Friday, August 23, 2013

Palm Trees Burning in the Night

There was a sharp crack of thunder and I was instantly awake.  I grabbed Todd's arm & woke him up too.
"Whats wrong?"  He said, probably still asleep.
And lightning lit up the room.
And then came the rain.  I could hear it hitting the skylight and the windows and the roof.  It got louder and sounded less like rain and more like angry children hurtling gravel at our house.
And then it subsided.
Typical monsoon.  I rolled over and thought it was over.
But, unlike a typical monsoon, there was another crack of thunder.  And more lightening.  More rain.
It reminded me of the thunderstorms I watched as a child in West Virginia.  It was so odd to hear that here.
The thunder and lightning kept repeating.  Finally, I heard sirens.  I could hear them get louder as they approached from the fire station, then they passed & headed West.
My first thought was that someone's palm tree must be on fire.

The first monsoon I ever experienced (on the day after I moved here) was the first time I saw a palm tree that had been hit by lightning.  I was driving somewhere and I could not believe the amount of rain coming from the sky.  The streets had gone from dry to flooded in 5 minutes and I was praying I could make it back to my apartment without a raft.  I turned my head and looked down a side street and right there in someone's front yard a palm tree was on fire.  It was like a 25 foot tall tiki torch burning out of control.  The fronds were on fire and falling onto the lawn and I thought for sure the whole neighborhood would go up in flames.

Oddly, I have only seen that happen one other time.  But as I laid in bed with my husband and dog snoring, I thought for sure someone's palm tree had ignited.

When I went to work the next morning it was 92 degrees.  The streets were dry, and it was like nothing even happened.

PS- I'm the worst blogger ever and I need to finish the road trip stories!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Great American Road Trip: Day 4

It was wonderful to wake up and have breakfast on the balcony.

Then we were off to Wall Drug:

We headed South from Wall and across more green rolling hills.  There were more cows.  Then on the right hand side of the road, almost from nowhere, were the Badlands.
We met a nice couple who vacations here every year and they told us the Badlands are almost never this green.  It's been an exceptionally wet year.

Here, as in every National Park we visited, there were signs saying "NO PETS".

We clearly don't listen well.

We left the park and headed back towards Sturgis.  We really came on this trip to attend the Third Annual Sturgis Camaro Rally.  We needed to get back and check in for the weekend's festivities.

We pulled into the parking lot of the host hotel and there we Camaros everywhere.  Old ones, and new ones.  Every color imaginable.  There was a row of trucks with covered trailers in the back of the lot for the trailer queens.

Today, they had planned a poker run through the Black Hills.  We departed Sturgis and hit five bars as we wound in a circular route back towards town.  The scenery was gorgeous.  There were pine trees and we cruised by a nice lake.  I should have been taking pictures, but I was just sitting in the passenger seat saying "Oh my god, can you believe how beautiful this is?".

The last stop before town was "Big Mamas".  This place consisted of a lean-to with a beer cooler and some picnic tables.  Big Mama met Fluffy and we drank some refreshing canned beer.  Only the best for us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Great American Road Trip: Day 3

On day 3 we awoke in Dickinson, North Dakota.  The La Quinta also offers a hot breakfast bar, so I headed downstairs for a waffle!

On our way back to the freeway we stopped for gas and I noticed an oddity in the convenience store:
What a shame.  Todd wanted a fountain soda.

Today our plan is to head South, down the Enchanted Highway.  Along the 32 mile Enchanted Highway we passed 6 large metal sculptures.  They are billed as the largest scrap metal sculptures in the world.

Fluffy has fun with some smaller metal sculptures at the gift shop:

And the next thing we knew we arrived in South Dakota!

As we headed South towards the Black Hills the scenery remained much as it had been since Wyoming,  green rolling hills, cattle ranches, some hay farms, and lots of blue sky.

First stop in South Dakota: Bell Fourche, the geographic center of the US.  They had a nice park with a monument that Fluffy enjoyed.

The scenery broke from rolling fields to hills covered in pine trees.  We wound around on country backroads and made a couple more stops.  We needed some refreshments after all this driving!
Sturgis, SD

Deadwood, SD....Do you see two red foxes in this picture?

Before dinner time we arrived at Powder House Lodge, where we had booked the Honeymoon cabin!

We decided to have cocktails on the balcony before heading down to the bottom of the hill for dinner.

Yes!  That's a hot tub behind me.  Yes!  We used it after dinner.

Miles driven today: 321
Number of times I said "Wow, it's so green here!": 792

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Great American Road Trip: Day 2

Morning in Rawlins, Wyoming greeted us with temps in the 60s.  After a fantastic hot breakfast courtesy of the Hampton Inn we rolled North.  We went through Casper then passed through miles of rolling hills.  On either side of the car there were vast green fields and low hanging puffy white clouds.  It almost didn't look real.  Places are really this green?  Maybe I have been in Arizona too long.

We entered Montana and the scenery remained the same.  We were heading towards the Crow Indian reservation and I was really surpried it was so green.  I had been doing some reading about the history of the area and the Battle of Little Bighorn and I never pictured it this way.  I guess I just assumed all Reservations look like the ones in Arizona, brown, dusty, and desolate.
We arrived at the Little Bighorn Battlefield on June 25th, the 137th anniversary of the battle.  (I'm such a good planner!)  We drove right in since admission is free on the anniversary of the battle.  (I'm such a cheapskate!)  On another ridge we could see members of the Cheyenne tribe riding horses towards the battle site in memorial.  It seemed like most of the people here today were Native American.  This was one of the only battles they won.  Is you wanted to take a guided tour of the property you could do it a couple ways:  You could board a bus for a drive around the property narrated by a member of the Lakota tribe, you could take a guided walk with a Forest Service Ranger, or you could do a self guided drive.  Seems that relations between whites & natives are still a little strained.

And off we went.  Next stop, North Dakota:

In Theodore Roosevelt National Park we saw lots of interesting things.  We saw prairie dogs, bison, and horses, too!

Miles driven today: 670
Gallons of Diet Coke Todd drank today: 132

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Great American Road Trip: Day 1

I had planned Day 1 to be our most grueling day of driving.  I wanted to get as far North as possible on the first day, so we could spend the rest of the trip relaxing and actually seeing the sights.  We left the house shortly after 6am and had breakfast in the car:

Hello Utah:

Then my navigators napped:

As the boys slept I wound through red cliffs.  At times red dust blew so heavy across the road I could hardly see where I was going.  We passed Canyonlands National Park and went through Moab.  Moab definitely looked like a cool town to come back & spend a weekend.

My navigator woke up in time to snap one shot before we jumped onto I-70 into Colorado:

By the time we hit Rawlins Wyoming, we were tired.  Todd was driving, and it was late.  It was dark, windy, and there were lots of wildlife on the side of the road.  Some had already been hit, and some we were afraid we were going to hit.  We pulled over at the first hotel.  The nice ladies at the front desk informed me they were booked and the next available room was probably in Laramie, miles away.  They did offer Todd some coffee, tho.

As he pumped gas, I got out my Wyoming visitors guide and started dialing.  Luckily, the Hampton Inn just had a cancellation.  They were at the next exit.  Within minutes the three of us were passed out in a clean and comfy king size bed.  We didn't know it now, but this would be the most comfortable bed we'd sleep in until we got home.

Miles driven:  847
Hours in the car: too many to count

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Great American Road Trip: Prologue

The car is washed.  The bags are packed.  The dog has been groomed and fitted with a flea & tick collar.  I think Fluffy is excited for his first road trip.  I am excited about coloring in the states on his new t-shirt as we drive.

Our CB handle is still to be determined.  Todd is wanting to use "White Lightning", but I'm just not sold.  I'm thinking maybe "The Fluffmobile", or "Orange Crushed".  We'll see!  Stay tuned!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mt Lemmon

One Saturday
167 miles
+8,004 ft of elevation change
46 degree temperature drop

First we met up with some friends:

We drove for a bit and gradually the terrain gave way from rocky outcroppings dotted with saguaros to scrubby bushes and manzanita trees.  Eventually, we ran into pine trees.

Near the top of the mountain we parked.

And it started raining.  I was freezing!

And then it was time to go back down the mountain.  Eeeck!