Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Epic Mother Daughter Cross Country Road Trip: December

You know what I recommend?

Doing something you've wanted to do for years and years.

I've wanted to drive across the country since reading American Gods in college. I love traveling, but driving someplace is a lot less convenient and a lot more expensive than flying these days. But if you always wait for things to be convenient and cheap, you'll miss out on most of life's awesomeness.

Mom came with me, because she's full of awesome herself - and because she didn't want me driving all that way solo.

Anyway, here's our route:

I know. It's definitely not the shortest route. It's not even a straight line.

It took 12 days: 5 days before Christmas and 7 days after. (I left my car in Albuquerque for three weeks to spend the holidays with my family.)

Truth: there's something wonderful in taking it slow across the country. You see how the landscape changes, state-by-state. You see the cultural differences, the different ways of life, minute shifts you can't see when you fly overhead.

BOOK MATERIAL, people. I took notes in my brain - and also, pictures.

Sadly, I took no pictures of the South. I've lived there my whole life. I needed no pictures to remember it.

In fact, the most important stop I made before Christmas was in San Antonio, Texas - that's where my great grandmother lives. I freaked her out a little, because I didn't tell her I was coming. I just arrived on her doorstep, Christmas presents under my arm.

No pictures of this event. I'll give you a picture of my great-grandmother, though:

No idea how old she is here.
But isn't she preeeeetty?

Next stop, though?

New Mexico
Land of A Thousand Pictures

The Santa Fe area is probably my mom's favorite place in the world. We spent a lot of time there. Long enough for me to stop spelling it "Sante Fe."

Shelby Street was the first place we parked in Santa Fe!!
This is actually the front of a store called Pinkoyote. I found a great wallet there.

Also cool in Sante Fe: The Miraculous Staircase of Loretta Chapel.
Nobody knows how it stays standing. It has no supports.
That's probably why they don't let people climb it anymore.

The Bandelier National Monument

I have a thing for old stuff. I realized this when I was studying abroad in England: if it's more than five centuries old, I'll probably want to take a million pictures of it. Doesn't matter if it's a church, a fort, a tree, or an ancient road, I'm fascinated.

So, when I had a free day to myself in Santa Fe (Mom went home to spend her birthday with Dad), I took myself off to Bandelier National Monument. Basically, people have lived there for 11,000 years.

The mind literally reels. SO OLD. *happy sigh*

It was epically pretty, by the way.
Even on the drive up.

It was also quite lovely OUT of the car.

Doesn't it kind of look like a place where people have lived for thousands of years??
I mean, apart from the fact there are no houses.

Now, we get to the good stuff. I mean, the OLD stuff.
This was like the village town hall - spiritual AND practical.

Built somewhere between the twelfth and sixteenth century! OLD!! :-D
This was the living area.

You can see the whole structure better from up here!

I took a ton of pictures like this, by the way. Tree, stone, and sky.
There's obviously a Georgia O'Keefe influence involved.
I'm limiting myself to one in this post, so I don't bore you.

Anyway, so then, you walk up these steps.

And you see more apartments! With ladders!

And they have views!!
The apartments in the valley were occupied at the same time. I wonder if there was a reason some people lived in the cliffs and some on the valley floor. Like, were these penthouse apartments?

Not for the Acrophobic!
Or maybe the valley apartments were for the people who didn't like heights?

And then more apartments!
You can't see them on the cliff face, but there are markings up there.

Called Long House, because it was looong.
Each row of holes denotes a floor.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Also, awesome. But not quite as old.
(Constructed in the late 19th century.)

Love the entrance.

And the inside's not too shabby either.

Stay tuned later this week - for pictures from the January portion of the Epic Mother Daughter Cross Country Road Trip!

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