite. We entered through the "Big Stump Entrance", which is exactly that- an entrance with a HUGE Sequoia tree stump. But there wasn't anything pointing to it, so it was just kind of passed by- one of those things that you don't realize until it's too late. There are three national areas all combined- the Sequoia National Forest, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park. We stopped at the first stop we could, which was the National Forest Visitor's Center. From there, we decided that we would go out to Kings Canyon first, then make our way back to the other parks. It takes about 2 hours to get to the end of the road (the road does end) and that was where we started. Our first stop was Tumwalt Meadow, which was supposed to be a short hike to a meadow with wildflowers and a river. Well, it had a river, but the meadow was overgrown. We were going to take the looping trail, but a friendly hiker mentioned that he saw a 4-foot-long rattlesnake on the other side of the loop. We turned around immediately. When we got back, I told the Ranger who was leading a tour, and all she said was, "We'll keep an eye out for it". One brave girl... Our next stop was to a set of waterfalls, which felt nice on the hot day, and the last stop was supposed to be the Canyon look-out, but a lot of it had also overgrown.
From there, we stopped at Sequoia National Park (two more hours...) Here, we stopped at Grant Grove. This is where the "General Grant Tree" is, which is actually the third largest living tree. It is also considered the "Nation's Christmas Tree". It doesn't look very 'Christmas-tree-ish', but it is definitely HUGE!! You can walk around it to see its fire scar. Also big. Apparently it takes a lot to take down a Sequoia. Most of the ones that were knocked down were done by loggers. The trees' bark is specially 'designed' to help protect it from fires. There are a lot that have fire scars but are still upright. There is also the "Fallen Monarch", which is a Giant Sequoia that is now a tunnel. It was amazing because you could walk right through it. And since we are both short enough, we didn't have to bend down and there was still room to move! They also have another tunneled tree in the park that was created in the 1930's. It was called the "California" (clever name), and the tunnel was wide enough for a car to fit through. They don't allow it anymore, but they show pictures of it being used, and they point out where the tree was trying to repair itself. There is supposed to be another tree you can actually drive through, but we didn't get out there. We were going to take a short hike to see it, but ran out of time.
Since it was getting late (we were an hour later than our supposed cut-off), we decided to head out through the Sequoia National Park road. We got to the park's entrance and there was a sign saying that the road was closed 30 miles ahead (which would make our escape impossible). We probably should have kept driving, just to see more of the park, but we were worried that we wouldn't make it to the campground in time. We had a lot of stops we wanted to make (like the General Sherman tree, which is the largest living tree in the world, and some other trails), but didn't. It'll give us something to come back for, now!
These two parks had a lot of the same characteristics as Yosemite yesterday, but since they were a lot less crowded, we were able to enjoy them more. You don't need to fight with the crowds as much, which made it more enjoyable.
After stopping for some coffee, and watching the cop sit behind the bushes to nab someone (which he did...), it was off to our next camp. It was about three hours away. We were making really good time (like 10 minutes according to the GPS) until we got off the highway. They weren't kidding when they said "Winding Roads. Use Caution." It was one giant loopy road, and the sun- didn't help. We did see 2 jackrabbits and 11 turkeys on the road, though We finally made it, around 8:30. It's a good thing we can almost set our tent up with our eyes closed since it was dark out. It's a beautiful night out (with a 0% chance of precipitation, according to, so we decided to not attach the rainfly. I guess it was a good call. It looks like it hasn't rained here in a long time. We also have our own little section, off in the corner by ourselves, which is really nice.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day Forty-Four: Yosemite National Park

We woke up this morning to a guy sleeping on our picnic table. I'm not sure why he chose the picnic table and not one of two tents or the car that were at his site. Or his picnic table. But luckily he got off of it when he saw us coming. Kind of strange. Then he asked us if we wanted to listen to U2 while eating breakfast... We had kind of made fun of the girls he was with while we were in the bathroom. Not very nice of us, but of course it turned out to be our neighbors! Go figure.
Anyway, after packing up the tent, we headed out towards Yosemite National Park. We weren't really planning on going here in the first place, but Dad told us that we would be disappointed if we didn't, so we decided that we should. We had originally planned on going down the coast from San Francisco to LA, but this took us inland. So we drove the couple of hours out to the park.
When we got there, it was CROWD-ED! It seemed like everyone was there. We were going to go out to the Mariposa Sequoia Grove first, but parking was full, so we had to go towards Wawona (a small town in the middle) where the gas cost between $4.49 and $4.79 a gallon. (They get you inside the park- graham crackers at the store cost over $6 a box.) From there, we went out to Glacier Point. On the way, there were signs on the road at Avalanche Creek about a fire. They had a lightning-sparked fire recently and were performing a controlled fire to help prevent an even bigger one. Pretty neat how the fire actually helps the trees out.
After a 30 mile drive, we made it out to Glacier Point. From here, you can see all of Yosemite Valley- Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Yosemite River, and El Capitan. It was pretty cool. And a long way down.
After that, we decided to drive down to Yosemite Valley to look up at everything, since we had already looked down on it all. So we took the drive (again, with a ton of cars going in the same direction) and were lucky enough to find parking close enough to walk, but far enough to be out of the craziness. From the bottom, everything looks different. You can see everything up close and not through binoculars or a camera lens. We learned that the other half of Half Dome never existed and the geology behind the formations. They also had a Native American village in the Valley. It was the Awahanee Tribe. Pretty cool seeing their buildings and how they lived. There was more information on them in the Visitors' Center. Also in the Valley was the Ansel Adams Art Gallery. We learned that putting any good picture into black and white makes it a great picture. Some of them looked like ones we took this summer!
There was one final road that they suggested taking called Tioga Road. Well, we got there and about 2 1/2 miles into it, we were stopped. The line of traffic was moving on the other side, but not on our side. Still don't know why. We were there for about 20 minutes. Well, when we finally got moving again, there were some meadows along the way and some great overlooks. We did see (what we think was) a mountain lion. It was definitely of the cat persuasion and bigger than a house cat. They say that mountain lions live in the park, so we are thinking that that's what it was. It could've been a bobcat, but I think it was too big for one.
When we were done, it was back to the campground. It was a long day in the park so we are just getting ready for bed. It's off to Kings Canyon and Sequoia tomorrow morning!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day Forty-Three: Kid in a Candy Store

We weren't in a big rush this morning because we were headed out towards Wine Country. Well, we should've dragged out our packing up even more, because we got out to Napa around 9. Apparently, it was too early for others for wine tasting! But the land around was really pretty to look at, so it wasn't a total loss. The acres and acres of vineyards go on for ever! We drove around downtown Napa for a while. Cute town. Then we headed out to Fairfield, home of the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Company. How cool! After watching the Food Network and "Unwrapped," we knew that we had to go on their company tour. And it is free, so it's even better! And they give out free samples along the way so it's still even better! We waited in the line for about 15 minutes for the next tour. We got our fun little hats that you needed to wear and were ready to go. The only thing is, you can't take pictures on the way through. (Don't want any secrets getting out!) They take you through the factory gallery where you can look down at each of the steps in the jelly bean-making process. And the tour guides give you company history along the way. Did you know that they also make the Sunkist gummy candies, and candy corn? I didn't know that! Just a fun tidbit for you. And they make some pretty great art pieces out of jelly beans. From Ronald Reagan (who was from Fairfield and had the jelly beans brought to the White House) to Prince William and Kate, and the Statue of Liberty to a Bald Eagle. It takes over 10,000 jelly beans to make one picture! After watching them make the beans in each step, they gave out samples of each step. At the very end of the tour, they give out a free bag! Totally worth it! We then spent some time looking around their gift shop. So many choices of flavors to look through. So we got some of everything! It will make a great dinner tonight!
We then drove out to our camp. I definitely like the cooler weather. We aren't even near the heat and it's already 90 here! Much different from the 70s in San Francisco. Of course we are in tank tops and shorts, and they are all wearing long pants or long sleeves. We got a bunch of stares... I don't know why! On the way out here, there was all kinds of agriculture going on. For miles, that was all there was on the side of the road. A lot of them had signs saying "Agri-Land." Not sure what it is, but they grow all kinds of crops. There was one point where we went for about 5 miles without seeing another car (and about 35 miles without a speed limit... I kind of guessed...) We drove by the trucks full of vegetables- saw tomatoes, cucumbers, and garlic. It is awesome seeing where a lot of the food we eat actually comes from.
There isn't much to do out here, it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, so we decided to drive down to Fresno to go to Target. The shopping area is lined with palm trees! And the Target was right next to a Walmart- literally in the same parking lot. I thought Connecticut was bad when they are down the street from each other. We got a cube of wine (not a box, a tiny little cube that they should sell in CT. Much classier, and easier to hold, than a box) and a card game to play tonight to pass the time. That's what we'll be doing when we sign off here. Till tomorrow!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day Forty-Two: "Francisco! That's fun to say! Francisco... Frannncisco... Franciscooo..."

(Buddy the Elf)
Today started off on a relaxed note. We decided that we didn't want to rush into the city, in order to avoid rush-hour traffic. We had no problems. We planned the next two weeks of our trip (so exciting!!) and then headed off to the city. We parked the car in the vista point parking lot and took the short trail to a look-out point. It was amazing! It was kind of cloudy this morning, but we were able to see the bridge. The view point was probably 1/2 mile or so uphill from the parking lot, so we were able to see quite far once we got to the top. This is also where the US had a military post during WWII, to protect the bridge and the city after Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was interesting...We also spotted another car from (Sonora) Mexico, which tallies our list at two (two more than we would have predicted. Later on, we also spotted a Consul licence plate, and this one wasn't the same as the US ones. We're guessing it was Mexico, too.)
From there, we decided to leave the car in the lot and walk over the bridge again. We are cheap and worried about parking. Luckily, there weren't any signs saying otherwise. We walked the bridge, there were so many people on it this afternoon. We were glad that we did it last night, because then we didn't have to worry about stopping, etc. Once we got to the other side, we figured out which direction we wanted to go (it took a while...) We were able to see a little bit of the Presidio (love the houses!) and the Promenade (love those houses too! The architecture is really interesting). We ended up at Fisherman's Wharf and walked around for a little. (Mom, we didn't see the carousel. I don't know if we walked down far enough.) It was so crowded, though, so we walked down a side pier. We were able to get a closer look at Alcatraz. From there, we walked to Lombard Street. I don't know how the people in that area drive down the road. Aside from all the turns, the number of tourists was unbelievable. We walked back down the street and to Giradhelli Square, home of the chocolate. Mmmm..we walked back and forth a couple of times to get some free chocolate samples. We were going to stop at their cafe, but it was super crowded. (As you can tell, we don't really like crowds of people...) So, we decided to go to the cupcake store around the corner. They were pretty good, but I think we could do better...
After that, we decided to head back towards the Bridge and the car. We took a short cut, and walked through the "Off the Grid" which is kind of like an exhibition for the food trucks in the city. There were probably 15 or so different ones, but they were all Thai or Korean food. After the cupcake, we decided to forgo this. However, we did see one of the trucks that was on the Food Truck Race (on the Food Network, hosted by Tyler Florence. It was our second of being in the light with a 'celebrity'.) We walked along the beach, and saw about 20 kite boarders. Around this time, the fog was rolling in, so it looked like the kite boarders came out of nowhere. It was kind of creepy. We got back to the bridge, and were so glad that we took all of our pictures last night. It was so foggy, we couldn't even see the bridge. This was unbelievable. You would think that it was be near impossible to miss the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was not there tonight. There were a handful of people who were still taking pictures, but the only thing behind them was fog. Ridiculous. We walked back over the bridge (it's so much faster, and more comfortable, to run instead of walk). I tried to take pictures of how foggy it was, but there was very little for the camera to focus on so I couldn't. Once we got to the other end, though, it kind of cleared up in spots. We were so surprised when we drove through the tunnel and the fog was in there, too! Once we got out of the city, and back onto 101, the fog came and went, and the sun started to set. The sunsets are gorgeous out here! As we pulled into the campground, it was eerily black out, but it was just the cloud cover, etc. It's kind of chilly tonight, but nice in the tent. Now, as long as all of these people go to bed soon...
It's off to our next stop tomorrow, which is towards some of the National Parks in Eastern California. We have some planned stops for tomorrow, so hopefully they'll work out! So, all-in-all, it was a good trip to San Francisco. It is definitely a neat city, with a lot to do. It also seems to be a city where everyone is young at heart, with a lot of people out and about. I'd say it's now in our Top 5 Cities.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day Forty-One: Hey, We Have the Same Birthday!

We woke up this morning to what we thought was rain. We checked the weather app and it said that it was foggy with a 10% chance of precipitation. So it turns out that the dripping was indeed fog, and not rain. Oh, and the humidity was 100%. It's so different without the heat! Couldn't even tell that it was humid out. I've never seen it that high before. Apparently, the mornings here always have fog coming off of the water.
We fought with the wet tent for a couple of minutes. (Don't tell dad that it was wet when we put it away. The Boy Scout in him wouldn't like it. We never camped in tents in Girl Scouts... it was either a cabin or some sort of building.) We were going to go for a run with the lady next to us, then realized that she was from Mexico and we wouldn't be able to converse with her and run at the same time. It's difficult enough to do either of those separately, but together... She found someone to run with though. (Their license plate was a Mexican one. I don't know any other Mexican districts, so we can't make a list of them. It was "Distrito Federal.")
It was finally off to San Francisco. On the way out of Eureka, we found where the sidewalk ends- the sign said so! (That's a reference to Shel Silverstein, for those that didn't get it.) We took the "Avenue of the Giants" detour. It is a 31-mile road that runs parallel to 101. The trees really were giants! They had an auto tour that we took that led to different informational plaques about how they saved the trees from lumbering and other stuff. There were a bunch of different groves dedicated to people who helped out.
It was back to 101 and on towards Wine Country. It wasn't just wine and vineyards, but orchards too. The fields were huge! They stretched out really far. We decided that we would buy an already established vineyard so we didn't have to do the planting, and we would get Adam and his friends to be our help picking everything. We only got turned around once trying to find a rest area. (It's much easier when the road is one road and you don't need to get off at all.) We also saw a guy with dreadlocks down to his knees, no even kidding, they were that long, and no less than 3 tie-dye t-shirt stores.
Once we got to the campground, we were having a difficult time deciding what to do. It was gorgeous out so we wanted to spend some time at the pool, or drive down to the Golden Gate Bridge. We ended up doing both. It's a good thing we did because our timing was perfect. We didn't have as much traffic as we could've getting down there. We stopped at the Vista Point to park so we could walk over it. Oh boy, was it windy! I was afraid to take phone pictures because I thought it would blow away! There was a lot of foot traffic on it with all of the tourists on the way out, but not as much on the way back. We took a ton of pictures with Dawn's camera. (It's a lot harder to blow something off from around a neck.) You can see everything from the bridge, like Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the Bay Bridge. And the ships bringing all kinds of things from China and Japan. Then we stopped at the gift shop on the other end and walked around the area, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Not too much recreational stuff, but there is a bike trail that goes all around and some beaches. After the 3.5 mile walk, (1.7 each way) it was time for dinner and then back to the campground. We heard no less than 3 different languages around. Kind of cool, except they left the kitchen area a MESS! Going to do the rest of the city tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day Forty: That's No Ficus...

We had set our alarms for 6 this morning. So much for that. It was warm in the sleeping bags! We wanted to leave kind of early, but then remembered that it wasn't that far to tonight's stop on the other side of the park. So we took our time packing up and went to Starbucks (again!) to catch up on everything. Then it was off to get some duct tape. That's how we do things. Duct tape fixes everything. And I can tape Dawn's mouth shut with it later if I need to! Better watch out, hopefully she doesn't have the same idea...
Then it was off to Redwood National Park. The park is a straight drive on 101. We took a few detours along the way. The first was to a little trail, that didn't lead to very much, since it was super foggy. It was supposed to be a coastal look-out trail, but we could hardly see the beach. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the fog burned off later in the day. So, from there, we kept driving, and decided to stop at another trail, which led to some huge trees. We took a picture with one- our arm span didn't even come close to the width of the tree- and this was only a stump... We kept going, and stopped at "The Big Tree", which they sort of memorialized, because back in the early 1900s, when the loggers wanted to knock it down, and someone wanted to make a dance floor on top of the stump, some wealthy people decided that was enough and wanted to protect it, along with others. We took a short trail, that was supposed to be a loop, but wasn't. It was muddy, so we didn't continue. We walked back and took the trail that was actually a loop. We posed with some more trees, and Robyn laid down on one of them. Now she thinks it's an even score. (I don't know if I'd say it's quite even. One jumped out at me and my camera and hit me in the mouth...Redwood:1.5, Hudaks:1) From there, we kept going, and were headed to an information center. We got there and it wasn't anything special, just a kiosk, so we kept driving. The center was supposed to be near herds of elk, but we didn't see any there. We kept going, and there was a sign that said to turn the radio to hear elk information. We did, and as we were listening, we saw a whole herd of elk grazing. It was really neat. There were tons of them in the area. That was the only herd we saw. We kept driving, and went over a bridge that had golden bear statues at the beginning and end, and there were tons of people looking over the edge. Since it was so crowded, we decided not to stop, but probably should have. We're thinking that there might have been some bears there, but kind of hoping not, because then we missed our chance to see them. We did finally stop at a Visitor's Center, and got our obligatory map and postcards. To bad it was at the other side of the park and we were leaving. The bird almost pooped on our head. That would have been most unfortunate. However, we did learn the difference between Coastal Redwoods (the trees here) and Giant Sequoias farther down the state. Redwoods are taller and (supposedly) skinnier, while Sequoias are wider. If these are the skinny trees, I can only imagine what the fat ones look like! Maybe we can make it out there to see them...
After the park, it was time to head for camp. We put the address in our GPS, but as we were driving down, we saw the sign for it. We almost missed it. Anyway, we set up camp, made some plans, and there's supposed to be a big bonfire across the way from us. It's off to San Francisco tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day Thirty-Nine: Redwood Tree: 1, Robyn's Car: 0

We left pretty early today since it was supposed to be an eight-hour drive down to California today, and we figured that we would probably need a few extra hours, knowing how we like to get lost. The ride was pretty uneventful for the first two hours. Until we got to Eugene. For those of you don't know, Eugene is the home to the University of Oregon, and is nicknamed "Track Town USA." Hayward Field is where they have the USA Championships and Olympic Trials. Well, it was closed for resurfacing, but as wanna-be runners these days, we had to stop and get some pictures of it! The school is pretty cool. The buildings are huge and look pretty fancy. Their stadium would eat all of Central. After driving around the school, we got back on the road out to the Oregon shore.
It was about another 2 hours out to the shore. We passed through Linn County, which boasts being the "Grass Seed Capital of the World." The spot where we met 101 was the Oregon Dunes Recreational Area. These weren't any dunes. They were HUGE! I mean, like building height. We stopped at some of the viewpoints along the way to see the Pacific Ocean. It's neat to see the difference in the northern Pacific and the Atlantic. The Pacific is so much rockier. There are all kinds of rocks sticking out of the water. And it's definitely chillier here than at home. It's a very comfortable 60 degrees out.
We finally got out of Oregon and into California! They have border patrol where we crossed. The ranger asked if we had any live plants or fresh fruits or vegetables. Well, luckily they didn't check the car or anything, because I totally forgot that we had oranges. Shhh... Don't tell anyone! I'm not sure what they were looking for, but in other states, they have signs about how you can't bring things in from one place to another. In Washington, you can't transport apple trees from one part of the state to another because of apple maggots (gross) and in Wyoming, they had watercraft checks. Interesting, too, that you can't bring fresh fruits, vegetables, or live plants into Canada. Wonder what California is worried about... We also passed through Smith River, the "Easter Lily Capital of the World." These small towns will brag about anything! Like Mitchell, SD and their corn palace!
We got to the campground for the night. It is right on 101. Great area. It looks like an area out of Jurassic Park, with huge trees and all the ferns. Kind of like the rainforests in Washington. That's where the fun started. Apparently when they tell you that a road is a dead-end, you shouldn't try to drive through it anyway. Luckily I have a small enough car that I was able to get around the posts telling you not to go that way (my co-pilot didn't foresee to tell me that it was supposed to be a dead-end. Well, we got almost all the way through... Didn't see the small-ish branch sticking out of the stump on the side. It jumped out at me! Luckily, there isn't much damage to it. I think when we stop at Wal-Mart to get some duct tape, bright pink will look fantastic on the gray. Maybe I can find a color that kind of matches...
(Just noticed that the guy in the corner is wearing cut-off jean shorts that are cut so high you can see the pockets...)

Life is a Highway Pictures updated: 8/3/11

States Visited: California, Connecticut, Idaho,Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming (15/50)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day Thirty-Eight: All Good at Mt. Hood

We found out today that not only does our neighbor have one set of antlers, he has two! The second one is attached to the hitch in the back of his van. Why they aren't in front, who knows. And he didn't even sleep in his tent last night! Only the antlers did. We woke up to see his van covered in tarps and then he got out of it. There definitely are some characters out here.
Anyway, we had decided last night to go out to Mt. Hood National Forest today. We need to do some more research on these places before we head out, or something. We put it into our GPS and figured that the place it led to would be the actual park. Well, it didn't. It led us to a visitors' center in the middle of a town about 30 miles away. After stopping there for a few minutes, we kept on going out to the mountain. It's the highest point in the state. There wasn't much to do out there once we got there. It is definitely something that needs to be done in the winter when you can go skiing and do all those winter sports. It was a very nice drive, though. We took a different route on the way back and from there, you can see Mt. St. Helens. Pretty neat, but I'm not sure how I would feel living right between two volcanoes.But the land sure is pretty out there, and apparently very good for growing fruits and vegetables. We did learn that there are 16 volcanoes in Oregon alone, along with another 5 in Washington and 4 in California. It's an early night tonight because it's a long way tomorrow. Headed to Northern California to see some really large trees!