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Back to Reality

Day 27 – July 27, 2016 – Lenoir – Charlotte – Carolina Beach – Mileage 297.8

I wake up early at mom’s house and work for the day.   It sure feels weird to not be on the road – Yea I’m still not home but I’m starting to have reality hit me.  Tim, Pam’s husband decides to wash the van before returning it.  Wow, we thought we had cleaned it out last night, but he still found 4 or more pens, water bottle tops and blue chips.   We found a lot of that last night when we unpacked it all.

About 3:30, Susan, Pam and I take off for Charlotte to return the van.  I drive my car as I want to leave from CLT to head back to the beach.  Susan drives her van so that she and Pam have a way home and Pam drives the van.  We take one last selfie before heading out.

we did it. 7707 miles later

we did it. 7707 miles later

The drive to Charlotte, seems boring.  No one to talk with…  We get to the airport and turn in the car.  You should have seen their face when they realized we returned the van with 7707 miles on it.  Well, it was unlimited mileage.  😉   And we told them we had even done an oil change in the middle of the trip.

Susan, Pam and I then hugged and departed.

This part of the drive seemed even lonelier.  I can’t even see their cars.   Well, my car decided to reset a bunch of things while it wasn’t in use for a month and one of those was setting the GPS back into Eco mode.  What does that mean?  It means that the GPS will put you on interstates at all costs.  I tell it to take me to Carolina Beach and it chooses a route via Columbia SC.   I wouldn’t have gotten in until close to midnight.   I couldn’t figure out how to change it so I pulled the phone out and let Dorothy lead the way.   She takes me into Charlotte and then comes up with, “I’ve found a faster route that will save you 33 minutes”.  I said accept.   On the trip, Dorothy did that a lot but it was when she would try to put us back on interstates.  I think she was happy I said yes.   She did pick a great route.  For 40 miles I was on back country roads and it reminded me of our trip.  The only unfortunate thing was getting behind a commercial van whose driver really didn’t know how to drive it and just enough traffic and very short passing zones to not have a chance to pass.  That driver would go anywhere from 40 – 65.  Of course he would do 65 when I had a slight chance of passing.   But still, the views were great and I got to go thru a couple of small towns.  Finally, I got to hwy 74.  This is the Andrew Jackson highway, so again I was on an old road, but not the “original” old road.  I could see that one on my gps and it did go thru small towns.  By this time though, I just wanted to get home so I stayed on the faster route even though it felt wrong.

It seemed so lonely on the trip back.  No one to talk with, no laughs.  I even hear the song “alone again, naturally”.  I did feel so alone after having such a great time with my sisters.

I pulled into Carolina Beach around 9:45pm and started to unpack.  Boy there was a lot of stuff. Today’s mileage is what I drove from Lenoir to CB.

We were so lucky during our trip.  We really didn’t have rain.  Yes, the 2 and 3 days we had a bit but the real bad rain then was just 20-30 miles south of us.   The rest of the time, the rain would be in short bursts or at night and really, that wasn’t enough to be counted.  I truly thought we would have days were it rained all day.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather (yea, we wished it were a bit cooler in places – but we lived with the heat).  The extreme heat followed behind us the whole route so we didn’t have to deal with that either.  We also had the best of luck in other areas.  We would be riding on a road and pass a sign that the road was closing the next day for 3 days.  Really, we had made the decision to push further that day and got to miss the road closure which would have caused us to change our route.  We missed all the fires that are happening in areas of our route.  They occurred days after we left.    It just seemed like we were being followed with good luck on this trip.

We are already trying to plan for our next trip together.   Last year with did the North East with Mom and Sally too.  Next year we are thinking National Parks, Mississippi River or … suggestions.  We have made it our goal to see all 50 states together.    I’m only missing 5 – Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wisconsin.  Pam is missing the most but has 2 states I don’t have.  We will see what occurs over our next trips.

green is the North East trip and Purple is our trip this year

green is the North East trip and Purple is our trip this year

I hope you enjoyed our travels – I know you couldn’t have enjoyed them as much as we did.  Oh, and I still have points for more hotels.  I’ll roll them into next year’s travel.  I’ll also start Susan and Pam up with credit cards to get the bonuses that sure helped with my totals and we can all contribute next year.

 

Things we learned.

  • Don’t pack too much. We had a lot of stuff we didn’t ever use but now we know what we will need for future trips.
  • Larger Tupperware containers are great for getting ice and using them to cool collapsible coolers.
  • Take a charge for the car. I found one before this trip that plugged into the cigarette lighter.  It has 2 standard 3 prong plugs and 2 USB ports to charge with.  It worked great to keep computers and phones alive.
  • I have to find a GPS that lets us program the exact route with multiple points and THE ROADS we want to take. Yes, google maps is great but I don’t want to be staring at my phone to follow the routes.
  • The trip advisor app is great but don’t trust the directions all the time. They are sometimes wrong
  • Roadside America is great for finding odd ball things to do but their app is only good on iPhone so I had to look at it on the computer
  • You can make hotel reservations using points the same day – most of the time. Just watch out on the weekend as they only have so many points / reward night rooms and you could miss out on the ones that don’t require as many points.
  • Back roads are fun and the sights are much prettier. Yes, they take longer but sometimes – who cares.
  • Bring plenty of paper to take notes on. It’s much easier to do the blog if you have notes from the day.  Take a lot of pens too as they disappear all day long into the black hole of the van.  But you can replenish your supply in the hotels.  Susan was amazed at the pile of pens on her table as we unpacked the van.
  • Stop and get fruit, snacks, sandwich fixins, water, drinks … for the car because on some of those roads you just want find places to eat and being able to just pull over and eat.
  • Have fun – find things to laugh at.
  • I’m sure there is more items for the list but I can’t think of them right now.

 

Finding license tags on the back roads is hard.  We found all but Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware,  New Hampshire and Washington Dc.  I found Rhode Island here on the island yesterday.    We also saw  Ontario, British Columbia, Guam, Quebec, Alberta, Sonora Mexico, Baja California, Chihuahua, Manitoba, Tamaulipas, Morelos, and Nuevo Leon.

We spent just under $800 in gas.  Our biggest expense was going out to eat but with the hotels mostly free, we did great on this trip.

 

There Is No Place Like Home

Day 26 – July 26, 2016 – Athens, Ga – Lenoir NC

Left the hotel and took the cobblestone road to the “Tree that Owns Itself”. Drove thru Athens and saw beautiful old houses and the University of Georgia.  In Danielsville, we saw a courthouse in the middle of the road circle. Drove by the Ty Cobb museum in Royston. Took detour to Guide Stones in Georgia.  The message was in 12 languages.  Drove by the dam and got dam pictures.  Made it to South Carolina.   Passed thru Anderson, Greenville and entered Spartanburg.  Lunched at Converse College where mom and dad wanted Susan to go. Went thru more small towns and then entered North Carolina.  Saw first mountain in long time. Made it to Gastonia around 3:15 pm.  This is where we started right outside of Charlotte.  Headed to Lenoir – directly.  Mileage: 285.7

When we looked out our window after we woke up, we were glad we had only stayed a day as we might have been covered with kudzu if we had stayed longer.  It didn’t look like there would be many stops on the road today so we found the “Tree that Owns Itself”.  Col. William H Jackson, in 1832, left the land and the tree to itself because he so loved the tree.  We drove up the cobble stone road and found it.  Well, this tree was birth’d from its mom, the original tree.  It was still in the same location though and was surrounded by a fence.  We then drove around town and saw the large old houses and the University.   We saw a few mosquito farms and some nice kudzu farms.  They sure know how to grow kudzu in these parts.  Passed thru more small towns, and in Gold Mine we took a detour to the Guide Stones.  They were in the middle of nowhere, but were large granite slabs written in 8 languages and a capstone written in 4 more.   Someone else actually drove up to visit it while we were there.  Some of the languages were, English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and others.  Passed thru more small towns on the way to the dam.  We took pictures of the dam and then Pam stated “they must have let out water as there is stuff floating in the river.  Susan and I stated, “Those are rocks and they don’t float”.   We then drove over the river into South Carolina.

In South Carolina we passed thru the large towns of Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg.    We never knew that mom and dad wanted Susan to go to Converse College.  During that time it was a girl’s “Finishing” school.  I guess Susan needed her rough edges polished.   We ate lunch in the parking lot in the van.   We headed out to more small towns and slowly made it into North Carolina.  We were finally in our home state.  I saw my first mountain since Western Texas.  I took a picture.  We then headed to Gastonia.  26 days ago, we passed thru Gastonia on the way out of Charlotte.  Dandy’s route in and out of Charlotte was the same.  In Gastonia, we stopped and took a selfie to mark the end of the official route.  Then we headed to Lenoir via the real highway.

Along our trip we had everything down to a tee.  At gas stations, I would get out and pump the gas, Susan and Pam had window duty and I joined if there was time.  Then we took a bathroom break.  Checking in to the hotel – I checked in while Susan and Pam took the stuff out of the van and onto the cart.  In the room we assembly-lined the luggage into the room and then I took the cart back to the front while Susan and Pam unpacked the coolers and organized our junk.  In the morning we packed our suitcases and took them to the car as we headed to the “free” breakfast.  After breakfast, I packed the Tupperware with Ice and Susan packed the cooler.  We all then gathered our stuff and carried it out to the car.

And for all of you who asked….we still love each other and are already planning a new trip.

We leave you with these words from the song by General Johnson and Chairmen of the Board

I’d rather be in Carolina
Ain’t no place finer
No matter where you roam
I’d rather be in Carolina
And I’ll be tryin’ to
Get back home
 
The sun always shines in Carolina
Even when the skies are gray
My heart will always be in Carolina
Even when I’m a thousand miles away
 
kudzu outside our hotel window

kudzu outside our hotel window

cobble stone road

cobble stone road

the tree that owned itself

the tree that owned itself

the tree that owned itself

the tree that owned itself

Ty Cobb Museum

Ty Cobb Museum

Georgia guide stones

Georgia guide stones

One of the Stones

One of the Stones

The dam picture

The dam picture

the rocks in the river that Pam thought was floating trash

the rocks in the river that Pam thought was floating trash

The river between SC and GA

The river between SC and GA

biggest Denny's we ever saw.

biggest Denny’s we ever saw.

Converse college - could have been Susan's school. ;-)

Converse college – could have been Susan’s school. 😉

i see a mountain

i see a mountain

bamboo forest we passed - had to turn around to get the picture

bamboo forest we passed – had to turn around to get the picture

selfie in Gastonia - the end of the trip

selfie in Gastonia – the end of the trip

Let’s try that again

Day 25 July 25, 2016. Montgomery to Athens

 Left hotel on US 80 E then took US 29 N for the rest of the day.  Traveled through many small towns.  Passed through Tuskegee and saw Tuskegee Institute.  It was a nice town with a beautiful square in the center.  The hills got higher and higher as we traveled.  Saw the university in Auburn and stopped at an old bridge in Valley.  Entered Georgia at West Point and finally returned to Eastern Daylight Time.  Saw Bellevue Mansion in LaGrange and the Grand Hotel in Hoganville.  Passed through Newnan and saw all of the grand old homes.  Traffic began to pick up as we approached Metro Atlanta.  Before passing through downtown Atlanta we saw Fort McPherson, Spellman College, and Georgia Tech.  In Lilburn, a suburb of Atlanta, we stopped in the 103 degree temperature to tour a Hindu temple.  We then got caught in the Atlanta rush hour traffic all the way to Athens.  Tried to eat at La Dolche Vita but they were out of everything we tried to order.  Ended up eating at DePalmas Italian Cafe.  Tried to camp at the Candlewood Suites but they cancelled our reservation while we were eating.  Camped at the Holiday Inn Express in Athens.  Mileage: 259.6  Total so far 7371.9.

 

Left the hotel and within minutes we were at the world’s largest brick.  We stopped and took pictures.  It’s made out of bricks.   We all felt like we were so close to home today that we could spit on it, but we still have another day to go.   The hills were starting to roll and again we were traveling by the train track.  We passed thru many small towns, more with fun names.  We talked about all the funny names of towns and agreed that the worst we have had all trip was “Welfare” none of us wanted to live in Welfare.

We passed thru Tuskegee and Auburn.   Our next stop was Valley which was a strange name for a city.   We saw the bridge by Horace King, a slave who designed a lot of bridges.  He had to buy his freedom and then built even more bridges.     We drove thru West Point, our first town in Georgia and we switched over to Eastern Time. We then drove to Bellevue.

Then the day started falling apart.  We tried to go to the Hills and Dales Estate but it was closed on Monday and behind big fences, trees…..  So we headed out of town.  Then we saw a lot of kudzu and dead armadillos. Why are there armadillos in Georgia?  We saw one house where the kudzu had taken over.  I guess they must have left for the week.  Then we started getting close to Atlanta.  The road twists and turns and goes right thru the middle of Atlanta.  In the suburbs of Atlanta we stopped at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.  (You say it, Susan and Pam laughed at my pronunciation).  It was a gorgeous Hindu temple.   It was made in India out of marble and sandstone and shipped in pieces to the USA.  It was then reassembled like a 3d puzzle.  It was truly amazing.

When we got back on the road, I made a reservation at Candlewood Suites (a Holiday Inn property) for 10K points.  It was just outside of Athens.  We decided to stop by a restaurant before checking in.  We got to the restaurant and tried to order.   We had all picked out seafood dishes.  As we started to order the waitress said, “oh we are out of a few dishes, we don’t have any seafood”.  Ok, so we picked different dishes.  Pam and I both choose dishes with pesto.  I little later she came out and said we are out of pesto too.   We gave it up and headed out to find another place.  We did find another Italian restaurant.  It was ok.   I saw that I had a voice mail and missed call.  I checked the voice mail.  It was Candlewood Suites calling to say that they were sorry but we shouldn’t have gotten the reservation as they were fully booked.  Sorry?!?   So tonight we had to stay at the Holiday Inn express and we had to pay.  I’m not happy.  We did see a rainbow as we got back in the car to go to the hotel.  I hope tomorrow will be a better day.  We head back into Lenoir tomorrow night to terminate our Dandy route.

Susan and Pam in a brick hole

Susan and Pam in a brick hole

Part of the hwy we are on

Part of the hwy we are on

farm land with hay rolls

farm land with hay rolls

The Horace King bridge

The Horace King bridge

The old hwy bridge

The old hwy bridge

the outside of the covered bridge

the outside of the covered bridge

The house taken over by kudzu

The house taken over by kudzu

I live on Lee Road. Ok, which one!!!!!! Every road around here is the Lee Road

I live on Lee Road. Ok, which one!!!!!! Every road around here is the Lee Road

Bellevue

Bellevue

many of the towns here have squares and fountains in them.

many of the towns here have squares and fountains in them.

Grand Hotel we sawy

Grand Hotel we sawy

Following the train track and saw lots of trains today

Following the train track and saw lots of trains today

The temple

The temple

another view

another view

the reflecting pool

the reflecting pool

Pam at the University of Georgia Arch

Pam at the University of Georgia Arch

kudzu going to take over our hotel. See the bottom left corner, that is part of our hotel.

kudzu going to take over our hotel. See the bottom left corner, that is part of our hotel.

The Rainbow

The Rainbow

Stepping Back in Time

 Day 24. July 24th, 2016.  Covington LA to Montgomery AL

We left Covington and headed north on LA 21, the Blue Star Memorial Highway.  It was two lane backroads all the way.  The flat land gave way to rolling hills and we began to see less mosquito farms.  The roads were definitely galloping roads.  We entered Mississippi and immediately saw black water. Drove through Purvis and saw the old courthouse.  Bridge out near Pachuta so had to take small detour.  Brunched in Meridian at the oldest restaurant in Mississippi.  Hills got larger as we traveled into Alabama.  Stopped in Selma to get pictures of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and to start following the historic trail for the march into Montgomery.  Followed the trail all the way to the capital in Montgomery.  Saw where Rosa Parks was arrested.  Camped at the Holliday Inn Express in Montgomery.  Mileage: 371.4 

 

 We left Covington, LA on back roads that were flat and had mosquito farms on both sides.  The trees were so close to the side of the road that it almost felt as if we were driving thru a tunnel.  It was trees, more trees, and more trees.  I pulled out the computer and started buying some of the things I needed for my new place.  I had put the stuff on hold as I didn’t want it delivered while I was gone.  Hey something I was ordering wanted to come in on Tuesday.  I still have to hold off on that one.  We hadn’t been in Mississippi for 20 seconds before we saw some Black water.   We sang Black Water by the Doobie Brothers.  I think the government is worried about ice here as EVERY bridge has a sign warning about possible ice on the bridge.   Really they needed to be reminded that much….. and how often is there really ice???

Drove thru lots of little towns and drove thru Purvis to see the old courthouse.  The roads now followed the rolling hills, and so up and down we went.  Pam then had a butterfly road kill.   We didn’t turn around and get it.

We went over speed bumps on Hwy 11 in Hattiesburg?  I guess they wanted us to see the town.  Just outside of town we saw our first kudzu.  I then read how to grow kudzu (the joke) to Pam and Susan.  We laughed for a bit.  We went thru a LOT of small towns – none of any importance.  Susan and Pam saw a police department building that was on wheels in the middle of a field???  What???  They didn’t turn around for me to see or get a picture.  I think they are fibbing.

After the town of Savoy we saw swamps again.  We said yuck but luckily they didn’t last too long.   Our next stop was Meridian which Dandy described as a metropolis.  I don’t think it’s grown ANY since he came thru.   I really hate seeing these cities that were once thriving be downturned.   It does look like the city is trying to revitalize.  We found a great place to eat, Weidman’s http://www.weidmanns1870.com/.  It has been around since 1870.  We brunched there and met some of the locals.  Afterwards we drove around town and took a few pictures.    After we left, the roads got even hillier, and a short time later we passed into Alabama near Cuba (Alabama’s Front Door).  We immediately started singing Sweet Home Alabama.   We saw the Rooster Bridge and I told them the history behind it (I did a reading of the book).   The roads got bad again at Demopolis and shortly after that we crossed the 7000 mile mark on the van.   The highway started having crape myrtles in the median.   We then drove into Selma and saw the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the Selma march to Montgomery began.   We wanted to walk over the bridge but it was 98 and humid, much too hot, so we just drove thru town and took pictures and read all the historical markers.  We then followed the route they marched and saw many of the camp locations where they camped along the way.  Their route was the same as ours and we followed it all the way to the Capital.  In front of the capital the final crosswalk has footsteps in the white paint.   We also saw where Rosa Parks was arrested and also the Confederate White House.  It was a day full of history. We then headed to our hotel on the East side of Montgomery. It is a Holiday Inn Express and I used 10K points and $34 for the room.

Mom we saw at least 40 signs for Mobile but that was a side trip we were not going to take.  It’s 160+ miles from our route.

trees along the road

trees along the road

Purvis court house

Purvis court house

rolling road

rolling road

watch out for the ice

watch out for the ice

old bridge

old bridge

Weidman's 1870 restaurant

Weidman’s 1870 restaurant

Meridian buildings

Meridian buildings

Rooms for a $1

Rooms for a $1

The Union Hotel

The Union Hotel

Gaineswood plantation

Gaineswood plantation

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Hotel in Selma

Hotel in Selma

another view of the bridge

another view of the bridge

one of the camp sights

one of the camp sights

where Rosa Parks got arrested

where Rosa Parks got arrested

The bus stop where it all started

The bus stop where it all started

The Alabama capital

The Alabama capital

Footprints before the capital

Footprints before the capital

The confederate white house

The confederate white house

Take the LOOONNNGGG Way Home

Day 23 – July 23, 2016 – Thibodaux, LA – Covington, LA (Just north of New Orleans)

We continued our detour from yesterday back on Hwy 20.  We joined the original route at the point we left and headed towards New Orleans. In New Orleans we toured the French Quarter, saw the Roosevelt Hotel, and drove thru the Garden District.  We headed west most of the rest of the day.  Saw Buffalo, NY reenactment soldiers.   Took off on Jefferson Highway.   Drove west along the river but could not see it because of levees.  Stopped at Houmas Plantation for lunch, Burnside Café, then toured house and gardens.   Headed west even more.  We finally started heading north and east as we drove between major thunderstorms.  Camped at Residence Inn in Covington, LA.  Mileage – 260.5

 

We headed south on hwy 20 to connect with our route.  We passed more mosquito farms and some pretty houses along the way.  We connected back with Hwy 90 – the Old Spanish Trail until we got closer to New Orleans. We then took Hwy 310 to hwy 18 and drove along the river.  We couldn’t see it for the levees.   We passed several large bridges.  Pam thought we would go over each but NO….   We saw a sign for Hill.  Ok, it was a 3 foot bump in the road.  Seriously??    I then saw the sign that I want “Champagne Lane”.   We got to Waggaman and the road got very curvy.  We then headed over the bridge (no ferry) to New Orleans.  We drove by the Superdome and into the French Quarter.  We went down Royal Street and saw all the pretty houses.  We then went down Bourbon Street but Pam didn’t get any beads….a lot of people blew horns at us.    After that we drove by the Roosevelt Hotel where Mom and Dad had their fine Honeymoon dinner and headed to the Garden District where we saw a lot of beautiful Big Houses.

We headed back to Granddads route which followed the river.  His route took us WEST on River Road on the Eastern Bank of the Mississippi River.  We saw a reenactment for the Buffalo Soldiers, nickname for the black Calvary.   They were celebrating their 150 anniversary of being stationed in New Orleans.  We met one of the ladies in period attire and talked with her to learn why they were here.  She told us many of the wives traveled with the troops and helped out, but of course were never recognized.  We also told her our story.

I’m so disappointed, I had REALLY thought I would see the Mississippi River on both sides as we drove along its banks, BUT NOOOO.  That levee was beside the road the entire way.  It was really boring.  It looked like a grassy green mountain (if they call a 3 foot bump a hill then this was a mountain) on one side.  As we were leaving New Orleans we passed many one story houses with low roofs that come right to the top of the windows.  Then we passed huge industrial plants that depended on the river for transportation of materials and goods.  The industries were oil, gas, and chemical industries and were really, really huge. One building and all the grounds around it were covered in a red dust.  Yuck.    Oh well.   I did finally get a glimpse of the River when we drove thru the spillway.  It was just a glance.   I’m sure Dandy didn’t see any of this lovely scenery.

Next we hit St John Parrish and got to join a funeral procession.  They were going 20 in a 55.   This lasted for 15 LOOONNNGGGG miles.   We were hungry.  As soon as they turned off, Susan STARTED to speed up then saw the speed limit drop to 25 MPH.  She said she was going 45 anyway.  Susan saw a car ahead that looked like it was thinking about pulling out in front of us.  Susan screamed, don’t you EVEN THINK ABOUT pulling out in front of me.

After driving for a while, we saw the bridge that we drove over yesterday when we crossed the Mississippi on our detour.  Seriously, it was 12:30 and 144 miles since we left this morning and we were really only about 15 miles from there. Wish that bridge had been there when Dandy came thru.

We passed a few plantations and decided to stop at the Houmas Plantation for lunch.  This was an excellent choice.  We also bought the tickets for the tour so that we could take the tour after eating.  We had Lauren as our waitress and she took down Pam’s dietary needs and talked with the chef.  She also recommended the special which was crab, shrimp and crawfish in a crème sauce over eggplant.  Both Susan and I said the topping sounded great but not the eggplant.  She suggested a change to place it over pasta.  We ordered it.  It seems it also came with fried mushrooms (Nicky, the kind I like – like the ones Tim made) and asparagus.  I truly think this is the best meal I’ve had on this trip.  It was wonderful.  Susan and I couldn’t finish it all but got the rest to go and packed on ice.

After lunch we toured the gardens for a bit before taking the next house tour.  The plantation was once the largest sugar cane farm in the Americas and consisted of over 300,000 acres.  The house was built in 3 sections and contained period furniture and many original items.  We learned that there had been 28 oaks in front of the house but when the levees were built, many had to be cut down.  Still the gardens were wonderful.  After the tour we saw big thunderstorm clouds in the distance.  The sky looked angry and also looked bad on radar so we went to the Japanese garden quickly and headed back to the car.   When we were back on the route I looked at the radar.  It looked like we would thread the needle between 2 major storms.  One was centered over Baton Rouge and the other over New Orleans.  They were going to join each other right where we were.   We had to travel more to the West before finally getting to turn to the North.  We hit the outskirts of Baton Rouge and the traffic STOPPED.  WHAT?? It is Saturday.  No, we can’t stop….we want to miss the storms!  It took us forever to get thru even on side roads, but then we learned what the slowdown was.  Many roads were closed for one of the funerals for one of the slain police officers.  I only wish we had known about it earlier because we could have taken a slight detour on I12 and missed it all.  Oh well. At least we stayed on route.  Finally, we left the traffic and got back on the road.

We pulled into Covington.  Susan started seeing signs for New Orleans on our directions and I mentioned that Covington is really just North New Orleans – just across Lake Pontchartrian.  Susan asked Pam to google how long it would have taken us if we could have driven here directly.   It would have taken 1 hour 42 minutes because it was only 87.8 miles.  Why couldn’t some of these bridges have been here during Dandy’s time.  Instead it took us almost 11 hours (that did include lunch) and 260.5 miles.

Tonight’s hotel is the Marriot Residence Inn and only cost me 10K points.

industry along the river

industry along the river

our bridge into New Orleans

our bridge into New Orleans

French Quarter area

French Quarter area

more French Quarter

more French Quarter

more French Quarter

more French Quarter

more French Quarter

more French Quarter

hotel where Mom's honeymoon dinner was

hotel where Mom’s honeymoon dinner was

Garden District

Garden District

Garden District

Garden District

Garden District

Garden District

Buffalo Soldiers reenactment setup

Buffalo Soldiers reenactment setup

one of the plantations on the route

one of the plantations on the route

only time we saw the river and we were at the top of the spillway

only time we saw the river and we were at the top of the spillway

spillway area

spillway area

Funeral 1 finally turns off after 15 long miles

Funeral 1 finally turns off after 15 long miles

another plantation

another plantation

Houmas plantation

Houmas plantation

lunch

lunch

lizard we saw

lizard we saw

selfie

selfie

back of the house

back of the house

largest Lilly pad I've ever seen

largest Lilly pad I’ve ever seen

view from the deck

view from the deck

some of the rooms in the house

some of the rooms in the house

some of the rooms in the house

some of the rooms in the house

some of the rooms in the house

some of the rooms in the house

oval room

oval room

stair case

stair case

view from upper deck

view from upper deck

the 3 sisters

the 3 sisters

Japanese garden

Japanese garden

another waterfall in the Japanese garden

another waterfall in the Japanese garden

Southern Bells Down in the Bayou

Day 22 July 22, 2016 Orange TX to Thibodaux LA

 We left hotel and immediately felt the humidity.  Saw our first cemetery with above ground graves.  We left Texas and entered the Louisiana bayou country.  Mosquito farms everywhere.  Passed through NUMEROUS little towns with stoplights and very low speed limits. Didn’t make good time at all. Drove through Lake Charles and saw some big southern homes. Saw where Dandy’s ferry would have been in Mermentau.  Saw lots of sugar cane fields.  Roads really bounced us around. By the time we hit Morgan City there were so many long bridges that we were on bridges more than regular roads.  Stopped at Oak Alley Plantation for lunch and tour.  Passed by several other plantations.  Crossed the Mississippi River.  Drove to Thibodaux for supplies and to camp for the night at the Hampton Inn.  Mileage: 289.9

 

Humidity, humidity, humidity.  Everything fogs up as soon as you walk out the door.  We left the hotel and immediately wished we had the hot desert air again and it was only morning.   We crossed the Sabine River on a bridge since there was no ferry like Dandy used.  We tried hard not to see the alligators and snakes that he saw.  We did, however, see numerous Mosquito farms and a few mosquito plantations.  The area was covered with them.  Pam and Susan are mosquito magnets and were cringing every time we passed one.

We almost stopped by a sulphur museum but decided that the museum would probably “stink”.  We were stuck behind slow traffic for so long that when we had a chance where the road split for a brief moment at a traffic light, we told Pam to gun it and beat the cars waiting beside her.  So….Pam peals out in a loaded down minivan with three middle age women in the middle of a small town.  We were all laughing so hard that no one could breathe for the next mile.  We had to find the tissues because we couldn’t see for the tears in our eyes.

There were no mountains for me to capture with my camera.  There weren’t even any hills at all except for the lumps in the road and the hills that the bridges made.  Speaking of bridges, they are miles long here and I mean miles.  At first we thought our water drinking game today would be that we would drink every time we went over a bridge.  Susan and I quit when we realized there are way more bridges than bathrooms.  Pam tried to drown herself.  She finally cried uncle too.  Dandy had said that the roads were better after crossing the the bridge at Mermentau, but we disagreed.  It was like galloping on a horse across the country.  We could see the cars in front of us doing the same thing.

Dandy said that they had camped in a cane patch.  OMG. Never in a million years would you catch us doing that.  We did see sugar cane fields everywhere even in the middle of the mosquito plantations.   We could imagine all of the creatures living in that mess.  What an awful place to camp.  We also saw where the swamp people live…houses surrounded by swamps.  Cringe….

As we traveled we were thrilled to see more and more of the beautiful Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  We stopped for lunch at the Oak Alley Plantation and ate entirely too much good southern food.  It was midday so we decided we would just skip supper and went for dessert…except for Pam :(.  I had buttermilk pie and Susan had pecan.  After lunch we toured the plantation and learned a great deal from our guide.  The most beautiful part of the plantation was the live oak lined walk that led to the house.  The live oaks were over three hundred years old…28 of them planted in two rows 80 feet apart.  One had a girth of 30 feet and a 127 foot spread of limbs.    We were glad we did the tour but the history of those times made us sad.

We drove by the other plantations in the area but they were closed, so we just tried to get pictures from a distance.  We were very glad we had a Florida tag on our car.  We drove over the Mississippi River just because we wanted to.  The levies for the plantations were right beside the river, so when we saw a bridge (big bridge) we just couldn’t resist.

We headed into Thibodaux for the night.  I stopped by the urgent care to get my ear checked out.  It turns out it was my throat and not my ear.  Got a shot and pills.  Camped for the night at the Hampton Inn.  It cost 12K miles and $50 for the night.  I got us upgraded to a room with a sofa bed.  The status I have this year has really helped on this trip.

Our dirty van. we wanted to get pictures today since it might rain

Our dirty van. we wanted to get pictures today since it might rain

Stark house in Orange, Tx

Stark house in Orange, Tx

Hwy 90 by the railroad

Hwy 90 by the railroad

Bow on top of a building????

Bow on top of a building????

Lake Charles, La

Lake Charles, La

We saw an alligator

We saw an alligator

Mermentau river

Mermentau river

I think this is the old ferry station on the Mermentau River

I think this is the old ferry station on the Mermentau River

Above ground cemetery in La

Above ground cemetery in La

Frog sitting on a rock. Lots of them in that town

Frog sitting on a rock. Lots of them in that town

Sugar Cane patch. no way will we be sleeping near that

Sugar Cane patch. no way will we be sleeping near that

Old bridge by our highway

Old bridge by our highway

Riverboat

Riverboat

really long bridge

really long bridge

mosquito farm

mosquito farm

Don't wreck, swamps to the left and swamps to the right.

Don’t wreck, swamps to the left and swamps to the right.

Oak Alley hall

Oak Alley hall

Oak Alley dining room

Oak Alley dining room

fan in the dining room

fan in the dining room

crib

crib

view from the porch

view from the porch

selfie on the porch

selfie on the porch

view of the house with all the old oak trees

view of the house with all the old oak trees

The three of us

The three of us

view of Oak Alley up close

view of Oak Alley up close

slave quarters

slave quarters

levi - the Mississippi is just on the other side

levi – the Mississippi is just on the other side

another plantation

another plantation

and another one

and another one

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

The bridge over the river

The bridge over the river

Spanish Moss on the trees

Spanish Moss on the trees

Another night in Texas

Day 21 – July 21, 2016 – San Antonio, TX – Orange TX

Made new friends, Gian and Tony, who started our day right. Passed by the Tower of America.  Called George at Post Office, still didn’t have mail. Ate on the road.  Went thru lots of small towns, they were getting closer together the further east we went.  Spent time on a very old part of Old Spanish Trail.  Saw areas with lots of German influence.  Saw more Western style towns. Needed service on van in Rosenberg.  Passed SugarLand and saw sugar refinery. Entered Houston and met Cousin Floyd for dinner.  Drove to Beaumont and Orange and camped at Holiday Inn Express.  Mileage – 338.9

 

We checked out of the hotel and called for our car.  They came to get our luggage.  As we got to the car, we saw Gian.  It was good to see a refreshing face.  Pam started talking with Tony who was also there.  The 5 of us talked on the curb for about 10 minutes before we left.  We learned all about their lives, and learned that Tony also is planning a trip.  He plans to follow his grandmother’s Native American history thru Oklahoma.   I hope he will blog so we can follow him.  It was so nice to start our day with such lovely folks.  I hope we can keep in touch.  They liked the dirt on the van because it was the history of where we had been.

We had a strange breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  Had a hard time ordering.  Menu said fruit on the French toast, Pam asks “what kind?  Waitress: “blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, …”  Pam – “Oh I would like those.  Is there any sugar … on them?”  No, it’s a syrup.  Pam “Ok, what do you have that is fruit”   Strawberries, blackberries and something else.  Pam “Ok, I’ll take the blackberries”.  No, that’s a syrup too??? What???  Pam – “Ok.  how do you cook the eggs?”  with Pam cooking spray.    Pam “can you use butter”.  No, Butter. ?????   Pam – “How do you cook the French toast? “  In Oil?????   So Pam orders French toast, no fruit, no syrup.  Then when the waitress came back out, we asked if she had ANY fresh fruit.  We have strawberries, pineapple, and we might have blueberries??? Would you like some???  Seriously.  The rest of our breakfast went ok.

We left and started on our journey for the day.   The land was flat, no mountains.  L We drove thru many small towns and none of them were very significant. They were much more numerous though.  The speed limit didn’t get slower as we drove like it does back east.  Instead we were still doing 65 to 70 on the two lane highways.  Most of the day was spent on Hwy 90 with sections of Old Hwy 90 and sections of the Old Spanish Trail sprinkled in. The entire route we took today followed the Old Spanish Trail even if the roads changed numbers.   We saw some beautiful old buildings and towns that would have been great little towns in their time but have declined over the years.

We passed across the Caldwell County line today.  I think we must have hit a worm hole.  A little later, Pam’s phone ding’d and said that she needed to be more active.  It keeps up with her steps.   In Wealder, we took a picture of the world’s tiniest church.

We met a really nice man, Don Burcher of Firestone, who serviced our vehicle by putting in windshield wiper fluid, not that we have used very much with our travel thru the back country.  He didn’t even charge us for it.   Dandy also worked on his car in Rosenberg so we followed in his footsteps.  While I was in trying to find out if the place would work on the van, Susan and Pam were trying to take pictures of the car reflection and their reflections in the store window. Unbeknownst to them, they could be seen from the inside.  When they finally thought about it they died laughing.  I had to wait a LONG time for Don to finish with a customer on the phone in his office, so I was making all kinds of funny jesters.  I could see them laughing and thought they were laughing at me.  No, they were laughing at themselves.

After our was serviced, wepassed thru SugarLand and saw the refinery where Dandy tried to get a job.  We then headed into Houston and met our second cousin, Floyd Blackwell Jr, for an early dinner.  It was great to be with family and we had wonderful conversations about our trip and trips that he had taken.  He even picked up the check for dinner.  Thanks Floyd.  It was great.

We then headed over to NRG Stadium, home of Super Bowl 51, so Susan could get a picture with the Panther’s Keep Pounding Flag.  She wanted to be the first to have the flag where it belongs.   Go Panthers!!!!   Then we rejoined our route, the Old Spanish Trail.   We went thru many towns and finally got to Beaumont and saw the McFaddin-Ward Mansion and took pictures of the world’s largest fire hydrant.  The downtown area had big, tall, old, beautiful buildings.  You could tell that they have tried to fix the city up but it seemed empty.  It is so sad to see a town that was booming now empty.   When then headed onto our hotel, The Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Orange Texas.  Mile 877 on I10.  This is night 4 in Texas but we are almost out.   I used $34 and 10K points for a standard room and they upgraded us to a suite.  It’s bigger with a pull out sofa.  I’m really starting to like the Holiday Inn Express’s.  They’ve upgraded us each time we have stayed.

 

Buildings in a small town

Buildings in a small town

little tiny church

little tiny church

Old Spanish trial

Old Spanish trial

The really old road

The really old road

We didn't head to Smithville

We didn’t head to Smithville

More old buildings I liked

More old buildings I liked

More of the old trail original road

More of the old trail original road

DSCF1817

old courthouse

old courthouse

Back on the original road

Back on the original road

On the road

On the road

SugarLand refinery

SugarLand refinery

All of us with Floyd

All of us with Floyd

Susan wanted to have the first Panther flag at the NRG Stadium, Home of Super Bowl 51

Susan wanted to have the first Panther flag at the NRG Stadium, Home of Super Bowl 51

back on the Old Spanish Trail

back on the Old Spanish Trail

The mansion

The mansion

Pam and Susan lifting their leg on the largest fire hydrant

Pam and Susan lifting their leg on the largest fire hydrant

Old bridge

Old bridge

Flat country that we were in all day

Flat country that we were in all day

Cool old theater in downtown Beaumont

Cool old theater in downtown Beaumont

Moving on up

Day 20 – July 20th 2016 – Ozona, TX to San Antonio, TX

Left hotel.  The roads where flat for many miles.  No hills in the distance.  Headed east.  The further we drove the more vegetation and rolling hills we saw. We started following the river.  Went thru several small towns.  First town we liked was Kerrville.  Took pictures.  Saw armadillo road kill. Passed thru Comfort, pretty town. Stopped in Boerne for lunch.  The further we went the higher the heat and humidity became. Arrived San Antonio to more heat and more HUMIDITY.  Went to post office and had no mail.  Saw the Alamo, The Lone Star and the Sunken Garden all in 100 degree heat.  We are staying at the St Anthony Hotel.  We don’t know our mileage, they took our car.  We will add tomorrow.  Mileage – 237.5

 

Left the hotel and it looked just like it did on the other side of Ozona, flat.  There were still some cactus by the road but we were seeing some more vegetation.  Passed thru several small towns.  In Junction we saw the “Holt Smith St”.  Yes, we took a picture.  Saw more old motels, gun and ammo shops, tree stands and some old buildings.  Then we started to see rolling hills. We stopped by the road at an overlook and Susan jumped out and picked up more rocks for bible school.  Then we started following the Guadalupe River.   We enjoyed passing thru several pretty towns with old buildings and parks, and stopped in Boerne for lunch at Dienger Trading Company.

Then we headed into San Antonio.  You could tell we got into a big city as traffic got really bad.  The heat and humidity also got worse.  We arrived at the hotel and I went to check in.   It is the Beverly Hillbillies coming to town.   Remember this is a 5 Star hotel.  I got looks walking in in my shorts, but once they saw I had the certificate they treated me nicely.  Parking, valet only.  I came out to see Susan and Pam laughing.  What’s so funny???  Susan and Pam said they could see the valets going “I’m not taking them, you take them”, “look at the van, have they ever washed it”.  The losing valet came to the window to talk to us and we could imagine what he thought when he looked in and saw the car crammed full of stuff.  His head must have been spinning thinking he had to take all of that in. When I came back to the car we all decided to go ahead to the sights and told them we would park it later.   Boy were they relieved.  I am sure they were hoping we would come back during the next shift.

As we tried to make our way around town we ended up driving back by the hotel and saw the valets standing beside the road.  The valets probably thought the hillbillies were lost.   We then drove down to the old post office where there was NO parking.  How do you get your mail here?  We finally parked in a lot for the Alamo.   We walked to the post office to see if we had received any mail.  We had to go through security and metal detectors to get in.  Pam did not set them off.  Alas, we had no mail but enjoyed talking to George about our trip.  We will call in the morning to see if mail has arrived for us.  After the post office disappointment we headed to the Alamo where we began to melt.  We thought we might do the river ride but I decided it was too hot, so instead I took us to the sunken garden where it was even hotter.  The garden was the sunken city that Dandy had seen.  I am sure he wouldn’t have gone there if it were this hot when he was here.   We walked through part of it hoping it would be cooler at the waterfall.   Not only was it not cooler, but we got even hotter with all of the steps.  It was beautiful and we would like to have stayed longer, but we had melted even more.  We then headed to see the Lone Star Brewery that he had seen.  It is now an art museum.  We didn’t get out of the car.  It was hot enough inside.  We tried to visit a few other areas but they didn’t seem interesting from the car and we were too hot to get out.  We headed back to the hotel, but before we did tried to organize our mess in the car to limit what had to be brought in.  See typically we’ve been getting to the hotel and taking out all coolers, bags,…  Not tonight.

So we drove up and the same valets were there.  We told them about our journey and they were very helpful.  Off to our room.  Gian, helped us to the room with our luggage.  He is from the Philippines and plans to drive the islands with his sister next year.  He loved our stories and we would love to hear his.  Oh, the room is nice.  We have a bedroom, living area, butler’s pantry and bathroom.    There are even 2 bathrobes.  Pam put one on and wanted to eat some of her yogurt but didn’t have a spoon.  She had to eat it with her finger while wearing the robe.  The lap of luxury.   We worked on the blog and then got ready to head to the river walk.  Why did we choose the St Anthony?  2 reasons.   First – I was here back in November and got a free hotel night to use within a year and #2, this hotel was around when granddad came thru.  The hotel is full of history and has had MANY famous people stay here.  It  was the first hotel in the world to be air-conditioned (I know why, so people didn’t melt) and had fire proof rooms.  The hotel allowed for patrons to park in the garage and get gas, take the back elevator up to their room to get refreshed before making their grand entrance into the lobby.  I just felt we needed to stay at a historic place along our journey.

The river walk was about 2.5 blocks away and we got there when the sun had set but it was still dusk.  We caught the boat for the ride on the river and that lasted about 30 minutes.   Then we found a nice restaurant where we could eat and had a wonderful dinner.  We ate on the river walk but had to eat inside because we were still melting.  Headed back to the hotel to work on the blog, to do the reading of the book, and to chill before we crashed.  The reading of the book is reading our book on Dandy’s trip to see what he did for the days we are going to travel.

flat and no mountains

flat and no mountains

Uncle Holt would love this

Uncle Holt would love this

old building in Kerrville

old building in Kerrville

low rolling hills and more vegetation

low rolling hills and more vegetation

view from the outlook

view from the outlook

country road, take us home to the place we belong

country road, take us home to the place we belong

view from another outlook

view from another outlook

old building - I think in Comfort

old building – I think in Comfort

where we almost ate but they didn't have anything for Pam

where we almost ate but they didn’t have anything for Pam

view of the river we followed

view of the river we followed

More old buildings

More old buildings

old gas station

old gas station

more old buildings

more old buildings

the Alamo

the Alamo

We are at the post office

We are at the post office

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

more in the garden

more in the garden

the pavilion in the garden

the pavilion in the garden

the waterfall

the waterfall

crazy sisters that are melting

crazy sisters that are melting

The Lone Star

The Lone Star

Pam in her robe eating yogurt

Pam in her robe eating yogurt

Susan relaxing on the bed

Susan relaxing on the bed

claire chillin on the sofa

claire chillin on the sofa

we even have a butler's pantry

we even have a butler’s pantry

part of the lobby

part of the lobby

more lobby

more lobby

River walk

River walk

more river walk

more river walk

one of the boats like we took

one of the boats like we took

Texas is Big

Day 19 July 19, 2016 El Paso TX to Ozona TX

Left hotel and stopped by store for supplies.  Tried to find historic buildings in El Paso with no real luck. Back on the road eastward, Claire gives us history lesson on El Paso. Passed more flooded pecan farms and some sheep. The valley is irrigated and very green.  The land further out is just dirt with a few scrub brush and grass.  Saw roadrunner.  Followed the Texas Mountain Trail.  The land is flat, flat, flat in all directions.  Further along we began to see tiny dunes beside the road with minimal vegetation.  The Texas Mountain Trail finally reached the mountains.  They are not big, but they are mountains. Passed through another border control inspection.   Back in the valley again we saw several dust devils and many mesas.  Stopped by Missionary Mary Chapel out in the middle of nowhere.  Stopped at Fort Stockton and ate lunch in front of the train station. Saw a giant roadrunner.  Headed back on the road and it was very windy.  Mesas everywhere now.  Started seeing polka-dotted mountains covered with beaver tail cacti.  Drove to top on large mesa onto plateau and it became flat again.  Drove the Chihuahua Trail.  Camped in Ozona at the Holiday Inn Express.  Mileage: 379.5

 

We went shopping to get supplies at Wal-Mart.  No blue chips.  That’s what Susan and Pam snack on all day.  I will eat a little here and there but those 2 are addicted.  Pam saw a bunch of nuns in WM – Susan and I didn’t see any.  Is Pam seeing things, maybe it’s that migraine medicine?  We then drove back into downtown “historic” El Paso.  The most interesting thing we saw was a sphinx that looked like a nun.  Since there was no history in El Paso, I googled and gave them a history lesson.  Yes, it used to be one city and it split when the USA took over the Texas territory.    Rode back roads when we could but most of the trail was on I 10.  Stopped at a sketchy gas station but there were no others for MILES.  You don’t understand, MILES.   There is nothing out here.  The Antenna motel was across the street.  It had no name, just an old TV antenna on the top of the sign????   I worked 5 hours today from the back seat.  I had internet most of the way, but I got a lot done because there was nothing else to do except occasionally take a picture of a mountain when I saw one.   There is so little here that the bill boards say xxx Hotel 300 miles.  Next services 80 miles.  Really folks there is nothing out here.    In one of our boring moments we googled I 10.  There are 880 mile markers, it also has the widest road in the USA near Houston, its 26 lanes wide.  I hope we are on back roads there.

We hit border patrol again and they stopped us.  They asked us again if we were US citizens.  You know our van is dirty enough to have gone back and forth across the border several times and the back is so full of stuff (rocks) that it could be bodies, but they never ask anything but “are we citizens”.  Next time we will answer in Spanish.  Then we saw the sign “do not pick up hitch hikers”.  Don’t they know we still have our dates in the car?

By this time we had gotten so bored and silly that we were trying to find anything in the mountains and scenery.  Pam said the mountains are trying to get out of here because they are so boring….

We passed thru Van Horn. Pam said their chief industry was 50’s/60’s motels.  There were a ton of them.  Pam saw a mountain she called the pimple mountain.  Susan said “it’s black on top so it’s a black head”.   We went thru Kent and all there was is an old empty building that says “no nuclear waste aqui”.  That was it.  Can’t see why Dandy wanted to stay in this place.

We then got on the Farm to Market Road.  Yes, this was part of the route.  The speed limit was 70.  We saw a little church with a historic marker so we stopped.  We got out and made pictures and were almost finished when a car pulled into the area pretty quickly.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  I can’t believe 3 middle age women ran to get in the van and lock the doors and leave so quickly.  We didn’t want to stay around and see what they wanted.  They immediately turned around and left.  Glad to be back on our way.  We went to the Oasis of West Texas, Valmorhea.  It did have a tiny water wheel????  Seriously.

Lots of dust devils back along the road.  Then we saw the Alpine turn off.  No mountains, no trees, why Alpine????  Susan googled it and it didn’t look Apline’y.  It looks duster than everything else we have been seeing.

Drove into the metropolis of Ft Stockton.  Unless you like Mexican food, you are out of luck.  Pam can’t eat it right now so we ate on a picnic table at the old train station.  The wind BLEW everything everywhere.  The lady at the welcome center said we could eat inside.  We took pictures of the items around there (see pictures) and then hit the road again.

Started seeing more mesas and a few oil wells.  I looked up what to do in Ozona. I found a top 10 list.  It had 2 items on it.  Seriously.   Pam made supper for the buzzards.  She hit a bird that flew into the windshield.  L  We pulled into Ozona and the first thing we saw was tree stand city.  Hunting must be big around here – must be the only thing to do.  I’ve never seen a tree stand store.  Got to our camping site, Holiday Inn Express 10K points and $34 for the night.  There is nothing here but we hope the “steak” house might have some food that isn’t Mexican.

Pam and Susan wanted to know about shopping so I googled it.  Oh there are lots of places – a general store, a drug store, Napa Auto parts, …..   wow the list goes downhill from there.

On the way we drove thru the town and it’s actually a cute little town “the biggest little town in the world”.   We saw the old courthouse, bank and hotel, then we drove to the restaurant.  On the way we took pictures of the Tree Stand (hunting stand) store.  I’ve never seen so many in one place.   Our restaurant looked like a whole in the wall but the food was pretty good and they had food Pam could eat.   After dinner, we drove back to the town and walked thru the park in the square.  There was green everywhere and a gazebo.  We also saw the large old oak tree.     Then we came back to the hotel and colored.  Susan gave us maps of the states and we colored all the states we’d been in.  I won but Pam’s map looks like someone cut off the top of the US.  Now she is coloring the map for where we have been together, this trip and last year’s northeast trip.

view of Mexico from our room in El Paso

view of Mexico from our room in El Paso

Nun Sphinx in El Paso

Nun Sphinx in El Paso

old building in El Paso

old building in El Paso

back to my mountain pictures Somewhere just outside of El Paso

back to my mountain pictures Somewhere just outside of El Paso

Mountain

Mountain

Volcano?

Volcano?

Rock Hill

Rock Hill

mesa

mesa

what we really saw most of the time

what we really saw most of the time

more of what we saw. Flat with mountains out there occassionally

more of what we saw. Flat with mountains out there occasionally

Kent - That's about all there is

Kent – That’s about all there is

more flat open country, this part on the back road

more flat open country, this part on the back road

Little Church. I took a picture with Dino and Turtle for Allie

Little Church. I took a picture with Dino and Turtle for Allie

little water wheel

little water wheel

mountain and flat mountains.

mountain and flat mountains.

old train station and where we picnic'd

old train station and where we picnic’d

Susan turning the oil well

Susan turning the oil well

Pam under the windmill

Pam under the windmill

susan caught the train

susan caught the train

Pam posing on the Ft Stockton sign

Pam posing on the Ft Stockton sign

Giant Road Runner

Giant Road Runner

more mesa these greenish

more mesa these greenish

more differing scenery

more differing scenery

more flat with Mesa's in the distance

more flat with Mesa’s in the distance

nipple mountain - at least that's what we named it.

nipple mountain – at least that’s what we named it.

seriously they cut thru the mountain when all they had to do was slightly turn it to go around that. It's not like there wasn't FLAT land on the side for miles

seriously they cut thru the mountain when all they had to do was slightly turn it to go around that. It’s not like there wasn’t FLAT land on the side for miles

old bridge on the old route

old bridge on the old route

view from the top of one of the mesas

view from the top of one of the mesas

back to flat and now no mountains that I can zoom in on.

back to flat and now no mountains that I can zoom in on.

cactus but low ones like we have at the beach

cactus but low ones like we have at the beach

Ozona - Biggest Little town in the world

Ozona – Biggest Little town in the world

old courthouse

old courthouse

old hotel from Dandy's time

old hotel from Dandy’s time

Hunting - Tree stand store - seriously

Hunting – Tree stand store – seriously

Pam under the giant oak tree

Pam under the giant oak tree

45 and Counting……

Day 18. July 18, 2016 Globe AZ to El Paso TX

Left Globe and drove through Apache territory. Temp a pleasant 82 degrees. Saw mountain covered in cactus. Drove through Gila Valley on the Old West Hwy with beautiful mountains all around us. Passed into New Mexico and it was flat in every direction. Started to see extinct volcanos near Denning where we stopped at the Black Hat Trading Post.  Saw Baker’s Hotel where Dandy had camped. Further along we stopped for lunch at the Adobe Deli.  Saw huge mountains in the distance but the land is still flat.  Passed through one area where we saw seven dust devils.  Stopped in historic La Mesilla and walked through to see the historic buildings and shop. Temp now 104.  Drove into El Paso TX and could see the town of Ciudad Juarez Mexico right beside the interstate.  Camped for the night at the Hyatt Place.  Mileage: 334.3

 

We left Globe AZ on the other end of our own US 70 (our connection to home) and headed east because there is no going any further west on that road.  We took hwy Indian 6 and hwy Indian 170 though Apache territory and had a history lesson on the Apache Indians. When we got back on US 70, we passed quickly (65 on another 2 lane hwy) by a mountain covered with large saguaro cacti.  We stopped to clean our windows “I can see clearly now the streaks are gone…” and turn around to go back and get some pics.  We saw a sign that said watch for animals next 7 miles.  Susan declared that she really wanted to see animals and told everyone to watch for them.  I, sitting in the backseat, said that there were two sitting in the front.

We went through Geronimo which was half a block long.  We had wanted to sto, but by the time we saw it we had missed it all together.  Since there was nothing there we didn’t bother to turn around.

In Pima, we had to turn around yet again for the road sign “Old West Highway”.   Further along the highway, we kept seeing cacti and Pam googled the age.  We realized that some of the same cacti that we saw were there when Dandy went thru.  It seems they grow very slowly.  A ten year old plant might just be 1-2 inches tall.  A 40-60 ft plant is 150-200 years old.  Some of the big ones weigh over 2 tons.  Now you’ve had your science lesson for the day too.    The temperature was still in the high 80’s and it seemed very pleasant.

We left the cactus behind and entered yucca territory.  There are yucca plants everywhere.  We had to take a bathroom break at the only convenience store in the middle of nowhere, and there were prisoners working nearby.  We all had to go so we went in.

Right after that we passed into New Mexico.  New Mexico is flat, flat, flat with mountains in the distance.   We saw a cow all alone in the middle of NOWHERE , 1 cow, all by itself.  About 10 miles later, we saw a group of about 20 cows.  We assume the 1 was a teenager cow that just had to get away.  😉   After we saw a couple of dust devils beside the road, we also saw a sign that said: safety corridor for the next 20 miles.  We had to turn on lights and we can’t figure out why.   It is flat, flat, flat and the road is straight.  Not sure why it was a safety corridor.  About half way thru we passed the continental divide (elevation 4585).    How could they tell that was the divide?  It was flat, flat, flat.    We started seeing extent volcanos and we didn’t realize there was so many volcanos in the area.  In Deming we stopped at the Black Hat Trading Post and filled the car up with rocks.  These were bought rocks, too.  We like rocks.  We then drove into town and found the Baker Hotel building where I think Dandy camped in the parking lot.  Denning was not a happening place.   As we drove out, we started to see these large mountains in the distance but it was really flat all the way up to them. We just can’t capture the perspective with pictures.

Trip Advisor reviews led us to the Adobe Café outside of Deming for a late lunch.  I mean it is outside of Deming in the middle of farm country, in the middle of nowhere.  It was weird.  It’s like an antique store, junk shop, restaurant, bookstore, I don’t bloody know what all they must have put in a bag and then just randomly pulled out.  That’s about what the reviews said too.   We did eat lunch but we didn’t order the Rabbit Roadkill Reuben.  When we left and it was 100 degrees.  We saw more flat land, cows, and lots of dust devils.  At one time we saw 7 dust devils at the same time.

When our road merged back onto the interstate, we saw the sign for the town Truth or Consequences.  Yes this is the name of a real town.  There was a giant bird on the right at the top of the hill.

Our best find of the day was historic La Mesilla.  It was a perfectly kept old Spanish town with a plaza in the center.  All of the buildings around the plaza and down the side streets were old west buildings made of adobe.  It felt just like going back in time and standing in the middle of a pueblo. We got out and went through the stores and did a little shopping.  We didn’t buy any more rocks but Susan did buy some earrings.  This is the kind of town we thought we would see more of on our trip.   Billy the Kid, Poncho Villa, and several presidents had visited the town in its heyday.

On our way out of town, we passed a bunch of pecan farms.  They irrigated the farms by flooding them.  At first we thought there had really been a hard rain storm, but then realized that it was just irrigation.

When we passed into Texas we drove right along the border.  You could look out the right window and right beside the interstate was Mexico.  I mean it was where the frontage road would usually be.     This was Ciudad Juarez Mexico and it was literally right there.  We then headed to the hotel, Hyatt Place.  I used 8K Hyatt points but I get back 10% for the July-Oct promotion.

We thought we would be on Central Time now, but NOOO, El Paso and one other county are in the Mountain Time Zone.  We will switch about 30 minutes outside of El Paso, tomorrow.

I have now been in 45 of the 50 states.  I have Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin to go.  This trip gave me Kansas and now New Mexico.

Mesa outside of globe

Mesa outside of globe

Indian Hwy 170 sign

Indian Hwy 170 sign

cactus mountain

cactus mountain

lots of cacti

lots of cacti

cacti on the ridge

cacti on the ridge

lone cactus with the mountain behind it

lone cactus with the mountain behind it

remember I like mountains

remember I like mountains

canyons, mountains and semi desert

canyons, mountains and semi desert

mountains and rolling mountains

mountains and rolling mountains

rock formation

rock formation

old west highway sign

old west highway sign

cool looking mountain

cool looking mountain

more pretty mountains

more pretty mountains

The west lives on the Old West Highway

The west lives on the Old West Highway

it turned flat

it turned flat

and it stayed flat

and it stayed flat

Hotel Baker in Deming

Hotel Baker in Deming

Roadkill Rabbit on the menu

Roadkill Rabbit on the menu

the Adobe Deli

the Adobe Deli

more flat. we could see the mountains in the distance but never got to them

more flat. we could see the mountains in the distance but never got to them

dust devil

dust devil

someone cut off the top of this hill

someone cut off the top of this hill

Pam liked this mountain. From one angle it had 2 humps

Pam liked this mountain. From one angle it had 2 humps

giant bird by the side of the road

giant bird by the side of the road

spiky mountains -but it was hazy.

spiky mountains -but it was hazy.

Mesilla

Mesilla

seen in Mesilla

seen in Mesilla

Billy the Kid info and Susan and Pam

Billy the Kid info and Susan and Pam

Another cool building in Mesilla

Another cool building in Mesilla

Spiky mountains without the haze but a different angle

Spiky mountains without the haze but a different angle

That is Mexico. yes, that is how close it is.

That is Mexico. yes, that is how close it is.