Last Summer: A Not-Solo Road Trip

Then there was the family reunion up in Jackson Hole for some reason. I took this picture there:


It was the most meaningful one I took.

Then it was time to drive to Oklahoma, except then two of my nephews were going to come with me sort of, part of the way, before being passed off in New Mexico so they could be taken to Old Mexico by their mother (not an abduction).

I’m just going to do some bullet points, see what happens.

  • Started heading north and east out of Jackson, which means we spent some quality time driving in Yellowstone traffic while discussing various qualities of traffic and gangsta rap.
    • Findings:
      • Pull off the road and then stop to look at the buffalo.
      • West Coast > East Coast.
  • We visited the western museum or whatever it’s called in Cody, Wyoming. Due in some part to Yellowstone traffic, we got there 45 minutes before closing, so the dude let us in for half price.
  • Eventually found a random campground somewhere in the hills between Cody and Sheridan.
    • Jacob built a fire.
      • Wyoming-Camping
    • A good many ‘nilla wafers were roasted that night.
  • When we got to Sheridan, we went to Taco Bell, ostensibly for breakfast. There, Sam ordered this on purpose:
    • unnamed
    • It’s a Doritos taco with only meat.
    • Except that the meat is mostly sawdust, so I’m not sure on whom the joke is at this point.
  • Next day, we headed out east with the idea of visiting my brother in South Dakota, who had missed the family reunion despite living, relatively speaking, not very far away from Jackson, Wyo. We also wanted to see Devil’s Tower.
    • Devils-Tower-Rally-Week
    • And experience Rally Week.
      • IMG_1149
  • Eventually got to my brother’s house, where Sam and I experienced yellowjackets on the front porch and, later, my South Dakota niece sought her cousins’ assistance in her never-ending war against gators.
    • Since everyone in that house works for a living, though, we didn’t end up staying very long.
    • It made us feel self-conscious about our lives of leisure.
  • Went to see if Mt. Rushmore was still there.
    • Mt-Rushmore
    • Indeed it was.
  • Then started heading south, eventually going to Pizza Hut (!) and experiencing some fine summer weather.
    • IMG_1193
  • We stayed in a hotel in Ft. Collins, Colo. I also got the truck’s oil changed there.
  • The next day, we had lunch at Carl’s Jr. in Colorado Springs.
  • And then kept driving until we came to Great Sand Dunes National Park.
    • Where, that evening, we went on a short hike up to some small slot canyon where there was a waterfall at the end.
      • Sand Dunes Waterfall
    • Jacob then free-solo’ed up some rocks and took this picture:
      • View-of-Sand-Dunes
      • He has very good no-look photo composition skills.
  • We camped that night in an NFS campground just outside the actual national park.
  • In the morning we ate breakfast bars and/or similar. I don’t actually remember what we ate, but if I had to guess, it would be something along those lines. Or else we all ate different things based on what had been purchased at a gas station on the previous day.
  • Then it was off to the dunes!
    • It turned out that if you wanted to boogie board down the dunes, you had to rent the boogie boards in the nearest town, which was 45 minutes away.
    • So instead we opted to death-march into the dunes.
      • By “we”, I mean “I, on behalf of us”.
      • The march starts by crossing a sometimes river.
        • Great-Sand-Dunes-River
      • Then continues uphill for as long as you want to go uphill in soft sand.
        • Great-Sand-Dunes-Hike
      • Afterward, Jacob subtly suggested that, in addition to the many upsides, there can also be a downside to the sand dune death march experience.
        • DSC_4185
      • Also, we saw some teenager break (based on the ambulance, paramedics, stretcher, etc., very possibly literally) his neck boogie boarding down the sand dunes.
  • Then we got back in the car and drove further south.
  • We ended up holing up in Roswell, N.M., where gas and hotels are inexpensive.
    • Visited the UFO museum.
    • Jacob talked Sam into feeling okay about experiencing Thai food at a place on Main Street.
      • Sam found the food fine, but determined that he doesn’t love cilantro.
    • We also had breakfast at some place that Yelp recommended and where there seemed to be a lot of locals. The parking lot was gravel.
  • Eventually we ended up in Carlsbad Caverns, but most of the pictures I took worked out about like this
    • DSC_4193
  • We also stayed for the Batflight! program at the cave.
    • Rangers sometimes come across as being a little bit full of themselves.
    • You see a lot of bats, but you can’t see any of them very well because it’s sort of dark.
  • Anyway, then we made the handoff in Las Cruces and I never saw my nephews again.
  • Also worth noting is that Sam spent the entire trip in the back seat of a not full-size cab, which isn’t really big enough for an hour-long trip, let alone one from Jackson, Wyo. to Las Cruces, N.M. by way of several places that aren’t part of a direct path.
    • IMG_0902
    • Suffering builds character. Hopefully. We’ll have to monitor status.
  • Also, it turns out that they make alphabet Cheez-Its.
    • IMG_0913
    • And that I tried to teach my nephews a few very important phrases in German.

My greatest epiphany from the trip:

  1. Even fast food isn’t all that cheap when you have to pay for more than just yourself.

Of course, at the time it had been over five years since I’d received a meaningful paycheck. And it would be another month and a half before that streak would be broken. In some ways, I don’t necessarily miss being poor. OTOH, I kind of do miss having infinite free time. (This paragraph constitutes a much later epiphany that occurred when reflecting upon the events of this trip.)

If this made complete sense to you, give no indication.