Mike and Nicole

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coverups, Caverns, and the Comfort of Home

what are the most amazing naturally occurring wonders in the continental United States?
Our brief list stemming from a brainstorm session:

Old Faithful
Niagara Falls
Grand Canyon
Carlsbad Caverns
Great Salt Lake
Redwood Forest
Mississippi River
Monument Valley

Any other suggestions?

This list may be skewed, but we've seen three of these so far and have one more to go (Huck and Jim's River). Carlsbad Caverns National Park is amazing. We descended over 800 feet underground (where it was actually warmer - 56 degrees - than it was outside) and we walked down, rather than take the elevator (most of the fellow travelers we've encountered have been retirees, and those old folks all took the elevator - some have been cranky, some have been pleasant - I guess that's just how things are). One of the 'rooms' underground is as long as 14 football fields!!! That's almost three times as far as Andy Dufresne crawled through shit smelling foulness Red couldn't even imagine when he left Shawshank Prison (we were actually fairly close to Fort Hancock, Texas yesterday - from where Andy sent Red a postcard).

Let me get back to the subject, caves. The stalactites, stalagmites, and other phenomena underground were simply indescribable. So I won't try - just go there someday. They have a bottomless pit!! For some reason they then note on the sign it is 140 feet deep. Thanks for ruining that one for me park rangers.

Before we hit the caverns we stopped off at the International UFO Museum in Roswell, NM. Not the Smithsonian folks, but it was interesting. I feel they basically collected as much evidence of alien encounters, abductions, government coverups, and crop circles as they could find and threw them all into a big room. Then they give you a Walkman (complete with detailed instructions on how to use it) with an audio tour to accompany you. And starting at 10 am they run movies like Roswell and X-files. Also, most every local in town would have been on the watch list from Men in Black, as they all appeared to be slightly....alien. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

We are now in Kerrville, TX for the weekend, staying with my parents. It feels good to be home for a bit, and it's also good to know we are more or less halfway through our trip. We're about to head off to San Antonio, so more stuff to come!

Conspiracy Theories & Cavern Awesomeness

As usual, I'm on picture duty. We have a great system going: Mike does the writing while I take care of everything pictures. Ah yes, teamwork.

You'll soon be hearing all about our travels yesterday, but in the meantime, I'm going to post some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Brief Descriptions:
Pic One: Mike in the UFO Museum
Pic Two: Me in a random Tipi we saw alongside the road
Pic Three: Entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns
Pic Four: Inside the Caverns
Pic Five: Inside the Caverns

Fore more pictures, visit: http://www.nps.gov/cave/photosmultimedia/index.htm

Also, for those of you asking, we do have more pictures and yes, we will post all of them on facebook...eventually.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Poem Clarification

For those who were a bit unsure about the poem, here's what you need to know:

1. Both the weather and road conditions today SUCKED! New Mexico apparently does not believe in plowing major interstates...

2. Mike did a great job driving in the snow, especially since it was his first time (another V-card taken). We did not die, thankfully.

3. We are enjoying our trip and are about to take NYC by storm.

In other news, although we didn't get to see a ton of Albuquerque, we made sure to spend some time window shopping in Historic Old Town and driving on Route 66. Fun times.

white knuckle ridin'

have you driven on a road so frozen cold
that folks goin' 50 you deemed 'em bold
slippin and slidin white knuckle ridin'
actin' tough, dyin' inside and
hopin' like hell we reach roswell
before we slam in-to a dell
ah well - twill be twill be
twasn't our time you'll see
we've yet to shine - like a key
buffed to bling like a diamond ring
and sing like a bird what kind? mocking
Nicole by my side
poles flying by
the aliens nigh
just one deep sigh
a breath
don't fret
my pet
it's wet
and dicey
you bet
it's icy
tabasco is spicy
jerky is pricey
12 bucks for a bag no thanks that's a drag
i'll dehydrate and kill the meat myself
even if it's bison
we made it

Bug Bites Can't Stop Me

Despite my extremely swollen arms and fingers (don't worry, I got our money back), I wanted to post some pictures from yesterday. Enjoy! Also, despite being OK (aside from a lot of discomfort), please promise me you will never stay at a Hampton Inn...anywhere.

holy f#@% part II: the morning after

no snow on the ground, although some of my pants are - and it looks like we'll be able to check out maybe half the stuff here in the 'Querque ('querque jerky?) before we head south to avoid this storm - the corolla is hurting

please note: there is a post-rock band called Holy Fu-- ...I suggest checking them out just for the creative and audacious band name (the music is pretty good too) - http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/song/The+Pulse/4660608

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

holy f***

Thank you Hampton Inn of Kayenta, AZ. You had a somewhat appetizing free breakfast complete with biscuits and gravy. This almost made up for the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snack the bed bugs in Room 116 made out of Nicole's body while we slept. On second thought, this was not a fair trade whatsoever. My girlfriend/trip planner/blog cohort is in agony with 15-20 large welts on her back and arms that itch and hurt and are swollen like I beat her with a cane (this did not happen, no matter what she insists is the truth).

She soldiered on through the day, which should be expected for those who know her at all. Nicole = Trooper (or a SOLJAH from the U?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X60mrYO1UU). If you're wondering, I haven't noticed any bites on myself. Mike = Not delicious. This will serve me well if I get stranded on an island of cannibals or in a crashed airplane in the snow like the movie "Alive" ("don't eat me I don't taste good"). I do have a bruised foot and one extremely bloodshot red eye, so it's not like I'm making it unscathed thus far.

This morning we made it to Monument Valley in southern Utah, bumps, bruises, and all. This was worth it. Geologically almost the polar opposite of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley is the area near the Utah/Arizona border where huge rock formations burst from the earth to heights that dwarf everything around them. A 17-mile round trip drive through the park gave us amazing views of all sorts of buttes, mesas, and other variously named formations. Everything had a virgin coating of snow to intensify the majesty of the landscape.

Like yesterday, we planned on hitting two parks in one day (prior to the Grand Canyon, we visited Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument outside of Flagstaff). Like yesterday, park rangers scoffed at our plans and openly questioned our intelligence. Like yesterday, we made it to both parks with time to spare, and then called back to the doubtful park rangers and destroyed their thoughts about this Earth and made them question their life's work. Everything except for the vengeful phone call part is true.

Today we left Monument Valley and drove 4 hours to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert near Holbrooke, AZ. We drove the 28 mile route, stopping to check out some petrified wood and colorful rocks, and made it out 3 minutes before closing time and just ahead of a wicked hailstorm.

Now we're in Albuquerque, but we're not sure for how long. A storm will be coming in tonight and tomorrow (there are some nasty wind gusts outside right now that may keep me awake) and may be dumping snow all over us. Hopefully, I get some sleep because I have a phone interview tomorrow morning with a potential future employer in New York. Hopefully, we're able to get out of Albuquerque as scheduled. I'll post some pictures here and probably some more earlier tomorrow for your chewing pleasure.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And now, the pictures...

some of our favs from today's trip

"this is the type of canyon i'd fall into"

so we get to the grand canyon (another 'lack of originality' instance - we saw a restaurant called "seasoned kitchen" in flagstaff) - anyhow, at the grand canyon some wannabe hippie with long hair and a beard and a hollister sweater said these words - "this is the type of canyon i'd fall into" - well don't let me stop you sir, and let me first get out of the way and get my camera ready (he didn't fall in)

after seeing mediocre canyon and decent canyon and semi-good canyon if you're on peyote (and three wild horses!) we made it up to the GRAND canyon - and it was snow-capped and brilliant albeit a bit slippery. This was Nicole's first trip to the GC, but it was my third, and I believe the colorado river may be the greatest american artist - the carving skills displayed throughout northern arizona are unmatched by the likes of warhol, o'keeffe, and pollock - i suggest anyone with the opportunity to see this wonder do so, and quickly (and thorough)

i could go on, but the pictures will do a better job, and a visit would do an even better one - also, i'm exhausted and we have a king-sized bed looking me right in the face and whispering my name seductively

i'll leave you with some info gathered from www.answerbag.com concerning a question Nicole and I had as we made our way from uber-urbia to no man's land...

this was the question - What percentage of land in the United States is developed (both including and excluding Alaska)?

this was one of the answers...

by chez nation on January 15th, 2008

"I have been researching this question for 30 years

The answer depends on how the word developed is defined

For Alaska, the 600,000 persons are mostly located in urban areas, and consume only a few hundred square miles of land. Most of the 591,000 square miles of Alaska are wilderness area, owned by the federal and state governments and native tribes.

For the other 49 states which have about 300 million persons on about 3 million square miles of land, I offer two sets of statistics:

developed 7%
cropland 18%
pasture and range 36%
managed forest 12%
natural forest, desert, wetlands, etc. 27%

so we can say that about 27 percent of the 49 states are wildlands, with about a quarter of this protected as official designated wilderness areas

pasture and range can have wildland attributes depending on the intensity of domesticated animal grazing relative to wild animal use

we can say that 93 percent of the 49 states are open space

developed area of 7 percent or 210,000 square miles (the world's highest amount, or about 21 percent of the world's developed area of about 1 million square miles)

urbanized and urban, 100,000 square miles
exurban and rural settlement, 60,000 square miles
transportation, utility corridors, waste disposal and mining sites, 50,000 square miles

80 percent of Americans are urban, or 240 million on 100,000 square miles, at a relatively low average urban density of 2,400 per square mile

20 percent of Americans are rural, either in scattered exurban patches, or more remote rural settlement, and this 60 million people on 60,000 square miles have a settlement pattern of 1,000 per square mile; lower due to the larger residential lot sizes

another measure is pavement, about 50,000 square miles of the USA are paved over, with 40,000 in roads and parking, and 10,000 in houses and buildings, or about 75 percent of the developed area of 210,000 square miles is vegetation, largely lawns but also wooded streams and scattered patches of open space within urban areas"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Corolla, Meet Snow

Today was our first day on the road. It was much sadder than I had anticipated; however, the sun was shining, the roads were clear, and we still managed to have some fun. We took a slight detour and enjoyed lunch (one final trip to In & Out) and a bit of gambling in Laughlin, NV, a.k.a. "Vegas Junior Junior.” It was great to get out of the car and walk around a bit. It was much needed as there is absolutely NO space left in our car. I'm not kidding, not one inch.

Flagstaff, AZ welcomed us with 3 feet of snow and 35 degree weather. We’re not in Cali anymore, folks. Mike and I spent a few hours walking around Historic Downtown, window shopping mostly as all of the stores were closed, and of course, playing in the snow. I attempted a snow angel and enjoyed eating an icicle, while Mike threw snowballs either at me or at icicles in an attempt to break them. YAY! for snow and feeling like a kid again. It was fun, but seeing as we’re not yet used to the cold weather, we needed a hot chocolate and a brisk walk back to the hotel to get warm.

Our Big Send-Off

I agree Mike, going out with a bang was extremely important, and we most certainly did. As far as I'm concerned, the goodbye party was one of the best, ever. I'm not just saying that because it was ours (or because Mike and I got to wear our awesome presents - Footie PJ's!!!), but because of all the amazing people who showed up to share their support and love. Good booze and some good ol' fashion shenanigans helped, too! Seriously though, thanks for a wonderful party, everyone! I am looking forward to the next one (whichever coast it might be on).

Missing everyone lots already, so please send me frequent and juicy updates on everything that's going on in your lives!

Arizona Avalanche

Partying is Such Sweet Sorrow

Leaving Los Angeles with a bang was a necessity and pleasantly this need was met by our friends out west. To you guys, best wishes to all, breast wishes for some, blessed wishes for others, and try to keep it zestfully clean if at all possible pups.

Great goodbye party and a big thanks goes out to everyone who chipped in, helped out, or showed up.

As usual, the evening had to be pieced together somewhat the following day by the stragglers - but the results are in - and the verdict is AMAZINGNESS. Add John's broken bed, a dislodged stained glass window, a beer-soaked couch, rabid idolatry, and no remaining giveaway items (wink, wink), and the party ranks right up there with any celebration in recorded human history. But now...


But it may take a while...