The Long Trek

The big roadtrip…….Here’s the rundown. Brace yourself; there are lots of pictures. I think I took over 300. I definitely pared it down for the purposes of this blog.

Day 1, Friday: Picked up Mary Jane and left Lawrence around 9 a.m. Because of the tornado in Greensburg, MJ’s usual route had a detour, so we took in more of OK than we wanted to. OK turned out to be an unlucky state for us, as we had several near death experiences. First this truck threw up a huge rock and left this target shaped crack in my windshield. MJ was quick to get his picture (not that it matters, but we like to document highlights of the trip in photos).

Next we had a couple of Oklahomans decide to drive in our lane (head on). So the only redeeming part of Oklahoma this trip was this beautiful shot of horses on the open prairie. Makes me wanna sing “Wide Open Spaces”.

We made it most of the way across New Mexico the first day. Stopped in Grants, NM.

Saturday, Day 2: Got up and drove the rest of the way to MJ’s parents, arriving in Upland, CA around 4:00 pm. Here are some of the scenic highlights along the way: Near Albequerque, NM; Gas in Needles, CA; Nearing Upland; MJ’s parents’ home (through a very dirty windshield).

Sunday, Day 3: We spent Sunday relaxing with Mary Jane’s family. They were very nice and hospitable. Upland was also very nice. It’s tucked in a valley with a great view of mountains. We took in some shopping, including an excellent 99 cent store (I’m a sucker for a bargain). I spent a little bit of time sitting by the pool with book in one hand, cold drink in the other. It’s nice to just relax and not have anything pressing to do.

Monday, Day 4: Memorial Day. MJ’s Dad gave me his version of the nickel L.A. tour. Before leaving, he explained the rules: We stay in the car and I take pictures out the window. Since I’m from a landlocked state, he’d allow me 45 seconds to get out and stick my feet in the ocean. In actuality he gave a great tour. Just as MJ said, he was full of useless knowledge (turns out it wasn’t so useless after all. Came in handy for the tour). We drove through Hollywood (not such a great part of town). At one point he pulled over and instructed me to jump out and take a picture of a star. Since he picked the spot randomly, I wasn’t sure if I’d recognize any of the stars…..I was excited to see a name I knew, “Stefanie Powers” (I used to watch Hart to Hart in the good old days). As I was focusing in with the camera, MJ knocked on the window and motioned to the next star down. So, yeah, I have to agree with her, the star just beside it was a little more photo worthy.

We then stopped at the beach…..and, yes we did get more than 45 seconds. We spent closer to 45 minutes enjoying the surf and collecting shells. The Pacific was chilly. Another misconception I had about southern California. I had been to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, but I thought this far south it would be much warmer than it was.

After the tour, MJ’s dad made some awesome ribs for a Memorial Day dinner. It was another fun and relaxing day.

Tuesday, Day 5: This is the day that MJ and I went to her mom’s school to give a short inservice on MMARS. Her mom is an OT, so we followed her around and observed her work with the kids. She also works at a school for kids with DD, except her students are quite a bit younger. There was a little bit of confusion as to when we were presenting and some of the teachers didn’t even seem to know about it. So even though we had prepared a 2 hour presentation, we ended up having a 45 minute slot and were competing with the chili feed in the staff lounge.

Wednesday, Day 6: MJ and I took off for the La Brea Tar Pits. It’s kind of odd to find this place in the middle of downtown LA. It’s quite the interesting spot. The asphalt (actually NOT tar as the name suggests) has trapped thousands of animals (much like fly paper) over eons. Fossils of all kinds of critters have been found (saber-tooth tigers, mammoths, mastadons, sloths, etc.) and the excavations continue today. That’s about as scientific an explanation I can give. For more information, visit their website:

We had lunch at Marie Callendar’s (and all this time I just thought it was a frozen dinner). I had my only celebrity sighting while in LA. I actually didn’t recognize the man until MJ said something. It was Bill Cobbs, the African American guard in “Night at the Museum” (which ironically we had just watched with her parents).

Thursday, Day 7: MJ and I headed to Universal Studios. This was one of the highlights for me. That place was fun. First we took the tour of the backlots. We saw sets from several familiar movies and TV shows (Jaws, Desperate Housewives, the Grinch, War of the Worlds, etc, etc).

After the tour, we roamed the park. They had several shows. Waterworld was one of my favorites. I wasn’t a big fan of the movie, but it was fun to watch all the special effects in live action with real actors.

This was Backdraft, also very impressive with its special effects taking place right before your eyes.
And of course I love animals, so the animal stars show was fun.
There were several awesome rides (The Mummy, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park to name a few). And they showed a short Shrek film in 4-D, meaning our seats moved, we got squirted when Donkey sneezed and felt gusts of wind in the appropriate places. I think all movies should be 4-D (except horror movies).

Here are some random shots throughout the park.
Friday, Day 8: Our time in CA had drawn to a close already. We headed out for Flagstaff, AZ, checked into our hotel there and then drove up to the Grand Canyon. That was awe-inspiring. The pictures really do not do it justice. I could spend a week there, just taking in the views with different lighting throughout the day. At one point, I decided I wanted to go down this trail the donkeys use to see what it was like. I didn’t go far. I can’t imagine rambling down the trail atop a donkey, especially when I looked down. Mary Jane and I got split up at this point. I didn’t see her for another hour or two. I was hoping she didn’t have an asthma attack. I found her at the car. She heard an ambulance go by, and since she’d left me on the donkey trail, she was hoping that I’d have the wherewithall to tell the ambulance drivers to stop by the car and let her know I’d fallen off the cliff. So it was a relief to catch up to one another at the car. Saturday, Day 9 (into Sunday, Day 10): One LOOOONNNNG Day. We headed out from Flagstaff that morning. We drove through the Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert. That was an interesting place. Here’s a close up of a petrified tree that has turned to stone.
petraglyphs from a Native American civilization. So the original plan was to stop either in Liberal, KS or Tucumcari, NM for the night. We were both ready to get home, so we drove through the night and got home at 7:30 am CST. I kept the clock on California time as a psychological tactic to stay awake. Of course getting stopped in the middle of nowhere, KS by a highway patrolman for having a headlight out got my blood pressure up enough to keep me wide awake too. Here are some shots of a rainbow and beautiful sky in New Mexico.

So 3600 miles later, I’m thinking it was a very long drive, but you don’t get to see things like that from an airplane. I was glad to get home and into bed and my pets were so glad to regain some normalcy around our house.

~ by tawnyamarie on June 7, 2007.

5 Responses to “The Long Trek”

  1. Those pictures are amazing, Tawnya! I’m glad to hear you’re getting to see so many things!

  2. lots of stuff, and lots of adventures! Thanks for going with me – mj

  3. Thanks Patricia….speaking of seeing so many things – look at you going to Wicked twice! How many times does that make total?

    MJ: Thanks for letting me come along!

  4. Hey, you drove right past my old stomping grounds! I used to go to Grants, NM and surrounding areas. We would camp and fish at Bluewater Lake, and go to the remnants of the volcano out there. That is very close to my home of Farmington, NM.

    You got some great pictures! I don’t always see the beauty in the desert, because I prefer trees to tumbleweeds.

    Glad you are safely home, and hope you had a great trip!

  5. […] On my first summer break, I took a roadtrip to California with my friend Mary Jane. The highlight of the trip for me was the Grand […]

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