Day 17: Helper

There is only one hotel/motel in Helper, and it is a delight if you like trains that go nose to nose with the buildings.  We opened the door into a kitchen with the bedroom beyond.  

A train welcomed us with thundering peep peeps.  We were in for a rock-&-roll night.

We walked into Helper to get milk for our cawfee and snapped a few pics.  Met a man whose wife was from Ipswich in the UK.  He loved our accents.

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Train noises just blended into my dreams.  They were the type that thundered through the walls leaving just the bed intact.

Day 16: Monument Valley

We were up and away pretty quickly (once I had an impromptu top swap)  Note to self:  Don't dance with cold coffee.

We stopped frequently to capture the famous skyline

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A late breakfast at San Juan Inn where a crazy white dog danced at the steps, and then we hoofed it to Helper, 180 miles away.

On route we found the Mexican Hat.

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We took a right into Bluff and explored a delightful town.

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We raced back through Church Rock and Matt found a comfy rock chair at Hole in the Rock.

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Day 15: The day before Monument Valley

Oh  yes we are hunting Big Things, heading up the cusp of Monument Valley in Arizona.  The landscape changed frequently and rapidly.  Started the day at Window Rock in New Mexico - driving up into a green forest that was quite bizarre in the middle of what is a desert just outside of St Michaels.  The green forest flattened back into sand dunes when we neared Ganado and the Hubble Trading Post which was a little difficult to find.  We did find a few narrow dirt roads but nope that wasnt the trading post.  

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At the Trading Post I made friends with a black and white cat.  I named him Harold and he craved headrubs and did his best to trip me up a few times.

We stopped off to look at scenic valleys and red/blue hills - strips of coloured ribbon filled the landscape.

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Deep valleys raised into sharp mountains as we neared Kayenta, this is the village that the tip of Monument Valley.

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Day 14: A trip back in time

We are on the road again, this time to step into a new state which we hadn't planned.  Heading from the busy town of Alberqueque up to Window Rock.  Window rock is in a Navajo reservation and is named because of the rock that has a hole through it.  

We kept hopping back onto route 66 and it kept kicking us off at dead ends.  I found a beautiful bracelet that was a good 800 dollars but "only" 560 or so with the discount.... I reluctantly handed it back.  I am taking photos again with the light lens so I can hold the camera with one hand.

We passed the pottery lady and picked up another piece (she didnt really remember us and gave us similar stories like last year), chased crazy long trains down dusty roads and even passed Coolidge (sorry for not getting the picture Jody) i had two goes to snap it and failed each time.  We were not going to do a dance with the dogs so carried on.

The journey took about 7 hours (kept taking right turns off the route where we find the good stuff of the holiday).

Rested our heads at the Quality Inn in Window Rock and slept like a snoring log.  Tip:  Frozen mac n cheese isn't brilliant. Ice cold night and parched dry day.

Day 13: Bimbling and no caps

Woke to birds singing and watched the sun rise from the balcony in my pjs.  Today was a bimble day and had fizzy orange juice for breakfast.  not sure if it should be fizzy - that might bite me later.  i am typing one handed so leaving out the caps so i can type more words.  a one handed world is very different and everything takes so much longer to do with lids on things turning into a crypton factor challenge.

no photos for a bit but please read matts blog that is dotted with pics.

i put my map reading skills to the test and we bimbled into the plaza with matt and jules snapping pics of doors and quirky signs.  stopped off for the best coffee in the world, found the palace which is a sinle story adobe building, the basilica where the first native female indian was sainted and a swishy skirt.  jules found an amazing cowboy skirt.

back to the car and pointed it at the airport for jules to continue her holiday, but took diverts for pizza, a book shop, a mormon monument and to dance with six lanes of cars and rush hour at departures.

back to the hotel for salad, planning the next day and a restful evening.  if you are wondering, the orange juice didnt bite me.

Day 12: Photoshoot, breaking bad and not breaking my wrist

After a humid night of not sleeping much, set off in excitement.  Today was all about Qwerty staring with Jules in an author photoshoot.  We took many photos, it was really fun and I hope that I have snapped a corker or two.  Time will tell.

Then we headed off to the café of breaking bad.  I need to give watching this another go.  Matt spotted THE RV that is now being used as a tour bus.  I was more keen to see the giant ostrich in the lot and wondered over to say hello.  eyeball to eyeball through a fence and my fingers were saved by the group of tourists shouting a warning.  fingers saved.  Ericthe ostrich and I just blinked at each other instead. 

We had order number 13 in the café and spilt salt so threw it over my shoulder and matts to avert bad luck.  phew.

with full stomachs we set off for Santa Fe.  It really is a treasure.  The hotel was perfect.  Within 15 mins I had fallen over.  Feets are OK.  Don't worry Oonagh and Sam I can still bounce.  My arm looked oddly swollen and wouldn't move.  We couldn't pass up the option of including the local emergency room on our holiday.  Despite the pain Matts comfort was certainly needed.  I wasn't brave during xrays while they tried to twist my arm to take pics.  A few hours, large bill, later I am sporting ice packs and a sling.  A sprain and what looks like a corker of a bruisenow across elbow.  I knew I didn't throw enough salt over my shoulder earlier in the day.

The only way to celebrate said fall was dinner out washed down with Margaritas and Whisky.

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Day 11: Chasing Dawn

As I type up this update, it is mid-morning and we have had a ridiculously large breakfast at Denny's.  We were up before Dawn to chase it into the reservation and watch the sun peek over the Breaking Bad site.

Just over the brow of the hill is a reservation settlement guarded by dogs who came to check out our car.  We rolled away very very slowly.

Here are a few test photos ahead of tomorrow.  Between now and then Matt will pick up Jules, explore the old town recommended by the hotel receptionist and then chatter over dinner.

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On the way out...  I loved this rock.  It looks like the sun itself has snapped this one in two.  Matt took the picture through the car window.

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Days 9 & 10

I know, I am cheating.  It is Tuesday evening and I have two days to catch up on :-)

Today my niece Drew gave birth to a baby girl and I am so thrilled.  That's news worth sharing. 

Monday

We bought a kettle.   Copious pots of tea and coffee can now be made on demand.  Sadly we will need to leave it behind as it is a bit chunky.  

No bears terrorised us through the night, we were awake at 6 ish so typed up yesterday's blog and got ready to start the day.  The plan was to find a hot breakfast and then head south.  No hotels, no other plan.  It was a good day.  We bimbled and it was a joy.

We discovered the Echo Amphitheatre where I whistled and birds replied back.  and then the Ghost Ranch, the area where Georgia O'keefe was inspired by the landscape and painted. Our cameras were equally inspired you could almost hear them sigh.   

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We ended up the day in a dodgy hotel with ripped curtains that wouldn't shut, so I pinched them together and held in place with a few stitches (I knew that needle and cotton would come in handy).

Woke to layers of ice on the car.  The temperature drops dramatically at night and burns through the day.  I seem to be developing half a tanned face.  

Tuesday

Last night's hotel worked out so well we thought that pot luck was the way to go.    We were also on a mission to find a Magnificent Hat for Matt's head.

Our first stop was camel rock.  Yes.  It is a rock shaped like a camel.   I also made friends with a magpie but it doesn't sound like an English magpie and left it behind with a supply of bread.

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27 miles from Albuquerque Matt had driven 1000 miles. 

We also went to Clines Corners stepping back into the Route 66 trip but didn't find The Hat.  We did, however, skip over the Route 66, find an abandoned campsite, and searched for a pumpkin patch, got lost and found a few times, didn't find petroglyphs and scouted the site for Breaking Bad.  Now I have only watched a few couple of Breaking Bad and between you and I, I am not a fan but the landscape was a little bit awesome and I captured a head in a rock - I have found a few so far, and will no doubt do a blog just on rock heads/faces.

Isn't this an impressively big head?  Luckily this one doesn't want a hat.

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We are now somewhere but I am not sure where.   About 40 mins from the Breaking Bad site as we will be up when it is still dark to do an early dawn shoot before picking up Jules from the airport.  I can tell you that the hotel is good.  No needle and cotton required tonight.  

Night night.

Day 8: Bursting into New Mexico

Who knew Colourful Colorado was closed on a Sunday?  We woke to a giant truck having engine trouble and chug-squeal-chugging.  For alarms, I would say that this was effective.  I thought the truck was going to pop out of its spot and slam through the wall.  

We packed up the car knowing we were sleeping in a new state that evening.  Not many photos taken today as we were heading into reservation country Ute of rolling hills, big green trees and spikey brush.   Here is a river near our hotel.

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It was about 109 miles but we took a few diverts, passing through towns such as Bayfield (closed) but had a cool water pump, Piedra, Pagosa Springs, Chromo and finally Chama.  We passed around a bend and a hill and we would have passed the Stateline had I not seen the Welcome to Colorado sign in the rear view mirror.

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It is a land of cows and horses and ranches.  I did spot a real life cowboy on a horse with a group of dogs leading the way, as well as two deer trying to cross a busy road just before we had stopped and where Matt ate a tepid burger.

Our TomTom thought the hotel was 57 miles from where we were, so after stopping off and seeing a beautiful steam engine, drinking lemonade we found it two miles down the road.  We were told it was bear country which explains the metal cage on the door.   I am not taking night photos then.  I did find a giant bear but it was carved out of a giant tree.

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Dinner and whiskey then bed... hopefully no truck alarm in the morning.

Tomorrow ?  No plans, no hotel booked.. We are just driving until we find something interesting.

Day 7: Into Colorado

 

We will have been here a whole week tomorrow.   Our destination today was Durango based in Colorado.   After a restless night of boogie men we packed up the house and stuffed the car.  We might need to upgrade the car to a bus as it is getting a wee bit tight on space as we are like magnets and collect things.

Within 30 minutes we are at the border after chasing wavy roads that made me feel sooo sick.  we were in between two states, parked at the Stateline Grill and Bar.   The nearest town is 15 minutes drive away.  Took obligatory pictures of the Welcome To signs and had a hot meal.  Left to "Ya'll have a good day" - I looked around and did some counting yup still just Matt and I.   We hadn't picked up any stragglers that we hadn't named.  Querty was still in the well of the car and had been tested a few times, and we had left Sandy behind in some hills. Utah lay in our rear view mirror as we dipped into Colorado.

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We meandered through little dusty towns like Dove Creek the capital of pinto beans and wild coffee, Pleasant View where not much was happening.  The landscape changed again to be filled with trees and prickly bushes.  Most of the landscape is intent on stabbing you - the Cactus is a prickly monster and evil on the feet.  Farmland took over and many fields were filled with green squares of bundled greenstuff ready for storing.

We took a right turn to see Narraguinnip Reservoir State wildlife area where the wind ripped the enamel off your back teeth.   We didn't stay long but took way too many photos.

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Stopped at a discovery centre for 30 minutes but stayed near to two hours, welcomed by an enthusiastic volunteer.  I learnt way too much about pottery and the hundreds of recognised corn seeds.  We took a divert and climbed a steep hill to see a reservoir below at the Big Bend.  I can tell you that it did indeed have a big bend and the views were pretty breathtaking as we took our time to catch our breath.  Back in 1870 rent for a house was 2 dollars a month - bargain, however if you wanted electricity you had to part with 10 dollars .  Then the railroad moved in and the 100 or so folk moved to Durango (I guess they were miffed that they had been excluded from the census).

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On arrival at the Hotel, Gerry was keen to help us settle in and even phoned us in our room to check we were happy.   This hotel is full of quirky souls who are intent on talking to themselves.   The town is huge where ALL the shops have been sucked in from all the smaller villages.  A quaint railroad passes through with an old steam type choo chooo that buffers against the motorways and malls.   We met a group of kids who were collecting car "honks".  This is what passes for fun in Durango.   

Day 6: Friday 13th

As Friday the 13th's go... this was a good one.  We spent two days in the house based in Monticello.   The dog next door still ran at the fence as if it wasn't going to hold it in and barked it's head off but I think we had an understanding.  I stayed on my side, it stayed behind the fence protecting the chickens.

We pottered about and plan ahead as only two future hotels are booked.  We didn't know where we would spend the next night so pulled out the Planning Book, rolled up our sleeves, poured a strong pepsi and got to work.   Colorado was the next state to jump into.   First we looked for Interesting Things to Do... then we looked at times to get there... and finally where we would want to plonk our heads.

We threw a couple of loads of washing through the machines and then went for lunch at the Peace Tree.  I had something wrapped in green stuffed full of green.  It looked like this but tasted way better.

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We then went to what looked like a discovery centre but turned out to be a school.  Did an about turn in the car park and took pictures of local landscapes and horses instead.   Did you know horses could have blue eyes?  me neither.  

The internet had advised that petroglyphs were nearby (about 26 miles nearby to be precise) so we had to snap them.  They are unknown etchings carved into a wall.  On the way there we bumped into the Church Rock which is huge and so had to swing off the tarmac onto yet more gravel to take a closer look.  I then managed to smack my head on the car door getting back into the car (note to self: do not align head with the car door when opening it).

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With my eyeball ringing, we headed off to the see the wall scratchings at Newspaper Rock Archeological site.   The drive climbed again into hills but the trees were a fiery yellow and the leaves were ready to burst off the branches in the Autumn fall.

On the way home we snapped some real cows who stopped the traffic and rushed across the road in bunches of threes and fives.  I made myself jump looking through the camera thinking one was nose to nose with me... but it was ok.  Heartbeat slowed as I realised that the zoom lens was up a cow's nostril.

We pulled off the road and took photos of abandoned buildings.  These were mighty fine and part of the Truth ranch that we on private property.  We kept our feets on the right side of the fence to capture these.

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Before getting home, we popped into the local and picked up some beer to help us pack.

Day 5: Moab to Monticello

We only had an hour's drive ahead to the next town and they are small towns (but it is interesting that municipal buildings state they are a City of...).  These people had obviously not been to a real city.  We had planned to make a gentle start for Monticello at about 10 am, but we were in the car and chugging along just after 8:30 am.  

The first stop was Ken's Lake.  We had ignored signs to turn off a mile or two earlier and followed TomTom who wanted to take us down a rubble road with sharp stones poised to take out our tyres whilst industrial juggernauts thundered past.    We gently did a three point turn and headed back to tarmac to seek out and follow the sign that we had earlier ignored.  We were not disappointed.  Nearly 3 acres of a blue lake.  We wondered how the water remained in the late given that the whole area is bone dry - and it is all to do with the lining.... There were many Don'ts for the lake including not ripping the bottom or water will leak away.  The city spent 46,000 dollars in 2008 just to maintain the bottom.  It is a well maintained bottom.

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We then asked TomTom to take us to the Hole in the Wall but again we came a cropper by following TomTom, it lead us off-road into the hills where only kids driving 4x4s with a deathwish would want to follow... 2.5miles in we wisely decided to turn around thinking we would skip the next stop.  Our route was something like this (I am surprised we still have the bottom of the car to be honest).

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The Hole in the Wall was a joy to see... Not sure if you can spot the sign.

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The family had used hand tools and TNT to blow out rooms in a giant rock and make it their home.  20 years in the making and the husband was a keen amateur taxidermist.  His efforts at stuffing his donkey and two horses were pretty scary.  

A little zoo was interesting, a white raccoon, ostriches, a camel, and mini-pigs were some of the animals I am not allowed to take back home with me... many were professional biters but I left with my fingers intact and only had the snot from a bison to wash off when it tagged me (I am pleased I didn't gip).  

We then had a mission to find Wilson's Arch.  There wasn't an address but luckily it was at the side of the road.  Matt took photos while I shook stones out of my shoe.

We arrived at Monticello with a few hours to check-in at a house, so we killed time by having lunch, going to a museum and seeing a giant tractor (#4 on TripAdvisors things to do) before settling into a lovely house for two nights.  I liked the Town (City).  It was quite quirky with the biggest churches and smallest shop for alcohol.  The Morman church is replacing their 6ft gold topping with a 9ft gold topping. They also had some lovely parks.  After the roar of quad bikes in Moab this gentle town dressed in autumn colours was a scenic holiday.

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Day 4: Canyonlands and Dinosaurs

94 miles clocked up today.   We had a vague plan to round up dinosaurs and look at rocks.  Rocks came first in the form of the Canyonlands National Park.

Driving out of Moab again I was struck by the vivid red unrelenting rocks against the sharp blue sky.  The town is gripped in a vice hug of sheer rock, it isn't calming.  I don't think I could live here year round.  It is an economy driven by its surroundings.

As you head out of Moab the oppressive walls open up and melt into the landscape.  Roads that point upwards as you climb out of the mountains to skate along the top of them.  Canyonlands here we come.

At one point we had a whole lot of sky...  It was a joy.

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At the Canyonlands you could drive or hike.  Some trails needed high clearance cars with 4x4 wheels.  Some people came prepared with Giant Cars with a good foot of clearance and wheels you see on monster trucks. We spent a few hours driving and taking photos.

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We then snapped lots of dinos... I have only added one here but if you REALLY want to see them all I can provide a blow-by-blow slideshow.   *landscape real... dinos are wobbly plastic.

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We headed back to the hotel to plan our last day as we wend our way to Monticello in the morning.  

Day 3: Rocks and Wildlife

Day 3 started with Bagels and the Worst Cawfee in the World.  

We pointed the car at the rocks and headed out, past the entrance to Arches National Park and the Umtra project (http://www.grandcountyutah.net/257/Moab-UMTRA-Project) where much Uranium is being relocated.  If I start glowing do let me know.

We hung a right into red sand with green hills and I made an impression before killing my battery and deciding to return to the hotel for my spare battery and charger (doh).  Amateur photographer mistake.

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We discussed naming the typewriter - Matt said Querty was the obvious answer but I shouldn't name things as it will be hard to leave it behind.  So Querty it is.... we might be bringing the typewriter back home after all.

Heading back to the hotel to pick up the spare battery and the rocks seemed happy to see us.

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When heading to Yellowcat there were many gorgeous landscapes

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Matt has eagle eyes and spotted a furry thing in Yellowcat which was simply a road without buildings that didn't stop... we did a U-turn 30 minutes in as we were getting close to nowhere.    Not quite sure if it is a meercat or prairie dog..   I shall call it Sandy.   It has been named so we are bringing it home. 

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Cisco was a Ghost Town.  Full of abandoned buildings and amusing signs.

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Hunt Number 2 for the day was Sego Canyon, to look at ancient Indian rock art. 

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We had early dinner in a Dinner in MOAB, and then headed to the hotel to refresh and go to the pub..... sadly I fell onto the bed and didn't wake up till dawn - the altitude is quite tiring.   Tomorrow we go dinosaur hunting.

Day 2: Hills

Work up with the excited holiday feeling... while Matt had read through the night.   We had orange juice while watching the sun come up.  We had a hilly view from our room.  Early afternoon I managed to trap my finger in a chair and grow an impressive blood blister but it didn't stop the photos.  

These pointy specimens were near our hotel.

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Chatted to a lovely lady in Walmart who doesn't have a day off... and today is Columbus Day, where Trump wanted people to have flags flying.  The Walmart lady thinks its about Columbus discovering a flat earth.   

Yesterday when I mentioned red patchy hills we got close enough to see why they were red.  Pinky red trees!

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Matt captured a Big Thing.

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as well as a train...

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and then the landscape opened up into softer sand hills and very very very long roads with big skies.

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We ended the evening drinking Dead Horse Ale over the road.  We are now in MOAB, Utah for three nights.

Here

Quick update.   We have been flung across the ocean in a tin can.   Landed safely at SLC.  Update is brief as it is 3am UK time and 8pm here.   Heading out for cawfeeeee and then will sleep while matt blogs the heck out of our day... follow his blog for pictures later... lots and lots of pictures (well maybe one).    Tis still Sunday so we are heading out to explore.  

The getting here day

The List went out of the window as I slept through the alarm and we got up a bit late.  I had the Yackerty Sacks music running through my head on loop as I raced around the house double checking everything. 

Matt and Simon talked Comedy and Religion all the way to the airport.   There were no real queues anywhere.  The only disruption was a wave of red lights that were set off when our passports were scanned at the boarding gate and we were told to step to one side.   I can tell you, this didn't inspire calmness and the person we were referred to had no clue either.  We all stood shrugging at each other.   After hushed whispering, our seats were moved or rather we were moved to different seats as a different plane was on the stand that had been ordered.

Got to watch Wonderwoman after several restarts of the entertainment system, played a quiz with Matt, read a book and did a bit of awkward sitting up sleeping.  I spotted one lass doing a drawing on the plane and thought she was really good.   Halfway through the flight Matt gave me a rabbit drawing which he had spontaneously commissioned.

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Salt Lake City from the air is beautiful.  Sand dunes and blue green lakes give way to sharp mountains.  Even the mountains have a personality - some are covered in what looks like an invasion of patchy red ants, others blue and green.

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We were at a newly built hotel in less than an hour.  The car is great and Matt took to automatic driving like a pro... we even have a giant screen that displays a video behind us when we reverse.

Dinner at Crackerbarrel across the road,  I am liking Eggs over Easy on toast and hot chocolate (the waitress said there are 12 ways to cook eggs in America).  Matt also tasted gravy (white slushy tapioca) and grits (can't even describe it).

I then fell into a quick sleep while Matt apparently slept in the loo (don't eat the grits).

Packing day

The holiday officially started when I stepped into the house last night @ 8:30pm.  I did a little dance and sipped a glass of so very lovely wine.

I was awake just after 4am... I had a bad case of the Excited Butterflies.  Even my rabbit Wombat was fast asleep, but stretched to join me on my quest to pack up his things.  Even his pink rabbit slipper was washed and tumbled dried ready for their adventure.  Wombat reassured Pink Rabbit by licking it to death when I returned it.  In a few hours time Wombat and Pink Rabbit will be commencing their own holiday with Niki, where Wombat will learn to speak fluent Guinea Pig, as a guest in their wonderful summer house at Jaspers Bunny Hotel.

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The afternoon was a flurry of last-minute shopping and packing, I even managed to squeeze in a snooze.  Said stuffed suitcases are jostling for position near the door for tomorrow.

I am making The List.  The List eliminates the multiple last minute checks, re-checks and double checks of all things plug related before leaving the house. 

The countdown has started...

An exciting pre-holiday weekend where I take a tumble down the stairs (practice makes perfect)...  note to self - Slippers are called SLIPpers for a reason.   I now have a stair shaped bruise developing across my bum and my wrist makes an interesting clicking noise.

Went out to buy super grippy shoes.  Those kind of shoes geckos wear when scrambling over rocks the footwear equivalent of snow chains.

I also bought dresses.  Lots of dresses so if I do fall over at least I will look pretty when in hospital.

We have filled up the dining room table with piles of ironing to sort and stuff into a suitcase.  I have just realised that ironing for suitcase packing isn't a great idea as said suitcase will be spinning across the ocean and tumbling about like no one's business before we arrive.  

Late afternoon is spent ghost town hunting from the safety of the sofa.  I found one but Matt has already added it to the Plan of Fun.   We also have dinosaurs in our future and a day going off road to see where Breaking Bad is filmed (second note to self:  pack rations and a pee bottle we may get very lost).   We are also packing a typewriter... more on that later.