Monday, October 13, 2014

Luke, I am your father!

Emily Simpson Morrow

Is Jason the only one who gets google alerts any time an article is posted about the new Star Wars movie? Yeah, I thought he was. There was a period of time where I rebelled and denounced any and all things Star Wars, but I've come to accept that it's just a part of my life that I need to embrace. This was even more evident when we lived in the redwoods. At least 3 times a day I was telling a camper "They filmed Star Wars Episode Six here!" It was really incredible and I could have convinced myself that I saw an Ewok on more than one occasion.  I also could have seen some dinosaurs cause Jurassic Park 2 was filmed there and had Fern Gully been live action, it totally could have been filmed in our park.

This is at Fern Canyon.

It was beautiful. Most of the trees were 200-300 feet tall, but the tallest tree in our park was 379 feet. That's really tall. Some people would get disappointed because they were at our park looking for the giant sequoias that are really wide, but I wanted to smack them and say "Really people? These trees are huge! They are the tallest and the oldest trees in the world!" I had somewhat of a culture shock feeling when we left the redwoods and I saw how little normal trees are.

This summer was full of miniature adventures. Like one time we rode our bicycles about 15 miles on Hwy 101. It was really hard (my bike wouldn't change gears, mind you) and I have no idea how bicyclists ride the entire highway. But the beauty distracted me from the pain. 

We lived just a couple of miles from the ocean and it was FREEZING all summer. Once, we decided to ride our scooter 40 miles to get Winnie some dog food. It was cold, but so worth it because we got to drive right by a huge herd of elk hanging out on the side of the road.

The surrounding area was really beautiful and we got to eat the world's best fudge with Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. 

This is a fallen redwood's roots.

The highlight of my time in the Redwoods was Winnie "learning" how to swim in the most beautiful river I have ever seen.

This summer was fabulous. We loved it. We'll definitely go back someday. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Way Out West

Okay... Take a deep breath. Sit on the couch for a few minutes. Enjoy a little bit of internet browsing (it has been a rare commodity for the past year). Write a blog post if you have to, but wouldn't it be better to Facebook stalk everyone you've missed for the past year?

No. I'll write a blog post. 

In all seriousness, internet has been something of a rare gem these days, and to have it without the need to drive into town to check your email, or buy an expensive cup of coffee just to catch a bit of news feels a little weird. 

In the last post you saw us at the Grand Canyon. From there we went to Las Vegas and you know what they say "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," so we have no photo documentation of that (not that anything happened other than buying a dress, spending a lot of money to eat at a buffet, and sitting in a hot tub). 

We visited my brother in the middle of the desert in Joshua Tree, California. On our way our RV kept overheating, so we would pull over for an hour or so and blast the heat. It. was. so. hot. Turns out our temperature gauge was just sticking, so while it would heat up, it wouldn't necessarily be over heated. So many wasted hours. 

 From there it was to Los Angeles where I saw my first truck full of oranges and the HOLLYWOOD sign. I sort of wish we had been able to stop and visit, but it would have been really rushed, so we'll just have to return someday. 

 Then it was up the ever so beautiful Highway 1: 

We stopped in San Francisco just for one night. When we arrived, the RV park we stayed at told us we had literally one minute to get on their shuttle to the city center. So, without much thought or planning we jumped on the bus and ended up wandering around Chinatown and Fisherman's Warf.  My favorite part of the whole city was how slanted the sidewalks were. 

We finally stopped in Orick, California where we park hosted for a couple of months. It was the best summer ever (aside from the whole no internet/phone/television). Let me tell you, the Redwoods are amazing. Simple pictures cannot grasp the intense beauty and sheer domination these trees possess. Here's a quick glimpse, but I'll share the rest of our Redwood photos next time: 

Saturday, August 9, 2014


The Grand Canyon is Grand. I mean, grander than grand. There isn't even a word to describe it's grandeur. The first glimpse I got of it, I was brought to tears. 

Then, as I sat and pondered it's vastness, I started to doubt it was real. Like it was some kind of projection, it was just too big and beautiful to be real. 

It reminds me of my faith. Sometimes I doubt. I don't know how God can be so merciful and forgiving of such an imperfect person. 

But He is and He does. 

Jason and I hiked down into the canyon (not all the way...we still had a ways to go), but it is real, very real, and beautiful and magnificent. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hotter than, well you know...

Call me a trend follower, but about 3 months ago I stopped eating gluten, dairy, and sugar in hopes of fixing some health issues I’ve had. I know, I know, this and that are fads, so I should just give it up, but I think it might FINALLY be working. The hardest part by far has been sugar. I have allowed myself to eat fruit (and in the beginning things sweetened with fruit juice, but I quit even that when I saw how many grams of sugar my one serving of “only sweetened with fruit juice” jam had). So, I’ve had no honey, agave, or any other natural sweeteners. I’m just taking the advice of what I’ve read online and I have enjoyed my new diet. Though it hasn’t accomplished what I had hoped as quickly as I hoped. Now I’ve got you wondering what could possibly be wrong with me, will I die? One day, yes, I will. Who knows when…and it won’t be from my pimples…er…. "health issues" that currently bother me. I tell you about this because I wanted to give a recommendation that traveling while on a super strict diet can be so frustrating, so don’t even try. There aren’t Whole Foods strategically placed along Route 66…there aren’t even regular grocery stores, just giant convenience stores and gas stations. I’m mad at you, America, for creating the most conveniently packaged and tastily addictive food.

I am used to cooking every meal. Everyday I cook two to three times, so we aren’t tempted to waste money eating out, but it’s impossible to cook while you’re driving 6-10 hours a day. Trust me, I tried and the bumps, wind, and switching lanes are not conducive to cooking on a gas stove…I thought I might die. So, we decided to stop at a cute little roadside diner and see if they might have anything to offer.
This is the only green lawn in south New Mexico
It was adorable inside and out. Their menu was what you’d expect from a diner and the food was sub-par, but it’s about the experience! Guy Fieri certainly won’t be stopping here anytime soon. I had a black coffee and a hamburger patty with mustard. Not really what I’d call healthy, but it did fit the bill as to what I could eat (I even made them give me individual mustard packets, so I could check the ingredients…I never thought I’d be one of THOSE people…it’s only temporary…please don’t judge me).

I LOVE the name
The diner was located at the intersection of HWY 60, which happens to be the road Jason’s parents (practically) live on in Kentucky, so we sent them this picture to tell them we were just down the road.

Once we rolled out of there we drove through Roswell, NM. Or was it before the diner? Who knows…everything is a haze when you’re in the desert. I was hoping for more alien inspired roadside attractions, but this guy at the gas station will have to do.
Looks like the alien scared Winnie, not sure how else to explain that wet spot
And there is one to tribute all our family back in KY.

I now understand why people start seeing things when they live in the desert. It’s hot and there is nothing around for miles and miles.
Feels like this photo is straight out of a story book
Past Albuquerque we stopped at a hotel that has RV hook-ups because it was our anniversary and we thought it might be nice to go for a swim and hang out in a hot tub. We headed for the pool immediately only to realize there were about 35 children in a pool that should probably only hold 20. That was fine, there was still the hot tub. We dipped in, hit the button to crank on the jets, and started to relax. I guess the bubbles attracted the attention of the kids because within a matter of seconds we were swarmed.  We stayed the entire 10 minute jet-cycle laughing hysterically and asking the children questions about anything ranging from their favorite color to the best way to eat spaghetti.
The hotel was on route 66, where we got our kicks 

The following morning we made our way to the biggest thing we’ve seen so far on our trip. I’m sure you can guess what it is, but you’ll have to wait until the next blog post to see photos. For now, here are some of the beautiful sights we saw on exploration of the western frontier:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Carl Is Bad

Carl is bad. Say that five times fast. It’s not particularly challenging, but you’re probably slurring the words together so it sounds like you’re saying Carlsbad over and over again. Carlsbad was one of our recent destinations and that introduction was the catchiest I could come up with.

On our way there was the first time I drove the RV! WOOT, WOOT! Jason wouldn't let me drive on any curvy roads (and I didn't want to), so we did a switch-a-roo on a road that was very straight, flat, and had no other cars for miles. You needn't know the details of our not stopping to make the switch...this baby has cruise control and lots of room to move. 

Great idea, Emily. Smile for the camera while you drive an enormous vehicle. IT was quick...I promise!
We saw so many beautiful new landscapes on our way there. Neither of us had been to this part of the country.

We were there on a week day before schools let out for the summer, so there were only a few other people in the cave with us which made it nice to hike at a quick pace without having to wait in lines. We had to take our scooter up to the entrance of the caverns. It was a pretty steep drive and our scooter doesn't do so well going up hill. At one point we passed one of those signs that showed our speed and I glanced up at 13 MPH flashed across the screen below the warning to only drive 25 MPH. I just have to laugh when I think about the cars passing us...we didn't even get THAT many weird looks when we drove around in Korea.  
The road going up.
The road from up top.
Located in southern New Mexico, Carlsbad has the largest one room cavern in the western hemisphere. It also has the largest natural entrance. At the natural entrance we were greeted by hundreds of cave swallows swooping around us. It was about 90 degrees up top, but got as cool as 56 degrees as we went down, down, down into the cavern.

The paths were paved and there was a lot of railing which is nice because it makes it so accessible to everyone. There were also a lot of opportunities to exit if you felt like you were getting too tired to continue hiking. The sites inside were absolutely beautiful. We didn’t pay for a guided tour, but I felt satisfied in what we saw and read on informational signs place throughout the cavern. 

There is nothing around Carlsbad, but a few roadside attractions and a gift shop. We stopped here because it was convenient for us to see on the way to the Grand Canyon, but I don’t think I would plan a whole vacation to see this destination. I’m glad we went and if you’re in the area it’s worthwhile to go see. It's evident we had a ton of fun. 

Next up? Somewhere in the middle of the desert outside of Albuquerque where we got our kicks on Route 66!