June 30, 2009

Day 16 - Vicksburg National Park

Today we left Memphis for Mississippi. After seeing what there was to do in MS, we decided to head for Vicksburg Military National Park.

Welcome to Mississippi!
Along the way south, I saw this obelisk along the side of the freeway and had to take a photo. Apparently it's a cell phone tower!
We got to Vicksburg and it was hot, almost 100 degrees! So we headed for the Visitor's Center, which was air-conditioned. Spent some time there, learning about the 47-day siege that took place here and what was called the turning point of the Civil War, as the Union defeated the Confederacy here.

Display of Cannons
The Site of the Surrender

After the park, we headed further south and stopped at a Cracker Barrel for dinner, our first time there but we always wanted to eat there. We had the chicken and dumplins', with fried okra, corn, green beans, tossed salad, vegetable soup, and buttermilk biscuits. We forgot our camera in the car so no photo.

After dinner we checked into our motel, America's Best Inn, which turned out to be America's Worst Inn. The first room had ants all over the bathroom, the second room already had a guest in it, the third was dirty and we could hear the TV next door. So after three strikes, we got our refund and headed to the Hampton Inn, much, much, much nicer!

Tomorrow, New Orleans!

June 29, 2009

Day 15 - Graceland and BBQ (again!)

Got woken up today at 6am by our motel telephone ringing. I picked it up and just some beeps, not even a human on the other side. And to top it off, I was dreaming about Disneyland. I was pissed to say the least. Back to sleep and slept through our alarm so by the time we woke up a little bit before 9am, the free breakfast was over. Oh well, ate some stuff we had with us, got ready, packed up and hit the road. Before heading over to Memphis, we found a cache in Arkansas, our seventh new state. Then onto Memphis and Graceland!

Tennessee Welcome Us
First stop, Graceland!

We had bought our tickets online so all we had to do was pick them up and wait for our tour time to begin. The basic ticket lets you tour the mansion and that's about it. We bought the platinum tour ticket which lets you go on the mansion tour and lets you also visit the auto museum, the airplanes, and a couple of other exhibits. I think this was the best value. For an additional $36, we could've gotten the VIP ticket, which includes the above + you get to board a shuttle to the mansion right away (instead of waiting in line for ten minutes) + some special exhibit + a keepsake backstage pass thing. IMO, the additional $36 is not worth it. You could use that cash to buy lunch plus buy some souvenirs.

Here's Jenn waiting in line to board the shuttle. She's wearing the headphones and audio player that allows you to hear the audio tour at various parts of the mansion.

You board a shuttle, then they drive you across the road to Graceland Mansion. The mansion itself was much smaller than I expected. I expected something the size of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland!

Dave in the Living Room (awesome peacock stained glass!)

Jenn with a Fan Painting in the Trophy Room
Jenn with the Famous Suits

At the end of the mansion tour are the graves of Elvis, his parents and grandmother.
After the mansion tour, we were starving so we had a great lunch of meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, and Dr. Pepper (a fave of Elvis). We then headed to Elvis' Auto Museum to see his many cool cars.

Dave with the 1960 MG

Jenn with the Pink Cadillac

After the car museum, we went to the Sincerely Elvis exhibit, where they show lots of memorabilia from his movies. You're not supposed to take flash photos anywhere in the mansion or exhibits but Jenn used the flash on this pic.

Dave with the Girls! Girls! Girls! exhibit
We then went to see the Lisa Marie, Elvis' private jet. One interesting story we learned about was that since Lisa Marie had never seen snow, Elvis took her to Colorado. They landed, Lisa Marie played in the snow for a couple of hours, then back to Memphis.

Checked out the gifts shops, bought a few things, got a cherry Icee since it was so hot, then took one last photo at the entrance to Graceland.

We left Graceland and headed to East Memphis and the Doubletree Hotel. Only $42! Gotta love Priceline! After checking in and finding a cache in the parking lot, we were off to Interstate Barbecue. We ordered an order of pork ribs with baked beans and cole slaw and a side order of BBQ Spaghetti. Everything was delicious, although the spaghetti was quite spicy. I had to eat lots of cole slaw to cool off my mouth.

Pork Ribs with Baked Beans and Cole Slaw

BBQ Spaghetti (with pulled pork mixed in)
After stuffing ourselves, we drove back to our hotel. Off to Mississippi tomorrow.

June 28, 2009

Day 14 - Driving Through Missouri and Arkansas

Today was mostly driving. Drove from MO to AR, with a short trip to OK to grab a cache. Tomorrow, onto Memphis and Graceland!

Welcome to Oklahoma!
Welcome to Arkansas!

June 27, 2009

Day 13 - Kansas State University and BBQ

Today we visited Kansas State University, where my dad went to college. We drove around the campus and bought some stuff from the bookstore. I tried on a purple T-shirt but nope, purple's not one of my colors!
Dave at KSU
While in Manhattan we also found the Cache Across America - Kansas geocache, our second CAA cache after CAA - California. I know I won't find all 50 but it's fun to find them if you're in the area.
Dave finding the cache while Jenn waits atop
We then drove from Manhattan to Kansas City, Missouri.

Our first stop was GC37- Missouri's First - Watts Mill geocache. It had just rained so all of the plants were wet so we got soaked from brushing up against all of the leaves. But we preservered and made the find of this old cache first hid in 6/2000.

Our next stop was Arthur Bryant's, a famous barbecue joint in Kansas City.

We ordered a pound worth of meat - beef brisket, pulled pork, and burnt ends. We also got some baked beans. We got everything to go and they wrapped the meat and half a loaf of bread into some paper. That was their take out tray! As we drove south, Jenn opened the paper on her lap and this is what she saw:

Looks really messy (and it was) but it was so good! We ate about half of it before we had to stop. Leftovers for breakfast!

Tomorrow, driving through Arkansas to Memphis, TN.

June 26, 2009

Day 12 - Invesco Field and Driving Through Kansas

Today we woke up with the weather being a lot better, very warm and sunny. After checking out we drove over to the Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, where the Denver Broncos play.

We visited the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, where they had many exhibits and info about famous Colorado sportsmen and sportswomen.

Jenn with Broncos locker

After spending spending some time and a little bit of money at the Broncos team store, we headed out of Denver toward Kansas. About an hour into our drive, we saw some passing thunderstorms. Definitely different than what we're used to as you can see where the showers are.

After driving for a while, we made it to Kansas...
...where we saw lots of cornfields.

Along the way to Hays, our stop for the night, we stopped for the oldest active geocache, GC30, Mingo. It was an easy find, just had to follow the geotrail. Dropped off a few traveling geocoins and some other shiny stuff. =)

Tomorrow, driving past more cornfields, and Kansas State University, where my dad went to college.

June 25, 2009

Day 11 - Rocky Mountain National Park

Today, we drove up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. About halfway there, it started raining and we realized we were dressed in T-shirts and shorts, and didn't bring jackets. During our road trip, we usually had all of our stuff in the car with us but since we're staying in Denver a couple of nights, everything was back in the hotel room. Oh well, maybe it won't be too cold we thought. Of course, it was a little cold, not too bad, but add in the rain, and our umbrella being back at the hotel room, didn't help either. But we made the most of being there and drove around taking in the views.

Rocky Mountain National Park
On the way back to Denver, we spotted 8 Island Hawaiian Barbecue so of course we stopped for dinner. Mochiko chicken, rice, and mac salad, yum!!!

June 24, 2009

Day 10 - Garden of the Gods

Today, we planned on going caching for an "oldie" cache (hidden 7/2000) but first we had to have some fuel. So we drove up to Colorado Springs to eat at King's Chef diner, another diner Jenn had seen on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network (see a pattern?). This place was cool. First off, it's a purple castle! It seated only 10 customers but when we got there there were only a dad and his two sons. Everyone was real friendly and we talked a lot. We ordered a half plate of The Grump. Hash browns on the bottom, then bacon and onions, then scrambled eggs, then gravy, then cheese.
Here it is half eaten (we shared once again).
Jenn in front of the King's Chef Diner

After not finishing all of the Grump, we were off to find the 7/2000 cache. It was a little over an hour or so away around Pike's Peak. A nice drive all the way but then our Auto GPSr routed us to a dirt country road. But it agreed to Google Maps so off we drove in our Prius. After twenty or so minutes of driving really slow and getting bumped around, we saw a rocky area ahead and knew it was time to give up and turn around. We were really bummed but knew it wasn't worth wrecking our car. So back to Colorado Springs we went. After visiting the Garden of the Gods (the next part of the blog), I decided to check the map to the cache again and saw that there was another paved road that we should have taken. I briefly thought about going after it but thought better. But half an hour later, on the way to Denver, we were talking about it and thought maybe we should go after it. But it would have put us in Denver at a late hour and we were already tired so we decided not to, and had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen instead.

But, back to Garden of the Gods. And amazing collection of rock formations just outside of Colorado Springs. We drove the loop, found a few Earthcaches, took a few photos.

Garden of the Gods with Pike's Peak in the background

Then off to Denver, with the first rainbow of our trip
Rocky Mountain National Park tomorrow!

June 23, 2009

Day 9 - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

After spending the night at the Doubletree Albuquerque for a very good rate (thanks Priceline!), we were off to the Intl Rattlesnake Museum. Unfortunately, I guess they only have one employee, and he or she was sick so the museum was closed. I was so bummed. So we went to go find a nearby virtual, which turned out to be very cool.

Old Lady of the Tree, a carving, done inside of a tree.

After walking around Old Town Albuquerque for a bit, we were off to Santa Fe. We passed MANY casinos but this time we didn't stop, as we didn't see any billboards offering free slot play. Our first stop in Santa Fe was Bobcat Bite, a place Jenn saw on the Food Network. Their specialty was Green Chile Cheeseburger so that's what we shared.

Then we went to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. The exhibit on display were paintings from the Santa Fe Indian School from the 20s to the 40s. There was no photography allowed so we couldn't take any photos. But here's the sign with an example of what one of the paintings looked like.

There were a few caches around the area, so we decided to go find them since we hadn't found a traditional cache on our road trip yet. Found three of them and Jenn found this cactus, but no cacher was hurt during the hunting.

Our last stop in Santa Fe was the Plaza. We stopped at Todos Santos Chocolates for some truffles. We also found some interesting Pez displays.

We then decided to drive up towards Denver until we got tired. We finally ended up in Pueblo, CO, where we called it a night.

For calling itself Colorful, it's not a very colorful sign, is it?

June 22, 2009

Day 8 - Petrified Forest National Park

Today, we left Holbrook and were off to the Petrified Forest National Park. We bought a National Parks annual pass since we'll be visiting other NP's across the country. We didn't buy one at the Grand Canyon because it was a "free" day at National Parks.

Jenn at the Painted Desert

Dave and Jenn at the Crystal Forest

Cool piece of petrified wood - 225 million years old!

Jenn's favorite piece of petrified wood

Agate Bridge
Even saw this cool dust devil (video)

On the way to Albuquerque, we saw many signs for the Sky City Casino saying you'd get $10 free slot play if you signed up for their player's club. So of course we stopped and after using the $10 each, we cashed out up $14, enough for dinner!

Welcome to New Mexico!