|<< buh bye '01|
After the duck died in Texas, we thought it would be best to leave. We once again had no plan but had been blamed for yet another death ~ on the run again...
(the duck really didn't die, so it technically wasn't our fault again)
We left Texas through Abilene (where Greg went to college for two semesters too long); then went to Albuquerque to miss the big balloon festival, also Sant Fe, then Phoenix, then Prescott where we sidebar'd to the Grand Canyon... more on those later. We start this saga in Albuquerque and ended up in the parking lot of the...
parking in rear ~ he he... We didn't really go in. Looks like we did though. Museums really do get boring (which is how we end up on poo tours). After deciding Albuquerque isn't really happening in January without the balloons, we taught all the kids how to spell it and left.
...to Santa Fe in January and paid for a week to save money so we had to stay, frozen ~ because we paid (those idiots). We pulled the RV on top of the snow and proceeded to freeze. All the in and out pipes. We were able to thaw the hose coming in during the day, but the sink pipe never thawed so when it backed up Greg climbed under the RV with a heating pad, blow dryer, and pipe insulation. We finally earned draining water again. The poo water didn't freeze, maybe the pipes are too big.
The place above shows up on the Travel channel shows. It is a wicked cool little motel in Sante Fe, New Mexico and is decorated with all kinds of stuff. The whole place makes you stare for awhile. Love it!
During our stay in Santa Fe, we rented a Hyundai Santa Fe (he he) and drove this way cool road through bohemian artsy fartsy towns and climbed Sandia Peak mountain with another overlook of another beautiful view (climb means drive most of the way with a little bit of walking on the top with hot chocolate and M&M's while Sunny stayed in the car too cold and pouting).
It was really cold up there and we didn't stay long. The threat of being hit by lighting didn't help either.
While in Santa Fe driving our Santa Fe and really looking like those idiot tourists in Santa Fe in January ~ we visited San Ildefonso Pueblo on an Indian Reservation where we had to pay to take photos on their land. They charged ten dollars for taking photos and twenty dollars for taking video. Fortunately we caught this prone to lightning strike killing chickens on film (or spirit warning us to leave?!?) ~ we don't have no $20 video from here.
We reached a point where money wouldn't even buy our way in. They are tough.
Tooling around the Southwest, you end up on Route 66 quite often. It's always beautiful anywhere you go and it makes you feel really cool! After all, JCPenney sold jeans from this popular road... Route 66 was the original highway from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA and was filled with several Mom and Pop shops along the way. Most of the little shops along Route 66 disappeared when the conventional highway system fell into place, but there are still some hardcore little places left.
After freezing in Santa Fe (got our moneys worth out of that week), we stopped at one of our favorite places to visit in New Mexico. The Very Large Array, VLA, has been featured in the movie Contact where Jodie Foster searched for extraterrestrial life with radio telescopes. It is situated in a remote area surrounded by mountains at an elevation of around 7,000 feet. It consists of twenty seven radio telescopes that are linked together to make one ginormous telescope pointing towards the sky looking for that one special signal. It is an amazing place to sit and watch technology at work. We came back and got a 'special' tour of the place in Dec '02 ~ check it out ~ but don't forget to come back and finish what ya started, punk.
Because you won't want to miss Meteor Crater in Arizona. This thing was created by a rock about the size of your head ~ well, maybe Greg's head ~ and is 10 miles in diameter. Yep, 10 miles. Wow. It's hard to tell when you're standing on the rim too. Definitely worth seeing but you should know it's as exciting as the Grand Canyon or watching snails.
One of our favorite pictures in the world and Jenn took it (which makes us partial ~ but we'll sell you a print... you buy the ink).
After New Mexico and Meteor Crater we went to Phoenix, AZ thinking it would be the ultimate place to be in the wintertime for RV'ers. Phoenix has like a bazillion RV sites cheap and luxurious with pools and spas and golf courses with grills and firepits in oversized sites ~ all for seniors without kids or pets! Seriously, we were totally discriminated against and we'd sue if judges weren't all old people too. The Woodalls camping guide is the size of a big city phone book and nearly half of it is Phoenix RV resorts ~ after calling about 50 of them and being denied because we're under 50, and have kids, AND have pets (as in what the hell are you punks doing in Phoenix in an RV???), we ended up in a trailer park ~ and believe us when we say there is a huge difference between an RV resort and trailer park. Phoenix wasn't a total waste... in addition to finding California Pizza Kitchen and becoming hopelessly addicted, we also got to see our old San Antonio friend, Ron, and went with him to the super-cross (crazy dirt bike guys), and we visited yet another museum ~ we had some ASTC passes for these things (thanks a lot Ed) and felt we needed to get our moneys worth ~ never did. Maybe you could.
Phoenix was another crossroads for us ~ not sure where to go and what to do. We were nearly a year into the RV life and just as far into our savings, working was definitely on our minds and we were popping out ideas like selling popcorn, or hot dogs, or the kids... but we ended up going to Prescott because we have a friend we met in Issaquah that persisted that we need to meet her parents Debbie and Miguel.
We finally arrived in Prescott, AZ where Kerrie insisted that we meet her parents Debbie and Miguel. It was kind of weird to show up at their place and say hi, we are Kerrie's friends! Apparently it wasn't for them because they took us right in and cooked for us the entire time we were there. By the way, they are both amazing chefs and know how to entertain!
We ended up spending more time here than we thought we would, about three months! We helped them cater an annual fundraising event based around chocolate that they do every year. Debbie and Miguel made some awesome desserts and our job was to keep the table full as the plates were emptied. We felt fancy.
At Debbie and Miguel's house we weren't required to do anything but eat. They made us so many great dinners and desserts and made cooking look so fun that Jenn started finding a passion in learning from the pros. Little by little, Jenn picked up some awesome recipes and tips and now can't stop cooking!
After about a month in Prescott (being fed really well and feeling at home) we decided to rent a place to spread out and start thinking about our working future ~ fulfilling our goal of working together as a Family. We actually considered (briefly) purchasing a fixer upper house and renovating it, but decided we were too unsure about what we wanted to do and the risk of savings was too great at this point in our life. So we threw probably the same amount of money into rent (hindsight oops) ~ This is our apartment in Prescott where we rented a couch, loveseat, and TV. The rest of the apartment was furnished with stuff borrowed from Debbie and Miguel. This was really cool for us and we got to bring family members here to see us. Kiki is hanging out in the window. We miss her.
We spent lots of time at Miguel's tasting room where he gave us home schooling lessons about food safety and handling. Miguel teaches these same classes at the local college for people working with food and paying big bucks to take his classes. He also uses this commercial grade, food manufacturing approved kitchen for his very own salsa and habanero recipes that he has been making for twenty something years. People beg him to make it and order it by the cases.
As a home schooling lesson Miguel taught us how to make his special salsa and habanero sauces. This was a three day process that started with nothing but fresh ingredients chopped up finely. Austin wore the goggles because the onions were so strong it made all of our eyes water.
The fresh ingredients were then taken to the big cooking pot where it was stirred and cooked for quite awhile. It required someone to stay with it the whole time and had to get to a certain temperature. The kids took turns stirring the billion gallons of salsa and washing their hands incessantly.
After several hours of salsa cooking and stirring we poured the steaming hot salsa into the bottles which allowed the bottle to become sterilized from the heat. The bottle is then turned upside down which helps create an airtight seal and is left to cool for a day.
The next day we labeled all the bottles by hand and boxed them up. Then they were ready for delivery to some local restaurants and were available for pickup from the loyal salsa lovers.
We bottled 148 bottles of salsa that we handmade over three days. Miguel was a great teacher and not only allowed the kids to be hands on, he demanded it and handcuffed them to their manufacturing stations and made them work 22 hours a day with only roaches and stagnant water to keep them going... It made the kids feel great that Miguel shared his special recipe with them. They loved every minute of the salsa making! We think he did too! Then he did La Cucaracha.
Miguel made the habanero sauce on a separate day and did it by himself. He said that the smell was so strong that it was really hard for others to be around it.
We took his word for it and came in to do the bottling and labeling. Miguel warned us that his habanero was hotter than most and when Austin spilled a little on the side of the bottle he learned first hand just how hot it was. His ear grew back eventually.
As you can see Sunny learned as well and regained her sight within the month.
We put these black tops on the habanero bottles and then shrink wrapped then with a heat gun. Makes them look cool! Habanero and Rock n Roll... hmmm.
After we shrink wrapped the bottles they were labeled and boxed and ready for purchase. After all the salsa making we shipped tons of salsa and habanero to friends and family all over! We're still waiting to hear who got Kesley's finger.
Then we took some time off to explore the area and found a cool primitive, low risk, dirt road and later found out that the VW doesn't off road as well as we'd like it to (see Canyon de Chelly). We went into the forest and saw some old mining places and even found a cave that we really probably should not have been in.
So what ~ nobody knows where we were...
We made it to the top of a mountain on another dirt road and had a great view! It is such a different area of Arizona with all the trees and mountains.
Primitive and risky dirt road with no maintenance and a great view. Sounds like the typical American Family don't ya think? If we fall off ~ fall together.
Debbie and Miguel took us on a tour through some local little cities and Ghost towns.
Jerome is a must see! It's an artsy little former mining town on the side of a mountain filled with all kinds of cool shops. You have to take this crazy windy road up the mountain to the town and when you get there drive on a tiny little road through the town. The buildings are hanging off the sides of the mountain and are creatively held together. This place is literally in the middle of nowhere! somewhere in Arizona.
Why do we take pictures like this? Does anyone else have this problem? Gahhh...
Sunny celebrated her fifth birthday in Prescott!
We ended up spending three months in Prescott before hitting the road. We loved staying with Debbie and Miguel, they are now more like family. They taught us so much while we were there and we sure loved their home cooking (although that's our Betty Crocker in a throw away tin pan above). We love you guys. See ya next time.
perhaps they were glad to see us 'go', Experience Poop Tour '02...