Monday, June 19, 2017

Tallulah Mae's first offical maiden voyage: Part IV

Our final destination was Cheyenne Wyoming. This is a special place for Tallulah Mae's inhabitants. It's like a second home. Sis has a unique bond, since mom and dad used to ship her off here during the summers of her youth. Sis and Grandma are tight, yo.  Grandma is now 95, mostly blind, lives in an independent senior housing complex, and is feisty as ever. She is also the mother of dad, his sisters (Aunt1 and 2), and brother (Uncle1). She shall be heretofore, Gutsy Granny.

First order of business was to move into our new home for our stay. We put dad in Aunt2's guest room, and sis, nephew2, and I slept in Tallulah Mae in Aunt2's driveway. Aunt1 from Florida, beat us to Cheyenne, so she got the prime spot of Gutsy Granny's guest room.

Floofy puppy loved trying to catch all the bunnies in Aunt2's neighborhood. They are overrun by bunnies. Bunnies, bunnies, everywhere.

Second order of business was a birthday party for everyone. Because when you're 95, you celebrate all things, all the time, so why not?

Gutsy Granny met floofy puppy and fell in love.

Later on in the evening, Gutsy Granny beat us all at cards, even setting her precious first born (dad). My streak was over.

We took Tallulah Mae to Uncle1's house so they all could meet her and we had a great time catching up.
Floofy puppy finally met his doppelgangers (other white floofy older puppies). Uncle1 and his lady AuntL have two white floofs.
Their son, Cousin1 also brought his BIG floof. His name is Little Bear. Floofy puppy loved that there was a big friend to play with, since the white floofs were not interested in playtime.
We had a great time eating brownies and ice cream and drinking coffee. We showed everyone Tallulah Mae. But soon it was time to leave. Cousin1 and 2 and the mini cousins needed to get back home to their crazy busy lives. Mini cousins aren't so mini anymore. Mini cousin1 just finished her first year of college and mini cousin2 is taller than everyone, plays football, and is not even 16 yet!

It was then time to visit with even more cousins at Aunt2's house. Her daughter, Cousin3 and her mimi cousins drove up from cow town (Greeley Co.) Her other half, UncleE took off of "work" (he's a volunteer) and came over for lunch. So nephew2 got on the riding mower and helped Aunt2 get the place ready... for the "severe storm" that was rolling in.
We were constantly watching the weather. It's not an official trip until you experience Wyoming weather! Even my phone was telling me about the "extreme weather" coming. It never did hit Aunt2's house.

Mini Cousin4 waiting patiently for sis to finish sewing the buttons on her new giraffe dress
We did what every family does: bond in front of the t.v.

UncleE went to back to "work", and after went to check on his horses and batten down his place. When he came back, he said there was a tornado that had touched down about 6 miles from his place. So of coarse we all go outside to watch.
Uncle1 calls to mach sure Gutsy Granny is with us, since Aunt2 has a basement, and Gutsy Granny doesn't. He also felt bad for us because we had no where to put Tallulah Mae to escape the hail... if it came. But that is what insurance is for. Uncle1 said he put his truck in his barn, and his cars were in the garage. Mini cousin3 didn't like the lightning and thunder, but mini cousin4 was outside with us crazies watching the clouds.

Aunt1, 2, and I discussed how you can tell a Wyoming native from everyone else. The natives are out on their decks, like us, nonchalantly gazing out at the clouds discussing the days events. Everyone else is in their basement worrying about their food stock and cars.

Mini Cousin4 sure loved floofy puppy!

Well, like I said, the storm passed us right on by, hardly any rain, and only one little hail ball. However, Uncle1's house got hit by 3" hail and took out his skylights in the kitchen and barn, steel gutters, his truck that was in the barn, the hot tub cover, irrigation system, and made his lawn look like the surface of the moon, plus a car plowed into the telephone pole outside his house. It plowed into the pole because the windshield got shattered by the giant hail balls from the sky. So they had an exciting evening. However, everyone in Wyoming has hail insurance, so they are covered. Their only dilemma is which insurance to use for the truck. The trucks insurance or the home insurance. Since the truck was in the barn (which is covered under the home insurance), do they use the home insurance for the truck or not.

The next day it was time for Aunt1 to fly home.
We hung out at Gutsy Granny's, ate food, played games, ate some more.
Gutsy Granny's complex has a pool table!
And so the days passed. Nephew2 got a hold of cousin5 (Aunt2 and UncleE's sons son) and he came by Gutsy Granny's and hung out. He showed us videos of him bronc riding. He rides for LCCC (Laramie County Community College), he also just finished his freshman year of college. You know you're in the "wild west" when the schools offer rodeo as a sport. He then invited nephew2 out to a bonfire. When nephew2 came back, he said they never made it out to the bonfire. Instead they went fishing at a pond by the side of a road, and then met one of cousin5's friends at a gas station and just hung out. Wow, the youth of Wyoming sure need a nightlife. But in his defense, his dad is a cop, and works the night shift, so the last thing you want is to get caught by the cops doing something stupid, who also happens to be your father. Talk about a double whammy.

Pretty soon it was coming time to get ready to head home. Nephew2 got his girlfriend Wyoming gifts, we got our house sitters thank you gifts, and nephew2 bought fireworks. You can buy fireworks in Wyoming 365 days a year, at least in Laramie County. I think it's state wide though, but I'm not a local. So if you hear anything coming from sis' house, it's just nephew2 setting off his blackcats and smoke bombs.

Dad spent our last two nights with Gutsy Granny which meant I got to move inside to the guest room! Woo-Hoo! I didn't have to wear my ear plugs for two whole nights! Sis snores like a freight train! We decided to leave really early since our first drive day back home was going to be 600 miles, and dad thought it would take us close to 10 hours to get to Wendover Nevada/Utah. East Wendover is in Utah, West Wendover is in Nevada. However the entire town has decided to stay on mountain time since Nevada is in the Pacific time zone and Utah is in the Mountain time zone. So we all packed up, and got over to Gutsy Granny's by 6:45am. Said our tearful goodbyes and vowed to see each other again soon. And before we knew it, we were off traveling west bound on Interstate 80. Past the tree in the rock, Lincoln's head, and Vedauwoo, and into Utah.

We pulled into the Wendover KOA at 4pm. Of all the KOA's, it was the least attractive. But it's hard to be a lush oasis in the desert salt flats in the middle of nowhere. Floofy puppy got a lot of stickers in his paws and didn't care much for the place. Despite dad's worrying, we made excellent time. So we set up camp, and watched some Tom and Jerry cartoons and The Adventures of Tin Tin.

Back on the road the next morning again on west bound Interstate 80. Through Nevada, over the sierra mountains that still have snow in June, and into California.
There's just something about crossing into your home state. Even though you aren't quite home yet, there is a comfort in knowing you're almost there. Floofy puppy was over the roadtrip. He was ready to be home and see his "sister" Sura. Got into Sacramento and turned left onto I-5 south and down to Santa Nella and hung a right onto 152 and home. We got into town just after 9pm and passed the long line of cars heading east on 152 for the weekend.

We unpacked the essentials and perishables. It was good to be home. I thought my kitties would be so happy to see me, I was happy to see them. But they were not. They were mad and a bit hesitant. I think I left them for a bit too long. They warmed up to me eventually, and I got to say, there's nothing like your own bed. I had the best sleep in weeks.

And so, Tallulah Mae's first official road trip was over. We survived. We still like each other.

A few other things of note:
We saw a bald eagle in flight in California.
Tallulah Mae has a few quirks like turning off her AC when you need it the most.
A bird flew into Tallulah's window while parked in the KOA.
Invest in ear plugs when you have to sleep next to a freight train.
Packing for an RV trip is different than packing for a car road trip.

And Tallulah Mae got her first bath!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tallulah Mae's first official maiden voyage: Part III

Once again we were off on to the next leg. Through Arizona to Cheyenne Wyoming, via southern Colorado. We left Big Bro, sis-in-law, nephew3 and 4 and the animal brood behind, waving from their front yard. Sad to leave them behind, but we'll be seeing nephew3 soon on his way back home from his first epic roadtrip of his own, and because nephew2 left his computer charger and other things behind (suspicious). We weaved back onto the 202 to 101 to 17 north out of the Phoenix mega-lopolis. North to Flagstaff and then veered east on Interstate 40 only to get to 89 and finally to 160. Through Hopi, Navajo, and Ute reservations. Needed a pee break and gas, so we pulled over at a gas station. Sis felt bad for the stray rez dog and gave him some of floofy puppies food and dad bought his cookie stash, he was having withdrawals.
We then stopped at the four corners. It has changed a lot since dad and sis (she was only 1 at the time, so for some reason, she doesn't remember) were here last. It is now very commercialized and overpriced for just a picture opportunity. We walked around all four states, took some photos, emptied our bladders, and left saying, "eh".
What we did learn there however, is that a "comfort station" is still just a restroom with a toilet. The seat isn't anymore "comfortable" than any other on the trip.

We crossed into Colorado and pulled into our KOA campground in Cortez Colorado for the night. There was a small lake and a nature walk at our campground and we decided we needed the exercise. So we all struck off down the trail.
Sis and dad, with floofy puppy turned back, and nephew2 and I continued around the loop.
We came back into camp and sis asked if we had the keys to the RV. "Uh, no. You had them in your pocket". Oh dear. We were locked out. Off we went back down the trail, back and forth, surveying the ground, bushes, and grasses, getting eaten by mosquitoes. We were losing hope. Sis told a KOA dude in his golf cart that she lost the keys and was going to call AAA. Dude in golf cart radioed other dude in golf cart... and wham, bam, other dude in golf cart rolled up and presented sis with her keys! It was a Christmas miracle in June! Everyone rejoiced and sang kumbaya around the campfire and then fireworks went off and... naw. We made dinner, watched Ratatouille, and went to bed.

We survived our first night in Tallulah Mae together and we were off to Mesa Verde National Park. Wow, what a place!
Again, it has changed a whole lot since dad and sis were there. Again, sis didn't remember being there. Her memory sure is spotty. We first stopped at the visitor center.
Then drove in the 21 miles to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. I got my geek on.
Nephew2 and I then went on the Petroglyph Point Trail. So, so cool.
I kept looking in all the cliff overhangs for rock art and started to doubt my archie skills when I didn't see anything.
Nephew2 reminded me of the name of the trail, Petroglyph Point. Oh.
We made it to the "point". Super cool.
A bit farther down the trail a Ranger came by. He was new to the park and was familiarizing himself with the trails. We were taking a picture opportunity break, but really a "I can't breathe" break. We were over 7000 feet. That's high for our sea level lungs.
On our way back we stopped and tried yucca flowers. Tastes like bitter lettuce and dirt. Has quite the aftertaste too. We don't recommend them, unless you're starving. After our hike we all got back together and drove the Mesa Top Loop and stopped at pit houses and the Sun Temple. 

We all agreed, it was a pretty awesome day. We had some driving to do though.

We got back on highway 160 east and headed up the Rockies. We stopped at Wolf Creek Pass which is the continental divide at 10,856 feet. It was cold and there was still snow on the ground.
We took floofy puppy out to see snow for the first time. He didn't mind it, but didn't really care either. He was more interested in the mud at the edge of the snow.
We were cold in our flip flops and t-shirts, so back into Tallulah Mae to warm up. We rolled into our second KOA in Alamosa, Colorado pretty late. We hooked up, ate, and went to bed. No nature walk this time.

The next morning, floofy puppy saw his first bunny. He got so excited he tried to hop after it. We got back on 160 and took 150 north to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
So weird to see these huge sand dunes in this large valley up against mountains. We drove in, then drove back out because no one told us that if you want to surf the dunes, the place to rent the boards is outside the park. We got nephew2 a board, and then back into the park. We didn't realize we had to cross a creek.
Floofy puppy liked to drink from the creek but was unsure about playing in it. But he sure did love playing in all that sand!
It was a long trek through the sand up to the dunes.
There are no trails and you are allowed to climb the dunes and surf, sled, and roll down them all you want.
The sand was hot, and sis, floofy puppy, and I stayed near the bottom and nephew2 started off up the dunes. He climbed, and climbed, sat down to rest, climbed some more, rested some more, and kept on climbing. He went all the way to the top. It became pointless to take his picture, since he was only a tiny blue speck.
As he sand surfed, and climbed back up, we down below watched in the heat and wind. Floofy puppy would dig in the sand to where it was cool and lied down in our shadows. He didn't care for the wind. Neither did we. Nephew2 had a great time sand surfing. He surfed down to us and drank a bottle of water. He was exhausted and exuberant. Sis carried floofy puppy back across the hot sand, exhausted nephew2 dragged his board. We crossed the creek triumphant. We came, we saw, we conquered.

Back down 150 and east some more on 160, and then north on I-25. Through Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Hello Denver. Goodbye Denver.
Nephew2 got comfy and watched movies as we crossed the Wyoming border.
And finally, home sweet Cheyenne.

Until next time where my blind 95 year old grandmother whoops us all at cards, floofy puppy gets overrun by bunnies, and I realize that my little cousins aren't so little anymore.