I did manage to dump all 4 gigs worth of pictures to my desktop, but that's as far as I made it with the pics. Maybe 4 gigs doesn't sound like a lot, but that's over 300 hundred pictures to sift through.
My trip started late Thursday morning after getting the 2 y/o up and settled, and then waiting to leave until after my wife got to shower. I got out the door about 1030 CST and headed West. I chose to take my wife's Xterra because it gets better mileage than my truck and it's 4 wheel drive. It also has a kick ass MP3 player compatible Rockford Fosgate stereo, with a 6 disc CD changer to boot. Which would have been fantastic if I'd remembered to bring the iPod or the CD's. *sigh* While the Xterra is a pretty cush ride with all the modern conveniences, it also has the aerodynamic grace of a hay barn. My flight plan was approved with the caveat that I was on a strict budget, NOT to be exceeded. When I ran into a headwind less than 20 miles out of town, my mileage quickly dropped from 23 to 19 mpg. Unfortunately I had planned fuel stops and budget on at least 20 mpg. I still managed to make my first planned fueling point in Vega, TX about 35 miles West of Amarillo, but it's a spooky thing when the vehicle's computer is proclaiming "0 miles to empty" 20 miles from a gas station.
The next leg took me nearly across New Mexico, stopping for the night in Gallup, NM. Budget called for Motel 6 to leave the light on for me, but I wish they'd also left the complimentary internet on as well. I was counting on there at least being a coffee maker in the room, but that's not how Tom Bodett rolls apparently. I got to my room at about 2100 MST, or almost exactly 11 1/2 hrs after I started. Interestingly enough when I pulled into my parking space at the hotel I had traveled exactly 790.0 miles. If you do the math that's an average speed of 68.7 mph. No, I didn't stop much, LOL!
Next morning I was up early, mostly because I failed to notice the window mounted heater in my room was actually unplugged. It was a brisk 18* outside, and possibly warmer than that in my room. After a bowl of tap water tepid oatmeal, I was off for Canyon de Chelly. Rather as soon as the Xterra warmed up enough to defrost all the windows without an ice scraper, I was off. That extra 10 minutes may have saved my life actually. I drove past a BAD wreck on the interstate just as EMS was rolling up. I saw on the local news that night that a man had fallen asleep at the wheel, crossed the median and crashed head on into another vehicle, killing two.
The 90 mile trip to the Canyon was uneventful with only snowpacked roads at the higher elevations. Once on the canyon, the reason for the trip was immediately clear. When that vast openness unfolded at my feet, the sheer immensity of God's creation was apparent. Standing before such a stunning landscape that took a million times longer to create than I will draw breath on this Earth, one gains just a tad bit of perspective. I'd forgotten what it was like to be in pure silence. No undercurrent of traffic on the highway, or sirens in the distance. No garbage trucks 3 streets over, or jets flying overhead. No radios, no tv. Sheer and utter silence, broken only by the sighs of the melting ice on the edges of the river, a thousand feet below. Or shattered by the rasp of a crow cry on the opposite canyon wall. *sigh* I was sad to leave the canyon at sunset to head back to my hole of a hotel room.
The next morning I headed back East with a stop at the Acoma Pueblo in NM. For those that aren't familiar, Acoma Pueblo is built atop a mesa, nearly 400 feet above the valley floor. Incredible doesn't even begin to describe it. It is the oldest continiously inhabited town in the US, maybe the world, (I'll have to check on that.) After a tour and some more photo ops, I headed on toward home. I got home at about 2300 CST.
Trip stats: 29:14 hours driving. 1933 miles. Average mph: 63.5. Average mpg: 22.3 (caught a strong tailwind on the way home.)
**To the asshole owner of the Chevron gas station on Westbound I-40 in Vega, TX. Fix the auto shut off on your damn gas pump. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to have malfunctioning equipment like that, but you can bet I'll be googling to find out for sure. And an accessory shout-out goes to your bitchy clerk who saw fit to come outside and stare meaningfully at me for 4 or 5 minutes while untold gallons of gas poured out onto the parking lot rather than open her mouth and say something. Lord knows it was too far to walk her fat ass the 20 feet to come tell me what was going on.
**To the Native American vendors at Canyon de Chelly and Acoma Pueblo both, I'm sorry that I was on such a shoestring budget this trip--I had the ramen noodles and peanut butter in the car to prove it. I understand that the places I visited are important, if not sacred, to your culture. This is why I conducted myself respectfully my entire trip. I don't believe however, this begets you the right to act offended when I'm not interested in perusing your wares. It's not personal, I just don't want to waste your time or mine by looking at things I don't have the means to purchase.
**To the asswipe in the Subaru Outback with California plates. It's called cruise control you asshole. Nobody should have to pass and be passed 35 times in the span of 157 miles. I've never been so glad to see someone head to Oklahoma City instead of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Ok. I think that's it. Pictures to follow.