Had a fun night in Grand Canyon drinking by the pool last night and woke up early at 5am because I couldn’t sleep. We left at 7am for Monument Valley and watched Forest Gump on the bus which had me crying like a baby. Monument Valley was another natural beauty, a set of rock formations carved by wind and water like the Grand Canyon. It was the land of the Navajo Indians and several films were shot there, lots of westerns including John Ford’s ‘The Searchers’ starring John Wayne. There were huge cliffs, green and blue bush which was tumbleweed, and juniper trees all over the place that blended in softly with the red cliffs.
We had a traditional Navajo meal for lunch which was puffed bread with salsa, beans, and fresh cream. We got driven around in a Jeep over the sand dunes and then all ran up one and ran down like crazy, almost face-planted was so much fun! Also saw this huge cave like rock with a hole in the top which is called the Eagles eye. A Navajo man played us a song on a tin whistle I think, it was really haunting and beautiful out there in the desert with nothing but rock caves and tumble weed. It’s at times like these I wish I had someone to share this with. Lots of rock formations are named after what they look like the Praying Hands, Mittens and Totem Pole. It was really cool talking to the Navajo Indians and learning more about their culture, we went into a house and talked to a woman who was making cloth and teaching young girls about their ways. She tied Michelle’s hair up in a traditional Navajo hair style.
On the way stopped at the road that Forest Gump ran on when he was running from one end of the country to the other after his mother died. Epic.
Then we drove to Durango and had a group dinner at this Irish Pub. Watched A Million ways to die in the West on the bus which was shot at Monument Valley and was one of the worst movies ever. AT the Irish pub it was hilarious cause Ellie and I were obsessed with the song Cheerleader and then it started playing and it was just the two of us waiting to go to the bathroom and she went in and then came out singing Cheerleader at the top of her voice but I was outside talking to the Cleaner Lady and she was like wtf these two are crazy hahahhahah. Went to a bar with the group and I tried a Bacon Martini which was the terrible idea. It was disgusting and I almost threw up. Whoever thought raw bacon and vodka was a good idea is seriously out of their mind. I feel sick just writing about it. Never mind. At least I can say I did it. Bargirl gave me my glass of wine for free cause I looked so sick after the martini. Was an interesting night standing in line for the bathroom while two women hooked up in the cubicle and god knows what else while their husbands – yes I repeat husbands – waited outside. Hilarity ensued. Went back earlyish and Ellie and I stayed up till 2am chatting about life and such.
Woke up late the next day and went for breakfast at Durango Diner which was epic. Best breakfast ever – I had The Kitchen Sink which was like a spicy omelette with ham, mushrooms, bacon, beans, onions, have no idea what but it was amazing. Then Ellie and I walked down to the river and took off our shoes and went climbing over the rocks. The water was really cold and the sand was squishy. Went climbing all the way along to the bridge and then we couldn’t figure out how to get out. Some nice man with his kids on their bikes stopped and helped us climb back over the fence and carried our bags over the top. Was such a hot day, went and got a red velvet Milkshake and then walked along the shops and looked at antique stores, and art shops. Bought a salad and Chex mix for dinner from the super market and then went for a swim in the pool. Was really nice and there was a Jacuzzi as well which was cool.
Ellie and I pre-drank in our room – blonde moment going across to the Applebees asking them to open our bottles for us and then realising they were Twist Top Smirnoffs lol whoops. Went out to the bar we were meant to be at and Ellie couldn’t get in so we walked around and ran into a group of guys crossing the lights with us. Conversation went something like this:
Ellie: Mhhmmm smells like boys *giggle giggle*
Me: What do boys smell like? S****.
Guys: You know we can hear you.
Had a crazy night hanging out with them, went to a couple of bars and then saw this guy trying to climb up a wall so I did as well, using my back and my legs, had to be carried off because I couldn’t get down. One of the guys was the manager of a weed store and the others were around our age. Piggy backed one of the guys trying to prove how strong I was and then Dylan walked us home at the end of the night which was really nice of him. Started jay walking across the lights cause he said it was fine and then some cops pulled up and he freaked out.
Woke up early and went to breakfast at Durango diner again and grabbed half of it to go and jumped on the bus to Santa Fe. Slept the whole way and had a nice lunch there – wedge salad with blue cheese. Then went to the New Mexico Museum of Art with Michelle which was pretty cool, some Georgia O’Keefe, Degas I think. Santa Fe was a really cool old place. A lot of people on the tour didn’t like it but I loved it. It was steeped in history, so much art, old buildings, churches, and Mexican themes present. I bought a place mat for $8.61 and walked around the old buildings. Went to the oldest house in the United States and the Cathedral of St Francsis Assissi, also an Old church that has a miraculous spiral staircase with no centre beam.
I really loved all the jewellery on the streets, clothing out at the markets, and the art that is displayed on the streets. Not for the first time, I was slightly trigger happy with my phone and like Christopher McCandless I realised that it is love, and people, and sharing our lives that makes us human. It is people that we need. And while I always knew that, without going off into Alaska to ‘find myself’, I think it’s at times when your sense are overwhelmed, when your feelings are assaulted and you realise just how vulnerable you are to life and the experiences that we are confronted with, that we miss having people the most. I find that art, culture, history, and nature, can move me sometimes inexplicably and my sense of presence is submerged, diverged, by emotion. And it’s at times like these that I wish I had someone’s hand to grab and squeeze to say ‘hey, do you feel this too?’
Had a really nice dinner at Tex Mex talking to everyone and then played spoons with a group downstairs. I really liked the dinner but other people didn’t which was funny. I think I lived in much shitter places and I have eaten at much much crappier places – think rats running along the floor in a little roadside place I was eating at in Chiang Mai – so my standards for good food are reasonably low. As long as I don’t get sick and the food is palatable I am more than happy. I think most people have higher expectations though lol. Afterwards Ellie and I did crunches and squats and talked till 2am, then went to bed.
Got up the next morning and started the drive to Amarillo. Stopped at WalMart on the way – the first of many Wall Mart stops but the first time was crazy, couldn’t believe how big it was. Bought some blue hair dye, blue eyeliner and fruit and lunch. Then watched Step Brothers on the bus as we drove up to Amarillo and slept the rest of the time.
Also stopped at the Car Wash place where Breaking Bad was filmed and at the Cadillac Range which had all these old Cadillacs stuck in the mud and we spray painted them sloshing around in the mud – was really fun! Had dinner at Big Texan Ranch which was amazing, just next to the hotel. Had a huge steak, mashed potato, veges, etc. Paddy tried to do the 72 ounce Steak Challenge but he couldn’t finish it. Shared a drink with Ellie and played spoons for a bit with the others at the bar and then went to bed. I thought southern boys would be so much more approachable and confident but obviously not.
I think I have fallen in love with San Antonio. I love the River Walk, the little cafes, arching bridges and hanging balconies overlooking the busy river. Started the day driving from Amarillo and walking through sunflower fields in my pjs, stopped at Walmart to get lunch and arrived at San Antonio at 5:15pm. I love the rainforest café, had a little Marilyn Monroe moment stepping over a grate in the footpath and found my dress flying up to my face. Had dinner at Pescanaes and walked along the river, then walked back to the hotel and swam for a bit, sat in the Jacuzzi and made friends with some little kids from somewhere else in Texas. Beautiful summer evening. Even though I was having a good time, there are still moments when I wish that I knew/ experienced more than I have.
Went to The Alamo the next day and explored the place. It was at the Alamo that 189 soldiers fought against 3000 and tried to defend their land. Was really interesting seeing the museum and the fort. Then went Tubing in the San Marcos River and the water was really low so kept hitting my bum on rocks in the rapids was kinda scary. Got quite a few scrapes and bruises from the rocks and branches on the river. There were turtles swimming in the water and they freaked me out cause they looked like snakes when the lifted their heads out of the water and I screamed and freaked Nat out as well. Oh well.
Had dinner really early at 4:30pm at a Texas BBQ place, was alright. Kinda overrated. Drove to the motel and went for a swim in the pool and tried to do handstands but failed. Then got ready and drank split a bottle of wine with Ellie before we headed out to Sixth Street. Vodka Cranberries were $1.25 each. That combined with awesome music meant it was a pretty badass night. We were at a shot bar so every kind of drink that existed you could do as a shot. We were getting a lot of crazies in there I think so we headed to another bar where there was live music and danced heaps. The bar staff gave us a bucket of champagne for free as long as we kept dancing. Paddy piggy-backed me for a while was pretty random and the guy playing the guitar was really good. Was a little bit trigger happy with my phone due to the amazing music and $1.25 Vodka Cranberries. We moved to another bar and let’s just say I had a pretty interesting night which resulted in me scoring a free CD before making it back home with Amy and Simon and I crashed. Fell asleep with the door open cause Ellie forgot about me and went out, and someone else came along and woke me up and closed the door. Then we both fell asleep with the lights on, only realised at 7:30am that we slept the whole nights with the lights on was hilarious.
Woke up the next day at 9am feeling rather worse for wear and had breakfast and then walked into the city to the State Capitol Building where I did the free tour. Then walked down to the river through Lavaca Street and across to the Stevie Rae Vaugh Statue and saw heaps of music-related statues around the city – after all it is the Live Music Capital. Had a teriyaki bowl at some Asian place and then went to the University of Texas Longhorn which was an amazing campus. Walked around there for a while hoping to run into cool college kids but alack, it was still summer holidays. Then walked back to the motel, went for a swim, bought Cheetos and a strawberry drink got dressed to go out. We went to the Bat Bridge and waited for the bats to fly across which they do at 6:30 everyday, around sunset. Was crazy seeing 1.5 million bats flying out from under the bridge to feed at dusk. Then went to Rainey Street for dinner and had a Venison hotdog and Honey Cider at Bangers. Then Ellie and I walked around checking out the bars before we walked home along the state highway singing the whole way, was a really fun half an hour walk home.
Awesome time in Texas, looking forward to more live music in New Orleans!