Day Seven & Eight: You saw who we are, Jenny Wren

listening: Paul McCartney, "Jenny Wren"

We arrived Austin at a decent time and had to fully unpack my car so that the suckers that took K$'s car wouldn't try to take my trash for their treasure. We went to Kerby Lane for pancakes and things so delicious and lovely.

I decided I really did want to spend my birthday in Austin with my sister and my momma and the dog formerly known as Maxi Pad. Happy 27 to me! Yay! For the agenda, we went shopping to get Judy a swimsuit and went to Maria's for tacos. I nearly passed out/threw up due to something odd happening to me. I'm not sure if I got a hold of some eggs or it was hormonal, but it passed and we enjoyed the afternoon at Barton Springs. I successfully did not get much of a sunburn and mom and K$ swam to their hearts' content.

Then we went to Huts for hamburgers as big as your face (I prefer the longhorn burger with jack cheese and green chilies) and here are photos I took with my new fancy camera of my dinner companions. Our friend Liza joined us for dinner and I am now posting her picture without asking her! Bwahaha!

Day Six: Southtown girls won't blow you away, but you know that they'll stay

listening: the hold steady, "southtown girls"

Okay, so this is waaaaaaay overdue. I know this and you don't have to keep repeating yourself. I'm also making some changes to this thing. I'll be adding in photographs of my adventures in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, D.C., as well as Houston and Austin, when I return there. Mississippi photos and asinine commentary will, of course, still be housed at The Bleeding Heart Show.

So, when I left this blog, we were heading to Santa Fe and then to Amarillo.

We drove many miles into Santa Fe, New Mexico, marveling at how beautiful the landscape is, how the desert changes from grays and browns to pinks and blues as we went past the Painted Desert. Our sole purpose in Santa Fe was to go to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. The current exhibit was comparing and contrasting Ansel Adams and Miss O'Keeffe. Obviously, I could not take photos inside the museum, but I did find an error in the spelling of her name on one of the text panels.

After that we got lost trying to find our way around the pueblo architecture and thanks to AAA, found our way back the highway. Then it was on to the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo:

After we saw the Ranch at sunset, we decided to go with the gut and follow the billboards the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Yes, that's right, home of the 72 oz steak (sincerely, it's the size of a newborn baby) that's free if you can down it along with salad, shrimp cocktail, potato and bread in under an hour. Unfortunately for us, no one was up to the challenge while we were there, but both Judy and I had the most beautiful steaks. I rarely eat cow meat, but this was enough to make the memory to eat steak sometimes. MMMMMMMMMMSLURP.

After dinner, we tried to find a place to stay, but there was a cowboy conference in town or something, so we stayed in Canyon along with the smell of eleven million cows. It was by far the most interesting motel we'd been in the whole trip (no WWW this time, just a sweet Indian family) and we stayed up excitedly plotting our next move:

aim for home and drive 13 hours to Jackson?


go to Austin and harass K$ and Max in less than eight hours?

Austin won.


Day Five: At the crush of veils and starlight

Listening: Wilco, "Via Chicago"


I recommend that everyone go see it even if you think it's just one big ditch. I have never been in so much awe of anything. We did a few little hikes to observation points. Breathing at 7000 ft wasn't too bad after being in higher elevation a couple of days earlier. It was at the canyon that I began playing with settings on my camera. (Aside: I bought a new camera just before this trip as my other digital bit the dust some months ago and I just recently decided to get a new one. It's pretty cool.)

I present to you, the Grand Canyon:

We checked out of our cabin and headed out as we had another full day of driving ahead. We were going to try our hardest to get to at least Albuquerque before dark.

Y'all know that didn't happen.

We decided to stop at Meteor Crater and see what all the fuss is about. Even the inner science nerd in me freaked out seeing this thing. About 50,000 years ago, a meteor fell from the sky and decided to land on Earth and made a super huge dent in it. Turns out, it's not really all that big when compared to some of the craters on Earth's moon. The museum also had this animation program where you could pick objects to crash into certain planets and you chose the velocity, diameter and density of the object, then run the simulation. Y'all, I picked something relatively small and I ended up splitting the Earth into pieces! I felt so sad and decided not to play with it anymore. Of course, there was a second one and then Judy and I played with it, seeing what we could make comets and asteroids do. Here's the crater (and another that makes you think you might be on the Moon):

Then we drove many more hours and got to Albuquerque where we checked into the crappiest hotel ever. We decided to save some money and go to the Motel 6 advertising $39.99 bliss. The woman who checked us in looked like the Wicked Witch of the West of Oz fame and I tried desperately to park my car in a place where I could see it or hear breaking glass. I have been so anxious this whole trip in parking my car and worrying what windows might be broken out. If luck was on my side and someone did decide to steal the blanket closest the window, they'd hit the right passenger side so I could have matching tinted windows. Anyway, then I go to find the room and realize we're on the inner side of the motel and open the door. It's stuffy, so I turn on the a/c unit and blasting in my face is the smell of pee, human or animal does not matter at this point. So I got mad and stormed out into the parking lot and declared we weren't staying there. I got over it and we stayed.

I didn't want to deal with WWW again.

On to Santa Fe and then Amarillo, home of the Cadillacs!


Day Four: Find someone who's turning and you will come around

Listening: Neil Young, "Don't Let It Bring You Down"

Y'all, Las Vegas made me feel ILL. We stayed in North Vegas and originally planned to go get gaudy at the Liberace Museum and cruise the strip, but we slept in a little more than we'd wanted to (big surprise, I know). Anyway, driving through that part of town to get back to the interstate made me feel really anxious and nauseous due to all the traffic and the heat. Also, I never, ever want to live in a town where you have to see payday loan places, plethora of pawn shops and various dens of vice - not that there's anything wrong with having your vices, but when it's in excess, it bothers me.

Okay I'm done with that. On to the good stuff!

After Las Vegas, we went to a viewpoint to see Lake Mead. The lake is the largest man made lake in the U.S. It spans 100 miles and is super pretty. It also was way hot there. We were there around noon, hours before the heat of the day set in:

Then we went on to the Hoover Dam. There was a lot of traffic and we recognized that now familiar smell of burning brakes, but on other cars this time! Yay for learning how to better drive my car down hills! Anyway, Judy and I were both super hot and drank some electrolyte-loaded water before we went to the actual dam. One thing about this trip, too, has been finding shaded areas where I can park my car. Anyway, enough talk and see the dam!

After the Hoover Dam, we got on the road again and headed into Arizona. After a while, the heat go to us again and I wanted to see some of the little towns on old Route 66. We stopped in for a burger (with green chilies for me!) and root beer at Mr. D'z Drive In in Kingman, AZ:

And then with full bellies and excitement, we headed to the Grand Canyon. All night last night I tossed and turned and had awful dreams about my brakes failing and going over the edge of the rim, not at all the roaring ways of Thelma & Louise. We finally got here and it's super dark and I can already tell this is going to be so awesome.


Day Three: If I could, baby, I'd give you my world

Listening: Fleetwood Mac, "Go Your Own Way" (of course)

OY. What a day.

Let me say that again:


We left Provo around 11:30 after finally getting up on time to eat breakfast at the hotel (Comfort Inn, you suck at breakfasts, by the way) with a decision made on Nevada: let's go. So we're off and I decide I want to see Big Rock Candy Mountain after hearing Roman Grant (character from Big Love) sing a song about it at that mop-headed kid's party in season one. This turned into a long trek into the heart of Utah.

We explored the rest of Highway 89 and went toward Bryce Canyon, only to not go into the canyon itself after discovering the $25 fee to take the car in. We did get a great tour of Red Canyon as we went to and from Bryce.

Then we kept on with it, getting stuck in a momentary monsoon, and ended up taking Highway 14 to get to Cedar City and continue the trek to Las Vegas (and on to the Hoover Dam! and then the Grand Canyon. WOOOO. Stop. Getting ahead of yourself, Noles.). Just about half a mile into the road we saw a brown sign, normally reserved for attractions, that noted: Restricted Travel Ahead. The scenery was gorgeous, winding through and up and up and up until we were at an elevation of 9900 feet. Do you know what it feels like to be at nearly 10,000 feet?

So remember these things:
1) Restricted Travel Ahead
2) We are at 10,000 feet
3) The only way to go is down.

And when you don't believe that your engine can really withhold momentum and keep your car in check, you tend to use your brakes...a lot. And when the brakes are used that much constantly, they like to go all smokey and burn. This then makes you pull over on the side of a 2-lane highway on the middle of a mountain and observe a square dance social while you wait for the brakes to cool off and stop smelling so foul.

Also, no cell phone reception:

We made it down okay after some consultation with the nice man who stopped and confirmed that it was indeed my brakes. My nerves were shot after all of that.

Y'all. I gave up the F bomb for this trip (respects to Moms and all that), but it spewed forth every time I got into any kind of traffic after that. We're now in Fabulous Las Vegas, where I felt nauseous the instant I saw the swath of lights from the highway. Perhaps it's the nerves. Anyway, we're gonna get my brakes looked over in the morning and head on to the Hoover Dam and then go to the Grand Canyon.

We're halfway there. We're halfway gone.


Day Two: It's our time sweet babe, to break on through

Listening: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Our Time"

We made it to Utah! Everyone rejoice! After saying we'd get up at 7:30 (okay, another side note: I think most, if not all of you, know how much I'd rather stay up into the wee hours and sleep late - a nap or two - than go to bed early, wake up early. I get it from my mama.), we finally get up at 9:30 AM and roll out around 11. We packed food when we left Portland, so we had peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch on the go. OH wow. I got the Adams Natural No-Stir peanut butter and I really think it is related to heavenly manna. Slurp slurp slurp.

Enough of the salivating. Onward!

So for a long time today I thought that Idaho was a pretty ugly place to be and I didn't see ONE DANG POTATO except for the bobble ones in the gift shop at which we stopped. Anyway, then we came upon Twin Falls, Idaho, and stopped at the Perrine Bridge. The bridge spans a canyon made from the Snake River and is a popular spot for base jumping. I fell in love with Idaho at this spot. The water is a really deep green (I swear there is minimal editing) and the canyon goes as far as your eyes can see. I know how silly that sounds. I also stood underneath the bridge, which is also a major highway. It would get suddenly very loud when a car approached the bridge and then suddenly there was no sound. We waited around for a good half hour to see the base jumpers, but they took their sweet time.

We were then directed to Shoshone Falls, which claims to be higher than Niagara (I nearly typed Viagra. Um, what?) and also is being used for hydroelectric power. I got a sunburn here and I'm sure it will be the first of many. I'll stop trying to talk about it and just show you! We gave it a thumbs up. LOOK AT WHAT A GREAT FOREHEAD I HAVE.

So, per usual, I'm attempting to multitask and while watching an ep of ST: Voyager (Janeway!!), a preview for the X-Files movie just played. MMMMMMMMMulder!

Obviously, I digress. You see! This is why Judy should be writing.

Somewhere after that we got caught in a few dust storms, the first for both of us. Traveling around Oregon got me familiar with windstorms, but this was a new monster. At some point, just before I-84 split into 84 and 86, we saw a tornado-like formation of dust. I started freaking out about the dirt tornado and how it would pick us up and then we might be on another planet for all we know. Mom called it a "dust devil" and I think she made it up.

Oops. Turns out that's a real term.

Neola: Zero
Judy: Eleven billion points

Anyway, the fact that I'm writing this terribly LONG entry is proof that the dirt, dust, uh, THING, didn't get us.

So, I'm going to post a couple of photos and Judy is going to finish up writing. Everyone give her her warmest welcome. Judy! You're on!

Well....Welcome to SUNDANCE! (no, not the kid, the place!!!) You know, you hear about the Sundance Film Festival, and, as far as I was concerned, it was probably on the other side of the world. But, there it was, in Utah, right between Salt Lake City and Provo. It took us a while to get there (all those hairpin curves with on-coming traffic), but it was worth it! The drive was wonderful, filled with cliffs of rock that had been twisted, turned, pushed, and shoved in all sorts of ways. Water --trickling, gushing, and everything in between-- running down the sides of the cliffs. Bubbling, gurgling, rushing streams carry the water down the mountain beside the road. We pulled into the parking lot of the resort. Yes, it is a "resort." We discussed whether or not to get out and walk around, maybe eat at one of the restaurants. (Hmmmm, wonder how much it would cost?) Let's just say that the pasta at The Spaghetti Factory was really tasty!

Judy made her blogging debut! Now she'll be taking the internets by storm.

It's time for bed. Tomorrow we should arrive somewhere in northern Arizona. Or you might find us gambling away our pennies in Las Vegas.

(Much, much love to everyone! Thank you for continuing to keep us in your thoughts.)

Day One: I feel the world below me looking up at me

Listening: The Kinks, "This Time Tomorrow"


Now that I have that out of the way, I can tell y'all that we're in Meridian, Idaho, about 10 miles west of Boise. We had a pretty uneventful day except for the whole, uh, leaving at 3:45 this afternoon instead of the 9 am goal we set. Let's just say that I am the queen of procrastinators and I have a short attention span when it comes to packing.

I met R and my B for coffee after dropping my car for tire balancing and rotation (note: no rotation needed! YAY! however, new tire needed. BOO!) and spent an hour with them with stomach in knots and twists. We finally had our quiet goodbyes, bathing in sunshine and the sounds of Broadway bound traffic. I can't really think about that right now as I feel a bit dehydrated from the crying and the sweating.

Anyway, on to less sad things. Hurrah! Mama and I had a great conversation about choices and pathways and empowering yourself to see your own direction. This was as it was getting dark and we were trying so hard to get to Idaho before too late. I kept entertaining myself by posing situations that were completely not feasible. The conversations went something like this:

N: SO! What if a deer ran out into the road right now?!
J: I don't like the thought of that.
N: But what if elk ran out into the road?!?!
J: I don't think that's going to happen.
N: But what if a herd of buffalo suddenly ran out in front of my car?!?! HUH!!
J: Um.
J: . . . . . . .
N: Mom?? Hello???

This is what happens when I get really tired and drive for 7 hours without much of a break. I know you're all SO curious about the playlist (it's inevitable) and the photos from today, so I'll quit with regaling you with tales of my idiocy.

Playlist (Day 1):
Dinner Dinner Everywhere (Mix for Saturday's goodbye dinner)
Mi Querida Amiga (a mix that includes "In California" and "Everybody Knows")

Neil Young - After the Goldrush
Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
M.I.A. - Arular
Joni Mitchell - Blue

And now for two more photos:

Some of Eastern Oregon looks like weird skin folds

Also, this is what Oregon looks like when you're on top of it all

It is entirely past my bedtime, but first a shower. I hope you're all well. Thank you for the warm thoughts and good vibes. We're excited about seeing Utah tomorrow. Maybe I can get Judy to share her wisdoms here one day, too. Y'all should send encouraging messages to lobby her to write here, too. I get tired of me, too. :)