Little Rock, Arkansas

On Monday, October 27th, we made the 5 hour drive from Dallas, TX to the capital city of Little Rock, Arkansas. Of course we defaulted by using Hotwire to book out hotel in downtown area and ended up landing La Quinta Inn & Suites. We were pleased that this place offered a fitness center, free breakfast, and complimentary parking too. There was minimal traffic on our drive, but as soon as we hit the downtown exits, we noticed a significant amount of cars. Luckily our hotel was on the edge of the downtown traffic, so we bypassed all of the stopped cars along the way, and it only took us a few minutes to arrive and check in. We noticed an entrance through the parking garage, but we had to check in to grab the room key to swipe to enter the parking garage.

After reading the Lonely Planet Travel USA guide, we were ready to take on this city. One thing we like about this book is that it gives you highlights of each of the major cities and places of interest in the U.S. It is just big enough with some small maps of downtown streets and just small enough to not be too much of a hassle to lug around during our road trip.

Our hotel is pretty close to the River Market district. We decided to walk there, but the hotel also offers a free shuttle to the market. It was around 5pm when we left the hotel to search for a place to go for dinner. We enjoyed our stroll to the riverside. Autumn was peering its way through to us as we felt the wind blow through our hair and clothes. Along the way we accomplished finding and placing our mini Frisbee placement in a nearby cache.

After that quick find, I was craving buffalo wings, so we decided (since we loved it so much in Texas) to check out The Flying Saucer. Trying some local Arkansas beer was definitely a plus too! The Queso Fondue looked pleasing to us and because the waitress informed us of the larger portion of this appetizer, we decided to just get the buffalo wings in addition rather than getting individual dinner entrees. I’m glad we definitely went that route, because we were really full, and we did not even finish those dishes. One thing we noticed was there was also a Flying Fish next/near the Flying Saucer we went to, similar to when we were in Dallas. I just came across this article, in the Memphis Business Journal, which confirms our initial idea that they are in fact owned by the same company!

After dinner we walked along the water and noticed some sculptured scattered throughout the area. We took some photos of the artwork and some neat touristy signs. There were a few running electric trolleys in transit and many people in restaurants on their laptops and electronic devices. The streets were really clean and the atmosphere was really nice.

The Farmer’s Market in the downtown area only opens on Tuesdays (May-August) and Saturdays (May-October). It’s just too bad we missed it already, although it was still romantic and run¬†to see the area as the sun set and the moon came out on a quiet Monday evening. There is just so much to see in Little Rock, and we were surprised there are so many historical sites to visit. On our walk back to our hotel, we passed the Capital Hotel, the Marriott, and the Doubletree Inn by Hilton and down Broadway to reach our hotel.

The next morning we decided to stay in, skip breakfast, and get a nice workout in the morning at the fitness center. It was a small but functional room, and we really worked up some sweat in there. On to our next state: Tennessee, where we will be exploring Memphis!

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Texas

grgWe headed to Dallas to visit my sister Kayleigh, her boyfriend Anthony, and dog, Rocky. We arrived in Texas early in the morning and Christina had planned for the two of us to stop in Gainesville because they had some outlet stores there and she had been looking for a bathing suit. When we arrived, there were only three stores opened in the entire outlet shopping center. Every other store had been closed down and were out of business. We stopped into an Applebee’s for lunch then headed to the large selection of stores we had to choose from. We headed to Gap and Reebok with no success. There were no bathing suits to be found. There was also a kitchen store where we picked up a few items for my sister since they just recently moved to Texas and we thought they may need a few things.

We arrived in Farmers Branch, just outside Dallas, around 6:30 pm. After lugging all of our stuff into the apartment Christina, Kayleigh, Anthony, and I headed to dinner at BJ’s. The food there was really good. Christina and I split the Mediterranean Pizza. It was deep dish, Chicago style, and really good. It was topped with chicken, feta, olives, and sun-dried¬†tomato. We also finished off dinner with a “Pizookie”. It’s a pizza cookie. Basically a large cookie with toppings. We tried one that was a pumpkin cookie with cream cheese ice cream and the other was a chocolate cookie topped with peanut butter and marshmallow. Boy were they good.

The next morning we decided to work off our dinner and headed to Rockledge Park. We brought Rocky with us and headed out for a 2.5 mile hike. The scenery was very different than what we are used to back in Massachusetts. Also, the lake that the park is on is huge. There were people boating all over the lake. We headed down the trail and stopped ¬†after about 3/4 of a mile because there was a cache nearby. We searched for our cache and after a few minutes Anthony found it hidden in a tree. This was also Anthony’s first time geocaching so we were happy that he was the one to find it. We continued out on our hike until we hit one of the roads and then headed back the way we came. This was Rocky’s first time going for a hike. He did well and was well behaved along the trip.

After our hike we headed to Target to pick up a few groceries for dinner. Christina and I usually try to take advantage of a home cooked meal when ever we can. We picked up some hot dogs and hamburgers to have for dinner. The apartment complex that Anthony and Kayleigh live at has a grill out in the pool area. Anthony cooked us dinner while we hung out around the pool. Later that night we stayed in and watched “Million Dollar Arm”. It was a movie about a baseball agent who goes to India to find cricket players and turn them into major league baseball pitchers. The movie was really good and I highly recommend seeing it.

The next day Kayleigh had to work so Christina and I stayed in the apartment with Anthony in the morning. Christina and I were getting our guest book ready for the wedding. In the afternoon we went to the mall that is just a couple of blocks away, this is also where Kayleigh works. We needed to get a Texas magnet and Christina still wanted to find a bathing suit. Finally she found what she was looking for. H&M is what paid off with the bathing suit. We also stopped by a bag and luggage store. Christina had been looking for a bag that will attach to her suitcase that we can use while traveling. There were a few good options there. Christina and I both decided on getting a Tumi bag. This was because they also matched our carry-on suitcases.

tumi alpha bravo slimtumi voyaguer q-tote

Since it was our last night in Dallas we thought it would be nice to go out. We headed to Hard Eight BBQ for dinner. The offer BBQ by the pound. We got beef brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, and sausage. The four of us left there very full. After dinner we headed to The Flying Saucer. The Flying Saucer has an extensive list of beers and ciders. On Sundays they also offer local Texas beers for $3 a pint. There were also a few dart boards in the corner and we played a few games before going. Kayleigh and Anthony ended up beating Christina and I most games, although Christina and I did win 1.

The next morning Christina and I had breakfast with Kayleigh. Anthony had to be at work for 5am. We then headed out. Off to our next stop: Little Rock, Arkansas.

Oklahoma City

We are happy to report that we found a city, Oklahoma City, with it’s downtown area¬†actually in the state of Oklahoma! After some research we noticed the hip area in town was the downtown Bricktown area, that’s where went after checking into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Oklahoma City Southeast I-35. It seemed like a newer construction hotel, so we were really happy that.

It only took us 5 minutes to drive to KD’s Southern Cuisine, which was right next to Toby Keith’s: I Love this Bar and Grill. ¬†We read some Yelp reviews about both restaurants, and decided to go with the southern comfort food. For some reason we had no knowledge this restaurant is actually owned by the basketball player, Kevin Durant! It was decorated with sports memorabilia, and the restaurant itself had such a high-end metropolitan feel to it. One small detail was the menus that lit up when you opened them. Lighting was dark to set the mood, so lit menus were a uniquely modern yet practical way to read the text.

Food was served quickly, as we started with the skillet cornbread and ending with the banana cream pie in a petite mason jar. For our main courses, we did something never done in the Ho-Falcon Relationship: order the same meal! Yes, we went through with it, as it was bound to happen. Honey chicken it was! Of course, I had to give him my pitch before we both went for it: I wanted to split the Jambalaya and the chicken, but he was not feeling it there we have it. The meal was so delicious! We had to be a bit different, as I got the green beans and mashed potatoes and he got the mac & cheese instead of the green beans as his sides.

After dinner, we packed up my leftovers and headed to the car to place them in Tupperware containers in the large cooler we keep in the bed of the truck. Surprisingly there is a cache located right in the parking lot about 300 ft from where we had parked. With a Mini Frisbee and pen in hand we were ready to dodge any muggers and get to our goal. This was a relatively easy one!

Waterways served as an artistic divider between streets of shops and restaurants. We followed the water, which led alongside the back outdoor patio of KD’s and were happy to snap a few photos along the way. One of the first things we noticed was the relatively large building which just so happens to be Sonic’s headquarters! As you may or may not know, Michael is obsessed with Sonic, ever since his Florida days where it was right around the corner to driving to either Peabody or Connecticut to get his munch on. Nowadays we regularly come across them!

Around the other side of the building there is an actual Sonic dine-in restaurant. This was odd, we thought. The only Sonics we had ever seen had “America’s Favorite Drive-In”. There were no cars parked in this setting. Rather people filled the indoor and outdoor seating that was provided. Oh and they have $0.99 corn dogs on Halloween! (No, they did not endorse us to say that). We just think it’s a good deal.

Along our casual stroll, we noticed a couple of ducks that were on a date, and we captured their romantic stroll.

 

There were smaller shops and restaurants, and we stopped in a few gift shops. On the way back to our truck, we passed the baseball field, which featured notables such as Mickey Mantle. We noticed a few photographers capturing smaller details of the pathway, and we wanted to share some of the pictures along our stroll:

Before our departure from the downtown area we had to make a stop at Bass Pro Shops! Michael perused through fishing equipment while I looked at the Christmas display items towards the front of the shop. He ended up purchasing his very first foldable fishing net for his future fishing finds.

This concludes our brief, yet satisfying stay in Oklahoma City, OK. We are off to the big state of Texas!!!

Kansas

Topeka is the capital of Kansas. This is quite surprising considering we stayed right in the heart of the capital, and it was not too busy. Our balcony had a semi-unobstructed view facing the capitol building, and the city seemed to have a small-town culture to it. We stayed here for two nights.

Because most of the major commercial shops, malls, and companies are only an hour away in Kansas City, MO from Topeka, Kansas, most residents in this city were more secluded. ¬†It was nice to get away from a lot of people and the crowds. We checked into our hotel, the Senate Suites¬†on Tuesday, October 21st. ¬†Michael was a bit hesitant at first to park in the lot which had “Senate Suites Parking” signs around it, but eventually we parked and walked across the street toward the “Registration” sign, which led us to the front door. A gentleman greeted and checked us into our hotel, located on the third floor. There was an elevator conveniently located near the entrance, and we were given a traditional¬†key (none of those plastic cards for this place) for the two nights.

The room was really nice! As mentioned before, we had a nice balcony. In addition, we had a kitchenette with a mini dining room area, a living room with a sofa, a large flat-screen TV, a bedroom with a large king-size bed another TV, and a bathroom which had two entrances (one connecting to the bedroom and the other the hallway leading to the living room). After looking at a map of the hotel, we noticed our suite was on the smaller side. Wow, we thought. We got a great deal for this place. That was the main reason we decided to stay here for two nights, and we were living in a nice little apartment-like hotel, score!

Michael and I decided to stay in that evening and order some Chinese food from China Express. I really need to explain this process because I was really embarrassed. I ended up picking up the food because Michael was tired. I’m sure you can see where this is going. This place was literally down the alley and/or around the block from where we were staying. I drove down the block, but apparently missed the turn and almost ran through a red light, but I finally arrived! I went inside to pick up our order, but I forgot my wallet in the car, so I had to go back. Before I left, Michael wanted a soda, so I noticed a soda fountain machine, so I asked for two cups. Then I gave the gentleman my form of payment. After swiping and signing the credit card, I noticed he had bottled sodas behind the counter! This was AFTER I filled up the sodas and dumped out the ice the man had given to me. I felt so bad, but he knew exactly what I wanted to do. He was generous enough to let me return the two fountain sodas and exchange them for the two bottled sodas without charging me. At that point, I realized we did not have any utensils so I asked for some chopsticks. Napkins were not easily available so I just did not bother with that. Peace in the hotel room at last with our Chinese food….what a feat! Michael really made me work for that meal.

The next day we slept in and went shopping at the West Ridge Mall. There is an AT&T there, and Michael has been so excited to get a new iPhone. So we decided to head there. Driving through Topeka, we were quickly brought back to feeling as if we were in either Seekonk, MA, North Attleborough, MA, or even Warwick, RI. This capital city really had that suburban feel to it. Leaving the mall empty-handed, without one dime spent we came across a Kohl’s which was a few blocks away. This is our go-to place. We always find something we like there!

I wanted to go shopping for our upcoming cruise. Oh, yes, by the way we ended up booking another cruise: this is our getaway before our wedding. More on that when we reach Florida…Kohls-logo

Our mission was to get some bathing suits. What we actually got were: two pairs of jeans, a wallet, and a belt for Michael and a pair of high heels and some wedding paraphernalia for me. We totally side-tracked!

We desperately needed to work out, and we explored Lake Shawnee Park after quickly changing at the hotel. This park is so beautiful! It has a 7-mile loop trail around the lake. After jogging one mile, we felt really nice. Along the way we completed our cache, sprinted a few times, and then jogged back to the truck. This totaled roughly 3.1 miles. We definitely would not have been able to do the whole loop before dark. We had a nice workout!

We woke up the next morning at 8am to have breakfast, pack and get ready for our 5-hour drive to the next state: Oklahoma!

Kansas City, Missouri

There has been constant chatter about Kansas City, since they have gone through to the World Series against the San Francisco Giants. This made our trip to the city even more exciting. We planned to go to the Crown Center instead of staying overnight there. Hotel prices were significantly higher because the first two games of the World Series were being played in Kansas City!

Crossing over the bridge we immediately felt the hustle and bustle of the city, starkly different from the more rural and country-like highways leading up to the city.

We opted to experience the city first-hand by heading to the Hallmark Visitor Center, which is connected to the Crown Center. The first thing we noticed was the very blue fountains which showcased the front entrance of the mall. There seemed to be fountains everywhere! Self-parking was available in the garage attached to the mall. As a courtesy, they offered the first three hours of parking free of charge so long as you have your parking ticket validated by a store or restaurant in the center.

There were many small boutiques within the Hallmark Center, and we found our state magnet on our first try. We were also lucky enough to come across a nearby cache right around the corner from the Panera, which was right across the street from the center. Both magnet and caches were complete. For lunch we ate at Farm to Market Bread Company.

Now it was onto exploring the Hallmark Visitor Center. We had no idea what to expect other than seeing some exhibits about the history of the company. Upon entering the VC, there were two women who greeted us with smiles, and one explained that it was a self-guided tour.

We were pleased with how beautiful the center was, and the first few items were saw were extravagant collages that revealed the history and inception of Hallmark. It was really neat to see. Moving along we began to see intricate detail in the works that were on display. Also we saw a rolling film where Hallmark artists, sculptures, writers and painters expressed their feelings about working and their passion behind their inspiration for the products they company sells. We really got a strong sense of the company culture. It was appropriate that small ornaments filled the display cases along with a hands-on make-your-own ribbon machine (basically, you push a button and a small robotic machine makes you a ribbon).

We also took some funny pictures there!!!

After Kansas City, MO we are off to the state of Kansas. Surprising (well to us) fact: Downtown Kansas City is in Missouri. The city’s suburbs are in the state of Kansas. Oh, and Arkansas City is in Kansas. Interesting, huh?

Iowa

Cheer us on: we have hit 35 states, and have only 15 more states to go!

Des Moines was the main city we visited in Iowa. From Omaha, we made the 2 hour drive through the western part of Iowa, which was covered with corn fields, some cow farms, and many windmills throughout open fields alongside main highways.

On Monday, October 20th. We checked into our hotel, Holiday Inn Express Des Moines at Drake University at 2:30pm on Monday, October 20th, which is west of the city center. Tennis courts across the street caught our eye, as we planned a time for us to get a much-needed fun workout before leaving.

Our first stop was to visit the Capitol Building, which houses the Iowa Senate, Iowa House of Representatives, the Office of the Governor, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State. We were really intrigued to visit this building mainly due to it being the number one attraction on TripAdvisor in Des Moines. It was around 3:30pm when we arrived there. We parked in Visitor Parking right in front of the building. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and the sun was shining brightly on the gorgeous 23-carat Golden Dome roof. We also noticed a small scenic park with a few lone joggers. Our first goal was to find a nearby cache, and we walked down the paved pathway into the park. After searching for about a half hour, we unfortunately we came up empty-handed.

It was already almost 4:15pm so we decided to head up to the building before it closed. We went through one of the public entrances on the side of the building. Upon entering, we walked through a metal detector and a security guard greeted us. They stopped their tours for the day, but we we were able to explore the building on our own, so we got a map from the info desk towards the front and made our way up to the second floor.

Our first stop was the library, which was really neat to see. There were some nice spiral staircases along the walls leading up the room with high ceilings. There were all really cool historical pieces in glass cases. We were able to then head to one of the open rooms, which is where the House of Representatives gather. Everything in the building was beautifully decorated with paintings, beautiful architecture and wonderful lighting throughout.

We saw a couple of exhibits that screamed Iowa, such as one of their ships, bell,¬†donated gifts from countries, the governor’s memorabilia, and more! The structure itself was quite European in style, as dramatic artwork¬†hung from the walls and painted ceilings brightened up the structure.

After exploring the interior of the building, we made our way towards the back of the building where there was a cache. We were in luck as I spotted the cache immediately!

Michael suggested we check out the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. We parked our car along the road which surrounded the park, and it was a coin-operated machine, which was very reasonably priced. It was $0.25 for 34 minutes, not too shabby! We just took a nice stroll and took some pictures of the sculptures while the sun was shining very brightly. There was a couple sitting on top of a hill who was having a photo shoot with two photographers working hard to capture some special moments, while we casually saw kids, parents, and loners sitting and relaxing in the natural beauty of this park.

Dinner was next on the agenda. As we drove back to our hotel we noticed the Drake Diner, which was right next to our hotel. Being it was a Monday, we were happy to see many cars parked at this particular restaurant. This really means that it is a hot spot. Indeed, the decor and ambiance did create that 50’s style diner. Tootsie Roll Pops were also right at the front, so I selected a few different flavors for after-dinner. The food was very good so we knew the dessert would be great too!

The next morning we had planned to wake up at 6am to get some tennis time in before our drive through Missouri. However we were still adjusting to the two-hour time difference from Pacific Time to Central Time so we ended up sleeping in until about 8am. We did manage to make it to breakfastūüėĄ before our drive that day.

Our next states are Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas by the weekend! It’s a busy week for us, but we are really looking forward to visiting Michael’s sister Kayleigh and her boyfriend Anthony in Texas.

Also a quick side note: Game 2 of the World Series is on (Giants vs. Royals)….everyone is going crazy about the Royals around where we are now and it’s really had an impact on us actually watching some baseball at night. Woo!!!

Nebraska

Next up was Nebraska. We decided to stay in Omaha and dedicate a day to visiting Henry Doorly Zoo. When we arrived in Omaha it was a bit late and we had barely eaten all day. We checked in to our hotel, Hawthorn Suites, and decided to find some dinner. We stopped at a nearby Red Lobster. I actually don’t remember the last time I had been to a Red Lobster. There food was actually pretty good. It reminded me of Olive Garden, which makes sense since they are both owned by Darden Group. We headed back to our hotel which was a pretty nice room. There was a living area with a couch, kitchenette, and table, and there was a separate bedroom and bathroom. They also offer free breakfast which is always a plus in our book.

The next day Christina and I decided to head to the zoo. This is definitely the largest zoo that we have ever been to. There was so may different sections to the zoo we barely got to see half of it. We started off visiting the big cat exhibit. We got to see some really neat animals there and we got a few good photos. We were able to see a few bengal tigers, snow leopards, and lions.

After the cat exhibit we headed to see the apes. They had a multitude of monkeys and gorillas. We took some really good photos of the gorillas, and we took two of my favorite photos of the whole trip. We headed out of the ape exhibit and went to the barn. At the barn there were all different farm animals running around it pens. if you wanted you could go into the pens and pet the animals. We opted to stay outside the gate and just get some photos of the animals. While Christina was taking photos I noticed one goat that was sticking his tongue under the fence right near my shoe. He was trying to get the maple leaves that had fallen to the ground. I figured I would help him out and push some leaves towards him so he could eat them.

We found a small aviary that had parakeets, ducks, and some other birds flying around. We were able to go in and take some bird food on a stick so we could feed the birds and have them land on us. Christina kept chasing around the white and blue birds and trying to get them on her food stick, with no avail. There was also a larger aviary that we were able to go into. Here they had flamingos, and some other large pink birds, as well as some big heron.

At 3pm we were scheduled to watch an IMAX movie, Born to be Wild. It was about orphaned elephants and orangutans and the people who helped raise them. The animals were cared for until they were able to take care of themselves and then they were to be retuned to the wild. It was a really good film that got to show us some very caring people to have dedicated their whole lives to rescuing these animals.

We left the movie and headed straight to the indoor desert dome. This was the first desert exhibit we had ever gone to ever! There were some really interesting horticulture as well as wildlife to observe there. It was also very hot in there. After that, we headed to the “Creatures of the Night” exhibit, which was attached to the desert dome. It was a bit dark and scary for Christina, so we walked briskly through there past¬†the bats, termites, crocs, snakes, frogs, and other amphibians. There was just so much to see!

The¬†aquarium in the zoo was next on the agenda. It was a decent size. There was a shark reef, some jellyfish tanks, and a few other salt water tanks scattered around. The aquarium definitely was the size of most stand alone aquariums but it was pretty good considering it was part of a zoo. When leaving the aquarium we noticed that the pathways were blocked off. We asked one of the employees what was going on. They let us know it was their “Spooktacular” event. It was basically an event where kids could come and trick-or-treat as well as go into a couple of the exhibits. The only exhibits that were open were the ones that we had already been to so we decided to call it a day. We actually on viewed about half the zoo and wished we had another day there but what we did get to see was very good.

On our way out of the zoo we stopped in the parking lot where there was a cache hidden. The cache was a quick find and we were on our way back to the hotel.

The next morning we slept in and missed the hotels free breakfast, oh man! Since it was a little late we decided to hit the road. On our way out of town we needed to get a state magnet. I stopped to get gas and Christina ran into the gas station. She came out with magnet in hand and we were off to our next state.

Colorful Colorado

On Tuesday, October 14th, Michael and I decided on a whim to head to Grand Junction, CO because we got a good deal on a nice hotel for him to rest for a couple of days. The drive over to the city was so lovely, as we passed through the state of Utah. We hit some captivating yellow and sandy terrain when we crossed over the Colorado border. Glimpses of snow-covered peaks in the state lured us in as we drove to the city.

We checked into the hotel, and I ordered food for dinner, and the next day I went to the fitness center and did the cache and purchased the state magnet on my own.

I was debating whether or not to check out the Colorado National Monument, but it was a 23-mile loop drive. The next day, we were going to have a long drive down to the state of New Mexico, so I decided against the long drive and just rest before we headed down there.

After New Mexico, we would have to drive through the state of Colorado to get to Nebraska, so we would have another opportunity to explore more of the state together.

On Friday, October 17th, Castle Rock, CO was the second place we stayed on our way to Nebraska. By the afternoon Michael was feeling a lot better than before. He had the chance to rest and recover from his cold, so we were really happy that we could continue along in our journey and experience it to the fullest. As we were driving along the highway, we noticed a more populated area right before we hit the large city of Denver. Because we wanted to avoid all of the traffic of the city, we selected to stay in Castle Rock. This was a great decision because there are so many shops nearby. We had planned to have a¬†date-night that morning. I took Michael to get a nice juicy burger at Crave, and he took me for froyo at Smart Cow. I have to say that I really appreciated the fact that they had Italian ice-style flavors, which I really enjoyed along with my tart original froyo with fresh fruit, mochi and mango boba:) Then he took me to see¬†The Best of Me, which by the way was such a tear-jerker!!! Sparks really does pull something out of me: I even cry while READING¬†his novels! Ten minutes into the movie, I knew I should have been more prepared with some extra Kleenex. Before watching Guardians of the Galaxy at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, I really can’t remember the last time I watched a movie, but now we are really on a roll with these movies. I rekindles a part of my past, because I used to watch movies at least once a month…crazy how times have changed.

Random realization: By far, the best things in life are: time, health, loved ones, and the means to live life to the fullest! Having the chance to experience bits and pieces of each state and what tiny factors that distinguish one from another really opens up my eyes to the different perspectives Americans have about one another. Throughout our long drives, Michael and I have been able to have the time to really digest all of this travel education we have right in front of us. I have been striving to share all of these small lessons I have learned with him, as we have been able to grow closer over these past few months.  Subtle differences within each state make us realize the sheer diversity coupled with the harmonious unity of the States, appropriately constituting the United States.

Off to the next state: Nebraska!!!

The New Mexico

Taos was the main town we decided to explore in New Mexico. It was Michael’s first time in this state, as I had gone to Alburquerque in the past for a conference. Although it was my second time in the state, I had never imagined the abundance of pueblos or clay houses, in the town. There were older ones and also older-looking ones with modern windows, doors, and garages built right in. There were oddly shaped structures, which we thought might have been used as abodes, and they were all scattered sporadically throughout the sandy plain.

It was Thursday, October 16th.  As soon as we entered the state of NM after passing through Colorado, we realized its natural beauty, which was unlike anything we had seen before. Ten minutes away from our hotel we drove over the Gorge Bridge over the Rio Grande, which was so magnificent. It was so spectacular to see that this river, the Rio Grande, carved out the mountains and the earth to form such magnificent structures.

There were a few vendors selling local arts and crafts alongside the road, so we decided to stop to take in the beauty of the Rio Grande. ¬†We spoke to one vendor who shared about his day as a vendor alongside the gorge bridge. He described it as a day which could start as early as the evening prior as some vendors would camp out to secure a prime location. For him, his day typically starts at 5:30am, when he takes his time to set up all of his trinkets and Native American folk arts and crafts to sell. From there, it is pretty much a waiting game. ¬†He would hang out in his car until potential buyers would come. It was about 4pm when we got there, and some of the vendors were already packing up their stuff. It’s a long day for these guys, and what was really funny was there were many signs posted along the side of the road explicitly stating: “No Vending”. ¬†Sometimes, the best education lies in chatting with people from all walks of life.

We stayed at the Kachina Lodge, which was right outside the historical area of the town of Taos. The cache was first on our list, which we found right at the cemetery at  Carson park. The around 5pm we drove to the Taos Pueblo. To our dismay, the hours of operation of the pueblo are 8:30am-4:30pm. On that note, we decided to check out the downtown area to do get our magnet and have dinner.

Parking was a breeze, as we found a lot that was free. We found an authentic-looking tile magnet with a New Mexico sticker on it, and we thought it was perfect! Then we took a nice stroll around the town and made our way through some clay and brick alleyways, which led us to various smaller antique-looking shops and galleries. Buildings were all pueblo-style, with even the town’s McDonald’s built and decorated in this manner. Walking through town, we thought Taos resembled a ghost town of some sort. This town has a strong focus on art and galleries were spread out throughout with artwork from locals. It was a small historic town intermingled with¬†Mexican and Native American cultures.

For dinner, we stumbled across The Gorge Bar and Grill, which was located on the second floor of the Taos Plaza. It was a great decision, as the food was very delicious!

The next morning, we made the journey to our next state, Nebraska, which should take us 12 hours, or so. We are planning on staying overnight in Colorado, but haven’t decided which town yet…guess we will book it soon:)

Utah

Initially, Michael and I had planned to make the journey to Zion National Park, but since Michael has not been feeling up to par, we decided to just drive through the state of Utah and enjoy the scenery along the way. Fortunately for us we saw so many cool rock formations, and we felt as though it would be quite similar to driving through a national park.

We went through Utah, and did our cache in Mexican Hat, which is a  small town. The red sand and rock formations were really cool-looking. Along the way we just had to pull over to take some pictures. At the same time, I wanted to get to our hotel as soon as possible so Michael could get some much-needed rest.  We both wanted him to recover quickly so we could make it through to the next few states.

Throughout these past few months, we have met many challenges, but they all definitely come with great rewards. We have the opportunity to take the time to travel across the country and meet our goal of hitting all 50 states! It’s so interesting to go through these states and see the different cultures, terrain, foods, and people that encompass and make up this beautiful country.

Fall foliage must be painting the New England area, but in Utah, we have been able to see such natural beauty that we would never have been able to see in the Northeast region. The next stop on our list is the colorful state of Colorado, where we will be recuperating.