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.