Day 31: Memphis to Cairo to Home Sweet Home

Our last day of traveling took us north through Tennessee, a little bit of Kentucky and into Illinois. This picture was taken at a vantage point of the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in Wickliffe, KY, at the former site of Fort Jefferson and where a large cross has now been erected. confluence

Cairo, IL, is at the southern most tip of Illinois on the Ohio River. From the look of things, this street must have been flooded a time or two—the river is just to the right. The town’s commerce is now situated a couple blocks west.
main street cairo
main street 2

It was 2 pm in Marion, IL, and we were anxious to get home. The interstate was there so we took it for the final 3 hours to Champaign.

The last fill-up of this journey at our neighborhood gas station.
gas fill

Some final thoughts and stats:
• We had a fascinating trip—got to see some new places and saw some wildlife we had never seen before.
• This country is diverse and each state has its own beauty, subtle or not.
• One thing we know for sure…we will not be driving the Alfa to the South or Southwest in the summer ever again.
• Take the time to get off the interstate to really see the country.
• 7706 miles in 31 days, and thankfully no car repairs needed (except an oil change).
• Getting older by traveling east is not as much fun as getting younger by traveling west
• Karl’s mom gets the award for commenting the most times on the blog
• Gas stats: 242.51 total gallons used, averaged 32.8 mpg, $2.88 average price per gallon
• It’s good to be home too (until the next road trip).

Thanks for tuning in!


Day 30: We’re going to Graceland Graceland Memphis Tennessee…

Unfortunately, by this time the trip was winding down and we were running out of time. We had many miles to go so we did what we don’t really like to do—we took the interstate yet again and boogied to Memphis as quickly as possible. The Alfa is not suited for highway driving. The road noise is ridiculous—even with the top up. It would have been fun to see Oklahoma and Arkansas on two-lane roads, but that will have to wait for another trip.

In Arkansas, we stopped at a place for lunch that turned out to be a private club. Because it is located in a dry county, the joint has members (non-paying) and people like us who stumble upon it are asked to sign in. By designating itself as a private club, the establishment is able to serve alcohol. Dry counties were just not in our consciousness.

One innovation that has come in handy on this trip has been the iPhone. With traffic backed up for miles on I-40 due to an accident in West Memphis, the GPS got us off the interstate, past the accident traffic, and back on our way. We’ve also used the iPhone to find places to stay and the nearest Starbucks. AT&T service was not always the best, but then we’d have 3G service in out-of-the-way places you wouldn’t have guessed. Champaign doesn’t even have 3G!

We spent the night with our friends Ken and Karla who live outside of Memphis. Karl and Ken were colleagues at Purchase College, SUNY. At Purchase, Ken was the dean of the School of Art+Design and is now the provost at the Memphis College of Art. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Ken creates and builds some of the most beautiful and elegant furniture we’ve seen anywhere. Currently, however, he is in the process of designing and building a postmodern motorcycle in the garage of his home.
Moto cycle
K & K garage

Day 29: Albuquerque to OK City

Coincidentally, our Iowan friends, Kristin and Wayne, were in Albuquerque visiting their family at the same time we passed through. We started the day meeting them for breakfast at this landmark eatery on Route 66 in Albuquerque.
Frontier rest

In 2001, we drove the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica in another Alfa spider we owned at the time. On that trip we used a set of maps with detailed directions and books specific to Route 66 to find old roadbeds and our way on the various route alignments as they had changed throughout the years. Without detailed maps, we found today that the old route 66 alignments are not well marked except for some historical signs here and there. Consequently, and because we had many miles to cover today, we only traveled Route 66 for short periods and used the interstate for the bulk of the miles.

One place of interest on Historic 66 that we had seen in 2001 was Glenrio, a ghost town that was bypassed in 1973 with the construction of I-40. Glenrio straddles the border of New Mexico and Texas and at one time boasted the first or last motel in Texas, depending on which direction you were going. In 2001, we had seen a sign that the entire town was for sale with an enticement that you could “own your own zip code.” We’re not sure what its current status is, but the town looks like it hasn’t changed at all since our last visit. These are the buildings on Historic 66 in Glenrio. The mile-long paved road that runs through the town ends and a gravel county road in New Mexico begins.
gr sign

End of the road
gr end of road

Rusted(ic) beauty
rusted beauty

The service station
gr gas station

The diner
gr diner

The post office
gr PO

A former residence?
gr home

The first/last motel in Texas
gr motel

The last point of interest before the long haul on the interstate to Oklahoma City was Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, TX. Created in 1974 by the group Art Farm, Cadillac Ranch consists of 10 General Motors Cadillacs buried nose first. The installation is interactive in that people can bring their own spray paint and compose accordingly. Every so often the cars are either brought back to gray to begin anew and/or replaced periodically with new old vehicles.
cad ranch 2

Day 28: Escaping the Heat

Today we left the heat behind and headed for higher altitudes. Instead of picking up Route 66 as planned, we decided to try a less traveled route through the interiors of Arizona and New Mexico. We ran into a rain shower but left the top down. You don’t get wet traveling at a speed of over 45 mph, and the coolness of the damp air felt good after baking in Phoenix. We passed through Payson, AZ, and came upon this relic of the recent past.

The quote of the day comes from a man in Springerville, AZ, asking to take a picture of the Alfa for his son: (speaking to Jean) “I’m going to tell my son that if he gets a car like this, he can get a girl like you.”

New Mexican solitude…

Our route passed through the El Malpais (Spanish for the badlands) National Monument in New Mexico. An ancient volcanic area, sandstone bluffs flank the lava flows on the east. We hit it at just the right time of day as the sun lit up the sandstone formations.
malpais lit
malpais lit 2
lit 3

La Ventana Arch is the largest stone arch formation in the state of New Mexico.

Exposed lava bed.
lava field

Our stopover for the night was Albuquerque.

Day 24-27: At the Sanctuary

Sara, Chris, Kristen, and Roger joined us at the Sanctuary for a long weekend. We enjoyed being with them. These are some pics from the weekend.
Kristen Laugh
mexican restaurant
K & R
S & C
K & R2
pool shot

New hairdos for Sara and Kristen.

On Saturday night we had a celebratory birthday dinner for Chris (belated July 7) and Kristen (coming up on August 9).
bday dinner

Here’s a shot of the whole camel of Camelback Mountain where the Sanctuary is located.
camelback mt

Karl signed up for the tennis clinic each day and had lessons with Horst, a former pro, who ran him silly around the court for about an hour and a half in the morning. The last two days, Horst and Karl played 36 points at the end of each session. Karl managed to win three points only because Horst let him.
K & Horst

Day 23: Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack…

The Philadelphia Phillies are my passion. Some of my earliest childhood memories are sitting in Connie Mack Stadium watching the Phillies with my father. Founded in 1883, they are the oldest continually functioning professional sports franchise in the world, and they have the distinction of losing the most games, over 10,000 of any professional team in major league baseball. Although they are the reigning World Series champions, they have only won one other in their history—in 1980 against George Brett and the Kansas City Royals.

By chance, the Phillies were in Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks during our stay here at the Sanctuary so we rambled on over to Chase Field on Wednesday night to see the game. We had great seats; the retractable roof was closed so the temperature inside was a comfortable 79° instead of the 109° outside.
Chase field
chase field inside

I discovered burst mode (5 shots in one button press) on my camera while watching a bit of batting practice. It’s been said that the hardest job in the world, besides being President of the United States, is hitting a major league fastball. Here is a sequence in burst mode of just that. In the last photo, notice the blur of the ball near the first base line as it approaches the batter at close to 100 mph.
burst 1burst 2burst 3burst 4burst 5

The Phillies are leading the National League East by seven games and had won 10 out of their last 12—this night, they lost. Jean is convinced that we are bad luck for them when we attend games.

Day 22: The heat’s on……

This day was not that interesting. We drove over 400 miles from LA to Phoenix across the hot, hot deserts of California and Arizona.
desert landscape

The Alfa is not the car to be driving across the desert. The top was up and the AC was alternately on and off depending on how hot the engine was getting at any one point. It was pretty much like a hot air furnace when the AC was off. We were glad to get to the Sanctuary. The resort is at the base of Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley. Here’s the camel’s head…
camel nose

And the hump…
camel hump

We are staying in the casita in the foreground. Maybe we can find a spot to get the whole mountain in one shot. As you can imagine, not too many crazy people vacation in Phoenix in the summer, so the resort is fairly empty. Last night, it was about 100 degrees at 8:30 pm, the moon was out, the sun was going down, a very nice breeze was blowing, and we had the entire infinity pool to ourselves. We are looking forward to seeing the kids tomorrow when they join us here for the weekend.

We’ll be taking a break from this blog until after Monday, August 3rd when we leave here to head home.