Thursday, August 1, 2013

Road Trip, part 2: Lizards and Gorges

I'm in Oklahoma! (Not the musical, the actual place.) We'll be here for the next few days, and then we'll escape leave on Sunday. Hopefully Ohio remembers us.

So! Last time we were in Nebraska. We drove from there to Denver, Colorado, and stayed in a lovely hotel called Aloft, where I left my fucking phone chargers. They're sending them back (via FedEx, which made me a little salty - you can't just put them in a padded envelope and mail them? No? FINE.), but it's made communication somewhat difficult.

We did, however, find an awesome little place to have breakfast.

Whaddup. I got a big cock.
I don't take pictures of my food, because I love you all. Here's a thing, though. Across the street was this:

This building just looked creepy as hell. Seriously, my first thought was "Infrastructure."

So from there, we went to the Garden of the Gods. Now, if you've read Hunting Ground: Rockies, you know that this is a meeting place for werewolves. I didn't see any while there (that I know of), but I can see how it would work. Here are some pictures of the natural splendor.

It rained quite a lot while we were in the area, but the bulk of it happened before we got there, so we didn't get drenched. We did quite a lot of walking. I was looking for rattlesnakes, but I did not seen any. More pictures?

A blue bird, for my mom.

A meeting of birds. "Who's for birdstrike, then?"

They must have had a contest. I think this is cute.

Rocks fall...

...everyone dies.
And then back at the parking lot, we saw a bighorn sheep, but waaaaay up on mountain. I did my best, but I don't have a terrific camera.

We were going to drive up Pike's Peak, but we were already running behind and had a bit of driving to do. So we drove into Manitou Springs for lunch.

Manitou Springs is an awesome little town, but the traffic patterns are...well, odd. The dude behind us was a local, and got really annoyed at how slowly I was driving, but I was a) figuring out where I could turn and b) trying to find lunch and parking. I was kind of hoping he'd zoom off in a huff and hit a tree.

A really cool map.

Note Al looming in the doorway.
We found a local cafe to have lunch (above), and then we headed on our merry way.

We wound up in New Mexico. We crossed the Rio Grande Gorge, and stopped for pictures because it's pretty awesome.

You're specifically asked not to throw things off.

Happy folks!

We stayed in Ojo Caliente (Hot Eye? Still haven't figured that one out), right across the street from a natural hot springs. More on that presently.

Now, when Michelle booked the room, the idea was to get a room in the main building. But we're in the off season, so I think we were literally the only guests. So they "upgraded" us to a cabin kind of thing, which was fine - slightly more space, and all. Two main problems.

1) The master bedroom has no door. This is fine if you're staying by yourself, but if you've got two teenage boys and would like some modicum of privacy, not so much.

2) No wifi. And Michelle asked about this, and the owner was utterly confused. Apparently these people are not from the Internet. Arrgh.

But, we managed to find really mediocre Mexican food for dinner (seriously, there is nothing in this town except the hot springs, and their restaurant was closed). Michelle and I went over to the springs and soaked for a while, which was nice. There are multiple pools, each of which supposedly have different mineral content that, allegedly, has a different healing effect on you. I suspect this is largely bullshit, but I'm a big fan of soaking in warm water, so that was fine.

Next day - rafting! We headed out in the morning, leaving early because we were worried about not finding the place (the instructions said "don't put this into GPS, it'll take you 30 miles in the wrong direction"). It was in a little "town" called Pilar, so we found that, and the Rio Grande Visitor's Center (our meeting point). There was a little cafe-type place across the street, though, and that means breakfast.

Michelle and Al are happy to be alive. Will less so. 

We ate breakfast (green chiles in everything, life is good) and headed over to the visitor's center to await our guides.

Our route. Kinda. I just like 3D maps.
The view from the back patio.
And then rafting! Water was low, but the rafting was a lot of fun. Our guide was really awesome, and we found a good flow, because we didn't get hung up on rocks. He said that there had been river otters released into that river, but we didn't see any. I did go swimming a bit in bracing water, but obviously I have no pictures.

From there, we went back to the cabin, took the boys over to the springs to soak, got some dinner, and crashed for the night. The next day was a loooooong drive.

Yep. Next morning, we drove first to Santa Fe and had breakfast at Chocolate Maven, which was awesome (I forgot to get pictures). And then we headed in to Corvalles, and stopped at Village Pizza for lunch (I know that seems like two meals right in a row, but there's really not much but driving in between). Village Pizza was awesome (cheeseburger pizza with green chiles - yum). Also there were lizards.
He sat for a picture once he figured I wasn't going to eat him. 
We waited for the pizza a bit...
And then headed out to find a winery. The first one we kinda struck out on (they're only open weekends), but then we went to the Corvalles Winery, and they were open, and it was lovely.

We tasted some wine - they only had four, but holy cats, their Riesling is amazing. We bought some wine, and the boys waited "patiently."

Will, in the running for "world's saltiest boy."
Finally, we got paying for wine sorted (their credit card machine was being stupid), and off we went. We swung through Albuquerque to see Michelle's old house:

And then on to Oklahoma! I'm out of pictures past that point, but I didn't want to leave off on that note, so I saved this picture from New Mexico of a coyote. He stopped to pose for us.

More pictures as soon as something interesting happens! In Oklahoma.