Motivation, out west, Personal post, travel

Personal Post/ /Coming Home from Our First Out West Trip

Coming home is a feeling that everyone has, eventually. Whether your home is a place that you’ve lived in for years and years or a person who knows you so well that when you unite again the feeling of belonging awakens.
Being apart from my home for two weeks gave me a definite yearning for my regular routine again. Because nothing is quite like it.
After falling back into my routine of things, which didn’t really happen since lots of responsibilities came crashing down as soon as I crossed the state line, (school, new-job, etc), I glanced back to a week before and remembered where I was and what I was doing and thought, “Wow. Did that really happen?”
My life has most definitely changed in the past few weeks. Allow me to show you how that exactly happened.
My family, as you know already, is very fond of traveling. Seems like every free weekend or work-break we’re going some place or preparing to go somewhere for the next available time off. A few months ago my father launched an idea that we should go out west! Since my sister and I are growing up rather abruptly and there’s not a lot of time left for us to be together as a family, we decided to start planning.
On March the 29th we had everything packed up and ready for Arizona! My sister and I made an early commitment to our youth group at church to help teach at a local children’s ministry that night. So after we presented both of our interpretations about the Easter story, we said our goodbyes and hopped into the Dutchmen (aka our travel trailer).
Sometime early that next morning we realized that we parked to stop and rest right beside a Black Market. Missouri is a unique place.
The transformation as we crossed over into each state was fascinating. I didn’t expect there to be lots of hills in Oklahoma, but there were several. As we preceded farther west the terrain became more vast and outstretched.
Our first climatic stop, besides the illegal business, was Amarillo, Texas.
 
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“Are those cars?”
Why, yes. Yes, they are. I know what you’re thinking. Why on Earth would someone plant old Cadillacs into the earth and allow people to come and spray paint all over them in the middle of a farm? I was asking myself the same question before arriving at Cadillac Ranch.
After committing vandalism, we were told by a young couple that the idea came from two architects who installed it as a public art sculpture. The cars get a new paint job every day. For special occasions, they get painted a solid color for a specific purpose. Example, for one of the supporting patrons’ wife’s birthdays they painted all ten vehicles pink. And after one of the artists died, they were mourned in black.
To be honest, I felt like I was committing a felony while writing my name, along with one of my favorite scripture verses on the hood of one of ’em.
 
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We made it to Las Vegas, New Mexico by mid-day at the end of March.
After stalking a filming crew-thinking it was one of my family’s most-beloved T.V. shows, which dolefully turned out to be some new NBC program-my mom actually got kicked off the street by the security/barricade dude telling her pictures were not allowed. That’s something that doesn’t happen too often-we get caught stalking.
We drove through the little, exclusive town in search for other famous, historical landmarks. One of my dad’s favorite movies is Red Dawn, and guess where some scenes were filmed at? Las Vegas, New Mexico of course. Their film permission is very accessible and easy to obtain, explains why most westerns were created there.
 
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Driving through the Sante Fe National Forest was one of my favorite things on the trip. The mountains/hills (close enough) were enticingly bright amidst the dour dirt and sand every where.
 
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My sister is a peculiar thing. One of her requests on the trip was to make a detour on I-25 and drive by a random rock snake. For future remembrance:
 
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After seeing several-I’m talking a dozen-billboards along the interstate, we stopped to check out what this Fine Indian Arts Center was like. Little did we know that every single Indian trade post that we would find would be identical. We managed to find some pretty peculiar things here though.
 
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The Petrified Forest was breathtaking. The landscape went from this…
 
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To this in a matter of three-quarters of a mile (about 1 kilometer).
 
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I guess some people need to be told not to walk off a cliff.
 
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You can see a close up of one of the petrified wood pieces and a rather fine silhouette of my youngest furry sister.
The giant chunks of trees are scattered all over the desert floor. They are painted in quartz minerals, along with manganese and iron oxides from their previous covering.
 
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After driving through the fossilized forest, we made it to Winslow, Arizona and stood on the corner.
If you didn’t just get that, you’re not the only one. On the way there my parents sang this song. By the time we reached our destination, my sister and I-whom haven’t ever heard of the Eagles before-knew the lyrics to ‘Take it Easy’ by heart.
 
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The famed lead singer of the rock band, Don Henley, has a statue of himself on the literal corner of Winslow, Arizona.
 
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Our prime focus on traveling out west was to see the Grand Canyon. My family and I have always wanted to travel the 2,000-mile journey but wanted to wait for the perfect time to do so. Which turned out to be the spring of 2016.
Every thing we saw ahead of this next famous landmark was very fun and beautiful, however, the building anticipation that we were about to see one of God’s glorious masterpieces with our own eyeballs was pretty exhilarating.
After we parked and got the doggy stroller situated we hiked up to the first sighting spot along the south rim. Once we reached the top everything stopped. The whole world paused in orbit and stood graciously looking at the majestic scenery. Nobody talked, nobody took pictures, yet, everyone was too awed to do anything.
 
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After gazing at it for several minutes I felt as if bowing on my knees wouldn’t be reverent enough. The thought that I personally know the Maker of these detailed ravines was enough to bring a quiet humbleness and fervent gratefulness.
 
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One of the things that this grand wonder of the world made me think was how small we really are. Seeing the farthest rock mountain on the horizon and trying not to gasp at the many, many miles the ledge that was holding my feet dropped made me feel quite a little. Infinitely small compared to the hands Who made it.
We get so caught up in the little things in our lives that the major facts of truth surround us and we don’t take time to see them.
Visiting the Grand Canyon was not only breathtaking, it was reviving.
 
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And so was this pizza. Right before you enter the grand entryway, there are about a dozen pizza restaurants. This is proof that we got some and we had ourselves a picnic on the side of the road. You might wonder why we didn’t choose to go into the restaurant to eat, but as you can see the red stroller proved to be a  hard compatibility.
 
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We headed north to another famous landmark next to a very tiny town called Page.
 
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This is Horseshoe Bend. If you follow the route by the river it makes a shape similar to a horseshoe. Hence the name.
 

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Being able to look out the window and see things like this felt so abnormal.
 
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Especially when you’re pumping the AC in the truck and see snow in the distance.
 
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Hello, Monumental Valley.
 
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The two monuments on the left are the Mittens and the one closest to the right is Butte.
I couldn’t see it either, don’t worry.
 
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I had dad stop the truck so I could hop out and get this awesome panorama. You’re welcome. 😉
 
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On the way back to our campsite we were in a melancholy state of not wanting to leave. So we bolted from the edge of Utah back to the middle of Arizona, dead set on seeing the sunset over the canyon. And boy, was it perfect timing.
 
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I will never forget this night. After the sun had said its final goodbye for the day, my family and I sat on a log and watched the stars come out.
If you’ve never seen or heard of the Arizona’s night sky, then let me tell you there’s nothing like it. The altitude where we were allowed us to be closest to the constellations than ever before.
We sat there for a while not wanting to disturb the peace and the tranquility of the moment for others. Eventually, we started finding our own planets and maps in the sky. We talked about some deep stuff there on the rim of one of the earth’s natural wonders of the world. And I loved every second.
 
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I’m just now noticing I took a picture of some deceased animal on the side of the road.
 
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And then we became the same thing. Just kidding, it was only a blown-tire. When traveling, make sure you adjust your tire pressure to your elevation. We came from 6,000 ft to 2,000 ft in altitude. The poor tire was a couple of pounds lighter than it should’ve been.
But the traffic was easy to get through, and we made it to the edge of the interstate in a jiffy. Praise God!
After putting the spare tire on the butte of the Dutchmen, we exited into Tucson in search of a new spare tire, just in case. We can never be too careful with our trucks. We ended up staying in Tucson, New Mexico for longer than we wanted but after hours of googling and multiple U-turns, we found the only available tire shop open- which turned out to be handy-dandy o’ Walmart.
 
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Our next stop was Tombstone, New Mexico. Most city names have a significant description of what its inhabitants are known for, and Tombstone is exactly that.
 
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The first grave we saw. How nice.
 
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Some of the marked tombstones were… out there. This one was hard to read and to understand, but well worth the visit.
 
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Tombstone is also famous for its updated, original downtown street.
 
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There was a live-shoot out. We watched the reenactors for a little while then moseyed our way on to the court house.
 
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Saw the enhanced version of the gallows, which killed the town’s gang members.
 
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This was probably my favorite part of the tour-the private library.
 
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Then we went to the beach! Minus the water.
 
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White Sands is the largest gypsum dune-field in the States. The sand there is made from gypsum, which is hydrated calcium sulfate.
We bought a sled and enjoyed ourselves in the warm weather. Out west things get reversed. Here, in Kentucky, we’d only sled with snow, in southern New Mexico this is their snow.
 
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We then went on to the Alamo!
 
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Here’s a memorial for the heroes who had a prominent impact in America’s border.
 
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Going on the river walk was one of my favorite things on this trip.
 
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As if you can’t tell by the many pictures I snapped.
 
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By the time we got out of the little Susan boat (All the boats were named. How neat!), we had an appetite for some good Mexican food.
We chose the oldest restaurant along the river. Caso Rio. I told my family it translates to Home Chip in Spanish.
 
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I thought it was cool that they had a scripture verse on their menus.
 
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The next day we went back to the Alamo to actually go through it.
 
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The gardens were being redone while we were there, but it still was beautiful.
 
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The main chapel inside the fort was fascinating. I couldn’t help to take a picture, even if it wasn’t allowed. Shhhh.
 
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We made a short cut through Pigeon Forge, Tennessee before coming home.
 
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Returning to the mountains was a comfort. Part of me could’ve gone on exploring another two weeks, but the other half was ready to come home.
Just wanted to recap on the trip and share it with you. Hopefully, you enjoyed being apart of it.
♡ Anna

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