Roadtrippin’

Hey everybody! Did you miss me? I know you have been wondering where I’ve been for the past two weeks, so I’ll update you on my life. So last week I went on an awesome road trip through the midwest with my dad and my sister. We started in Oklahoma to visit my great grandmother and then went through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ended up in Utah. On the way, we saw the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, attended our first rodeo in Santa Fe, New Mexico, visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and went to the annual astronomy festival in Bryce Canyon, Utah! We also ate a ton of great food! So I’ll tell you a little bit about each so you can live vicariously through my adventuring self.

Me casually galavanting through a canyon, like I do.
Me casually galavanting through a canyon, like I do.

So when we were in Oklahoma, I asked my Swattie friend Daniel what foods I should eat from Oklahoma before I left the state. He has lived in my dorm the past two years, is from Norman, Oklahoma and likes to make Oklahoman food when we are at school (he can make some delicious fry bread!) He recommended the following list: catfish, chicken fried steak, okra, corn, sweet tea, and Braum’s ice cream. I am happy to report that I managed to try all of them except the okra while I was there and it was all delicious!! One thing I appreciate about Oklahomans is they take their food culture very seriously. People seem to take a lot more pride in their food and go out to eat a lot more; I was only there for two days, but the places we went to eat were unlike any place I have been to in New England. We went to a fish market that sold fish to local restaurants but also cooked it themselves and it was packed like sardines when we went. They had these huge fish on display and the catfish was all perfectly cooked (Daniel tells me when catching catfish, you just stand in a river and wait for a catfish to swim by and then grab the side of their mouth). We also went to a diner called The Savoy, which was also packed, and I had the best breakfast I have had in my life (not an exaggeration). They have this gastronomical miracle called Cinnamon Bun French Toast which put me in a sugar-induced coma, but it was 100% worth it.

Foodgasming.
Foodgasming.
Me being a hoodlum.
Me being a hoodlum.

After we left Oklahoma, we drove through Amarillo, Texas, where we saw the Cadillac Ranch, which is this awesome community art installation composed of half-buried Cadillacs where anybody can drive up and there is a ton of spray cans by the side of the road, and you can go spray anything on the cars.

Cadillac Ranch. Amarillo, TX.
Cadillac Ranch. Amarillo, TX.

Then we went to Santa Fe. Santa Fe has an annual rodeo and it was a complete coincidence that we ended up in New Mexico when this rodeo was going on. I think I can safely say it was the most American thing I have ever done. In Santa Fe, we ate at this place called the Plaza Café for dinner one night and my dad also got this Prickly Pear Lemonade:

Prickly Pear Lemonade
Prickly Pear Lemonade

Finally, we got to the Grand Canyon. Ok, so let me debunk some myths. The Grand Canyon is pretty big and all, and there are a bunch of species that live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that don’t exist anywhere else in the world because the climate is so unique down there, which is cool, but me and my sister were totally expecting something different when we went to the Grand Canyon. My sister was imagining this big round hole that you can drive around, kind of like “The Pit” in The Dark Knight Rises, you know, where Batman has to overcome his fear of death to get out of the hole and everything. I was imagining this one big long crack in the earth like in Spirit, that DreamWorks movie where Spirit makes that epic leap across a canyon and escapes the horse rustlers. We had obviously never actually seen a picture of the Grand Canyon. It really wasn’t like either of those, it was a big spidery hole in the ground that looks like this:

Plague-squirrel-infested-spidery-canyon picture.
Plague-squirrel-infested-spidery-canyon picture.

Oh, and I also contracted the plague while we were in the Grand Canyon. They have these really cute squirrels that live all over the Grand Canyon, right? They’ll just come right up to you and crawl all over you because they’re hoping that you will feed them. So one such squirrel came up to me and I had nothing to feed it but I let it hop into my hand and everything, and then almost immediately afterwards, we saw a sign saying not to touch the squirrels because they have fleas that carry the plague. Womp. We even went by this guide who was giving a tour to a group of tourists and he was saying one of the canyon rangers even died from the plague there, but I couldn’t tell if he was just trying to scare the tourists or not. So if I drop dead during one of your tours, you’ll know why. Also if you hear me telling you about the whomping willow the school’s arboretum has been cultivating, assume I just took a leaf out of this guy’s book and take it with a grain of salt. I only learn from the masters.

Please tell me you have seen Finding Nemo.
Woah, woah, partner. Little red flag going up. Something’s telling me we should swim through it, not over it.

After we went to the Grand Canyon, we went to Bryce Canyon, which was by far the climax of the trip. Bryce Canyon is hands down the best canyon in America, and it’s not even a real canyon (it is technically a collection of natural amphitheaters which is famous for its hoodoos, which are stone spires that are created through erosion). It is by far the most beautiful place I have travelled to in America. The picture at the top of this post is a picture of Bryce Canyon.

HOODOOS
HOODOOS

So the coolest part of my trip was the fact that we (COMPLETELY COINCIDENTALLY!!) happened to be in Bryce Canyon right as the annual astronomy festival was going on. So far, our trip had consisted of lots of sitting in cars and lots and lots of rocks. The thing is, you get kind of tired of sitting and rocks after a while. So the transition to stars was quite welcome. There were a lot of astronomy buffs who volunteered at this event who brought their telescopes to this viewing field where you could only use red light because white light destroys your night vision. We got to see a ring nebula, a bunch of globular clusters, a star system that apparently had one black hole orbiting another black hole, but the coolest thing we saw was Saturn, because you can see all the rings and moons. Apparently using earlier telescopes, Saturn was the only planet you could find in the entire sky with rings, so can you imagine how crazy it must have been if you were the first person to discover a planet that had rings around it?!?!

There were also tons of astronomy lectures where they taught us about the history of astronomy, how to use a planisphere, etc. etc. and we learned all kinds of cool tidbits like apparently everything heavier than carbon was formed by a supernova explosion, if you had been born in Neptune in 1856, you would only be a year old today, and the word “planet” means “wanderer” because when they were first discovering the planets, they looked like stars that wandered around the sky. So I pretty much consider myself an astronomy expert now. Also, cool word I learned: spaghettification. It refers to the process of stretching into one long single atom string as you are being sucked into a black hole. Yeah, astronomers are pretty dope.

So that was my trip! Leave a comment and tell me about the awesome places you’ve been traveling to this summer!

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