Sunday, July 7, 2013

Xs and Ys

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. " - Saint Augustine

Hello, friends! I have had an extraordinarily busy six weeks. I went from rarely traveling to traveling tons! It has been awesome! I have definitely been living up to my New Year's Resolution - I will not let Summer 2013 turn into another summer being tied to my desk. That being said, I am really glad I'm staying put for the next couple of weeks. I'm exhausted!

While all the traveling has been fun, I am now far behind in updating this blog with my travels. Even as I type this, I sadly do not have time to do a proper blog post. I am still getting caught up on my laundry (having arrived home far later than anticipated last night... sigh). I promise to jump back on my blog this week! Alas, since I am under a time crunch, I thought I'd instead give you a glimpse of what my life on the road looked like last week. I posted these pictures on Twitter as I made my way to New Mexico and back - both as a way of keeping my mom up to date on my progress while driving, and also to share with new friends I have made on Twitter from all over the world. It was fun, but the 140 character limit hardly gave me room to explain what I was taking a picture of. I traveled across 4 states and back over the course of just 6 days, racking up over 1,800 miles on my new car. Insanity - no wonder I'm tired! Without further delay, I hope you enjoy my pics from the road!

First picture on the road - taken at a rest stop just across the CA/AZ border. I never tire of a good sunset. 

Stayed in Kingman, AZ after my first 5 hours of the drive. Arrived to find the mountain behind my hotel literally glowing orange from the Dean Peak Fire. Although my hotel stay was lovely, I spent a lot more time than intended in this city (and got a hacking cough from the smoke to prove it). Sigh.

My first stop in New Mexico anytime I make the drive from California is a wonderful rest stop/visitor's center right on the AZ/NM state line. There is a terrific cave just behind the center that I'd always wanted to explore... 
Maybe some day...

The day after I arrived in New Mexico, I drove up with my family into southwestern Colorado to visit Silverton and Ouray. This was my backyard growing up - isn't it stunning?

The biggest touring attraction in the summertime is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. We arrived for lunch in Silverton, CO just as the train was departing to return to Durango. My four year old niece loved it!

The road from Silverton to Ouray is curvy and treacherous. The speed limit averages 15 MPH, sometimes limited to 10 MPH. The curviest parts of the road are surprisingly not the scariest...

... Instead, most people agree that the cliff grazing drive at the end is the worst. This highway is known as the Million Dollar Highway. This road has incredibly steep cliffs, no guardrails, narrow lanes, and is prone to rock slides. That being said, it is easily one of the most stunning drives in the world!

Have you ever seen anything more spectacular? 
Ouray is known as the Switzerland of America, but I'll blog more about my visit there later. 

We cruised home right at sunset, which is the perfect light to see the farms near my hometown. I loved living in the city, and miss it dearly... but I think I'll always be a little bit country at heart. (Taken near Durango, CO)

I kicked off my drive back to California bright and early yesterday, hoping to get home before sunset. I stopped along the way to check out Shiprock. (Fun Fact: This area was used in the filming for The Lone Ranger - you can even see the Shiprock itself in the trailer for the movie! Fun!)

Shortly after taking pictures at Shiprock, I arrived in Sheep Springs, NM - about an hour from where I would have normally jumped on the freeway to head west to CA. I was met there by a police barricade - Highway 491 had been washed out by the monsoon rains the night before, completely blocking the only road south to Gallup, NM. My only option was to take a detour... about two and a half hours out of my way. These are long, lonely roads, but I'm happy to report that the detour, albeit long and inconvenient, was incredibly beautiful. I was literally able to stop and take this picture in the middle of the road near Navajo, NM - no one else was around! 

When I finally got back on the road, my dog and I had to take a pit stop. We were now 3 hours behind, and had not taken a break. Luckily, the Arizona Welcome Center wasn't far along the road, complete with cute gift shops and beautiful scenery!

Torrential rains greeted us in Flagstaff, Arizona a few hours later, so I took a 30 minute break to let my dog take a walk and to get a bite to eat. The rains let up while we were stopped, which was very welcome indeed 
(taken near Williams, AZ). 

I arrived at the AZ/CA border while it was still hot - my poor dog couldn't even walk to the dirt because the asphalt was too hot! We didn't stop here long, and while I think this was probably the least attractive spot of our entire journey, even this desert rest stop had a beauty all its own (near Needles, CA).

The sun set on the California horizon just as I turned on my final stretch towards home. I was tired, hungry, and insanely thirsty, but I couldn't help and pull over anyway to take this picture of the stunning sunset before me (near Mojave, CA). I know I've used "stunning" a lot in this post, but can you blame me? 

I hope my Twitter friends enjoyed "going along" with me on this trip via pictures, and hope that you enjoyed them too! What more perfect way to celebrate Independence Day than to enjoy the beauty of this country! I am so blessed. And now... I'm off to bed!

Until next time...

--- Becks

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