Move to Arizona: Day Six

Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0

Roundabouts Dramatically Sped Through As No Police Were Nearby: 7? 8? A lot. Let’s go with a lot.

Home.

After breakfast Ithaca and I journeyed down to the Soldier’s Pass Trail for an 8am hike. We are not hikers, nor exercisers, nor great lovers of moving any farther than it takes to pick up a book or an Xbox controller, but we did it! We hiked for an hour and it was beautiful and fun and we saw a tarantula so Ithaca was deeply pleased.

We drove in to Scottsdale and had lunch at Brat Haus because it was the first place I ate in Scottsdale and it seemed fitting. (This is partially true. Mostly I wanted the cheese curds. But the tradition thing sounds better.) And then we got our keys.

What a weird, weird feeling to have been driving for so many days and to have finally arrived. I can’t imagine how people got on ships that would take weeks or months to take them to their destinations. I barely feel like I’m on planet Earth anymore, let alone my new home. I keep saying it over and over. Home, home, home. I’m hoping it will feel like it soon.

We went to Target for standard house supplies and after we got back I spent a great deal of time pacing back and forth, carrying my energy all around, trying to make the apartment feel like mine. I feel like a cat marking its territory. We don’t have internet yet so we are both sitting by the pool, glomming on to the apartment’s community area wifi. It’s not a bad place to blog, I have to give it that.

Move to Arizona: Day Five

Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0

Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When a Cop Came Up Behind My Blatantly Speeding Ass and Flashed His Lights So I Pulled Over But Then He Pulled Over the Guy in Front of Me Instead So I Kept Going: 1

New Mexico -> Arizona

Petroglyphs are like hieroglyphs except they aren’t Egyptian nor are they an alphabet. Unfortunately for today’s journey I like both Egyptian things and alphabets, but despite this, the trip to the Petroglyph National Monument was worth the hike to the top. (I say hike because I am fat and out of shape, but I did it in black pants and Converse while carrying a purse, so I don’t think it can technically be classified as a hike.) There are actually three different spots to hike, but Ithaca and I chose the shortest so we could get back on the road. We saw fun wildlife like a rabbit and a creepy millipede and several small lizards, as well as nifty looking petroglyphs from the Pueblo people and a few from Spanish shepherds.

We stopped for lunch in Gallup which I do not recommend. Everything that Google Maps says is a gas station is not, and it is a sketchy and weird place. Just drive through Gallup and try somewhere else.

We finally got off the I-40 today in Flagstaff and took a new road down to Sedona. It was a beautiful drive through forests and mountains with the most breathtaking views. I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been so panicked at every curve that I was going to fling us off the edge and/or into a ditch. I recommend having a friend/enemy/stranger drive you through instead.

When we arrived in Sedona we picked a hotel that Yelp insisted was reasonably priced. We parked and went inside and found out that it was not very reasonably priced. “Damn,” I lamented. “That is significantly more than I told my company I would spend on hotels. Is there anything else nearby that’s cheaper?”
The lady looked sympathetic and listed three hotels, all of which were sketch.
“You know what? Fuck ’em,” I told her. I handed over the AmEx. “They can yell at me later.”
“Yes!” she agreed. “Fuck ’em! I love it. Just for that I’m going to upgrade you. No, I’ll double upgrade you. And I’ll give you a discount.”
I think I very much like Arizona.

We poked around Tlaquepaque, a charming little shopping center, and grabbed dinner there before heading back to the hotel. A late night swim was in order so that we could admire the supermoon and the stars. A beautiful night in a beautiful city.

Move to Arizona: Day Four

Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0

Texas -> New Mexico

I woke up exhausted but with the strange energy that comes from knowing you will be sleeping in a different state by day’s end. Texas’ drivers may be the most polite I’ve ever come across, but there is something strange about the whole panhandle that makes me antsy to leave.

Our last stop in Texas was the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It was strikingly beautiful. Looking at it kind of reminded me of Minecraft. I texted Liebling that I felt like I was living in Minecraft: I was out mapping and he was back home doing technical things. It felt a little less lonely for a moment.

The striations in the rock were fascinatingly clear, and the visitor center had great information on the history of the area. We drove through the park, stopping once for a brief walk and several times to take pictures. Probably my favorite moment was when I spotted turkeys and slowly chased them through a small picnic area while Ithaca leaned out the window to take pictures and shouted when I should stop and when I should go. An old man was sitting outside his camper watching us. He was too far away to make out his expression, but I assume it was one of disbelief. “It’s just like Pokemon Snap,” Ithaca commented. “I’m taking pictures of weird creatures out of a moving vehicle while an old man quietly judges me.”

We did not stop again until we reached New Mexico. Cell phone coverage was spotty for a while, but we got to see the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari. We were greeted by the strangest lady I could imagine. She was somewhere between Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter. She told us all about the museum and the community college and how TMobile had such bad service that she hadn’t had a signal in eleven days. We gawped and shuffled away into the museum, unable to wrap our brains around such a horrific tale.

Ithaca and I were the only ones in the whole museum so it was an absolute blast. There were student paintings and fossils and plenty of things to touch and see. The college has a bronze foundry, so they are a rare museum in that they have so many bronze casts (normally it is hella expensive, but the students do it so it saves them money). The Jurassic Park soundtrack played the entire time. It was pretty magical.

We drove on to Albuquerque through absurd and beautiful landscapes. The mix of mountains and flat lands is strange and invigorating. At one point the land was so flat that we saw rain falling on three different areas at once. We also saw a Taco Bell/KFC restaurant which only proved to me that New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment.

We basically crash landed into our hotel from exhaustion, but managed to drag ourselves across the street to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that housed the Pueblo Harvest Cafe. I forgot it was Friday since everything is blurring together, but no one else did and the patio was packed for their weekend patio party. We ate inside and the food was excellent. Today was a great start to living in the Southwest.

Move to Arizona: Day Three

Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0

Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When I Slowed Down and Got Out of the Trooper’s Way and Then He Disappeared From The Road Like a Sneaky Ghost Trooper: 1

Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When I Spotted a State Trooper Lurking in the Long Grass of the Texas Median Like a Goddamn Velociraptor: 1

Oklahoma -> Texas

Today we ventured off the I-44 and after recovering from this great shock we got on the I-40, which was more or less the same road and that calmed our nerves considerably. We made a short stop at the Mohawk Lodge Indian Store, the first trading post in Indian Territory according to the shop owner and has been a shop since 1892 (longer than Oklahoma has been a state). The 81-year-old shop owner has been there since her mother, the store’s third owner, died, and she runs it with her husband (though, she told us conspiratorially, she has to order all of the beads herself because he can’t tell one shade of red bead from another). She told us about the history of the store and the people and where she buys her beads, and how the company that sells her some of her blankets tried to take away a style she liked and she called them and told them no and so they still make that blanket for her today. After we purchased a pair of earrings apiece she asked if we liked apples. “Sure?” I hesitated, sensing a Snow White situation in my future. “Our tree is full of them!” she grumbled. “And I’ve made as many pies as I intend to make.” She then proceeded to give us a bag with six apples in it and sent us on our way. What even is Oklahoma.

Further down Route 66 was one of two museums. The first one had a room for each decade and explored the history of the road. We played an Oregon-Trail-style game and hammed it up in the fake diner.

The second museum was a collection of buildings, most glass-closed and full of weird old things and props and terrifying looking dummies meant to bring the sets to life. We got to put a pin on a map of the country to show where we were from, and got to see the map of the world and all the pins from this year’s visitors. It was a treat.

We made it into Texas after that and I have to admit I have mixed feelings. The first indication that this was strange country was the insistent signs on the highway that said the left lane was for passing only. “Don’t worry about it,” said Ithaca with a wave of her hand. “People in Texas respect confidence.” This is the same girl who told me she never looks at the speed limit sign when driving down highways, but still I nodded and continued on in the left lane like an asshole. I realized after a while that I truly was the only asshole because everyone was honest to God driving in the right lane except when they had to pass. It was strange. People started becoming more courteous drivers in Missouri, but now that we are in Texas they are truly polite. It’s kind of freaking me out, to tell you the truth.

The disadvantage to Texas roads is that there are almost no signs at all, and it’s really easy to miss your rest stop, exit, entire city, or what have you. This was a hard adjustment after Oklahoma, where the “lane ends” sign would appear eight to nine miles before the lane ended, and you would get eight warnings about the exit ahead and what you might find at that exit. Eventually we did find our hotel, and after Ithaca carried four cups of water down to the car to water the plants we have been towing in the backseat for three days, we headed off in search of the Cadillac Ranch. Getting to this included turning onto a road that didn’t really look like a road and then actually went in the direction of the highway and then proceeded to cross over the exit ramp of said highway for the traffic that was going in the opposite direction in some sort of horrible Texas highway ouroboros. It was the most alarming thing I have ever driven through and I hope to never encounter its like again.

The Cadillac Ranch was a strange and unexpected thing, much like every other part of Texas I have seen. It is ten old Cadillacs, noses buried in the Texas dirt like expectant hounds who lost their bones. The ones at the front of the row were falling apart a lot more than the ones in the back, and the spaces between were muddy in places where the sun didn’t shine enough to dry it. Scattered, empty spray paint cans litter the ground from the entrance to the cars themselves, some new and some half buried themselves. Some of the plants have been painted and there are words painted on the ground (my personal favorite was the one where someone wrote “I <3 Candy” and someone painted over Candy with Dick). I wandered a bit aimlessly among the cars as various foreign languages were uttered nearby, but my favorite part was when a woman offered Ithaca and I a can of pale pink paint for ourselves. I painted “SNOW” and “<hope>”, so that a car would have my nom de plume and a tattoo to match my own. It felt very American, taking borrowed spray paint and building upon and over old art in an outrageous monument that was designed to be a talking piece and grew into a strange piece of American spirit.

For dinner we found a local pizza place (with a serious effort, mind you, I was not joking about the insanity of Texas roads) and we sat by the hotel pool. I watched some local news and chuckled at the ridiculous Texas-ness of the show and the ads. Now I am off to scratch the rest of this pink paint off my arm.

Move to Arizona: Day Two

Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0

Speeding Tickets Narrowly Avoided When the State Trooper Tailgated Me to Get to Some Other Driver: 1

Missouri -> Oklahoma

Absolutely cannot believe it has only been two days. It feels like I was born on I-44 and will probably die there. We woke bright and early — ok, we woke up early and brightened noticeably after acquiring some coffee — and jaunted off to Meramec Caverns. This took us on a beautiful drive through a winding road surrounded by beautiful trees that formed a canopy above us. The caverns are unassuming from the outside and absolutely mind blowing on the inside. Our delightful tour guide Jon told us about the history of the cavern, from its time as a storehouse in the Civil War to being a serious party location in the early 1900s to its current reincarnation as a beautiful natural cavern enhanced by fantastic lighting. I absolutely cannot recommend it enough.

We drove on until we passed a sign for the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. I screamed in rabid road trip delight and dashed across the lanes to the exit. A slightly bewildered Ithaca pulled up the directions and we hopped onto Route 66 once more to get to the chair. We stopped and took pictures and laughed like maniacs. I was filled with manic road trip joy.

We drove on into Oklahoma and stopped at the visitor center. We flipped through brochures, trying to decide how to spend the rest of our afternoon. The old gentleman behind the counter asked if he could help. We told him we were going on to Vinita and he asked if we were going to Clanton’s and we said yes, our dad recommended it since he saw it on the Food Network. He told us the specialty was the chicken fried steak, and pointed out several other stops along our way. He let us know there were actually two Route 66 museums and circled them for us on the map.

After a few minutes he said, “Well, we’ve been friends for a while now so I feel I can tell you this.”
Cue my alarmed face. “Oh?”
“The other specialty at Clanton’s is the calf fries.”
My eyes widen. “We saw that on the website but didn’t know what they were. What’s in them?”
He proceeded to tell us.
Google it. I’ll wait.
Then he told us about how it was a specialty around here and so on, until it was terrifically hard to refuse to try them.

So we moseyed down our old friend the I-44 and the lady at the toll booth was ecstatic at our choice of restaurant. “I worked there from when I was about twelve until last year! Tell them the toll booth lady says hi!”
Alarmed at her enthusiasm we nodded and proceeded to the most unbelievably perfect diner. It looked like it was out of a movie or a comic book. We did order the calf fries, chicken fried steak sandwiches, and pie, and passed on the toll booth lady’s greetings. The calf fries came with a sauce that was so good that when the waitress tried to take away the plate I may have snatched it away with such force that she went and got us more sauce (and probably called the toll booth lady to ask her to stop sending over weird customers).
After leaving we got back on I-44 and told the toll booth lady that we had a great dinner and said hello for her. She admitted she had never eaten the calf fries. And then we were off again to be interrupted by frequent and inexplicable toll booths that randomly sprouted across the road. Why, Oklahoma, why? Your tolls make no sense.

As evening fell we found ourselves in Arcadia, a teeny tiny town that is home to Pops soda place, which has 2.5 times as many flavors of pop as Arcadia has human residents. It had a ridiculous variety from the classics like Jones to a serious array of zombie themed drinks. The back was full of trees wrapped in fairy lights, and the front had a giant pop bottle made of lights that kept changing color. It was a marvel.

Tonight we sleep in OKC, and tomorrow we will probably just get back on I-44 because that is where we live now.

Move to Arizona: Day One

Speeding Tickets Acquired: 0

Ohio -> Indiana -> Illinois -> Missouri

Day one started in too many tears. I had to say goodbye to Liebling and then pick up my sister and say good-bye to my parents. BUT SAD THINGS HAVE NO PLACE HERE.

Ithaca did not hate the playlist I made of ridiculous songs from our childhood mixed with popular radio type songs mixed with weird nonsense, so we got off to a great start. Once we got going the drive was easy. Indiana looks very much like Ohio so we were a little bored for a while.

We made a perfect Road Trip stop in the late afternoon in Casey, IL. We spotted a billboard advertising the world’s largest wind chime and decided this was a must-see item. While we were staring dazedly at the chimes a local man asked us if we were from around here and we confirmed that we weren’t. He then told us that Casey, IL is also home to the world’s largest ear of corn, the world’s largest pencil, the world’s largest knitting needles and crochet hook, among other items. He then pointed behind us to reveal their newest work in progress: Casey is the future home of the world’s largest rocking chair. The man told us proudly that it was 60-feet tall, and the second largest is only 30-feet. Go big or go home, I chanted silently. He showed us the warehouse where the world’s largest wooden shoes, the world’s largest yard stick, and the world’s largest wooden nickel were in progress. I asked who got to decide what they would make next and he told us that the owner of the company just decided what would be next. We were suitably awed.

Coming in St Louis we were distracted by the sunset glinting off the arch, and accidentally chose the wrong exit. After one small panic attack each, Ithaca and I ended up just slightly farther away from the restaurant we were looking for and ended up driving down a stretch of Historic Route 66. It was a happy accident. We ate at The Shaved Duck and it was top notch.

And now it is time for bed.

Wedding Crasher Assistant

I have been joking about bringing a plus one to Ursula and Moray’s wedding for a while just to even out the odds and have more friends. Alcohol is a good friend to have at a wedding, and a Liebling is also a good thing to have, as is a Minerva, but percentage wise it was still going to be a very sad affair. And a close friend of mine, who is a close friend of Moray’s family, was not invited. So it was decided that he should come to the wedding. (Let us call him Hacker because it is stupid and also a thing he uses on the internet.) So I said Hacker you shall be a plus one! And then I made a new friend at work who has family in Scottsdale, where I am moving to in a few short days. (He has asked to be called Lebron, this is what I get for having sports fan friends in Cleveland.) A bond! I rejoiced. You shall also be a plus one! And so we all went out for drinks, Moby and Hacker and Lebron and I. And it was decided we should be a merry gang of wedding bandits.

I considered asking them about plus ones, but wasn’t sure how to bring it up. But then! The invitation arrived in the mail and I was super-white-girl-mad. Ursula and Moray sent us one invitation which was rude because A) we’re not married and B) we’re both in the wedding party, and we should at least get two separate invitations out of politeness. I confirmed this with my mother, who was also affronted. She said I should fill out the card for 4 attendees and if they ask tell them that Liebling and I broke up and/or are investing in an open relationship and we both needed dates.

“Mom!” I exclaimed. “You are more Slytherin/Dauntless than I ever imagined.” She then smiled evilly.

I proceeded to tell all this to Liebling later and discovered that he had actually asked Moray if we could bring plus ones, and Moray said, “No, you’re dating” and Liebling said “No, we broke up.” So I lost it laughing and called my mom who also lost it laughing.

At this point I felt like I was in an Oscar Wilde play. So I proceeded to go the Wilde route and filled out the RSVP card in my handwriting and carefully scripted “Mr Liebling and guest, Ms Snow and guest” and mailed it.

My plan is that if he brings it up I’m going to say something like “It never occurred to me we couldn’t have plus ones!” In this Oh, my mistake, I thought we were adults at an adult wedding tone.

I have no idea what will happen, but I remain confident it will be blog-able.