Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Photo Story Monday - Road Trip Part Two

Previously, on Army of Dude...

A visit to Yellowstone, getting a speeding ticket in Utah and winning small in Vegas.

Now, Part II!

With a heavier wallet than before, we left Las Vegas heading west. We talked about visiting Disneyland before the trip started but decided it would take too much time for something so out of the way. We were making good time, reaching Nevada in just a few days into our planned twelve day adventure. We made the decision to go for the magic.

We'd make our way to Los Angeles to visit Lauren's friend from high school. She was going to an all girl's college, so sneaking in a man as well as a dog was going to be difficult.

We played it cool. With Axel on a leash we waltzed into the dorms like we owned the fucking joint. After a reminiscing about old times, we thought it'd be best to get liquor and make a stop at In & Out Burger. I wasn't familar with the latter but heard of its tastiness. It was a bit windy so we ate in car, which didn't do anything to hinder the deliciousness of my double-double.

The plan was to get drunk and watch Family Guy. We made a simple drinking game: take a sip every time there was a flashback joke, and two drinks for any joke all three of us didn't get. Though we are three well read individuals, we got tipsy pretty damn quick.

Saying farewell to Megan the next morning, we drove into the city on a mission to see the Kodak Theater, the Hollywood sign, and if there was time, the place where Hugh Grant picked up a hooker.

We got to the theater, and good lord! What a freakshow. The streets were crammed with CD wielding amateur rappers rubbing elbows with people dressed up in superhero costumes. I didn't know they worked for tips, so I gave a simple 'thank you' to a guy in a Batman costume after he took a picture of Lauren and I. Whoops. If you're reading this right now, sir, I'll send you a check for $2!

Er, guys? Are you going to move that D a little to the left?

We wanted to see the ocean before we headed to Anaheim, so we drove in the general direction of the shoreline. No luck. We called Lauren's mom who grew up there for any tips on getting to the beach. We were to follow Santa Monica Boulevard all the way to the shore. On and on we went, only speeding past bodegas and palm trees on the outskirts of L.A. Armed with only a U.S. road map, we were clueless about the area we were in. We looked for locals to point us in the right direction, but every neighborhood seemed to be Chinatown. We had quite a time finding someone who spoke English. Half a tank of gas later, we gave up on the idea as the sun went down on another day on the road.

If you're ever going to visit Disneyland, do yourself a favor and go in April. The wait for rides hover around 15-30 minutes and the weather is mighty fine. I had never been to Disneyland, Disney World or even Euro Disney. I was always a fan of roller coasters and uncomfortable rides where you get wet with scummy water, so it was a good time.

After goofing off in California for a few days, it was back to business. We had gone waaay out of the way by heading west. It was time to head east toward our final destination. The goal was to reach the Grand Canyon in the evening, just in time to see the sunset. We drove like hell to do exactly that. Once again, the time of the year we chose for the trip was a boon to us. Traffic going in and out of the canyon was light and we had no problem getting there before nightfall.

How'd they get down there?

One of the more interesting characters we encountered


It was a beautiful sight to behold, and the dog was happy to be walking around. It was time to leave the park with God's beauty in our hearts.

We were advised to exit out another gate on our way to Winslow, but luckily for us we had a map of the park. No problem getting out. It was completely dark, but there was no traffic. No human traffic, anyway.

Once again, we were lost. We followed the signs into a dead-end loop with no other people in sight. After awhile we spotted a couple at the gas station, so we pulled over to ask them if they knew the way out.

"Sorry, we're in the same boat as you and we're out of gas."

Ergh. With less than half a tank of gas and a disastrous start, we decided to fill up as well.

We got back on the path we took three times before. Suddenly, Lauren gasps and shouts, "What is that?!" just as I make the turn. Standing over us, staring back with cold, hateful eyes, was an elk as tall as a school bus in the middle of the road. I slammed on the brakes, waiting for it to trample our pitiful car - or run away. Fortunately for us, it chose the latter and sprinted into the woods. The high beams went on after that.

After a U-turn, we caught the same elk running across the road again! He was playing a deadly game. At a top speed of 25 miles an hour, we chugged along to the exit some twenty miles away, spotting many more elk, either standing in the road or close to it. What should have been a thirty minute drive took three times as long, but we escaped the park without totaling the car and only running over a couple of bald eagles (kidding!).

When we were planning our trip, I circled in bold Winslow, Arizona. Not only a place where hot chicks drive flat bed trucks in Eagles songs, Winslow is right next to a meteor crater 4,100 feet in diameter that was created 50,000 years ago. Pretty cool huh?

The Petrified Forest was down the road a bit, and it made for a beautiful sight. We drove through it halfway before letting the dog run free as we got out to stretch and walk around. The hills were just begging to be climbed, and I was happy to oblige.

Me and Axel, the dog rescuer

The lady and the dog, from up above

Axel couldn't get enough of the dirt. It was surprisingly soft against his fur and he loved to roll around for our amusement:

Onto New Mexico, the final state before Texas. It looked just like Arizona honestly, but at a gas station/Dairy Queen, we were greeted with a road trip staple for countless families across America:

The trip nearing an end, we headed to Dallas for the final leg of our journey (and to stay at my parent's house and eat their food for free). It was only four hours to Austin, but on the twelfth day on the road, we reached our destination.

Nearly two weeks and 4000 miles later, we made it home. Since then, we've found a house and are waiting to start school in the fall. The road trip proved to be a great way to spend time together. My dad said to me, "If you can survive it the whole way, you two are meant for each other." On that regard, we did just fine.



Nixon said...

I used to live on Hollywood Blvd, right when they were building the Kodak theater. Always a good time hanging out with the freaky freakies. Cool pics, thanks for sharing.

membrain said...

Thanks for the road trip. I wish you two all the best that life has to offer.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Good luck in your new home. And thanks for letting strangers be part of your life.

Anonymous said...

Why do I find the juxtaposition of the cross, Narnia, and "Hollywood" so hilarious?

Anonymous said...

You beat Vegas, but the Grand Canyon gotcha back! Hilarious about not finding the beach. Dude, ya gotta know where you are in LA at all times! Many bad neighborhoods between downtown and the ocean! You must have had Angels on your wings. I'd love to hear more about the people you meet or see and what you think of them. And, of course, what did you drink?! Good luck in school and your new start in life. Thanks again for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see ya'll made it to Texas. It'll be a few more years before Bryan & I are back (3 to be exact) but if ya'll are still there we'll have to meet up with you in Dallas or Austin.

The Wintons

Anonymous said...

Grand Canyon photos are lovely. A memorable journey. Glad you arrived safely, all the best to you both in Texas!
Cathy B

Prince Roy said...

dude, how the fuck could you not find the ocean in LA? Don't they teach map reading in the army anymore?

Alex Horton said...

prince roy

dude, how the fuck could you not find the ocean in LA? Don't they teach map reading in the army anymore?

Didn't I say I didn't have a map of the area? The US map I had showed LA as one big yellow glob of twisted highways. No one could have deciphered that bullshit.

Anonymous said...

"one big yellow glob of twisted highways"

Yeah but everyone knows the pacific ocean is "west." You've just got to have a sense of direction. Guess that can't be taught.

Anonymous said...

"Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval."

Oh, getting sensitive, are we? Let's jsut call this the "Alex you are wonderful site" and cut the bull.

Anonymous said...

"Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval."

Didn't you resent the Army trying to stifle you, and now you do it to others? Oh, so ordinary, my friend. But wait, you did say you did it all to impress a girl. Mission Accomplished, now go home. (wait, you did) I began reading a blog by a guy in a stryker unit a couple years ago. He wrote like Steinbeck. He lifted the reader up to view the dust and blood from a higher, poetic, beautiful truth. He got yanked by the brass. Then I saw you on CNN and I thought you were the dude. Or, maybe the Army let you blog harmless drivel in place of the guy I was looking for. I'm not sure anymore, but lately you are making me think I've got the wrong one.

Alex Horton said...

To the curiously anonymous:

There's no grand conspiracy behind comment moderation. I simply grew tired of the spamming links (check my infamous Rush Limbaugh post and you'll see in the upwards of ten posts or more advertising DVDs and such). A mischievous little devil keeps posting nonsense about my girlfriend, further compelling me to moderate this once and for all. I've had criticism since the start of this thing and have taken it in stride. I will let anything fly as long as it is not an attack directed at Lauren.

I'm not going to aplogize for the content of this blog. I'm not in Iraq anymore. I cannot bring anyone 'higher, beautiful truth' about subjects I've written about in the past. That's the trouble with milblogs; they have a shelf life of a deployment, then you don't have anything much to say. If you cannot accept that as I have, move on.

As for the brass yanking me aside, I've been adamantly clear about that never happening. I've never been censored and will never be. I'm out of the Army and thus out of their reach. How you reach such conclusions, I can never be sure.

Anonymous said...

dude, take off my curiously anonomous comments. I had you mistaken for "mywar" by cbftw. He was censored and removed, and I thought you were him, back in action. But I did read a lot of your stuff.

Let me say that it is not the war itself that is unique in your writing; it is YOU and how YOU process. It is your writing style and inner voice that would make ANYTHING you write about interesting and nice to read. So I hope you don't think you have nothing else to say now that you are home. You could write about the war for years and not run out of material, and besides, the good old US of A has rife aplenty that I, and I'm sure many of your devotees, would love to hear your thoughts on.

You're a good guy. Sorry I was such a dick.

Anonymous said...

Curiously anonomous, here.
I read Buzzel’s book: ‘My War.’
Let me tell you, I like you and your writing much better.
Your sense of integrity, your understanding of people, your compassion, and your sense of love and romance leave him in the dust. You are proactive in your environment, he is more a victim of it.
Start that book.
Best Wishes…