(excerpted from emails to friends and family)
Started in Redding CA, (at the home of my inlaws), traveled through northern California into Arizona.
date: April 6th, 2011
We are in Williams Arizona, at about 7000ft elevation, the gateway to the Grand Canyon. We will head up to the canyon tomorrow morning, about a 50 min drive. We have learned that Best Westerns allow dogs, which is good as we have a deaf Australian Shepherd, (otherwise he sleeps in his crate in the car which he is actually quite happy with). We are all having lots of fun. The ipad has been absolutely indispensable, wouldn’t want to travel without it again. It helps us to find places that we are willing to eat at, and hotels. And it allows T to watch his favorite sesame street episodes (and gives us a break from the “Are we there yet?”, and “Where are we?”) We find we can drive about 4-5 hours a day max, broken up by lunch and a bit of exercise. The newish van has also been a real blessing, so much more comfortable to ride in for all (but especially being pregnant, our old car used to give me back pain after two hours of driving). Now it feels rather luxurious, and the back windows have sunscreens which we can pull up and down for T when the sun is on him. Designed with toddlers in mind for sure.
After several days of hot weather approx. 80 degrees (but cool according to locals), we are now in cold weather again. Its a strange thing. This morning we were in the Mojave desert and sweaty. Lots of strange looking cactus. Now I am amidst pine tress and wearing my homemade wool socks.
in a couple of days we will be in Santa Fe where we have rented a small apartment for three days. It should be a nice treat. It will probably be cool there too, but the place has a fireplace if we feel so inclined.
update: The Grand Canyon was awe inspiring! We had planned to stay for a couple of days but a major snow storm was moving into the area and we wanted to get out before it hit. (Apparently the town we were staying in got snowed in so we made the right choice.) We couldn’t afford to be late for Design Ranch.
April 13th, 2011
Writing from Kerrville Texas, land of big cars, cowboy hats and fried food. I will be brief as Jeff just put T to bed and I find using the computer before bed not conducive to a good sleep.
After a lot of driving through the desert we landed in Santa Fe, which was absolutely a dream! I fell in love with the place, and the adobe style of architecture. We staying in the most perfect little adobe house, which after staying in mostly cheap hotels was like moving into a palace. We had fires every night, good food, and watched movies. I did have to work (I got all my revisions done for the book, only minor tweaking left thank god). But it was still great. T came down with a bit of a fever for a couple nights but it never progressed into anything and he is fine now.
So we left Santa Fe, sadly, I could have stayed forever, and drove into more desert. Then more desert. And finally today we are out of the desert, though there are still cacti here. We are very tired of desert. At least here there are lots of oak trees, it’s amazing how you miss trees when you don’t have them. I think we are done with desert for the rest of the trip! Yay!
Tomorrow we take a short 20 minute drive to the Ranch, and I will be doing the workshop on friday and saturday. I think we leave sunday and head to Houston, from there onto Baton Rouge and then New Orleans. We are all holding up quite well. I had a bit of stress the other night due to having some problems with sending the book files (luckily the hotel last night had a good connection and I was able to get all the files onto the server (one at a time, there were over 100 files about 40 mgs each), it took a while. But at least it is done.
T is excited to meet the horses on the ranch. I will be happy to be done, and begin the second half of the journey home (we are about halfway respectively). We are all in good health despite the lack of good food in most of this country. We have begun to eat in grocery stores when the selection is bad, if the hotel has a microwave (often the frozen dinners you can buy are much better than fast food options which we don’t do).
p.s. Great dinner in Houston at Ruggles Green! Met a sweet family who we chatted with for a time over dinner. Got to experience the Rothko Chapel, which was on my life list! (amazing, though not so contemplative with a toddler).
April 19th, 2011
Just a quick note. The conference (Design Ranch) is done, it went really well (even though they scheduled me for three workshops when I thought it was just one). But I got through it all without too much stress (not easy being six and a half months pregnant at this point. I had a bit of trouble with feeling winded from talking.) T was the star of the show, 150 designers fell in love with him and he had a lot to do at the ranch. The food was a pregnant woman’s dream, (who could resist real fried chicken, biscuits, and desert with every course!)
Stayed in Lafayette. Had a wonderful dinner of southern food at the Blue Dog Cafe. The salad dressing was remarkable!
I am writing from New Orleans Louisiana, which is an amazing city. It is very hot and humid here (and it’s apparently not even the hot season), which can be a bit challenging for me particularly now as I am really feeling the weight of the baby, and walking much slower than usual. We haven’t decided if we are going to hit the road again tomorrow, or stay another night. We are trying to stick to a schedule so that we will be in Troy to meet the movers (though we have a bit of leeway to work with). The south is exactly what you picture it to be like, we drove through lots of swamps this morning, and we are told there are plenty of alligators in them (yikes). I think NOLA (new orleans) is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen (up there with Paris and Amsterdam). Jeff went out to walk Alex tonight and saw a bright green red throated lizard! He puffed out his throat to tell Jeff he was in his territory (we read this later). T judges every town we go to based on whether or not they have a toy store. He is very much into the german made plastic (rubber?) animals at this stage and has a good collection going (including a moose, elk, black bear, and a coyote, they all have names that I can’t remember right now).
So all is well. We are admittedly a bit nervous about tornadoes right now as they hit Raleigh NC, a town we are planning to stop in to meet up with our friend Mike in a few days (though I think they hit mostly trailer parks). Though it looks like we are avoiding all the problem areas at this point, we just have to check the weather patterns every day from here on in. (Makes my dream of someday traveling by camper a little less enticing as trailer parks are first to be hit it seems.)
I’m excited to start heading north, into cooler climes.
April 22nd, 2011
We are in Raleigh NC, on New York time again. A mere 12 hours to home! Almost feels like we are home to be that close. Tomorrow we visit with Mike. It is nice to feel some cooler weather again after the heat of Louisiana and Alabama. Sunday we will reach Washington DC (four and a half hours from here), then stop in New York City (four hours, 20 min) to stay with friend Reid, and then onto home the next day (2.5 hours). ETA is Tuesday afternoon!
Apparently it is supposed to snow in Troy tonight and tomorrow, yikes! What a shock to our systems that will be. It’s been rather tropical weather for us for a while now.
Seeing lots of tornado damage in this town. Pretty crazy stuff. Nothing on our path now though. Just snow at the end.
Hope that I will at least get to see the White House in person, (a drive by at least). We would love to have been able to take Tilden to the annual easter egg roll/hunt at the White House, but alas we found out it was a lottery to get tickets, not surprising.
Got to see Montgomery Alabama, the birthplace of the civil rights movement, the place where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. The down town has seen better times, as with most american and some canadian towns, the box stores have left the downtown empty and boarded up. Luckily they did have a Carrabba’s so we at least got a decent meal (I suppose we are guilty too). I don’t think I will want to eat out again for a very long time. For some reason Mike had been to Montgomery a while back. He stopped someone on the street to ask where he might get some dinner, The person said, “Well you’re standing right in front of the best restaurant in town.” Mike had already investigated the place and found it to sell only hot dogs. He politely said, “Well I was hoping for something a little lighter, like salad.” The person looked puzzled and replied, “Salad? You could just ask for one dog, you don’t have to have three.” That speaks volumes about the southern approach to food.
T got a new rubber snake that has to eat dinner with us every night, affectionately named “Snakey”.
Time for some rest.
April 25th, 2011
More delicious southern cooking in Chapel Hill (another town we fell in love with), the last of the trip. Had ice cream in a park after dinner surrounded by lots of happy families running and playing!
Stopped in Richmond Virginia, had lunch at Whole Foods (something light), I feel like I ate my way across the South!
Landed in New York City to stay with our dear friend Reid. Dinner at a neighborhood Italian place which we go to most every time we are in town. T had a great time with Reid, they have a mutual love for each other I think.
Home in the morning. We are ready.
edit: My only regret is that we spent so much time talking and catching up and I didn’t get to hear Reid play music this time (he is one of my favorite musicians of all time). A close tie with Jefferson Pitcher!