McDowell Trip 2006

The McDowell Trip cross country. Enjoy our trip with us as we finally make our "Western" trip.

Location: Syracuse, New York, United States

I am an Eagle Scout having been a member of the Scouting fraternity for over 30 years man and boy. Now that I have graduated from SU I am preparing to become more active in the fall. I am a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church and I have recently become the Presbytery Resource Person for the Theological Education Fund of the Presbyterian Church USA. As part of my college training I designed websites for both my church and the local Presbytery. I have been married for 36 years to a warm, loving, special lady named Charlotte and we have two great children, Margie and Francis, and one grandchild, Alex, who all live in the Syracuse area. Francis is getting married in October and Margie is dating a great guy named Mike.

Friday, August 11, 2006


WE MADE IT! We are home. We arrived about 6:30 PM last night. We have spent the last few days with friends and family talking about our great trip. I didn't mention it the other day just in case it might jinx us but the only car problem we had the entire trip was a slow leak in the right rear tire that appeared the night before we left Augusta. I thought that we would be able to limp into Charlotte, NC but we stopped along the way at a truck stop and had the tire repaired (plugged) for 10 bucks. They did it right on the car and we only lost about 15 minutes of travel time.
Below are two pics of Char at the rest stop just after we got back in New York State and the GREEN hills of New York. One of the things we missed when we were out west was the green growing things we have back here in the east.

This is the final post of the McDowell Trip Blog I hope that you have enjoyed our travels and that you will have a chance sometime to sit with us and see ALL of our pictures and hear about our adventures "out west". So Long, Char and Frank

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Birmingham, AL - Augusta, GA

Hi All,
Last post on the blog until we get home. We spent the last two days getting across the southern tier of the United States. We drove through mostly rolling plains or slightly hilly forested areas of the south. Tomorrow we are going to visit the Augusta Canal Heritage area. This is the place I did a paper on for GEO-316 last semester. I hope that my contact is going to be there. Weather permitting we are going to take a boat ride on the canal. There is an extensive interpretive center there and I do plan on taking plenty of pictures.
I won't be posting any more because for the next three nights, until we get home, we will be staying with friends and family and I don't want to bother them with trying to get online, etc. We should be home on Aug. 10th and I will put up my finally posting then.
Stay tuned for the final post.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Weatherford, OK - Little Rock, AR

Hi All, Sorry about no pictures with the last post. As I said the section of the blog site that allows me to upload pics wasn't working the last time I tried. Below is a pic that Char and I couldn't resist. Like the roadside signs with my name on it we found in California.

We haven't been taking any pics the last two days. The drive from Santa Fe to Weatherford, OK was exhausting and at times slightly nerve wracking. We ran through countless construction (destruction?) sites. And then we had some spectacular weather to boot. There was a heavy thunderstorm that we came through at the end of the day and just beat into Weatherford. I had to run into the motel to avoid getting wet. We had stopped for dinner at a Denny's earlier as we were running quite late and, of course, to add insult to injury we lost an hour since the time zone changed when we crossed into Texas from New Mexico.
This morning we got a great start but then we stopped at a Cherokee trading post after only about 25 miles. It was worth the stop as we got some things there. I picked up a belt to go with my new bear buckle. After that we just rolled along all day. We did make a quick stop in Sallisaw, OK for lunch and to mail some postcards. Char's Aunt Dorothy Hale grew up there. Later in the day we ran into another major thunderstorm. Char was driving as she usually does after lunch. It was raining so hard that she had to pull over along with many other cars and we even saw quite a few semi trucks pulled over as well. After awhile we got going again but had to stop for gas. We then pulled under the canopy of a nearby Hampton Inn to switch drivers. We ran through more rain as we got near to Little Rock and finally found our motel. We decided to go out to a nearby Crackerbarrel for dinner. After dinner we discovered that it had finally decided to stop raining.
Tomorrow we are heading for Birmingham, AL and then Augusta, GA. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Santa Fe, NM

Hi All, We are still doing fine. Yesterday's date is on the blog for Sunday and Monday because I re-posted it with the pics that were missing. About yesterday, we drove from Cortez to Santa Fe. It wasn't a bad drive at all considering that we were on secondary roads all day. We were driving through mostly rolling hills that were in the mountains between Cortez and Santa Fe. We didn't gain or lose much in the way of elevation over the trip. There were several construction areas that we had to work our way through. One was the dreaded one way at a time thing but that wasn't really all that long a wait. After we got into Santa Fe and unloaded the car we had dinner at an Applebee's that was down the street, after dinner we rested for a short while and then had a swim before heading off to bed.
This morning we got up, ate breakfast, and headed for The Plaza (not the square) downtown. We found a place to park one street over and wandered through the gallery that was between the parking lot and The Plaza. We stopped in several of the stores there and picked up some things. I bought a new buckle with a bear on it for me. After we got out on the other side of the building we found The Plaza. This is a small square in the middle of Santa Fe with stores and galleries all around it. All of these buildings have covered areas in front of them. We wandered in and out of several stores and galleries. By this time we were getting hungry. We decided to go to the Subway shop that we had seen as a best case scenario since neither of us felt like experimenting or eating too much. We then headed for the tour bus location and took a great tour in a small open sided tour bus. The driver's patter was cleverly and well done. We saw more of the area than we would have any other way. After the tour was over we backtracked to several shops we had seen earlier but hadn't gone in. We then went over to an area where the Native Americans had a sales area. They have been selling their art there since early in the last century. We picked up a couple of more things there. The neat thing about this area is that there is no tax and all the money goes directly to the artists involved. In fact, to sell in that area either the actual artist or a member of their immediate family must be selling the work. After that we returned to the car and headed back to the motel. Char hasn't been feeling well the last few days. We suspect that the altitude isn't agreeing with her.
There will be no pictures today as the part of the blog that controls that isn't cooperating.
Tomorrow we will be starting our run east for Augusta. We will be in Weatherford, OK tomorrow and then North Little Rock, AR the next night.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cortez, CO - Mesa Verde

Hi All, Yesterday we got a good start on our way to Cortez, CO. We traveled through some woodlands and out into the high desert areas of Arizona. We started out on a four lane divided highway which eventually turned into a two lane rural highway similar to Route 31 heading toward Verona from Cicero. The main difference is that the scenery can't even come close to comparison. See pic below. That folks is a real clue that we ain't in New York State.

Our son, Frank, called while we were heading north and when I told him that we had just crested a rise and the mountains that we could see in the distance were probably 200 or so miles away he thought that I was kidding. On the way we stopped at the four corners monument. Where I took this pic of Char standing on the junction of the four states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The rest of the drive was simply more unbelievable scenery. We got into Cortez about 4 PM only to discover that it was actually 5 PM local time. Apparently Colorado does daylight savings time. We got settled and decided to gas up before we ate. It was a wise decision. There was a thunderstorm off to the east with some spectacular lightening going on. It arrived just after I pumped the gas and we tried to get into the retro diner style Denny's next door. It came down in buckets. We made a mad dash into the restaurant and got a little wet. By the time we finished dinner it had almost stopped but we did get more rain overnight.
This morning we got up, ate, and headed for Mesa Verde NP. The entrance is 9 miles east of Cortez. After we got into the park I expected to do some switch back driving to get us up to the visitor center. Instead we went on a twisting, winding road that eventually climbed about 800 ft. along shear cliffs, ridges, and through a short tunnel. Chars problem with heights really kicked in and I was really expecting to have to turn back at any time. However, she mananged to hang on, barely, and I am so very proud of her for doing so. After about a 15 mile drive we finally got to the visitor center and got directions and a couple of 100 anniversary T-shirts. We then drove 15 miles up a hanging valley to the museum/headquarters area. We parked the car and walked down about 100 ft into a small valley for about 1/2 mile to the easiest cliff dwelling to reach. On the way down the trail we met a couple from UVM. Char happened to be wearing her SU National Champs T-shirt and we talked for a minute. The pic below (see I am on the trip) was taken by a Park Ranger who was brought up on the shores of Keuka Lake and graduated from Oswego college.

After we toured the ruins, we headed back to the car and headed down that nasty drive to the flatlands. Char was better able to handle the trip down but it still wasn't easy for her. As I have mentioned before this is one of those things that she has no control over and I know that she put up with today's excursion only because it was something that I really wanted to do. After we got back into Cortez we went to lunch and then backtracked to a store that offered Native American pottery, jewelry and other "stuff" according to the clerk. We then headed back to the motel for a rest. Char needed one after the ordeal of the morning. We had dinner at a local restaurant. Char had steak and I had enchiladas. They were good but they weren't as good as Rose Martinez makes them. The photo below was taken from the window of our motel room, facing south toward the range where Mesa Verde is located to the east.

Tomorrow we are off to Santa Fe, NM.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Williams, AZ / Grand Canyon

Hi All, Well we got our earliest start of the trip so far yesterday. We had good reason for this. We drove from San Diego to Williams, AZ. This leg was 492+ miles our longest day of the trip. We drove through mountains and up into the high desert regions of the southwest. The pic below was taken at a rest area in Arizona I suspect that the mountains in this pic are over 100 miles in the distance.

We arrived in Williams around 6 PM. We were expecting a time change but Arizona apparently doesn't change to daylight savings time. On the last section of the trip we ran into our first real weather so far. We drove through a nasty thunderstorm with major lightening strikes. One of them a cloud to ground strike lasted for 10 or 15 seconds. We passed a nasty accident with a semi and car in the median and a van that had rolled over. We had to slow way down several times and fight the spray from other vehicles and semi trucks.
This morning we got up and drove about 65 miles to the north to visit the Grand Canyon. It was a partly cloudy day and we saw several raindrops on the windshield as we drove up to the park. As you can see from the pic below the canyon itself is stunning and beautiful.

I know I sound like a broken record on this but it is totally impossible to really describe in words the sights we have seen over the last few weeks. And there is still more to come. The next pic is of a little wildlife that we saw at the visitor center at the park.

After we saw him we drove down to Grand Canyon Village and saw some of the park lodges. We stopped at the Maswik Lodge and got directions, had lunch, and got some souvenirs. We then spotted some Elk by the side of the road on our way to the General Store area. I grabbed the SLR camera as it was closest and got several pics from about 50 ft. away. These animals are spectacular. The General Store was very interesting and had store items as well as quite a few souvenir items.
Tomorrow we are off to Cortez, AZ and Mesa Verde NP.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

San Diego, CA

Hi All, I finally got smart and decided to finish out the blog with the name of the city or special place we are visiting.
We made the short run down from La Mirada in several easy short hops. We stopped at Capistrano to visit the famous Mission of San Juan Capistrano. There is a continuing effort to restore the mission to its former appearance. The photo was taken just inside the mission entrance. The sign to the left shows the various sections of the mission. The bell on the question mark shaped holder is a symbol of "El Camino Real" or the king's highway. We saw these bells all the way down US-101 and in San Diego. The king's highway connected all the missions in California and was the main North and South route through early California.

After we got to San Diego and found our motel and got settled we walked over to the "Old Town" area which is only about five blocks from our motel. While we were there I took this neat picture of Char standing next to this huge cactus growth. There were a lot of neat little shops in period buildings.

After dinner at a nearby Denny's Char did laundry again. Shortly after that we heard sirens and discovered that there was a fire about two blocks behind the motel. After that calmed down it was off to bed for the night.
This morning I took the car for a much needed oil change at a nearby service center. After that I drove back to the motel to pick Char up and we headed for the famous San Diego Zoo. After we arrived the first thing we did was take the guided bus tour. The place is so huge that this is the only way to start a visit here. When the tour was over we rode one of the express shuttles back to near the Panda exhibit. We walked to the exhibit but decided we needed to eat first. We had a good but rather expensive lunch near the exhibit. After lunch we stood in line for about fifteen minutes for a look at the pandas. There were only three on exhibit today and I took some pictures with my good SLR camera before taking the one below with the digital camera. Of course just as I took the shot the panda moved the branch in front of her face. I think that the other photos will come out better but I haven't had time to have them developed yet.

I am going to sign off now as we need to get up and moving early tomorrow. We are driving 492 miles to Williams, AZ and losing an hour on the way when we cross into Arizona. Wish us luck.