Journey to the Center of the Earth

And by “Center of the Earth” I mean: “to San Diego from Virginia by way of the South” – which is almost the same thing, right?

So, we took off from Virginia on a day. Let’s’ say June 21st (because I’m not actually sure when we left anymore. Or what day it is today. Or what state I’m in right now… California, I think?).

Anyway. We started in Virginia at Acro Rev Teacher Training. When we’d arrived the trailer lights had started getting all blinky and since that was “no beuno” according to Nik – and also according to traffic laws – we started with getting those fixed and then headed to Tennessee.

Flag in front of the most adorable log house you ever did see.

Our first stop was Nik’s grandma’s house (who, by the way, drives way faster than Nik). Technically, our first stop was a Wal-Mart parking lot in the middle of nowhere where we spent the night, but after that was Nik’s grandma’s house. Which is way the hell out in the boonies. Like, way the hell out.

Nik’s grandma lives in a BEAUTIFUL log house on top of a fill surrounded by 150 acres of woodlands and nature and a big of pasture etc. It was so frikkin’ cute and pastoral it’d make something something… I was going make a clever remark, but I’m failing here. I need more coffee. Anyway. The house was adorable and filled with adorable grandma-style country-bumpkinages like a miniature cast iron stove set, and an antique wood burning stove, and those little dog statues everywhere, and an antique wall telephone and antique blah blah blah – a lot of antiques.

Of course, right before we got to the house, we had the Check Engine light come on and then start blinking (which I’m told is very bad). And it was the end of the day on a Thursday and the car was making weird noises and we tried calling all of the nearest auto shops (the nearest being 45 minutes away (I said it was the boonies!)) and none could get us in and we were starting to panic a little because neither of us are mechanics and we didn’t want to wait until Monday or Tuesday to leave Tennessee.

Finally, we figured out that AutoZone would read the engine light for free, so we trucked over there 15 minutes before they closed and proceeded to be “that guy” that walks in right when you want to lock up and go home but “that guy” wants to ask you 5000 questions and stare at things. Except we only asked the one set of questions and they figured out that it was a spark plug within, like, a minute and a half, and were able to not only get us the parts for not a lot of money, but also give us instructions on how to fix it and what to look for. Yay! And thus we avoided an expensive trip to a mechanic, learned a thing, and managed to not have to wait way longer than we wanted to in Tennessee.

The little Eiffel Tower, Arkansas at sunset, and a wind turbine blade. That we had to climb on.

Anyway, we had a little extra excitement while we were there since she also almost burned the house down (not really, but she’ll tell ya she did). She also had four hummingbird feeders right outside the kitchen window which were continuously mobbed by hoards of hummingbirds – which was really cool. They sounded like bees. She said she makes up a gallon of food for them daily – literally sugar and water which she boils on the stove to dissolve the sugar before cooling it and filling the feeders. About that: at one point we were all chatting and she started a batch and then we went into another room and all of us completely forgot about it. Waaaaay too much time went by before anyone remembered it and by that time, the entire batch had boiled away leaving burnt sugar boiling all over the stove and dribbling its way into a puddle on the floor. It took us a good hour to clean up. For the record, burnt sugar does not smell great. And it hardens very quickly once it starts to cool. But, we didn’t burn the house down, and once again, all was well with the world.

From Tennessee we went to the Ozarks and watched a beautiful Arkansas sunset. Then we puttered through Oklahoma where we got to see the Little Eiffel Tower and a place called Energy Park where they had a blade off of a wind turbine that you could go touch and stuff. It was pretty cool. They’re made of some intense fiberglass.

Route 66 Midway Point! The VW Bug graveyard and the leaning tower of Texas. Check out that storm rolling in behind us…

Then we got to Texas. The panhandle is flat and generally lacking in scenery. But we did get to stop at the midway point of Route 66 and impress a bunch of British tourists with our camper. And we managed to go find the Leaning Tower of Texas.

The most interesting thing that we saw about the Leaning Tower of Texas wasn’t the tower, it was that the land behind it was so flat that we could watch this gigantic storm with intense strings of lightening flashing roll towards us from miles and miles away. It started to hit just as we found the VW Ranch were about seven VW Bugs were buried nose deep in the ground, each one covered in beautiful spray paint and most tagged with the Route 66 sign. It was already dark, so we just parked across the road and pointed our headlights at it.

That’s when it started to rain. Apparently when it rains, it pours in Texas. We got to Amarillo and started going up and under and through the underpasses on the highway at about 30 miles an hour with the rain just pounding us. And then we started going even slower. And just as we were getting to another exit off the interstate, we watched the four cars in front of us all stop dead in their tracks and start reversing and pulling u-turns in the middle of the interstate lanes. The underpass was completely flooded. We couldn’t quite see on our side, but we could see the opposite bound traffic lanes and watched a semi with too much momentum decide to just go for it and plowed through the water on that side – he got lucky because the water was almost up past the truck’s nose.

Rocks and cacti and Mexican food, oh boy!

We ended up pulling off the freeway just outside of town. All of the power was out for miles. We parked in a gas station parking lot where only the store’s emergency lights were on inside and absolutely nothing else. So we climbed in the trailer and just stayed there until morning and the storm was gone.

So, Texas has some intense flash floods.

Then on through New Mexico, where we had some awesome Mexican fusion food which was way better than I just made it sound. And then Arizona – which was hotter than balls. We managed to stop and see some of my friends there and stayed with them rather than try to park somewhere and die outside in 110 heat.

And we stopped and saw the saguaro desert. And we went to the Petrified Forest National Park and had the best camping spot in the desert. Why? Because it was 20 miles outside of the nearest town, there was literally no one there but us, the temperature was warm and pleasant with a light wind, and the sky was perfectly clear that night so you could see *all* the stars. Also there were dinosaur statues and you really can’t go wrong with those.

And then California. Where we got to spend some time with our wonderful acro friend Derek. And then AcroLove. Which was also awesome and full of Acro.

And I’ll comment on that later. Maybe.



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