From Alabama to California and Back, 4,901 Miles
Two weeks ago we left on our round trip journey and we are happy to be back home again. We left for California on March 16th with inventory in the car and motorcycles in tow. The trip to California would take us through Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and finally Rosmond, CA (near Mojave and Edwards AFB). We decided to have a little change of scenery on the way home by going the southern route. This took us through San Bernardino, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola. Throughout the entire trip we recognized many, many places we had been repeatedly in the bus when we were vending at the national shows. One of the things that was very different this time though was that we were staying in hotels and eating at local restaurants. Not quite as inexpensive, or predictable. I will explain this one later.
We started out from the house in Alabama very early in the morning. Our mission for the day was to make it as close to Oklahoma City as we could before stopping for the night. Scott surprised me before we even left the house with his new haircut. I was so surprised and thrilled. It took a little getting used to, but I really love it.
Arkansas was beautiful, as always.
The first night on the road I gave Scott his second harmonica. This one is in the key of G. He loved it and played it throughout the trip. Below are some other sights along I-40 between Fort Smith, Arkansas and Albuquerque, New Mexico where we stayed the second night.
Leaving Albuquerque the next morning we headed out for our first planned (fun) destination of the trip, Las Vegas, NV. We arrived at the hotel, and after freshening up we headed over to our favorite place for ribs. This little casino is a couple of blocks off the strip and is loaded with locals. Inside the casino is a micro brewery that serves only two menu entrees. There are no menus as the entrees are posted on the hostess stand as you enter. There are a total of 12 booths/tables in the entire restaurant and we made the mistake of arriving right at dinner time. The wait was ultimately 2 hours for a booth, but the ribs were fantastic as ever as well as the (free) micro-brew beer. The total for dinner for the two of us came to a whopping $10. NO, I will not give the name of this place out. It is one of our secret spots.
The next day we headed out for a bike ride and eventually ended up at the the Bellagio casino to watch the fountains for a while before heading to dinner. The fountains are really incredible to watch and the choreography is fantastic. We love to stroll this part of the strip, watch the tourists and soak in the flavor of the city.
The beauty of the fountains on the outside of the Bellagio is rivaled only by the beauty of the seasonal flower displays on the inside. Every three or four months they change the decorations throughout the casino. There is a very large vestibule just off from the main check in lobby that is completely decorated in flowers always with a central theme. We have usually been here in the fall or winter so we have seen the Christmas display several times. This time we were treated to the spring display complete with gigantic butterflies, storks and frogs. There were fountains of water pouring from an enormous watering can (actually the water was flowing into the can) and a fountain archway. The crown jewel of the display was the glass butterfly house at the back of the room that you could walk through and view all types of colorful butterflies.
We spent a few hours playing video poker and eating Panda Express Orange Chicken, two of our favorite things to do. When we left the machines for the night the jackpot had reached a pretty high number so we decided to play the same bank the next day if the jackpot had not been hit. As our luck would have it the jackpot was still in tact the next day so we played for a few more hours until a man on the other side of the machines hit the jackpot. All was not lost though, since we had played enough to earn a free buffet lunch in comps. Cool. One last photo before heading to the Mojave desert.
As we traveled to our farthest destination on this trip we talked about the business we were selling and where we wanted to go from here. We decided to start seriously looking for a larger sailboat (one that we could keep on the coast somewhere) and to sell the bikes and our current sailboat. We really love our bikes and I will never forget learning to ride my Rebel, then upgrading to the Shadow. We have decided it is time to move on to the next thing life brings our way. What a coincidence to see this traveling through the desert. Is is a sign? HA HA
We made it to Moab and spent two full days training the buyer of our business on the ins and outs of eBay and online sales. It was a whirlwind course and I wish I had recorded it all because we could really do some serious seminars on this stuff. It is amazing how much you know that you don't know you know. Anyway, after two exhausting days we headed back toward home. We were not at all interested in seeing I-40 in reverse so we headed down the southern route down to I-10. We knew we could dip down through Houston and the coast throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.
We trekked through El Paso and decided to take a detour through Austin instead of going down to San Antonio and back up again. Our goal was to reach the famous Threadgill's restaurant where Janis Joplin got her start in Austin by lunch, hit Brenham between lunch and dinner for a dip of the famous Blue Bell ice cream and end up close to Houston for the night. The day went perfectly. The bluebonnets were in bloom all over the place. We enjoyed a fantastic lunch and a huge scoop of Blue Bell before ending up in Beaumont for the night.
At this point I must tell you that you should be very happy that we do not have such a thing as smell-vision. Let me explain. When we arrived in Beaumont it was time to stop for the night and we started hunting a room for a reasonable price. We found several hotels and all were full. The last one we checked was the Motel 6 and they had a few rooms left. There is probably a good reason for this. We checked in and Scott noticed the unusual smell oozing out of the lobby. He didn't mention the odor until we entered our room and I remarked "This place stinks!". Seriously, I have never and hope to never stay in a hotel room that smells that bad again. We had to leave by about 4:30am because we couldn't sleep anyway. A word of warning, if you are ever in Beaumont, Texas and you are tired, drive past the Motel 6 and sleep in your car at the rest area. You will be better rested, save money, and a lot less stinky. Below is the photo of the room. Can you see the smell??????
With our new plan for the future developing we were anxious to start looking at the different boat options out there and frankly we were very desperate to see the ocean, or at least the gulf. Our first glimpse of salt/brackish water came at the Trinity River Waterbird Rookery. It is a little place near the border of Texas and Louisiana, just an exit off I-10 that is oblivious to the human traffic surrounding it. We saw alligators and wild birds every where. It was a refreshing pit-stop.
We took I-10 down through New Orleans to see the remains of the damage from hurricane Katrina. We were amazed to see that there were still complete subdivisions falling apart. One of the interesting things we noticed was that in the subdivisions that were rebuilding there were travel trailers or motor homes parked in just about every driveway. The amount of damage that is still visible two years later is just incredible.
Our final destination was Pensacola to look at a few boats before heading home. We were exhausted and happy to be home, but after just a few days we are already looking forward to the next adventure.