2005 Las Vegas

I thought I would carry on the theme of long-ago trips since there are more photos to spare. In 2005, we went to Vegas for Boy’s sister’s 21st birthday. It was another weekend expedition. The family met up with my mother-in-law’s good friend Denise who lives in California. Boy and I quickly learned that we hated Vegas. Yes, you read that correctly – we are definitely the black sheep of the American culture. It was generous of Denise to lend us her Jeep so that we could explore the region instead of being cooped up in the most tacky and resource-guzzling city known on Earth. Oops, did I say that out loud?

2005 Vegas trip

The first day we spent with the family touring the common sites: the hotels, the shops, the casinos, and the strip. If we were into consumerism, gambling, and drinking it might have hooked us. But alas, we are boring old souls. We did check out Cirque du Soleil though, which was amazing. I had no idea the super cool things that can be accomplished in plays. No photos allowed of course:(

2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip

The next day we discovered the vast expanse of the desert. We stumbled upon the Valley of Fire State Park and some super cool petroglyphs.

2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip

We also found some desert dwelling lizards and the silliest looking rabbit you ever did see, the jack rabbit. I learned first hand what a real echo is like. That was awesome. We found an oasis, too. These are things I had only ever heard of in theory but seeing them in real life was so very cool.

2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip

We spent the last full day checking out the Hoover Dam and its area. It was more of Boy’s thing than mine – cool to see how big it is and all that but the touring of the turbines and such did not do it for me.

2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip
2005 Vegas trip

I’m glad Katie got to celebrate her birthday in a big way just like she wanted with all the family, but I’d be happy never going back to Vegas. That’s just me. The region was fun though, so I’m not at all sorry we went:)

2004 Puerto Rico

More photos that I thought lost:)

2004 Puerto Rico weekend

In 2004, we went with our friend Jesse to San Juan for Halloween weekend (how posh does that sound?). His parents had a time share so it was a pretty cheap holiday.

We walked around San Juan each evening, and planned one big tour a day. The last day I fell really ill with a wretched hardcore cold of some kind, and I think my ear drum came close to bursting on the plane (in fact, I honestly believe there is permanent damage and seriously the pain was almost too much). Aside from that, the trip was awesome. The only regret I have is that it was pre-anthropology class and I was definitely there as a tourist instead of being interested in the culture, so I feel like i missed out, but I didn’t think this way at the time!

We first toured Old San Juan and the Fort San Felipe del Morro. Our bus driver was very nice and his son tagged along for the tour. We did a little window shopping, learned to order Subway in Spanish (as I said – pre-anthropology days! Plus we were not given much time to eat), and experienced the giant fort. My favorite part was seeing where the prisoners were kept (this theme is true in any of my visit to castles). Here, they drew ships, dreaming and wishing their fleets would come rescue them.

2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend

We also visited Casa Bicardi, which was a little lost on me since I don’t like rum. The tour was neat and we were given free samples to taste in their outdoor pavillion. Beautiful weather as I recall. Of course, any sunny day with green grass is beautiful to me at this time of year…

2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend

We also spelunked in the largest cave system in the Western hemisphere at Rio Camuy Caves. I’ve been in a few systems before, but nothing like this one – you can kind of see the scale in the arial view below. The Camuy River runs through it in parts. Our camera at the time was not up to snuff for low-light so very few photos turned out well.

2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend

We finished up with a view of the largest single-aperture telescope in the world at Aricebo Observatory. Essentially, it is used to understand space – measuring rotation speeds, identifying asteroids, and what not. It also functions as military intelligence locating spy satellites, and searches for life beyond Earth.

2004 Puerto Rico weekend
2004 Puerto Rico weekend

Okay, now I’m really itching for summer!

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

In 2006, I decided I would like to go on a field school for anthropology sometime. The idea was scary – to be somewhere completely foreign in both language and culture, without anyone you know and for an entire month. So I decided to see what being away for a while alone would be like in my own country. If I couldn’t handle that, well, there was no point for further thought on the field school, eh?

Originally, there was no destination. I had one week of vacation and I drove west, turning around mid-week. Zero. Destination. Do you know what that feels like? Giddyness. No stress of getting someplace in time to do something, no stress of getting lost – the entire focus was on the journey itself. And do you know what solitary travel is like? Perfection. No one to compromise with, no argument over the temperature of the car or the loudness of the speakers, and no one to annoy with frequent pee breaks. And in the end, a complete growing experience.

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

I did this trip on roughly 1000 dollars. About 650 was gas, if I remember correctly. I saved on food cost by bringing bread and cereal and then buying tiny amounts of milk and lunchmeat each day to last in my cooler. I saved on hotel bills by inadvertantly (and unexpectedly) sleeping in my car for a few nights. See, without having a destination, I did very little research and chose my birthday week in the hot hot heat of August, right? Which incidentally coincides with Sturgis Bike Week. That was quite an experience in and of itself! But all the hotels and campgrounds were full so…yeah.

Oh, why the outdated post? Well, I had thought these photos were lost forever!! But Boy surprised me by finding them. Some are still missing but we found the bulk of them, yay!

I crossed the great Mississippi River and it was a lot…less great…than I was expecting. Maybe it’s great elsewhere? I stayed overnight in Iowa next to this archaeological site that you could volunteer on but they were closed for the day. I almost went to Denver but decided I wouldn’t have time. Then I found a dinosaur dig that I registered for but getting lost prevented me from making it in time so that was cancelled too. Then, the photos begin:

The rock formations out there are a geologists dream. Having just taken a geology class, they were even more fascinating than if had I known nothing about them:

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

I rode a Giant Jackalope, crossed the Continental Divide, saw a lot of waterfalls, and discovered I was standing on the edge of a super volcano (and having taken said geology class, it was a little daunting).

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

I saw miles and miles of devastation from a forest fire, listened to a short lecture about buffalo, and saw Old Faithful (among many other beautiful sites).

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

I had to spend the first night in my car once I entered the park, down a super duper dark gravel road, to some random campground (outside of the park, beyond the filled hotels, in the state of Wyoming), passing signs about grizzlies and freaking myself out about the whole prospect. It was like 2am by the time I could stop to sleep – no other cars or people that I could see. Creepy. I had tried to avoid contact with Boy or anyone during my trip except to text my locations, but I needed some control over my imagination – bears ripping open my sunroof trying to attack me for my box of food. I almost peed in my pants (literally too – I had to go so badly but there was no way I would walk to the little shack!!) Thankfully he convinced me to get out of the vehicle and at least pull my blanket out of my trunk, as I found out harshly that the nights up there are COLD.

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

But then I found the buffalo. I have gobs and gobs of photos of them – August is mating season, wouldn’t you know, so they were swarming. I saw babies and beefy males fighting (in fact I have some vids where they pushed into my car!). Stunning experience. I limit it to this one photo though because I was fascinated to learn that they could swim. Who knew?

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

Then on my way back I almost went to Mount Rushmore. But the idea of blowing up nature’s beauty to make faces of people, as if they are more important than nature itself? RIDICULOUS. Tacky, gawdy, AWFUL. (And then later during cultural anthropology, learning how devastating that must have been for the local natives? Heartless.) I stopped at Devil’s Tower instead. And was surprised to find that the locals still practice their beliefs there.

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

And then I found a little bitty ranch where I could feed the uber adorable prairie dogs. So cute!!

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

My car and I made it to the Badlands next. I found them appropriately named. I walked to the end of one of the little walk ways, snapped some photos, and left right away. The Badlands? In August? Not a good idea, unless you want to waste away to dust and bones in a matter of minutes. Oh, and there were signs about some snakes I wanted to avoid…

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip

A funny surprise on my way back, the Jolly Green Giant!

2006 Yellowstone Roadtrip
It was an amazing experience. I suggest it to everyone. People say “What would I do? I would be bored! I need to know where I am going, though” and bla bla bla. Really, what are you afraid of? Quit being silly and drive:)