Monthly Archives: April 2015

Tuscon – Palm Springs

Tuscon is a desert town. We got in late at night after the longest drive of the trip. I was in for a shock when we woke up the next morning to see the city is basically in a desert. The Audi had been acting up on speeds between 70 and 80mph. It would be fine above 80mph. It would shake until I got to 80mph. I talked to my mechanic in Houston and he recommended I do a wheel balancing. I did that and it helped for the duration of the trip.

We checked out a church on the outskirts of Tuscon called San Xavier del Bac Mission. It’s an old Spanish Catholic church built in the 1700s. Soon we were on our way headed to Palm Springs, California. There is not much to see for most of the way, just many trucks on the road. It was a fairly short day too with under 6 hours on the road. There were also not many gas stations or services along the way so we had to watch the fuel situation carefully.

We made it to Palm Springs on the outskirts of Los Angeles, looked for a hotel and headed straight for the Aerial Tramway. It’s the largest rotating tramway in the world. It’s twelve and a half minutes to go up the mountain with magnificent views from up there. They have a viewing deck up there and the views are to die for..but it was freezing and we could be out in the open for only a couple of minutes. We had dinner up there and waited for the last trip down 2 hours later.

Palm Springs is an interesting town. It’s a town in the middle of the desert. The hotels are packed tight and it’s very touristy. The buildings are controlled meaning there are no building more than a couple floors up. Apparently is a retirement town and hosts lots of gay parties on the weekend. Apparently it’s well known in the Los Angeles area.

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Houston – Austin – Tuscon

We checked out Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church before we headed North West to Austin for the first night of the trip. Austin has a very hippy feel to it. It’s a college town. University of Texas has a big campus here and it’s also the state capital of Texas. It’s beautiful and hilly unlike flat Houston. They have bike lanes everywhere and there are cyclists everywhere you look. I’d love cycling here.

We checked out the state capital building in downtown Austin. It’s an old building with a lot of history from the look of it. It was a Sunday so they didn’t have any tours that day. We checked out a few places. They have a very big park called Zilker Park running next to the river. It was so parked on the day we were there. Seemed like the place to be for Austinians.

We spent the night in Jarrell, an hour north of Austin. We left early the next day and used Austin back roads which cut San Antonio from our itinerary and time too. After a couple of hours we hit I-10 West and we still had about 500 miles to Elpaso, Texas which was our target for the night. We had 902 miles to cover in roughly 13 hours. It was the longest day of our trip. I-10 is lonely and dry for most of Texas. There wasn’t much to see for hours on end. It took us nearly 9 hours to just leave Texas.

We were so close to the Mexican border at some point that they had Customs and Border Protection (CBP) road blocks for all vehicles passing through. I guess to deter illegal immigrants crossing over from the border. From the GPS you could tell it was less than half an hour to the border. It ran parallel to I-10 for at least an hour.

El Paso was the biggest town we passed through that day. It wasn’t all that. It wasn’t pretty and reminded me of some suburbs in Nairobi. It felt like it was built in a disused quarry. Luckily we were through and out in a short time. Good thing was gas was still cheap at under $2.50 at that point. That was to change.

We covered the remaining 4 and half hours in no time and arrived in Tuscon, Arizona late at night. Luckily in America finding accommodation is not a problem. I had an app called hotels.com and that sorted us out in every city we spent the night in.

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Texas State Flower: The bluebonnet growing wildly on highways

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Lakewood Church, Houston

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Joel Osteen himself

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Texas State Capital building, Austin

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Inside State Capital Building

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I-10 West Nothingness

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Near El Paso Texas, Mexican border on the left..not too far from this road

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Welcome to New Mexico

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Republic of Texas

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Cameras were in full use at the CBP check

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Dogs were sniffing cars too just incase you hid people in the trunk (boot)

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Just in case you decided to run for it, they were ready for you..

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And onto Arizona, the desert

Space Center Houston…NASA

The road trip started in earnest here in Houston, my girlfriend and I went to THE Space Center or NASA is it’s commonly known as. It was such a interesting visit as the same day an astronaut Scott Kelly was blasting off to space from Kazakhstan and it was beamed live from the space center. His mission is interesting as he has a twin a brother Mark Kelly. Mark is also an astronaut. He is going to be testing Einstein’s theory of relativity. They’ll be testing to see if he’ll age less than his brother Mark on earth. That was interesting watching the spacecraft blast off live from one the theaters at the space center. It was great seeing all these developments in progress about science and the future looks bright on that front. My girlfriend was over the moon seeing all the crafts and everything NASA related…Priceless. It’s a whole day tour and it’s fascinating to hear about how far technology has come since the first days on the moon.

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West Coast was a blast

I’m back in Houston and still on recovery mode. My girlfriend and I covered 5600 miles (8960 Kilometers), 8 states, over a dozen big towns and priceless memories. I would do it again in a jiffy. The car performed as expected. No problems at all save for leaking steering fluid. We even got snow up in Oregon. On the way back I got to encounter my first traffic stop by a Sheriff in Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona. It went well. He gave me a written warning and that was it. It doesn’t go into my records or anything. He checked trunk (boot) for drugs. Not that I had any but I guess it’s a drug route from Mexico. Our longest day was from Austin, Texas to Tuscon, Arizona (892 miles/1427kilometers) in over 13 hours. The shortest day was from San Jose/Silicon Valley to San Francisco (52miles/83kilometers) in slightly over an hour. Getting out of Texas was the biggest challenge. It’s so huge and takes hours and hours to cross into neighboring states. California has so much to do, we’ll go back sometime and explore it some more. I enjoy driving so that wasn’t a problem. There are hotels and gas stations all over routes we took. The Audi has a 16.4 Gallon/62.2Liter tank which can comfortably cover over 400miles/640kilometers. There was no time we had a risk of running out of gas. I’ll post the pictures once I sort them out. But for now I’m too tired to do much.