The Great Southwestern Adventure

New Videos: 6 videos from A Few Old Tunes


Ok so I decided to upload a few more videos from the quite awesome "A Few Old Tunes" Boards of Canada influences night, so to make them more easily accessible, (and to stop me from having to write 5 new posts, one for each video) I've created an Album on Vimeo for you so you can watch them in the comfort of your home. Consider it a short day in the life of a Boards of Canada fan. Here's the link to the Vimeo Album (couch mode)

The six videos (and direct links)are

Darkstar: Light Body Clock Starter Odd Nosdam: Fat Hooks Boards of Canada: Telepath Isan: Yttrium Yimino: Horizon Freescha: The Sun is still... still... 


TGSWRT: The round up

Well we're home now and still struggling with the change in time zones, but I did promise you one last blog post to try and sum up the whole trip, but first let me try and sum up San Francisco. I really liked it. It's got Big Town infrastructure and Small Town attitude. It's quirky and odd but also feels like some forgotten area of Manhattan where everything went right. With such little time to take a city in I didn't get to do all the touristy things I would've like to do: we didn't get to see Golden Gate Bridge or see the sea lions on the fisherman's wharf or visit the "painted ladies", though we did ride a trolly (and it went "clang clang") so it wasn't a total loss. I did manage to buy new trainers, jeans and socks and I'm very glad about that. Miko and I spent our last full day mostly walking around the city; partly as a method of exploration and partly on trying to find a trainer store that we'd lost the map to earlier, and in doing that you end up walking to places and finding things that you shouldn't (like the "heart of the city farmers' market' just off Market Street) and it also gives you a general "vibe" of a place that maybe you wouldn't get from an open topped bus, travelling from designated stop to designated stop. We did manage to catch a tiny bit of DF Tram's set at the Minna Street Gallery, but  we had to rush back to our hotel complete our online check in so unfortunately our time with Dylan was quite short. Dinner was once again at Max's and, again, was very good indeed.

As our flight wasn't until 6:50pm we had some time to kill the next day so we started off at The Honey Honey Cafe and Creperie on the corner of Taylor and Polk for a mighty fine breakfast. We'd intended to go to the famous Dotties (on Dylan's recommendation) but after reading nightmare stories about long queues we decided to try the above instead as breakfast is not a meal you want to mess around with. I have to say I'm very glad we did - The Crepe House (as it seems to be in the process of rebranding)  serves a great selection of breakfast fares: Miko plumped for her final pancakes of the trip with home fries and scrambled eggs and I went adventurous and opted for a crab benedict (a new brekkie option on me)  and home fries. The food was lovely; slightly rustic in appearance and homely. I'm not too sure whether I'd chose the crab benedict again, but it wasn't unpleasant, quite the opposite in fact, but it was a bit odd however I'm still glad I ordered it. The home fries were delicious: fluffy, crisp and tinged with sage. Both our stomachs were happy.

Afterwards we decided to take in some culture and wandered down to SFMoma to see the Richard Avedon exhibition. The SFMoma is a great gallery and worth the visit. The standing collection is well presented and the gallery itself is quite a joy to walk round. We managed to cover about 2 floors of the 5 that were available and the Richard Avedon exhibit (which in itself was worth a visit) and that took us about 2 and a half hours. I could've easily come back and spend more time here.

After that we walked back to the hotel and waited for our shared taxi to the airport. And that was it. Holiday over. :)

So what can I say in summary? It's difficult to sum it up when you're still quite close to the event. What I would say is that we both feel relaxed after it and that's a remarkable feat. On the whole, everything went ok - we stuck to our rough schedule and (more or less) saw everything we wanted to see. We've both come back with tonnes of photos and video to sift through. Having two days at the end of the trip in San Fran (in a lovely hotel to boot) was a God send and allowed us to declimatise back into civilisation. If we were to do it again (not that we would) I don't think we'd start in Dallas, as that put a huge amount of miles on our journey, just to get going. I doubt I'd return to Las Vegas, without $3000 and a box of cigars to burn (and I wouldn't hestitate to stay at the fantastic Desert Rose Resort again, either). We would spend a lot more time just in Utah, which has a tremendous lot of incredibly awe inspiring nature to offer the senses. I could quite happily spend 3 weeks in Zion.  I could easily spend a large portion of my life in San Francisco, too.

It does look like the holiday was a lot more expensive than we budgeted for - especially with the increase in petrol/gas prices that the USA is undergoing (cheapest fuel we saw was in Oklahoma at $2.16 a gallon, most expensive was $4.04 p.g. on the road to Yosemite) and us miscalculating the mpg of the vehicle.  However, as a once in a lifetime journey, I can only recommend it. I'm really glad we've done it. :)

And we have plans for more...

TGSWRT: The End of Days - San Francisco


So I find myself awake once again at 5:30am, tappity tapping into my beloved mac book pro on the penultimate day of our trip. Yesterday we got up, packed everything, gave the RV one final paranoid clean and drove it to the El Monte depot in Dublin, California. It was sad to see "Minnie" go, into the parking lot of large, white box like vehicles but part we must (as the late fees were astronomical). The staff at the Dublin depot were surprisingly teutonic, but after reading the blow-up newspaper article on their show room wall, you can understand why. Back in the late 80s and 90s, sales of RVs were dwindling in the States, but the market was kept buoyant by the rentals and specifically El Monte (whom, in this article, had been singled out for praise by Winnebago, the name synomynous with US Motorhomes) who had concentrated on securing deals with European Travel agents to promote their services on the older side of the pond. And it looks like that decision is still reaping rewards. Our fellow "returnees"  were all European: mostly German, one Dutch couple and us. The staff who checked our vehicles back in were also German, I also noted that the paperwork could be supplied in different languages if required by renters.

On the whole, our experience of renting an RV in the States has been a good one and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending El Monte to anyone. Given the opportunity to bore you with caveats, I would point out that needlessly noting any damage at all at the point of pick-up is always worth while (not that this was an issue at the return, but it's still good advice).

Anyway, the driving portion of our trip is over - a total mileage of 3,203 miles covered in just under three weeks - a quite impressive feat from someone who's home country is only 837 miles; that's just under driving from Lands End to John O' Groats (do I need to state that I do get that these landmarks are neither the most northern nor the most southern points on the UK Mainland? No? Good) and back again twice. I'm not to sure why you'd want to do that, but still.

We were rapidly chauffeured into San Francisco by another European El Monte employee, this time from Bulgaria, into our final destination - San Francisco. We're staying at the Hotel Adagio on Geary Street in Downtown SF. The room is pretty spacious, clean and beautifully decorated. The staff have been friendly and helpful and from our 12 floor vantage point we can pretty nice views of the city. A great choice of last port of call for us.

For lunch, we walked a couple of blocks to Max's, which can be described as a posh diner, if you will. I ordered the cheeseburger and Miko had a chicken steak sandwich and both were delicious and ample in size. Service was on the slow side but very friendly and, to be honest, we weren't in any rush. It was nice to see San Francisco's Bomb Squad also having a late lunch in there - after all, if they've got time to eat then the city is not in any immediate danger. Key lime pie was ordered to go and we slowly walked back up the hill to have an afternoon nap on our huge king sized bed. Lunch with tip was $55.

For dinner we opted to try somewhere Chinatown but we were late (by US standards) - 9pm -  for dinner and by the time we'd taken the trolly, Chinatown was mostly closed, however, the restaurant we'd chosen - Chef Jia's - was just still open (they were sweeping up, but beckoned us in). Chef Jia's is a no frills restaurant: it's overly lit, has utilitarian serving dishes and cheap plates, offers no decor or delight at all in it's surroundings apart from a wall of reviews and accolades, praising its food. We ordered 5 spice duck (me), sesame chicken (miko), vegetable fried rice and broccoli in garlic sauce, accompanied with chinese tea. The food was tasty, fresh (ample, of course) and simple affair and initially the meat courses came across as slightly over seasoned, but as we chowed down we forgave and forgot this. The service was brisk and informative. The star of the choices was the broccoli, which was crisp and very flavoursome. I polished off the very fatty half duck that was coarsely cut up into bony chunks (and that's probably why I'm awake now) but our tummies were happy with the cuisine. A great find. Dinner was $50 (tip incl).

Today should see us do a bit of shopping (we also popped into Macy's for an extra bag for the flight home - now to fill it!) as I need new trainers, T shirts and socks and I hope we can catch DF Tram DJing at the Minna Street Gallery tonight. Then it's a leisurely day tomorrow before catching the BA flight to Heathrow at 18:50.

Bring on Blighty. :)

TGSWRT: Days 17, 18 & 19 - Forests

Before we headed off to Sequoia we popped into Visalia to cash some travellers cheques. One thing I haven't mentioned yet is the problems we've experienced paying for fuel over here with our Visa cards. America now is all about paying in advance for ones fuel and more often than not it's asked for your PIN number and every time it has, it's been declined. If I try to use a Credit Card it asked for my ZIP code and that's not going to work either. Therefore, getting access to cash dollars has been pretty important to us. If you're contemplating a similar trip, bear that in mind. After we had got dollar'd up Miko spotted a small independent Mexican food place near the parking lot called "El Mejor" and as lunch was looming we popped over to grab some grub.

This was my lunch. One wet burrito filled with barbequed beef, some hot sauce and a lovely sharp lemon/lime soda. Miko had a chicken enchilada with strawberry soda, but once again we didn't finish our meals and the remainder went on to make up a large part of our dinner that night. Now we were full of very tasty mexican food we set off for Sequoia.

The road from Visalia to Sequoia is possibly one of the windiest and rapidly climbing roads I've ever driven on and tackling it in a heavy 12ft high, 25ft long RV wasn't the best way to experience it but onwards we went. A combination of mexican food, altitude and rapid turns didn't go too well down with Miko who was soon reaching for the motion sickness pills. Once we reached the top and gathered our breathe we took a short stroll round "The Big Trees walk" which was only about half a mile in length, but as we've learnt: we travel very, very slowly.

As big trees are, by their nature, really big, I've included a couple of people in this picture to give them a sense of scale. All you have to do is find them. ;)

We left Sequoia and drove back down the narrow, windy and steep road on to Midpines KOA (sadly this was the exception in our rule that all KOAs are staffed by helpful and friendly people! We won't be rushing back here) where we'd booked for two nights, giving us ample time to check out our final big natural wonder - Yosemite national park.

After a nights rest the weather turned on us and temperatures dropped about 20 farenheit. We had planned on taking the shuttle bus from the campsite up to the park but as it only ran every couple of hours and took an hour and a half to get there we drove up ourselves. It was another ascent up windy mountainous roads, but nothing compared to yesterdays drive. After eating our lunch we took a short mile and a half long walk around the meadow in the centre of the park (that's a three hour excursion for us), which should have offered us clear views of these towering majestic granite outcrops that this park is famous for, and it would've done, if it wasn't for the cloud cover that erased them from our view.

That's the famous Half Dome of Yosemite on the left. Yes, just behind all those lovely obscuring clouds. ;) It didn't stop us taking pictures as clouds help define scenes when photographing or filming them - an empty blue sky is the dullest sky of all. We also saw woodpeckers and dear in the glade that's at the bottom of the picture (something you'll see a lot more of when we've both edited our real pictures and video).

And after that, we left. Our last national park on "The Great South Western Road Trip". We stayed over night at Midpines and today drove to Stockton Delta KOA, where I'm now writing this blog post. The end of the road - 3, 137 miles from our starting point at McKinney, Dallas, Texas. Tomorrow, we'll return the RV and head into San Francisco for the last two nights of our trip. I'll probably write a blog from there and one when we get back to the UK, in way of summary, but I would like to say thanks to everyone whos commented on the postings to let me know you're reading them and to let me know how much you've enjoyed the updates.

It's one thing to write, it's a better thing to be read. :D

TGSWRT: Day 14 & 15 - 'Vegas and beyond


There's not a lot I can say about Las Vegas that you don't already know, except all I can add is it's all true. We pootled around the strip during the day, visiting the various casinos, more for the architecture than anything else - for example: within one stretch you can climb to the top of The Eiffel Tower, see the Empire State building & take a goldalier trip round Venice. At dusk we ventured north to the old strip on Fremont Street (home to the original casinos like "The Golden Nugget" and "The Four Queens") to witness The Fremont Street Experience which was pretty spectacular and goes to show what lengths the casino owners will go to just to get you in the area, let alone into a casino and actually gambling. I could go on, but to be honest the day was exhausting and left us both a little cold - we came to see Las Vegas and that's what we did, but in doing that we became removed from the experience and that was our problem. Unless you are willing to throw yourself into what Vegas can offer you - which is (as you know) 24 hour party time with gambling, show girls, glitz, glamour, salaciousness, music, booze, big cigars (this is the first time for a while I've seen smoking indoors - that was a bit weird) and much,mcuch more, then you're just going to end up wondering why the hell you are there. To it's credit It's one hell of a party town and long may it continue... just let it continue without me, please. ;)

This morning we checked out of the Desert Rose Resort (which was lovely, by the way; despite being next to the world's biggest Hooters and the Airport, our apartment was quiet, spacious, clean and very reasonably priced) and got on the road again. 400 miles later (via a very short stop over into the Mohave Desert National Park) sees us in Visalia, which is a small town near Fresno and only 60 miles outside our next stop: Sequoia National Park home to the giant "Redwood" trees.

TGSWRT: Days 12 & 13 - Canyons and Valleys (part deux)


After the two early mornings at Monument Valley and Grand Canyon, we took it nice and easy yesterday morning in the Cannonvile KOA site and did homely stuff like cleaning (our clothes and ourselves) and recharging batteries (our cameras and ourselves) and intended on catching the setting sun in the Kodachrome Basin which was 9 miles down the road from our campsite (a small note about KOA so far our experience of them is truly wonderful, they have all been clean, well maintained and staffed with really friendly, helpful people) however after picking up on a severe weather warning we changed our plans and decided to drive to Bryce Canyon instead.

(clicking on the piccie will take you through to the flickr page - sorry I didn't do this earlier for you, dear reader) Bryce is stunning. The "hoodoos" that proliferate the park make Bryce a unique visiting spot. Remeniscent of gothic spires, it's easy to compare it's skylines to a manic organic version of the universities of Oxford, except it fills the horizon and then some.

We ate at the local restaurant Clark's in the small town of Tropic. The food was pretty good, service was friendly and, once again the portions were immense. Miko ordered (thinking that we were back in England) a 1/2 BBQ chicken, which the left overs have been steadily feeding us for the last couple of days - in fact there's still some left. I had a "New York steak" which was the smallest steak on the menu weighing in at 10oz and it came as rare as I requested it; can't complain about that. ;) They also have a selection of home made pies for dessert, that we took to go - along with the mutant chicken left overs that must've weighed in at about 3lbs.

After the non arrival of the storm (it sure was windy though), the next morning we visited the Kodachrome basin State Park which got it's name from the early visitors who were stuck by it's beauty and colour that they called it Kodachrome. When it became a state park with that name Kodak initially baulked at the idea and it was renamed to Chimney Rock State Park but after someone in Kodak's Marketing dept realised that this was free and positive advertising, they relented and granted permisson for the trade mark to be used. Sure is pretty and it's worth every cent of the $6 entrance fee. However our next stop would make us re-evaluate all superlatives we'd used so far.

How can you sum up Zion State Park?

Does this image help? Or this? This? How about this?

They're all of Zion, but none of them can sum up the magnificent beauty of this place. It redefines the word "Awesome". Miko described it as "The most beautiful place she'd ever seen". We did four of the shorter suggested trails around the park (there are several trails in various levels of difficulty and length) and each one of them was completely rewarding - a simple 1 mile walk between two of the sites took us a good 2 hours to traverse, not because of the roughness of the terrain, but becausse we kept stopping to try and capture scene after vista after picture opportunity. I can only urge everyone to go to this incredibly stunning and awe inspiring place.

We're now resting up in the rather plush Desert Rose Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada (the fifth state and third time zone) as a little piece of luxury and respite before we take on our final leg of California and the Forests of Sequoia and Yosemite before finishing our trip in San Francisco. Tomorrow will be a driving day (400 miles) but today will be trying to make sense of one of the weirdest cities in America.

TGSWRT: Days 9, 10 & 11 - Canyons and Valleys (part one)


Ok, it's only been a few days since I last wrote but a lot has happened since then. We left the charming Cottonwood Campground at about 10am and ascended up to the South Rim of Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "tSay") and started our tour of the various overlooks that let you look down into this magnificent canyon. Sadly our timing could've been better as the sunlight was mostly overhead making both our camera and video footage a tad flat, but the experience of looking into some America prehistory was worth every second. This canyon features ruins from the Ancient Pueblo People who lived in this Canyon over 3000 years ago and who manufactured impressive cliff carved dwellings as villages, often housing communities of 100 - 200 people. The valley floor is still occupied and farmed today by the Navaho, who own this land and hold the ruins and many of the rocks as sacred; therefore access to the canyon floor is heavily restricted unless accompanied by a guide.

It took us a good 5 to 6 hours to tour the south rim, so we set off for our next port of call at about 4pm, heading north, into our fifth state, Utah and into to Monument Valley.

We'd booked into Gouldings RV Campground the night before but upon our arrival, our booking hadn't made it through their system and there was no room for us when we turned up. All they could offer us was a dry site (no hookup), by the side of the road for a rather rich $27. However, after driving 170 miles and it being 7.30pm we weren't in a position to argue so begrudingly we paid our fee. The Gouldings complex is a sightin itself. Originally a trading post it now has it's own hotel, lodge, grocery store, gas station, medical centre, museum and campground as well as many other amenities. However, our lack of booking had put a dampeners on the whole Monument Valley experience and the general vibe of the place seemed all about wanting to get cash into Gouldings coffers at any cost so we decided to give the actual Monument Valley park a miss and drive on... but not until we'd got something out of the experience in return. So, at 5.55am (a small and odd note about time - Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time, but the Navaho Nation Indian Reservation within Arizona does) we got up and drove down the road to capture the sunrise on one of Nature's great achievements.

And it was well worth it. :D Have a look at the above images on my flickr page, and these are just the pictures from our little fuji camera.

After the sun had done it's glorious wonderment we set off in search of breakfast in the nearby town of Kayenta but all we could find open at this time was a Burger King, however this was no ordinary BK. This BK was (quite oddly) home to the Navaho code talkers exhibit. Breakfast was weird.

After a bit of shopping and cashing of travellers cheques (and securing our next campsite over the phone, rather than the internet) we set off down Highway 160, through Tuba City (it lacked Tubas) then north on Highway 89, past the beautiful Echo Cliffs and across the gorgeous Marble Canyon, up the impressive and aptly named Vermillion Cliffs up to Jacobs Lake, ready for our next Canyon: The Grand Canyon.

After such an impressive morning of both filming and photography we again decided to get up early and catch the sun rise, so at 4.45 am we got up and drove the 45 miles to the North Rim.

Once again, getting up early paid dividends. I was in two minds about seeing the Grand Canyon - after all we're seeing a number of canyons and, yes this is the biggest and most famous, but it's also the most viewed. However we opted for the less popular north rim just to try and see something more unique and to have a more personal experience. To put this into context, the south rim (which offers far better, wider and more colourful views) gets 5million visitors a year - it has it's own Imax cinema for chrissakes - while the north gets a more leisurely half a million. The drive to the north rim also is (once again) stunning - something we'd appreciate later - after a congratulatory and rewarding breakfast at The Grand Canyon Lodge.

We both ordered the same thing - buttermilk pancakes, two eggs (scrambled) and a side of hash browns and our jaws dropped when this arrived

That's 3 19 cm in diameter buttermilk pancakes in a stack about 5 cm high, so that's 1418 cubic cm of very delicious and fluffy pancake. Most of that jar of syrup disappeared into the stack, too. Please note the garnish of a wedge of strawberry and a slice of orange, making it a "healthy" breakfast and contributing to my 5 a day. ;) Though (those who care for our well being will be reassured to read) it did defeat us and we left half of the pancake mountain on the plate. Breakfast came to a costly but worth it $34 (including tip).

We got back on the road and drove back through the Kaibab Plateau, now lit for us to see the glittering, golden leaves of the autumnal silver birch set against the deep greens of fir trees and then a real rare treat:

a small herd of Bison, grazing and wallowing beside the roadside. After a few tentative snaps we got back on the road, heading north up Highway 89, into Utah. We did stop off at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park but it was a bit dissappointing so I had a nap, then on up passed Dixie National Forest, Red Canyon, onto Highway 12 and we're now in Cannonville for two days to check out the plethora of state parks here.

TGSWRT: Day Seven & Eight - Arizona


We left Santa Fe yesterday morning and headed south on I-25. On through Albuquerque (no signs of hot dogs, nor jumping frogs, though) and down to Socorro, only breifly stopping at the horrifying shopping experience that is Wall-Mart for supplies, subways and petro... oh sorry, I mean gas. At Socorro we took Highway 60 west towards our geeky goal - the Very Large Array. We'd noted on the map that on our route, next to small town called Magdelena, there was a Ghost Town and, picturing abandoned wooden frontier buildings we headed off the trail to find it. Sadly we were disappointed to find reinforced concrete foundations and brick walls so we soon left and carried on, heading west.

What can you say about the VLA apart from awesome. These huge radio dishes arranged in a Y formation on a vast empty plateau, all pointing at something interesting (or not) in remote space. If you're in the area I can only recommend it highly - there's a lovely little visitor centre and an unsupervised walking tour that gets you up nice and close to one of the dishes. We stayed a couple of hours and could've stayed longer, but now time wasn't our friend as our planned overnight stay - Lyman Lake State Park was still 90 miles away and the sun was beginning to get low in the sky and driving west into a setting sun on straight roads isn't ideal. We did drive through Cibola National Forest which was beautiful - the lime green grasses, covered in pom pom bushes and perfect fir trees made the whole thing look like a hornby model set - and some delighful tiny towns (including Pie Town!) that had seen better days. As the sun set on the incredibly straight Highway 60, we crossed into our forth state - Arizona.

We got to Lyman Lake after dark and found a RV spot and settled down for the night; another 370 odd miles covered and hopefully for a while our last long drive.

We (I say we, I mean I) awoke at 10:30 which was a blessing in itself. Lyman Lake was pretty and deserted. We had breakfast, took a stroll round a short hike to see some petroglyphs and got on the road at about lunchtime. We headed up to St. Johns, grabbed some subs and gas and took Highway 180 up to the Petrified Forest National Park. The Petrified Forest is a geologists wet dream - a huge desert landscape surrounded by multicoloured strataficated rock formations (lending it's well deserved name The Painted Desert) who's ground is littered with thousands of fossilised trees. The landscape is epic and awe inspiring - this is the land of Koyaanisqatsi and it's vastness and scale is impossible to take in.

We're now in the (nicely free) Cottonwood campgrounds at the foot of the Canyon de Chelly national monument - tomorrow will see us take that in and then up to the home of the John Ford western - Monument Valley.

TGSWRT: Day Six - My God, it's full of carbs

Well it's 4am and I'm awake and, as we're not likely to have any wi-fi access for a week (maybe more) I thought, before we hit the wilderness, I'd do one last blog  to round up our time in Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a very clean, very affluent and quite a liberal, arty mountain town; for those who've spent time in Aspen - it's like that, but with a more Mexican and Native American feel to it.  Shops are expensive and rather posh. We spent the late afternoon in the touristy old town wandering around looking at the exceptionally nice but exceptionally overpriced wares on offer. We did find an exceptional art gallery - Pop Gallery - where both of us felt we could've spend a large proportion of a lottery win on many pieces and pay for them to be shipped back. New discoverys like Valery Milovic, Thomas Barbery, Marie Sena and Lynden St. Victor to name but a few were all keeping us entertained.

Both Miko and I have been suffering with a touch of altitude sickness, so we've been drinking lots of water and trying to boost our carbs so this evening we went to The Shed for some Mexican food.

We split a plate of House Guacamole, Salsa Corn Tortilla Chips and a bowl of Calabacitas - a warm salad of zucchini, yellow squash, corn onion and green chile to start and for our "entrees" we both had variations of the Enchilada and Taco Plate: One rolled, blue corn enchilada filled with cheddar cheese, onion and covered with red chile, One soft blue corn taco with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, & choice of lean ground beef marinated in red chile or baked chicken drizzled with red chile,green chile or a side of salsa, served with pinto beans & mexican rice. I went for beef with red chile in the enchilada and chicken in the other and miko went for turkey sausage and chicken. We felt that the guacamole could benefit from some lime so my lime wedge that came with my margarita (which oddly came with a straw) went into it and , yes it it did taste better. The chicken and green chile combination was very tasty but the rest of the food didn't really deliver on the level that maybe we were expecting - it felt slightly santized, one step away from "real" mexican food. However the Calabacitas was outstanding - a perfect autumnal dish, very tasty and beautifully seasoned. The price of this meal was a very reasonable $55 (including tip) so we can't complain too much, but considering the James Beard award we did feel a bit let down.

The next port of call is The Very Large Array , Lake Lyman, then on to the Petrified Forest and Canyon De Chelly.

TGSWRT: Days 4 & 5 - New Mexico and rest.


Welcome to New MexicoWe're currently resting up in the Santa Fe KOA site after another 400+ mile day of driving. Along the way here, we stopped off at The Cadillac Ranch, so that's one thing ticked off the list. ;) It has to be said that New Mexico is stunning! The change in landscape from the flat, dusty lands of Oklahoma and North Texas, through the epic mesas into the greenrolling hills and mountains of the southern Rockies is a wonderful transformation to witness. We're now in America's Oldest State Capital, featuring the oldest house and church in the US. This afternoon will be spent pootling around the mexican influenced adobe buildings in the town.

TGSWRT: Day 3 - This is the way to Amarillo


This is the way to AmarilloToday was all about getting behind the wheel and driving. From Denton we took the I-35 up into Oklahoma (Oklahoma makes Norfolk look like the Alps) then, at Oklahoma City we took the I-40, back into Texas, all the way to Amarillo so that's about 470 miles done. We realised that we can't really hang around in Texas if we want to see all the things we want to see so we're going to save Texas for another holiday and get cracking on heading west. We learnt some things along the way but the most important thing is we've either grossly underestimated the mileage of our RV (it's doing about 7miles per gallon at the moment and we'd costed the trip on getting 15mpg) or we don't understand what the Overdrive button does. After a bit of googling it looks like we should actually have Overdrive on rather than off but we'll check it again tomorrow. It does feel good actually getting on the road and getting somewhere, though. I also learnt that I don't know how to pump gas. Tomorrow we're going to check out some photo ops and maybe Cadillac Ranch, then on to Santa Fe to meet up with one of Miko's old friends. Oh, because I'm using the "Side blog" tool in WordPress for this, I know the images are a bit small, but if you go through to my flickr page you'll see the full sized image there.

TGSWRT: Day 2 - Denton


Today's marvellous multi caloried meal was breakfast at IHOP (the International House of Pancakes). I've been wanting to eat at an IHOP since my first trip to the States, 17 years ago and now, my goal is complete. My breakfast was comprised of a thick stack of three american style pancakes, topped with butter and syrup with 3 eggs (scrambled), turkey bacon (note the healthy option there) and a split side of hash browns. There are 4 choices of syrup - original, blueberry, strawberry and butterscotch but the best and the only serious option for a tourist like myself is the original - American pancakes, maple syrup and butter is a classic breakfast and to accompany it with eggs and (turkey) bacon is just icing on the cake. I am Jack's increasing waistband. :D For those interested in the actual trip, we're still in Denton with my wonderful Mother-In-Law. Today has been all about food shopping and map buying in preparation and tomorrow we get on the road, driving from Denton, up I35 to Oklahoma City, then onto I40 all the way to Amarillo. That's about 7-8 hours driving tomorrow.

This is our home from home:

Our C25 Motorhome All 25ft of motorhome baby, yea!  For those afficionados: it's a Ford cab with a Winnebago conversion on the back. More to come from our next port of call - the KOA RV park in Amarillo. :) I'm going to try and eat somewhat healthily, but until then it's BBQ tonight; When in Texas... ;)

The Great South Western Road Trip of USA: Day 1

We arrived yesterday in the lovely bejewelled terminal of loveliness that is Dallas Fort Worth Airport: the departures area was rememinscent of Athens, 2000 at 3am; I forget how spoilt we are, comparing the depature areas of Gatwick and Heathrow. The flight was good, and restored my faith in BA somewhat with good service and some good entertainment on offer. The missus and I watched "Night at the Museum II" (unoffensive dross), "The Hangover" (funny - better than it should've been) and "Is anybody there?" (a charmingly bleak British movie about death staring Michael Caine). The food was pretty good, but that's down to the wonderful discovery of Hermolis Airline Kosher Catering Food, they really know how to feed people. :) We're currently in a Ramada (think Premier Inn) near the airport, waiting for our RV company to pick us up. Last night we jay walked across the highway to a Dennys (think Little Chef) where the menu was shiny and offered rich offerings of a multitude of yellow, red, orange and brown food, mostly concentrating around the breakfast theme; however... something had changed - this time the Dennys menu offered photos of a new food colour... GREEN! Yes, they were proud to offer the growing clientelle a variety of salads with a little green heart logo, mentioning that these healthy options were good for you because each of these new fangled dishes was guaranteed to contain less that 15gms(!!!) of fat. I loathe to think how much my non healthy prime stake sandwich with seasoned fries contained, but damn it was tasty. The missus opted for a chicken salad, the chicken coming either deep fried or grilled - she opted for fried.

Thanks to the marvels of Melatonin I'm now rested and ready to take on the big South Western road trip... or maybe that's the three cups of coffee I've had this morning... along with the huge waffle with syrup... accompanied with a full fat cream cheese bagel. The three pieces of fruit that I purloined from our continental breakfast buffet are silently judging me...

More to come as and when the internet will allow.