About Cara

Seattle-based writer, sailor and organizer of things.

The Loop- Tennessee and Kentucky

We officially found fall! Even though we saw the trees in Guntersville change before our eyes the drive to Chattanooga, Tennessee and the rain that came with it confirmed that it was indeed October.

We also entered a new time zone: Eastern Standard Time! Now three hours ahead of home. Our first destination in Chattanooga was Ruby Falls, an underground water fall. Although it was by far one of the most dramatic, cheesy, and touristy things we’ve done so far it was thoroughly entertaining. Our tour guide was hilarious which made the trip through the caves fly by.

After Ruby Falls we had dinner in town at Trinity Brewing which we really enjoyed. However, the storm that had been looming all day made its grand debut sending us in from the deck and putting an end to our plans to camp. Motel 6 here we come!

Wednesday morning we headed up Lookout Mountain again to Rock City. The drive there took us through a neighborhood where all the streets are named after fairytale characters. It certainly set the mood although I don’t know how I would feel living on Little Red Riding Hood Lane. What a mouthful.

Without a doubt, Rock City wins the cheesiest, most touristy place I’ve ever been to award. That being said it was pretty cool (I liked Ruby Falls better though). The meandering paths take you on a fun walk through crazy rock formations (not as crazy as in a cave though), cringe-worthy gnome villages, and wonderful viewpoints. The selling points were definitely the Swing-A-Long Bridge (it didn’t swing enough for us so we made it swing a little extra!) and the view from Lover’s Leap where you can see 7 states at once. It is already such a novelty for us West Coasters to be in more than one state in a day, seeing seven at once, oh my!

We had lunch in town and detoured from some sipping chocolate, delicious and totally worth it! It was feeling very fall-y after all. We continued north on towards the Cumberland Gap and the weather followed suit.

We arrived some time after dark at our campground in Cumberland Gap. Despite having gotten lost more than once, being unsure what state we were in, and the fact that it was pouring rain we were in great spirits! Rachel took the car to pay for our sigh while I speed pitched the tent in my NW finest: Patagonia sweater, raincoat, leggings and gore-tex hiking boots.

Once the tent was pitched we made it more than cozy! Foam, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, extra clothes all got tossed in to make a pretty nice nest. We snuggled in and watched Erin Brockovich with a bottle of wine and confessed our love for Julia Roberts. By morning a few corners were wet but we remained wonderfully dry and so was the sky! (Thank you again Lisa for the tent!!! REI did right by us) (Also, we had in fact spent the night in Virginia! Who knew).

The next morning we loaded everything in the car and stopped by the Visitor Center. Unfortunately, all the really cool sounding hikes were longer than we had time for and despite the rain stopping the weather was still less than ideal. Instead we drove up to Pinnacle View Point. To say the colors were stunning would be an understatement. It was breathtaking at every turn, each tree and every single leaf a different color but nonetheless vibrant. Once at the viewpoint we could look down on the actual Cumberland Gap which provided a route for many a traveler such as ourselves back in the day. We certainly have it a bit easier nowadays!

Still in awe of the landscape we chose to take some backroads as we journeyed to Bardstown, KY, the capital of all things bourbon. We set up our tent once more and wandered through town. After letting our appetites catch up with us we had an early dinner of Kentucky hot browns and whiskey cocktails! The hotbrown was definitely a treat, the perfect comfort food. After dinner we resorted to McDonald’s for internet, go figure! The best way to sum up our evening: Bardstown 1 Intrepid Travelers 0. While I enjoyed learning more about Bourbon, my heart still lies with Scotch!

We got a slow start the next morning but managed to say our farewells to Bardstown before making the short hop to Louisville where Rachel’s aunt and uncle live. Even though our visit with her family was short they were incredibly welcoming and showed us such a good time! Friday night we experienced the home theater and watched Galaxy Quest, way funnier than I remembered! Saturday we had fun at the house, jumping on the trampoline and grooming the horses. One of my road trip dreams came true!! I so badly wanted to ride a horse at some point and I got to! I road Honey barebacked, she was so sweet! We wrapped up our visit with a tasty stop at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe. Thanks Tom and Anne!

Saturday evening we had one mission: Make it out in Nashville! Mission accomplished! We arrived at the Music City Hostel around 7:30-8:00, we got our room assignment and scoped it out. I truly credit the layout of our room(s) to how much fun we had. The dorm was obviously designed to be a two bedroom apartment. When you walked in there was a hanging divider just to the left, on the other side, the Boy’s Dorm. A little kitchen opened up towards the back and the hallway continued left with a bathroom and two rooms, one of which was our (The Girls) dorm. We dropped our bags, changed our clothes, and made a beeline for the kitchen to eat some leftovers. There (mostly because it was basically in the boys room) we met Brian from Vancouver, Oscar originally from Barcelona and more recently from San Francisco, and once he arrived, Danny from the Bay (so many West Coasters on the road!). We headed to downtown Nashville and made the rounds, visited quite a few of the bars all of which had live music! It was great fun. The night of course ended later than we planned but the bunch of us stuck together and it was great!

More to come on Nashville 🙂

With love from the road,

Cara

Straight Across Mississippi to Lake Guntersville

Hardly anything could stand in our way last Friday, we were on a mission! To drive from Arkansas to my Uncle Keith and Aunt Bev’s house in Guntersville, Alabama. What lay between us? The state of Mississippi. No biggie.

Entering Mississippi October 14th, 2011

We arrived in Guntersville in the evening and were welcomed to the Lake! After a delicious dinner we called it a night early since we we would be getting up early in the morning for SAILING!

I didn’t realize until I got on board that I was going through a sailing withdrawl! It started out overcast, light, and shift but turned into a beautiful day with a nice breeze (still shifty though!). Everyone at the Sailing Club was very friendly to Rachel and myself. We had fun out on the water, Rachel had never been sailing before! Uncle Keith was brave enough to let me steer 🙂 and we enjoyed out fair share of chex mix.

That evening we stayed at the Club for dinner and awards, Velma is now sporting a 1st place sailboat trophy, woot woot!

Sunday we took it easy, got our dose of grease at the Huddle House then headed to see the view from the state park. It was beautiful but we could still see the destruction from the tornado that gave Guntersville a shake up last April. On the way back we may have gotten a wee bit lost be we certainly saw the countryside!

Monday we “did” Guntersville, checked out the shops, went to Wintzell’s for lunch and had catfish for dinner! All you could ask for in a day! We also taught Rachel the family card game 3-13 during our visit, she beat both Bev and I! Beginners luck! We will see if that luck sticks around while we travel on.

Tuesday morning, we meant to leave by 10:00am. Of course we didn’t. However when we left we were well fed, Velma was clean, and we had clean laundry! Not much more two traveling girls could ask for! Thank you SO MUCH for your hospitality Keith and Bev, you were our home in Alabama! We will never forget it.

A video of our sailing adventure to come!

With love from the road,

Cara

Monticello, Arkansas

Disclaimer: This post will be more personal than most. Bear with my sentimentality 🙂

About 95 miles south of Little Rock lies Monticello, Arkansas a town of about 10,000 people and home to the University of Arkansas at Monticello. If you haven’t heard of it don’t worry one bit.

My family has long had ties to Monticello. My father lived there for a time when he was younger, my great-aunt lived there until recently, and for many many years my paternal grandmother, Kittye Mae lived there. When Kittye Mae left Monticello she lived mostly with us in California and spent time with our family in Houston, Texas as well.

Kittye Mae was a wonderful person. She was patient, caring, and above all a people person. My father always says that not everyone gets to experience the unconditional love that Kittye Mae gave to those in her live. I was fortunate enough to be one recipient.

In the summer of 2008, after more than ninety years of a well-lived life Kittye Mae left us. I believe that she chose her timing very deliberately. I was scheduled to leave for a study abroad program in Mexico for six weeks just a week after her passing. To this day I am so grateful I got to be there with my family.

One of the most memorable trips of my life was the weekend I took off from my program and traveled from Queretaro, Mexico to Monticello, Arkansas. I traveled by bus to Mexico City, caught a flight to Little Rock through Dallas and arrived not long after my family from California.

My mother, father, and brother met me at the airport, they had Kittye Mae too of course (she had to be checked). Together we made the two hour drive to Monticello in the sticky August heat. The trip went well. We remembered Kittye Mae with a service at her church and several gatherings. Flowers were abound because, as fleeting as they are, Kittye Mae loved fresh flowers the most. We also made many memories on that trip; Chris running into a display case at Walgreens with the motorized scooter, my struggle to resist fried chicken despite being a vegetarian for months, and importing wine for the wake in the first “dry county” I’d ever been too.

Over three years later Rachel and I drove into Monticello in the dark of Thursday evening. Our first stop was for food, a burger joint, and then to find my grandmother’s old residence. Kittye Mae’s landlord, Gloria was extremely generous and put Rachel and I up for a night in an unoccupied apartment.

We moved our things in and were happy to find a HUGE king size bed waiting for us. The room we stayed in was General Robert E. Lee themed. That included a few confederate flags, some epic paintings of military men, Scottish tartan, and other Scottish references. The best touch? A bathtub, old school, with clawed feet.

Friday morning we woke up, Rachel headed out for a run and I set out a little bit after her. While I made my way to the Piggly Wiggly for some flowers I though of something else I should bring. I checked out with two single roses and a Diet Coke, cash back? No, I’m good thanks.

Ironically the main cemetery in Monticello is called the Oakland Cemetery–I can remember that! It was only a short walk from the house, the Pink House as it is known. I took my time, Monticello really is beautiful and peaceful.

I was worried I might not be able to find Kittye Mae’s marker, last time I was there it was the center of attention, but I remembered the family had planted a bush next to my great-grandmother. There! I saw it from far away, a tree that wasn’t quite a tree and more a well-pruned bush, deliberately placed just a bit away from the road.

At around ten o’clock in the morning I sat down in the Oakland Cemetery, Monticello, Arkansas, USA, Planet Earth and had a Diet Coke with my grandma. I left a perfect pink rose with her and a lovely red rose with my great-grandmother Stella Baker. I also spent a moment at my Uncle Phil’s grave marker, I was very glad to see he was there too. I love the thought that no matter how many different ways we may go in life, we can always come back home.

After my visit I walked back to the Pink House and swung on the porch swing, just like I had so long ago when I visited Kittye Mae, just like so many other people who visited her and received her unconditional love had.

It may bring tears to your eyes, it may be painful, but I do believe that the best way to honor someone it to remember them, to speak of them, and to share what you learned from them. I will do my best to share all that Kittye Mae taught me, kind acts too numerous to mention.

I have many more stories to share, travels to write about, but for now I will stop and enjoy the moment as I know she would 🙂

With love from the road,
Cara

Kittye Mae Catterton 1914-2008 with love

Back to Where the Drawl Comes From

We entered into Arkansas through Texarkana where the main drag is also the state line, Texas and Arkansas license plates intermingle, and the state flags on lampposts to each side of the road remind you, just in case you forgot, which side belongs to which state.

Stopping here only briefly we continued to drive east as the sun set and a gorgeous harvest moon rose up, peeking from behind the increasingly dense forests. Only relatively dense of course, nothing like those evergreens up North 🙂

We made a short stop in Hope, Arkansas to drive past the Birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States. Your grandparents had a nice house Bill.

Our destination for the night was Hot Springs which has been a resort getaway for a hundred years, the main attraction: Hot springs! We pitched our tent in the campground at the state park, made some food, and hunkered down for the night. It wasn’t suppose to rain but it was so humid and moisture just seemed to hang in the air. No rain came but plenty of noise did. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a less peaceful campground!

First, Rachel and I both woke up to our campsite neighbor starting their car at 5:00 AM. OK they are getting an early start OR just moving their car, turning it on or off (and they should get that engine looked at). God only knows what they were doing. Meanwhile, some other campers arrived later than us, set up camp, gone to sleep, and left their yappy dog outside tide to the car. Yip yip yip YIP YIP YIP the moment anyone walked nearby.

For some reason I felt incredibly well rested pretty earlier and got up. I made a makeshift yoga mat and went through some sun salutations, a few poses, boy has it been a long time since I did yoga! Boy did I feel sore later from the little I did!

After breaking down camp we headed in to town to see the old bathhouses, taste the hot mineral spring water (I liked it!) and eat at McClard’s, Bill Clinton’s favorite boyhood BBQ place. Good call Bill.

McClard’s was delicious! We split an order of ribs and I lay claim to the baked beans while Rachel took care of the cole slaw. Don’t worry we traded a few bites, cole slaw is even starting to grow on me.

From Hot Springs we drove into Little Rock and visited the William J Clinton Presidential Library to culminate our tour of Bill Clinton in his home state. We both enjoyed the LBJ library better but we didn’t have as much time to spend there.

The Clinton library was extremely interesting as he was president when I was growing up, but that’s about all I knew. He definitely had more of a presence in the library’s design than LBJ did and I still can’t decide if I like that personal touch more. I would have like to see a more unbiased presentation but hey, its his library.

The best exhibits were about Bill and Hillary’s childhood as well as life in the White House. However, downstairs there was just too much information. Good bye attention span. There was a really cool lego art exhibit though.

We walked along the river to the gift shop and to see the revamped downtown area (that is quite thing to do these days it seems). It was beautiful out so we decided to grab a drink outside and reveal in the “mild” Arkansas weather.

Although we enjoyed Little Rock we weren’t done traveling for the day. Two more hours of driving would take us south to a much smaller town called Monticello where my grandmother Kittye Mae use to live and where she is now buried. I hadn’t made a trip back since Kittye Mae’s funeral in the summer of 2008 so it was good to be going back, even if the family isn’t there anymore.

With love from the road,

Cara

The Culmination of All Things Texan

In Dallas we visited the Fried Food Capital of Texas (aka the World) we really had no clue what we were getting in to!

After leaving Houston we found our homey, if dilapidated, Motel 6 in Dallas (it did not replicate San Antonio’s jazzy accommodations unfortunately) and well, made ourselves at home!

The drive between Houston and Dallas was about four hours long and unfortunately, we did not find our passion in country music to distract us, haha. We spent Monday evening hanging out in our hotel room, watching movies.

Recently I have begun to miss my friends desperately. Some people get homesick, I think I get friend sick! Luckily plenty of friends responded to me call of relative loneliness; Thank You Burke, Alan, Courtney, Adrian, Laura, Lisa, Liz, Dakota, Elliot, Phil, Bryan, Nick, Stephanie, Brittany, Gina, Matt, and Jake. One of the most ironic things about being on the road is whether I am in great company (coughRACHELcough) or flying solo, I miss people oh so much!

So, that fried food, oof. We slept in on Tuesday and geared up for the State Fair of Texas (add a twang, every time you say it!). When we arrived at the Fair we came across a good bit of luck! We got one ticket for free, along with a discount on the other. We also bought some “coupons” which are used as currency at the fair for cheap from people leaving the fair. All in all it was a grand and affordable time 🙂

Also, again it had to do with food, go figure! We toured the fair but really, we were ready to try some of this famed food. First, we sampled the fried beer, yes, FRIED BEER. It was like ravioli, fried, with warm beer in the middle, oh, and with nacho cheese. Ultimately it is not tasty, at all. BUT it is quite the experience and you get to say you tried it!

We only sampled on of the Big Tex Choice awards, the Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack, read more here, which was delicious and served with syrup! We rounded out our dinner with classic Corny Dogs and pear ciders. Somehow, don’t ask me how, we resisted the Fried Bubblegum and Butter. We did however witness a pig race, I rode on the tallest ferris wheel in North America, AND we saw the worst light show eva. I am sorry Dallas you can’t do trashy-trippy flower lights followed by pro-America jams, it just doesn’t work!

After throughly enjoying the fair we called it a night, the next morning we got up and headed downtown. We toured the 6th Floor Museum, quite accurately titled as it is a museum on the 6th floor of the building. Why is it important? Why it is where JFK was assassinated.

Although repetitive, the museum does a wonderful job of covering JFK’s rise to power (rather concisely) and then detailing the dangerous tour to Texas that lead to his untimely end (rather repetitively). In the concluding exhibits they teasingly mention multiple conspiracy theories which fascinate me but, they only mention them, god forbid they elaborate! It is a very well done museum and over all downtown Dallas surprised me,

We visited the official JFK memorial, and had lunch at a small grill which overlook a uniquely designed tower for which we could not find any purpose via our smart phones (a radio show, club, and restaurant use to be up there…). After lunch it was time, time to drive to Arkansas.

Thank you Texas, you were wonderful, unexpected in so many ways and larger than life, I will see you again someday!

With love from the road,

Cara

The Texas Triangle Part Three (3)

Houston.

While I can’t remember the last time I visited Houston (I was two or three I think), I was excited to see my family that lives there. Our cousins Stella and Dan welcomed Rachel and I into their home late on Saturday. We hadn’t made the best time with all the rain in Austin but had navigated the looping freeways in Houston without too much trouble.

“The rain is coming” We insisted. Part superstition, I was traveling with an Oregonian after all, and part actual radar predictions, we were sure the rain would come. Boy, did it rain down.

Early Sunday morning I woke up to the sounds of the storm beginning and it did not blow over for nearly twenty-four hours. Snug in bed I could hear thunder and the pound of fat raindrops. Stella and Dan told us they hadn’t had rain since January, nearly nine months! On Sunday they got nearly five inches of rain.

Rachel and I attempted to go exploring and were semi-successful. We drove past the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts but most of it seemed to be outside, not where we wanted to be! Next we visited the Art Car Museum which showcase several cool “Art Cars” as well as an exhibit that was all art produced by women. Much of it had very powerful messages and unique presentation. We really enjoyed our visit there. One of the ladies who worked there started up a conversation with me and promoted owning an art car. Little did she know that Velma is well on her way.

Curious I asked, “Do you own an art car?”

“Oh yes, I’ve owned five or six.”

Whoa. It is such a stretch for me to even imagine owning one and she’s already cycled through five? Go figure.

Exiting past a ghoulish looking art car, (part Where the Wild Things Are and part your worst nightmare plus a dash of fur) we headed to the Beer Can House. That is right, a house entirely decorated by beer cans. And yes, all the beer was consumed. One man began the project of decorating his house with beer cans buying “Whatever’s on special” for the job. Unlike most college houses that attempt to decorate with alcohol paraphenila, the Beer Can house is very neat, the cans are cut up and placed precisely and the tabs dazzle as an outdoor curtain.

At this point we had been driving around the rain for quite a while. One more stop for some delicious Enchiladas de Mole and then home! Once safely inside and dry we spent a quite evening with Stella and Dan cracking up at America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Monday was the long-awaited trip to the Space Center Houston. Dan use to volunteer here so he and Stella were wonderful tour guides! We took the tram around Johnson Space Center, watched a video about the U.S.’s achievements in space, and touched a moon rock! Sadly this was also the last place my Oregon water bottle was sighted L

After learning all about space exploration to the present I had a lot of questions about what will come next, but alas the exhibit is not quite up to date as that. We gave our minds a rest while Stella and Dan took us on a lovely tour of the Kemah Boardwalk and out for a delicious seafood lunch at The Aquarium, so called because it has fish tanks everywhere!

Loading up the car once more Rachel and I said our goodbyes and headed to our final stop in Texas: Dallas and the State Fair of Texas.

With love from the Road,

Cara

The Texas Triangle Part 2

Austin

The UT Tower

We neglected to think about the rest of the 9-5 world when we left for Austin around 5:00pm last Friday and hit traffic, go figure. It wasn’t too bad and in a little less than two hours we reached our hostess’ house in Austin.

Rachel had a friend of the family who had family in Austin. Although not quite sure who I was about to meet I was very excited to see Austin, the famed liberal bubble in Texas. Our hostess Janice was gracious enough to serve up a late dinner after her son Nick had arrived as well. Luck for us Nick was our age and (with some persuasion) willing to give us a tour of the infamous 6th Street bar scene.

I would like to say there are no words, because there weren’t at first, but after the initial shock I had endless observations to make.

The street we parked along, got help me if I could ever find my way there again, reminded me of Barmuda in Eugene or Ballard in Seattle. Quite a few bars all together, larger music venues tossed in, etc. Here, the sound was distinctly different. The jumble of music being blasted through speakers or performed for a eager crowd drowned out the street noises with little difficulty. However, this was not 6th street.

Reaching the corner we turned right, into adult Disneyland. A good trial run for New Orleans I assume but little of my previous nights out had prepared me for this. Nearly every store front was a bar each with a different name, bouncer, drink special, image to sell. Where to begin?

Nick was patient as we wandered the row of bars. “They close of the street here on weekend nights” he explained. It created an odd blend of a hometown street fair/Main Street at Disneyland/and a night out in Isla Vista where sidewalks don’t exist.

There were street performers, preachers, girls dancing in windows, dear god so much people watching! Our first stop was a sleezy staple bar boasting the misleading name, “Shakespeare’s Pub.” The drink special there? $5 mini-pitchers of Long Island Ice Teas which was quite a deal for us travelers on a budget. The main draw however was the rooftop bar. From there we could look down on to 6th Street and across to the Austin skyline.

6th Street, Austin, Texas

We made a couple more stops on our tour of 6ht Street before calling it good. Overwhelming as it was I enjoyed hanging out with Rachel and Nick. Plus I don’t think I’ll find people-watching like that for a while.

Saturday morning we woke up, a little late as per usual, and gathered our things. Time to hit the road again. As much as we would have like to see more of Austin, Houston was the next stop on the agenda and it lay three hours away.

We visited Nick at Mimi’s Café where he works for some breakfast at noon before a speed tour of UT. More than anything Austin reminded me of a larger Eugene, in the sense that its culture is largely built around the University. The Longhorns certainly have an unmistakable presence in Austin, it would be a very fun place to go to school. The music is just everywhere. You can’t be that!

On campus we toured the LBJ Library, drove past the stadium and bell tower then popped in to see a Gutenberg Bible (Dakota and I went to Gutenberg while we were in Germany but the museum was closed and we saw no Bible, fail.)

Again, the rain had followed us east. A brief stop at a bookstore became an expensive wait as the rain POURED down. The other customers and employees seemed quite elated. It was a sign that the drought might be finally coming to an end.

Once the rains subsided we scurried to the car and set our course (via my map app) for Houston, Texas! The last piece in our Texan Trifecta.

The Texas Triangle

In the past five days we hit up three major Texan destination: San Antonio-Austin-Houston. All were strikingly different.

San Antonio

View on Commerce Street

To our great surprise we emerged from our hotel room to a torrential, humid downpour. Not exactly what we are use to. We loaded up the car once more on Friday morning and set out to explore San Antonio, what a day it would be! For breakfast we followed our guidebook’s recommendation and went the Guenther House Restaurant at the former mill. It was a beautiful setting, the house is kept in immaculate condition and the river is just to the side.

Rachel and I had agreed on a big breakfast and a big breakfast it was. I ordered biscuits and gravy, one of my favorites and it was quite good. The second best yet (nothing has trumped PJ’s in Reno, NV yet). Their coffee was also a pleasant surprise, the house coffee included a blend of seasonings that were tangy and tasty but not overpowering (sorry Starbucks). Perhaps best of all was our table, outside on a covered veranda we could watch the clouds shift and shape, would it pour or would it hold off so we could enjoy sunny San Antonio?

The weather held off, at least rain wise if not humidity wise. We checked out the Blue Star area which hosts a brewery, several artists’ galleries, a bike shop, and the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center which seems central in the community.

Chuck Ramirez, Broom Series

The Blue Star Contemporary Art Center was a nice change from art museums. It was small and featured mostly local San Antonio artists. All of the art was modern and highly visual. My favorite piece was a series of photographs of brooms. Highly detailed, surprising colors they really turned the ordinary into something unexpected.

We also made a new friend at Blue Star, Daniel. At first we thought Daniel was working at the museum but soon found out from his meandering dialogue that he was in fact an artist picking something up from a previous show. Not only was it fate that Daniel and Rachel have the same birthday (December 5th!) but we had plenty to talk about; old nautical posters, estate sales, the Alamo, natural remedies for eye cysts, etc. All in all it was an thoroughly enjoyable twenty minutes in the Blue Star parking lot and we left laughing with many new treasures from Daniel’s collection of odds and ends.

Time to tackle some history. We parked at the mall (go figure) and wandered over to the Alamo. Now, if I were a professional historian asked to create the tour and exhibits for the Alamo well, I wouldn’t do it the way they did. The most interesting thing about the exhibits was how the Alamo was “rescued” from commercial interests and returned to its rightful place of historical importance. Especially to Texans.

After the Alamo we wandered around downtown San Antonio and found ourselves on the famous Riverwalk. Like several other things I’ve seen the Riverwalk brings to mind Disneyland in the well paved, people-funneling, almost too perfect, sense of things. After a quick bite to eat we entered the mall in hopes of getting our parking validated but left with no such luck, and several new purchases.

From San Antonio we drove about two hours (with traffic) to Austin, Texas which many people have to both Rachel and myself we would love.

See how we liked it in The Texas Triangle Part 2 (dun dun dunnnnnnnn)

With love from the road,

Cara

Out of this World: Aliens, Caves, and West Texas

Greetings from rainy Houston! Lucky Houston, they haven’t rain in 9 months! Lucky us as we are from the NW and have rain jackets at the ready.

Roswell, New Mexico was as unusual as we had hoped. The town is largely centered around a long commerical drag appropriately called “Main Street” but without the quainter attributes many other towns have had.

We stopped at the International UFO Museum and browsed the extensive history and continued pursuit of UFOs. Did we see aliens? You betcha.

After our tour of Roswell we rented a movie at the Redbox and headed south of town about an hour and a half to our campground. We spent a quite Wednesday night in our tent with Katherine Heigl and Josh Dumahel’s romcom “Life As We Know It.” Just a good old fashion sleepover!

Thursday we got up early, loaded the car and drove another hour south to the Carlsbad Caverns. I had heard nothing but good things about the caverns and they were indeed very cool.

It took us about forty-five minutes to walk from the cave entrance down into the Big Room of the cavern. While the trail was eerily reminiscent of the some lines at Disneyland it took us through some of the most amazing natural formations I’ve seen yet. Some of it looked pretty gooey though! We spent a little over an hour wandering around the Big Room looking at stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, popcorn, and a whole heap of other out of this world looking things with unique names.

Click above for more photos from the caverns, taking pictures down there was tricky!

We “cheated” and emerged from the caverns elevator before noon. It was time to go to Texas.

"Hey Rachel, I think the tumbleweeds are taller here." Courtesy of Google Maps

From Carlsbad it would take us about seven hours to reach San Antonio. In between there was, well, not much. We listened to music, napped, documented things we noticed were different about Texas. For example: The welcome to Texas state sign is way bigger than the New Mexico one, most gas stations are patriotic colors, there are A TON of TRUCKS, no one has roof boxes on their cars, there are BIG American and Texas flags, the whole “Driving friendly” thing doesn’t really happen, the signs are HUGE. We could go on but we are trying to avoid generalizations, kind of. However, if we notice something enough to comment on it then it must be worth noting. After seven hours on a flat, straight road anyone’s attention would wander.

We arrived in San Antonio a little after dark, checked into the Motel 6 and were pleasantly surprised by the hip decor! Although a little heavy on the orange, Motel 6 did a pretty nice job. Who knew?!

The first priority was to get the Ducks game on, Oregon vs. Cal in Eugene. Just the thought of all the rowdy students and other fans watching across the country brought a smile to my face. It doesn’t matter where I watch the game, it helps ease the shock of not being in Eugene this fall. Luckily the team played well while we munched on pizza and enjoyed the contrast of a hotel room with two beds to the two-person tent we slept in the night before.

The next morning we set out to see San Antonio, boy were we in for an adventure!

With love from the road,

Cara