Jul 28, 2005

Kansas City, Mo

Bernadette Dunn trying out the Segway in Kansas City, Mo Posted by Picasa

Okay, yes we were singing "goin to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come..."

We arrived in KCMO Wednesday, earlier than planned on Wednesday so we headed to 18th & Brooklyn for some Barbeque at Arthur Bryant's. Those were some tasty ribs!!!! MMMM. The atmosphere reminded us of Tony Luke's in Philadelphia and the food was delicious. Next we headed over to the Plaza which is this amazing outdoor shopping mall and living space community that was built in the 1920s. The tile work on the buildings is amazing, and the weather was great but nicest of all was the company because that is where we met up with Mike's mom, Bernadette who was visiting with her friend Sue, who is a friend from when Mike's parents lived in Kansas City back in the 70's. Sue's daughter Amy, who is our age, and her sons Grant and Nick were also there - the kids were totally adorable and it was fun to watch Mike and Amy catch up. They hadn't seen eachother since a visit during their sophomore year of High School! Anyhow, after walking through the plaza for a while, Bernadette, Mike and I decided to test drive some Segways and I can now tell you from experience, that is a pretty cool toy. Too bad it is $4000 and we live on a street with brick sidewalks!

Later we had a cocktail at Skies, which is a rotating bar on top of the Hyatt hotel with a great view of the city, and then went for a terrific steak (kansas city strip of course) dinner with everyone - Mike's parents, Sue and her partner Bob, Amy and her husband Brian - and that is where really got a chance to visit. KCMO was a great, if brief stop. Perfect ending to a really neat trip full of visits with new and old friends. Photos are forthcoming (because we lost our darn camera cord)!

Today, we're off early and headed back to Philadelphia. Its an 18 hour drive to Philly and so we are probably going to go as far as we can and will plan to stop around 10pm tonight wherever we are and then carry on with the remainder of the drive tomorrow. As we are traveling today, our house settlement is taking place without us there (the miracle of modern technology and a great lawyer has made that possible) so all we will have to do when we get to Philadelphia is pick up our house keys and unload our car into our new home. We can hardly wait. It's been so much fun traveling, and we are sad to see this trip end, but we are also really ready to be home so that we can get moved in and get Mike ready for his new job at the EPA, which begins in mid-August. We're also really excited to see the rest of our clothes... We're kind of tired of wearing the same five outfits!

The Taos Country Inn, our home away from home. Posted by Picasa
Fiestas de Taos - A street festival in Taos, NM Posted by Picasa
That's Mike, Bret and Sarah in front of Bret and Sarah's home in Denver, Colorado Posted by Picasa

Jul 26, 2005

Denver, Co to Taos, NM

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


We seem to have lost our camera cord, so we will be posting the rest of our photos when we get home and can get a new cord!


Denver was a brief but wonderful stop on our trip back East. We stayed with friends Bret and Sarah who hosted a wine tasting at their home the night we arrived. Their home is an adorable 1950 s ranch style house near the cherry creek area of Denver. They have done a great job decorating and as we are soon to be in our new house it was fun to see their before an after photos and think about how the colors they chose would look in our new place.  The wine tasting was a blast. We tasted a Rose, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir and three courses of fondue. We completely overdid it on both fondue and wine which made our Saturday in Denver rather slow moving. We went to a late breakfast and then hung out and caught a late movie – Willy Wonka at the IMAX Theater…our first movie in two months.


The only thing we really didn’t love about Denver was the challenge of driving around Denver and finding our way. The traffic lights are super long there, and the streets very wide boulevards. This makes for massive traffic and congestion. It isn’t exactly an easy place for an outsider to figure out. But the skies were blue and the mountains surrounding the area are really incredible and the company was great.


So we left Denver on Sunday and made our way South to Taos, New Mexico taking a smaller highway to get there. Between Denver and Taos, the landscape really changed dramatically.  We started to see the Sangre de Christo mountains which are red and beautifully different than the Rockies. The sky was cloudy in a really magnificent and dramatic way the whole drive South. When we arrived in Taos, we checked in to the Taos Bed & Breakfast, which is an Inn my family has been visiting for many years, and then we headed out for food and arrived in town just in time for the finale of the Fiestas de Taos, which included a massive crowd and music and lots of partying in the town square. Everyone looked like they were having a great time so we figured we should get caught up and so we went over to the Taos Inn and had a few Margaritas and watched a terrific Latin guitar trio.


Taos is a neat town. Mike commented on how amazing it is that the Spanish/ Mexican influence still  seems to be so strong and untouched here. The place feels like the west, but not the “wild west” – instead it feels like an old Mexican village in many ways and there is a mixture of both English and Spanish language used here. Everything is small scale, and almost all the building are adobe. Adding to the cultural feel is the closeness of Taos Pueblo which is just outside of the main street, and which is still inhabited by Pueblo Indians who live in the traditional way of their ancestors.  Taos families have been here for generations upon generations and then there are zillions of artists who also reside here. Georgia O’Keefe often came to Taos valley to paint and work. Mike thought it was so interesting that they are still building in the vernacular style instead of switching to the standard tract housing that seems to have taken over the rest of America. The new architecture and the new housing developments are not the standard Toll brothers stuff we have seen everywhere else. Instead it is almost all adobe housing here, with traditional details and ornately carved doors and posts. There are also lots of “off the grid” earthships, straw bale houses and rammed earth houses. This is a funky community of artists, old timers, skiers and it is just neat. Everyone should visit Taos at least once.  


So after some hiking, exploring, sight seeing and a fabulous dinner at Lamberts, we will leave Taos today and head East again. For the ride home, we bought the new Harry Potter book on CD. Its 19 hours and we are 4 hours in, trying to savor it and stretch it out for the long stretches of road between Taos and Philadelphia. So far, it is very captivating!  We plan to make three more stops…Kansas, Missouri and West Virginia, and then we hope to return to Philadelphia by the weekend.




Jul 22, 2005

The Swing Shot

Yesterday's thrill in Glenwood Springs, Colorado was an unexpected one. We boarded the Swing Shot at Glenwood Caverns -- the swing is 1,300 feet above the Colorado River, and after they strap you in, they pull you pack with a giant rubber band until you are almost laying down. Then the slinshot is released and you launch into the Glenwood Canyon. They say you reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour, as you swing out backwards over the canyon. I will tell you from personal experience that this is the scariest freaking ride. Posted by Picasa

We also rode the canyon flyer, where you race 3,400 down the mountainside, between the trees, and fly around the curves. Using levers, you control your own speed as you race down the steel tracks. This alpine coaster is apparently the first in the United States, and it was way way less scary!

Jul 21, 2005

Grand Junction, Colorado

After our GRUELING and sweaty 6 mile round trip hike and swim at the waterfall in Utah, we found a delightful coffeshop called Kiva Koffehouse, along Byway 12. We stopped for some raspberry iced tea and a blackberry bucke dessert. It was a great break in a gorgous stone coffehouse built on the top and into the side of a mountain in the middle of a huge canyon. The man who built it designed it and built it himself and it was like a calm, southwestern oasis after the hike, and I didnt want to leave!! It was so civilized. So after that nice break, we changed out of sweaty clothing and continued on Scenic Byway 12, through Utah. Then we took 24 north til we hit interstate 70. It was the first big interstate we had seen since the beginning of July. Now we are headed East, officially.

We will go to Denver by way of Vail today and tomorrow we will have a visit with our good friends Bret and Sarah before we head to New Mexico. Some of you have called asking about forest fires. We haven't seen any, except one "prescribed burn" area yesterday in Utah. The heat is unbelievable though. Our car is faring well and we are feeling excited to be on the last leg, heading into the last full weekend of our journey. I can't believe it but it will have been 45 days on the road when all is said and done.
Yesterday we hiked 3 miles into Calf Creek Canyon at 104 degrees in full sun. When we got there, we encountered this lovely Pool and waterfall. We went swimming. It was freezing!!! Posted by Picasa
Bryce at Sunset. Temperature was 104. Posted by Picasa
Bryce Canyon National Park. We had a really long day of driving through Nevada. It was not one of my best days, but once we saw Bryce, the bad day was forgotten. Posted by Picasa
Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada. I have no idea why it is called that, but it should be called the most boring stretch of road in the world. It was a long long drive from Nevada to Utah. This photo was taken on Tuesday, July 18. Mike swore he saw something... Posted by Picasa
Heading EAST again!!! Nevada road driving...100MPH. Actually he was going faster but I told him to slow down.  Posted by Picasa
Yosemite national park, Monday July 18. That's Half dome behind us in the distance. Posted by Picasa

Jul 19, 2005

6500 miles and counting

It’s July 18, 2005.

We’ve now been on the road one month (since June 14) and it feels like it has flown by. We have only about 2 weeks left until we “dock” in Philadelphia and begin the next adventure of buying and moving into our new home in South Philadelphia and the beginning of Mike’s new job with the EPA. We’re trying hard not to get caught up in what’s next and instead to savor every last minute of this trip, even the weird moments.


Most crowded National Park =Yosemite National Park in July:

Last night we stayed in a motel near Yosemite, and then drove in to the park this morning. Yosemite was crowded beyond belief. Parking lots were completely full and the heat was unbelievable. All the campsites were full so after a few short hikes, we left Yosemite Valley and drive through the park using 120, heading East. It was a pretty drive. We crossed into Nevada at about 5:30 p.m. and now we are on our way to Tonopah where we will probably stay for the night. Camping is almost out of the question given the high temperatures, so we’ll be looking for a motel or something. As I write, it is still 103 degrees and it’s 6:40 p.m. Pacific Time.



We were going to head to Las Vegas for a renewal of vows at the Elvis Chapel, but have decided instead to use tomorrow (Tuesday) to head through Nevada and towards Utah and Bryce Canyon National Park where we can do some more hiking.


Car milestone:

Today we passed the 36,000 mile mark on the Subaru (which ends our warranty period, so we are crossing our fingers!) and we celebrated the milestone by testing the speedometer in Nevada while we were driving on Highway 6.  In only about 15 months of owning this Subaru we have put almost 30,000 miles on it. Amazing. Next year we will undoubtedly see a marked difference in mileage since we will be city-dwellers again and will be using our feet and public transportation much more often.


Thanks to all of you who have sent us notes and left comments for us on the blog or who have called our cell phone to catch us up (215-880-1519). We really enjoy getting all the good news – babies born, babies on the way, weddings, birthdays, moves, new jobs and new adventures – and each day we are away makes us so much more aware of how lucky and fortunate we are to have such good friends, such loving family and more good news than bad.


Jul 17, 2005

Brain and Maya McCain at the wedding Posted by Picasa
The lovely bride and groom, Scott and Lisa McGrath. July 16, 2005 Posted by Picasa
Patrick McGrath -- our beer delivery guy at the wedding Posted by Picasa
Karin's mom and dad at cousin Scott's wedding Santa Cruz, Ca Posted by Picasa
Flowergirl Emma Posted by Picasa
Santa Cruz California is a cute place. Lots of little coastal towns, surfers, liberals. A lot like our old home of Charlottesville, Va but with a beach and more hippies.

Lots of McGrath family was gathered here in Santa Cruz for the weekend wedding of my cousins and so it has been quite an event leading up to the BIG DAY for the bride and groom. We shopped for drinks and beer, made place-cards, enjoyed the rehearsal dinner at Shadowbrook in Capitola and really had a delightful time helping with the wedding preparations, and getting to visit with cousins we never get much time given all of their various jobs and cities. Saturday morning there was a McGrath family brunch and we celebrated my dad�s 60th birthday, which is this coming Tuesday, July 19, 2005. We also had a nice time at the wedding itself which was in the hills, in a county park and historic house. The day was sunny and warm, with clear blue skies. The bride and groom looked lovely, and it was a great event.

Today we are off to who-knows-where, all we know is that we are surely stopping for an In-N-Out Burger along the way (our favorite burger joint) and probably camping for a few nights this week as we slowly make our way from California to Denver, Colorado, in time for next weekend, to visit with our friends Bret and Sarah.

Here's a photo of Karin talking to our friend Jill Klinger. She is also the person who bought our house in Charlottesville, and funny enough was a good friend of the bride so here she is reporting on how she likes the house in Charlottesville. She likes it! We miss it! Posted by Picasa

Jul 16, 2005

Heading to dinner the night before the wedding. Posted by Picasa
Karin kayaking in Elkhorn Slough, just outside of Monterey Bay. We saw seals, sea otters and pelicans, and had a nice lunch together on the water before Scott's wedding. Posted by Picasa
Roller coaster in Santa Cruz, California Posted by Picasa
Mike and Christy on the roller coaster!!! Posted by Picasa
Karin and Emma McCain (Cousin Christy's daughter) in Santa Cruz. Posted by Picasa
Everyone thinks my Uncle Bill isn't doing anything in his retirement, but we know better. He chopped a tree that came down in his yard into teeny tiny pieces and fit the whole thing in this can. He also made macadamia nut brittle for his son's wedding, which was REALLY GOOD!!! We loved visiting with he and Shirley at their goregous home in Walnut Creek. Posted by Picasa
Even the laundry is cooler in California! Posted by Picasa
Mike visiting with our friend Scott Connors at his and Christine's GORGEOUS and HUGE new apartment in the Marina district of San Francisco. We had a brief but great visit! Photo taken on July 10, 2005 Posted by Picasa