Category Archives: u.s. road trip 2010

U.S. road trip in numbers

So here are some ‘statistics’ about our month (or so) road trip in the U.S.

Days on the road: 34

States driven through: 12 (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona)

Distance: 5639 Miles/9075 Kilometers

Time zones: 3

Number of time we’ve been pulled over for speeding: One (Ann was driving)

Number of speeding tickets: Zero! (thanks officer somewhere in Northwest Texas)

Cop cars spotted just in time to reduce speed and not get a speeding ticket: Chris – About 9. Ann – About 1 Continue reading

u.s. road trip…FINALLY!

so we finally got our road trip posts up, complete with pictures, but we decided that the best way to organize the posts would be to post them for the actual date they detail.  which means they’re not visible on the homepage of our blog.  to those of you subscribing to the blog already, sorry for this additional post to the 15 you’ve received so far!  to those of you not subscribed, why aren’t you?  mmhmm.

anywho, you can pick out dates you know we visited you, just in case you’re curious about how we portrayed you as host/esses…or you can read through them slowly, devouring every carefully chosen word like nibbles of fine chocolate…HA!  just kidding.

don’t expect capitals…but FOR THE RECORD, my grammar is perfect.  with the exception of carefully selected occasions on which i use incomplete sentences.  for effect.


First post is here.


u.s. road trip…day 34

we woke up super early – had a really long drive ahead, and planned to pop by my big brother’s and drop off the gps he had loaned us (THANK YOU BIG BROTHER!!!  what a lifesaver that little gadget turned out to be!  least stressful road trip of our lives!) on our way to shoshana and brian’s place.

looking over the map, plotting our journey, we happened across something we’d both been dying to see…LONDON BRIDGE.

now, many of you may have heard this story, so skip to the next paragraph if that’s the case.  but we were told, whilst living in london, that there was a very funny story attached to london bridge, az.  robert p. mcculloch, the story goes, was this ridiculously rich bloke who went on to found lake havasu.  but there he was, on holiday in london, when he spied the beautiful tower bridge.  now, there are no famous songs sung by children in the u.s. about tower bridge, and so, as this was by far the prettiest bridge in london, he surmised that it must therefore be the famous london bridge – a simple mistake made by many visiting london for the first time.  ohh-ho-ho!  but do not underestimate the perceived hubris of  nouveau-riches americans!  as the story goes, the then decided he wanted that bridge.  no, not a replica of the bridge – that bridge.  apparently ‘everyone’ knew that he really meant tower bridge, but they were so shocked by the sheer audacity of his coming to a city and buying a bridge, only to have it dismantled piece-by-piece, with each piece numbered, and then flown to his home town of nowheresville, az, they just let the error turn into a famous story made even more famous by way of it’s hero’s inevitable demise.

except, i guess that story’s not true.  i’ve since been told that everything else is – he saw the bridge, he wanted the bridge, he bought the bridge itself, but he didn’t think it was tower bridge.  still funny.

at any rate, this is the bridge we have decided to detour to see.  we didn’t realize, however, that it was so far off the freeway we could have detoured to see nevada just as easily.  but it was a case of, well, we’ve gone this far already…we gotta keep going…and so on.  finally we come to a road called london bridge road.  cool!  we’re on the right track.  for a long time.  no sign of a bridge, or anything over which to build a bridge.  so we see this little lady pushing a stroller up the road, and chris says, ‘ask her if we’re going the right way.’  so we pull up beside her, and ask.  ‘yes,’ she replies. ‘just keep driving that way.’  i happen to notice that she’s pilipina, so i say, ‘are you pilipina?’  to which she replies affirmatively.  i inform her that we’re moving to the philippines in just a couple of days, and she asks where we’ll go.  ‘mindanao,’ i tell her. ‘mindanao?  i’m from mindanao!  where in mindanao will you go?’  ‘cagayan de oro,’ i tell her.  ‘no way!  i’m from cagayan de oro!  take a picture of my baby!’  it was hilarious.  seriously – there wasn’t a car, or another soul, on that whole long road.  but the ONE person we saw wasn’t just from the philippines – wasn’t just from mindanao – she was from cagayan de oro.  this isn’t a small town – don’t get me wrong.  but there’s less than a million people here, so what are the chances, really?

so we went to london bridge, parked across the street to not pay, ran over to the bridge, took a couple of pictures, ran back to the car, and got back on the road…

from there we just really drove…getting back to l.a. was a bit of a drag…traffic was bad, we were tired, and still had a few hours of driving ahead.  so we took a toll road.  holy crap – those things aren’t cheap, are they???  i mean, ok – it was a total of $5 to my brother’s, but that’s one-way, l.a. to south orange county…we tried in our exhaustion to do the math…that’s $50/week if you took it to and from each day!  wowzah. but that would, of course, explain why it was such…smooth…sailing…amazing views, hardly a car on the road…so this is how the other half live…

and that’s it!  that’s the end of our u.s. road trippin’ adventure!  we plan to do the eastern half of the u.s. one day not too far in the future…of course, it’ll have to be in summer…the cold was a little too much for my liking…but how amazing…how beautiful and wonderful everyone was to us all along the way…i guess the most poignant part of the journey was the realization that we have so much to be grateful for…so many friends and family  who welcomed us with open arms, fed us delicious meals, made our trip a little easier to bear…

if you’re all not sick of hearing it, thanks, guys.  you rock.


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u.s. road trip…day 32-33

turns out that super incredibly crazy-long drive was worth it in the end…we made it to the grand canyon in pretty good time, but first…the drive.

i’ve never taken this route – from the south end of the canyon and up.  we started the day not far from the border of new mexico and arizona, and made our way through flagstaff and north from there.  firstly, flagstaff is such a pretty town…i had no idea.  i really got a sense of the university’s cultural dominance over the town, second only to the nature freaks everywhere…and most of the time these tend to be pretty compatible groups.  i can’t speak to how friendly or otherwise the folks were because we didn’t stay.  and i can confirm that in late october it is freaking COLD.  but it totally reminded me of the little imaginary town in mr. rogers’ neighborhood that the little train takes you through on the many adventures in cardigans.

so we picked up some firewood in flagstaff (yes, ladies and gentlemen – this an example of not making the same mistake twice!  for those of you who have no clue what i’m on about, see days  ) and headed off on our way.  it is beautiful, but i think what’s more profound is how drastically the landscape changes with altitude…first it’s really forest-y and full of trees and green, and then it’s flat and brown and trees are sparse.  and the transition is somehow gradual and immediate – really weird.

we got to the entrance to the state park and made our way in without a hitch…we’d made a reservation so there would be no issues whatsoever, and it was a good choice.  not far from the bathrooms, no neighbors…so we got out and put on about 6 more layers because it was FREAKING COLD…set up the tent, and still had time to go for a little hike!  we opted for the south kaibob trail but only went down to oohahh point…i love that name…seriously beautiful views!  then we walked along the rim trail, which just follows the rim of the canyon, for a little while, but as previously mentioned, it was stinking cold, and the sun was setting.  so before too long we made our way back to our campsite and scrambled to pile on as many layers as we could, throw dinner together and drink a bit of wine, glance at the stars for a minute, and get in our sleeping bags!

next day was more of the same – we decided to throw our whole day into the hermit trail…we thought we’d head to santa maria springs – only 2 miles down, but it’s seriously slow moving as it’s really steep.  in the end we hiked just past the springs and had lunch at the second best place – the best place was already taken…by a couple we let pass us!  argh.  oh well – it was such a great hike anyway…about 5 miles, and a little grueling at times, particularly for your truly due to my ‘extra baggage’…but we made it just in time to head to hopi point to see the sunset…what a delicious day.

alas, as the sun had set, getting back to the campsite was our priority.  our last night officially ‘on the road’…i guess there was a vaguely melancholic breeze in the canyon that night, but we had so much still to look forward to…

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u.s. road trip…day 31

leaving texas was a bit of a culture shock…for the first time in 6 weeks we’d been able to put our clothes in a closet, to wake up in the same bed and bathe in the same shower for several days on end…being on the road is one of the most incredible sensations i know, but after a while, a sense of the familiar is like a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy day…

but we pressed on, and a lovely drive it was.  the initial plan, as many of you will recall, was to go to roswell…in the end, it was not because it is a crappy town with nothing interesting except area 51, which is totally inaccessible anyway, but because it wasn’t logistically sound to do so.   instead we just kept on a-drivin’…about that drive…

it really was nice, but i’m telling you – texas just goes on forever!  along the way, on this really really long, straight, flat, wide highway, when chris was clearly not paying attention to my speed or our surroundings (seriously.), we happened to get…er…pulled over.  and i’m sure that my dearest would want me to inform you all that i got pulled over – not we.  but that’s what happened.  so.  here’s how it went:

me:  crap.  oh crap…we cannot afford to pay a ticket right now!!!

chris:  what?  what are you?  seriously?  are we getting pulled over?

me:  crap. crap crap crap (edited for my mother’s sake)!  he’ll never let us off!  this is texas!

(i pull over.  cop walks up.  and i cannot stress to you just HOW texan this cop was.  in fact, he was so quintessentially the quintessence of  texas cop, i was sure i would be able to get a picture off the interweb to show you just how serious i am.  alas, i have failed.  perhaps you’ll have more luck?  think:  slightly overweight – mostly in the belly; mustachioed; those glasses; that hat)

me:  crap.  crap crap crap.

cop:  afternoon.  can i see your license and registration?

me:  of course, officer.  (scrambling furiously to get it all out)

cop:  california, huh?  not a good idea to speed in texas if you’re from california.  i could putcha in front of a judge for that.  you know how fast you were going?

me:  no, officer.  but i’m so sorry i wasn’t paying better attention (i’m really good at this, actually, huh?).

cop:  well, you were going 78 miles an hour.  i can’t give you a ticket as there’s no agreement around traffic laws between california and texas.  so that means i’d have to putcha in front of a judge.

(yeah.  got that.  side note – the speed limit is 70.  i was going EIGHT miles over.  somebody likes his job]

[he goes to run my license and registration.  i’m saying ‘crap,’ or something along those lines, over and over again now.  i can’t rightly remember what chris was doing, but i’m sure it was something along the lines of trying to keep me from having a hernia.  after what felt like 20 years but was more like about 3.5 minutes, the cop comes back]

cop:  what are you folks doing in texas anyway?

me:  visiting my family before we move to the philippines.

cop:  i’ve been to the philippines.  it stinks.  why y’all goin’ there?

me:  to volunteer.  working with the poor (yes, i milked that.  just in case it could keep my ass outside of a texan courthouse.  i realize it is profoundly pathetic).

cop:  well, imona letcha off with a warning this time (YES YES YES YES!  i’m so doing the happy dance in my head right now!), but you drive safe now, hear?

me:  thank you so much officer.  i totally will.  i’m so sorry and thank you again.  you have a wonderful day.

whew!  that was close. but we were free!  and we were off!  driving out of texas as fast (but not that fast!) as we could, we continued making our way toward the canyon.  we got into new mexico and decided to just drive as long as we could.  we knew about a couple of campsites near the border…bud did NOT think it would take so long to get there…along the way we stopped only once, and you’ll agree it was 100% worth it…

while we did not go inside, we did go into the gift shop, and we did take pictures outside…of THE BILLY THE KID MUSEUM!!! the one in new mexico – not texas.  but then i think you might have gotten that bit.  i digress…

we finally decide enough’s enough and we can’t go any further in blue water lake state park…do NOT let those pictures deceive you!!! at night the place is PITCH BLACK!  and COLD! seriously – we arrived, started to unload, and within a total of about 3 minutes had decided that this was just foolish, ate cold veggie sausages in the car in our sleeping bags and went to sleep (ish).

but the truth is, next morning we saw that it really was a beautiful campsite.  no time to linger, though…we had driving to do!


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u.s. road trip…days 18-30

as i’ve mentioned, the day after we arrived in texas was mom’s birthday, and to celebrate, she’d made plans for all of us to go kayaking…one of her ‘bucket list’ items.  we made our way into the (full)  charter bus, and listened as these ‘grownups’ chatted amongst themselves like teenagers on their way to an amusement park.  the  day’s events were to take place at ladybird lake…we would get split into two groups – one to go for a walk along the perimeter of the lake (obviously not the whole thing), while the other one went kayaking, then we’d switch, and then lunch.  What a lovely day…so well-organized, so fun and goofy…chris and i opted for a canoe in the end, and following mom’s lead we did our best to pick up garbage along the way…admittedly there wasn’t much, but it’s a really beautiful place, and any rubbish in those little oases of nature stuck in the middle of a city is too much rubbish!

the next few days are such a blur!  mom had a ‘meet and greet’ for us (where do they come up with these quaint little expressions?), so we got to meet a bunch of the peeps from her hood.  we spent quite a bit of time going to the pool and to the gym…mom and keith took us to see georgetown, their local little town, for a really incredible art show, and then a rendition of cinderella at the palace.  they spoiled us, really, all-around!

one of the coolest parts of this leg of the trip was seeing my littlest big brother, mike, and getting to meet his family.  i’ve been told for eons how amazing his wife, ursula and her family are, and they did not disappoint.  the best bit, though, was meeting our two new nephews who my bro and his lady had fostered, with the longer term plan to adopt. we spent a day with kylel, the eldest at 12, and went to visit these really cool caves, and then to a movie (hereafter – i dug it, chris hated it, and i’m pretty sure kylel only wanted to see it cuz it’s rated pg-13), and then got him home…what a great day.

ursula took the time to cook for us while we were there…and…let…me…tell…you…whatanexperience!  listen, i’m a good cook – and that’s not an opinion.  in fact, i love food more than most things in this life.  but what that meat-and-dairy-eating woman did to a vegan meal was almost sinful…if i lived in her home i would be morbidly obese – i’m not kidding.

we spent one night out in austin – was really interesting to see the strip there.  one of my mom’s neighbor’s kids took us out with her hubby – also a frenchie (we know how to pick ’em) – and we ate at this incredible veggie/vegan place called mother’s – no, cali hippies, not the same, and this one was around first, apparently – which was so so so deliciosa!  then off to the strip, which was chock-full of barsbarsbars, most of which had live music coming from inside.  interesting scene – very reminiscent of bourbon street, if a little less intense.

texas was something – we ate big, we shopped big, we had big fun and big laughs…so good to know that there’s another neck in the world with a whole lotta love for us…i wish we could say we drove off into the sunset, but we left at sunrise…and headed west.


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