Monday, August 6, 2012

The Trip of a Lifetime

A beautiful New Mexico sunset

Some cool art in New Orleans

A lightning storm in New Orleans, only a few miles from our campsite!

The very beginning of our land art piece in White Sands, NM

A double rainbow after a storm in Arizona

The Gate to Heaven

A shoe tree in Zion, UT

An awesome log in Zion

The Powerful Mountains of Zion

Another one of Nature's Light Shows
I just got back from an amazing drive across the country- From Buffalo, NY to Los Angeles, CA!

The west is so enchanting.  There's nothing like driving on an open road with nothing for miles and miles and miles.  It's beautiful and serene, and at the same time invigorating and inspiring!

Our trip started in Buffalo, NY, where we drove 13 hours to Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois and camped in 100 degree weather.  Shawnee was a stopping point before we got to New Orleans, which was the first anticipated stop!

New Orleans has a culture so rich you can cup it in the air.  The art, the people, the architecture- everything about New Orleans was beautiful and inspiring.  We started off camping at Fairview-Riverside campgrounds, just across the Causeway. Our first night there, however, we were hit with the loudest and brightest lightning and thunder storm I've every experienced in my life.  The storm was in our backyard and inching closer, so we ran to the car for cover as we watched Nature's Light Show in awe.  After that dance with death, we surrendered to Mother Nature and took refuge in a nearby Motel 6.

From New Orleans we stopped for a night in San Antonio, TX, where we ate amazingly delicious Mexican food at Tequila Jalisco Taqueria, a tiny little restaurant on W. Military Rd.  We went on the Riverwalk right in downtown San Antonio, where we saw and remembered The Alamo!

From there we drove into New Mexico, probably my favorite of all the states we visited. It's natural beauty and unique culture spoke to me.
In New Mexico we first stopped at Carlsbad Caverns, one of the greatest sites to see stalactites and stalagmites.  The scale and grandeur of Carlsbad Caverns was jaw-dropping.  In a place so big and dark and mysterious, your imagination runs wild.  I had the constant feeling that a very large, hairy, villainous creature was living in the depths of the dark and dank cavern.

From the Caverns we drove to Alamogordo, where we stayed for a night and saw White Sands, a huge gypsum deposit that spans for miles.  There we made a huge pattern of lines on top of one of the hills, which took hours of work, but was worth it in the end! Land art, being natural and anonymous, is one of my favorite mediums.  The other land art piece I did at Brigantine Beach, NJ, can be seen here: I hope everyone who saw our design enjoyed it!

After New Mexico we travelled to Arizona, where we stayed in a small town called Pinetop.  In Pinetop we also got wonderful Mexican food at Viva Los Corrales, a family business with bottomless chips and salsa- yummmm!!!
From Pinetop we saw Sedona, which was a breathtakingly beautiful area, but a bit too touristy for my taste.  Full of expensive gift shops and fancy art galleries, I was a bit turned off by the scene.  I didn't get a genuine vibe from it like I did in New Orleans.
From Sedona we went to the Grand Canyon, which is quite grand!  Limited on time, we didn't take any noteworthy hikes, but the view was spectacular.  Nature sure has a way of showing off sometimes!

We left the Grand Canyon and headed for Zion National Park in southern Utah.  Zion was my favorite of all the National Parks.  It's beauty is amazing, and there is so much to explore you couldn't do it all in a month.  We took two of the shorter hikes- one to the Emerald Pools and one to the Hidden Canyon.  Both were gorgeous.  We got caught in a flash flood while heading down the Hidden Canyon trail which was a scary and fun experience all at the same time.

From Zion, we went to Vegas for a night, where we saw Cirque du Soleil's KA performance at MGM. The Cirque shows are an experience that cannot be put into words.  Every time I see one I think to myself, "I should really stretch more..."

We left Vegas and went off to our final destination-- CALIFORNIA!! We first stopped in Palm Springs where we visited family, which was so nice and comfortable. From there we visited LA, where we hiked up to the Hollywood sign, ate and Urth Cafe, and rollerbladed down Hollywood Blvd.  I rollerbladed over the red carpet!!

The whole experience was life-changing.  If you ever get the chance-- DO IT!!  There's no better way to experience the wild, wild west.

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