I thought Arizona would be flat, and mostly brown.
I was wrong.
We woke up early to begin the long drive to Tucson from Holbrook. I wasn’t really looking forward to it because I thought the landscape wouldn’t be very interesting.
Around an hour into the drive is when we learned that Arizona has mountains. Really tall mountains.
The mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway seemed like little hills in comparison.
We drove up and down these huge mountains. Through the snowstorm at the top, then back down to calmer weather and then back up again into the snow.
It definitely was not the boring drive I was afraid of.
I’d never seen the desert before, but I’ve always wanted to. It seemed like such an intriguing landscape, so different from the dense green rolling hills I was used to. Where palm trees weren’t a strange sight, and cactuses grew naturally.
One day I discovered some cheap flights to Las Vegas, and suddenly a week long desert adventure was being dreamed up. Five hours to the other side of the country was the longest I had ever spent in a plane. I loved every minute of it; seeing the landscape change before my eyes.
In the rental car we explored the desert world for the first time. The land was so flat, with no tall trees, you could almost see straight across to the other side of the city. Mountains stood tall in the distance, surrounding Las Vegas like a wall.
I stared along the palm tree lined streets, having never seen more than a few palm trees before.
I continued to stare out the car window as we passed all the famous casinos. Strange to see them all in person. Only ever seeing them in movies, it almost felt like they didn’t actually exist.
Nestled around the shiny sparkling casinos, run down motels and other attractions lay as ruins, providing quite a big contrast.
Even the houses matched the desert color theme.
The seven days in the desert were off to a good start.
The little, almost ghost town, of Holbrook
is off of the old route 66 in Arizona. We spent the night there in the Wigwams Motel
and had fun exploring this old retro town on a cold and windy winter afternoon.
I was surprised, and overjoyed to discover all of the dinosaur statues that are just hanging out around town. They are the perfect addition to a town that looks like it’s straight out of the 1960s.
Many of the dinosaur statues live at the Rainbow Rock Shop and were apparently built by the owners of the shop over the course of 20 years. The other statues once were part of a museum and got relocated to different places in town when the museum closed many years ago.
Holbrook is very close to the Petrified Forest, where many actual fossils and dinosaur bones have been found, so these statues are a reminder of the giant beasts that once roamed these lands.
Holbrook was a fun little town to explore, with all its roadside dinosaurs!
Just outside the middle of downtown Detroit, in an old abandoned brick building just off of a main road, is the coolest antique store I’ve been to.
It was a cold November day, right before Thanksgiving. We were spending the day wandering around my old homeland before heading to dinner at my brother’s house. We decided to choose an antique store to go to, and it ended up being the best choice.
It was filled wall to wall with interesting items as most antique stores are, but the ceilings were also filled. With old lights, chandeliers, and even windows and chairs!
The store was called Detroit Antique and Props. Apparently they either currently, or at one time rented theater props out as well as selling antiques.
The whole store, but the attic in particular held furniture and building materials taken from all the abandoned and crumbling places that fill the city. Bathroom sinks of every color, industrial lights of every size; anything could be found in there.
There were lots of things we wanted, but all that came home with us were two small cameras, since not much else would fit in our small carry-ons that were already stuffed full with a weeks worth of winter clothes.
We often think about coming back to this interesting little place we stumbled upon.
Weeks ago on our short trip to Asheville I was trying to decide on a hike to go on. My decision ended up being pretty easy when I read about one that mentioned the possibility of seeing some cows at the top of Bearwallow mountain.
We took the 30 minute drive to Bearwallow mountain from Asheville, which ended up being another fun trail at the end of a tiny gravel road. Although at first we weren’t really sure where to find the trail once we parked. We eventually climbed around this fence and found the trail a little ways behind it. Strange!
It was a lovely hike through the lush forest. Almost entirely uphill, but it wasn’t too bad; just a little less than a mile to the top!
The view was great. But even more great is that there wasn’t just a couple cows like I was hoping for, there was a whole herd!!
The cows were so cute and pretty friendly. This was definitely one of the best hikes ever.
Monument Valley was one of my favorite places on the Desert Trip
It was such a peaceful and calming place. We stayed at the only hotel around called The View hotel, which overlooks the giant rock formations. I woke up early to watch the sunrise, before we raced off to our next destination. There was some snow on the ground, which was a surprising sight to me.
Sometime I’d love to return to this place, and spend a few days here, wandering around the monuments.
See my other Monument Valley Post here.
The purpose of the Michigan trip last year was to visit family members. Live and Dead.
My entire family on both sides is from Detroit Michigan. Almost all of them came straight to Detroit when they entered the country, and never left. There are so many of my relatives and ancestors that I never got to meet, so I at least wanted to visit their final resting place. Since I live so far away from my home land, I’ve never really gotten to visit the grave sites of my relatives.
A strange coincidence is that after I chose what hotel to stay in, I realized it was right in between the two main cemeteries which both sides of my family are buried in.. In fact, both cemeteries were in walking distance of the hotel!
The first cemetery we visited was in Southfield. A very small plot of land with an entrance that you might almost miss. Except for the sign, which among other things mentions a distant cousin of mine who was a test pilot that died in a plane crash over the ocean.
Me and my sisters with our great great great grandparents from England.
I found out I had a great aunt with the same name. I wonder what she was like.
Halloween has always been a theme on this side of the family. A great grandmother was born on Halloween and that was her middle name. Her daughter, my grandmother got married on Halloween. And my Dad’s favorite holiday was definitely Halloween.
I’ve always liked exploring cemeteries, but it was definitely special exploring a cemetery that was home to some of my relatives.
The last day in the desert led us to the little town of Oatman, which is nestled high up in the mountains between Arizona and California. I didn’t realize the drive to get there would be so scenic.
We left the red rocky landscape behind us and headed towards these jagged rocky ridges. We had to stop every few minutes to get out and take in the views.
I could have spent a long time wandering around and discovering strange desert things. Like this interesting desert shrine. Or that forgotten car.
But our flight home was that evening so we had to hurry back to Las Vegas.
This part of Arizona made me want to visit California even more than ever. Maybe because we were so close, it was just beyond this mountain ridge! The landscape in this part of the country is so dramatic.
The town of Oatman is home to a bunch of friendly Burros. As we got close to the town, Burros started to appear along the hills. I couldn’t wait to get to the town to see even more!