Monday, August 8, 2011

The Great American Roadtrip Part 1

Ever since we met, Andy and I have loved going on what we call 'ventures. I think our first one was a day trip down to Fort Fisher only a few weeks after our first encounter at Paddy's Pub. Soon after, we were trekking our way around Southeastern North Carolina finding hiking trails and lakes to fish in. Getting married didn't curb our adventurous spirits, it just meant that we could take longer 'ventures since we were no longer limited to less than 24 hours together before parting ways in the name of decency and wisdom. But ever since tying the knot, we've taken longer and more varied 'ventures as we've traveled to and fro through Texas and sometimes back up to North Carolina. But this summer, we had an idea. We wanted to take our grandest 'venture yet- a road trip to Yosemite! We knew it would take some time- three days of driving there, and three back- but we had it. Andy had his vacation days and I don't officially start at HCCS until this coming Friday. So we decided to go for it!

After my week-long grueling AP Chemistry workshop at UT, we left the morning of Friday, July29 with hopes to arrive in Yosemite on Sunday around noon. I don't know if there's a better way to document a road trip other than pictures. So, I'll try to put as many up as I can.

We headed out of Texas by way of highway 290, which just happens to go through my favorite town in Texas- Fredericksburg! So, of course, we had to stop at the Fredericksburg bakery for my favorite- streudel!

We drove through West Teas all day on Friday, stopped for dinner in El Paso and kept on trucking. I don't know how, except for the grace of God, but Andy made it all the way to Tuscon that first night. We woke up and headed on, hoping to make it to the California coast by nightfall. But, we did pause to take some pictures of these giant cacti in the Sonora Desert.

In the early afternoon (keep in mind, we were gaining daylight hours as we traveled West) we arrived at Joshua Tree National Park. Of course we had to stop and check it out! Our first pit stop was at an actual desert oasis called Lost Palms. An underground spring feeds these giant palm trees, providing shade from the blazing sun.

After leaving the oasis, we drove through Joshua Tree. Along the road, we saw this guy in a place called the Cholla Garden. Cholla is the succulent plant you see in the background. Apparently, the spines are really painful to get out, but they're really cool looking plants.

Joshua Tree is actually where two deserts meet each other. The Colorado Desert, toward the South of the park, where Andy and I entered, has its own unique rocky, arid landscape, but lacks the tree that gives the park its name. As we drove North toward the Mojave Desert which is punctuated by large boulders in imaginative shapes and the oh-so-famous Joshua Trees themselves, we connected with a rare and welcome sight- a thunderstorm in the desert! Coming from Austin, where we've seen no rain in months, we were delighted to drive through the gigantic raindrops. The colors from the storm were absolutely beautiful, and we think we got to see something really rare!

The rain moved quickly from North to South, so as we drove upward toward the Mojave Desert, the skies got clearer. By the time we finally got to where the Joshua Trees grow, everything was bright again.

We traveled by Skull Rock and had to stop and explore for just a moment. Looks like something from Pirates of the Caribbean!

We would have liked to have spent more time exploring at Joshua Tree, but the coastline was still our goal for Saturday. So, we got back on the interstate and headed for Los Angeles. When we got there, we exited the freeway and opted for a more "scenic" route through some of L.A.- Santa Monica Blvd. Although all we did was drive through, we got to see the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. The road literally dead ends at the ocean. After sitting in traffic (albeit on a famous road) we were tired and frustrated. That frustration was increased when we tried to find parking near the Santa Monica pier and Third Street Promenade, but even after trying a couple of parking buildings (where we would have paid $10) we couldn't find anything. Just as we were ready to keep moving on down the road, a spot opened up literally a block away from Ocean Blvd! We couldn't believe it! We knew that God was really blessing us. We were able to walk down to the beach and spend a few moments.

This picture was pretty special to me. Gats has now been to both oceans!

Andy went down to the water to test it out... even though it was only 72 degrees outside!

But once he got his feet wet, he changed his mind pretty quickly!

After the beach, we walked back up to the Third Street Promenade and ate dinner at Johnny Rockets. We were even able to eat outside on the patio so we could keep Gatsby and Daisy with us! We felt so blessed! All of this cost us only $1.50 at the parking meter! After hamburgers, fries and a coffee shake, we headed back to the car and on toward Bakersfield, which put us just four hours from Yosemite. We were in awe that the Lord was working out all of the timing and parking and even eating for us. I guess Andy and I are sort of used to Him challenging us through things a little bit tough, but it was like He was on vacation with us and wanted us all to have a smooth ride. :)

More to come...

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