TR - 5369 miles later! - Coast to Coast with a little Disney Magic

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Andona, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. Andona

    Andona Destroyer of the Aussie Dollar

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    Texas definitely lived up to my "cowboy country" expectations. *:thumbsup2

    From San Antonio we headed south towards the Mexican border, taking the southern route across to Big Bend National Park which lies on the border of Mexico on the Rio Grande river. It wasn't long before we had to stop at an Inspection centre run by the local Border Patrol who were monitoring the area for illegal Mexican immigrants. they asked to see our passports which they examined very closely. I made the *mistake of starting to take a photo and was asked kindly but firmly Not to take photos as they have to protect their identity. They we very nice about it, luckily :-) :scared1:

    We stopped on the road to visit the Judge Roy Bean Museum. Roy Bean was a disreputable character who ended up being appointed the law in these parts. He ran his courthouse out of his saloon and he had the reputation of being a hanging judge! Once a dead man was found in the town with a gun and $40 in his pocket. Judge Bean promptly fined the corpse $40 for carrying an unlicensed weapon and pocketed the fine :-) :rotfl2:

    Judge Roy Bean's Saloon
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    From here we had about a 2 hour drive to get to Big Bend N.P.
    the scenery as we drove up the steep and winding Chisos Basin Road to our lodge was spectacular.*The lodge is like a lot of National Park lodges, it's clean and basic. There is no TV and the bathroom is tiny but we enjoyed a tasty dinner in the restaurant

    Big Bend National Park
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    After dinner we waited on the terrace to watch the sunset. There is a notch in the mountains that is called the "window" and through it you can see the valley 5000 feet below. Seeing the sunset at the "window" is one of the premier attractions in the park and there were several people snapping away with their cameras.*

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    We walked the trail near our lodge, There was a sign at the beginning of the trail advising what to do if you saw a mountain lion ( make yourself look big by waving your arms, act agressive, fight back and DONT RUN ). There was another sign that strongly urged people not to take children on the trail, pretty scary stuff!

    After Big Bend we headed North again towards New Mexico so we could visit*Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

    At the Park Headquarters we took the elevator that drops down 750 feet to *the heart *of the hills into the *"Lunch Room" .*The lunch room is a little bizarre, a food counter and gift shop and restrooms all underground seem strange, it's a hangover for the 1950s.

    Underground lunch room and gift shop
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    When we started he tour I thought it would be interesting but " hey, Ive seen limestone caves before so it won't be very exciting" I was so wrong! Carlsbad Caverns *are unlike like anything we'd ever seen. The Big Room is one vast space that spreads in a cross shape , over 8 acres in total area. It took us close to an hour to walk the entire path and the stalagmites, stalactites, draperies, straws and columns were fabulous. Another National Park that is so different from anything else we've seen before *:-)

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    From the park we drove north, back through that flat, featureless land for about an hour to Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell has embraced their connection to the "aliens" with a vengeance. In 1947 "something" crash landed in Roswell that was initially branded by air force reports as a UFO, within a day the official reports changed their story but ever since the true believers have been convinced that a UFO did land that day and that the has been a massive government coverup about it ever since. *Roswell has been UFO central ever since!*

    Roswell museum
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    Street lamps in Roswell
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    We drove a scenic mountain road down to the little, nothing town of Alamogordo to spend the night before heading on the Tucson, Arizona.

    On the way we stopped at White Sands National Park, it was an incredible sight! Great wave-like bands of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert here and have created the largest gypsum dune field in the world.*

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    There*are a few picnic spots equipped with spacey looking 1950's style aluminium shelters, each with it's own little BBQ. You can stop anywhere along the way and climb the dunes. We had an unexpected photographic *opportunity when we stumbled on 3 brightly colored hot air balloons being prepared to take people on a flight.

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    From there we continued our western trail.
    We had a little excitement (?) just before lunch when a police car came up behind us with all his lights flashing. Officer Rodriguez very politely explained that we had been clocked doing 85 in a 75 zone and asked if there was any particular reason we were going that fast. DH apologized and said he just hadn't noticed that his speed had crept up and handed over his licence. When the offices realized we were foreigners and were driving *a rental he let DH of with a warning, phew!*

    We crossed *the border into Arizona in the afternoon and headed straight for*Tombstone, arguably the most famous town in the old West. The historic part of the town has been maintained so that most of the original buildings remain, along with the timber sidewalks. There are hitching posts, saloons, and black coated gunslingers strolling the streets! As we walked along past the saloons and stores you just couldn't help slowing your pace to allay stride and imagining the sound of boots and spurs... So much fun!*

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    We bought tickets to watch the Gunfight at the OK corral ( which is enacted every afternoon at 2 and 4 pm! ) and passed our time waiting by watching the stage coaches go by and browsing the gift shops. *The gunfight performance was surprisingly good!

    Yesterday morning we visited the Pima Air and Ace Museum which is spread over many acres of the Arizona desert on the outskirts of Tucson. They have on site over 300 air and spacecraft, many of very historical or technical significance, for example they have the Air Force One jet used by JFK and Johnson.*. They had a couple of NASA jets including one of the original "Vomit Comets" which are the parabolic flyers used to create temporary zero-G conditions for astronaut training. We'd learned all about those when we were in Houston so it was cool to see one here.

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    We had also paid extra to go on the bus tour to the nearby Air force base to see the aircraft Boneyard. This is a colossal area where they store over 4000 aircraft that are no longer in active service. The majority of them are kept intact and can be brought back into service when needed. The reminder are gradually cannibalised for parts as needed.*

    Next stop was*the Titan Missile Museum. This is the only one of the original 54 missile launch sites that has been kept in its original state, the rest were destroyed or decommissioned and sold.

    On the tour DS and I were selected to sit in the chairs of the commander and vice commander of the team, we got to "turn the keys" that initialized the launch sequence. The lights on the console flashed and the alarms rang, and when it was finished we had "launched" a missile capable of wiping out a city the size of Phoenix ( which is a BIG city!)

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    Then we walked through the 6000 lb blast doors to see the missile sitting in its silo. I'm very glad these things don't work anymore!

    Last we drove up into the hills to see Saguaro National Park. The saguaro cactus *are those classic ones you see in all the old Western movies. They are so much larger than I was expecting and they grew thickly all over the hillsides . They grow very slowly and can grow to heights of up to 50 feet!*

    Saguaro cactus and me
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    On to Flagstaff tomorrow..

    Andona
     
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  3. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Loving your latest update. You and the family must be having a fantastic time....I know I am just by reading your words and seeing your pictures.

    I love the saguaro picture with you in it. Sure gives you the perspective of size.

    That sunset shot is beautiful too.

    And how lucky that the highway patrol let your DH off with a warning! :thumbsup2
     
  4. frangipanisam

    frangipanisam Mouseketeer

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    Fantastic update Andona! So many exciting things to see & do (and add to bucket lists!). A caution is always nice from the police, I'm sure being Aussies would have helped :thumbsup2 Have fun on your last few days ::yes::
     
  5. zanzibar138

    zanzibar138 DIS Veteran

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    So many of the things you did on this last section are on my bucket list! Big Bend, White Sands, the Saguaro cactii... It all looks amazing :thumbsup2

    And you rebels having a run-in with the law :rotfl:
     
  6. Caroline NZ

    Caroline NZ DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the update, great reading :) I don't think we will be visiting Big Bend National Park anytime soon if there are child eating cats around :eek:
     
  7. alicia1506

    alicia1506 DIS Veteran

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    Wow andona this tr is so fabulous. There are so many amazing places on this trip and some amazing experiences you have had. I never would have included places like carlsbad or tombstone in my trip but seeing them through your tr has shown me the joy that 'off the beaten track' can bring. Seriously rethinking our disneypalooza trip now :)

    Oh and yay to dh getting off with a warning :) i would have been terrified :(
     
  8. Aussie Wendy

    Aussie Wendy DIS Veteran

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    More fantastic sounding days and sights. It all looks great. Loved the pic from the Roswell Museum-just how we imagined it...and what's a road trip without an encounter with the law. Lucky they weren't some corrupt cops from the A Team or Smoky & the Bandit days! (..sorry my impression of US road cops is 70's stereotype). Nice you just got a warning-so easy to creep over the speed limit on good roads. You make me want to rush out and do the same trip immediately.
     
  9. Ms. Shuttergirl

    Ms. Shuttergirl DIS Veteran

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    Love that picture of you with the cactii. I cannot believe the size of them, wow. Tombstone sounds so interesting, definitely added to my never ending list. And of course Roswell sounds delish. A bit scary about your run in with the law :lmao:. I bet you got a fright when you saw the police car tearing up behind you. I fun tale to tell now though.

    Loving your TR so much.
     
  10. Marlea98

    Marlea98 DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for sharing. We're going to New Orleans as well so I'm studying everything you're posting.
     
  11. Andona

    Andona Destroyer of the Aussie Dollar

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    On the way to Flagstaff we visited Montezuma Castle National Monument, where you can see remains of a surprisingly large series of apartments that were occupied 800 years ago by the Sinagua people. The structure is 4 stories high and built into limestone cliffs high above a green river valley. It's hard to imagine what possessed them to build in such an inaccessible place! :crazy2:

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    Then we stopped in Sedona which is a very popular vacation town set in absolutely stunning red rock scenery.
    Sedona has been taken over by the new-age crowd as there are supposed to be 4 vortices (whatever they are?!) nearby. the town is awash with Soul readers, zen therapists, crystal stores and every mystic business that you can think of! The are also several expensive hotels and lots and lots of chi chi boutiques, cafes and restaurants packed with (today) weekend visitors.

    Luckily you can find places around town where you can enjoy the stunning scenery without all the other stuff !

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    Heading west from Flagstaff DH was keen to drive some of Route 66 so we left the interstate at Seligman, which is a tiny little town making the most of its Route 66 credentials. The little main street is packed wall to wall with quirky gift shops and cafes and gas stations chock full of 50's memorabilia and Route 66 souvenirs. There's a pink Edsel parked outside one of them with life size models of Elvis and a girl sitting on the back!

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    Me and my buddy, James Dean :rotfl:
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    The road led us back down to Kingman where we stopped in at Mr Dz Route 66 Diner. DH and I had wondered if DS would recognise it as we had eaten there in 2008, and sure enough as we into the parking lot he perked up and said "haven't we been here before?" we've discovered DS has a great memory for food places :-)

    The diner is a gorgeous recreation of a 50s diner, with laminate tables and chrome chairs upholstered in mint and pink vinyl. The food is great and the boys had home made root beer. I was really tempted to have a malted milk shake to keep in the theme but my clothes have been getting tighter ever since Florida so I gave it a miss!

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    From Kingman it's about an hour through increasingly arid desert to the Colorado river at Hoover Dam. DH was really looking forward to driving across the new bridge that towers over the dam and it didn't disappoint.

    Twenty minutes later we pulled into the parking lot of the Las Vegas Premium Outlets for a little shopping.

    I had booked Our final night of the trip at the Venetian. I was excited to be staying here as I'd thought it looked beautiful the one time we'd seen it on a previous trip. The room was just beautiful but it took us a week to find it! I'd forgotten just how huge the Vegas hotels are and how hard it can be to find your way around.

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    We negotiated the crowds inside and outside the hotel to go across the road to the Mirage casino, where we had booked tickets to see "The Beatles -Love by Cirque du Soleil" I'm so glad we went, the show was simply fantastic! If you enjoy Beatles music I'd heartily recommend it next time you're in Vegas. It was a wonderful way to finish our last night .

    You cant take photos in the theatre but this is the entrance to it.
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    On our last day we headed west of Vegas to drive through the beautiful Red Rock Scenic Canyon - with 100's of other people who were also enjoying the Columbus Day Weekend!

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    Finally we set off for Los Angeles, but I'm pleased to say we did a little Outlet shopping in Barstow along the way. :cool1:

    Around 5pm we finally arrived at Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean - 5,369 Miles ( or 8,640 Km ) since we'd left the Pacific Ocean in Fort Lauderdale!!

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    I still had one more mission on this trip...a DIS mission! When we were waiting at the gate I got some funny looks from people as I prowled around looking at everyone's carryon bag. I was hunting for a super bright coloured, glossy, fishy one that I'd seen posted on the boards here several weeks ago. Finally I found it AND AustralianKaren :thumbsup2

    We had a quick chat there and a longer one in Auckland while we were waiting for our connecting flight and then she and her DH were only a row behind us on the final flight!! It just goes to show you never know WHEN you might run into a fellow DISer :wave2:

    Well, that's it for our 2012 Road trip witha little Disney Magic on the side. I don't know if I'll ever get back to Disney again but I KNOW I'll be back to the USA again. Just can't seem to stay away and there is STILL a lot more to see. :goodvibes

    Andona
     
  12. zanzibar138

    zanzibar138 DIS Veteran

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    An awesome finish to a great trip! And I actually recognised some of the stuff from this last section :lmao: I know what you mean about the Vegas hotels... couldn't believe how far it was between the carpark, check in desk, and the room :confused3 Looks like it was nice once you got there though :rotfl:

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us :goodvibes It's been great to see a bit more of the US through the eyes of an Aussie DISer, even though my DH is none too pleased with you for giving me more ideas :lmao:
     
  13. alicia1506

    alicia1506 DIS Veteran

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    andona this has been a great, great TR. thank you for sharing your journey with us :)
     
  14. Caroline NZ

    Caroline NZ DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing Andona:). If "Love" is still showing in Las Vegas in Sep next year we may go and see it, it's good to hear favourable reviews of the show.
     
  15. Minnie Sue Oz

    Minnie Sue Oz DIS Veteran

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    Andona, may I say a heartfelt thanks from me to you and your lovely family for allowing us to come along on your journey with you. My DH has never been interested much in my DISboard ramblings but has actually been asking "has that lady put any more photo's on yet":lmao:

    Have added a few extra spots to the trip now that we may have missed otherwise!

    Cheers:flower3:
     
  16. Ms. Shuttergirl

    Ms. Shuttergirl DIS Veteran

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    The minute I saw the hotel room in Vegas, before I read where you were staying I knew. The beautiful Venetian. We stayed there in 2009 and thought the rooms were wonderful. I totally agree though about how far it was to get to the rooms and they really don't make them easy to find.

    Enjoyed reading about your last few days but mostly I enjoyed following your whole journey. An amazing TR that has clearly inspired so many of us to take our own roadtrips.

    Thanks so much for sharing the journey and taking precious time out of your trip to do so.:thumbsup2
     
  17. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Great TR Andona. That's a great deal of miles but what fantastic memories and experiences to go with it.

    Loved every minute of it from my vicarious computer-side seats.

    And yes....the travel bug gets to us all.
     
  18. Melbourne5

    Melbourne5 DIS Veteran

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    What a trip! So glad you enjoyed ' love' . I thought it was fantastic and the best cirque of the 4 I have seen.
     
  19. areweindisneyyet

    areweindisneyyet DIS Veteran

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    Welcome home. What an amazing trip, thanks for letting us ride along.
     
  20. Marlea98

    Marlea98 DIS Veteran

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    The bridge over Hoover Dam is amazing, isn't it! We drove over it a few times while looking for the dam because our hired GPS hadn't been updated this century I'm sure, and it didn't show it as being there and we couldn't see the dam because of the high walls of the bridge!

    I'd love to know what kind of camera you used for your pics? The color is strong. Did you touch them up or are they as they are?
     
  21. Andona

    Andona Destroyer of the Aussie Dollar

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    hey, Thanks everyone!! :goodvibes

    I really should thank you guys because you were all a great motivator for me to do the TR as we went along - if I had to turn around and start it now I'd probably have forgotten half of the little details ;)

    When I looked in the mirror and saw the patrol car with all the flashing lights behind us I was NOT happy! It was such a relief when the cop said "Just a friendly warning this time" - I spent most of the rest of the trip asking DH what speed he was doing :rotfl:

    Apologies to your DH :lmao: Gotta love the DIS for giving us all great ideas

    It's been running for 5 years so I hope it's still going when you get there, it was just wonderful!

    Aww, thanks Minnie Sue! My DH also has a bit more respect for the DIS now, especially after he heard AustralianKaren's story about her super cheap airfares from expedia.ie . I think these spouses don't always understand the power of the DIS pixiedust:

    It was great wasnt it! Although I still think you got the ultimate musical experience with the Neil Diamond concert :thumbsup2

    The bridge is just amazing isn't it! My DH had been watching the construction via webcam so it was a must do thing for him.

    Would you believe these photos were all taken with my iPhone 4S! I was so happy with it, I ended up using it for video as well as it was much lighter and easier to carry around than my video camera.

    My DH asked me today if I'd started planning our next trip. He was only joking but I have to see I have a few ideas running around in my head... :lmao:

    Andona
     

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