Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trip Report Part 5 (Finale)

May 16--Monday: The Holiday Inn Express where we stayed had a good hot breakfast with bacon, so we ate there. Then we drove into Alamogordo, New Mexico and got a room at another Holiday Inn Express. Bacon will make you like any hotel, I say. We saw a bunch of pronghorns along the way, and nine big dust devils. We passed through the lava fields again. We stopped at the VLA and drove down a road for a better view. We ate Mexican food at a place in Socorro and they had fry bread, my second exposure to the delicious stuff.

After that, we drove for miles along the edge of the White Sands Missile test site. We also passed a giant Pistachio nut statue. I would claim it was the highlight of our trip. But that would be a lie. Once in Alamogordo, at the hotel, we swam in the pool and soaked in the hot tub. My attempt to wash clothes was derailed when I left some paper in one of my pockets. Egad but that made pretty bad mess. (I eventually got them clean at home.) We then went to White Sands, which is a huge area of sand dunes made of gypsum. It definitely looks white. Lana got some great pictures, with sun setting, the moon rising, and the San Andres Mountains in the background. From the glow off the sand, I guess, the sky looked almost like a white out from a snow, but there were a lot of pale purple tinges to it as well.

I spotted a lone beetle making his way up one of the dunes and Lana got pictures. I promptly named him “Beetlelee.” We saw him again as we left and he’d burrowed down in the sand and was already still. I left a little something behind in the dunes, and I brought home a partially rusted spoon that I found uncovered in one of the dunes. It was dark when we left White Sands and we saw some Chuck Will’s Widows flying around. I wanted Long John Silver’s for supper, but by the time we got back to the hotel most things were closed up and I got drive through MacDonald’s instead.

May 17--Tuesday: We left around 8:00 in the morning, thinking we’d drive to San Antonio, which was halfway home, and then get a hotel. But once we got into the rhythm of movement we didn’t want to stop and ended up driving all the way home, arriving around 5:00 in the morning. It was awesome to be home. During our driving we passed through an area in the mountains of New Mexico where large swaths of forest had been burned and fire-fighting crews were still on hand, and then in Texas we saw a number of large dust devils. One rather surreal experience happened when I stopped to pee along a little ranch road in the mountains. As I was taking care of business, I heard Lana laughing. Being certain that she was not laughing at me, I asked her what was going on as I got back in the car. She pointed to a metal sign, which I had noted coming in but had not bothered to translate. Lana translated it for me, and perhaps you’ll be able to do so in the picture I’ve included below.

[If you can’t translate, here’s what it said: “If you use our road to pee, please take your TP (toilet paper) with you.”]

On Wednesday, then, I did little other than alternate resting and sleeping, and by Thursday I was trying to catch up on emails and blogging. You know the rest. It was a heckuva trip. I enjoyed it, but I am glad to be home and able to get into the routine of my writing again. I missed that on the road.

By the way: another member of my writing group has just had a flash fiction piece published. It’s Alvin Burstein, with “The Sound of Silence.” It’s over at Dark Valentine. Stop by if you get a chance. Although Al has published non-fiction, I believe this is his first fiction piece. It’s another good un.


Deka Black said...

Tell your wife i alsolaughed. man, is just hilarious (and logic). The pistachio nut statuee sounds surreal.

Deka Black said...

Almost forgot: Great pic at sunset. For some reason, the image makes me think in a Earthman in Barsoom. very atmospheric and romantic, in the adventurous sense of the word.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like one hell of a road trip! You saw some beautiful country.

Steve Malley said...

All told, that sounds like one mighty awesome vacation!! :D

David Cranmer said...

That final shot is right out of a John Ford film. Great pics and wonderful travelogue you have given us, Charles. But next time take me along.

Ron Scheer said...

You got to Eugene Manlove Rhodes country. His stories and novels are set in that area around White Sands. He's buried in the San Andres where he used to have a little ranch. It's closed to the public now. Thx for the trip report; great pics.

Travis Cody said...

Now that's a lot of miles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, it was hilarious once I figured what the sign said. I like that. Always wanted to visit Barsoom.

Alex, indeed so

Steve Malley, we definitely had fun. Glad to be home though.

David Cranmer, I thought it was a fitting end shot.

Ron, didn't know that. cool.

Travis Cody, a lot for sure. Glad I had my new car.

Chris said...

Fry bread is the food of the gods.

laughingwolf said...

good stuff all round, youz guyz...

the whizzing incident cracked me up! lol

super pics/tale... glad [most] all went well....

X. Dell said...

(1) Glad to see you made it back in one piece, despite the McDonald's drive-by.

(2) A hotel is great so long as the bacon isn't burned.

(3) I've made that drive past White Sands myself. I agree it's aptly named.

Cloudia said...

it takes a great man
to name a beetle and to tell
others about it :)

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral




nephite blood spartan heart said...

Wow, thats a great final pic. Great eye Lana.

jodi said...

Charles, sounds lovely. And I want to see the giant pistachio nut!

the walking man said...

I think you can assume the new ride is truly broken in now.

Have to admit that sign was cleverly done!

Paul R. McNamee said...

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

Randy Johnson said...

Nice wind-up to a great trip. Yea, I grinned also.

Charles Gramlich said...

Chris, definitely so, which makes me wonder why the gods have been depriving me all my life. am I not their beloved?

laughingwolf, it cracked me up too. I'm glad I didn't translate it "while" I was whizzing. it might have been a mess.

X. Dell, seems you cannot escape McDonald's. I never would have imagined I'd eat there on our trip.

Cloudia, I'm a weird man at least.

David J. West, if only her subject matter had been more dramatic!

jodi, I don't know if I got a pic of the nut or not. we'll have to see. Lana was driving so it would have been me trying to snap the pic.

Mark, yes indeed, on the ride and the sign.

Paul R. McNamee, no prob.

Randy Johnson, it was grin worthy moment.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I love those pictures! Lana has such an amazing talent for photography!!!

Lettuce Is The Devil said...

"Bacon will make you like any hotel"

Amen to that!

ivan said...

Terrific shadow/silhoutte shot by Lana.

Kinda gives me a shudder though.

I don't think I'll ever visit the White Sands Missile range for the same reason I'll probably never visit the old Chernobyl site back in the old country.

Might come back looking sort of shadowy. :)

BernardL said...

Thanks for the translation. I don't read text shorthand well. Good close out for the trip.

Oscar Case said...

Nice travel posts, great pics, too!

Richard Prosch said...

Trips like this reveal hidden truths. Bacon will make you like any hotel. Indeed!!! Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Tops!

Unknown said...

You are a good journaling. I love the fact that you counted the dust devils. Brilliant

Erik Donald France said...

Terrific -- thoroughly enjoyed your take (and Lana's, too) on this great trip. Wunderbar!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ello, indeed so.

Lettuce Is The Devil, I thought you might agree.

ivan, radiation doesn't contaminate me. I contaminate radiation.

BernardL, I'm not sure I'd ever have been able to translate it without Lana's help.

Oscar, thanks, man. It was fun.

Richard Prosch, the secrets of life are small secrets, yet no less profound for all of that.

Carole, I kept notes while I was riding

Erik Donald France, Lana still has another few entries to go on her report.

eric1313 said...

Bacon cannot be denied respect. No doubt about that.

The shots of the whole trip are great to see. Glad you brought them to us.

I missed out on a trip to the Grand Canyon and a tour of route 66 with my dad a few years back. These posts show me quite a bit of what I missed out on. I'll have to make sure and go on the next road trip.

Charles Gramlich said...

Eric1313, we did go down route 66 part of the way, saw lots of signs for it. It was well worth it. I think you would enjoy.

Merisi said...

Traveling is awesome, coming home is just as good.
There always comes a point during travels when I want nothing more than being home, no matter how much I enjoyed being away for a while.

Barbara Martin said...

Looks like you both had a grand vacation. As for the Grand Canyon: do they still have mule rides down to the river? The pics were great. Thanks, Charles.

Anonymous said...

Bacon for breakfast is great. I love reading these travel excerpts Charles, thank you for sharing them them with us.

Golden Eagle said...

I love the picture of the dune--the perspective makes it seem like it's so expansive, even if it's just a beetle walking across.

I'm not very good at translating shorthand like that--but what a sign. :P

Thanks for posting about your trip!

Lana Gramlich said...

Turns out that's the worlds largest pistachio nut statue. I could believe it. It was pretty...uh...nuts?
I loved lounging in the pool and hot tub with you, but I loved doing and seeing everything with you, of course. Hope you had as much fun as I did. :)

Thanks again to everyone for the kind comments on my photos!

Lana Gramlich said...

For those wanting to see the giant pistachio nut statue, we didn't get pictures, but there are plenty in Google images and there's some details on Roadside America.

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, I found that to be true for sure.

Barbara Martin, they do have the mule rides. It takes pretty much a day down and a day back up from what I hear.

Richard Godwin, I'm gonna have some bacon today, I think!

The Golden Eagle, the dunes were impressive, as far as the eye could see.

Lana Gramlich, thanks for the update on the pistachio nut, you sweet nut of mine.

Tyhitia Green said...

The trip sounds awesome. Love the pic of your shadows. And the sign was too funny.

ArtSparker said...

Did you see any space aliens? I understand they abound in that area.