Ah road trips, how I love them. The sights, the experience, the music played along the way. They are glorious things.
When I was a kid our family did road trips all the time. It was sort of our thing. We mostly stayed in Oregon for these, though we did venture out to Arizona once, exploring different parts of the state. We always stayed in Mom and Pop motels, which don’t exist as much today. I loved those. One time we stayed in a motel with a pool shaped like an airplane. Very cool. There were always things to see, places to stop along the way, new adventures to be had. I grew up taking road trips and they got into my blood.
Luckily I met someone who loves to road trip as much as I do. When K was young her family hit the road every year from California to Oklahoma. During our drive out this past week she called her parents to confirm that their main route was route 66. There wasn’t an interstate the majority of the time her family was doing these trips so route 66 was the main route between Los Angeles and Oklahoma. Awesome. As we drove out this last week we basically followed what was the old route 66 highway. Now not even commissioned as a highway, there are still signs along the way indicting where route 66 was and there are long stretches of road you can still drive. Those stretches take you past, as we saw, old gas stations and motels and diners that have fallen into disrepair long ago, though there are still some establishments up and running today. It’s a bygone era, but along that route the feel is still there in some places. It’s pretty cool.
I digress though and will get back to it by saying that we both love a good road trip. It’s why we’ve decided on this trip every year. It serves two purposes… we get to drive back out to Oregon and see everyone we love who lives there and who we miss, and we get to have the experience of traveling different routes out with the pups. It’s tiring, but oh so much fun.
We finally arrived, day seven, after starting in Burns and driving highway 20 through Bend and Sisters, then highway 22 to Salem and the farm. It was nice to get here. Another great thing about road trips is the getting to your destination and getting up the next morning not having to drive anywhere. It’s a good feeling.
We spent yesterday, our first non-driving day, doing some chores like taking our Toyota Tacoma in for servicing so we can put it up for sale, and helping Mom work on the garage at the farm. She’s wanted to clean it out, reorganize, and paint for some time so we cleared that puppy out yesterday and went in and got the paint for it. Today, we paint.
The pups adore Mom and my brother, Kevin. They were very happy to see them and they also love the farm. What dog wouldn’t. They’ve been here many times and they basically get to roam pretty free while they’re here. They were exhausted last night when we went to bed. It’s nice for them.
It’s so good to be here and we’re looking forward to seeing friends and family while we’re here. We love this place and the people in it, and we loved the getting here as well.
Pretty soon we’re going to have to start planning our trip back out to Illinois… wonder which route we’ll decide to take this time?
Today we moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Montrose, Colorado. It wasn’t a bad day of driving really, about 6 and a half hours on the road after we checked out and then drove to not one, not two, but three coffee spots in Santa Fe before getting a cup. Our first choice ended up being downtown, where a huge art festival had streets closed. We would’ve loved checking it out actually, from what we could see as we drove past a closed off street the art was pretty awesome, but we had places to be and two dogs who don’t love crowds. We might have braved the crowds with the pups, but time was not on our side. So, on to the stop two. We went for the next place on the list, which ended up not being in the downtown area, but was apparently so popular the entire parking lot was full. On to spot three, which ended up being great. If we lived in Santa Fe, and after visiting we kinda wish we did, we would go to the Santa Fe Baking Company often for both the coffee and the breakfasts. The coffee was great and the breakfasts looked amazing as we passed tables of people with spectacular looking plates. We did manage to get a couple of pastries to go along with the coffees. Both were wonderful.
We decided we love both New Mexico and Southern Colorado. We recommend Colorado highway 114 if you ever get the chance to drive it. It’s not big, and it doesn’t really connect any bigs towns, but it’s worth it for the scenery. It was amazing. The photos we took don’t even do it justice. Just some gorgeous landscape.
Another highlight was the second spot for coffee today, the Milagros Coffeehouse in Alamosa, Colorado. A spur of the moment second cup craving led us to this cool local spot. Yes, they had a Starbucks in town, but if you haven’t guessed by now, we prefer to go local and funky if we can. Milagros was both. Another place we would totally hang out if we spent any time at all in that town. The brew from there was the best of the day. Smooth, strong, and oh so tasty.
The pups are doing so well on this trip. What great little travelers they are. Weston gets his herbal car sick meds in the morning before we leave and they pretty much hang out in their area right behind us, what we like to call the pup lounge, while we’re on the road. They have been rockstars so far. Right now, after getting to play in the huge lawn at this motel (we brought the chuck it and played catch and chase with them for awhile), they are both crashed out in their little beds. They’ve had dinner and their leashes are hanging on leash hooks by the door.
Tomorrow is a long one, probably eight hours on the road. Eight hours with the dogs pushes it, and us, to the limit. It will be tiring, but it will also be beautiful. Colorado is a beautiful place.
Hippie coffee from 806 in Amarillo, no large legs, planted Cadillacs, a decently short drive, wild horses, prairie dogs, southwest food Guatemalan style at the Tune-Up Cafe, head of hope, abandoned route 66, a walk with the dogs along the non-existent Santa Fe River and past two cathedrals, the oldest church in the U.S., and a very hidden Roundhouse State Capital building in Santa Fe. Pictures were taken of most of it. It was a great day of traveling, save for the fact that we didn’t get a good second cup of joe today. Coffee from a quick stop definitely does not count as good coffee.
Our only impressions from the day are these… it’s gorgeous in the part of New Mexico and we love Santa Fe. The vibe here is awesome. Mellow, relaxed, artistic, free. At least that’s what it felt like to us today during our brief visit.
Today was a long day on the road. By choice we went an extra bit today so we could have a short day tomorrow. More time in Santa Fe when we get there. Because today was so long we didn’t do much stopping. Gas, food, rest stops, and just two extra little stops. One at the World’s Largest Fork in Springfield, MO and the other to photograph the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK where Don Hale used to go as a young gent.
Impressions from the day:
Great coffee this morning from Mudhouse Coffee in Springfield, MO. I regret not buying a t-shirt. There was great art on the walls… many black and white photographs of people in white who had mud on them. Loved it. Also a great dinner tonight from Tyler’s Barbeque in Amarillo, TX. The barbecue was Texas sized. Sadly I think we threw away nearly as much as we ate. Our room still smells of barbecue. I think it was the best barbecue I’ve ever had. All in all a very successful food and beverage day.
Today was a scorcher … the thermostat in the rig topped out at 106. It was so hot that when we stopped for our second cup of coffee in Oklahoma City the little girlie started hyperventilating and had to be carried back to the car. She is a tad bit of a drama queen, but it was also hot hot hot. A dry heat.
We are now fugitives in Oklahoma. A tip for anyone driving on the Oklahoma Turnpike… there are not always attendants at the toll plazas meaning you have to have exact change. We made it all the way to our last booth and then only had a $20. There was a change machine, but it only took $1 and $5. We looked at each other, saw the cars behind us lining up, looked at the red light which told us we couldn’t go unless we threw in the change we didn’t have, and we went on through anyway. As we did the alarms went off at the booth. I’m sure, if they took our photo as this happened, the people reviewing it will be cracking up. Our facial expressions were a combo of amusement, consternation, shock, horror, and guilt. Very funny. I think we were both gesturing…. arms up in the air as if to say… what are we supposed to do in this situation?
In two days we’ve seen two enormous crosses. One in Effingham, Illinois, and the other in some un-named little Texas town we passed. They were pretty much equal in size.
It rained on us today for awhile. It was nice and decently cool while it was raining. Then it got hot (see above).
We waved at Mangum, OK and Pryor, OK as we passed the exits with those names and then chatted about K’s childhood a bit. She spent a lot of time in Oklahoma as a kid and it’s always fun talking about that. Someday we need to do more than just drive through. I’d love to see where she was born and some of the places she’s told me stories about.
We started this morning at 10:00… after getting coffee and photographing the fork, which I know sounds late, and got to Amarillo at 7:30. Nine and a half hours on the road. Tomorrow we have a short day, only four hours of driving. Who knows what adventure we’ll find. I love road trips.
Over half way on day one of this year’s road trip to Oregon finds us traveling in Missouri on I-44 West toward our stopping point this evening, Springfield, Missouri.
The rental car: Mazda CX-9 with Texas plates and just about 7900 miles when we started out this morning.
The dogs have some comfy beds and a big area to move around in. They even have a water bowl and bully sticks. Yes, spoiled. What can we say other than we love and adore them.
We just stopped for some to go lunch and more coffee, of course. The iPod is plugged in via USB so we can control it from the car… Sweet. It’s on shuffle and the Gotan Project’s Mi Confesion is blasting from the speakers right now. Love it. This song always makes me want to tango, even though I have no clue how to tango. I can picture K and I doing the tango to this.
So far we’ve passed the huge cross and the Arch. We’re rolling along.
We checked out of our room this morning, walked the four blocks to the L train station, bought a couple of passes at the nearby currency exchange, climbed the steps up to the platform, jumped on our train when it showed a few minutes later, road out to the second to the last stop on the Orange line, got off the train and walked about six minutes to the Carlton Inn Midway, asked for and received an early check in, arranged for our airport shuttle at seven in the morning, dropped our bags in our room, walked to the corner to have some Greek food at a hotel recommended place (which was great), and then came back to the room so Kev could do laundry and we both could just chill for the rest of the day. We’re tired. So busy, in a great way, the last couple of days, and before that it was drive drive drive. Chillaxing today is awesome!
About the restaurant we went to for lunch… the Greek place. I did something I’ve wanted to for a long long time… when the time was right… and it so was today. This restaurant… The New Pindos was just down the street from our hotel and recommended by the staff as a place that’s “family owned and been there for 30 years”. It was great, but then I love places like that. It had this old vibe, but it was clean. The waitresses all looked like they’d worked there all of those 30 years. Ours was awesome… new her stuff, was funny, nice, so very attentive, all the good things you want in a waitress. I liked her. We both did. So when it came time to leave, Kev picked up the bill and I laid a $20 on the table as the tip. We walked up to the counter so Kev could pay and our waitress, who was such a cutie pie older lady, came up to me and quietly said… I think you made a mistake. I smiled and said no, I didn’t. She then said, in a bewildered voice, I’ve never gotten a $20 tip before… are you sure? I said, yes I was absolutely sure and told her to have a great day. She just smiled and said again… I’ve never gotten a $20 tip before. It was awesome, that look on her face. Money is money, not the end all and be all of happiness, but man… the look on her face. She was shocked, and happy. That’s a little extra happiness out there in the world. Maybe she’ll pay it forward somehow, but even if she doesn’t, she’ll be sweeter than she already was, and I bet she’ll be smiling all day. Which, really, if you think about it, is paying it forward. Smiles pay all kinds of joy forward.
We’ve had a great trip… eventful at times, but great. I think Kev has had a great first Chicago experience. I think he loved it. The architecture alone had his head on a swivel the whole time we were downtown. It was sweet. Great views, fantastic things to do and see, yummy food, great vibe. Chicago is, I will say once again with only a little redundancy, my kinda town. LOVE it. Chi-Town, I will be back… and I think, if I’m not mistaken, Kev may just be back as well.
One more post tomorrow as we travel back to the Northwest. Flight is early… 8:40, but it’s a straight shot. Then… back to my Oregon home, my honey (who I’m missing very very much), and my pups, who I’m also missing very much. My little family… here I come!
The second to last shot I took in Chicago. The only thing connected with Chicago to blog after this is… the wedding. Yes folks, there’s a whole lot more coming. Hope you enjoy looking/reading as much as I’m going to enjoy blogging about it. LOVED the whole experience of it.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion. An amazing outdoor concert area designed by Frank Gehry. The metal “net” over the lawn is designed to be a sound system. There are speakers attached to it all over. The idea is that you get the same sound, sitting out there on the lawn, that you’d get from being in a great auditorium. Pretty cool.
We, Karen and Mary included this time, walked down Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park today so Karen could see the bean, otherwise known as Cloud Gate, and a bit more of the city. It was a great day for a walk. Cold out. Forecast said a high of 20 today and it felt like it out there. Colder actually when the wind was blowing. But man oh man was it beautiful. The color of the sky was amazing. I think I took about 220 photographs during our two or three hours out. Not bad considering I took this same walk a few days ago and took photos then as well.
We are having an excellent time here. Karen is doing much better. Still improving all the time. I think the walking we’ve been doing, in moderation of course, has been good for her and for the lungs. Opening them up, stretching their capacity a bit.
Today Becky, one of the bridesmaids, and Ulf, a friend of Mary and Martin’s from England, who is actually German, and moving to Chicago for a year, arrived. We had a really nice dinner out with them at Vong’s Thai Kitchen. It’s Mary’s favorite Chicago restaurant and it’s closing in it’s current location tomorrow. Nice that we got in and were able to get some tasty vittles before it shut it’s doors.
Tomorrow a lot of family starts to arrive. It will be great to see everyone. Only four days to go….