West to East.
Pacific to Atlantic.
Old home to New.
14 tourist attractions
13 bathroom breaks
10 familiar faces
8 state sign pictures - missed a few!
7 hours - the longest drive
6 Starbucks trips
5 fast-food chains
4 are we there yet? 's
3 hours of One Direction
1 lifelong memory
0 hotels with 'reliable' Wi-Fi
One of the things that stood out to both of us the most was when one of the tour guides was describing the manpower that went in to building the dam. The work was constant, 24 hours, no breaks other than lunch, no sick days. If you missed one day of work, that was it, your job went to someone else who wanted to work. His exact words that hit so hard: "nowadays we have union breaks, smoke breaks, sick days, paid vacation, and yet we still complain."
Before heading to the dam, we stopped at the bridge first and took a walk across the Nevada/Arizona state line while getting a beautiful view of the dam from wayyyy up high. Driving a little farther we found ourselves on top of the dam and headed to the Arizona side for free parking [there is one lot on each state side that is $10 parking and Arizona also has a second lot that is free but is also a farther walk which isn't terrible on a mild day]. Major tip: according to our guide, temperatures can get higher at the dam than they do in Death Valley and they are frequently in the 100's in June-August. If you're brave enough to head there during this time, drink water and do not wear black, they have so many people pass out there every year, don't let it be you!
The main draw for us to make Carlsbad a stop was the caverns. Large enough to house 14 football stadiums, we traveled down 750' via elevator to see this underground masterpiece! We walked over a mile in what felt like the cave from the Goonies movie! Definitely a must-see if you're ever stopping through! The tickets were $10 a person and the audio was $5 a person but did not have headphones so we ended up sharing it because it was loud enough for both of us to hear. This is in the middle of nowhere so be prepared!
Other than the caverns, the town didn't have much to offer and we got our hopes up when we saw a McAlister's Deli across from our hotel.. only to find out that it wasn't even open yet! Hotels can also be pretty pricey because they know you have no other options. Overall, I wouldn't consider this a vacation destination, but like I said, if you're passing through then stop to see the caverns!
Enough family history.. after making the 'dreaded' West Texas drive [95% driven by me, pat. on. the. back.], we were treated to an amazing home-cooked meal by Tyler's grandma complete with homemade cherry pie for dessert. We got to spend time with family that evening but unfortunately, the morning after we arrived, Tyler's grandma and cousins left on a vacation that had been planned for a while and we completely forgot to get a picture with all of us before they left! With the day to ourselves, I did laundry and relaxed a little before we headed to Railhead BBQ [a favorite] followed by walking around the Fort Worth Stockyards. As we were getting ready to leave the Stockyards, it was time for the Cattle Drive! For some reason I have a weird obsession with cattle so this was extremely exciting for me.
Before leaving Texas, we had to get some Joe T's in! If you're ever in the Dallas/Fort Worth area - Joe T Garcia's is a must! We had the pleasure of going with my cousin and his lovely girlfriend! It was so fun to spend time with them and really get to know them! On our way out of town the next day, we made a detour to Houston to have lunch with Tyler's cousin Ben and then headed to New Orleans!
In my opinion, this was too little time to spend in Texas, especially with as much family as we both have all over the state!
After getting ourselves into a sugar coma, we played tourists and walked all around the French Quarter including Peters Street [win], Royal Street, and Bourbon Street [before all the crazies came out]. The architecture is so beautiful in this area! We of course stopped and got some Gumbo and Poboys for lunch before heading to Alabama for the night!
Tyler had meetings and lunches and dinners to attend while we were there so, poor me, I laid by the pool and on the beach by myself ordering room service and take-out a majority of the time. On our last night there, spouses were invited to dinner out in Harbor Town by the famous lighthouse. We ate at CQ's and it was the most amazing meal ever. We arrived early enough for the tasting menu option which was an amazing value for the perfect portions [coming from a lady - my husband might not have been fulfilled]. For dessert I ordered the bread pudding and wasn't expecting that it was going to be chocolate AND strawberry flavored.. you can't even imagine.
Harbor Town was fun to walk around after dinner but most of the shops were already closed. We ended up sitting outside at a bar/grill to listen to a local artist sing and play guitar, but even that ended and closed up at 9pm - not necessarily a big "night life" scene but a great place for families, retirees, and relaxing.
Overall, our trip was amazing and memorable - and surprisingly we didn't really get that tired of each other! We are so grateful for the time we had to see parts of the country we normally wouldn't, visit with friends and family, and spending time with each other, all while s l o w l y and gradually getting adjusted to East Coast time!
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