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  

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