Thursday, September 19, 2013

road trip: the way back

We were sad to leave all our relatives at the ranch, but at least we knew the drive home had more adventures in store (especially since Aunt Erin was with us to find the coolest places). Before we got out of town we made sure to check out a few things in Creede, CO starting with the Largest Fork in the US... made of aluminum.  We thought it was actually the largest until I Googled it.  Oh, well, still fun.
Although, we mostly only went into Creede for groceries and church, it was very cute.  I would have loved to go to the Creed Repertory Theatre that was doing Taming of the Shrew, but alas I think that is a life I can't have again until my kids are much older or at least don't require me for nourishment. Besides, with so little time we wanted to be outside enjoying the view.
We did go check out the firehouse that is in the side of a mountain (although it was closed) and the Mining Museum.
We got back on the road until we stopped in Pagosa Springs for lunch at The Rose.
We enjoyed the walls of John Wayne.
Once we got into New Mexico we stopped in the town of Aztec at the "Aztec Ruins."  It turns out they are really ruins of ancient Pueblos, but someone along the way was mistaken.  I guess the name of the town was a mistake, too.  Well, none the less, we all thought it was super fun.  We were unsure what the boys would think, but they loved it and I think Jimmy even learned a lot from it.  He still talks about it as one of the highlights.
They dark loved the room where you could actually go inside.
It was sort of like a big maze and they loved just getting to run around it all and follow the paths.
And, evidently, it was really sunny...
One of the building was reconstructed in the 1920s to recreate what it is believed to have once looked like.  It is unknown for sure what it was used for, but they think it was a spiritual center of some kind for the village.
It was very cool to go inside of.  When you came in you could turn on Indian spiritual music and drums which the boys thought was cool.  We told them that they needed to be quiet kind of like in church.  From then on they both kept saying it was a church.  Perhaps it was.
That night we booked a room at the Historic El Rancho Hotel on Route 66 in Gallup, NM.
(only we went with the cheaper Motel option)
It is a super cool old hotel that many movies stars used to frequent back in the 1950s while they were making western movies in the area.  The front lounge is kitschy and full of odd things to explore and all the room are named after movies stars such as Humphrey Bogart.
I would definitely say it is worth visiting if you are ever in the area.  
It takes me back to that time that I never lived in, but often wish I did.
We were back on the road the next morning to spot some oddities on the side of the road such as teepees and animal sculptures on top of mountains.
Then we made it back to our good old home state.
Next Stop: The Petrified Forest National Park.
And the Painted Desert
We told the boys this old car along the side of the road inside the park was Stanley from Cars.
We spent a little time in the Visitors Center where they had some dinosaur (and non-dinosaur) bones.  They had a kid's area where you could dig for fake bones and Gus could happily have stayed there all day.  Good thing Jimmy actually wanted to see the petrified wood.  He watched a Park Ranger do a demonstration about how the wood is made over millions of years  He used sand, water, and sponges to show how the trees fall into river beds and get covered with sediment and blocked off from air and erosion.  Jimmy was selected from the audience to pull out the hard sponges which he thought was very cool.
Then we headed out to see the real thing.

There are lots of places you can stop along the drive in the park, but this spot was recommended to us if you only had time for one place.  The boys both thought it was pretty cool.

Zach freaked Gus out by pretending something inside this rock bit him, but I guess he was brave enough to stick his own hand in just to make sure.
Here is Gus first pretending to be sad for some unknown reason and then in his actual happy mode with Aunt Erin by the roots of one of the biggest "trees."
Nora was a good sport through it all and Gus really like showing everyone the rings on the rocks.
We spied two lizards and I was pretty much in awe of the second one.
We bought some petrified wood for the boys since it illegal to remove any (and apparently bad mojo, too) and they were so excited about thoserocks.  All in all, a successful National Park Adventure with our three kids (and the help of one kind aunt).  Yay, us!
We decided a stop in Holbrook, AZ was a necessity on this trip since it is on the original "Mother Road" known most commonly as Route 66.  It is great for spotting lots of quirky stuff like Dinosaurs:
But most of all it is the home of the Wigwam Motel the famous model for a place my kids are more familiar with called the Cozy Cone Motel.  Gus decided the red tow truck in front must be Rescue Squad Mater.
If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about it is from the movie Cars which is a huge favorite in our house.  Here is what The Cozy Cone looks like:
We made our own version once which you can see here. Yes, we are obsessed, so getting to see this place was exciting for us all.  The vintage cars parked everywhere made it even cooler.
Besides ours there was one car that was not vintage, but instead electric and part of a Guinness Book record challenge involving all electric vehicles that were traveling across the states.  We just happened to pull in at the same time as the driver and he told us all about it.  Check out more at
This garage next to the motel, while not exactly the same, reminded me of Doc's Garage in Cars so I was sure they must have been inspired by it.
Despite the heat, it was so worth the stop!!!

Then we headed to a local restaurant for some late lunch.
After talking to the owner, we found out it also gave some inspiration for the movie Cars:
I guess, his grandpa, Stanley (note the name is the same as old car mentioned above), started this restaurant many years ago.  John Lasseter and the animators of Cars stopped here while they were doing research.  They used the mural wall and other things as inspiration.
While the food was not worth a recommendation, the boys loved that the restaurant was filled with toy cars, posters, and other memorabilia.  The owner showed us a picture of the old hippie who was the inspiration for the V-Dub van, Fillmore.
When I later asked Gus, what his favorite part of the trip was he said, "That place we went to the bathroom."  I was confused, so he clarified, "The place with the Mater and McQueen lights hanging up."  Yup, from the whole trip this was his favorite.  Easily pleased I guess.

Then we finished the trek home.  Jimmy was more than pleased that seeing some people with a flat tire and a skyline in Phoenix helped him blackout his Auto Bingo Card.