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Summer Road Journey 2008

a travel blog by hannahrose



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T - 22 hours

Oakland, United States


Tomorrow I leave on my much anticipated, long in the works cross country road trip. Initially envisioned as a solo trip, I have two friends accompanying me as far as Tucson, and possibly to Albuquerque.

We leave tomorrow around noon, considering we can find a bike rack and I can pick up packages from UPS on the weekend. Our first stop is about 8 hours away, at Joshua Tree National Park. Our plan is to camp then head out in the morning for Tuscon.

We're driving east on 580 until we hit CA-99, which will take us south without having to pass through LA. My hope is to pass through some beautiful, Golden, hilly summer California countryside before we hit desert and the intense heat I have been missing since I moved to the Bay Area 2 years ago.

Wish us luck :)

permalink written by  hannahrose on July 4, 2008 from Oakland, United States
from the travel blog: Summer Road Journey 2008
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Joshua Tree National Park and Tucson, AZ

Tucson, United States


we left saturday afternoon in bright sunshine, with bags successfully packed away in the trunk and two bikes strapped to the back of my trunk. as the hours passed, the Golden rolling hills and groves of avocado and other fruit trees turned into rocky, sandy terrain sparsely dotted with joshua trees and drying clumps or desert grass.

we left later than we planned, and after stopping for watermelon and firewood at a roadside store, we made our way into Indian Cove campground at Joshua Tree National Park. We chose a campsite in the dark and laid our sleeping bags right out in the desert. The temperature and breeze left no need for a tent and we crossed our fingers that the baking sun wouldn't wake us at Sunrise. We lit a small fire and roasted tofurky sausages to eat with the rest of our watermelon. E. and J. did some after dark bouldering while i lay on my bag and looked at the incredible and dazzling array of stars, even the tiniest of which were visible in the pitch dark of the desert during a gibbous moon.

In the morning we discovered we had camped behind a large rock,

which blocked us from the sun until about 8 or so, giving us plenty of time to eat breakfast and go for a hike up the bouldery piles of rock rising out of the desert. As we walked to the hill of boulders, a rattlesnake announced its alarm and we jumped back, choosing another route. Lizards shot back and forth from grassy clump to grassy clump. We climbed up the boulders, where we saw a Big Horn Sheep (common in the desert) hopping up the boulders like they were grasshoppers. After this short hike, we took off through the desert to reach I-10 to take us through to Tucson, stopping first at Keys View, one of the most beautiful spots in Joshua Tree National Park, and Skull Rock, a naturally formed boulder.

We reached Tucson around sunset

and had some amazing food at Vegeterranean, in a giant outdoor tent, a monsoon brewing outside and a belly dancer in the middle of the room. We turned in early that night, exhausted from our two day trek to Tucson.

Monday morning, we woke up and headed to Coronado National Forest, about twenty minutes outside of Tucson. We stopped here and there as we drove up the 9,174 feet to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Windy Points Vista was one of the most beautiful spots, fully revealing the amazing dynamic nature of the Arizona desert mountains.

. The higher we got the cooler and greener the wilderness became. We ended our trip with a hike down the Meadow Trail atop Mt. Lemmon where we saw giant dandelions and a beautiful combination of the rocky terrain of the lower part of the mountains and pines and other thirstier vegetation.

Tuesday, we decided to hike about two and a half miles through the desert canyon on the other side of Mt. Lemmon to the Romero Pools, which are naturally formed pools in a wash about 1,000 feet about sea level. We hiked up steep rocky terrain for two hours and rejoiced when we discovered the pools, which were cool and relatively clear for standing water. There were tiny frogs the size of the top half of my thumb, tadpoles and giant spiders the size of my fist. We ate lunch on the rocks and headed out when we started seeing the telltale dark grey clouds of the typical summer monsoons of southern Arizona. We hightailed it out and sped up as it started to drizzle. As soon as J. warned us about sprained ankles, i stepped too hard on a rock i didn't see and twisted mine!! Luckily it was only strained, and once the initial (really bad) pain subsided, I was able to finish the hike. I'm still icing it and wrapping it with an Ace bandage but i didn't drown in a monsoon :)

Wednesday we relaxed in the morning, then went to check out Bicas, a non-profit collective bike organization founded in the nineties that has tons of parts, bikes and bike rentals. We got some cool info about how their organization works and J and E got some back up stuff for their bikes. That night we went to the Surly Wench on 4th Ave in Tucson, sort of the trendy part of town and drank and played pool. We dumpstered some bread and salads at the co-op next door the went for a long bike ride on the deserted streets of Tucson a couple of miles down one of its busiest streets.

Thursday we parted ways and I made the first leg of my trip to Albuquerque.

I'm writing this from a cheap hotel with half-dead crickets all over the ground and really cool chairs in Holbrook, AZ. Tomorrow I'm headed to Albuquerque, where I'll hang out for a few days with my CouchSurfing host M.


permalink written by  hannahrose on July 10, 2008 from Tucson, United States
from the travel blog: Summer Road Journey 2008
tagged Tucson, JoshuaTree, Coronado and Bicas

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Burque

Albuquerque, United States


I left Tucson Thursday morning and headed to Holbrook, AZ where I spent the night amongst half-dead crickets in a cheap motel. I watched tv and spent some downtime by myself, something I take for granted when I am home. It was only about 5 hours to Holbrook, but I saw some beautiful sights in the two native american reservations which US-77 cuts through.

The next day I drove about 5 more hours to Albuquerque, part of the way through some bad thunderstorms. All along I-40 through the Eastern side of Arizona and Western New Mexico are stores "run" by Navajo people, though most of them are by now corporatized or have multiple locations. I stopped at one that was not a chain and appeared to be more authentic. I bought some fry bread with cinnamon and sugar and looked at the hand crafted pottery, beaded belts, jewelry, mocassins and dream catchers.

When I got into Albuquerque, or 'Burque as its known by many locals, for the old Spanish spelling AlbuRquerque, my couchsurfing (CS) host's previous couch surfer was still there. We chatted a bit and I gave her a ride to the airport and we made plans to meet up in New Orleans when we were both there.


Miriam, my CS host. and I chatted about Burque, then went out with her gf Matie and Matie's friend Dawn who was in town visiting. We went to the Albuquerque social club, which is a gay club you pay fifteen dollars a year to have a membership to, can smoke inside of and which is hilariously cheesy.

The rest of the weekend, I explored cafe's and local shops on my own, went out more with Miriam, Matie and Dawn and soaked up the town. Miriam told me about 'The Flea Mart' which is a large indoor flea market with several vendors displaying their wares. They have already cheap prices and crazy discounts. I got vintage postcards for less than a dollar each, a set of coasters with my grandmother's initials on them and some vintage ties from an estate sale to give to a friend.

I even got to go to the gym with Matie and her friend Naomi, who I later met out for dinner and jazz in Old Albuquerque, which is not that old looking anymore....

permalink written by  hannahrose on July 21, 2008 from Albuquerque, United States
from the travel blog: Summer Road Journey 2008
tagged Albuquerque and Burque

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Don't Mess With Texas

Austin, United States



For some reason, I thought it was an acceptable plan to drive twelve hours straight from Albuquerque to Austin by myself. I meant to leave around 6 or 7 in the morning, but didn't wake up until that time and left around 8. Driving through Eastern New Mexico (I took a variety of US highways instead of the interstate to get in on the shortest distance between two places is a straight line and learned there is a reason people take interstates) was a fascinating and at times nerve-racking experience. There were large birds, possibly vultures or maybe hawks, eating roadkill all the way through NM, and every time I passed them they would swoop up and almost collide with my car, at one point forcing me to swerve into the thankfully empty opposite lane. But it was deserted except for some trucks, and a few other roadtrippers with bike racks or roof racks. It was beautiful countryside and slowly turned from sparse desert landscape into lush, humid landscape as NM gave way to West Texas gave way to Central Texas.

West Texas is a collection of near-abandoned towns with faded gas stations displaying prices not seen for years and shuttered roadside restaurants where I gladly would have stopped for a meal had they been open. The speed limit slows through these towns, forcing you to look around and notice the desolation in anticipation of the next generation of ghost towns. Many of the towns had one or two houses with new trucks and tv satellites in the yard, most likely owners of the farms that lined the highway. Then thirty miles before Austin, you hit dense suburbs which carry you into the city.

After going a little too far down a street, I made it to my CS host's house north of UT Austin. That night I was too tired to do much. My time in Austin consisted of Cafe Epoch down the street, the Austin Museum of Art (showing Lewittx2), The Mexic-Arte Museum, downtown and yummy tex-mex.

I went out that Tuesday night with Haley (my host) and some of her friends (they were celebrating one of them turning 21), first checking out some blues at Antone's, then doing a pub-crawl including the Aquarium (free birthday shot and t-shirt on your 21st), the Library (more free b-day shots), Cheers (which has crazy flaming shots), and finally Rain, a cheesy gay bar with a great patio, a stripper pole and a light up dance floor.

I was tired when I reached Austin and spent a good amount of time just vegging and recharging my batteries, but I also go to see a lot of the best the town has to offer. My favorite place was probably the Mexic-Arte Museum, which had an amazing exhibit on Aztec-Maya revival art the was very historically contextualized and which included everything from Mayan and Aztec artifacts to pulp mummy film paraphernalia from the 40's and 50's, including an actual clip of a film.

permalink written by  hannahrose on July 21, 2008 from Austin, United States
from the travel blog: Summer Road Journey 2008
tagged Austin, MexicArteMuseum, AMOA and Epoch

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