Road Trip - Day 17 - St. Louis to Iowa

We left Illinois behind and headed for St. Louis. Jeff's dad had the ingenuity to realize the reason the cigarette lighter and the horn didn't work was because we had blown that fuse. So we got a new fuse and hooked up the GPS and off we went.

I was starting to get the fever/chills thing Jeff had and Jeff was still kind of sick. But we were feeling well enough to stop at the St. Louis Botanical Garden which is one of my favorite public gardens. I really wanted to do a horticulture internship there my Freshman year of college. Instead I got Chicago Botanic which wound up being my favorite of the four internships I did. Why did I want St. Louis more than Chicago? It has intern housing which would have been preferable to living with a host family. We wondered around the garden for a couple hours. They have a beautiful children's' garden and a top quality conservatory.

Then I started to get cold and shaky and we got back in the car and drove on. We came into Ames, Iowa about 7:30pm and I went straight to bed. It's good to be back and have my own bed.


Road Trip - Day 16 - Illinois

We reached Jeff's Dad's and stepmom Lynn's house around 8pm and by the time we got there Jeff was shaking with fever. He started feeling ill just after lunch. So we didn't stay up late and piled the blankets on so Jeff could hopefully sweat it out.

The next day Jeff was still sick. So we got out of doing some chores that evidently had been planned for us. I got a hold Lynn's mom's recipe box and typed up some of her recipes. They may eventually make it onto my newest blog Recipes from my Grandma. This new little venture is an effort to record recipes and memories that go with for my family. I am currently focusing on my Grandma Jones and Jeff's Grandma Irene. I would love to get some of the classic recipes up before Christmas and Thanksgiving. I also think the site needs a new header, something cleaner and brighter. I'll see what I can come up with.

So we spent another night at Jeff's dad's house and Jeff was still sick, but he didn't have a fever.

Road Trip - Day 15 - Texas to Illinois and Watermelon

Our goal is to get to De Soto, Il by tonight. So we are driving about 14 hours in one go today. We did stop for lunch at a place called Los Dos Loco Gringos. It was decent Mexican. The more interesting part was they had three huge watermelons for sale. The one on the left weighs about as much me (142 lbs) the one on the right was about the same as Jeff (214 lbs).

The guy who grows these, Lloyde Bright also holds the Guiness Book of World Records for largest watermelon. Guess how much it weighed? 268 pounds! Lloyd was selling these three lesser monsters for $50 a pop. They are the ultimate picnic melon.

We came into Desoto, Illinois around 9:30 tonight.


Road Trip - Day 14 - College Station Texas

We slept in and then had a fancy breakfast of hash browns, eggs and bacon. We went to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3D in the afternoon. It was a cute movie, better than I had expected. The policeman was voiced by Mr. T.

Jeff and Drew went to a play Frisbee in the afternoon. When they got back we went out for some of the most delicious Thai curry I’ve had in ages at a place called Mr. Cao’s in Bryan, Tx. We got home and watched part of the Planet Earth BBC series.


Road Trip - Day 13 - College Station Texas

A nice morning of playing with the chickens and admiring the garden. Andy and Miranda got ready to go camping and we packed up. It would have been nice to camp with them but we are running short on time. We did perhaps our shortest drive day going from Austin to College Station Texas.

We met up with Drew and Kate and stayed in their new house. Jeff, Kate and Drew went to a Magic the Gathering Tournament. I stayed in and watched the Home and Garden Network and fiddled on the computer. Some eight hours later they came back – Jeff got 15th out of 52. Then Drew and Kate made delicious hamburgers and fries.


Road Trip - Day 12 - Austin Texas

We drove most of West Texas today, coming in around 7pm to Andy and Miranda Rommel’s house in Austin. We were treated to a delicious pesto and grilled veggie dinner. Then we sat around and talked over wine. We slept on their comfortable futon and unknown to us Holly, the house turtle, underneath.

Road Trip - Day 11 - Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest is not very forest-y. It’s more lumpy and desert-y. We drove the 28 miles of National Park.

At the visitor’s center we watched a ten minute film. About 75% of the video was about how the trees fell and then washed down river and the logs got covered with silt and became rocks millions of years ago. The other 25% was a warning not to steal petrified rock. The scare tactics included a scene of a man being searched by cops and handcuffed when they found a huge chunk of petrified wood in his pants. Also letters from visitors returning pieces of stone; several hoping that a horrible string of bad luck would end if they gave back the cursed rock. The park estimates that one ton of petrified rock is stolen per month from the park.
Jeff tried to haul off the biggest petrified log in the park, Old Faithful. It is 35 feet long and weighs an estimated 44 tons. He had it half way to the car when his conscience got the better of him. So we lawfully bought a chunk for $9 from the Curio shop.

Then we drove on across the white mountains of New Mexico and will end today’s drive just over the border in Texas somewhere near El Paso.


Road Trip - Day 10 - Grand Canyon

We got moving a little late today and drove through Williams for lunch. They have a Route 66 Main Street and we had good diner food with excellent service at the Pine Cone Café. Then we drove up to Grand Canyon Nation Park were the entry fee was $25 for one car. Unlike the Oregon Public Garden this was worth it. My family visited the Grand Canyon when I was a kid and I remember driving through and stopping at look out points. Now they have this big parking lot and you take their bus shuttle service along the rim. It was a very slick deal you don’t have to drive-park-drive, we took the bus then walked a bit then picked up the bus up again. I was enchanted with the Hermit’s Rest building. It has a great domed hearth made of local rock and a beautiful view of the Canyon. It was originally built in the early 1900’s as the end of a stagecoach tour of the canyon - a place for the tourist to warm themselves and have some refreshments before going back down.

We drove out of the park around 7:30.

We hit 2,000 miles driven today (that’s starting from Salem).


Road Trip - Day 9 - Las Vegas

Spent the morning with Marigold and the kids and then hit the road around 10am to get to Las Vegas. We came into Las Vegas around four in the afternoon and parked at the Bellagio. Jeff’s lips are almost back to their normal size.
We the admired casino’s conservatory and ceiling covered in Cheholi glass piece. Steve had a bike convention, so we met up with him and wandered around the strip. We ate dinner in Cesar’s Palace and checked out several galleries. Valdamire Kush Gallery and Nano Lopez were the most interesting. We walked our tootsies off to see the new Paris and Planet Hollywood (pH) casinos. Then we drove on out of there around nine.

We crossed the Hoover Dam at about 10pm and then drove a little further and stopped in Kingman, AZ for the night.


Road Trip - Day 8 - Seal Beach, Ca

Steve left early for a conference in Vegas, so Jeff and I hung out with Marigold and the kids in the morning. Then Jeff and I went down to Seal Beach, had lunch at a Mexican joint and wandered in the galleries. It was definitely higher quality prints and some originals then the stuff we had been seeing in the other touristy galleries in Northern California.
For dinner we all went down to the BBQ Pit where they have a kid play area and delicious sweet potato fries. But there must have been something else in the sauce because Jeff had an allergic reaction and it gave him Angelina Jolie lips. So Jeff took some Benidryll and we watched Wall-e. Then everyone went to bed early.


Road Trip - Day 7 - Huntington Beach

Huck’s Birthday Party in the park. It was a low key event with a pull-string piñata and decorate your own cupcake. The kids (and some of the grown-ups - Steve) flew kites. Huck got Wii Resort for his birthday so we got to try out all the little games. Huck’s favorite was fencing. It’s a good level for Huck. Some parts are more challenging and he can grow into them. A quick trip out got a second Wii Motion Plus so we could do the two player games. Jeff went with Steve’s work at Nierve where he designs packaging and look of their bicycles.


Road Trip - Day 6 - Huntington Beach, Ca

Waffles for breakfast! With the fresh strawberries we bought at the road side stand yesterday. Then we took a walk down to the salt marshes. The weather is indeed perfect in Southern California: dry and warm and sunny. Milo and Huck are smiley, goofy, endearing little guys. We stopped at Trader Joe’s for lunch. Our third time there on this trip.Tomorrow is Huck’s third birthday. We spent some time getting things ready. For dinner we went down to Seal Beach and ate at Ruby’s a Diner on the pier.


Road Trip - Day 5 - Route One to Las Angelas

We left Sara’s and Matt’s Apartment around 8 am and got gas for way too much. It was 3.39 a gallon. Then we cut over to the coast and drove down Route One. As far as I can tell that road exists for tourists. Stunning dramatic views of steep cliffs and crashing waves. Lots of rocks and tight curves with little beach-lets. We saw fat grey elephant seals and a variety of other animals. We bought a big box of almost over ripe strawberries. Then we had lunch at a little beachside bar and grill.

We passed the 1000 mile mark. By tonight we should be well beyond Santa Barbara. Actually we were going to camp along the beach, but we forgot it is Friday and everyone is going camping for the weekend. Instead we are going to press through LA to get to Steve and Marigold’s in Huntington Beach. We came in around 9 pm. It was good to see them.


Road Trip - Day 4 - San Fransico

We headed into the city of San Fransico and visited Sara’s studio. Then we took the public transportation to a gallery that Sara had to write a report on. It was a show of paintings of scenes from Star Trek and then collages of pornographic nudes with Ford’s and Nixon’s head pasted on. I didn’t get it.
Then we took more public transport out to Fisherman’s Warf and had sourdough bread bowls with clam chowder. We walked around a bit and saw Alcatraz and the golden gate bridge. There were a ton of characturer artists and people selling cheap beaded jewelry. We did find a gallery with well done sculptures by a Columbian artist called Nano Lopez. It seems like we have run across a lot of good Columbian artists. We also liked Lobo Guerrero’s oil paintings we saw in a gallery in Bogata.


Road Trip - Day 3 - Santa Clara, CA

We hung out with Sara and Matt and their roommate Wess. We didn’t do much. Visited Trader Joe’s (We have now gone there twice in one trip!) and then watched Tropic Thunder which was hilarious. Then we talked more movies. Perfume was their top recommendation.


Road Trip - Day 2 - Cresant City, Ca to Santa Clara, Ca

We got up and drove into Crescent City at the very top of the California coast line. We stopped at the beach. It smelled very crabby. I picked up a knot of some sort of wood.
Then we drove into the Redwood National Forest and passed so close to the redwoods we could see the lichen on the bark.

We stopped off at the Loleta Cheese Factory where we sampled 44 varieties of cheese. They make cheddar, haviarti, fontina and jack cheese then age and flavor it to get the many varieties. We bought a delicious organic white sharp cheddar and a chipotle jack. They even had a well tended garden outback that would be a great place for a party, perhaps a wine and cheese party. Although they would need liquor license for that. Then we wound our way down through Humbolt State Park and drove the Avenue of Giants. We stopped off at Founder’s Cove and several other places to walk between the trees and inhale their Christmas scent. On the way out we saw the One Log House – a big log someone had hallowed out and made into a little house then hoisted it on a trailer and used it to tour around. We also bought an unfinished slab of redwood wood. The plan is to make it into a table top or some other interesting and useful piece of furniture for our future house.
Now we are heading down Highway 101 and should arrive at Sara Antion’s apartment in the suburbs of San Franscico around 10 tonight. San Franscico looks smoggy and sparkly.


Road Trip - Day 1 - Salem, Or to Cresent City, Ca

We had a tasty breakfast with Emily and Adam before heading out this morning. Today we are going to Crater Lake Nation Park. Along the way we stocked up on cacoa covered chocolate almonds and extra sharp cheddar cheese at Trader Joe’s. Gas prices vary between $2.93 and $3.07 for a gallon of regular. We climbed up into the Cascades of Oregon. The highway is lined with pine trees and log cabins.

Crater Lake was indeed as blue and clear as sapphires. It’s more panoramic and the saturated blue of the waters is something that can’t be appreciated in pictures. We drove the east side of the crater and learned that the color of the water is due to it’s depth and clarity. We also learned that Masuma was the volcano that blew up 700 years ago and sunk to make crater lake.

We drove into California for the night and got our first eyeful of redwoods. I can see why people would chain themselves to these. We almost stayed at a place called Out N About Treehouse Resort, but they didn’t have any vacancies. So instead we drove to an Econolodge and stayed in a boring room. But we had internet access.


The Oregon State Fair

We didn't make it to the Iowa State Fair this year, but we did make it to the Oregon State Fair. It's a smaller, easier on the knees version. No biggest bull or butter cow. But it was still a lot of fun.

For more photos - click.


The Oregon Garden

It is the dry season in Oregon. Nice clear skies and brittle grass and dust. I have a feeling this garden would have been better during the wetter times of year. It also looks like the might be suffering funding issues. A lot of the pathways were unkept and there were very visible weeds. Of their 21 gardens, the best looking was the conifer garden. Click for more photos.
I would have enjoyed the garden more if the price of admision hadn't left a bad taste in my mouth. It was $14 per adult. It was a nice garden, but $28 is cost prohibitive. It would be nice if it was a place everyone could enjoy.
The Gordon House can also be visited on the same drive as the garden. It's a cute little Frank Loyde Wright designed for an average income family. They closed at 5:00 pm , so we didn't get inside, but we snuck peaks in the windows and it's great little house. I'd live in it.


Cross Coutry Tour Rout

What is the most interesting way to get from Seattle to Iowa? The rout where we see the most friends and most fabulous places? Those are the questions I have been working on all afternoon. And here is the best answer I can come up with:
We'll start up at Steve and Jessica's in Seattle then work our way down the coast:
A - Seattle, WA
B - Salem, OR
C - Crater Lake, OR
D - Redwood National Forest, CA
E - Santa Clara, CA - to see Sara A.
F - Las Angles Area, CA - to see Steve and Marigold
H - Las Vegas, NV
I - Grand Canyon, AZ
J - Petrified Forest, NM
K - Austin, TX - to see Miranda and Andy
L - College Station, TX - to see Drew
M - Kansas City, MO - to see Andri and Britney
N - Ames, IA
We are still working out the details. As it is right now we have 11 states over 4,421 miles. That equals 76 hours of driving in 16 days. It all starts September 14th. If you have any advice for what we should see and do along the way - neither of us have been this way before - please leave us some ideas in the comments.