Day 11… Lava, Sand and Trees

First off let me apologize for the tardiness of this post. This will also be the last post from the trip. Unfortunately, Life got away from me and I lost all the notes for the remaining days. Really nothing happened after this day. Hope you all enjoyed the telling.

Day 11 started early with homemade breakfast burritos and coffee. Thank you mom for taking the time to wake up and make breakfast.

Heading out of Belen my first stop was the Trinity Test Site historical market.  Here I said a brief prayer for all those that have given their life to protect our freedoms and way of life.

The next stop was the Valley of Fires Bureue of Land Management Recreation area. These lava flows from 1,500 to 5,000 years ago area simply beautiful.  You get to see how the plants and animals have adapted to living here.  The views are amazing and the nature trail was beautiful and relatively short allowing for a quick stop. Unfortunately, it is hot there and if you are not prepared the short 1 mile nature trail will be less than enjoyable.   Bring water and I suggest shorts and a hat also.

The next stop on the route was White Sands National Monument.  Here you get to see and play on beautiful white sand dunes. The park is beautiful and the sand is amazingly soft to the touch. Once again though, if you plan on hiking or just playing in the dunes bring water, a hat and sunglasses.  Sunscreen is also a good idea as the sun reflects of the sand. I took the time to climb a couple of dunes and even did a little sunbathing. For those with kids I suggest bringing or checking out a saucer sled as the dunes make for perfect sledding. Lastly, the visitor center is a treasure trove of information about the dunes.  It is also a national parks passport stop for the kids.

The last scenic stop of the days drive was the Mexican Canyon Tresle in the Lincoln National Forest. This site pays tribute to the old growth Forrest that once stood there and has been replaced with secondary growth Forrest after the loggers removed almost the entire forest. It also shows the ingenuity of the loggers to get the trees down the mountain given the steepness of the mountains. 

I finished the day in Abilene. Anticipating the link up with K, L and S the next day.

Bonus: I made a little Friend in Valley of Fires, and it rained on me at White sands.

Spoiler: The next few days/weeks could see some developments in my life and plans for some future events.


Day 10…Grandma, Burgers and History

Day 10 was a rest and visitation day. Mom and I started the day off with a good home cooked breakfast.  The jalapeno bacon was on point as was everything else.

Then I took the Freedom Panels off Jeep and we left to pick Grandma up to go get Green Chili Cheese Burgers in San Antonio. Grandma and Mom really enjoyed riding in the Jeep with the wind blowing and the morning sun coming in.  

Now San Antonio is a quite little historical town. The Scientists and engineers working the Trinity Site used to stop in here for dining at the Historic Owl Bar and Cafe. If you are going through the area it is a great little stop for history and putting a dollar on the wall along side many celebrities and historical figures. It also used to be the premier Green Chili Cheeseburger place.  But now that honor goes to the Buckhorn Burgers.  

After lunch Grandma, Mom and I took a quick trip out to visit the Very Large Array only 20 miles from Grandmas house. The has been featured in multiple Sci-fi movies including one of my favorites Contact.  The I may partial do to my Jodie Foster infatuation. This Radio Telescope Array is beautiful and has been in place since the 1970s.

Leaving the VLA we headed back to Magdalena my moms home town and a quite community that heralded as the trails end for cattle drives until 1971.  Fun fact my Grandfather used to ride as a hand in the drives as a young teenager and he helped to build all the roads travelled out of Soccoro.

The last activity of the day was I changed the Oil in Black Betty before mom made a wonderful steak dinner for us. It was a wonderful day all around. 
Bonus: Grandma bought me a huge bag of homemade beef jerky and we saw a beautiful rainbow at mom’s house.

Day 9 … Sunrise, Impact and Touchdown.

Day 9 started early I woke up at 4am and was on the road by 430 headed for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I entered the park and got to first view just before sunrise and was able to watch the sun rise over the canyon. The simple majesty of the view reminded me how grateful I am to have all those that care for me and my family in our lives. With out the support of all those I love and who love me I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I then stopped at a few other views along the park road before hitting up the South Rim.

After the Canyon I headed East.  Along the route I stopped at Meteor Crater Arizona.

I ended the day stopping at my moms house in Belen, NM.  It was great to see my mom and She made Red Chili Enchiladas, fresh Guacamole and Margahritas on the rocks. She loves me.

Bonus shot: Black Betty and the canyon.

Day 8: Ambitious Failure

Having slept pretty well in the back of the Jeep I hit the road early knowing I had some miles to cover.  First stop was Salt Lake City Utah. 

In Salt Lake I met an old friend from Mississippi. Where he treated me to a wonderful lunch at a local Thai Restraunt.  It was great talking to him and catching up.  Also good to know he is doing well.
I love the view in Salt Lake and they remind me of Anchorage seeing the mountains just driving down the road.

My next planned stop was supposed to be the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately I failed to make that.  But along the way I saw many beautiful sights.

Like the original Spanish trail.

And the the Mt. Carmel scenic by way.

I ended the day at a pull off on old historic highway 89.

Day 7 … Dead Battery and Missed check point

Day 7 started out great or so I thought. I was up, ready and in the Jeep before 615 ready to eat up some miles. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to unplug the electric cooler and the Jeep was dead.  With my friend at work I decided to wait until his wife woke up to get a jump and hit the road.  

After playing a few interesting make believe games with their youngest daughter, my friend wife came down and we got the Jeep started and I hit the road.  I will miss my friend and his family they are wonderful people. 

First stop of the day was a view point West of Yakima and it was gorgeous. 

From there I made a rest stop and found this interesting point I thought was beautiful.

Then drove past the Yakima Training area that some of my Army buddies despise so much.

Just southwest of Yakima I drove past two active new wild fires. I wanted to stop and help but they were waving traffic so I continued on my way. I pray all the officers and firefighters working were safe.

Next up were something I personally loved seeing HOPS and vineyards along the road. You could almost smell the hops it was awesome. 

A while later I stopped at the historic Conde B. McCullough and the Upper Perry Arch Bridge.  It was a beautiful single lane bridge.

In Baker City Oregon I stopped for gas and also got dinner at the cafe there.  The portions were immense and the flavor on point. I had Chop steak l, hash browns, 2 eggs, and cornbread.  No room for desert. 

Also, had a wonderful conversation with a man that has done quite a bit of work up in Alaska and knew many of the same places K and I knew. In fact he was working only a few streets away while we lived there. I hope he is able to purchase the land he was looking to  buy in the area.

I ended the night at a rest area about 50 miles out of Twin Falls Idaho missing my camp site because I was just getting to sleepy and wanted to be safe. 

Day 6 … Rest in Seattle

As the title suggests today was a much needed rest day for this road warrior.  

To start off with so stayed with an old college/army buddy of mine and his wonderful family. I have known his wife since college when they were dating and she is a great hostess, wife and mother. Their children are just precious and it was so cool seeing the oldest and middle child who were very young when K and I got married. 

The first thing we did after Breakfast was we headed to a local wilderness park and rode the tram.  The park was Northwest Trek. It was pretty cool and here are a couple of pictures.

The next thing we did was I took a tour of my buddies prefab concrete plant to see what he does for a living now and as a fan of the how it is made show I can honestly say I enjoyed the plant tour.

Lastly after a late lunch we headed back were my buddy and I reminisced and then got our geek on with a little pathfinder character creation. 

Slow day overall stay tuned for the continuation of travel.

Day 5 … Smoke and Dairy

After spending the night in the tent in Calgary I woke up at 430 and began prepping for the day. My first task was to clean the ash off the tent. The smoke over Calgary stayed all night and there was a smattering of ash on the tent and Jeep. 

After that I broke camp, showered, ate breakfast, and hit the road by 0600. On the way out of camp I snappedd a pic of the ski jump tower from the 1988 Calgary winter games. You may remember this as the place the Jamaican Bobsled team made their debut and inspired the movie Cool Runnings.

Before leaving the area I filled a low tire on the Jeep and got rolling. The major sites today were Banff Canadian national park.  This place was gorgeous even with the smoke.  I will definitely be bringing K and the Twins here one day. I wish I would have scheduled time for a hike or two. The number of trails and size of this park is amazing. 

Next stop was the Dutchmens Dairy. I stopped at the advice of a Calgary native who suggested they had the best chocolate milk ever.  Challenge accepted. Well the Chocolate milk was absolutely devine.  Not to sweet or heavy. Loved every drop. But the also make ice cream and K can attest that I will not pass up a good milkshake.  Well worth the stop. 

Bonus stop: right across the street was a farmer’s market. Didn’t get any fruit because it would spoil before getting back to K but I did get some honey comb for snacking. 

There was another really cool thing at the market vinegar.  Lots of cool wine and even beer vinagers.

After here my only goal was make Seattle or more accurately Bonney Lake Washington.  My planned stop included lodging with an old college buddy and one of my groomsmen.

End note: the roads were insane with the number of twists and turns. 

Day 4 … Timezones suck

For Day 4 I woke up a little later than I wanted and ate a hasty breakfast at the Hotel Continental Bar and hit the road.

Leaving Ft. ST. John my next stop would be Calagary in Alberta so I had a bit of a haul to make, but that didn’t dissuade me.  I hit the Dawson Creek fast and only stopped for a couple pictures.

I remember clearly coming through here 4 years ago with K.  I was thrilling to know we were starting the ALCAN that day. Also that was the day we discovered our bank was drained by a hack on our Target Card. Talk about a stress full day.

Out side of Dawson Creek I let Google direct me around traffic and this is what I got. 

The next gas / stretch stop was Beaver Lodge.  Here it was fast in and out. The pump attendant was funny though because he was complaining about having to be at work at 5am.

Who doesn’t love a giant beaver?

Between Beaver Lodge and Calagary their were a few interesting road conditions. 

  1. High winds that batted the trailer like a kitten with yarn.  The Jeep didn’t get off any easier in that wind though. A couple sketchy moments during that wind.
  2. Alberta 43. The condition of this road was horrible most the way. Arms and Kidneys took a massive beating on this road.
  3. Wild Fires: I looked it up and the province had 24 active fires today.  Though none were near the road the sky was hazy and it plane sucked because all you could smell was smoke.

Of course there was one cool highlight. Turns out Google in avoiding the cities took me down some beautiful side highways and the Old Cowboy Trail. 

Now for the reason Timezones Suck. Apparently, the twins had turned auto time set off on the phone. Thus I hit Calgary at 1715 according to the phone and thought woohoo I have time to make the one stop I put Calagary on the destination list for. I wanted to visit The Sentry Box. The Largest gaming store in the world. Thinking I had 45 mins until closing I drove into downtown Calagary with a U-haul and attempted to visit this geek mecha. Unfortunately, it is two timezones different than what my phone said and I am an hour and a half past closing. The only portion open is the card shop.

Now I will say the card game shop portion was beautiful and the two guys working the counter were awesome. It is a shame I only got to see that section. I will not have the chance to see it tomorrow either as the store doesn’t open until 11 and I really need to hit the road and be half way to the next stop before 12.

Road Trip Day 3 … There and Back Again

For Day 3 I got an early start. I woke up at my usual 0430, with no alarm. I packed up filled up and hit the road by 0530.  The first stop today was Watson Lake. Here I stopped to take a quick look at the Sign Post Forest.

I also ate a quick bite of breakfast at Kathy’s Kitchen.  The Traditional Benny(Eggs Benedict) was amazing.

During the drive I saw 6 Black bears, 1 Brown, 2 Foxes, 1 Porcupine, A herd of Bison, two groups of rock sheep and more ground squirrels than I could count. I will put some pictures at the end of the post.

Muncho Lake was beautiful and I would love to Kayak or Canoe the emerald green waters.

One of the most exciting parts of the day was I found the pull off that K and I stopped at 4 years ago to play in the river. Unfortunately, the water was to fast to get in this time. 

About 150km from Fort Nelson I stopped the fillup and ran into some bikers from South Carolina headed up to Fairbanks.

In Fort Nelson I stopped for the first Tim Horton’s of the trip.  Double Double yes please. The stop was needed for a safety fillup and my shoulder hated the mountain driving.

I was supposed to stay at the Charlie Lake RV Park for day 3 but when I arrived there was a lot of mud and more rain expected so I opted to continue to Fort St. John and got a room at the Microtel

Here I will add a quick update on the girls in Texas. They are having a blast and even learning to swim.

As promised here are the wildlife pictures.

Road trip Day 2

Welcome back to the tale of my solo trip out of Alaska. Yesterday I told you of my adventures and misadventures getting out of Fairbanks. Well day 2 began with another bit of bad luck.

After sleeping in a bit (0845) I prepped to get a shower when I noticed the damnable U-Haul had a flat.  So I called roadside assistance and took an awesome hot shower. Knowing I wouldn’t make check out time I spoke with the owner of the Park as I paid for the previous night and offered to pay for another night.  Luckily she was extremely nice and said not to worry about it and take all the time I needed.

So I ate breakfast, broke camp and waited on the repair guy.  

I have to say the views at the RV Park were amazing. 

About noon I removed the freedom top and hit the road topless. Dust and no top was fun.

Half way to the Baby Nugget RV Park I stopped at Johnson’s crossing for a leg stretch and decided to eat a little as the have these amazingly good and big buns (rolls for my southern friends).  I was in luck and the soup of the day was my favorite French onion so I couldn’t pass it up.

I finished this days drive at the baby nugget RV Park part of Nugget City.  The mosquitos were horrible when I arrived.  There really weren’t any views to speak of and the tenting area was small and pitch where you want. Honestly the $20 price tag was a little steep for space available. The sign also advertised WiFi but could get a signal any where that wasn’t secure and passwords were not given with check-in. 

The wolf down eatery had pretty good coffee and a decent Apple turn over.

The day went well though once again slower than I would have liked thanks to the trailer and construction.