The long way home

When last I left our intrepid group (you know, us), we were in Chicago staying at the very-expensive-but-otherwise-just-okay W Chicago Lakeshore. We picked Maggie up from Tucker Pups, said our farewells to family, wished poor Kenny healing thoughts. Quick aside: Chuck’s brother-in-law dropped a razor on the top of his foot a few days before flying to Chicago for the July 4 holiday and developed a staph infection while in Chicago. Ouch! Foot swelled, turned red, wound oozed puss – general grossness ensued. A visit to urgent care  got the wound cleaned and him on antibiotics. He ended up back in the ER once they arrived back in Colorado but is now on the mend, yay! Then we hit the road for home following old Route 66 in a roundabout, erratic way with detours.

We drove to Champaign, IL, a lovely small town about a 2 hour drive from Chicago. We spent the night at a Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, a nice hotel with free wifi and free breakfast for $99/night – and it was pet-friendly (for an additional $15). After Chicago this seemed like the deal of the century – and the hotel had a fabulous field right outside where Maggie was able to run and play. Score! From Champaign, IL we drove to Springfield, IL to see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. We heard the fellow who designed it speak at a conference several years ago and have been eager to go ever since. It was well worth the trip – it’s very interactive with some Disneyland-like special effects – and really gives you a feel for the arc of Lincoln’s remarkable life. We found a doggie day care for Maggie (one where she got to play with other dogs, not just get stuck in a kennel) and spent about 4 hours at the museum then drove around Springfield checking out the other Lincoln-related things to see. We left Springfield, IL bright and early and drove to Hannibal, MO where we camped at an Army Corps of Engineers campground for two nights. It was a nice campground, pretty basic, but the campsites were good sized. The weather was hot and muggy and after two nights of that we decided that as long as the weather stayed hot we would pass on camping. Plus while Maggie is a real cutie and pretty easy going she is NOT a hot weather dog and didn’t enjoy being stuck in a hot tent (okay, I didn’t enjoy it much either and made no secret of it). Hannibal is very neat; we toured the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum (they weren’t dog-friendly but when we went in to ask about it, the lady selling tickets offered to watch Maggie for us – for about 2 hours!! – while we toured the buildings and saw the museum!!). We ate some yummy BBQ, found a really nice dog park, passed on the Mark Twain Cave (not cheap and not dog-friendly), and did some Missouri wine tasting. All in all, we loved Hannibal!

IMG_0657Leaving Hannibal we headed back to Route 66 and spent the next night in Springfield, MO driving through the Ozarks into Oklahoma. We spent a night in Tulsa, saw the Golden Driller and found a really nice Pet Smart that did grooming after Maggie decided to roll in a pile of (soft) poop right before we left Springfield, MO. We endured a few hours in the car enjoying the lovely aroma of dog shit wafting into the front seat, so that Pet Smart was a real highlight of Tulsa! From Tulsa we drove across Oklahoma to Oklahoma City where we saw the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which was heartbreaking and lovely. I only wish the world was the sort of place where we didn’t need memorials like these. From there we continued across Oklahoma, stopping in Clinton to see their Route 66 museum (can you say memorabilia heaven?) and take an obligatory dead tourist photo, then crossed the Texas panhandle, spending a night in Amarillo, TX where we stopped by Cadillac Ranch and the nearby Second Amendment Cowboy (hey, we are talking Texas here). We left Amarillo, powered across the rest of the panhandle and crossed into New Mexico, diverging from Route 66 for a detour to Roswell, one of my bucket list must-sees (yes, I believe in extraterrestrials, so sue me!). The International UFO Museum was a wonderful combination of sincere and cheesy (right up there with Loch Ness which I also loved, and yes, I believe in the Loch Ness monster, too) and a nice one-day sort of stop. We also found a nice little wine bar and did some New Mexico wine tasting (I preferred the Missouri wines) and went to a dog park where Maggie ran around a little then collapsed in the shade (all the dogs did this – it was hot!). That evening to learn more about the July 1947 extraterrestrial events in Roswell, we watched Roswell: The UFO Cover-up, a silly 1994 movie starring Kyle MacLachlan and Roswell (and before you go and buy it, the whole movie is on YouTube – you’re welcome).

IMG_0672Next on our out-of-this-world agenda was the Very Large Array (which, indeed, is very large). It is a very neat place to visit and made me wish I had taken more science courses in high school and college. In preparation for this visit, we watched Contact, the 1997 (it was that long ago?!) movie starring Jodie Foster and the Very Large Array.

We’re in Socorro, NM now, a sleepy little town about 50 miles from the VLA and plan on driving to Winslow, AZ (to stand on a corner and stay at La Posada Resort) – starting the official homeward bound section of the trip.

Pics of the adventure are here.