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Return from Vacation

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We left warm sunny Florida headed for the far corners of the United States. We went west through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico (perhaps the state I would really like to live in). Then Arizona and our first planned stop at the Meteor Crater - a very large crater - but perhaps not worth the admission price. Then the Petrified Forest, where it paid to be an 'old person' and able to get a pass that allows entry in to all National Parks for the grand sum of $10. The painted desert part is not as colorful as the painted area of Death Valley - but it's on the loop into the Petrified Forest. Much has changed in the park since we last visited some thirty or so years ago. Those great logs of colorful stone are worth seeing, just don't try and take any home with you.

Let me interject about travel accommodations - Weren't any of them anything to write home about. Two had elevators that didn't work, the 'free' breakfast was worth about what we paid for them, often the toaster was only half there; one the waffle iron wasn't working; one had only sausage, biscuits and gravy - and a grumpy attendant; then the walls were so thin you could hear the tv set in the next room. Perhaps the worst was the Shamrock Motel in Murfreesboro, AR: flies in the room and a shower that would accommodate a 7 foot tall person. Motel 6 is motel 6 and about worth what you pay - maybe. Best Western's are over priced for the venue. But traveling carefree, stopping when it gets dark without reservations - there are downsides.

From way off we could see the snow covered San Francisco peaks - above Flagstaff, not the city by the bay. From there we traveled down to Kingman, across into California. If you are going to 29 Palms - make reservations - the "Best Western" is way overpriced at $179; we traveled on down to Joshua Tree and got a room. the next morning we were off to the Joshua Tree National Monument, going through the Joshua Tree entrance and out down on I - 10. If you like high desert, huge rocks and unique landscape, Joshua Tree National Monument can hardly be beat. From there we traveled back up through Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, stopping momentarily to see our old digs at 29 Palms before heading north towards Las Vegas. Amboy, then out through more desert, the Mohave Preserve - it's paved now, last time we went that way is was graded dirt. Stopped to take pictures of the Beavertail cactus that were blooming, the enormous Joshua Trees, and the train that went by. We settled down for the night in an adequate motel in Las Vegas - didn't lose a dime there or where we ate the next day at noon on the Nevada/Arizona border at the Eureka Casino. the food was ok - but it was mostly just food.

From there we crossed into Arizona, the little strip where I - 15 crosses the corner above the Grand Canyon. We spent the night in St. George, Utah. Took some pictures of the LDS Temple. Then, with the dust filling the air like a fog, we traveled through Zion National Park. The high peaks were dimmed until we went through the long tunnel and come out on the east end. Still tried to take a few pictures, even got one of a Muley doe that was hidden up near a small dripping 'spring'. From Zion we traveled to Bryce. By then the wind was blowing good and the air was whipping cold. Pictures seldom do it justice (and if you are in the east - travel down to Georgia and see Providence Canyon - not quite as grand - but you'll get the idea).

It was getting late as we drove up US highway 89 and cut back over to the interstate. Later and later, darkness was descending and we hadn't found a place to stay. We had to go up I - 70 towards Denver, stopping at Richfield, UT for the night. It was snowing as we went over the pass, but not much and it was up in the mountains.

Surprise, surprise! the next morning the car was covered with about six inches of white stuff - they call it snow. That sort of ended our journey north to the farthest corner; the weather report didn't make it sound any better going north, so we headed back south down highway 89. In spite of the snow, and the cold, it was a beautiful ride. Everything covered with pristine white blanket of snow and still falling. The snowplows kept the road pretty much clear. We headed back through Zion National Park, now highlighted with snow rather than fine dust. The wind and the snow kept the photo taking down, but it was still beautiful. The west end was not snowing but we were getting tired and traveled on down, back through St. George.

Down through the corner of AZ again to Las Vegas. And on to Hoover Dam. We paid the big bucks for the big tour down through the center of the dam. Interesting and you should do it once. From Hoover Dam back to Flagstaff to spend the night before going on down to the bottom of New Mexico to see Carlsbad Caverns. We spent the night in Roswell at the Motel 6 - adequate for very tired travelers. Carlsbad Caverns: I have seen 'pettier' caves, but none so large. We were inside for nearly two hours walking the path and taking pictures. {advice for photographers: take a tripod and shoot without flash. It is NOT well lit, although lit well enough so that you won't stumble on the trail.} After Carlsbad Caverns, we were becoming weary travelers.

Instead of heading home, we headed for the Crater of Diamonds in Murfreesboro, AR. A trip I wouldn't do again - We got rocks - not a single diamond in site. Getting too old to be digging in the dirt and hauling five gallon buckets up to wash the dirt off rocks hoping for the prize. We left early, after only an hour and a half on the dirt. There was a note on our windshield, the truck parked next to us was from our home town here in Florida. No one we knew however, and we didn't go looking for them.

Now it was time to get on home. back down through AR, LA, MI, AL and into Florida. We stayed the last night out in Mobile. It is a long drive from I -10 to Mobile. All told, we drove a little over 6,000 miles. We discovered a lot of things - one - you don't need the radio on near as much as you think when traveling with a good companion. There were lots of things to see and do - and we didn't do very many of them.

We learned a lot - don't pack so much stuff - Stop when you want - go when you want. Don't be over expectant about accommodations - unless you are willing to shell out big bucks to stay at the finest "inns and suites". Take your time - there's no need to rush, stop and smell the roses, pull over and look at the cacti, the ocotillo and the rocks.

Certain we are, happy to be back in the house in our own bed.