Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Home Again

Our last hotel stop was Laughlin, NV.  Thought we'd pull a few slots for
laughs and fun before we headed home.  We stayed at the Aquarius hotel. 
Weather was holding and we looked forward to the "Welcome to California" 

While in Chicago we picked up a little blue bear that I included in some of our travel shots.  It was fun trying to get him posed just-so in the frame.  Sometimes he was in focus, and if I was holding him in my hand as I was taking the shot, focused he's not.

Passing through Barstow, CA we stopped at one of our favorite hamburger places, In & Out Burgers. Oh yum, and a chocolate shake! 

It was so good to sleep in our own bed, do laundry and hug/kiss our
daughter.  We've been home for 12 days.  Suitcases have long been emptied and put away.  Souvenirs have been handed out and photos sorted.  Being in the car with my husband for 47 days straight, eating out, sleeping in hotels when not staying with friends or family, seeing some sights for the first time together was really special. 

We met some really great people throughout our time on
the road. We'll remember this trip for years to come and I will look back on it as one of the best we spent together.

Thanks honey, for another wonderful, safe and enjoyable trip we've
shared together.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Oklahoma

Our original plan was to head home after visiting our daughter in Austin, TX. But another gaming-buddy of Dave's on Facebook talked him into visiting him in Duncan, OK. We said, okay, we'll deviate and go up to Oklahoma. Then a childhood friend saw him on Facebook and noticed we were heading to Oklahoma, he also talked Dave into stopping in Enid, OK.

It rained the entire day all the way up to Duncan. We found a nice hotel, got to stretch and relax for a bit before meeting and having dinner with Dave's gaming-buddy and his family. What is so cool about meeting this man is he and Dave have never met before. They had been playing an online game together and e-mailing maybe three years. This visit made a total of three men he's met on this trip from his online game. They have all been eager to meet us and we've been welcomed into their homes and met their families. It has been such a pleasure.

Dave's friend told us about The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center that was in Duncan. Since we didn't have to be in Enid until after 5 pm the next day, we made sure that we stopped before leaving town. What a wonderful museum. There were original paintings and sculptures, a film depiction of the Chisholm Trail during the 1880s, all very realistic. We felt the rain hitting us during the rain and thunder storm sequence in the film, even felt the floor shake during the cattle stampede, such fun! We highly recommend the stop.

We got to Enid by mid-afternoon, got a hotel and then Dave called his childhood school friend. We met him and his lovely wife for dinner at a local restaurant. Dave and his friend hadn't seen each other in about 43 years. They talked non-stop, lots of catching up. We took pictures, shared family pictures, laughed and reminisced. We truly had a great time and I know Dave will always remember this visit.

The next morning we got up earlier than we have the entire trip and hit the road. We were thinking of spending the night in Albuquerque, NM for the night but we actually ended up in Grants, NM. We had covered 660 miles that day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Austin, TX

Dave and I have been to Austin, TX once before.  Almost eight months ago in fact.  We helped move our daughter Lara and son-in-law Raymond here last February.  His company shut-down their California facility and moved to Austin.  They also asked Raymond to come too.  He loves his job so they made the move.  Lara found a new job the very next month and also loves where she works. 

Lara and Raymond bought a house in July so we became their very first guests.  What a lovely home they've made.  They made a list of things they needed help with when Dave got here.  The next day Dave and Raymond installed a dogie-door in a wall, they replaced some plugs with GFIs, moved some wall switches and a few other things I can't remember.

One of the days we were here they took us on a tour of their offices.  We were so impressed by how awesome their co-workers were and the atmosphere of where they worked.  Felt like we were touring Facebook Central or Microsoft!  Afterwards we went in search of where to view the Bats of Austin.  It was quite a sight to see!

(I'm quoting an Austin Events page:)
Austin might not have any theme parks or large zoos, but America's largest urban bat colony has become the city's best-known (and ecologically correct) tourist attraction.  It all started in 1980, when the team of engineers designing the Congress Avenue bridge unknowingly created the crevices that would soon become the home to the largest urban bat colony in North America.  More than 1.5 million bats emerge each night at dusk, as they have for more than two decades, from the bridge's underbelly on food runs that blacken the otherwise red sky.

LBJ Presidential Museum
 We had a wonderful tour the LBJ Presidential Museum on the campus of the University of Texas. 

In and around downtown Austin there is an art exhibit called CowParade.  (I'm quoting CowParade Wikipedia:)
Raymond & Lara
CowParade is an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major world cities. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city centre, in public places such as train stations, important avenues, and parks. They often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes. After the exhibition in the city, which lasts many months, the cows are auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.

Lara and I had a great day together.  We had pedicures, went out to lunch and did some shopping.  One afternoon the four of us went to the Inner Space Caverns in nearby Georgetown.  Such fun we had.  Afterwards we had lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, yum!

Dave and I have had such a wonderful and relaxing time here.  We had fun, togetherness and work, but we wouldn't have traded it for anything.  Bye Austin, hope to be back soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 Road Trip - New Orleans, part 2

What a wonderful visit we’ve had these pass three days. We’ve taken a horse drawn carriage ride throughout the French Quarter, Airboat Adventures tour (we saw alligators and swamps), City Tour on a bus (saw damage done by the broken levees in 2005), and a ride down the Mississippi River on the Steamboat Natchez.

Our breakfast
We walked in and out of just about every opened store in the French Quarter. One of the breakfast places we tried was the famous CafĂ© Du Monde. We drank coffee and ate Beignets. They’re like a rectangle “donut” with mounds of powered sugar on top. Very sweet but oh so good! They are a MUST if you come to New Orleans. Had lunch or dinner at different places each day.

While on the tours we couldn’t help but notice the gas prices and comparing them with California. The lowest we sign we saw was $3.02 gallon. As we left the city, the prices were steadily raising.

Good-bye New Orleans, we had three very relaxing days.

Typical French Quarter scene

Saturday, October 1, 2011

2011 Road Trip - New Orleans

Yesterday I was doing the genealogy happy dance most of the day.  Dave and I met up with another collateral cousin.  Her name is Mary and she had the magic wrecking ball that punched through my Ficarra family line brick wall here in the Big Easy.

We met her husband Louis, her son Louis II, grand-son Louis III and a daughter-in-law who is married to a different son.  They were so welcoming and friendly.  We made the connection that her grand-father Salvadore was my grand-father Philip's brother.  Mary gave me family names, dates of birth, marriages and some death dates too.   It was so good to finally meet this branch of the family tree.

We had lunch, then Mary gave us a tour of her lovely three story, two wing home.  On the third floor balcony we could look over the raised levee to see Lake Pontchartrain.  Such a gorgeous view.

When we finally had to say good-bye, she made us promise to come back again.  What a wonderful visit.  I'm still smiling and dancing!