Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Springfield, IL; Santa Rosa, NM; Show Low and Scottsdale, AZ ... THE FINAL 4 S's! (Days 13-16)

The memorable stops on the way back all started with "S":  Springfield; Santa Rosa; Show Low; and of course, the final, final stop:  Scottsdale! The last four days of our journey home were slow ... and made slower by my toxic meltdown after a 10-hour day of nonstop driving in high winds and heavy traffic.  We "recalibrated" our path (that's nice-talk for "Philip decided to see things my way") to include routes that would require no more than seven total hours of driving a day, making for a much more pleasant journey and therefore a much more pleasant marriage.




The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was our primary interest in Springfield, and it was truly one of the coolest museums we've ever been to!  It wasn't too big, wasn't too small, and really brought Lincoln's life, to life!  It was super interesting that there were at least as many foreign visitors, speaking foreign languages, in this museum as there were Americans!  We had to wonder whether we would bother to visit a Vladimir Putin, or Nicolas Sarkozy museum, if we were traveling abroad.



The entire museum was multi-media and highly interactive, including amazing 3D movies and performances. For instance, if order to understand how volative were all of the many dissenting opinions surrounding the Civil War and slavery, visitors went through a corridor that was filled with multiple layers of fun-house style mirrors, and on each of the 40+ mirrors was a hologram face of a person that looked 100% real, shouting their opinions at you, all at once.  We loved, loved, loved this museum!





Driving from Illinois through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and down to New Mexico was a continuation of beautiful scenery, and yet Missouri took the cake for interesting small town names.  Pilot Knob. Evening Shade. Licking. Success. Cabool. Eminence. Fruitland. Bland. Clever. Climax Springs. Fair Play.  They clearly have a sense of humor in Missouri!

We stayed Night 14 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, which was a largely abandoned, formerly-thriving town on Historic Route 66.  They are known, however, for the "Blue Hole" which is one of the most popular scuba-diving destinations in the U.S. Scuba diving?  In the scrubby desert in the middle of New Mexico?  Huh, how about that!  It maintains a constant temperature of 64 degrees and a constant inflow of 3,000 gallons of water per minute, meaning the water recycles completely every six hours! 




We did not have any scuba tanks in the RV (dang! I knew I forgot to pack something!) but did ride our bikes to dinner at the famous Comet II Mexican Restaurant, which has been in continuous operation and owned by the same family since 1927.  It reminded me a lot of Phoenix's Tee-Pee Restaurant ... very dive-y with awesome food. 




We asked about a particular sauce mentioned on the menu and the waitress disappeared into the back and came out with samples of each of their five world-renowned sauces ... each one hotter than the next!  Eeek! But all equally delicious!




After dinner, we enjoyed our final "Theatre Under The Stars" of the trip, sitting outside and enjoying a movie. This is one of our favorite features of the RV and we have done this a lot!




Between Santa Rosa and Show Low, we traveled through the Il Malpais National Monument Area and were treated to some amazing scenery!  This is literally the middle-of-nowhere, partially on the Indian Reservation of New Mexico, and we saw very few other vehicles during the 1.5 hours on this road.  It was amazingly tranquil and we couldn't believe the beauty.






Show Low would be the last stop of this 16-day journey, and we ended on a familiar note as Philip's cousins Jean and Nancy, who live there during the summer, hosted us for a home-cooked lasagna dinner.  Of course, it was a delight to eat something that had not been prepared over a tiny propane cooktop!


Happy cousin reunion!  Can you tell we are related?

No matter how much fun we had on this trip, of course we were also eager to get back home.  Philip threw it into gear, revved the engine, and floored it for the final leg to Scottsdale.  This road sign was made specifically for someone like him ... taking corners at 80 miles an hour in his excited rush to return to the motherland!




The 16-day "RAGBRAI or Bust Tour" was everything we could have hoped for ... fun ... educational ... recreational ... and inspiring.  We now have seven of the states on our Happy Trails map filled in.  We went more than 3,200 miles and lived to tell the tale.  We agreed with a bumper sticker we saw on another RV, "Home is Where You Park It."  Most importantly, we learned that we can live happily and simply together in less than 250 square feet for multiple days on end, and still love each other at the end of it all!  




Our next planned adventure in the Lucky Charm will be next month, when we go to Las Vegas for the 103- mile "Viva Bike Vegas" ride.  This is one of Philip's favorites, because the ride starts at 6:00 AM and goes smack-dab down the center of the Las Vegas Strip, where still-awake-still-drunk-still-wandering-the-streets people cheer them on and try to hand them those tall yardstick drinks as they set out.  Stay tuned for our next Charming Adventure!