My graduation gift to myself:
The Black Mailbox | Highway 375, Nevada
* Drove over 3000 miles in one week across 4 states in the American Southwest
* Approached the sign-posted limits of Area 51, which involved driving down the longest stretch of dusty unpaved road. The sight of the dust in my rear-view mirror blotting out the hills of Nevada is a sight I will always cherish. Saw the Black Mailbox! Ate dinner at the Little A'Le'Inn, a foray which was punctuated by loud blasts which we were informed by the owner were sonic booms from test flights.
* Roamed amongst the vast epicness that is Bryce Canyon in Utah and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Climbed all over things in a responsible fashion.
* In the middle of a night drive, we found a splendid little diner called the Thunderbird Restaurant advertising Ho-Made Pies,along US-89 driving down from Bryce Canyon.
* Endorsed hockey in Phoenix, AZ... but cheered for Anaheim. The Ducks may have lost but Koivu is still Captain of the face-off circle.
* Took one of the best detours ever to visit the Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin in New Mexico. I still need to visit Arecibo one day but this was probably on par in terms of radio astronomy appreciation. I know it was one of the highlights of trip for Mary too and I'm so glad she had made the connection that it was in the general vicinity.
* Went to Roswell (ROSWELL!!), New Mexico where there really isn't much to see apart from the UFO Museum, which is well worth the inexpensive admission, filled with affidavits of eye-witness accounts of the 1947 incident itself, military documents, UFO crockery and general documentation of reports and hysteria (including one particularly long-winded, poorly structured, type-written report, from a man who claimed he and his friend saw UFOs over their cabin in Ontario one night. He ends the letter by saying 'we were sober, and my friend is deceased.' which I think is the best sign-off ever).
* Upon leaving Roswell, at long last I saw some tumbleweed.
* We straddled our car along some dirt road in the middle of nowhere between New Mexico and Arizona and stargazed.
We had the most colorful assortment of lodgings over the course of the week including taking Mary to a pyramid (Luxor), allowing Mirella to spend her first night in the U.S. in a castle (Excalibur), a circus tent (Circus Circus), the Windmill Ridge, a Holiday Inn Express, some Super 8 and Motel 6 rooms, a Comfort Inn (which after two nights at Motel 6 felt like a palacial suite). The Windmill Ridge won us over in the way of charm with its themed log cabins and exquisite breakfast, even if there was a slight hiccup with water supply in the area due to construction while we were there.
10 days in the American Southwest taught me that a) there really is a frightening mass of fundamentalist support burrowed down there b) I really frakkin' love driving (and that Mirella harbors awesome driving skills!) and c) there is such a thing as having too much bacon. I think every meal incorporated bacon in some way.