First off, I’d like to thank Raffi Kodikian for the inspiration for this trip…which in turn I guess Jack Kerouac also who I believe inspired Raffi’s cross country adventures. Raffi, I wish we had the time to drive up PCH and visit San Fran, but time was short. We’ll catch you on the next trip!!
If you are new here, start with the first entry…
So, summer is over and the kids have flown back to TN for the school year. Lil Reny now a “Senior” and Zoe the freshman. Both in the same school again…uh oh… I meant to write this blog last night, but I started skimming through all the shots I got and just got caught up reliving the small moments.
So let me do it again…
Nothing ever goes as planned and this trip started off no different. Our intentions were to leave Monday, July 5th. But being busy at work, moving BACK into the new house and a kick ass 4th of July Pool party…we had to push it back to Tuesday morning. I guess it was the anticipation of leaving that gave me the energy to get up and out of bed at 5am, because the festivities of the 4th were still ringing in my head.
Since we lost a day, we decided to try and make it up by trucking straight through to California and only stopping if we had to. Not much ont he route there but desert and more desert…Our first stop was Houston.. Reny had an old flame there so we wound up staying a little longer than anticipated. Yes, they kept me waiting in the hot car while they laughed, flirted and chatted up on old times. A couple angry honks later we were back on the road….to San Antonio. That was our next intended fuel and dinner stop….but in a nutshell We got lost, found, broke my camera (and realizing will only have my iphone for pics the next 2 weeks,) saw the Alamo, dinner at Hard Rock, forgot a phone, had a waitress sprinting to return phone, drove 30mins out of city, realized credit card was gone, 30 min drive back, obtain credit card and back on road…
Yes, you read that right…me, without a camera for a 2 week road trip through some of the most beautiful country to drive through. F*CK ME SIDEWAYS…the moment I realized this, my heart sunk. I contacted my buddy in CA at a chance there is a local Canon repair shop…there was, so I crossed my fingers and headed Westward…………….
Tombstone Arizona…The only “touristy” stop we made on our drive Westward. We visited the small town a few years ago, but figured it was only about 40 mins out of the way from the main interstate so we decided to stop for dinner and possibly camp the night. Unfortunately there is no tent camping near the town, and we certainly needed a few hours sleep at the least! Luckily I found a room at an old redone bed and breakfast on the site of an old Bordello and Saloon. We grabbed some dinner at the Big Nose Kate’s (Doc Holiday’s woman) after exploring the town a bit and retiring to the room for a couple hours sleep.
NOT far now…about 12 hours or less to Costa Mesa, CA. and the weather has already started to feel crisp, cooler and lacking humidity. (Why does our business have to be in Louisiana? I ask myself that every time I visit somewhere with more suitable weather…)
After driving all night, we crossed the CA border around 8ish from what my failing memory recalls. Not far into CA we came to Joshua Tree National Park. This would have been a wonderful spot to camp, but we only explored for about 30mins. Took a dirt road or 2 and snapped a few pictures. Mark that one on my list of places to return!
Thank goodness the iPhone has a decent camera and some nifty apps to make some of the cool shots I grabbed. But the best part is, I don’t have 1000′s of photos to go through and edit had my Canon not broken
By 3pm, we had already reached the Pacific! Put our feet in water at Newport Beach, grabbed some grub at TK Burger and scoped out the scene at Huntington Beach. Sadly, the weather was 65degrees and totally gloomy. Bummer…
The next 2 days we bummed out between Costa Mesa and LA. Hanging with Dick and Dave, 2 good friends (no gay lovers) in Huntington And Lil Ren even had a girl he met at Stanford from last summer which lived in Irvine that he disappeared with for a few hours to catch up….Then Art and Blair up in LA. . It was my first time in the LA area in quite a few years and Lil Ren’s first time ever. We snacked on a dog at the famous Pinks (which btw, ain’t ALL that…Lucky Dog owns) strolled Hollywood, West Hollywood, Venice, Beverly Hills and took a ride down Rodeo. But the most memorable part has to be the private tour of the Playboy Mansion Art hooked us up with. Thanks Art, you made a 17 year olds dream come true…
Alas this stop was just the fulcrum of our trip. We reached the farthest west (of the mainland) and now, little did we expect..out trip was going to reach it’s peak!
Although Lil Reny is only 17, I thought it wouldn’t be right to be this close to Vegas and not at least walk down the strip. So after we said our good byes we headed to the City of Sin. Arriving at the campground, a parking lot….we opted to treat ourselves to a night at Hard Rock Hotel. There was an NBA summer league tourny going on, so we got lucky and scored tickets to see the Hornets blow the final minutes of a game against the Heat. Ahh..at least dinner at the Harley Davidson Cafe was good. A quick walk on the strip and we were back in the hotel room for the night.
When we arrived in Vegas, I was scouting our route for camping near the Grand Canyon and came across a link for Zion National Park. I’ve always seen the pictures of this area and realizing how close we were we decided to fit at least a day in there. We both agree, this was our most memorable moment of the 2 weeks. Everything fell into place from this point on. At the risk of sounding corny (which btw, I most certainly am) I think we were led here. Everyone we met at Zion and later at the Grand Canyon made the trip worth everything a modern day adventure is made of.
From the Kamikaze jeep tour guide, Jorge… to the best damn Quesadilla’s We’ve ever eaten, to the old man who serviced our jeep suggesting an “alternate” road to Sedona…every day was a memory worth keeping. But most of all was Jorge’s urging for us to hike the Narrow’s. Something I definitely want to repeat and share with wife. I LOVE seeing her eyes light up with excitement at new life experiences just like a special ed kid given an ice cream cone! HA, I kid…but seriously, she’s one of few people I know who totally immerses herself into the joy and appreciation of seeing discovering something new. On the other side of that coin, she can totally make it a living hell if she’s not happy…hey, as Tracy Byrd once sang… If Momma ain’t Happy, ain’t nobody Happy. haha j/k babe. I know you are reading.
Back to the Zion and the Narrows….so yeah, we wound up staying another night so we could do the hike. Although it only took us about 5 or 6 hours to do a 6 mile hike, the terrain made it most tiring.
North Rim – Grand Canyon
We visited the South Rim before, but the North almost seems like a different Canyon all together. Thick high pine forests made for a very secluded wilderness feel. Upon arriving the Rangers said there was no camp sites available, but said to try our luck and ask the campground ranger 10 more miles ahead. If not, there is plenty of BLM area to free camp but we got lucky again with a site. Only 1 left! whoops… (BLM is Bureau of Land Management land which allows you to camp anywhere you want on it. Utah and Arizona have PLENTY of free camp areas…)
Although North Rim in general is much nicer…the sunset wasn’t as cool at it is hitting the South Rim. Maybe it was just that one evening we were there..idk.
With one more day to kill before our real trek home, we planned on hitting the South Rim or at least Flagstaff. Thinking back on it, we should have stayed and made the most of Zion and skipped the Grand Canyon, but no regrets really. Once we got to Flagstaff, we had hit 3k on the mileage and needed a servicing. The old man at the station overheard us talking about Sedona and gave us a faster route there, however as we pulled out he came running out. Asked if we had no time limit, there’s a really cool Jeep road through the mountains that would take us there in about 2 hours. 30mins on the HWY or 2 hours on a trail?
Well, it only took us about an hour and a half…and Sedona, although it’s a great little town was seemed uninteresting after the last 3 days.
Sadly, that was really the end of our journey. The peak of the trip was passed and everything else seemed just uhh…cool, but nothing in comparison. We did reroute the trip through Roswell New Mexico, BUT we arrived 30 mins too late. All the main shops and museums had closed up. Just 2 weeks prior they had the annual Alien fest..which is kinda like Mardi Gras, but all alien freaks. So the town was dead and used up.
The remaining drive home was nothing but booooring. The small country roads from Roswell, went straight through New Mexico and half way through Texas. 2 lane hwy through what seemed like an endless Twightlight Zone of open flat farm land.
Did we accomplish what we set out to do? Absolutely. Through out the whole adventure of the trip, the main moments I’ll cherish is our laughter during the drive and the unspoken bond that strengthened between a father and son. There were times we did argue about something stupid as directions or me worrying about his driving skills…but positive and negative forces ARE what binds…
So, at this moment, I have 2 more kids…so that’s at least 2 more life adventure’s I’ll be planning before I die. Not to mention all the one’s planned with the wife!
Hope I didn’t terribly bore you! This blog was originally meant for me and lil Ren to come back and reflect on, but all the family and friends asked to keep it updated for them. If you are reading right now, Thanks! Hope you enjoyed. It’s 11pm and I have to wake at 5, so I’m not bothering to proof it! Please excuse the grammar and spelling and don’t hold it against me!
Till then, I’ll see you on the road..