Sunday, August 31, 2008

Over the hills and far away

What's that you say? Weren't G and I supposed to be on vacation last week? Well, we were, and here's the abbreviated report.

Saturday, Aug. 23

After an unplanned three-hour delay, courtesy of a dead car battery, my dad, G and I dropped the very unhappy cats off at their prison lovely holiday accommodations and hit the freeway. By three o'clock, we were at the iconic train-depot McDonalds in Barstow, which has expanded since I was last there in 1994 (!) to include an entire mini food court. There, we all ate, visited the restroom and bought gas, and within 45 minutes, we were back on the road and heading for Arizona.

This was somewhere between Kingman and Flagstaff. It was raining in the distance and the sunset turned everything purple and rose.

It took forever to get to Flagstaff, which was where we intended to stop for the night, and when we arrived it was long past dark. We got rooms at a Motel 6 and ate dinner, and then the altitude caught up with me -- Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet, and I felt like I was wearing concrete shoes. I'm embarrassed to admit what time I finally woke up and told G to turn off the laptop and go to sleep, so we'll just say it was late and leave it at that.

Sunday, Aug. 24

Quote of the day from my dad:

"Hurry up and get dressed! We have to get to Denny's before the Baptists do!"

I LOL'd.

We did beat the Baptists to Denny's, and after breakfast, we were back on the road. Here are some photos:

Now leaving Flagstaff, home of the only trees in Arizona.

The first sign you're entering New Mexico: an invitation to buy Indian souvenirs.

Red rock cliffs from far away.

And from close up.

We finally got to my grandmother's house in Albuquerque around 3 p.m., and then spent the rest of the day going out to dinner and watching the Olympic closing ceremonies on TV. Quiet, but nice.

Monday, Aug. 25

On this day, my dad, G and I went shopping in Old Town. I loved it there when I was G's age, and she enjoyed it too, picking out souvenirs for herself and presents for her cousin and three of her friends. After the shopping we went to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, where we watched the "Living Sea" IMAX movie and saw loads of fossils:

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Got up at 5 a.m. -- it was still dark outside, ouch -- and drove 200 miles to visit my great-uncle and aunt, who live in a little town called Portales. There's not a lot to see on the way to Portales, but here's a nice abandoned farmhouse for you:

There are similar houses everywhere you go in New Mexico, many of them almost completely ruined. Whenever I see one, I always wonder about the people who lived there, and what made them decide to leave. Were there too many bad growing seasons in a row? Did they hear of a better opportunity someplace else? Or could they just not bear the sound of the wind through the prairie grass any longer? How did they feel when they closed the door for the last time and drove away, never to return?

I know. I think too much.

Anyway, we arrived in one piece, spent a few hours having lunch and visiting, and then turned right around and drove another 200 miles back to Albuquerque. ("Well, I'm not going to do that again," announced my grandmother when we arrived. We all agreed with her.)

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Not much happened, as we were all still tired from the day before. We had lunch at a soup-and-salad place called Sweet Tomatoes, and my dad, G and I did a little more shopping and visited Borders, which, as you might expect, is exactly the same no matter where you are. Aside from that, I washed clothes, packed suitcases, and tried not to think about the next day.

Thursday, Aug. 28

We all got up at 5 a.m. (again ... sob) and my dad and grandmother dropped G and me off at the airport to catch our 7:35 flight home. To say that I was not sanguine about the prospect would be an understatement; "crawling out of my skin with nerves" might be a better description. But I'm a good actress when I want to be, and G had no idea that anything was going on. In fact, G thought that she was the nervous one and I was completely calm and cheerful. (You can just put my Oscar right over there on the mantelpiece, thanks.)

What ended up getting me through the flight, when I wasn't sneaking on my earphones to listen to a few minutes of my buddy "Edward"'s reassuring voice, was giving G a running commentary on everything I know about airplane travel: "And now the pilot's opening the flaps to slow us down ... and in a minute you'll feel a bump when the wheels touch the runway ... and now he's putting on the speed brakes so we can stop." I'm sure the lady next to us wanted to smother me with her airline-issue pillow, haha. All in all, G took the experience really well, and after we landed, remarked that it had been "like riding a big flying bus." ("Yep, nothing to it!" I said as my legs slowly stopped shaking.) However, she refused to let me take her picture while we were on the plane, so her first flight will forever be comemmorated by photos of the back of her head, or her hand held up in the classic "no paparazzi" pose. I don't know what was up with that, but I was too glad we were both alive to care very much.

And that was our Big Exciting Adventure in the American Southwest. Next on the travel schedule: New York in November. Woohoooo!


Humincat said...

"Mother Duck said Quack, Quack, Quack, Quack"

I could recite the whole book if you've forgotten it, lol. Babygirls favorite. Well, that, and anything "Emmo" (Elmo)
Glad you all made it and were able to "fake it good!" Good job Mama.

Shelley said...

Oh my, you are becoming a jet-setter. Aren't you? :)

So what up with all this early rising while on vacay?

Glad you had a good time.