Our thirty one day road trip around the Southwest and the Central South of the U.S. was full of great food, spectacular people and of course plenty of unbeatable sights and experiences. Still, we’re glad to be home.

Family, friends, our own bed of course, the undeniably, fresh, fantastic, California food all make it even easier to call this our home.

We returned on Thursday night and decided to spend the weekend doing, seeing and eating the things we enjoy the most… between loads of laundry and long naps of course. Here is a brief and probably incomplete list of some of the things we love the most about San Diego.

Some good San Diego Food:

Gettin’ around and enjoying San Diego:

  • Walking around downtown, East Village, or uptown
  • Checking out Art in North Park or the 2400 Bld in Little Italy
  • Sleeping/relaxing in Balboa Park
  • Riding the trolley around town
  • Meeting up for drinks/food with friends/family. Anytime, anywhere.
  • … the ocean the desert, the weather too.

Don’t forget to GUESS OUR WEIGHT GAIN and MILEAGE for the trip… there are great prizes in store, fo’ sho! šŸ˜‰

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Posted by: JJ | May 9, 2008

Day 31 – California, here we come…

After a meal fit for a King…

We headed west towards California, our first stop… Needles?

Dennis and I wondered about all the tourists that come out to California via automobile and see this first, it must be a total shock when you’re expecting Malibu-like images, girls in bikinis and palm trees on the beach.

This whole trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Wagon Wheel Inn where Pee Wee got to know Simone in the tongue of the Dinosaur. Although we couldn’t go up inside and watch the sun come up, word has it that the Tongue Seats will be re-opened Memorial Day weekend!

These guys were the biggest Dinosaurs and road side spectacle yet… roughly equal size to the Jesus of the Ozarks! Watch out Jesus… hey is that Dennis down there?

We also stopped to visit Rhonda, Alex, Toni and Brian in Murrieta… one of the best parts of coming home are our Friends and Family!

Upon arriving home we had to hit some late night, San Diego, dining at the Crest Cafe in Hillcrest. We were welcomed by the friendly staff and wonderful, California, food

I had a Turkey and Brie sandwich with a huge salad, Dennis got the veggie sandwich with fruit salad. I think these two plates have more fruit and veggies on them than we’ve seen this whole trip! Boy, were we ready for this!

The drive into California via the Rt 95, Rt 62, the I-10, the 215, the I-15, the 163 and ultimately to Interstate 5 landed us right at home. Where we checked into our room for the night… ahh, this is sure to be the best bed yet!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…

First, we’re going to do a final post on San Diego, which will include all the things we’re excited to come home to.

Second, we have some funny, trip, TRIVIA for you with fabulous prizes.

Third, is the “Round-Up” if you will, a series of top three lists of things like BBQ, Deserts, Stays, as well as some Sh*t Happens lists too.

(Note: you’ll be able to find the links to “Trivia” and “Round-Up” at the top, next to the “Map” and “Why the South” page tabs.)

It was hard to leave Flagstaff knowing that what lies ahead is a whole lot of desert, endless highways and ultimately the end of our journey. Also, at this point we had no idea that it would be a last decent meal for the day!

The road dropping us out of the mountains was beautifully lined with trees and a big baby blue sky, filled with fluffy, white clouds. It was like Mother Goose land… we even found a funny little petting zoo.

This deer wouldn’t leave Dennis alone, I think she thought Dennis was her Mommy. She following him around and wouldn’t stop gnawing on his shirt and shoelaces. It was love at first sight I guess!

The petting zoo was full of fun animals like South American cows, Llamas, Donkeys, Bison and Monkeys!

As we left, we walked through the gift shop which was full of animal-lover plastic statuettes, wooden knick-knacks… AND ELK JERKY? What kind of petting zoo sells jerky from its pets?

As I was standing puzzled and slightly appalled… Dennis was BUYING a bag!

Williams was our next stop and we were looking forward to the Red Garter “Bed and Bakery” so we could sample some Arizona pie. When we arrived this brothel turned bakery was closed, I guess the girls only work evenings?

Okay, so in the old west, what type of trouble lands ya in the slammer? Dennis took a guess…

Women, Bull sh*t… and fightin’… oh yeah!

After breaking Dennis out of jail, we couldn’t get out of Williams fast enough… down the road to another cowboy town filled with dressed-up cowboys, fake facades, and wild west mannequins. Not to mention that this next spot has it’s own wild donkeys… oh boy could the day get any better than this?

The road to Oatman was a winding, narrow ,slow road, but pretty…or as Dennis says…”pretty sketchy”!

The real reason for our stop in Oatman, AZ was that it lies centrally between Kingman and Needles and had the only Hotel for miles.

Our dusty chariot brought us right into town. Which was a two block, pot-holed filled road, lined with trinket shops and the fresh sent of donkey poop… Ahhh, how beautiful. Right. Actually, it may have been, if the Hotel was a Hotel and not a “Hotel Museum.”

Oookeee dookee…. what now?

Where one road ends, a new adventure begins.

Foot loose and fancy free, we jumped off of the Mother Road and on to some other road, leading somewhere… west? By night fall we reached a beaming rainbow of neon light on a river somewhere in the desert… a little place called Laughlin, NV.

What the hell, we’re here and the neon is so inviting… Elvis couldn’t agree more.

We put it all on “30”… ’cause it’s day 30 of course!

Posted by: JJ | May 7, 2008

Day 29 – Thai’ed up in Flagstaff

Like two little Indians we hopped lickety-split back on the trail… leaving Holbrook, AZ and our trusty Tepee behind.

I do admit it was hard to leave all the cement dinosaurs in our tracks, but I’m hopeful for more sightings along the way…

Well, I was in luck… just ahead I saw the sign; “Here it is.” The famous, since 1949, Jackrabbit Trading Post. Like many others before us, we stopped for the photo op and fell into the clever trap of spending money!

We headed toward Williams, stopping along the way at the Homolovi Indian Pueblo ruins. As we walked across the grounds, what felt like broken shells and sandstone beneath our feet were actually pottery chards. Although this would be a great place to explore, we could see a storm in the distance and decided to get
going.

Next stop, lunch! Now where the heck are we?

As we drove into the mountains towards Flagstaff Arizona, (don’t forget Winona). We realized that yet again, we stumbled upon another gem! Flagstaff is a lively, little, snow capped town!

We drove up and down the bustling, old railroad town streets filled with bikers and college students alike. The streets; lined with cafes, humble galleries and bohemian boutiques where we affixed ourselves at burritoria called “The Black Bean”.

Dennis got the Chicken Parmesan Burrito and I awarded myself with a Thai Tofu Peanut Wrap. Again, I know, Thai isn’t on the ticket for this trip, but the temptation is too great to pass up.

The rain was still coming down and we had yet to post our previous’ days blog (our tepee didn’t have wifi!) so we found a wifi cafe that had wonderful yellow-lemon cake in the window. We’re in!

The news on the TV warned of the evening storm, this along with the charm of the city beckoned our stay here for the night. We found the closest Hotel and checked in. The Weatherford Hotel, built in the 1880’s, central to town, above a bar named Charley’s and just perfect for our traveling souls.

We walked and shopped around the town, meeting all sorts of nice people and enjoying the rainy, cool weather.

The last place we stopped, two girls were eager to chat about traveling and all the great towns around Arizona (Jerome, AZ is a must see apparently) and beyond. Additionally, they recommended a great restaurant… I love recommendations! But the best part… it was a Thai place called Pato Thai.

Dennis always starts his Thai experience off with a Thai Coffee… this one was super tall… and delicious too!

Dennis was being adventuresome and ordered the Pad See Ew, my personal favorite. I got the Massaman (red curry and peanut sauce) over rice. We BOTH agree this rates on the TOP of our list for trip meals. That is of course if you count Thai among the “All American Food” category?

Happily, we got Thai’ed up in Flagstaff, AZ for the night.

Before heading to bed, Charley’s, the bar below our humble abode was belting out some local flavor in the way of an open mic night. We enjoyed the acoustic sounds of northern Arizona before finally hitting the sack!

We have yet another long road ahead, this time we’re leaving Albuquerque, NM heading for Holbrook, AZ. What you might ask is the reason for stopping in Holbrook? Well, it’s along route 66, yes, however they have Wigwams there. And that is why we’re making Holbrook our destination.

The northern parts of New Mexico and Arizona are beautifully painted with deep reds and yellows while the sky is as wide and far-reaching as the sea.

For all you campers and hikers- this IS true heaven on earth. However, Dennis and I are neither so we just drove on past, snapping a few photos from our car windows.

Gallup, New Mexico was a good place to stop and check out because of its rich Hollywood history. We ate at the El Rancho Hotel and Motel, a sure beacon of cowboy elegance in its heyday.


The menu items were named after movie stars… like the John Wayne; a half pound burger with the works, and The Lucile Ball which included a hamburger patty, cottage cheese, a peach half and sherbet ice cream.

Dennis had the Audrey Hepburn; a BLT on wheat bread. I got the special, I think it was called Poncho Villa; two chicken enchiladas, Christmas style (red and green sauce). Look at that cow-girl-clean plate!

They call Gallup the Gateway to New Mexico because from here you can find many of the most beautiful dessert landscapes anywhere.

We drove through the Painted Dessert and Petrified Forest National Park.

These petrified tree trunks date back 250 million years ago when this part of Arizona was a swampland. It seems a bit hard to believe that it was once like that, but it’s also hard to grasp the amount of time that has gone by.

When trees tipped over for whatever reason, floods came through and rapidly covered the trunks with silt. The silt is what preserved the wood. For millions of years, they were exposed to intense sun, wind and flooding which created the perfect recipe for crystallization.

There is another spot here called Newspaper Rock, which have drawings on them dating back 650-2,000 years ago. Wow…

Leaving the Petrified National Forest we drove by curio shop after curio shop FULL of petrified wood for sale, all sizes and sorts, you can spend days rummaging through these treasure troves. We resisted the petrified-pull and moved west toward Holbrook.

The streets of Holbrook are pretty packed with curio stores, petrified wood stores and mysterious creatures! LOOK, QUICK… is that a Jackalope?

I captured that cute little Jackalope and checked into the Wigwam Motel, one of the three Tepee Motels left in the U.S.

Off to dinner at one of the only three diners around, however this one had fame on its side. With appearances in Glamour Magazine and Cars the movie, we had to stop in for a spell.

They bragged about their Cheese Crisp so I got that… cheese on a flour tortilla with green chili (of course) and then baked to a “crisp”. Finally, Dennis decided on the Fried Chicken as a comparison to Day 24 at Mitchel’s in Shamrock. Our allegiance still stands with Mitchel’s though.

These full days of driving are a bit much, so we’ll have to slow the pace a bit from here on out if we can.

Posted by: JJ | May 5, 2008

Day 27 – Nuclear Noodles

We cut our stay in Santa Fe short, leaving after one night instead of two. I took this photo as we left to share with you a bit what it looked like. Dennis and I both agreed that if we were in charge of Santa Fe that we would paint those adobes some different colors!

Albuquerque was only an hour away so we headed there to check out the sights. Right as we entered the city we knew we were going to like this place much better. We hit Central Ave which was filled with pubs, neon signs and cafes.

Just past downtown is Old Town, an area similar to San Diego’s Old Town, however it seemed a bit bigger to me. We ate lunch at the Church Street Cafe (oldest building in Albuquerque, late 1700’s). After eating lots of chips and salsa, we decided to share a plate, one vegetarian and one pork tamale with red AND green chili sauce, “Christmas Style”.

Old town is filled with Art, sculpture and museums…

We strolled around a bit then entered the Atomic Museum. We were fortunate enough to get a quick tour from one of the nuclear engineers of the The Manhattan Project, that was a treat for sure! We’re now dangerously educated on how a Nuclear Power Plant works.

We looked at bombs like the Fat Man and even some “Broken Arrows”; code name for nuclear missiles that were accidentally dropped.

The museum also had a nice display of WWII propaganda posters with tactic explanations that are chilling to read about… I wonder if these tactics are in use today? Uhm?

While I was busy contemplating conspiracy theories, Dennis was having a conversation with Albert… another old timer willing to share some Nuclear info with us.

Needless to say we got our share of Radium for the day.

Later, we headed downtown to check out the happenings. Little did we know we were in for a car show. Sunday nights here on Central Ave all the car clubs cruise up and down the boulevard. We saw all sorts of classic cars, lowriders and motorcycles… It went something like this:

We bounced into The Noodle Bar for dinner… a totally different direction than our Grits, Gravy and Graceland roster thus far, yet one of my favorite types of food… Thai!

I had Pad See Ew with tofu and veggies and Dennis had the Chicken Chow Mein. YUMMY…

Later in the night…

As I slept, Dennis was busy watching the goings-on outside…

“At 2:00 am I heard a police siren and then a long skid and a crash sound…so of course I jumped out of bed, threw my clothes on, and went outside to see what had happened. Looks like there was a police pursuit and the cop lost control and hit a tree. He was alright, probably a bit embarrassed as he was on the radio for backup. Aint’ nothing like some middle of the night excitement!”

– Dennis

Posted by: JJ | May 4, 2008

Day 26 – Lloyd & Harry go to Sante Fe

Leaving Tucumcari we had a bite at Rubee’s. The special was green chili eggs, potatoes and biscuits and gravy.

Before heading to the highly anticipated Santa Fe, NM, we stopped and had to wrangle a souvenir or two. I got a cowboy hat and Dennis got a Scorpion paper weight.

The road was another long one, the 66 turn into the 40 most of the way. We veered off at the scenic RT 3 to go through Villneueva towards Santa Fe. We climbed to an elevation of 7,000 feet.

Along the road, on OUR SIDE OF THE FENCE, a HUGE BULL was resting in the shade. Too scared to stop and take his photo we speed on to the next, friendlier looking cow… that was BEHIND the fence and caught this shot.

We arrived in Santa Fe hungry… of course! So we walked down to the plaza and got a bite at a little French cafe. I got soup and Dennis indulged in a half sandwich.

This is about where our day ended… I had a cold coming on and the altitude didn’t help either. We strolled around the plaza bit more, finding wall to wall shopping that didn’t interest us a bit. High end trinkets and over priced “native” jewelry were in abundance. We felt about out of place as Lloyd and Harry in Aspen.

A late start out of Shamrock yielded us a Chevron breakfast of hostess products, OJ and coffee. Really, moving quickly through the Panhandle of Texas was important… New Mexico lies ahead!

We did however stop in Amarillo for a bite to eat at Dyer’s BBQ…. Our last BBQ stop on the trip I’ll guess. Actually, I’m excited about returning to the chili sauce dishes of NM not to mention every time I eat pork I get a giant stomachache. So we split a special rib plate that had onion rings and coleslaw. The sauce was great…

Then, before leaving town and leaving Texas we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch. I really don’t know the story behind this but the cars do range in date from 1948 to 1963 and each are pointing at the eastern sky at the exact same angle of the Pyramids.


More road ahead… our destination is Tucumcari, NM.
Tucumcari had a nick name back when the Mother Road was in her prime. It was “Tucumcari Tonight” because it was a neon drenched oasis at the end of this long stretch of road filled with over 2,000 rooms, in Motor Inns for exhausted travelers like us.

One other attraction and circumstance of this area is the Mesa Lands Dinosaur Museum. We’re told that this area is prime for finding remains because the Triassic and the Jurassic depths of soil are exposed… thus ripe for the picking. This museum is also a research center so we were able to see new, undocumented, unnamed, bones.

We checked into the Blue Swallow Motel, which boasts “Refrigerated Air”, and enjoyed a drink on our porch.

Off to dinner, a place called Del’s with a long history in Tucumcari and long lines too! We both had some wonderful Mexican food but the surprise was at the end. They brought out two handsome Sopiapillas… a lightly, fried, bread accompanied by a bottle of honey. It was super, not too sweet and not over fried… a delight!

On our return home we captured some of the notorious neon signs.


Since we’ve left I’ve done my best to capture almost every neon sign we’ve driven by, needless to say I have a great collection by now!

Posted by: JJ | May 3, 2008

Harley & Annabelle – Redneck Concert

These two rednecks graciously played a couple of songs for us on Day 24, we’ve only posted one for you to enjoy.

Please give a warm welcome to the self proclaimed Mediocre Music Makers, hailing from the redneck capital of the world, Erick Oklahoma…Harley & Annabelle Russell!

Posted by: JJ | May 2, 2008

Day 24 – Redneck Capitol of the World!

Now, about ten years ago Rhonda and I drove through Oklahoma and vowed at that time NEVER TO RETURN! It’s this dreadful stretch of highway that seems to never end, so Dennis and I thought it would be a wee-bit more interesting to take Route 66… this IS Route 66.

Route 66 is a decommissioned highway that has been REMOVED from maps, you must follow your gut in most cases and just throw caution to the wind. That’s the fun part, however sometimes the road is just downright not there at all. The picturesque “Mother Road” that is so vividly portrayed in the photographs of the 1950’s and 1960’s are sadly withered away.

Highway 40 runs along the 66 through most of OK, so about all you’ll find are Rt. 66 souvenir shops and occasional gas stations, wall marts (in the bigger cities), and if you’re lucky, a few re-opened “classic” Route 66 places. One such place called Johnnie’s Grill that has been in El Reno, Oklahoma since 1943. We stopped for lunch.

In Oklahoma the local foods consist of Coney’s (hot dogs with chili), Fried-Onion Hamburgers and Frito Pies.

Dennis got the Fried-Onion Burger and (JACK, CLOSE YOUR EYES) I got the Frito Pie. I had NO IDEA what a Frito Pie was but anything with the Pie in the name… I had to try.

WOAH! Was I surprised and a bit scared too. but for the record, I ate it.

Then we washed our tasty “OK” bites down with the only drink man enough to do it; Kickapoo Joy Juice… (Mom, doesn’t Grandma Drink this stuff?)

While reveling over the hundreds of different Soda Pop lables at Pop’s Gas Station and Soda mart we stumbled across a map of Route 66, and we bought it. In this little treasure we read about a place called “Sandhills Curiosity Shop” in the Red Neck Capitol of the World, Erick, OK.

The map said something about a jumbled collection of Route 66 memorabilia and a couple of folks that called themselves “Mediocre Music Makers”. This sounded interesting so I called…

When we arrived we had no idea what we were in for... an overall-clad, Annabelle greeted us at the door and offered us a “Drink on the House”… we could choose from Soda, Beer, Lemonade… or Jack Daniels!

Before we had a handle on our drinks… the screen door flies open and in comes a wild-eyed, redneck in overalls, no shirt and an out-of-control beard that parted as he swiftly moved in on Dennis with a wrestling-style welcome of a hug. As if we were long lost “kissing” cousins, Harley grabbed me and sat me on his lap!

Click here for some video.

We hooted and hollered with Harley & Annabelle over a few shots of Jack as they gave us our own personal redneck concert!

Needless to say… Harley and Annabelle are the REASON TO VISIT OKLAHOMA.

We had to say good bye for now but our new found friends in OK are plenty reason to return again and again. For those of you who won’t be heading to OK anytime soon, just google “Harley and Annabelle”…

Finally, we checked into our motel just over the border in Shamrock, TX.

We did Laundry… and ate Fried Chicken. Yee Haw!

PS. Mom, Dad… we’re moving to OK and becoming Rednecks!

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