Best of October 2004
Miles Traveled (in Altima) during October
Total Miles Traveled (in Altima)
Total Miles We Predicted We Would Travel (in Altima)
The ‘Tima’s odometer turned 77777 just when we needed some lucky sevens – as we pulled into Las Vegas, Nev.
The Zane Grey RV Park, 175 miles south of Sedona, Ariz.
Most Beautiful View
The night sky at the base of Mount Whitney, Inyo National Forest, Calif. Like nothing we have ever seen. Was there a meteor shower on October 14th and 15th?,
Most Pleasant Surprise
Driving to Santa Monica, Calif and seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time on the trip, making USA-C2C truly coast to coast. We left Joshua Tree NP days earlier than expected, so we called our friend Dave in Los Angeles and spent some time in the big city. Quite a culture shock after spending so much time in small towns and in our tent.
Most Unpleasant Surprise
Death Valley NP Calif., the driest place on earth, sustained serious damage to roads and buildings during a flash flood in late August. Two inches of rain managed to wash out one of the only two paved roads in the south of the park, forcing us to detour.
Best Sporting Experience
The first day of the Phoenix Suns Training Camp, Flagstaff, Ariz. Steve Nash smiled at Gab!!! The door to the NAU dome was open, so we walked in, just in time to take a seat in the stands and see the Suns walk in to start practice. Steve was the first in line. He looked straight at Gab and flashed a shy smile. She melted.
Best Giant Statue
The Lumberjack at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. We think it even chops wood after the football team scores a touchdown.
Most Gluttonous Day
The Rio Buffet, Las Vegas, Nev. Michael hates buffets, but when in Rome, what can one do? Especially when $20 a person will get you access to more food than you have seen in weeks.
Best NPS Rangers
* Tuzigoot NM, Ariz. – Jose gave a great tour, then spent at least an hour talking with us and another couple on the roof of the Tuzigoot NM. After a very frustrating morning at two other “Sinagua sites,” a knowledgeable and friendly Ranger was a welcome relief.
* Manzanar NHS, Lone Pine, Calif. – Alisa went out of her way to talk to us and answer as many of our questions as she could. This is a very young site and she has been there since the planning stage. She didn’t shy from any of our inquiries even when they strayed from the topic of Manzanar. Other visitors lingered near the desk just so they could listen to the conversation. This is the first Ranger who has ever given us her personal business card and email. Added bonus: Alisa is the person that convinced us to camp at the Mount Whitney Portal in the Inyo National Forest. Her drawn directions were perfect, as was her suggestion.
Least Helpful Rangers
Oasis Visitor Center, Joshua Tree NP. Here’s a sample of our conversation with the two female Rangers lounging behind the desk: “Hi. Where should we camp?” ”Wherever” “Ok. What trails do you recommend?” ”Whichever you’d like.” “How much time to people usually spend here? Well, how long should we plan to stay?” “As long as you want.” “Um, thanks. I guess.”
Best Long Hike
The Corridor Trail, Grand Canyon NP, Ariz.
Most Vitriol Inducing Site
The gas stations in Needles, Calif. $2.79! $2.99? We crossed the border and almost immediately pulled off the road in a cold sweat. We contemplated changing course so that we wouldn’t have to fill the tank in the Golden State. We calmed ourselves, drove a little further and found some cheaper gas, but not by much.
Highest Price Seen for Gas
$3.09, Panamint Springs, just inside Death Valley NP (we didn’t buy any).
Highest Price Spent for Gas
$2.42 at the Pace in Lone Pine, Calif. near the base of Mt. Whitney.
Lowest Price for Gas
$1.97 at the Giant in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Fratelli’s Pizza, Flagstaff, Ariz. Oh man. But which one? We had the Meat Lovers pie first, and then the Chicken Pesto pizza a few days later. And then a pepperoni pie to finish off the week. Bonus: there is a bat phone at the Mogollon Brewery which connects directly to Fratelli’s. Call in your order, relax, and have a beer. Fratelli’s delivers to the bar, and just about anyplace else in the Flagstaff area.
Mamma Ellis, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, Los Angeles, Calif. Even though she scolded Michael twice for putting his feet on the seat, Mamma Ellis gave us superior service at this LA institution of late night eating. Besides, he made up for it by cleaning his plate and winning the praise of our matronly server.
Flagstaff Brewing Company. But once again, which one?? Gab’s was smothered with grilled pears, blue cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette reduction. Michael chose the “Stink Burger.” Roasted garlic cloves, blue cheese and a huge onion ring. We’ll let you choose.
* Bright Angel Campground, the bottom of the Grand Canyon, next to the Bright Angel Creek.
* Hidden Valley campground at Joshua Tree NP.
Mesquite Springs and Texas Spring, both at Death Valley NP, Calif. Heat. Wind. No shade. No relief. Sand scratching into our eyes and skin. Did we mention wind? We paid $10 for a spot at Mesquite Springs but didn’t even stay, choosing instead to try our luck further south rather than linger in the sweltering heat with nothing to do all day. There were a few more facilities closer to Texas Spring. We expected the temperature to drop when the sun went down. It did, but not by much.
Gab spotted Melissa of Real World New Orleans and Real World/Road Rules Battle of the Sexes fame at the Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles. She’s the one they had to physically remove from the “sitting on the ice block as long as you can” challenge because she is so tiny and her blood pressure dropped so low, the on-call EMTs feared for her health. Melissa is author the author of one of Gab’s favorite blogs http://www.princessmelissa.com/.
Runners Up: Flava Flav walked past us in the Hard Rock Casino, Las Vegas, Nev. Dressed in a pink knit poncho and his trademark time piece. “Who’s that guy acting like he’s Flava Flav?” Gab asked Michael. “Uh, Gab, that’s Flava Flav. No one’s making money off of Flava Flav impersonations these days.”
We saw Nikki Hilton at the Las Vegas Bellagio, too.
There was a country music video being filmed on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. but we couldn’t figure out who the singers were so that probably doesn’t count as a celebrity sighting.
Greatest Altitudinal Difference in a 24-hour Period
Lone Pine Lake, Mount Whitney (highest peak in the Continental US) to the Badwater Basin, Death Valley, lowest point in the western hemisphere.
Largest Measuring Device
The World’s Tallest Thermometer, Baker, Calif.
Sketchiest Strip Mall – Maryland Street, next to UNLV, Las Vegas, Nev. Home to one of Michael’s favorite websites www.hiphopsite.com
Grand Canyon, AZ • Flagstaff, AZ • Sedona, AZ • Camp Verde, AZ • Cottonwood, AZ • Clarkdale, AZ • Jerome, AZ • Prescott, AZ • Kingman, AZ • Laughlin, NV • Bullhead City, AZ • Needles, CA • Twentynine Palms, CA • Joshua Tree, CA • Palm Springs, CA • Beaumont, CA • Los Angeles, CA • Santa Monica, CA • Lone Pine, CA • Stovepipe Wells, CA • Death Valley, CA • Primm, NV • Las Vegas, NV
Grand Canyon NP • Sunset Crater Volcano NM • Wupatki NM • Walnut Canyon NM • Montezuma Castle NM • Tuzigoot NM • Joshua Tree NP • Manzanar NHS • Death Valley NP