Sunday, December 30, 2012

Not a surprise Christmas presence

Last year was covert operation Teh-Megan-will-be-with-Teh-Bear-on-his-birthday-and-the-going-home-for-Christmas-but-no-one-must-know.  This year.. there was no big secret.  There was actually a big NO on me going to NC for Christmas this year, but when Teh Stepsister bought her ticket from Oklahoma to escape from Army bootcamp for 2 weeks, I also made the decision to suck it up and go home as well.  Mostly because, who knows when we'll all be able to be at home at the same time again.

The best part about a planned visit is that 1- I drove home (which really has more to do with me not making a Florida pit-stop).  2- People know you're coming so they can properly plan giftage.

The first day I was at home, home, there were snow flurries  And then it didn't snow for the rest of my time in NC.... and it still hasn't snowed where I've been.  Not all.ever...... ....  I love the chilly weather, so I wasn't complaining.  It also made workouts with Teh Stepsister more bearable.  I absolutely loath working out when it's hot.

Most of my time spent in NC was me being lazy-ish.  I still got up at a reasonable hour but I didn't really have to do anything, which is just a relaxed feeling for sure.  Other than Phil refusing to go business #2 for me every morning (because he's a jerk and prefers Teh Dad to me), it was a good visit.

Teh Mom, Teh Sister, and I opened presents at Teh Mom's on Christmas Eve since everyone knew I was planning to be on the road by 3pm on Christmas Day to get back to MD at a semi-reasonable hour.  That same night I went to Teh BFF's family dinner (holy mother of awkward interesting social situations), we had opened gifts the night before.  She got me my favorite candle (Autumn Wreath, just in case you needed to know) from Yankee Candle and I got her a new point and shoot camera.  Teh BFF's new step-siblings and their children proved to be a real treat.

Christmas Day came with dread and excitement.  Something about knowing that you're packing up and relocating in a few short hours kinda makes you just want to get on with it asap, but you know that you'd miss the fun parts of the day, so you stay and dread the drive...

There wasn't really a rush to get up, Phil woke me up because he heard other people moving around in the house, which was Teh Dad and Teh Stepmom in the kitchen starting Thanksgiving Christmas dinner.  While waiting on everyone to gather, I guilted Teh Stepsister into passing out the gifts "since we aren't sure if you're going to able to be home next year for Christmas."  Really, I'm lazy.

The little tree.  Teh Stepsister had said that everyone should wait till she got home to decorate the tree, then she never set it up so Teh Dad pulled this tree out of hiding a box.  No one even fixed the branches.

Right before everyone sat down to open presents, Teh Bear came online and we took turns opening our Cmas presents to each other.  Some miracle happened where we both had the same number of packages to open this year, which was surprising because we didn't know anything about our gifts.

My family had finally gathered by the time it was present time.  They got to watch me open the present Teh Bear had gotten for me, which he had warned me about by saying, "You're either going to be like 'YAY!!!!' or be like, 'yay.'"  I had no idea what I was going to open, seriously, no clue.

Teh Bear knows he has a long way to go in the wrapping department.
He always pre-warns me that I'm not allowed to judge his wrapping.

He was super serious about the presents not being damaged.  This was the 2nd set of air pockets that I'd run into since opening the box the package was mailed in.

Warning: Contains best Cmas present EVAR!!!!
Warning:  There will be none of the following while in possession of this gift
No crying
No sneezing
No barfing
No farting
Be sure to open this one first.
Stand Back 500ft
Awesomeness May Cause Permanent Blindess!!
(the little drawing is of 2 awesome stick people.
One says: I'm blind cause I peeked!  
The other says: why?!?
Then there's another warning that says: Don't let this happen.)

Open 2nd
No cheating
Didn't cheat?
Good.  You may continue.

No one ever said Teh Bear was bad at directions, that's for sure.

So what was the big surprise????

My own Nook!!!  With a Little Mermaid book cover, a protection plan (that's how I know The Bear knows me), and a USB drive with my first nook book on it (Mitch Albom's The Time Keeper).

The nook case has a tye-dye inside.

There was a bit of a snaggle this year because I allowed Teh Bear to buy his own Nook which I had been considering getting him for Christmas (see post here).  This gift was truly a surprise to me, which was awesome.  Teh Bear recalled back to when we were in GTMO and I had talked about purchasing a Kindle. Teh Ginger actually did get one, but I held out.  For me, a Nook was something that was practical, but not really something I'd ever put on a wishlist or ask for, but if I received one, I'd love it and give it a name and warmly welcome it into Teh Megan's Technological Family (which includes Suzy (phone), Yurtle (car), the laptop (nameless), the tv (also nameless), and whatever other gadgets there are)..

Teh Bear also opened his presents which were mostly Domo-themed (because I found so much Domo stuff by accident and he was just an unfortunate recipient . and lets be honest, Domo boxer briefs are pretty awesome, don't care.) and a new Boston Red Sox hat with the socks instead of the "B".

After Teh Bear and I were finished opening presents, he had to get ready for work and we signed off Skype so Teh Family could open up presents.  All the gifts I gave this year were awesome (like always), but Teh Sister and I really went all out for Teh Stepsister this year.  We put our art skillz to the test.

Before she even came home, I had decided (and informed Teh Sister) that we should split the cost of a massage for her.  She agreed.  Then Teh Stepsister came home and asked for a massage from her dad for Christmas.  As to not double up on massage gifts (since her time at home was limited) and because the massage place ran out of gift certificates (what?  how?), we just decided to give her cash... and make her the best handmade card EVARRRR.

Teh Stepsister joined the Army, and her drill instructors like to make "sexy private" jokes because in bootcamp, everyone's rank is "private"...  So when they are working out the DI's will say, "THIS WILL MAKE YOU SEXY, PRIVATE!"  Also, drawing an M-16 was a little too intimidating, so we just went with "gun".  Finally, Teh Stepsister claimed the Army beret was "badass" so we had to include it.

Teh Sister and I had to do flag research to make sure we were getting all the stars and stripes right.  We researched which color stripe came first and how the stars were aligned in the blue box.

Finally, we pulled out our inner-Printshop-10 (a program that I had gotten for a birthday when I was in middle school to create banners and cards and fun media items).  When you used to make cards in the program on the back of each quad-folded card it would say: Made with love by _____.  Teh Sister and I made sure to include that.  I threw in a Hooah for good measure and obviously I haven't worn my dog tags in a hot minute because those are so poorly shaped it hurt my soul a little.

Concerning the signatures of the card:
the little blue dot before my name came into question after I had signed.

Teh Sister:  You didn't have to test the marker on the card before you signed your name.  You could have used one of the extra pieces of paper we have.
Teh Megan:  What are you talking about?
tS pointed at the blue mark before my signature.
tM:  That's not where I tested the marker!  That's an AND SIGN!
tS:  Oh.
There was much chuckles over this.

After presents were finished, it was back to the kitchen for Teh Dad and Teh Stepmom.  I could feel myself getting hangry because I had been told we'd be eating at noon and at 1130, I was informed that food was 1.5 hours from completion.  We may have had a food issue last year as well... This time, there were no tears.

In the 20 minutes before food was done, the desire of Teh Stepsister to get "family photos" was finally fulfilled as Teh Sister and I had set up her camera and my tripod (yay for using it) on the dining room table so no one could eat before photos were taken.  Despite being hangry, we had fun taking photos.  Teh Sister put the camera on a delayed shutter to do sets of 5 photos, so she would click the shutter and run over and we had about 3 seconds between each shot for directions.  It was like we were all annoyed with each other moments before standing in front of the camera and as we started taking pictures and being silly together, the irritations just melted away and it was really Christmas.  We might not all match perfectly, but these are definitely true Teh Family photos.

Teh Sister, Teh Megan, Teh Stepsister, Teh Stepmom, Teh Dad
I may or may not have grabbed Teh Stepsister's butt to make her laugh.

Everyone posed and smiling.

Time of your life!!!

I'm an animal, I can't help it.

Teh Sister and I are in true form and Teh Dad is just like, wtf is going on?

Noodles (the weenie dog) kept jumping up on my leg so Teh Sister grabbed him up and I was pretending to be a mean drill instructor while Teh Stepsister was being a Sexy Private and Teh Stepmom was catching up to the thumbs up leg lift and Teh Dad was totally ready.

After photos, we were ready to eat.  Everything was delicious.  Then it was time to get on the road.  Pretty much that quick.  I didn't take long to load up Yurtle and after a quick stop at Teh Mom's (which would have been longer had lunch been ready at lunch and we didn't hear the weather warning on the radio) I seriously got on the road to head back to MD.

The drive back was fairly uneventful, but I really wish I had some way to record my thoughts while driving, because I really can be funny sometimes...  Ok maybe I'm the only one who thinks so, but that's all that matters when it comes to 8 hour drive entertainment.

Thoughts from an 8 hour drive:
-I wonder if Phil thinks I'm as good at karaoke as I do..
-Why didn't fast food places post their Holiday hours on billboards instead of just snowflakes with coffee?  Stupid!
-Phil really has it made.  We make special stops just for him.  Ok, and for gas, but mostly for him.  (He got to go business AND he got a curbside dinner).
-I should stop for food in Durham/Raleigh before I get to BFE where nothing will be open.
-Oooo there was a sign that said Wendy's, I'll go there.
-(Get off the exit) Where did the Wendy's sign go?  Crap, I guess I'll have to go to McDonald's.
-YAYYYY Wendy's!  (was right beside the McDonald's AND all the lights were on!)
-WHY IS NO ONE ANSWERING ME!!! (as I sat in the drive through talking to an unresponsive menu.  Drive around to see that NO ONE is INSIDE.. the lights are just on.  Jerks.)
-Ugh McDonald's.  YAY sweet tea!
-Awwww Yurtle!!! 20000 miles!  You're so big!
How awesome is it that Yurtle tells me how many more miles I can go till I run out of gas?
It's a very sadistic game I play with myself now....  I just know I'm going to get burned one day.

-Green F350, you're my hero for going so fast, but please choose a consistent speed.  I feel like a real jerk passing you then you passing me then me passing you then you passing me.  I'm using cruise control, it's kinda cool, yo.
-Awww Richmond, you have Cmas lights on your buildings!  How awesome!!!  I wish my point and shoot wasn't dead, I'd take a picture!
-Black Venza, I approve of your speeding.  I'm sad I have to get off at exit 104 and we only have 50 miles of this fun time, but I'll write about how awesome you were in my blog.
-Dear 70mph zones in VA.  No, I love you.  Seriously.  I do.  Forever, you+me.  You're the best part of this relationship.

I thought that I'd be smart and use my google speech input for a text message to make "notes" of my drive... except that as I started to do it, the voice input stopped working for some reason and wasn't recognizing my words.  /weep.

And now I've recapped my Christmas!!! Woooo!
I came back to MD to work for 2 days and then we got another 5 days off work.  Who's complaining?
Nope, not even me.

Phil will have his own Christmas post on his blog.. because (of course) Phil got presents.
Look for the Relish 2012 posts to wrap up within the next day or two (depending on how busy I get in the next day)

You have till January 2nd to tell me why you keeping coming back to Teh Blog.  Tell me in a comment or on Teh FB page.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday #29

Holy moly there are no more scheduled blogs!?!?  Ahhhh!  Yes, I just admitted to you that I had a streak of motivation and that I'm lazy at the same time... and I also knew that while I was Christmasing (why isn't this a word?) that feeling guilty about not posting blogs was way too much of a downer for Christmas.

What this really means is that I had to take a break from FREE (because I'm cheap yo, and I give out awesome Christmas presents) Nook book shopping (because Teh Bear is awesome and got me a Nook for Christmas) to check Lauren's page for new blanks.. There were none, so I'm going back in time..

Also, don't forget about the give away.  Tell me what keeps you coming back to Teh Blog and you might win a Glossybox!!  Just comment on any blog post or post on Teh FB page from December 20th till January 2nd.


1.   New Year's is  probably just an excuse for people to party.  I mean, it's what I'm planning on doing....

2.   One of my New Year's resolutions will be   uuuhhh.. I'm not really a resolutions type of gal.  Mostly so I don't get disappointed in myself come next November and realize that I didn't do what I said I was gonna do.  

3.  A New Year's resolution I've made in the past was to   write more, read more, lose weight, get back to America (ok so that one worked out), ya know.. all the same stuff everyone else vows to do as well.

4. The most time consuming resolution I ever made was    reading more?  I mean, that doesn't take a short amount of time...  (says the girl who just got a Nook and got halfway through her new book last night.. oops)  

5.  This year I will be spending New Year's Eve    with Teh Neighbors.  We have already purchased steaks for dinner and we're still organizing the side dishes.  I'm not sure that any of us will make it to midnight because we're all old folks, but who knows.  

6.  If I could wish one thing for my new year it would be    the same wish as always, that Teh Bear would get a job in MD and I'd be able to get snuggled more than a few weeks out of the year.  

7.  2012 2013 is going to be    NOT the year of the apocalypse?  I hope 2013 brings more focus to me.  I also need to start planning for after the Navy/a Navy transition.  So maybe I should just hope that 2013 brings me direction, because I'm going to definitely need it.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fashion doesn't agree with me... #3

Because there has been minimal ridiculousness as of late.. I give you.. more fashion doesn't agree with me sunglasses!!!!

Seriously, going out and finding ridiculous sunglasses has become a personal challenge of mine.

At the Red Rock Amphitheater..
These are children's.  Yep, my head is that small.

Teh Democratic Lawyer was helping me model before she found some cute iPhone gloves.

The ever so slight tint on these I guess classifies them as sunglasses, but I wasn't impressed.
Also, they were broken, which is why they are crooked..  Or my head was too small, either way.

I can't even take myself seriously with the green/blue/red combo I had going on.

Bzzzzz.  Bzzzzz..  Oh sorry, I thought I was a fly for a minute.

These are party-rific sunglasses.
As for those shoes in the background.. Wear those if you're walkin down dark alleys at night.

It's like there's a recycled 80's toy on my face.

What, what?

Can you see my eyebrows now?

So apparently, these sunglasses matched the shoes, which will you see displayed behind me.

Teh Humanitarian and I found some AWESOME (not)/sunglasses WITH MUSTACHES at Five Below.
Pretty sure she bought these for her family.  I approved.

That happened.
You're welcome, Gentle Readers..  You are welcome.

If you find pictures of ridiculous sunglasses and you want to model them and send me the pic/link, I'll proudly post it.  Send photos to

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Merry Winter Time of Year/whatever, Gentle Readers!!

Merry Christmas from Teh Megan and Teh Phil-boy!!!

I am thankful for you, Gentle Readers.  Although few, you are mighty!  You give me the motivation to keep sharing my stories and photos because at least one of you appreciates my attempts to be humorous and my ability to give the most ridiculous nicknames to people and maybe my over-zealous love for sharing my photos.

Hopefully you were able to spend the holidays with whoever, however you wanted.  If not, I completely understand and if you need to hear a funny joke, canIdecideanotherday(at) is the best place to turn.  Send me an email and just make sure your subject line says:  Send me a funny joke!  I'll be ALL OVER THAT.  I've been practicing my funny jokes for Teh Stepsister.  

Thank you all for sharing 2012 with me.  I appreciate your comments, encouragement, and page hits (because almost ALL bloggers are suckers for page hits, it is what it is).

Phil doesn't have a lot of Christmas spirit, but when he does, he always makes sure to look like it's torturing him.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Relish 15-21

Continuing to Relish 2012 with Rebecca @ Finding Freedom in the Leaping.

15 December:
Perhaps it feels like they found you, or you were meant to discover them right when you did, but often over the course of a year we are treated to tidbits of inspiration, insight and encouragement. We find them in books, on twitter, under bottle caps, on fortune cookies and tea bags, on bumper stickers, or on lemonade bottles… What were the words of wisdom that came to aid and engage you this year? (Bonus points if you can share them visually with us.)

This year, the most significant words to me were "Be still and know."  This is actually a verse from the Bible, Psalms 46:10:  "Be still, and know that I am God..."  One of the churches that I pass regularly had "be still and know" posted on one side of their sign... One day in particular, I was passing it and read it.  I'd probably passed by this sign for weeks and not noticed.  This day, I needed it.  I was frustrated at the person who had been going significantly under the speed limit, the radio wasn't playing anything good, nothing seemed to be going my way.  After reading it, I paused.  I breathed.  I was still.  In that moment, a sense of peace came over me.  The radio didn't matter, I wasn't going anywhere that wasn't forgiving of being a minute or two late, my day was going exactly how I let it.  I was still and knew that I wasn't in control and it made me feel completely content.

This also led to my next (potentially final) tattoo idea:

16 December:
Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes it’s gut wrenching and horrible. In time it will heal, and it’s likely we’ll be stronger for it. But in the meantime it can be wince inducing to think back on it. Do it anyway… What broke this year? How are you better for it having broken? And if you can’t see that part yet, what good would you LIKE to see come from it?

Physically, my body was broken, but now it's better, lol.  I've had endometrosis for a long time and I found out I was "full o' stones" (my gallbladder).  After 2 surgeries, I'm almost like new.

As for mentally broken..  I'm still struggling with the fact that Teh Bear is still not in MD.  Usually, coupled with extreme PMS, I get very down about this fact.  I try extremely hard to ignore this, but sometimes it just spills out and I get sulky and nasty and Teh Bear has to deal with down Teh Megan and no one likes that.  After a few heart-to-hearts pep talks, lots of reassurances, and some brain refocusing, things got significantly better (at least for this month).

17 December:
Life is made up of the big moments and the little details. The big moments tend to stick in our memories but the details can fade away over time. Which little detail — something you saw… a look… a touch… a fleeting moment — from 2012 would you like to remember in the years to come?

I have a feeling that as I'm in the US for longer and longer, the thrill of all the things that I was so excited about in the past year will become less and less exciting.  The flowers will still bloom in the spring, a cool breeze will still be refreshing on a 90°F day, the leaves will still put on an art show in the fall, and the snow will continue to fall in the winter..  but this past year, each time these things happened, I held my breath for a second because the excitement about these little changes made me feel like I might burst.

So, I hope that when next fall rolls around, I still appreciate how awesome the leaves are.  That when Christmas #3 in the States happens, that I don't forget that one Christmas, I didn't have a tree to put up, I didn't have my decorations and I had to start fresh.  Mostly, I want to remember the feeling of excitement, like I would burst, and the immediate gratitude to God for all the wonderful things that I'm blessed with, the leaves and the snow and the cool days and remembering to breathe when its all so wonderful and overwhelming.

18 December:
We are surrounded by it and yet its interpretation always remains individual. Sometimes we lack works to describe it, and that’s ok; it’s better when life is filled with MORE than we can distill and transmit, no? Think back on where you’ve been, what you’ve seen. Where in your year were you captured by color? Can you show it to us? What did it make you feel?

Christmas lights above the bed was something that happened last February when Teh Bear came to MD to visit for my birthday.  They weren't in this pattern, but I didn't take a photo of the lights, so that photo will have to suffice.  I worked for part of his visit, but did take some vacation.  There would be days that we'd just take a break from watching TV or playing on the computers to go and snuggle under the lights.  I remember the feeling of contentment in just snuggling with Teh Bear whenever I wanted to.  And yes, we just snuggled, get your dirty minds out of the gutter.

19 December:
Some people think they aren’t creative, they’d certainly never call themselves “artistic”. Gasp! But I have always firmly believed that we each make ART in our lives, it just takes shapes and forms that might not come to mind right away. Maybe it’s a colorful, delicious omlet, or a perfectly lined lawn, or sand castles you never want to see wash away. What art did you make this year?

This year I did a lot of home decorating.  I made the apartment MINE.  Teh Bear and I decided on a color scheme so that way I wouldn't get out of control with the decorating colors (because when you don't have a favorite color and like ALL colors, you love all things).  I made wall hangings even.  Since I finally had a place of my own, I cooked so much delicious noms.  I made Pinterest recipes.  I visited the Grand Canyon and took photos so I could share them later.  Also, I learned to appreciate (more than I already did) karaoke in the car on 8 hour drives and since music is art, I sang and sang and sang.  I'm sure Phil was just like, stfu.

20 December:
Imagine mapping your year on your body. What does your body hold from 2012? Where did your feet walk? What did your hands hold? What did you tuck gently into your heart?  Capture this topography in some journaling or even in a poem. You might want to begin with a phrase like “These hands held…” or “This heart knows…”

My body now has 6 distinctive scars on my belly from 2 surgeries.  My feet got new blisters from starting to walk then moving on to running.  My feet got some new dents from Phil stretching and his claws digging into the tops of my feet.  My left hand middle finger got a bigger dent in it from signing so much paperwork due to my job as an assistant command security manager.  My wrists got leash burned from Phil trying to chase squirrels.  My feet got even more blisters when I broke in my new hiking boots for our November vacation.  I got drenched several times from running out in the rain with Phil.  I held hands with Teh Bear for longer than I have any other year.  I got snuggles from Teh Bear more than any other year.

My heart has been fulfilled with travel to Australia and Scotland and Florida and Colorado and Arizona and North Carolina.  I weathered frustration when I felt like the distance wasn't making me stronger.  My heart was fulfilled when Phil entered my life, even though there were moments where I was sure that Phil was tempting fate.  I felt relief at knowing that after enduring 2 surgeries, my body was more healed and better than it had been in a long time.  I felt great relief the first time I got to go to medical and tell them I was on NO medication.  My heart felt love every time I met Teh Bear at the airport and sadness every time we left each other.  I was proud when Teh Sister graduated from college and Teh Stepsister joined the Army.

21 December:
There are few things on earth that can bring back memories, whole events, like a photograph can. Even blurry, faded, cracked and broken, these still records act like master keys to the visual parts of our brains and unlock the events in such a real way that we can slip back into them effortlessly. Even shots we weren’t present for can grant us that sense of participation that hearing stories third hand never can. Take a gander at the images you’ve made this year and, if you can, choose the one that means the most to you. Share it with us, if you’d like. Why that photo?

This panoramic represents many things:
Photography, a hobby that I love.
Dreams accomplished, I always wanted to visit Australia, but never thought I'd actually go... and then I did.
Sunrise, the start of a new day, holding new things.
Passion, for my hobby.
Devotion, for getting up before the sun rose to get this photo.
Skill, for learning to do panoramic photos and editing photos.
Companionship, for the company I was in when I took this photo.
Community, for the desire to share this photo (and all the other photos) with Gentle Readers/family/friends/etc.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Adventures with Teh Bear... Part 15a

We were out the door by 0600 on Monday morning to get to the airport in time.  Teh Democratic Lawyer woke up early to send us off and Teh Democratic Muppet drove us with no complaint.  We enjoyed a Denver sunrise on our way. 

At the airport, we grabbed breakfast and used the free wi-fi for our "last supper" of internet usage before (mostly) dropping off the face of the planet for a few days.  Our flight to Phoenix was less mouth-breathy than our flight to Denver, which was a relief. 

Lesson from booking 2 person flights: 
When you really want to sit together and choose the back of the plane, since that's the only area with 2 seats beside each other...  You will wait a really long time to deboard.  Especially when they find a hole in the tarmac at your terminal.  Seriously, American Airlines?

We got to Phoenix and got our rental car with no issues.  In Denver, I'd figured out that the head to my tripod was awol, which meant that 5 extra pounds in my luggage could have just been left at home.  Le sigh.  The tripod was a cheapy from Amazon that I asked for one Christmas so I could have a tripod.  Since we were headed to the Grand Canyon, I really wanted to have a tripod, even if I didn't necessarily use it.  Our first stop in Phoenix was to a camera store... a closed camera store.  Fail.  So we did some research and found a different camera store, 15 minutes in the direction we'd just come from.  Teh Megan fail.  I purchased a new, good, blue, hard to use with numb fingers, tripod and we were on our way out of the city.

Lessons from AZ:
1.  Beautiful, very varied scenery.
2.  There is very little money in the state budget for cops to enforce speed laws.  Much to our happiness.
3.  REAL CACTUSES!!!  (Yes, I know that is not the correct plural of cactus.  I do what I wawnt.)
4.  Lots of bugs will die on your windshield.
4.5  Water isn't the same and won't work as well as actual windshield washer fluid.

Fearless Driver.

Mostly fearless passenger.

We passed in and out of Tonto National Forest for a while.
Then we moved on to random National Forests throughout AZ.


REAL Cactus.

AZ has a strange appeal.

Maybe it was the fact that we only saw 2 state troopers/cops our entire time in AZ?

This made me think of home, home.

Smoke from a fire.  I was afraid there wasn't going to be a Painted Desert to see!

Proud Elk, next 40 miles.

Smoke rising.

The C4 (Command, Control, Communications, and Computers) Center
That would be: 2 iTouch, 1 Suzy (Droid 4 who was our navigator (when we had service)), and Teh Bear's laptop to charge his iPod because my music was not satisfactory enough.

Even after we got out of the hills we could see the smoke behind us.


So much drivin!

The desert deserves power too.

Teh Bear really liked this sign.

Florida St makes me think of Teh Bear.

"I-40?!?!  NOOOOOO, I promise to be good, don't take me home!" -Me to Teh Bear.
The joke was kinda lost on him since he doesn't associate I-40 with my home, home.


Our first stop was up to the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest.  This was Teh Bear's choice of "extra" things to do in AZ besides just the Grand Canyon.  I thought it was a good idea.  We got some awesome scenery on the way.  I took plenty of point and shoot photos.  We hit so many bugs that we ran out of windshield washer fluid.  Le sigh.

We made it to the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest after about 3ish hours of driving.  We learned that active duty military can get free admission (per car) to all National Parks and we picked up my pass and got on our way.  Military score!  We started our drive around 3:30pm.  We quickly learned that 27 miles at 35-35mph is a short time for such a long distance.. especially with frequent stops for photos. 

HAI, Gentle Readers!

Look how tall I am!

Teh Bear and the Painted Desert

So yeah, this is what the Painted Desert is.  Red hills.

More Teh Bear

More Painted Desert

While this plant looks whimsical and fun...  it will make you bleed if you run into it.
Yes, I found out from experience.

The ceiling of the Painted Desert gift shop on the road.
Back in the day, this location was a hotel/restaurant.

More Teh Bear.

More Teh Megan

This was our much unloved rental car..
and Teh Bear in a hurry to get to the next place because we were running out of time.

We got lots of Painted Desert photos, but not so much for the Petrified Forest.

Also, who was the tricky asshole who named the park "forest" seriously?  I was expecting trees until about halfway through the Painted Desert when Teh Bear informed me we were looking for rocks not trees.  Dick move, park namer, dick move.  After that disappointment, I tried to accept that these "trees" were rocks.. really old rocks, and I love really old stuff, right?  Sadly, we only a few photos of the actual rocks because it was almost 5pm and soon after we pulled up to take photos, a park ranger also pulled up to tell us it was GTFO time.  I was a little disappointed, but there was really nothing we could do, and since Teh Bear isn't a rebel like me (ok, and there were security cameras) we decided the best thing to do was just head out of the park.

An old timey car at the dividing line between the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest

The car was located on Route 66.
You could actually see traffic driving by on I-40.

Look at how tall I could be!

Gramps the speed racer.

More Painted Desert

This conversation really happened:
Teh Megan:  OO OO is that tree part of the Petrified Forest
Teh Bear: (stares at me with disbelief)  No.
tM:  When are we gonna see some trees?
tB:  We're not.
tM:  WHAT?
tB:  The petrified forest is just that.. PETRIFIED.
tM:  Then why would they called it "forest??"
tB:  Because it used to be.  Now its rocks.
tM:  This is stupid.  They should have called this place the Petrified Quarry.

The road goes on and on and on.

Losing daylight.



Seriously, this is it.
Trees turned to rocks because they are so old.

After leaving the park, we stopped and got some sunset photos and then headed towards Flagstaff for dinner, then we were going to proceed to our hotel.  On our way to Flagstaff, we passed through the setting of the Pixar movie "Cars".  There was the Wigwam Hotel, the little mechanic shop, even the hippy store.  We were too tired to stop and take pictures, which we kicked ourselves for later.

Sunset and you can still see the smoke in the distance in the left bottom corner

The hotel we should have stopped and gotten pictures at.. but we were too tired.

We stopped for dinner at a Mexican place (surprise) which had the best carnitas... ever.  Thanks Urbanspoon for that suggestion, because it was a definite win.  After dinner, we kept driving to Tusayan, which is a few miles south of the Grand Canyon South Rim entrance.  While we were driving through No-Man's-Land, AZ, Teh Bear and I were astonished at how well you could see the night sky so we stopped to get some star photos.  Teh Bear got 2 amazing shots.  I got frustrated and cold and irritated fumbling with the new tripod, so I gave up before he did and sat in the car to get warm.  I'm a wimp.  It's fine, I accept this.

After we got back on the road, we had another 45 minutes to 1 hour of driving till we reached the hotel.  At one point, a squirrel/rabbit thing ran across the road in front of us carrying this huge branch.  It was like it happened in slow motion, especially since we were going at 75+ mph and we didn't hit the critter.  I found it hilarious.  I don't even know why it was so funny.  Then, Teh Bear thought I was hilarious.  I was laughing so hard, the tears were streaming and my teeth were clattering (like if I had been super cold).  It was probably the funniest moment of our entire vacation because it was so completely ridiculous   IMO.  Teh Bear thought I had lost my mind... which he retracted that statement for that time and applied it to a choice I made later during the vacation (in regards to my personal appearance and poor decision making skills).

Finally, we arrived to our hotel.  We crashed that night to prepare for the next day, our first day at the Grand Canyon. 

This post got SUUUPER long.  So much for recapping with short posts..

Vacation Recap Map:

Being in Denver for the weekend, part 1
Being in Denver for the weekend, part 2
Being in AZ for half the week, part 1     (this blog)
Being in AZ for half the week, part 2
Being in AZ for half the week, part 3
Being in NC for an extended weekend
-Carolina Renn Faire (photos)
-Biltmore Flowers (photos)
Being in MD for the remainder of vacation