Late Summer 2012 -My Drive to Arizona and back to Seattle with a stop in Vegas.

– This post hasn’t been edited yet by my editor, please bare with us.

*Yes I know..it’s over a year since this took place. I’m a very bad blogger.. A part of me thinks that with the death of my Grandmother and now Rosie, I didn’t want to write this.*

**Since this post was written so long after the road trip took place, there won’t be as many details and fun stories to go with it. I hope what I was able to recall along with the pictures are enjoyable! For the purpose of the of keeping the moments alive, I wrote things about Rosie as if she is still with us.**

 

After the family visit in TN, River and I began the long and rather solemn drive to Sun City, Arizona (right outside of Phoenix) from the Farm, to meet up with my aunts for Grammy Gail’s memorial. The beauty of the elements helped me find serenity, the clouds putting on light shows and the lightning sparking it’s way across the plains.

Sunlight through rainclouds

Sunlight through rainclouds

I stopped in Alabama to visit a friend and her husband for the afternoon before hitting the road for the long haul. River and I slept for a few hours in the early am till the sun was too hot in Oklahoma.

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Lone farm surrounded by Windmills in Oklahoma

The above picture I am fairly certain was taken in Oklahoma nearing Texas. But the lower not quite southwest states can look pretty similar.

New Mexico Mesa

New Mexico Mesa

Arrived in New Mexico with rain clouds looming, felt strange to be in the desert in August and have rain! As the night progressed the rain picked up and the rest stops were full. I ended up at hotel in Moriarty NM, for the night with River. The shower and bed were a nice treat from  the road and River could roam about the room and not be confined to the car for a bit.

Looking back on Albuquerque

Looking back on Albuquerque

The next morning the heavy clouds still hadn’t lifted and Albuquerque wasn’t it’s usual colorful self.

Rainclouds & Mesas

Rainclouds & Mesas

The rain continued for the entire drive through New Mexico. In some ways it felt like the weather was mirroring this time in my life of being in grief and the passing of death.

Traveling River

Traveling River

A traveling River in the Black Dragon ~ isn’t she regal? As usual, I owe a great deal to River’s company and compassion of getting me through this time in my life. She weather’s the car rides, plane rides and time away from and in transition with me like a champ.

Red Mesa in New Mexico

Red Mesa

Red Rocks in New Mexico. While the dry heat isn’t one of my favorite climates, it is impressive and inspiring to be in such landscape.

Volcanic Rock Fields NM, AZ Drive, Summer 2012

El Malpais Volcanic Rock Fields

El Malpais Lava fields view from l-40 near Grants New Mexico.

Sunny Arizona

Sunny Arizona

Entering into Arizona brought sunshine and hotter temperatures.

The Mountain Range near Flagstaff looms ahead

The Mountain Range near Flagstaff looms ahead

Mountains loomed on the horizon where Flagstaff resides. The heat increased, the sun-baked out any lasting moisture from the rains and the clouds seemed to dance across the high desert.

Arizona Redrocks

Arizona Redrocks

Famous deep-colored red rocks of the southwest.

Driving down from Flagstaff

Driving down from Flagstaff

I didn’t stop in Flagstaff this time, just merged onto l-17 S. The terrain changed from high desert and forest as I coasted down the mountains towards Phoenix, the pines and evergreen shrubs giving way to leafy desert trees and more cacti.

The treeless mountains of Arizona

The treeless mountains of Arizona

As I approached the 3000 ft above sea level mark, the cacti took over. The well-known Giant Saguaro cactus only grow below 3000-4000ft (a desert fact that my Grammy Gail taught me many years ago).

Due to my focus being elsewhere, I didn’t actually get any photos of the Saguaro this trip. But I have some from 2009 like the one below.

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus

Once I arrived at my Grandmother’s Condo in Sun City AZ, things just blurred together in a frenzy of sorting, preparing and organizing with my Aunt Michele and Aunt Suzi. Rosie who had been living Grammy Gail since 2009 was quite stressed out and didn’t react well to River being in her space. The next few days passed in a chaos of which I have no pictures of – but my aunts probably do. We had the memorial for Grammy Gail and hosted many of her long time friends for reminiscing. It was a wonderful service and I read the letter the children wrote out for me to read at her memorial. I worked with the Rosie issue of attacking River over any slight the she perceived and assisted my aunts to the best of my abilities in packing up Grammy Gail’s stuff.  As most people know – Rosie came to live with River, Reuben and I in Seattle.

The Hills of Arizona

The Hills of Arizona

Suzi hadn’t yet booked her flight to Bethel, Alaska and decided to drive with the Dachshund girls and I back to Seattle – where her flight would go through anyway. Michele had to get back to Seattle for work and left a day or two before us. Suzi and I planned to stop in at Vegas to overnight and get to see some of the sights, make a adventure of our time together.

Desert Cloud Trails

Desert Cloud Trails

The drive north was beautiful, Rosie had settled down and River demanded pets from Suzi as we listened to Forgiener, Kansas, Journey, Bob Segar, and many other great road tripping artists that both my Aunt and I could get behind – our tastes are a little different with her liking Country and I liking ‘nothing fun’.

The Final stretch before Nevada - Mt Wilson Wilderness area

The Final stretch before Nevada – Mt Wilson Wilderness area

This part of the drive was nothing but wondrous views from just about every angle.

Joannie Cruising

Joannie Cruising

Suzi snapped an ‘action’ shot while playing with my camera. I’m looking rather serious here focusing on the road ahead. I managed to restrain my usual desire of flipping off the camera.

Beautiful and desolate at the same time

Beautiful and desolate at the same time

This part of the terrain had very little greenery or even large cactus due to the elevation and (to me) was a staggering mix of beautiful and desolate at the same time.

The many colors of the hills

The many colors of the hills

I love how many colors there can be in nature even if it’s only in one or two palettes.

Lake Mead NV

Lake Mead Nevada

We did not stop and do the Hoover Dam sights, with two Dachshunds – one overweight and very stressed out – and the both of us exhausted and ready for dinner we trudge on to Vegas while snapping pictures as we went.

Lake Mead Nevada 2

Lake Mead Nevada 2

Lake Mead really is quite impressive, such a large body of water in an otherwise incredibly dry place. I do plan on going back and getting to know the path less walked in this area.

Looking back at Lake Mead Nevada

Looking back at Lake Mead Nevada

It was strange to see so many boats, jetskiis and other watercraft.

Strange Haze -Between Boulder City & Las Vegas Nevada

Strange Haze between Boulder City & Las Vegas Nevada

Coasting down from Boulder City towards Vegas, there was a surreal part of the landscape that both Suzi and I spent quite a bit of time looking at.  A rather obscure shadow covering the ground, yet no clouds and no water for irrigation. We finally decided it must be some sort of low-lying haze that was giving the bizarre alien-planet like feel.

Suzi had found one of the only two hotels in Vegas that took dogs. The famous Mandalay Bay Hotel, resort and not sure how many casinos… It was pretty freaking cool I’ll give it that.

Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

My Night photos leave something to be desired…But in my camera’s defense it’s old and slow.

The Luxor Las Vegas Obelisk

The Luxor Las Vegas Obelisk

The impressive Luxor Obelisk. I liked it – obscenely as it is.

Assorted Statues - Luxor Hotel

Assorted Statues – Luxor Hotel

Random strange statues.

Closeup of the Luxor Obelisk

Closeup of the Luxor Obelisk

The hieroglyph design on the Obelisk.

Luxor Hotel Sphinx & Pyramid

Luxor Hotel Sphinx & Pyramid

Las Vegas’s Sphinx with the glowing Pyramid behind it.

Luxor Hotel Pyramid

Luxor Hotel Pyramid

Like something out of a Alien movie!

Las Vegas at Night

Las Vegas at Night

So many lights… River strutted her way along with us, Rosie was slinking along the wall and had to be carried back to the Hotel – poor thing hadn’t seen so much crazy in years.

Excalibur Castle Towers

Excalibur Castle Towers

More like a Disney Castle than a Medieval Castle was my thoughts.

Excalibur!

Excalibur!

I couldn’t decide if this would be an awesome place to visit or just plain cheesy!

Enterance to Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino

Entrance to Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino

The very impressive place we stayed at!

Guardian Dragon Statue

Guardian Dragon Statue

I REALLY liked this statue/Gargoyle.

The Dragon Wings

The Dragon Wings

I mean look at those wings!

Waterfall at Mandalay Bay

Waterfall at Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay boasted waterfalls, water parks, swimming pools, a wave pool and I’m not sure what else.

The River Dragon Statue

The River Dragon Statue

Due to My Dragon’s inky black coat..the camera couldn’t focus on her. This is the only sorta usable picture (and there were tons taken..) by this point she is done posing and just wants down.

Pillers at Mandalay Bay

Pillars at Mandalay Bay

I felt like I was on a movie set with all the random culture inspired architect.

Rosie & Suzi

Rosie & Suzi

Suzi with her classic big smile and Rosie hoping our ‘adventure’ is about done.

J, River & Rosie in the Casino - Mandalay Bay

J, River & Rosie in the Casino – Mandalay Bay

Proof that the dogs can be IN the Casinos! Not a very flattering picture, but it was late and the camera acting up – the dogs wouldn’t look at Suzi…

Vegas Strip in the Morning

Vegas Strip in the Morning

Even in the daylight it’s colorful.

The Vegas Everyone knows

The Vegas Everyone knows

My poor brain was trying to keep up with the various  world city inspired buildings.

Detail of the Bulidings

Detail of the Buildings

Some of the detail was rather impressive. The Eiffel tower is in the background.

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The Forum Shops at Caesar’s

More cool and strange buildings! It was like some designers took the world’s best known buildings, monuments and such, then vomited them into Las Vegas.

Palm Trees in Vegas

Palm Trees & Pirate Ships in Vegas

Of course there is a Pirate Ship in Las Vegas…

I had a good time, I would actually like to go back. Maybe find a dance club to grove to, see a show and most importantly – swim in another giant oversized bathtub that was in our room! That thing was HEAVENLY!!! Food was pretty tasty too and things were not near as expensive as I thought they would be – seems the Casinos want you to drop as much of your money as possible on the slot machines and tables!

Due to having the girls, we couldn’t leave them alone in the hotel (Rosie barks) and being tired from the road meant it wasn’t a big deal anyway. Suzi and I lounged with our room service & wine, living it up. After an AMAZING dessert, we went for our evening walk with the dogs (all the night pictures are from the walk).

The next morning we cruised the strip after checking out of the hotel and then hit the highway.

Nevada Desert

Nevada Desert – heart of Nevada.

Entering the heart of Nevada (to my mind anyway).

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Rock Layers, Nevada

This portion of the drive was probably my favorite. The sheer openness of the land. The rare sign of humanity (besides the road) that took you far away from society and all its problems. Just us, the dogs, our music and the road ahead surrounded by desert and mountains. You would see a road sign stating the next gas station was 180 miles ahead or sometimes even more! I loved it. The silence in the middle of the day, was so vast that it was deafening. Even on the side of the road (see a car every few hours or so).

My View to the East

My View to the East

The road ran through the valley between the mountain ranges for most of the drive.

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My View to the West

Powerlines to the west was the only reminder of humanity reach for much the drive.

Black Rock Layers

Black Rock Layers

The layers of rock and earth were like something from an SciFi world.

The Highway

The Highway

The never ending highway. We made DAMN good time, my Black Dragon was cruising along at high speeds I shall not name… Though it was Suzi who almost got a speeding ticket 😉

Rock Mounds

Rock Mounds

Crumbling hills.

Sharp Peaks

Sharp Peaks

Peaks still sharp along this ridge.

Hundreds of Miles of nothing but Nevada Desert

Hundreds of Miles of nothing but Nevada Desert

I feel like this drive was very therapeutic for myself and I dare say my Aunt Suzi. The summer had been a whirl wind of adventures, challenges, self discovery, family and then loss. To be wandering through the Desert gave me some much-needed space and silence to gather my thoughts – though there was plenty of talking between us as well!

Many Mountains

Many Mountains

The dogs slept except when we pulled over for bathroom breaks.

Canyon Head

Canyon Head

A small canyon hidden in the desert.

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Canyon Layers

A small but beautiful canyon – the rock layers were very different from other canyons I’ve been in.

Canyon Layers

Top of the Canyon Layers

Strange to me still how many ways the layers of earth can look.

Nevada National Forest in the Distance

Nevada National Forest in the Distance

The trees of the Forest were very short and more shrub like.

Afternoon Haze

Afternoon Haze

As the day began to turn into evening, a haze settled over the desert.

Final Light in Nevada

Final Light in Nevada

After gasing up at the small roadside town, I snapped this picture of the final light in Nevada. From here we were going to push through the night on to Seattle. I drove after dinner (Suzi drove most of the day) and we arrived in the Pacific Northwest with the early morning mist. All four of us (us & the dogs) napped and cleaned up while Reuben finished up at work – then went out to take Suzi around the city!

Grammy Gail & Joannie 2009

Grammy Gail & Joannie 2009

In Memory of  my ‘Grammy’ Gail Roissier ~ who taught me about desert life, passed on her love of travel, spinach, waterfalls and dachshunds to me.

May you journey long ~ J

One thought on “Late Summer 2012 -My Drive to Arizona and back to Seattle with a stop in Vegas.

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