**Packed full o' pics**
Today was probably one of my most favorite days since we left on our escapade in June! We started our day off at about a minute before 6:00 a.m....one minute before the alarm went off. The alarm never went off...something was wrong with the volume on the phone, good thing I was already awake. It was still dark outside but the light was not going to wait much longer to start showing its face. We just got up, moved the stuff from front to back and drove over to the carnival lot. We relieved Nana and got dressed over there. We had jackets, gloves and hats on...I felt bad because I couldn't find Nana's sweater and she gets cold easily. She's a dog, right! Don't tell her that! haha We walked swiftly & steadily to the back lot where the balloons were going to be launching from...didn't want to be "late". We were pretty early from the looks of things. The balloon teams weren't even there yet! J' went to get the van and pulled it over to a closer lot for afterwards, before everyone started setting up.
[caption id="attachment_2274" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Almost the first one's here[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2272" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Joon shining bright[/caption]
As he was moving the van, the teams started arriving and getting their gear out and together. When he came back, we started walking around, watching the teams set-up, attach the baskets to the balloon and blow them up and everything in between. We were really surprised at how close they let you get, because they have so much going on... it was freakin' cool, dude!
[caption id="attachment_2276" align="aligncenter" width="300"] So "cool"[/caption]
I felt like a kid again. I was running all over the place, taking pictures of this balloon that balloon...oh look they are starting to inflate and stand up right, over here over there. I even 'lost' J' once because I was everywhere! It was awesome!
[caption id="attachment_2278" align="aligncenter" width="300"] 4 out of 11[/caption]
I don't think Savannah was enjoying it as much though...poor thing. I think there were too many strangers and big noises around her, she did really good though!! Just VERY cautious of her surroundings.
The first balloon was up in the air at 7:15 a.m. Everyone cheered and waved as they floated up, up, up.
[caption id="attachment_2280" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Going up?[/caption]
We watched as each balloon was at the ready and lifted off into flight. There is something very magical about watching these balloons. They start out as a large piece of nylon lying on the ground with cords attaching a basket that is tilted on its side and 25 minutes later they are a bright big bubble in the sky. I loved it!
[caption id="attachment_2282" align="aligncenter" width="225"] My Fave![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2288" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Which one is full of hot air?[/caption]
We watched every single balloon come, set-up, lift off and we even saw a couple land and then take off again. It was absolutely fantastic...definitely worth waking up at 6 a.m. for! Once everyone was in the air, we decided to move the van over to a less traveled area where we could watch the balloons and have our brekkie.
[caption id="attachment_2291" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Happy for Hot Air[/caption]
We all had our "cereal", but we spiced our oatmeal up with some cinnamon peaches on this splendid morning! I think the coffee even tasted better!
[caption id="attachment_2292" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Nom nom nom[/caption]
All of the fun (for us) was over by 9:30 a.m. so we secured some things and we hit the road. Where were we going? At this point...South! haha We wanted (and needed) to stop at an R.E.I before getting out of town and fortunately it was on the way out. The R.E.I sits on the outside of an outdoor mall that also sits beneath condo's...it's the cutest little area. They are already putting up all of the Holiday decorations: BIG tree in the courtyard, lights on the trees and plants with mistletoe and holly everywhere. It was shaping up into a beautiful area as we walked the small strip. They had some pretty awesome cars (for sale) to look at as well, like this Karma EcoSport by Fisker that actually has a solar rooftop...gorgeous!
[caption id="attachment_2293" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Karma gets you every time![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2294" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Too small to live in??[/caption]
We saw another St. Jude's Heart, they are all different and so cool. One even had a similar creature on it...
[caption id="attachment_2296" align="aligncenter" width="300"] NUGGET!!![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2295" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Don't look behind you[/caption]
We walked the strip down to the end, where the Green Valley Ranch Casino was, walked around in there (it was super nice and clean...brand new!) then finally made our way to R.E.I.
[caption id="attachment_2297" align="aligncenter" width="225"] I'll take everything ya got![/caption]
We looked at some bikes (we want bikes) and some other things. I ended up looking like a crazy lady...hey I heard that! Anyway, I was looking at some cookware and was talking up a storm to J', although when I turned around J' was nowhere around but there was another man standing there. I was like, "I guess I'm talking to myself over here...and he said, "Well, I don't see anyone else around!" haha I walked around the store after that for like 10 minutes trying to find him, then I found the hats!!
After many hats and some time later, I figured he wasn't even in the store anymore so I started walking towards the door and saw him at the check-out counter....with his computer! Ah-ha he wasn't in the store. We bought the butane for our "pop-up" stove and were back on the road. We were driving to/toward Boulder City. If you've never heard of Boulder City (like us), you will now know that it is the Home of the Hoover Dam! See my blog is fun and educational! haha
[caption id="attachment_2300" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lake Mead[/caption]
J' was driving so I was filming and taking pictures (with two cameras). I saw some signs for the Hoover Dam but since I was the camera-woman I just kept filming as we drove. We kept driving and driving...about 5 miles later we both realized we had passed the exit for the Dam...Damn!
[caption id="attachment_2301" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Not realizing we are driving OVER the dam here[/caption]
J' turned around at the first opportunity and drove back toward the Dam. I guess we both thought it would be more of a grandiose exit, but it was just a regular ole' exit sign. As we drove closer to the road leading into the Dam there was a check point and you know, we were put into the line to get checked! Surprised? I didn't think so!
[caption id="attachment_2302" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Checkity Check Point[/caption]
They didn't even check in the van, they only asked J' to give them a peek at what was on top and then we were back down the road to the Dam.
[caption id="attachment_2303" align="aligncenter" width="300"] They've got the Power[/caption]
We wanted to park as close as possible but everywhere we saw to park, cost at least $7.00. I had read somewhere a few weeks ago that parking on the Arizona side of the Dam was free so we just drove over the Dam and proceeded to FREE parking.
[caption id="attachment_2304" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Crossing states for FREE parking![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2305" align="aligncenter" width="225"] That was easy[/caption]
There are 14 parking lots on this side, they zig zag back and forth up the side of the mountain. The first lot has covered parking and is the closest to all of the action, but it costs $7.00...
[caption id="attachment_2306" align="aligncenter" width="300"] 1st lot[/caption]
so we kept going up until we made our own parking spot in the 11th lot up!
[caption id="attachment_2307" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Making stuff up as we go[/caption]
The exercise was nice to get though. We walked down a few staircases and around a sidewalk and we were in the middle of the Dam action...haha (you laughed a little).
[caption id="attachment_2308" align="aligncenter" width="225"] That's a looong way down[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2309" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Amazing![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2311" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The "other" side...haha[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2312" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Joon getting some Dam action[/caption]
We pretty much walked down, got some really good pictures then walked back up to Joon. We started driving back on the road (still going up) but when we got to the top, the through road was blocked off so we headed back down the road we came in on, back over the bypass bridge (we had been on earlier) and rolled on down the road. Hoover Dam. Check!
[caption id="attachment_2313" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Crazy road ahead[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2314" align="aligncenter" width="300"] What a view![/caption]
We drove for about an hour and a half until we started looking at the map more closely to see what bigger towns we were coming into. The closest town to us, at this moment, was about 30 miles away...the town of Kingman. We started seeing signs a few miles down the road for Arizona Tourist Information so when we saw the turn-off for it, we took it. We drove down a gravel road for a few miles and drove into a tiny town of the name of Chloride.
[caption id="attachment_2315" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Welcome to Chloride[/caption]
I think there might have only been like 10 people that live in this town...it was pretty small. We stopped into the Official Arizona Information Center...which was a gift store with a couple of sweet, quirky people that you could tell were VERY proud of their town. They gave us some information on BLM around the area and other free campsites/spots, a bunch of booklets and maps, and even told us about a pretty unique place about a mile up the road. Sounded neat enough to go check out, so we did. They called this place, The Murals. It is a spot in the desert where there are a bunch of big rocks and boulders where a man named, Robert Purcell, came in 1966 and painted his 'journey' onto the rocks. He came back in 2006 for the 40 year anniversary and repainted everything so it is very vibrant and beautiful. I didn't really have a picture of what it might look like in my mind, but the real thing was soooo much cooler than what I was imagining. Have a look for yourself...
[caption id="attachment_2317" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I want to camp here[/caption]
I was blown away and if it weren't for the amazingly annoying family that was there (with a very high pitched metal detector) I would have liked to have stayed longer to get some better (and more) pictures. The kids of the family were climbing all over the rocks, yelling and screaming and getting in all of my pics so we just left...never fails! Oh well, we went to scope out the sites the info. couple told us about but we weren't getting any wifi service out there, so we started back on our way to Kingman for the night. But not without seeing a few wild cows first...
[caption id="attachment_2320" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Yes...I said Wild Cows![/caption]
We drove on through to a Travel Center in Kingman but the parking lot wasn't very level and there really wasn't any parking for travelers...just the big trucks so we pumped some gas and kept on moving. The sun hadn't started setting just yet, so we still had some daylight on our side...so we drove.
[caption id="attachment_2322" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Engulfed in Mountains[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2321" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Always chasing the Sun[/caption]
We were driving toward Laughlin, NV/Bullhead City, AZ. We were probably about 7 miles from town when we pulled off the road onto what looked like dirt bike/ORV trails...we were bound to find some Public Land to park on here.
[caption id="attachment_2323" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Going UP![/caption]
After climbing a hill (that I closed my eyes for) we ended up ontop of this ridge, pretty much "overlooking" Laughlin and Bullhead City. It was absolutely an amazing view...Score!!
[caption id="attachment_2324" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Our view for the night[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2325" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Settled for the night[/caption]
I can't wait to see what the view is like in the morning from up here. I know it's going to be just fantastical! We are going to see how 'traffic' goes tomorrow, because we are by a cross and we think it might be a common spot for people to come to and tomorrow is Sunday...we'll see. Now, we are just getting settled in and making something to fill our bellies. It's a beautiful night so we are "cooking" outside tonight.
[caption id="attachment_2327" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Outdoor Cooking at its finest![/caption]
We are going to try these new "Ramen" type things and see how they taste compared to the regular ones...they're a little more 'pricey' than Ramen (haha .82 cents instead of .28 cents) I'll give you an update tomorrow...I know that'll make you run back to your 'puter tomorrow! haha
[caption id="attachment_2326" align="aligncenter" width="300"] It just looks better![/caption]
So, you tell me... is that a heck of a day or what? I can't believe we did all of this today. What a radtastical kind of day, eh!? Imagine if every day was like that! I'm glad we stopped into the little shop in Chloride...The Murals now sits right there on the top of the list of random cool things I've seen. It just goes to show, you never know what you're gonna get until you turn down a road you've never been down before.
Have you gone down a road less traveled lately?
Tell me how it goes....