Road Trip 2.0: Tennessee

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Approaching the Bass Pro Shops in the Pyramid
When planning a road trip, J gravitates toward the roadside attractions...which is how one ends up at the Bass Pro Shop housed in a former basketball arena shaped like a pyramid, rather than focusing on moar barbecue or the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Giant Bass Pro Shop in former arena
Civil Rights Museum

Memphis was just a lunch stop on our way to Nashville. Honky Tonks at night, and fantastic food, the Nashville Parthenon, kayaking and distilleries during the day. We took a 2 hour kayaking trip down the Cumberland, and got absolutely poured on the last 30 minutes of our boating trip. Thankfully, kayaking means you're prepared to get wet, so we had a change of clothes before going to brunch with my brother & his wife.

Nashville Broadway Honky Tonks
Nashville Broadway Honky Tonks
Kayakking the Cumberland River
Kayakking the Cumberland River
Nashville Parthenon

We also squeezed in a tour to Nelson's Greenbriar Distillery which has quite the story about how descendants are picking up their great-great-great-whatever grandfather's business and releasing their first aged Tennessee whiskey this year.

Nelson's Greenbrier Distillery
Nelson's Greenbrier Distillery Distillery Tasting
Nashville from Afar

Road Trip 2.0: New Mexico & Texas

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Very Large Array radio observatory
We now get into the heavy driving portion of the road trip. After the last bout of National Parks we stopped by the Very Large Array, a radio telescope in New Mexico. Contact was filmed here, and so, naturally, Jodi Foster narrates the educational intro movie at the welcome center. 'Not much else to do but walk around and marvel at the sheer enormity of the radio dishes. The location was selected for its isolation from civilization's radio pollution, and the large empty space.

The Very Large Array radio observatory
The Very Large Array radio observatory
The Very Large Array radio observatory
We spent the night in Santa Rosa, NM across from The Blue Hole which was a little underwhelming. From there, we made our way through Amarillo, TX home of Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texas Steak Ranch. If you've ever wanted to eat a 72oz steak with fixins on an elevated timer, while a one-hour timer clock ticks down above your head, this is the place. Or you can just sit in a booth and eat like a normal person.

Cadillac Ranch is also a classic Rte. 66 attraction. A bunch of old Cadillacs in the middle of a corn field, that people spray paint. Lots of empty bottles all over the place.

The Blue Hole
Cadillac Ranch Cars
Cadillac Ranch Cars
Discarded Spray Paint Cans The Big Texan Steak Ranch - sign
The Big Texan Steak Ranch - indoors
We made it to Little Rock, AK that evening and stayed in the fanciest $100/night hotel. Free omelette station for breakfast!

Road Trip 2.0: Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National Parks

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Petrified Forest National Park
Painted Desert & Petrified Forest. Wow.

The next day after Joshua Tree National Park we were in Arizona for the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National Parks. Such beautifully colored hills! Bright reds and blues and greys. All in one place! Also still 100+ degrees (Arizona, after all), but breathtakingly beautiful. Who knew such weird stuff was in one country?

Lots of driving, stopping, hopping out for a bit to take in the views.

Painted Desert National Park
Painted Desert National Park
Painted Desert National Park - toy effect (lensbaby)
Puerco Pueblo
Petrified Forest National Park
Desert Road
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Trees
There was also some petroglyphs and the Puerco Pueblo contained within the parks. And a petrified tree that fell and formed a bridge, supported by cement in the early 1900s to prevent collapse. It's interesting how much "preservation" has changed over the decades.

Road Trip 2.0: Joshua Tree National Park

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Joshua Trees - toy effect (lensbaby)

Whereas Jim had always wanted to go to the San Diego Zoo, I have wanted to see Joshua Tree National Park for a long time now. Of course, in late June, Joshua Tree is about 107 degrees every day. The second you step out of your car, you step right into an oven. Hiking was limited, but there is a lovely scenic drive with lots of lookout points and tiny little trails to poke around.

Joshua Tree National Park would be a lovely place to spend a bit more time in when it's cooler!

Joshua Tree National Park - Sign!
Warning! Bees!
Cactus Garden - lensbaby effects
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Skeleton Rock
Joshua Trees - toy effect (lensbaby)
Joshua Trees - toy effect (lensbaby)
Joshua Tree
Desert Road
Palm Springs Sign
We stayed in Palm Spring before heading to the park. It's a little dead in the summer, but still full of nice restaurants and brightly colored accommodations.

Road Trip 2.0: San Diego

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Orangutan Rolling

We spent a down-day staying at our hotel in Oceanside, after all that walking around theme parks and LA. We had brunch in the quaint little harbor town, sat on the beach, and headed down to La Jolla for tacos and to watch the sea lions at sunset.

La Jolla Sea Lions
La Jolla Sea Lions La Jolla Sea Lions

Our feet needed the rest, as the following day we were headed to the San Diego Zoo. We booked one of the specialization tours, and ended up being the only people in our group! So we had a guide to drive us around the giant zoo on golf carts. We went behind the scenes at the elephant enclosure to see their diet (some like cucumbers chopped up, some like half cucumbers). We fed giraffes! We skipped the line for the pandas and saw both of them awake and eating!

The guide gave us some good tips for how to see the rest of the zoo, and that was really useful. We took the skyfari to the top and ambled our way back down through the exhibits. Somehow, the koalas were also awake when we got there. We were pretty lucky!

San Diego Zoo Entrance
Elephant time!
Cheetah and doggy friend
Giraffe Spoonbill
San Diego Zoo from above
San Diego Zoo - toy effect (lensbaby)
Primates - lensbaby
Meercat lookout
Rhino bus

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