Our road trips for 2010 and 2011 are moving to a new website that is under construction but will be up shortly.
We’re able to integrate photos and video there, bringing our travel adventures to life… not just print
Our road trips for 2010 and 2011 are moving to a new website that is under construction but will be up shortly.
We drove a fair chunk of the coastal highway yesterday … it was gorgeous!! It was like Australia on one side (dry, grasslands and eucalyptus trees) and the coast of Maine on the other (crashing surf and pine trees). More cute little hippie towns and fishing villages. We finally cut back to Hwy 5 through the fields of vines in Napa. After driving that route for 6 hours it was shocking to see we’d only progressed about an hour up hwy5 … moral is, the Pacific Coast Hwy is FAR more scenic but it’s a twisty, 2 lane, trail, with far too many tempting eateries and viewpoints, to really get you anywhere.
We booted up to Mt Shasta for the night … found a little campground tucked in among the pine trees at the foot of the beast and snuggled in for the night. Aside from the guy in campsite 12 having a heart attack at midnight and the ambulance, fire trucks and various rangers all plowing through the campground with sirens blazing, it was a pretty quiet night.
Woke up FREEZING … first time on the trip that the temp was close to freezing … it made for a great sleep but a crappy wake up …. Now, I’m a lovely cheery thing on the best of mornings …… (this is the silence for Robin the give you a knowing look) but when I’m cold, the bed is cold, my clothes are cold and the seat in the outhouse is damp and VERY COLD … well then, I’m a ray of fucking sunshine. Robin has never packed the tent faster.
We grabbed some grub in Ashland again (hearty, healthy breaky right on the river; Ashland even does crappy diner right) and we bee-lined it for home. I had a blast but I want a hot shower, to hug my dogs and about a week lying prone on my couch.
Home again, Home again Jiggity Jig.
ps Should mention, as we pulled into our driveway in Vancouver, it was POURING rain … Robin was afraid of getting his new camera wet so he crammed it into the carrying case and made a dash for it … once inside he opened the bag to show some friends his new baby … and realized there had been a couple rocks in the camera bag and he had horrible chipped his new lens. : (
pps turns out Lisa (the gps system)’s real name is Susan. hahaha we’re sticking with Lisa.
Ok before I get a lot of flack for going back to Vegas, let me just say it is the cheapest place to stay in Nevada : )
And I still hate the smokers…
San Fran was interesting…Hotels in town were expensive so we found something outside of the city. First off, if anyone ever says “Hey let’s go spend a fun filled night in Oakland”, shoot them. I mean spending a night in Oakland will probably result in the same out come, so no worries. Oakland is the armpit of the universe. Our hotel had a hooker in the lobby, blood stains on evey flat surface in the room and a TRAIN (YES TRAIN) running down the middle of the street outside our window. And that hotel cost double what the 4 star one in New Orleans did. Needless to say, we got the hell outta Dodge first thing in the morning. On the way out we were literally chased by the train. So, the tracks are in the middle of the inside lane on the street and when you look in your rearview mirror and see a massive freight train barreling towards you… I guess you just pull into the slow lane?!?
Anyway, we were happy to be out of there and loved the rest of our day. Most of it was spent on Alcatraz. Robin went all “geeky camera guy” on me and the results are some amazing photos… its an odd place; eerie and yet beautiful at the same time …
We took the boat back and wandered Fisherman’s warf a bit.. I got my bread bowl o’ clam chowder (fucking epic : ) and we watched tourists buy cheap shit they didn’t need.
We headed out north and after driving through some quaint little hippie communities (where everyone still make 7 figures and owns a range rover) we found a campsite in a grove of giant cedars. I’m use to cedars, I grew up among them on Vancouver Island … but these bad boys made mine look like miniature poodles. Waking up at dawn surrounded by mist and hearing only the creaking of those trees was a truly unique experience.
Um like the crazy flash rain storms weren’t enough, we just got to the turn off to the Grand Canyon … And IT’S ON FIRE!?!? Um …. Should I be worried????
Ok so we kissed the relatives good bye and headed out for some of our longest drive days yet. Missouri was pretty and green and we drove like hell to get through it. We stopped for the night just over the border in Oklahoma at a little creeping empty town called Disney. We camped (not that we had much choice since all the buildings in the town were boarded up and “closed for the season”… Though I’m pretty sure that season was sometime around 1956). The camp ground was overlooking a lake that was formed by the Pensacola Dam. The whole area was like this forgotten little slice of the 50’s summer road trip experience; lakes and cabins and malt shops and family burger shacks. Now all abandoned. So odd. Apparently the whole area is a major biker hang out now. They decided to have a little fun around midnight. Sort of a “hey grab your gun, your neighbors wife and let’s go set off some fireworks” kinda fun. Other than that it was our usual camping experience: too sticky, too buggy and too little sleep : )
Yes we made it through the long drive days! Oklahoma (flat) and Texas (boring) are behind us now. We just went over the New Mexico border into Arizona. More beautiful rocks! I loved New Mexico. Its odd and pretty and less in your face-American than Texas and Oklahoma. The canyons are amazing, the temp is perfect and there is a ton to see. We’ve been traveling on little bits of old Route 66 and the towns have that same dying glory as the rest of the spots I imagine my parents generation stopped at. Sort of like an equally faded version of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland (as Robin says, everything you need to see in the US is in Disneyland … eye roll). Spent last night in a stunning and deserted camp ground out in the desert near Santa Rosa Lake. Such amazing sunset and sunrise! Finally we had cool temps ahh hello low 60’s! We’ll be into the Grand Canyon in a few hours. Slowed down a bit by a crazy rain storm. Thank goodness Robin did most of the driving! Big trucks + water + side winds = me clutching the wheel, nose one inch from the dash and crawling along at Amish speed.
Made it to the half way point!! Murphysboro is adorablly small-town America with old brick buildings, locals who wave when you pass them and more cemeteries than you can shake stick at. There was a point where I just started to laugh over the number of tiny little cemeteries. And someone please explain the difference between full Baptist, general Baptist and one-eighth of a cup Baptist? And of course we just happened to be in town for the apple festival! Which meant ribbon fries, sausage-in-a-bun and that great American institution, THE FUNNEL CAKE! ok it’s basically a donut the size of my head covered in powdered sugar. Anyone who knows me, know this basically spells death, what with my low tolerence for sugar. Fuck it. Totally worth it. My family was amazing (what did you think I was going to say? They read this!!) KIDDING : ) my Aunty Chris was a tour guide extrodinaire and through her boundless energy and local knowledge we got an amazingly diverse look at southern Illinois. Also amazing was her ability to drive narrow rural roads at breakneck speeds while pointing out the window and talking to us in the backseat. Lol Chris cracks me up! Plus she’s got a masters degree in life (got her pilots license and flown some crazy planes, hiked the Grand Canyon, she’s gone to school for everything raised two kids, etc) …. Now she rescues Great Danes and bands humming birds. Yeah, what did you do today? : ) We missed our dogs so it was nice to cuddle their two great danes. Owning Danes is sort of what I figure having camels in the house would be like. And of course we got to see my Uncle Gary in full artisan mode. Those of you who know my family would know him as the uncle who does civil war reinactments and built cannons and folding civil war chairs and fine furniture and and and… Yeah thank god these two found each other cause they would make most people feel woefully under accomplished. And some of you may even remember hearing about Gary’s biggest project, refinishing a 1900’s passenger train car (almost from the ground up). The amount of work he’s done is staggering! (check out his site at www.excelsiorwoodworking.com) This sort of restoration work you would normally only see in a museum. And all the research to get each slate of wood in the right place and each paint colour accurate. It’s a massive master piece. Lol and he does it all while listening to opera. And the food and wine! Gary has become the cook in his reinactment troop and I’d march a few thousand miles for more of his ribs. And the man knows his wine. Oh lord and Chris’ pie and salsa recipes are also going in my holy book. Yeah we about 20 pounds heavier and total wine snobs now. And of course seeing my grandpa was such a nice bonus. He’s a recent transplant to “the land of Muph” as he calls it. I’m pretty sure my grandpa was the Dali Lhama in a past life. He has settled down to be a Buddhist-hermit in a quaint little house down the road where he spends his days observing and applying complex theories to the habits of the neighbors chickens. My grandpa is an ageless genius : ) As we pulled out of the drive way I turned to Robin and said ” I can’t believe I finally made this trip. I’ve been wanting to do this for over ten years”. Tick this one off the bucket list!
ok … we had a blast in New Orleans … though we timed it badly to coinside with the start of the football season…so it was CRAZY
I just lots most of this post in the transfer … going to see if I can recover it ..
some Robin thoughts on Louisiana –
What a crazy place… not just New Orleans and we`ll get to that, but the whole state. The gas station we pulled off at to fill up at had a tiger… yes you read that right….. A TIGER. Louisiana you are officially badass.
Once in New Orleans we checked into our hotel The St. Louis a mere half block off Bourbon Street. Beautiful courtyard, beautiful foyer, decent room. Off to see the night life.
Even Vegas can’t top this as far as drunken debauchery… middle aged and older folks literally staggering down the street with booze dripping from their lips blood shot eyes and spilling drinks down your back.. Don[t get me wrong it’s still fun but the whole upscale casino air of sophistication is lacking.
If Vegas is the adult Disneyland, New Orleans is the almost forgotten Circus.
What we were in for was completely unknown to us hockey loving Canadians…. Home opener for the Superbowl Champs New Orleans Saints. The phrase WHO DAT?!?!?! will haunt my dreams for years.
Now, we like to think we love our local teams and support them… but this was unlike anything I’ve seen outside of Canada winning gold at the Olympics. There was no one.. i mean no one who wasn’t transfixed on this game… except us.
The buildings are amazing, but harken back to a time when this was a rich persons paradise. It is nothing like that now. This might be because it’s still trying to pull itself back together from Katrina. But I doubt it.
The Garden District was gorgeous the above ground cemetaries are fascinating and the people are impossible to understand yet extremely friendly. Though, with it being the murder capital of the US I never felt like I could relax. For every 10 wonderful people there was at least one with something else going on behind the eyes.
We saw Anne Rice’s house along with Nic Cage (though the bank owns that one now) Sandra Bullock, John Goodman’s and the house they used in Benjamin Button…. The Garden District is the definite highlight, a completely different vibe than that of the French Quarter.
OH we ate alligator. Yeah I feel like more of a man now…. but it tastes like chicken. Maybe that saying is true. Anyway, that was at Oceana, a southern version of Red Robbin with lots of paraphernalia adoring the walls… except this stuff was interesting and had history.
We ate at a place called the Red Fish Grill… AMAZING it was the sole restaurant on the strip without the game playing in the background. The only way we knew soothing was happening was the periodic screams from the kitchen… at least i hope it was about the game. The seafood was stellar the wine very necessary and they have a dessert on the menu that you have to decide if you want it 30 minutes before you’re ready to think about eating another bite. We didn’t get it but the table next to us did…….. I’d come back to New Orleans just to try it. WOW it looked good, two different types of chocolate poured over a chocolate soufflé type thing in front of you……. yeah and their calamari. I’d go back for more of that.
New Orleans to Rocky Point camp ground
Heading north through Louisiana was… interesting.
CHURCH road signs littered the highway shoulders, just in case you’d sinned in the last mile. You can pop in and repent again and again and … again. There is no shortage of religious venues you can cleanse your soul along the highway. What there was not however was any trace of Sookie, Bill Compton or Merlotte’s Bar….. both Danielle and I felt jipped. WHERE THE HECK ARE THE VAMPIRES!?!?!?!
Oh wait we found them, the freaking mosquitoes! ne’er have I seen more persistent bugs than in the south.
There are almost as many “Plantation” signs as there are Church signs along the highway… we fell victim to this suggestion and turned off to explore Greenwood Plantation.
Leave it to us to find the only film set in Louisiana… Greenwood Plantation is currently being used to film Big Valley starring Richard Dryfus and Jessica Lange. It was also used in North & South and a few other productions through time… Oh and the house is a reproduction as well. The real house burned to the ground in the ’40s. It took over 20 years to rebuild. But they did a fantastic job. A beautiful piece of property with Old bearded Oak trees rolling hills and classic architecture.
Anyone travelling through Mississippi needs to drive The Natchez Parkway. It’s a scenic route that runs at times parallel with Route 60. A two lane highway decorated with trees, wildlife and maybe five other cars an hour, not to mention historic sites galore.
Example - Emerald Mound http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/mounds/eme.htm
This route is, by far, the highlight of Mississipi for us…
As we neared our camping destination we realized we didn’t have hotdog buns… so we talked to Lisa the trusty GPS and she sent us off to find a grocery store.
Port Gibson - The town dubbed “too pretty to burn” in the civil war. A nice place neat homes. However, two blocks off the main strip…..things change and fast.
We followed Lisa’s directions to a mini mart that well …..South Central would have been intimidated. Guns, Lowriders, baggy pants and a general aire of “you shouldn’t be here in your Corolla”, sent us turning around in a hurry. We don’t need buns do we!!
fear not… we didn’t go bun-less, we found a slightly more welcoming store.
The Campground…. to come soon
On the way into college station we found this tiny little town called Fredricksberg… a random little German town in a surprisingly german state. Fredricksberg had all kinds of kitchy tourist trap stores but it also had amazing architecture and little restaurants. The surprisingly weird thing, it also had the National Museum of The Pacific War, complete with battleship gun turrets and assorted military bits adorning the building. We toddled around the town killing a bit of time and trying to avoid driving into what turned out to be torrential rains and a swinging arm of Hurricane Hermine (Her-mean) I kept saying ( Her-mine-knee) but everyone corrected me, so much for Harry potter references.
The road from there was interesting, ranches, road kill and small towns where Presidents have come from….oh and a rest stop break because the watermelon we bought from the El Paso walmart was bad…. why is this fruit carbonated??? …..puke. El Paso we hate you.
Central Texas I love your road names…. Squirrel Run - no not a street, a lane or a crescent… just Squirrel Run. I can see it now: “What should we call this place? Wait Jethro look. … Hoooooly Cow look at those Squirrels Run!!!
This was quickly topped however with “Old Potato Road” I’ll just leave you with that.
Heeeey more ranches… and out of this appears….. the LARGEST college football stadium I have seen. This is Texas A&M country. Farmland and Football, welcome to Texas . We spent the next two days relaxing and visiting with my old friend Ryan. He and I were roommates and best friends when I lived in LA. Sadly I hadn’t seen him in over 7 years. But it was like only a day had gone by. Also we met his wife, Leni and their one month old daughter Anika (Awe-nika). Oh and who can forget their lovely neighbour Shane “I don’t curse I just say racist things”.
All kidding aside it was a great and long overdue visit.
I almost forgot… we had the craziest storm when we were there still apart of the hurricane…. and A DOUBLE RAINBOW OH MAH-GAWD. It was pretty cool.