August 09, 2009

midwest road trip, part 1

We decided this year to drive from Phoenix to Illinois and Wisconsin, rather than flying. We usually fly into Chicago, where we rent a car and drive from Chicago to central Wisconsin, which runs into a week of rental charges plus the airline tickets... so we thought driving would save us some money, and be a nice change of pace. It definitely was a fast pace- since our driving wasn't the actual vacation, but mainly a means to get to the Midwest, we drove pretty much straight through. Of course, we didn't really pack till the last minute, and were rushing to get out the door, but what else is usual?? We dropped the dogs off at the sitters at 5 am on Sunday July 26, and headed north to Flagstaff, then went east to Albequerque, to eventually get up to Santa Fe early in the afternoon. This is the Art Museum (where we did not go, unfortunately- not enough time!), to give you an idea of the "Santa Fe" style of architecture which was everywhere... very beautiful adobe buildings. We headed downtown to the historic square, which is famous for its art festivals- as luck would have it, we hit Santa Fe during the Spanish Market and the square was teeming with shoppers and over 300 artists in EZ-up white canvas tents, selling traditional Spanish colonial artwork. It would have been nice if we had all day to look, but we didn't, and the white tents obscured the architecture of the square, which was unfortunate... but, I do know I want to go back to Santa Fe when we have more time.
This R2D2 mailbox was just off the square- it caught our eye, and we had to get a picture of it!! Tom has been to Santa Fe a few times on business and wanted me to see the Hotel St. Francis, where he has stayed on his trips- unfortunately, the hotel has being renovated and is no longer the quaint, homey, building full of comfortable, cozy upholstered furniture that he remembers- it is now "Monk-inspired" decor, which is very spare and austere (it didn't look comfortable at all, to me). He was sooo disappointed when he saw what they had done to the lobby, he couldn't believe it. After that disappointment, we had a very tasty lunch at The Burrito Company, and walked around a bit. I did find a rubber stamp store just off the square, but restrained myself, and only bought two pieces of paper.
From Santa Fe, we headed north into Colorado- this picture was taken just over the border from New Mexico, in Hudson Colorado. We watched the storm clouds swirling out in front of us over the landscape, and eventually drove right into this huge storm, and thru torrential downpours and awesome (in the true sense of the word) lightning and clouds- sometimes the rain was so hard you couldn't see the car in front of you on the highway! We knew if we stopped to wait it out, we'd just catch up with it again, though, so we kept driving throughout the night. We (more correctly Tom) drove till about 5 am Momday morning, then we stopped to rest for a couple hours in a truck stop parking lot. After that, I drove for part of the way thru Nebraska and Iowa, through massive amounts of road construction- every time you thought you were getting out of it, there was another orange sign on the horizon... it never ended! (the economic stimulus plan, I guess, but did they have to do it all at once?!?) We finally got to my parents' house in northwestern Illinois Monday afternoon, and spent a couple days visiting with them...
We took a drive through the local countryside on Tuesday, and toured the area around the new wind farm... over 60 giant windmills dominate the rolling hills and cornfields- you can see them over the hills for at least 10 miles. It's an interesting juxtaposition of the old, traditional landscape of farms, pastures, and fields with the huge (300-ft tall) windmills and all the technology that goes into running them. Tom and I both found them fascinating, especially after watching a television show about how they're built (the top part where the blades connect is as big as a bus!), but it does seem kind of strange to reconcile this view with the memories I have of the countryside growing up.
We drove through one of the local state parks, Lake Le-Aqua-Na, and stopped to take in the view of the lake... it was a beautiful afternoon, and I was really wishing we had a fishing pole. Of course, we didn't have any fishing licenses, so that would have been a problem, but it was a perfect afternoon for sitting and watching a bobber floating across the water. We did get a couple photo ops- this pic is me with my parents, John and Barb (if you look really close, you can see the wind turbines behind us in the background). It was great to spend time catching up with them- living 2000 miles away from them, we make do with plenty of e-mailing and talking on the phone, but being with them in person is so much better. Of course it couldn't last, since we had more driving to do(!), so on Wednesday afternoon, we headed north to the Wisconsin Dells area in south-central Wisconsin, for a few days of relaxing with Tom's family.

1 comment:

Mare said...

WOW! That was quite a trip! It must have been so nice to visit with your Parents too..You all look so happy...I love reading about your trip. Someday i would like to visit New Mexico...