After visiting the canyons we headed towards Salt Lake City to visit Gara. On her last trip to USA, Miss W tried to visit Gara but their schedules didn’t work out. So this time she is determined to meet her chat room friend. We didn’t realise that Thanksgiving was Thursday; we thought it was Friday and had planned to leave then so it would not interfere with Gara’s plans.
Instead, we were invited to Gara’s son’s in-laws for a real Thanksgiving meal. I took a photo of the meal that Miss W ate. It included turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, stuffing and cranberry sauce. (OOPS, forgot the devilled eggs which Miss W really liked) Then for dessert there was a choice of pies: pumpkin, cherry, apple, key lime as well as cakes decorated to look like Pilgrim hats and turkeys. A lovely fruit punch was also served.
While the meal was being organized, Miss W was asked many questions about our trip. We also watched some American football on the TV. Miss W learnt a new game from Stevie called “Chopsticks”. She will have to teach it to her students when she gets home.
Also while in Salt Lake City, Miss W had to visit the FamilySearch Library. This is the most famous genealogical library in the world and all genealogists want to visit it some day in their life. Four storeys tall, with Australia and British on one floor including computers, microfilm and books. Unfortunately, Miss W didn’t find out anything new about her two brickwalls – her English grandfather and when he arrived in Australia or her Samoan great great grandfather’s native name.
After a fantastic time with Gara and her boarder, Hannah, we headed back to Las Vegas for a couple of days before visiting the last stop on our trip, Los Angeles.
Have you ever done research on your family? Do you know about your grandparents and what their childhood was like compared to yours?
I don’t think I need to write much about these two days except to say what spectacular views we saw while driving through Zion Canyon and up into Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon.
Zion and Bryce Canyon on PhotoPeach
Miss W has just learnt how to create a video and upload it to Youtube. Here is the video we shot while at the end of the canyon scenic drive.
What are some National Parks you have visited in your country? Which did you enjoy the most and why?
Do we go to the skywalk today and rush it or do we get closer to the west rim by staying at Kingman and do the skywalk tomorrow?
Kingman, it is. We followed the Joshua Tree Parkway. To start with, this tree looked like a multi-branched yucca plant. But looking more closely, it didn’t seem to have the flower stalks like the yucca plant has.
As we were driving through the Big Sandy Valley, we thought of Diane in Cleveland who kept reminding us of the changing colours of foliage throughout October and November. There were many trees still with bright yellow leaves as we followed the valley north.
Arriving in Kingman early, we booked in to the motel then headed out to follow Route 66 a bit more. This took us through Peach Springs to Seligman and back on highway 40 to Kingman. On route 66, we found a country dancing hall, a grub zone and a herd of deer – check out the images to find these.
Next day, we were up early (before 8am) and driving to the west rim of the Grand Canyon. The earlier we could get there, the longer we could stay. At first the road was fine but once we turned onto the Diamond Bar Road, we had about 9 miles of gravelled road to follow. Much of this was also along washes, so if it rained today we might be in trouble getting out.
Arriving about 10am, we bought our tickets and headed for the shuttle bus which takes you around each of the sites. FIrst Eagle Point where the Skywalk actually is. I had to hide in Miss W’s jacket as she was supposed to put all personal items in a locker. One person tried to say I couldn’t go on the skywalk, but the next person said as long as I stayed in the jacket and patted my head. Miss W had to wear slippers on the Skywalk to protect the glass.
As you couldn’t take cameras on the Skywalk means they have professional photographers who take about 15 photos of you in different poses. You can then buy 1 photo for $30 when you get off the Skywalk. Instead Miss W bought the package which included 4 printed images, a gift and a USB with all your images plus others taken by professional photographers. You will see most of these in my flickr photostream.
We then continued on the shuttle visiting Guano Point and the Hualapai ranch. By the time we re-entered the gift shop where we got our tickets it was past lunch time. The crowds of people from Las Vegas had arrived in their coaches and were booking helicopter rides and other extreme activities to do at the west rim.
So we headed off to Las Vegas to stay the night before going to Salt Lake City tomorrow. On our way to Vegas, we stopped off at many scenic points to see Lake Mead and Mohave Lake as well as the Hoover Dam which is part of the border of Nevada and Arizona. You can walk across the dam as well as drive your car. We took lots of photos here as it was such as important dam for this part of the country.
Have you ever done an extreme activity like walking on the Skywalk?
Tracy and her family, Chris, Ethan and Em made us feel very welcome while staying at their house. Em really loved having me there and I slept in a warm bed every night while having great conversations with young Em.
We visited 9 different classes while there. Most of these classes have only been blogging since the beginning of the year yet they are looking fantastic with commenting guidelines, widgets and great looking blogrolls. The students have been writing interesting posts and receiving lots of comments from overseas. Check out their blogs – Bliss, Fraher, Goucher, Hamman, and Martinez While in Mrs Fraher’s class, the students showed us a video they had made telling us the story of the Superstition Mountains and they also showed us how to use sign language with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Miss W and I did our normal chat about our trip and the blog as well as giving gifts to Tracy that she can share with the classes she visits as part of her role in the district.
While we weren’t visiting schools, we were helping Tracy learn how to navigate without having to rely on her GPS unit. She did a great job getting us to the Ghost Town where Ethan and Em became photographers using our camera. Check out the animoto of their images. We even celebrated Em’s birthday while we were there.
Unfortunately, we had to leave the casita and Tracy’s hospitality, so we headed off to follow the Apache Trail through the mountains to Roosevelt Dam and then through Globe back to a motel on the far west side of Phoenix. Now we had been warned by Chris, Tracy’s husband, about the narrow, windy and gravelled road we would be travelling on for quite a bit of the trail.
WOW!! And they followed this trail with early cars and wagons! Sheer drop on one side and huge cliffs on the other. Only room for one car at a time – don’t know what would have happened if we met a car around the Fish Creek Hill.
When we finally arrived at the dam, we met a couple who decided using an ATV was the best way to drive on the trail. Until the dam was built, there was no reliable water into Phoenix, only dry seasons and flash flooding at other times.
A very interesting vistor’s centre at the dam end of the trail told the story of the dam and the local inhabitants during the past couple of hundred years.
It took us an hour to drive from Apache Junction area where Tracy lived to our hotel in North Western Phoenix at Sun City.
Have you ever visited a ghost town? What did you enjoy doing there?
What is the most dangerous road you have been on? Describe it.
OK, we have two nights in Tucson so let’s head towards the Mexican border near Nogales. On the way we looked at the San Xavier mission building. But as it was raining, we didn’t get out of the car as we had to go over roads that could end up being flooded.
Miss W had been warned not to stay long in Nogales so we followed the route outside the town to head toward Patagonia. This was another highway and we hoped none of it would be flooded. This was beautiful forest type country we were travelling through when suddenly, over another hill, we were back into more desert like country with lots of yucca and saguaro.
Still raining heavily, we finally arrived at Tombstone and took a drive around the town. Lots of cowboys and others dressed in costume appropriate to the old western town. Miss W looked for anything relating to the name Wyatt and found a building from Wyatt Earp as well as a school named after John Wyatt. Maybe they were relatives at some time.
Next day, we headed to Apache Junction via the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, west of Tucson. The drive there was fantastic, through a mountain pass with lots of flooded area warnings.
Instead of spending an hour at the museum, we were there for three hours walking along the tracks, listening to the docents explain about their particular passions, checking out the flora, fauna as well as minerals and fossils.
It was here that Miss W found out about the geology of the Mountains we had been travelling over during the last few days. One of the docents had a display about the uplifting and creation of the mountains and valleys.
We finally headed out after lunch to meet Tracy and her family in Apache Junction. We followed the Pinal Parkway through Florence then onto Superstition Highway. Booked into a motel in Apache Junction, rang Tracy to find out what our schedule was for the next three days and where we had to meet her the next day.
Have you ever been to a town where everyone dresses up in costume of that era?
Are there any special activities they do in that town?
Well which route should we take? Through Albuquerque or try looking for UFOs near Roswell – we’ve got plenty of time so south is where we go.
Headed through a town called Hereford but not a lot of cattle here. Yet the further we travel on Highway 70 the more feed yards we find located near the railway lines. You can certainly smell them long before you see them.
Nearing Roswell, I start looking for UFOs. Can see lots of clouds that look like a UFO but sadly no real ones. We continued on to Alamogordo for the evening. The area of New Mexico we have been travelling in was well known to that young rascal known as “Billy the Kid“.
Alamogordo has a fantastic museum called New Mexico Museum of Space History. Got up early to visit the museum before having a long drive to Tucson in Arizona for the night. But Miss W forgot about turning the clock back because of the change in time zones. We arrived at what we thought was 9am but was in fact 8am. We didn’t realize about the time change until we got to Tucson.
Went passed the White Sands Monument and then the missile range as we headed to Las Cruces. Following Interstate 10 we crossed the border into Arizona. A lot of the names of towns we went through can be found in books written by Tony Hillerman. Miss W has read many of his books about a Navajo Indian detective who works mainly in Arizona and New Mexico.
The land we are travelling through is mountain range then wide valley, another mountain range then another wide valley. I wonder how this part of the Rocky Mountains was formed? Lots of Indian outposts or trading stores all along this part of the highway. We don’t buy anything as many are closed and also, whatever we buy would have to pass through Australian customs. We often pass a sign about visibility because this area also has lots of sandstorms.
Do we go to Tombstone today and rush our visit or have a couple of days in Tucson which allows a day in Tombstone? We decided to head for Tucson, not realising what the weather is supposed to be for tomorrow.
Have you ever seen a UFO or something unusual in the night sky?
Leaving Wichita after a great breakfast with Tom, Miss W decided to follow the main highway to just north of Oklahoma City. Usually she prefers the smaller roads and scenic byways, but with the amount of rain in the last few days and more being predicted, she felt it was safer on the highway as that was less likely to be flooded.
By following Interstate 40 we were actually going through some of the very famous “Route 66”. Remember that movie “Cars”, well a lot of that was based on Route 66 which actually went through Amarillo. We diverted off the highway to visit a little town called McLean. It reminded Miss W of the town in the movie. Lots of old car stations, buildings looking dilapitated and lots of rusty junk around. Of course, there were modern buildings there as well.
Arriving in Amarillo, we planned to stay three nights which would allow us one day travelling around the area and another day visiting Mr Merker and his class at their school. Contacting Mr Merker it was decided to visit him on the second day as that gave him time to get organized with his students.
What do you expect to see when I use the word lake?
Water ……and more water.
This particular lake was different; it only has water in it when the wildlife and fisheries allow it to be flooded. When we were there, it was a dry lake with crops being grown in the middle of it. The only water to be seen was where the windmills bring water up and store it for the animals to use. We took lots of photos explaining how the lake is used.
Next we headed back into Canyon area to go and see the Palo Duro Canyon. This was magnificent. We took lots of photos especially at the flooded waterways. In fact, we couldn’t complete the loop driving because one of the floodways was closed to traffic as there had been a lot of flashfloods in the last couple of days. It would be great to be a host at one of the campgrounds – see one of the images showing what a host has at their campsite.
There was still lots of colourful foliage in the canyon area and we looked out carefully for any wildlife. Just as we were leaving and going over the flooded area #1 guess what we saw? Deer – no. Coyote – no.
Suddenly dashing across the road between us and a couple of cyclists was a bobcat. The cyclists were American and Miss W asked them what they thought we might have seen – a young bobcat they thought. WOW! A real wild animal in its native habitat. A pity we didn’t get a photo, but he raced across the road so quickly.
We headed back to Canyon again and this time visited the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. Lots of interesting displays about oil and gas as well as cowboys, native Americans and life in the West. Took lots of images of the displays.
Back to Amarillo for the night and get prepared to visit Mr Merker and his class.
Arrived at the school about 10am to chat with Mr Merker about blogging. His students have only just started their blogs but they have progressed so well. Went for a small break to the office and rest rooms so the students could set the room up for my visit.
They had created a fantastic banner with symbols representing both Texas and Australia. Miss W talked about Tasmanian devils and my blog showing them where they can read more about the problems of my species. She then talked about our trip and where we had already been. By the time we got back to our hotel, the students had already left some comments. The students had lots of interesting questions and many wrote about our visit.
Mr Merker took Miss W and I to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Thank goodness, the food wasn’t too hot and spicy and Miss W tried a taco and a burrito – she thinks. Talking over lunch, we found out that one of Mr Merker’s teachers when he was in elementary school was one of the Route 66 specialists for the movie “Cars”. He told us about Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo. We went there and left our mark. Can you guess which part of the movie is represented by Cadillac Ranch?
What did you enjoy most about the movie “Cars”?
If you have also seen the sequel, “Cars 2”, which one did you prefer and why?
WOW! I am so far behind in my posts. Miss W and I are having such a great time speaking to chat room friends, visiting schools and meeting teachers and students that we are exhausted at the end of the day.
After leaving Kansas City, our first stop was to meet Britta, a chatroom friend, at a lovely little cafe in Lawrence called Aimee’s Coffee House. Delicious drinks there both hot and cold. Britta and Miss W chatted for over an hour but sadly, we had to leave as we had quite a distance to travel that day and the weather did not look too good. Through Topeka and the beautiful Flint Hills to Salina.
It was here at the Kansas University that we met Billgx as he is known on twitter and his daughter, Science Girl Em. Bill is a great follower of the student blogging challenge which Miss W runs twice a year and Em has taken part in many of the activities. While there, Em interviewed Miss W and you can see her post on her blog. Well done, Em.
Bill and his students showed me a game they were creating. It was great to see that the students were finding lots of information on the web so they could include bits of code into their game. Why re-invent the wheel??
By this time it was pouring with rain and we wanted to get to Wichita that night and as the motel was on the southern side of town, we needed time to find our way there on the highways and in the dark. Why did we need to be at that particular motel?
Only a couple of miles away was another chat room friend that Miss W had organized to visit. Sadly, it was too late to meet that evening so we organized to meet Tom at his house the next morning and head off for breakfast at a beaut little cafe that had only opened recently. Tom was originally from Colorado when Miss W first knew him in the chatroom. Wonder if he will go back there again?