Summer 2017 road trip

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Chautauqua Trailhead, Derek Miyamoto

A couple weeks ago, Duyen, Link and I decided to take a road trip.  We started planning a trip to Tennessee to visit Courtney, but we ended up going on a closer, western tour instead.  It was a nice opportunity to see more of the US and spend some quality family time together before Link starts kindergarten later this month.

We waited for a hotel points deal (IHG point breaks), and planned our trip around the hotel rooms we could book for cheap on points.  That ended up taking us through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and back along the same path.  We packed our trunk, installed our best child seat, and were on our way.

California windfarm
family at a windfarm

Before leaving California, we saw hundreds of windmills collecting wind energy by the side of the road.  That opened a discussion about clean vs. dirty energy sources and their environmental effects.  We continued on our way and took the first of many, many rest stops.

rest stop
rest stop
rest stop
rest stop

On the way to Arizona, drove through a heavy dust storm where we couldn’t see ahead or behind us at all for about 20 seconds.  That was a new, scary experience for all of us.  Luckily we arrived safely in Arizona and Link got to cool off in the pool.

Link pool
Arizona pool
palms and sky, Derek Miyamoto
palms and sky

The next morning we were off to New Mexico.  On the way, we saw thousands of cacti on the side of the road, so we had to stop off and take a few pictures.

family portrait with cacti, Derek Miyamoto
family portrait with cacti
Link in the desert, Derek Miyamoto
Link in the desert

Before leaving Arizona, we stopped at the University of Arizona’s “Biosphere 2,” which was a giant science experiment where they locked a team of people inside a sealed environment for two years.

Biosphere 2, derek miyamoto
Biosphere 2

These scientists had to grow their own food and survive by living off the land which included 7 climate zones like a rainforest, ocean, and desert.

biosphere 2
Biosphere 2

The scientists studied human impact on the environment and how animal and plant life can sustain itself.

Biosphere 2, derek miyamoto
Biosphere 2
Biosphere 2, derek miyamoto
Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 broke up our Arizona – New Mexico drive nicely and we got to Deming, New Mexico in the evening.  The following day we were exhausted from all the traveling, so we took it easy and Duyen cooked for us in the room.  From what we could tell, Deming only had two things for us: Walmart and the Starmax entertainment center.

Starmax, Deming, Derek Miyamoto
Starmax, Deming

Link played foosball and bowled for the first time.  It was fun until our fingers were tired and we couldn’t grip the ball anymore.

bowling, Derek Miyamoto
bowling
bowling, Derek Miyamoto
bowling

The next day Link got a Fuji Instax camera (from Walmart) and took his first few polaroid-style pictures.  He burned through the first couple pictures in about 2 seconds so dad jumped in and held onto the camera for a while.

coloring, Derek Miyamoto
coloring

The drive from Deming, NM to Longmont, CO was something like 10.5 hrs, so we planned an exercise stop in Albuquerque, NM.  Duyen and Link jumped around at a trampoline park while I trained at NinjaForce with owner Josh Kronberg.  He was nice and helpful, and the combination of ninja chat and working out was a welcome break from the endless hours of driving.

The drive to Longmont, CO was long and we arrived in the dark, but it was comforting to be in the lights of a big city again.  We were pretty tired, so we picked some groceries and called it a night.

Longmont grocery shopping
Longmont grocery shopping

The next day, we met family for lunch and a playdate at the park.

family playdate, Derek Miyamoto
cousins playdate
family playdate, Derek Miyamoto
cousins playdate
paddleboats with mom, Derek Miyamoto
paddleboats with mom

Traveling with a chef makes meals so much easier and more enjoyable.  Duyen can make magic with so little, and we ate most of our delicious meals in our room.

Duyen cooking, Derek Miyamoto
Duyen cooking
Duyen's sandwich, Derek Miyamoto
Lunch is served

The weather had been raining, but when it let up we went out for a hike at the Chautauqua Trailhead in Boulder.  Conditions were cool and beautiful as we hiked up into the clouds.

Chautauqua Trailhead, Derek Miyamoto
Chautauqua Trailhead

We really enjoyed the cool weather and natural vibe of the area around Longmont and Boulder.

hiking in the clouds, Derek Miyamoto
hiking in the clouds

It started raining while we were up there, and by the time we got to the car we were wet and cold.  Duyen warmed us up with some potato soup for dinner.

potato soup, Derek Miyamoto
potato soup

We decided not to go back down through New Mexico to get home, and instead started going west on a more direct route home.  This meant driving through Utah without hotel reservations, but we knew there were plenty of campsites available.  On the way, we couldn’t resist stopping on the side of the road in Colorado to walk around a bit.

Colorado mountains, Derek Miyamoto
Colorado mountains
Colorado mountains, Derek Miyamoto
Colorado mountains
Colorado mountains, Derek Miyamoto
Colorado mountains

Hours later, Utah looked totally different:

shouting into a Utah canyon, Derek Miyamoto
Utah canyon
shouting into a Utah canyon, Derek Miyamoto
shouting into the canyon

We drove south-west until dark, and found a free campsite for our car near St George, Utah.  Sleeping in the car was uncomfortable and freezing, but we had sweatshirts, pillows and a blanket to get us through the night. In the morning, we woke up to condensation all over the windows and beautiful trees everywhere.

car camping in Utah, Derek Miyamoto
car camping in Utah
car camping in Utah, Derek Miyamoto
waking up

The drive from Utah to Arizona to Nevada got hotter and flatter, and we looked forward to stopping in Las Vegas for lunch.  Link was excited about playing at Circus Circus.

arcade, Derek Miyamoto
arcade

We were all excited about our full rack of ribs at “Toby Keith’s I love this Bar & Grill.”  Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as usual as the sauce was congealed and the meat was dry.  It’s as if they’d served us leftovers from the previous night.

Toby Keith's ribs, Derek Miyamoto
Toby Keith’s ribs

The last leg of the trip was a little rough as we were tired and caught LA afternoon traffic.  When we finally got home, we were exhausted but had great memories of the journey we’d shared.