Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Another Adventure in the Big Blue Car

Dear Zac,

When you had been home from the hospital for a couple of months, Daddy and I took you on your first road trip in the Big Blue Car.  It was to New Mexico, the state directly south of Colorado.
I had been preparing like a boy scout for days to make sure that your Daddy and I would have everything you could need, would need, might need, or want.  I packed a HUGE box filled to the brim with nappies, and formula, bottles and a bottle warmer, toys and books, washing up bits and pieces (including a kitchen sink), and your boppy pillow (a U cushion that babies lay on) and sling.  And then you had a bag filled with clothes (so Mummy wouldn’t need to wash anything while we were away), blankets and burp clothes.  Then we also had your pram and travel cot.  Yep, it was a good thing that the Big Blue Car is so big, or we wouldn’t have fitted everything in!
Day 1 was epic!  We drove down the scary Interstate 25 all the way to Las Vegas (not the one you are thinking of) then crisscrossed down to Roswell. 8 hours of driving!!  And you’ve never seen a straight road like those in NM.  There were no corners or bends at all; EVER!  As a driver it was damn boring!!  You just set the cruise control and twiddled your thumbs. Yep! It was and uneventful drive.
The geography was like driving into the western heart of NSW. You knew when you crossed the border into NM. The Rocky Mountains disappeared into the distance and the ground became flatter.  Scratchy bushes and cacti grew on the side of the road. Houses were flat, built in orange cement, square, and alien to look at through Aussie eyes.  The sun was bright and burning, and the earth was dotted in green with an oil well here and there. Yep, we were somewhere else.
Roswell was a great little town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  Like everywhere in America, it had at least one of every takeout you could imagine, each with its sign custom made to show that Roswell was the town that the aliens crashed near all those years ago. There’s nothing quite like the golden arches with a UFO landing on them, and a playground that was based on the inside of a space ship.  Every street lamp was an alien head, there are a dozen little tourist trap shops cashing in on the alien junkies selling everything from t-shirts to alien heads. Yep, Roswell was certainly quirky, my son.  But I liked it – though that might be due to the yummy dinner your Daddy and I ate while you slept in your car seat at the table.
The next day, after visiting the alien museum (insert rolling eyes here) we drove a little way down the road to the Carlsbad Caverns, the very first national park we visited as a family. It was lovely. After driving up through this canyon, filled with desert flowers in bloom we sat in the car park while we smothered ourselves in sunscreen (it was so HOT!). We entered the main building and discovered that we didn’t even need to walk down to the caves – we could catch an elevator the 750ft down to the main cavern.  Classic! – and so terrible lazy! But it meant we didn’t need to walk for 40 minutes in the sun, so we caught the elevator down into the subterranean world.
I felt like we were walking in an underwater world. Everything looked otherworldly.  The cavern was huge! Reportedly the size of 6 football fields. It was lit with strategically placed yellow lights that showed the most fantastic natural formations imaginable. The ceiling disappeared into the darkness, and some of the deep canyons disappeared in to the depths of the earth, unknown to man. There were stunning columns, stalactites (holding onto the roof tight) and stalagmites (that might grow to the ceiling), and all these little rocks that look like they are covered in tumors (they call them popcorn). It was beautiful! You sat in the sling on Daddy’s chest, peeking out the sides, while he was a shutterbug trying to catch the wonders that we were seeing.  Yep, it was a great family adventure.
The next day we drove to Texas – again, you knew when you crossed the border (there were bends in the road).  We wanted to see the land border between America and Mexico.  Australia doesn’t have any land borders, so the concept on driving from one country to another is just plain weird to us. So we made our way to El Paso, a “city” that sits in the nexus between Texas, NM and Mexico.  The parts of the city close to the border are scary.  It is exactly what you expect the ghetto to look like if it were just filled with car rental shops, 7/11s, grocery-marts, and graffiti. Yep! Mama, locked the car doors and prayed this adventure would end soon. 
The border is actually a large canal, with three rows of fences either side of it, just far enough apart that the border patrol cars, packing big guns, to drive back and forth on.  It was foreboding. There was one bridge in and one bridge out.  There were cars queued on either side waiting to leave or enter into America, filled with people pawing their paperwork, hoping that they wouldn’t be asked too many questions.  I think that the border is based on the gates to Hell.  I honestly couldn’t wait to drive away from it. Yep! It was truly terrifying.
But your wonderful Daddy more than made up for it in the next couple of hours by taking Mummy to a couple of wineries.  We finally bought some local wines that we both enjoyed! Loved it! Yep! We are the family that takes a new born babe into the winery while we are both tasting.  
The next day we continued the space theme of our road trip by visiting a missile park and a space museum. (For those of you who feel like getting into your geek space, NM was the home of the Manhattan project, and is still home to one of the major missile bases on mainland America, and thus has a very rich space history). But it was still so hot (almost 100F) that it felt crazy to be doing anything but sitting in front of the air conditioner.  You, my dear little man, took it all in your stride.  You just sat in your pram and looked around like a curious little monkey.  Yep, we were so proud!
Daddy is very wise.  When packing the car back in Denver he packed a great big water contain (20L or so) so we wouldn’t need to constantly buy bottled water, or worry about where we could fill your bottles up.  But this day after we had taken the luggage (and the kitchen sink) into the hotel, we were driving to dinner and daddy took a corner sharply. And the water container spilled liters and liters of water all through the car… He was not pleased! So the car smelt like wet dog for a day or so.  Yep! We learnt our lesson! Don’t leave the water container unsecured in the boot – it ends badly!
Albuquerque was our next stop. We visited the Nuclear Museum (where I left with more questions than answers), drove down Route 66, explored the Old town and all its art galleries, and visited a Rattlesnake museum.  I was getting tired! You and your Daddy could seemingly run forever! But your Mummy was glad there was only one day left of this trip! Yep! It had been an exhausting adventure for your mother.
The next day we set out for home! Via Santa Fe.  I actually wish we could have spent a bit longer there.  It was a historical town filled with boutique jewelry shops, art galleries and fantastic food carts.  We browsed for a few hours and then hit the road again.  Yep! Mummy and Daddy might go back to Santa Fe for a grown up trip if we get time later down the track.
You were a little angel the entire trip! (with the exception of devil hour between 7-9pm)  You happily sat in the back, drank your bottles whenever we stopped, played with Mummy and Daddy when we sat in the back with you, we even watched a couple of (Disney) movies along the way. Yep! We honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more.
It was a great trip! We saw lots! Drove very far! Learnt we didn’t need to pack the kitchen sink! And most importantly, we had a lot of fun as a family on our very first road  trip.  The Big Blue Car took us all the way there and back without a hiccup.  
Our next big adventure with the Big Blue Car is to the Grand Canyon!

Now dream sweet dreams beautiful boy, and Mummy and Daddy will see you in the morning.

Love you lots!

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