Considering, aside from a couple of Airbnb rentals, we didn't do a ton of advance planning, I'd say this trip is off to a pretty great start!
The Extent of our Pre-Trip Planning
At the suggestion of a friend, we signed up for the Choice Hotels Privileges program, so any time we stay at one of their properties, we'll earn points that can be used towards future stays. Aside from a not so subtle pee smell in our room in Las Cruces, the hotel rooms have been reliable.
In an effort to avoid fast food on the road, we purchased a cooler and stocked it with sandwich ingredients and pre-cut vegetables. It was nice stopping in scenic picnic areas during some of our drives, and it was even nicer not having to deal with the gut-coma aftermath that often comes with eating fast food.
During our two nights in Terlingua, we stayed in a tipi we found on airbnb. Terlingua Ghost town is an old mining town that went bust. It's in the high desert, and there are ruins, mine shafts, a cemetery, and a small handful of restaurants and bars. The tipi was well appointed (seriously, it had a full bed, electricity, and wifi), so we weren't exactly roughing it.
Terlingua also happens to be about 20 minutes away from one of the entrances to Big Bend National Park, so we decided to take a day trip there to do some hiking. We drove to the Chisos Basin and did the Window Trail- a 5 mile out and back hike that wasn't too difficult. Desert hiking is very different from hiking mountains in New England, and for that I am grateful! After our hike, we drove around the park some more, and had a picnic lunch at Dug out Well. The Park charges an entry fee of $25 per vehicle, and it's good for 7 days. We had a great time at the park, and we wish we could have spent more time there. It's been added back onto our list of places to visit.
- At the suggestion of our airbnb hosts, we took 170 to Marfa instead of going back up 118 to Alpine. It added about 30 minutes to the trip, but we drove through the mountains along the Rio Grande. Totally worth it.
- The Buckhorn Burger at Buckhorn Tavern, or really anything with New Mexico Green Chilis has become my new obsession.
- The beers at La Cumbre Brewing Company and Bosque Brewing Company in Albuquerque, NM were excellent.
On Sunday, we arrived at the other airbnb rental we booked. The house is north of Flagstaff, and is super remote- like, we had to drive 5 miles down dirt roads to get there. Did I mention we had to do this after dark? In a Mazda sedan? Once we got settled in, we sat outside on the porch for a bit looking at the stars- it's amazing how beautiful nature is when you're not observing it from a light polluted city (note to self: spend less time in light polluted cities). I was especially fond of this picture Casey took of the Milky Way- capturing the stars and the galaxy required a long exposure, and there are blue string lights hanging from the trees on the property. I also happened to be fooling around with a red flashlight at the same time, which wound up making the tree look purple.
As luck would have it, we happen to be in Flagstaff for the first snowfall of the year! Neither of us were really anticipating this. This coupled with needing wifi for work related things, and my volunteering at a production brewery for a couple of days (more on that in just a minute), led us to book another Choice Hotel in town for a couple of nights. This was one of those times that maybe a little more pre-road trip research would have come in handy. Lesson learned.
So, back to the brewery. Once we booked the airbnb in Flagstaff, I began looking at breweries in the area. I came across Mother Road Brewing, read some positive reviews of their beers, then emailed them to see if they might like an extra set of hands in production while I happened to be in town. To my surprise, they said yes, and I got to spend two days helping bottle and package beer and clean and fill kegs. Everyone there was incredibly kind, and I was amazed at how easily I was able to jump in and participate.
This was an awesome experience for me from start to finish because it was an exercise in pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I surprised myself when I emailed and asked about volunteering, was surprised by them when they responded so positively, and then I surprised myself even more by actually following through and doing it. Anxiety and an irrational fear of fucking up or being turned down have probably resulted in my missing a lot of opportunities. Aside from a couple of small snafus (I think/hope!), I didn't hurt myself or break anything, and I feel like I learned a ton about commercial beer production in just two days. As far as working in a brewery is concerned, I don't know that a job in production would be the right fit for me, but I did enjoy seeing that side of the industry. They also sent me on my way with a bunch of their beers, which I plan to use to cope with the soreness I am currently feeling.
Casey is taking the next couple of days off from work and the weather is supposed to calm down a little bit. Hopefully we'll be able to make our way down the dirt road to our rental house, then out for some adventuring around Arizona!