Saturday, May 31, 2008

A River Runs Through It

As we were entering Jackson yesterday we had good views of the Snake River. It is a very picturesque place and you can't take a bad picture. We saw lots of friendly rafters and we would love to raft the Snake, but we just don't have time. Jackson is known for its scenery and also for its restaurants. The Cadillac Grill is a famous spot but to the side of the Cadillac Grill is a tiny place called Billy's Giant Hamburgers. They claim to have the nation's best burgers. The joint only seats around 20 people and that is on stools at a tiny counter. You watch the cooks fry the burgers and the music is the head banging kind. It was loud and fun and they made a pretty darn good burger. We are headed toward Grand Tetons and into Yellowstone today. I'm not sure I'll have internet service, so I may not post again until Monday. But check back just in case!
Love to all.

Against The Wind

We finally got off the interstate today in Logan, UT and took the scenic 89 highway to Jackson, Wyoming. This is a beautiful drive, so much so that I remember it very clearly from traveling this road 20 years ago. Bear Lake is in Idaho/Wyoming. It was a chilly 55 degrees there today, but we picnicked anyway. This area is known for its famous raspberry milk shakes and even though it was cold we HAD to have one. Yummy! Robin B. I thought of you with every bite. The picture of the bird was funny because he was flying against the wind current and couldn't get anywhere. His little wings flapped and flapped and he never moved an inch. We watched him for a long time cheering him on. I feel like that sometimes myself, don't you? I hope he made it.

We stayed right across the parking lot tonight from a movie theatre. We thought it only fitting we should see the Indiana Jones movie since he lives here in Jackson. It was very good!

Hey Baby Let's go to Vegas

Just a few shots from Las Vegas to prove we were there. We stayed at the Excalibur but the New York hotel complex was outside our window s0 I got better shots of it. I was never at an angle to take a good picture of the castle. Vegas gives good room rates because they want you to spend your money gambling so we got a REALLY nice room cheap. First it was large with a fabulous view and then it had a 72" plasma wall-mounted TV. I almost didn't get the guys out of the room because of this TV. We walked across a sky walk to New York and let the boys ride the roller coaster that goes around the property. We had to go into their casino to enter the ride. These casinos are a maze to work through not to mention elbow to elbow with people and when we finally got to the entrance of the ride I panicked because the boys were going to have to separate from us. I was afraid I was sending them into a vortex where I would never see them again. Before they got on I made sure we knew where the exit was and made dash for it as soon as I couldn't see them. They had a great time without me! Oh, I loved the big marquee of the ipod dancer. When no one is watching me I dance just like that with my ipod.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rambling On

We left Vegas early this morning and traveled to SLC today. The red rock rock formations are behind us and we are surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It has been chilly today but still sunny. I'm typing this after everyone has gone to bed. Rumor has it I snore horribly and if they don't get to sleep before me...well, they don't sleep. I think they are just a whiny crew and there is no proof that I snore! I am really looking forward to the next leg of the trip as we will be seeing the Grand Teton Mountains and Yellowstone Park. I've posted a few shots. The first one is of the boys at this weird little place on Route 66 near Kingman, AZ. When I get to drive I randomly stop at stupid places like this and take pics. MDH grows weary of my random stopping at weird little places so he eventually takes the wheel back. The other shots are at Hoover Dam. It is hard to get pictures of these enormous places. It is like trying to take a photo of the universe. Little photos just don't do a site justice. The dam is huge, the mountains are huge, the lake is huge, the rocks are huge....It's all HUGE! I took a picture of a truck setting down deep in the dam and it looked like a match box car. You can see in one picture where Lake Mead's water level has dropped. It looks like a bathtub ring. Also, you can see where the State of Nevada is building the new 93 dam bypass road. When it is finished, you'll be able to drive very high over the dam. It is daunting now to look down so I can't image how it will feel to be even higher up looking down. I'll post some Vegas pictures tomorrow. I haven't downloaded them from my camera yet. We miss everyone and love you all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Saw God Today!

How can anyone possibly not believe in God? His handprints are all over the place! We viewed the Grand Canyon at dusk last night. Our room overlooked the rim so we were able to walk out of our room and look over the edge. MDH husband and Little I are morning people, so they were up at 6:15 this morning watching the sun come up. BigC and I slept in until 7:30 then we spent the morning looking at the beautiful views. A sheer haze hangs over the canyon and gives it a surreal feel as if it is just behind a veil and can’t be touched. It is impressive to watch the light change the colors of the mesas. We met a very friendly squirrel that let us pet it. I suppose they are familiar with people to the point they are no longer afraid. I wanted to bring it home for Oscar to play with but MDH said NO! (Angie, I could have caught it with my bare hands and you know it!)

We have traveled about an 80 mile stretch of Historic Route 66 today. We drove a few miles of it in New Mexico around Tucumcari and Gallup (where BTW I bought a lovely bracelet at Gilbert Ortega), but today was the longest stretch thus far, from Williams to Kingman. It was interesting to say the least. We’ve seen some mind-blowing sights, but the Big C was overcome with joy when a tumbleweed rolled across the road in front of us. Apparently it doesn’t take much to entertain him. We’ve also seen some large rock formations that Little I said looked like large Payday candy bars. He’s either very hungry or has a great imagination!

I am writing as we travel toward Hoover Dam. Our destination tonight is Las Vegas. We are beginning to see odd cactus bushes which I think are called Joshua Brush. They are starting to bloom with little yellow flowers and I imagine when they are fully in bloom the fields will be blushing with these desert decorations. The flowers will be a colorful addition to the otherwise barren landscape. The sky has remained blue and cloudless again today which adds to the background around the mountains. It gives an outline to the mountains and you can see the peaks and valleys clearly. From a distance they are impressive but as you get closer to them, they are nothing but rocks and sand.

I broke my rule about not arguing with the GPS. I’ve come real close to throwing the thing out the window. It is not so much the GPS that gets irritating but MDH playing with it all the time. I wanted to travel a particular scenic route that I had read about. Apparently the GPS didn’t read the same article and because the GPS didn’t know where it was, it wasn’t there. Let’s just say the route does exist and leave it at that.

Later tonight….

We’ve arrived in Sodom and Gomorrah! I’m praying that God won’t smite this place while we are here. The view from our window is the Las Vegas strip. New York, New York, Luxor and MGM Grand are within easy walking distance if you can figure out the maze through our hotel. It took us about three rounds before we found the right exit. While the lights and the action are, at first glance, eye-catching, underneath the glitz and glamour are a lot of lost and searching people. My heart draws me to the window and I pray for the people in this city and those trying to minister here. God is here, but it sure is hard to see him through the lights and slot machines. We are ready to go back into the wilderness tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We've come a long way baby!

Oh my what a day we've had! We left early from Albuquerque, NM and headed straight for the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. We have had beautiful weather with cobolt blue skies all day. From one point in the park we could see three tiny white spots that looked like clouds but upon further investigation it was the San Francisco mountain range in Flagstaff, AZ .... that is 120 miles away people! Then as we traveled onto Flagstaff and actually traveled around the mountain! It was breath-taking. We went from total desolation which was beautiful in its own way, back into snow capped mountains. We are now at the Grand Canyon. I am standing in the hotel lobby writing this, so it will be short. Wireless wasn't available in my room, but hotspots are in the lobby. I'm standing behind the empty bellboys desk and I've had several people already approach me asking for directions. If I know the answer I point them in the right directions, otherwise, I just smile and say I don't work here. I know I am crazy, but that is what makes life interesting and you can meet so many great people this way. I'm attaching a few pics from the day and when I get to civilization again, I'll do more. Blessings for the evening.

My photos won't download tonight. I guess the signal is not strong enough. I'll try again tomorrow.

Isaac and the Blue Gibson

I tried to download this video last night but couldn't. I finally got it fixed. I took this at the Gibson Factory.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Friends in Oklahoma

The main event for Oklahoma was visiting with my friend Dar and her husband K. We met them for breakfast this morning at a local Cracker Barrel. They have recently moved to Oklahoma due a job change. Dar is one of the beautiful women whom I honored by donating my hair to Locks of Love. Today was also her birthday. They were the best looking things I saw in Oklahoma and we very much enjoyed our brief visit with them. Hugs and Kisses guys ! The huge windmills producing electricity were also interesting in this state. There were hundreds of them across Oklahoma and Texas. We actually saw some "waving wheat" in OK too.
As soon as we crossed into New Mexico the terrain changed and we began seeing the big mesas. The boys were excited to see the desert mountains. We all agreed that it looked like the bottom of an ocean and you can imagine it having been covered with water at some point in time. The most scenic ride for the day was traveling into Albuquerque. The rock mountains were stunning and the enormous homes built into the side of them were architecturally unique. I wish we could have gotten some good pictures of these but we didn't. I guess you'll just have to come see for yourselves.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gibson Guitar

I was so worn out last night when we got in our hotel I only wrote a short blog of Graceland. I also wanted to say a word or two about the Gibson Guitar Factory but MDH told me to turn off the computer and get my butt in the bed so he could sleep. Bless his heart! That's what we say in the south when we really want to say, "Shut up and go to sleep." :) Anyway.....Gibson Guitar was a great place and set in the heart of downtown Memphis. LittleI was able to try out many different styles but he loved the BB King style blue electric best. It was way cool to see how these beautiful instruments are put together. The quality and craftsmanship is a wonder to behold. BigC also found a basketball to spin at Fedex Forum the home court of the Memphis Grizzlies. My wonderboy laid down on the sidewalk to have his picture taken. Downtown Memphis is a clean, friendly and accessible place. Beale Street was hopin' even on a Sunday afternoon, so I can't image what a Friday or Saturday evening would bring, but I bet it would be a fun experience. The only bad thing about Memphis is that we didn't get to stay long enough. We were out of town by 2:oo CST and are now at our Oklahoma destination for the night. All I can say about Arkansas is that it is full of toad sucking, porn addicted wineos, at least according to all the billboards I saw. The mountains did remain me a bit of the Tennessee Mountains but not as impressive.

I Believe in Ghosts

What a day we had in Memphis! I went to Graceland expecting to dislike the tacky place and left feeling the world lost a decent person before his time. Elvis Presley is still very much alive in Memphis. His ghost haunts Graceland and his presence is so thick you can still feel it on your skin after you leave. The only other place I have ever experienced ghosts was Gettysburg, PA. While the home did have the late 60's/early 70's look, it was tasteful and respectfully maintained, and I came away feeling it was really a home when the family lived there. LittleI was completely "star-struck." I've posted a picture but it doesn't do it justice.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hunka Hunka Memphis

We arrived safely in Memphis. Can you guess where we will be visiting in morning? The employees at the motel where we are staying have been extremely nice. They gave us our room half price from the rate I reserved it! The hotel also offers Pink Cadillac Limo service to a local Memphis BBQ restaurant for free (excluding tip) so we took them up on this offer. The BBQ was fantastic BTW and if any one talks to Bro. Gary over the weekend, tell him we did eat West TN BBQ and it was delicious. We thought of him with every bite. LittleI was thrilled with the guitar shaped swimming pool and is enjoying the water as I type. We also have 24 hour Elvis movies which MDH was thrilled about. I don't know why since Elvis was a terrible actor, but his movies are very iconic. My boys love his music. Me? Well, I think it's all very tacky in a charming sort of way, but I do have to admit that Elvis was a Hunka, Hunka in his younger days.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Graduation 2008

I'll let the pictures tell the story tonight.

Graduation Day is Here!

My stomach is in knots today. This comes from two sources: (1) the anticipation of watching my Big C graduate tonight; and (2) leaving early in the morning on our long anticipated trip. The least bit of excitement in my life causes my tummy to throw a fit. That is why I like to keep things here very routine. Heaven forbid when my routine gets mixed up at the last minute. It takes a bottle of Pepto and about two days to get my stomach back to normal. Every emotion I feel (anger, joy, sorrow, worry, etc.) passes from my brain to my stomach in two seconds flat. Then I shut down. I have to sleep to get past it. I think I'll go take a nap....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Go Ahead, Tell Me All About Yourself

I have a lot of random thoughts while I clean house. My mind is always "on." Even when I am tired and try to sleep, it won't turn "off"; thus I encounter lots of sleepless nights which has nothing to do whatsoever with what I am about to write.
I seem to be very approachable to strangers. Like the time I spend two hours in a McDonald's Restaurant letting a very nice lady share her troubled brand-new marriage with me while my little one played in the play area. I prayed with her and think of her often and wonder about her situation now. I never knew her name. Then there was the time in Strasburg, PA, where a shop owner told me all about her eighteen year old daughter whom she had left in Brooklyn, NY, living with her boyfriend and how good she felt about that because he would protect her, but her grandmother thought she was "living in sin" and "my god it's 2003, that's just a common thing", and on and on until MDH had to rescue me. But, I pray for her too and wonder what is going on in that situation. Then there are the people who stop me while I am shopping and need advice. Like the young man who needed a mother's opinion about a coat he was thinking of purchasing, or the woman who wondered if the brown top would go with the black shirt, or the woman who wanted to know if the slinky red dress would be appropriate for a funeral. And how about the doctor in the hospital who told me to call house keeping and have the busted light bulb cleaned up while MDH WAS A PATIENT, NO LESS! I just smiled and let him think I worked there and told him I would take care of it :-) OK, then the girl who did my pedicure Tuesday evening who told me about her four year old little boy whom she loves with all her heart and his brand-new step dad scolding him too much, how she felt like a bad mom and cried while she was painting my toe nails. I prayed with her too while sitting in the spa chair. And then there was the Harra Krishnah in his robe and prayer cap who overheard me talking about something at the library and decided to share his beliefs with me. He was very respectful and sweet and while I don't agree with his religion, I did show him respect and shared a little about Jesus. I think he wanted to follow me home because he stayed in the parking lot a long time after closing and I just stayed in the building until he left. That is only a few stories I can share with you, the list goes on, but I think you get the picture. I say all this to make this point....I am curious who I will encounter on this vacation. I know without a doubt it will happen and in the unlikeliest of places no doubt. When it does, I'll tell you all about it.

Clean Underwear Syndrome

I am experiencing the Clean Underwear Syndrome. Have you heard of this disease? It's where you are compelled to have your house clean from top to bottom before you leave for vacation. The bathrooms must sparkle, there should be no dust, always change sheets, mop the kitchen floor, don't forget to vacuum, all dishes must shine in their cabinets, etc. It's a good thing we go on vacation once a year since that is about the only time I care if everything is clean. Apparently I don't care about living in filth the other 50 weeks a year, but boy if I die while I am on vacation, I want my house clean! Why do I call this the clean underwear syndrome? Didn't your mother ever tell you to be sure and have clean underwear on before you leave the house in case you are in an accident? You may be covered in blood but by golly you'll have clean underwear! After hearing that enough, it eventually applies to all areas in your life. Does this just apply to people in the south or do all areas of the country experience this syndrome? Just wondering!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Three Days Before We Leave

My Mom is having a real hard time with my being gone for two weeks. My parents have had a difficult year with my mom having knee surgery and my dad having chemo treatments. I have been fortunate to stay healthy and be available to them all winter and spring so they have come to depend on my help quite a bit. My dad will have his last chemo treatment while I am away next week so it will be harder for them to manage as I try to cook for them during that time and make it less stressful regarding the little things. I gave my mom a pedicure this evening and spent some time talking and laughing with her which made her feel better. I know they will be fine. They have wonderful neighbors and friends and my brother and sis-in-law are close by and will help them out. So why do I feel so guilty about leaving them? Family dynamics is a curious thing. It is a thin line to walk between honoring your parents and taking care of your own family. I am always in a self-struggle as to which takes top priority. Does anyone have any advice?
Sorry, don't mean to be gloomy, but reality is this....against the backdrop of every happy event, there is a shadow of sorrow. That includes my Big C's high school graduation Friday evening and just maybe that's what troubling my heart most.
I'll be funny tomorrow. I promise.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"I Will Not Argue with the GPS"

"I will not argue with the GPS. I will not argue with the GPS."
This has become my mantra for the next two weeks. My sweet in-laws bought MDH one of these torture devices (sorry Pop) for Christmas last year. While MDH was thrilled with the gift, I find the voice of the evil thing very annoying. We had borrowed a GPS for a trip to Florida last spring and I found myself arguing with the high tech defect through four states. I have been politely asked to "please keep my directional opinions to myself" for this trip even though I have maps and everything! It seems that when I scream "DON'T TURN THERE!" and my husband listens to me, the GPS gets annoyed and has to recalculate. I don't appreciate that mechanical nightmare telling my chauffeur where to turn. THAT WAS MY JOB! Not anymore it seems because I have been told to repeat 5,000 times....."I will not argue with the GPS. I will not argue with the GPS, I will not argue with the GPS....."

Last Day Of School

Today is the last day of school for my kids. BigC was off this morning dreading all his final exams. He had several today including Spanish. He has really struggled with this subject. While he is looking forward to graduating, he is sad to leave his friends. BigC goes to a small school. There are only 16 in his graduating class and they have been together since 1st grade. They are like family and love one another, so this will be hard for them. I think some tears have already been shed together. I hope I can get through the graduation ceremony without making a blubbering mess of myself.
LittleI is finishing up 5th grade today with a math exam. For those of you who don't know LittleI, well, he is not so little. He is as tall as BigC who is 18, but LittleI is only 11. I have home schooled this young guy for three years and he has really blossomed during this time. We plan to home school one more year and we've already been talking about our subjects for the fall. He loves to learn and wants to learn it all now and he may even post some of these blogs as he watched me set this whole thing up and now wants to do it himself. I'm sure that most of the pictures I post from our trip will be taken by him. He is very excited to say the least.
I have tons of laundry to do today and I am scheduled to get a pedicure this evening. That was a gift from MDH for my birthday last October, but I am just now getting around to using it. Yes, I had dry, cracked, scaly feet all winter but I want my feet to be shiny and clean before I go across country. I don't know why, I just do.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Left Behind

The Family Member Who is Left Behind.....
The sad thing about this trip is leaving our precious baby behind. He will be staying with his Uncle, Aunt and cousin (who is also a miniature dachshund). Not his Uncle and Aunt, only his cousin. :) He knows we are going somewhere as he sees us getting ready. Every time I go to the garage and open the car door, he jumps into the car. If it were possible, we would take him along. But, most National Parks do not allow pets and staying in the car would not be to his best interest. Therefore, he must stay behind. We are sad, he is sad.

A Little Back Ground

Financing of this vacation came from MDH's job. Last August we attended the annual awards banquet and won the big prize which was a seven day trip to Hawaii, or a cruise to the Caribbean (our choice). After romanticising for months over the possibilities of these exotic trips the one thing we could agreed on was we couldn't leave our kids. After all we are a family and while it is nice for MDH and I to get away together for a weekend, the thought of spending seven days on an island without our kids made me, at least, very ill. Therefore, being the practical people we are, and the big sissy I am, we cashed in our trip and decided this road trip was the best thing. We had talked about doing this for several years and always said when our oldest son (BigC) got his drivers license we would head West. Someone asked me about our trip to Hawaii at the library tonight and I had to explain the situation. I've found that if one person is wondering about something, probably most people are too. So there you go........
Reading Rosie

What Are We Thinking?

Gas prices are at an all time high. $3.79 per gal. where I live. And yet this is the year we decided to take the "Great American Road Trip" with our family. What are we thinking? It will cost us a fortune (at least to us) in gas to travel from our small town in Tennessee across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and back into Tennessee. Our reasoning has apparently gone completely out the window. No! we are not made of money or apparently brains in our "neck of the woods." Our oldest son is graduating from high school this week, so to celebrate this event, we are off to see the country. While My Dear Husband, who will be known from here on out as MDH, and I have seen the sights, our two boys have not and we wanted to share this experience through their eyes, so off we go.....................!
I've decided to blog this adventure for any of you who have nothing better to do than to read about our adventure and also for those of you who do have better things to do but might be curious about our insanity. I am new in the blog sphere, so anything might happen here, but if you want a cyber trip without the gas expense, you've found your spot.
We are now on the count down to departure. Today is Monday, May 19th. If all goes well, we will be leaving on Saturday, May 24th and traveling for two weeks. Our stops include, but are not limited to the following: Graceland and the Gibson Guitar Manufacturer, Painted Desert and Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Vegas Baby, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Cody, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, and the Ken Ham Creation Museum.
Travel with us on this adventure........
The Parker Family