Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 114-Day 120

October 9- October 15

This is our last update, because we are finally home! 

    We left Tucson and drove 10 hours to Guadalupe National Park in Texas. The park was beautiful. The mountains were huge! We explored the park, and walked the Butterfield Station trail, and explored the Frijoles Ranch. The Butterfield station was a coach drawn by horses that used to deliver mail from St. Louis all the way to San Francisco. The Frijoles ranch was a family owned ranch that had such an interesting history. 

    Next, we drove about a half hour to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in New Mexico. We did a self guided tour of the Big Room, and of some of the Natural Entrance Trail. The big room was so amazing! It was so huge! It was the size of 14 foot ball fields. The cave was so ornate, there were so many stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, columns, draperies and cave popcorn. We were in awe walking around the cave, there is so much to look at and take in, it's hard to wrap your head around all of it. We bought an audio guide, and we learned a lot of the caves history and geology. The lighting in the cave was designed by a broadway lighting designer, which I found to be so cool! 

   We left Carlsbad, and started our journey toward Memphis, Tennessee. We made it 6 across Texas, and stopped at a KOA in Abilene Texas, to sleep. We woke up and started our journey again. We drove 12 hours in a day, and finally made it to Memphis around 11 pm. We met my friend Sarah at her theater, and she took us to a restaurant for some food. She couldn't believe we were actually in Memphis. It was great to see her! Then we went out to her friends house and hung out for awhile. Then we went back to her house, and went to bed. 

    Woke up the next morning, and Sarah showed us the theater that she works at. The stages and the facilities were beautiful. Then she took us out to Central BBQ, she said we couldn't leave Memphis without eating BBQ. Neil got a pulled pork sandwich, and Sarah got pulled pork nachos, I got a portobello sandwich, everything was so good! Then she took us to the park, and we relaxed in the sun at the park. The park was beautiful and everything was so green! At around 3 pm, we said our goodbyes, and had a 6 hour drive to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

    Mammoth Cave National Park was very pretty, all the leaves were changing and it smelled like fall. We signed up for a historic tour of the cave. It was a two and a half mile tour, which lasted two hours. Mammoth cave is the longest cave system in the world, at   392 miles long. They have been giving tours of the cave for 195 years. The cave wasn't ornate or decorated like the other caves we've seen. This is because water doesn't seep into the cave. The history of the cave and the cave itself were both so interesting! We really enjoyed our tour. 

   Next we made the 6 hour drive to Great Smoky Mountain National. Half of the park is in Tennessee and half is in North Carolina. The park was gorgeous, with rolling mountains and bright foliage. We stopped and took a lot of pictures at different overlooks. We also walked a little bit of the Appalachian trail. We saw 2 huge elk on the way out of the park! Neil got me a stuffed animal bear at the park, to remember our trip. We drove some of the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way out of the park, which was a beautiful drive. 

    We drove for awhile, and made it to Virginia, where we stopped to sleep for the night. Then we headed to Shenandoah National Park the next day. We only spent a few hours in the park, but it was very pretty. Again, the mountains and the foliage were amazing. We had some great views looking over the Shenandoah Valley. We left the park around 5 pm, and started the trek home. We drove through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and then we finally made it back to Massachusetts. It was a 12 hour drive, and we made it home at 2:45 am! We had a safe ride home, and we are very happy to be back. 

Our trip:

-We traveled for exactly 4 months, leaving on June 15 and arriving back on October 15.
-We traveled through 33 states, and saw 32 National Parks. 
-We traveled a total of 15,946 miles. 

We had an amazing journey, but we are glad to be home. 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 95- Day 113

September 19- October 8

Left Bakersfield and drove into Los Angeles. We met my friend Biron at his apartment and he showed us around the area. We went out for some great Indian food and then we went to Venice beach boardwalk. There were many interesting shops and people on the boardwalk. We saw muscle beach, which was pretty funny. It was a nice visit, but we were ready to get out of the city, and back into nature. 

Next stop was Joshua Tree National Park. The park was very hot! It was in the high 90s the two days we were there. The Joshua trees, which the park is named after, are these funny looking trees that look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book. We did a short hike one of the days, and we were dying every step. We aren't used to the heat in the desert. We saw so much life in the desert which was very neat. There are so many different plants, and trees and shrubs, and a lot of wildlife. We drove to this beautiful overlook where we could see for hundreds of miles. We saw the Salton sea and even Mexico off in the distance. We stayed at an awesome campground called Jumbo Rocks. There were these huge boulders pilled on top of each other, and we slept right next to them. Night time in the desert is beautiful. The sky is so open and clear, and the temperature is so comfortable. 

When we left Joshua Tree, we headed toward Vegas, and stopped and stayed in the Mojave National Preserve. We stayed at a campground off a 15 mile dirt road, in the middle of no where! There was only one other person at the campground, it was a little eerie. 

We were happy to leave the Mojave desert and head to Vegas!! We had a great 4 days in Vegas! We were excited to see Neil's parents, and Dustin and Laura! The first day we were there we all spent time relaxing at the pool and drinking mimosas! We all soaked up some sun! Then we walked the stripped and saw some flamingos and huge koi fish at the Flamingo hotel. Then we explored the Venetian and saw the gondolas and beautiful painted ceilings. We spotted a Ghirardellis and we all got ice cream! We headed back to Bally's got ready, and then headed to the MGM for a nice dinner and Cirque de Soleil, KA. The show was amazing! The strength of the performers was incredible. The music, the acrobatics, and the stage were all breathtaking. Everyone loved the show. Then we headed back to Bally's and did some gambling. We stayed up until 3 am gambling, and eating a ginormous plate of Nachos. 

Next day, we went to the Rio Grand hotel for the buffet! We all stuffed our faces! Everything was so good! Then we headed back to the hotel, and did some gambling in Paris. Dustin and Laura went to check out the pawn shop, the one from the tv show! When we were in Paris, everyone was winning. I even won 100 bucks on a penny machine! It was pretty exciting. Then we all took naps for awhile, then we got some sushi for dinner! Then we did some more gambling. We stayed up until 4 am! 

The next day, everyone was flying back home, but Neil and I stayed another night. We were sad to see everyone go. We had a relaxing day and night. We walked the strip, saw some street performers and watched the Bellagio water show! We did a little gambling, but we called it an early night. 

The next day we left, and headed for the Grand Canyon. On our way we stopped at the Hoover Dam. The dam was amazing. It was so big! We walked across the Hoover dam bridge which gave us a great view of the dam. We also walked across the dam itself. The dam is right on the boarder of Arizona and Nevada, and it was cool to be in two places at once. Then we made our way to the Grand Canyon!

The Grand Canyon was amazing! It was my first time there, but Neil had been there a few times. We walked a bunch of the rim trail, which walks right next to the edge of the canyon. We took some awesome pictures! We also explored some of the shops and the art gallery. We got a site at a campground, and then we watched the sunset over the canyon! It was so pretty. The depths and colors of the canyon are so breathtaking, it's hard to even describe. The next day we hiked the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon. We did a  2 hour hike. It was such a cool perspective hiking down into the canyon. The mules that hike down into the canyon and back passed us a few times on our hike. They were so big and muscular. After our hike we got ice cream and sat on the lawn. We explored the gift stores and then we were on our way. Next stop was Tucson to visit Neil 's dad. 

We've been in Tucson for over a week and we've been doing a lot of relaxing. We went out to eat with Neil's dad a few times, and relaxed by the pool. We played 9 holes of golf two days in a row, which was great! We haven't played all summer, which we've missed. We've been watching a bunch of movies and enjoying being indoors. We are hoping to make it a quick ride back to Massachusetts. We are ready to get home and we miss everyone.