Ridiculous, right? I just read an article where a woman alliterated each of the names of her 2 businesses. It totally made me laugh. And now I realize it’s apparently contagious! And still ridiculous.
Quick recap: The third leg of our trip began when Oscar flew into Atlanta, we picked up Isaac and drove into Louisiana. We decided to take the southern route back home so we could visit with Oscar’s sister, Lori, and her amazing family. After leaving Lori and Chris’ house, we headed into San Antonio, TX and made the most of our short time there. Our next stop would be Albuquerque, NM.
The drive from San Antonio to Albuquerque is not a quick one. It took us 12 hours. Twelve hours. In the car. With a wicked thunderstorm through El Paso. And a border patrol checkpoint. Good thing I was driving and all passengers looked legit. Just sayin’. It could have take us much longer!
Albuquerque definitely appeals to a very specific group of people. You either love it or hate it. I couldn’t see anyone being on the fence with Albuquerque (or anywhere in the southwest, to be perfectly honest). A friend of mine said her brother absolutely loved this area of the country. I can’t see what it is that he saw, but I’m willing to respect the fact that some people just absolutely love this landscape. And I’ll leave it at that.
We had a full day to explore. We started off in the historic old town district- where I found it humorous that many of their shops boasted Breaking Bad paraphernalia. This cute little downtown area had Heisenberg shirts right next to the dream catchers. Funny. Since Oscar is currently watching the series on Netflix, he informed me the show takes place here. Awesome. And for all those Breaking Bad fans out there- Saul’s bringing the spin-off series back to Albuquerque. (I’d like to add that this means nothing to me, but the residents are pretty stoked!)
If you do find yourself in Old Town Albuquerque, make sure to stop in and check out the goods at Guerrilla Graphix. They’re a unique indie shop offering some hilarious graphics… most of what we purchased in Albuquerque was found here. And since I just found out they offer online shopping, you can pretty much guess where I’m doing my Christmas shopping!
For lunch we found (with the assistance of Yelp) a great Mexican food joint, El Modelo, that pulls double-duty as a tortilla and tamale factory. The place was packed and the food was pretty amazing.
This game was pretty special for us. See, we’re loyal SF Giants fans and one of their biggest sports rivals would be the LA Dodgers. Well, it just so happens to be that the Isotopes are the AAA minor league team for the LA Dodgers (boo!) and they were playing a home game against the Fresno Grizzlies- the AAA team for the SF Giants (yay!). Naturally we cheered on the Grizzlies, along with 2 other people in the stands (people must have thought we were related to someone on the team). Another cool thing about watching these minor league games: you get to see a unique combination of rookie and veteran talent. Already we’ve seen 4 of the Grizzlies play a major league game. We were four rows up from the Grizzlies dugout, which means we got to say hi to all the players. For instance, we were able to say hi to Travis Ishikawa, who played with the Giants when they won the 2010 World Series. Yes we were those people: “Hi, Travis!” Now, I’m going to chalk it up to him having a bad day because he never acknowledged our greetings. And I’m only mostly kidding. He never engaged with any of the crowd or with the fans lined up to get some ballers’ autographs. But that’s not how the entire team treated the experience. Isaac asked Chris Dominguez to sign his ball. And he did. Thanks, Chris. You just made this young fan’s day!
From Albuquerque we made the short 3.5-hour jaunt into Arizona, visiting roadside attractions and parts of Historic Route 66 along the way.
Did I mention we stayed at The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona? Well, we did. And it was a whole lotta fun.
More on the wigwam adventure to come…
After being on the road for so long, we made an executive family decision to go from Holbrook all the way to Merced (CA), if at all possible. Since this part of the trip included a stop at the Grand Canyon, our total estimated time on the road would be a whopping 15 hours. Holy sheesh! We knew if we could make it to Bakersfield we were in the clear- we’d make it to Merced before the day’s end!
There are no words for the feelings we experienced when we approached the Grand Canyon and saw its immense beauty. It was a nice reminder of exactly how small we are in this world…
Our Grand Canyon South Rim tour was a quick one. From Highway 40 it took us just about an hour to get to the Visitor’s Center parking lot. Since it was only 9:30am we had no trouble finding a parking spot (can’t say the same thing for the folks showing up as we were heading out). We walked along the viewing trail, taking in the canyon from different angles.
From this point we had about 12 hours of road ahead of us… so, within an hour of arriving, we were back in the car and on the road again. As we made our way back down the hill to Highway 40, the string of cars (and buses!) heading up was incredible. Note to self: ALWAYS arrive before 10am.
Now, the next 7-8 hours of the trip went something like this:
Desert… Desert… Barren land…
We decided to categorize these more desert-y parts of the US as having temporary beauty: they’re nice while we’re passing through them, but after awhile we’re ready to move on.
And move on is exactly what we did. Right on into Bakersfield, where we made a much deserved pit stop at Dewar’s Candy Shop.
I have the greatly-missed-travel-icon Huell Howser to thank for this find. He did a segment on this family-owned local hotspot way back when. At the time, I remember thinking: this place looks great, but when in the heck will I ever be in Bakersfield? Unbeknownst to me the answer was: July 25, 2014.
The place was, in fact, worth the stop (dispite the initial doubt that arose when you pull up and see bars covering the windows). We got back in the car, our treats in tow, hopped on Highway 99 and drove south for another 2.5 hours. We made it to Merced by 10:30 pm and spent the weekend celebrating Grandma Issy’s 90th birthday. What a lady!!!
After three weeks on the road, many amazing experiences and a boatload of growth opportunities we made it back to Chico alive, happy and still enjoying each other’s company. When we walked into our house a huge sigh was released… we were home at last!