We made another read trip to see Kimberly's mother in Bloomington. This time, instead of power-driving three
days in each direction, we decided to make a road trip and see some of the sights in the Southwest.
Day 1: Home to Flagstaff, pickleball, and dinner at Fat Olives.
Fat Olives is a sister restaurant of one of our Flagstaff favorites: Salsa Brava.
We thought it would be more sit-down Italian, but it is mainly a wood-fired pizza joint.
Day 2: Flagstaff to the Petrified Forest, and on to Albuquerque.
We had driven by the Petified Forest and Painted Desert many times on our travels, and decided
it was time to make a stop there.
You get an orientation and some geological history at the main museum...
...and then travel to the various sites in the park, like the Crystal Forest,
so named because many of the formations there are quartz-colored.
It looks like the logs are sawed, but that is just how they fracture as they become unburied over time.
These two guys decided to come out and take a look at us.
There actually is life here, even though is looks desolate. We saw lizards, bees and birds.
Wade by a bridge formation where the water has eroded and created a tree bridge.
It would probably have already fallen down, but it has been shored up on the sides.
Out on the Painted Desert end, this winding valley...
...stretches out in both directions.
Hard to tell from this distance, but these are native carvings on the stones. You have to look through
field glasses to see any detail of them.
The remains of one of the cities.
In the city area, more carvings, including what looks like a stork carrying a baby.
Kimberly looking out over the remains of the city.
Day 3: Albuquerque to San Antonio.
Not much to report, but we found a great noodle house called Kung Fu noodles in San Antonio.
The only problem is the noodle bowl is huge, and the dumplings only come in sets of 20,
so we couldn't eat everything.
Day 4: Alamo and San Antonio Riverwalk.
Walking up to the Alamo (which means "cottonwood").
Wade says "hi" to Davy Crockett.
The front view of the Alamo, and Kimbelry with her audio guide.
Inside the front gate, the courtyard is actually shady and pleasant.
They have various displays and docents around to give you a feel of the times.
Here is the type of boat that takes you around the River Walk, and a man-made waterfall
in the background.
We took the boat tour; here we are passing a statue called "Stargazer".
They give you the history of various buildings, including this one that is made to look two-dimensional.
Day 5: San Antonio to Houston, and Johnson Space Center.
We drive to Houston in the morning, and go to the Johnson Space Center in the afternoon.
Here is the original Gemini capsule; it's shocking how tiny it it.
The silhouette of Kimberly (no flash, please) in front of a diorama of the moon base and rover.
You can walk into a mock-up of the International Space Station.
This round ring is a running track for use in zero-gravity.
A simulation of what a "shower" looks like in space.
Outside on the grounds, they have a real 747 with a mock-up space shuttle on it.
Inside the space shuttle, looking back toward the cargo bay.
On the platform next to the space shuttle; you can see some other rocket displays in the background.
Back in the museum proper, you have a lot of different displays to look at.
There are a variety of tram tours that take you around to various buildings.
There are longhorn cattle grazing on the grounds...
... as well as deer roaming free.
The main building we saw was the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility.
A picture in both directions shows the variety of space capsules.
These are used for training and simulations; it is like one big hardware lab.
We happened to be there on a Saturday, so there wasn't a lot of activity in the building, but we
did get to watch these guys putting a project Valkyrie human-form robot through its paces.
Day 6: Houston to Newport, Arkansas to visit Dawn.
On to Paragould to have some pizza with Dawn. She has lost some weight and is now wheelchair-bound.
Dawn's other roommate.
One of Dawn's caregivers, Cin.
She is not very communicative, but she did recognize us and respond better than
it would seem when we try to call her on the telephone.
Day 7: Newport to Memphis, and Beale Street food walking tour.
We drove over to Memphis, and had a couple of hours to kill before our food-walking tour started,
so we went to the Rock & Soul Museum.
It is actually run by the Smithsonian, so it is very well laid out. Here's Wade playing in a jug band.
You get an orientation movie, then an audio guide headset that explains the various displays.
Kimberly in the "studio" recording her latest album.
Sam the Sham's outfit.
Here's a shot up Beale Street as we start our food walking tour.
Our guide explaining the history of the various buildings and foods.
First stop is Dyer's burgers for a deep-fried cheeseburger.
This massive cast-iron pot of beef fat is where all of the burgers are fried, then the cheese
is quick-swirled to melt it...
...then some of the fat is squeezed out of it before it is served.
A little mustard, onion, and pickle, and it is a meal fit for a queen.
Jerry Lee Lewis has a restaurant, but it wasn't part of the tour.
The Rum Boogie Cafe is the next stop. It is known for having a huge collection of guitars...
...signed by a variety of musicians (whether they ever played there or not).
The bar area.
The treat of the day is their famous gumbo.
The King's Palace is known for its barbecue, including the jumbo wings we tried.
The wings in the foreground just have the spice rub, and the ones in the background have
the red hot sauce on them. Both were delicious.
You can't have a Memphis food tour without ribs, so we head over to the Blues City Cafe.
Our guide is a certified barbecue judge, and explained the differences between the various types of
barbecue, while we ate baby backs, beans, and cole slaw.
Last stop was A. Schwab trading company and soda fountain, where we had gelato for dessert.
Unknown to us, Memphis has a pyramid (like its sister Memphis in Egypt). It was unsuccessful as
an arena, and now houses a Bass Pro Shops megastore, hotel, restaurants, bowling alley, etc.
Day 8: Memphis to Bloomington.
Day 9: Bloomington, including a riverboat casino trip.
Day 10: Bloomington, including a pickleball clinic.
Day 11: Bloomington, including a trip to Glen Ellyn to see Stan and Colton.
Kimberly had a quick visit with Julie in the morning before we headed up to Glen Ellyn in the afternoon.
After having dinner out, Kimberly tries out the heavy bag in Stan's workout room.
The Emmerts, including Colton, who is just finishing up his freshman year of high school.
A quick selfie back at Edna's house, before we hit the road the following morning.
Day 12: Bloomington to Meramec Caverns, and on to Kansas City.
We stop by the privately-run Meramec Caverns on the way back.
Waiting in line for our tour to start. What looks like water is just a poured concrete floor.
In the main cavern, that was also used as a dance floor and concert hall at times.
As we move to the lower cavern to the right, we see where we will be coming back to the
upper cavern in the background.
Some of it is a little cheesy, like these models of Jesse James and his men, who used the cave as a hideout.
The tour takes you through a variety of caves...
...each of which has a different combination of structures.
This river flows through much of the cavern...
...and was supposedly used in a last-ditch effort by the James Gang to escape capture.
The front side of the world's second-largest column, where the column has grown so large that
it cut off its own water supply, and has dried up and oxydized.
The back side of the same column is still alive and growing in a scalloped pattern.
They light up the caverns in interesting ways, and let you experience total blackness for a few seconds.
A very rare "table with legs" formation.
The "Wonderland" lighted area.
At the end, they have a light and "God Bless America" show at this natural "theater" formation.
Day 13: Kansas City WW1 museum, and dinner at The Antler Room .
Kansas City has a huge WW1 museum that we only recently heard about, so we added it to the trip.
The side to the right covers the war chronology through 1917 when the United States entered the war,
and the other side finishes the chronology.
One highlight was this VR experience of the trenches, entitled "War Remains". Here is Kimberly getting
You start in this section where you are in a balloon over the battlegrounds. After you complete that
section, you move onward in the trenches.
The rules and warnings for the VR experience.
The Kansas City WW1 Memorial started as this Liberty Memorial Tower that was built in the 1920's.
The original memorial including the statues representing "past" and "future", both with
the wings covering the face of the sphinx.
A view from the tower deck across the field toward the art museum. We happened to be there the day
before Memorial Day, so there was extra activity setting up.
As you enter the museum, you walk across this clear bridge...
...suspended over a symbolic Western Front poppy field.
One of many displays of the typical outfitting of a WW1 soldier.
In the evening, we ate on the sidewalk at a wonderful little restaurant called the Antler Room.
A delicious salad of local greens with an absolutely fabulous green peppercorn ranch dressing.
A second course of gochujang fried cauliflower with avocado puree, pickled vegetables,
and quinoa furikake.
One of their specialities: lamb and pork Georgian-style dumplings with chili oil. Fabulous.
The only problem is they served us an odd number of them.
Cappellaci with seafood broth, shrimp, crispy anchovies, kimchi butter, and dill vinegar. Still good,
but not our favorite, as it had a little too much of the fried anchovies.
We couldn't decide on dessert, so we had two: Kimberly got the huckleberry kulfi (similar to gelato)
with cardamom, saffron, spiced creme fraiche and pistachio. Wade had the walnut canele with
strawberry/rhubard sorbet, almond nougat, and strawberry sauce.
Day 14: Kansas City to Amarillo.
Day 15: Amarillo to Albuquerque, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.
We have passed the Nuclear Science Museum on several trips, and decided it was worth a stop this time.
Much of it covers the local importance of New Mexico in developing and testing the atomic bombs
in New Mexico.
Replicas of Little Boy (foreground) and Fat Man (background).
Kimberly with some of the other weaponry. The second part of the museum is dedicated to atomic energy.
Outside, they have a replica of the original testing tower, and some military equipment.
This section of a conning tower from a nuclear submarine gives a sense of the different size of
water-based nukes versus what can fit in an aircraft.
Day 16: Albuquerque to home.