Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm pretty sure our numbers are off. . .

And finally, Las Vegas.

But first, the Four Corners.

We paid our four dollar admission in pennies, nickels and dimes of found change. We saw, we smiled, we spanned borders, we photographed.

And then we went to Vegas.

All of Katie's stories about the unbelievable heat of Las Vegas are undoubtably true. The heat was immobilizing. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time. Upon arrival I didn't know what to do with all my excitement over seeing Katie. I said ridiculous things, hopped around and was shamelessly giddy. Meanwhile, Katie spoiled us rotten. She made us roasted vegetable pita sandwiches with baba ghannoug for dinner, delicious. And she gave me her last fruit popsicle.

The next day we saw the Hoover Dam in all of its art deco glory.

Ted sported a child's sized plastic not-so-hard hat that I found on top of a trash can.

Later that evening, Katie took us to the Pinball Hall of Fame and handed us a roll of quarters. The word amazing doesn't do it justice, and neither do photographs.

The Pinball Hall of Fame is owned by a hero of a pinball aficionado, Tim Arnold, who donates all the proceeds to the Salvation Army. After paying nothing to get in, you may play the fully restored machines, art pieces in and of themselves, from the 50s through the 90s. The best part was Tim's handwritten blurbs taped to the front of most machines, detailing the behind the scenes scoop with all sentences ending in exclamation points. I will never look at a pinball machine in the same way again.

And then I stumbled upon Peppy. . .

And my heart nearly exploded with joy. A puppeted clown that you make dance by pushing buttons?? It was the only one I played twice.

The next day we went to Ronald's Donuts. Katie had searched the internet for Vegas' alleged "vegan donuts", and discovered Ronald's. We walked into a donut shop that looked like any other and my heart sank. No signs reading "vegan", "healthy", or even "soy" were anywhere to be found. I had resolved myself to be content watching Katie and Ted enjoy eating donuts, but then Katie told Ronald that she had read about his donuts and wondered which ones, if any, were vegan. ALL OF THEM, except the two trays of cake donuts were vegan, and they even had soy milk for your coffee!

(I had to get this one after Ronald pointed to it and said, "Soy cream filled donut?")


Delighting vegan tastebuds whilst stretching vegan waistbands. Heroes.

And then we went to the neon sign boneyard!

Katie didn't like the first tourguide we were put with, so she told him she forgot something in her car and that we would wait for the next group.

This guy was fantastic.

The Neon Sign Museum, aka: Boneyard is a non-profit organization that collects, conserves and exhibits neon signs from Las Vegas. Walking around the dirt lot they keep them in, our tour guide told us the histories of the signs and that of Las Vegas.

Ted pointing to his birthplace, Reno, Nevada.

For dinner we went to a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant, and had some of the best boba ever. Then we went home and watched many, many hours of Arrested Development. The whole experience was divine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

20, 21, 22

new mexico wants blood!

the desert landscape being a familiar, if not welcome sight, we traversed the second half of texas and entered new mexico's lower right hand side. although carlsbad cavern may have once been an sheer nightmare to explore for 98% of the population, we walked into the natural entrance (depicted above)on a lovely, cemented, wheelchair accessible sloping path. the cave lit up for us as the natural light expired. there were informative signs along the way of the caves history and animal life. the disneyland factor of this all was only augmented by the screaming of little children and the loud banter of adults, all echoing mightily inside this monstrous marvel. the ease of exploration and contact with natural forms of such beauty and wonder was a turn off at first, but as we learned the history of the cave and its valiant/foolhardy early explorers and saw a rickety rope ladder (left for posterity) descending into hundred plus feet of darkness, i was ever grateful for this modern era of tourist spelunking. the carlsbad cavern's forms of time and water were truly breathtaking and otherworldly, and we emerged thankful, blinking in the late afternoon sun.

this nights couchsurfer was a bit north, so we made our way to roswell. new mexico has a fairly unified aesthetic, we found. in its natural forms (obvisouly) but, more importantly, in its human response to those natural forms. from the housing of adobe, to the freeway overpasses (pictured above), this state seems to be ok with its identity and doesnt stray to far from it.
we met our host at an eating establishment (after giving in and indulging in our desire for burritos, we stopped and fed at what turned out to be.....a mistake. la fonda, not so fond 'a ya) where we met the other two couchsurfers staying with said host for that night. it so turns out that one of these young men skateboards, and wanted to ride locally. i accompanied. eventually, i found myself hitting chin on pavement and producing this lovely addition to my chin of scars:

blood down my shirt, on my hands, elsewhere most likely. this was just the beginning.

shortly after the chin explosion, in the parking lot of walgreens (butterfly bandages! hydrogen peroxide!), melissa let out a fierce yelp. a few days prior to this, desert driving, i see a bird fly very close to the bumper, seemingly getting run over. i saw no tiny tumbling creature out the sideviews, so i thought he got away. but there he was. headfirst into the grill. tails feathers blowing slightly, we couldnt see any way of dealing with it that night. amidst the extremely loud dubstep of our new english friend (one of the other surfers). sopping up the blood from my chin with a few different bandages, i decided to sleep with our hosts two remaining hello kitty bandages. they seemed to have extra capacity.

the next day,
bird burial

then it was on to the infamous indian school ditch, in albuquerque. beginning high in the hills, this national treasure winds its way down, for about eight miles. five or so of those miles, this beaut provided flawless transition and slight incline to gain speed.


taking the plunge

at about mile five and a half, the walls get steep suddenly, and new mexico claimed a little more blood. melissa and said englishman graciously drove down the hill and met us in some non descript parking lot, from which we traversed to indulged in more culinary delights.


Currito (curry burrito thing)!

from albuquerque, melissa and i departed for our two nights stay in a monastary.

(scenes from the drive, about two hours north from abq, then thirteen miles down a dirt road. not too many pictures were taken from this time, seeing as it might cheapen it. due to this same fact, i will sign off here on this part of the trip).

(a view of melissa's lodging at said monastary)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


the further away from all this we get, the fuzzier the details (like always). im having to look back in my calender (i guess the previous post on this blog would work fine, too)to see what preceded all this and what came after. the planner says new orleans, but what i remember, from this, the seventeenth day on the road, is driving endlessly, stopping breifly to see this:

the beer can house. we went on a whim, guided by snippets read on the internet. beautiful in the late afternoon, beer cans from beers that are no longer made. the whole house covered, even the planters out front. unfortunately, it was well closed when we arrived, so we peeked around, leaned over stuff with our cameras, etc. the tops of the cans cut off and then made into large wind chimes that made amazing sounds in the slight wind that moved them. the mood of this short detour of manic/obsessive art proved beautiful and shinning still in my memory in an otherwise rapidly blurring drive from the gulf coast into the heart of texas.

we arrived late, as always, into the loving bosom our couchsurfing host. loving bosom in the truest sense. huge blow up matress and obese cats to snuggle.
the next day began at the spider house, breakfast tacos for me and coffee coffee coffee for melissa. the cathedral of junk followed shortly thereafter.

(people this tiny shouldn't need to ride a bike going nowhere, nor do they need to stay/get trim.-melissa)

more amazingly obsessive art work to explore. this sort of thing seems like it should become old, tired, boring, blase, but it is still quite invigorating to walk in and around and on top of large piles of discarded materials. they serve as museums of antiquity and obsolescence as well as reminders of the trail of rubbish that the blind reaching and straining for newness and efficiency of technological progress leaves behind. the cathedral of junk placed this reality well before our hearts and minds, as naked and raw as it could be displayed. it was rather fun to play amongst the rubbish, though. climbing many stories on it and taking in south austin from the top of it. from the cathedral, we walked about, thankful for the dry heat, found a hippie food truck on the side of the road (they seem to abound in austin) to feast on superfood smoothies (and the dood even slipped me some raw goats milk. it ruled). from there, we made our way, on the sunny side of the street, to barton springs. (I nearly died of heatstroke and had visions of Ted carting my carcass back to California. My parents would have killed him.-m)

oh barton springs. you are so refreshing. we love you.
from there, it was on to casa de luz. a house of light, indeed.
($12, no tips accepted, bottomless teas, full course meal, double servings of everything??? My heart could hardly stand it (nor my stomach). Good thing we walked.-m)