A month and a half ago, Andy and I got into our car and drove all the way across America, from sea to shining sea, and then for good measure we drove some more. It was a great way to end seminary and start the next step. Here are all of our stops and some of our adventures along the way:
1. Yuma, AZ
We left our cabin (*sobs*) on a Saturday night and drove to Yuma so Andy could preach at the OPC church there the next day. I was very emotional and we had a hard time finding the place we were staying (which I don’t handle well at the best of times) so it wasn’t the best start to a road trip ever. But preaching went well and we were on our way!
As for Yuma itself, it is a very deserty desert, and is not my jam. But the people are very friendly!
2. Saguaro National Park, AZ
Our next stop was Saguaro National Park. It is also a deserty desert, but it was more interesting because it has saguaros (pronounced: sah-wah-roes. I felt like an idiot when I learned this). Saguaros are those classic cacti that are tall and have long arms. They can get VERY tall and weigh tons upon tons, should you want to pick one up. I don’t know why you would. But they were very scenic, and then Andy and I became Not-So-Junior Rangers, which is one of my favorite hobbies. You basically fill out worksheets and someone gives you a shiny badge. You know, how life SHOULD be.
We camped that night, for only $10! It was a bargain, but the ground was very hard and it was very cold outside. Everyone else in the campground had an RV and we only had our little tent. But we survived and all is fair when you are trying to save money.
3. Carlsbad Caverns, NM
On to New Mexico and Carlsbad Caverns! Unfortunately, we got there later in the day, and there wasn’t time to hike down all the way into the caverns, and the elevator that takes you right there was broken. I was a little disturbed to learn that they have an elevator, but man that thing would have come in handy had it been functional. Sans elevator, you hike down and down and down and see many wonderful and beautiful and mysterious things but then you must hike up and up and up. We were bummed we couldn’t go all the way down, but what we saw was pretty cool. And I became a Junior Ranger, which is really what national parks are all about anyway! (kidding. maybe.)
That night we camped at a KOA. It was going to be another pretty cold night, so an employee let us stay in the rec room after it was all locked up, and he even turned on the Bachelor for me. What a champion. Also, roughing it at its roughest.
3. Austin, TX
Then there was a lot of driving across West Texas. I had never been to Texas before (excepting airports). West Texas is vast, empty place. There’s lots of cotton. Once we got out of West Texas we stopped at a park to hike to a waterfall and stretch our legs a bit after all that hiking. The waterfall was gorgeous, but far more impressive, WE SAW AN ARMADILLO IN THE WILD. I had never seen such a thing. I tried to scare him by yelling to see if he would roll up in a ball (is that even something armadillos do?) but I wound up scaring a whole bunch of birds in a nearby bush who surged out of that bush like lightning and scared me. Jokes on me.
Then we made it to Amy and Drew’s house near Austin! Amy is Andy’s oldest sister. She and Drew just had twins, so we got to meet our adorable new nieces. They all did a great job of showing us around Georgetown, where they live, and Austin. We were there for a few days; one day we camped out at a coffee shop down by the river so Andy could finish some school work and then we went to the Salt Lick for barbecue, which was marvelous but what was even marvelouser was their pickles. Oh my word. One day Andy went with Drew to see Star Wars for his fifth time while Amy and I walked around Georgetown with the babies. One day we went to downtown Austin and ate delicious Mexican food. That day I got a migraine, because that’s what I do best. It was such a fun, low-key time. We loved it.
4. Houston, TX
We stopped at a McDonalds for lunch, #weclassy. On the drive through window was a printed sign asking for information about a murdered McDonalds’ employee. We got out of there in a hurry.
5. Baton Rouge, LA
Baton Rouge was another quick stop. We wanted to drive through downtown on our way to New Orleans, but the downtown was all blocked off. We went out a ways and parked and then walked back in. It turns out we had stumbled upon a pre-Mardi Gras parade that was family friendly and lots of fun and only a little dangerous because I almost got hit in the head by some very large necklaces, but Andy saved me. It was a very pretty downtown, so we walked around a bit, and got oysters, and all in all it was a lovely time.
6. New Orleans, LA
In New Orleans we stayed at an AirBnB, which wound up working great. We went to church at a PCA near our house, and then went to the French Quarter. We had beignets and coffee at Du Monde’s (delicious!), walked through the cathedral, visited the historical museum, ate on a balcony, happened upon two more pre-Mardi Gras parades, and learned that you can order alcoholic beverages to-go in restaurants and drink them in street. It is a beautiful city.
Andy likes to look at real estate when we visit places. My favorite find of this trip was this house: it looks like a dump but the interior is mind blowing. Good deterrent for thieves. http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/612-Dauphine-St-New-Orleans-LA-70112/2130605975_zpid/?view=public
7. Montgomery, AL
We then drove through those Alabama pines up to Montgomery for a short visit. We saw the Alabama State Capitol, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr., launched the bus boycott, the first White House of the Confederacy, and the Civil Rights Memorial, which are all within a couple blocks of each other.
Interesting Things, In No Particular Order:
A. The Alabama State Capitol has a statue of James Marion Sims, the modern founder of gynecology. This is the inscription: “James Marion Sims, 1813-1888, Father of Modern Gynecology, Montgomery 1848-1849, operations he devised cured a then considered hopeless malady, gaining him fame as a benefactor of women. Founded Women's Hospital, city of New York in 1855. Decorated by Emperor of France, Kings of Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Erected by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, 1939.”
It kind of tickled me that there was a statue to the father of gynecology at the Alabama State Capitol, and I was delighted by the circumlocutions used to get around saying what he actually cured. Of course I researched him more later; I understood then why they really didn’t want to talk about that malady on a statue. I also learned that he developed his surgery by performing experimental surgeries on slave women without anesthesia. There’s a pretty good article about it all here.
B. Jefferson Davis did a lot of cool things with his life. And some not so cool things.
C. In the White House book store there was a pamphlet called “The Battle to Save the First White House of the Confederacy,” or something like that. I know getting historical buildings preserved can be really tough, so I don’t want to minimize the efforts of those ladies. But right after that we went to the Civil Rights Memorial, where we had to go through security to learn about all the horrible ways people were killed because of racism. It was a bit of a contrast, in terms of “battles.”
D. The Civil Rights Memorial was sobering and very informative. The memorial itself has a timeline of significant events in the Civil Rights Movement. So many people were killed for such ridiculous things, like encouraging people to register to vote. Racism is so ugly and so senseless.
E. It was cool to see the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, sitting there right in front of the Alabama State Capitol. It was closed when we were there, but we got to learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. when we went to Atlanta.
And since this post is already super long, I will write more about that next week in Road Trip: Part 2. There will be more junior ranger badges! An ocean! Beautiful southern towns!