Six months on the road

Well… I didn’t intend for another month to pass before I updated this blog a little more, but here we are! I left off with White Sands, a great National Monument outside of Alamogordo, NM. There are huge white sand dunes made of gypsum crystals which stay cool in all types of temperatures. Visitors are able to buy sleds on site, and sled down the dunes as much as you want! We all had a blast and spent a few hours over two days playing on the dunes. These sand dunes are different than the dunes we visited a few years ago in Colorado, both in temperature of the sand and ease of accessing the dunes. The monument is surrounded by White Sands Missile Range and the park will close here and there for missile testing. The sand dunes mostly made up for the fact that we were staying at the noisiest campground of our trip… between the airplanes and the constant nighttime train whistles that felt only feet away, sleep was hard to come by. We learned that New Mexico weather lends itself to growing pistachios and we enjoyed popping in to a local farm and seeing the nuts growing on the tree. They are very pretty!

Ready to sled
Pistachio posing
Aren’t the colors pretty?!

From White Sands, we made a quick stop in Roswell to learn a little about the incident that is the area’s claim to fame. There were reports of a UFO crash in 1947 and a subsequent coverup, and you see alien merchandise (and alien statues) everywhere. We visited the museum and had lunch at a fun restaurant and also toured a historic house in town. 

With the aliens
More aliens

Over the next few days, we kept up a pretty quick pace as we made our way through several states. We continued onward to the pleasant surprise of Palo Duro Canyon in North Texas and made a detour to Cadillac Ranch, an art installation in Amarillo. In 1974, artists half buried ten Cadillacs in the ground. These cars were relocated and reburied in 1997 and people visit often with cans of spray paint and leave their mark! It was extremely cold and windy, and muddy, so we didn’t stay very long but Hayes and Mabry loved painting the cars. This served as their Halloween activity because we were not near a neighborhood to trick or treat, but we did buy them a big bag of candy, which they have mostly forgotten about.  Back to Palo Duro, the second largest canyon in the US! Benjamin (and Mabry) had a great time on the mountain bike trails and we all enjoyed a hike together. This was a great park and we would have enjoyed a few more days to explore.

Cadillac Ranch
One of the few times graffiti is appropriate!
A cave at Palo Duro
A cowboy dugout

On to Tulsa, where we visited a local brewery, did some shopping, and found a really pretty botanical garden with an interactive kids area. Tulsa seems to have experienced a rebirth after the 80’s oil crash and has some neat areas to explore. Bentonville was another great community. We learned a lot about the Walton family by visiting the Wal Mart museum, patronized another local brewery, and Benjamin loved the biking here. Bentonville is serious about their mountain biking! Outside of our campground was a pump track which the kids loved riding on as well, while I hobbled around because I sprained my ankle while in town. We spent several hours at the Amazeum, a really interactive children’s museum in town, and visited the Crystal Bridges Museum which is a must see. We also had the chance to reconnect with an old friend of Benjamins, who we hadn’t seen since our wedding (13 years ago!). We had dinner at her house and loved catching up with Cassandra and her boyfriend while the kids watched movies in their theater room. Such a fun night. 

Entertaining himself at the brewery
Silly faces at the botanical gardens
Chihuly at Crystal Bridges
Driving a Wal-Mart truck
Playing on the fart machine
Making a poof of steam
Sam Walton’s truck

We ended up spending about two weeks at our next destination, Georgetown, Kentucky. This is a small town about 15 minutes outside of Lexington, surrounded by horse farms. The area is very pretty and has so much history. We kept busy by exploring and seeing everything we could. We also woke a few mornings to ice which made things even prettier. From Kentucky, we began our slow trip to Houston for doctor check ups and friend (and grandma) visits. We went from Georgetown to Asheville, NC for the night and on to a couple of nights in Savannah. Talk about pretty! The moss covered oaks and old buildings are so charming. We walked by the waterfront, went out to Tybee Island and played at the beach, and we visited an old settlement which had 400 oak trees lining the drive onto the property. I think it was 1 1/2 miles of trees growing over the road. Very picturesque if only we could get a picture without cars or other people in the frame! 

The tree lined entrance
The beautiful moss

On the way to the sand

On to White Springs, Fl and the Stephen Foster state park. He was a composer who wrote many songs still known today, including ‘Oh Susanna’, ‘My Old Kentucky Home’, and ‘Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)’. This was really just an easy stop between Savannah and Alabama but we enjoyed this park. Besides awesome playgrounds, there was a neat Christmas light display, a museum about the composer, and a 97 bell carillon (one of the largest musical instruments in the Western Hemisphere). People used to come to this part of Florida for the hot springs, and in this area in particular the sulphur springs which supposedly cured a myriad of ailments. Fun fact: Foster never visited the Suwannee River, the name was picked off a map because it worked with his lyrics! Next on the agenda was Spanish Fort (outside of Mobile), an area in which we have spent a lot of time. We finally explored the battleship that we’ve driven by many times (B visited as a kid, you’ve seen it if you’ve driven through Mobile on I-10), had a fun lunch with one of Gha’s childhood friends and walked around the cute bayside town of Fairhope. Now we are in New Orleans, where we celebrated our anniversary with dinner and gelato,  ate beignets and wandered around the French quarter. Not on the same day! Lots of eating :). Later today we will visit friends who live here, and tomorrow will head to Houston for the aforementioned activities! We’ve (royal we, Benjamin has done all of the driving while towing the Airstream) driven over 20,000 miles in the past 6 months and have been from the East to West coasts, and a lot of places in between. 

The Suwannee River
Posing in front of the bell tower