Summer Trip 2009

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This year, we decided to drive to Texas for a family vacation. Through the desert Southwest. In August. For three weeks. In a Scion xB -- do you know how small those are? And we didn't bring any DVD players or Nintendos, either. We managed to survive anyway, or even thrive: no car trouble, no ER visits, and only a few missed exits.

Both to ensure that Cielo & Eero actually remember this trip and to inflict the requisite vacation slideshow on friends and family, we've created a detailed trip report.

We did surprisingly little research for the trip. The preparation mostly consisted of playing with Google Maps to break the driving down into 4 to 6 hour chunks and planning our stays to do laundry every fourth day. We set a high level goal for each day, whether it was a place we really wanted to see or a special restaurant we found on After this preparation, we decided we'd head east on I-10 and return west on I-40. With a couple of secondhand guidebooks and a account to make reservations as we went, we were ready.

We visited national parks, state parks, and Indian reservations and saw some amazing scenery.

We also saw a nice assortment of critters and bugs.

We ate some really great food, and some good food, and many complimentary hotel breakfasts. We usually had picnic lunches and ate dinners out. We managed to avoid chain restaurants (although, it seems every restaurant in Texas has two or three locations; at least they weren't franchises).

Except for four nights at Nana and Granddad's house, we stayed in hotels: we gave up the idea of camping as August neared and the daily high temperatures on the route began to scare us. Cielo and Eero love hotels, and especially love hotel pools. The kids swam 20 of our 22 days traveling, and both are just amazing swimmers now. They also got to swim in a freezing cold creek and twice in the Colorado River.

We did a lot of traditional driving trip things: visited a couple of really cool museums, saw some neat artwork, took a couple of guided tours, and stayed at a dude ranch for a night. Going east through the desert on I-10, we also saw night after night of amazing lightning storms, but we didn't get any pictures of them, alas.

And we spent a lot of time in the car, usually having a good time.

The following pages consist of an overview map plus the details of each place we went. Enjoy!