The first thirty six hours of road trip fun is all about getting out of the West. In the West the states are wider, the mountains are taller, and the scenery is mostly dry and bare.. That means driving an RV though the often arid and barren lands takes longer.
I'm not complaining, I really like driving hundreds of miles through Arizonan and Californian deserts while staring at Yucca plants and rocks but who wouldn't love doing that?
In my travels I have learned it is best to travel through the most barren and ugly pieces of land when the sun is down (sleeping kids make driving through deserts much more enjoyable) therefore Day One of our trip entailed leaving San Diego at 8PM.
The kids did what I hoped and mostly slept through the night (I had to wake up the older boys to get the obligatory photo in front of the Arizona state sign). By the time they woke up and were ready for the day we were in the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, Arizona. Painted desert is aptly named but the "petrified forest" should perhaps go by, "Sporadically Placed Pieces of Petrified Trees in the Desert National Park". I'm sure the name was considered but signage proved too costly.
God blessed us with a little rain and no heat so we were able to hike a few miles and actually enjoy the park before any other tourists showed up. The blue, purple, greenish, red, and brown rocks and sand are pretty cool and almost worth the 10 hour drive. The two younger boys completed their Junior Ranger guide and received badges for the park (apparently my oldest is now too old for that).
We were told not to take anything from the park so when I bumped into a Ranger I tried not to look too awkward while talking and slowly and inconspicuously releasing handfuls of purple sand from my pockets. That distraction proved worthwhile while the boys loaded a 100 pound petrified tree limb into the RV. (It didn't happen quite like that but the youngest did leave with pockets full of rocks. Judging from the view while driving the last 10 hours, the desert will survive with slightly fewer stones.)
The rest of the day entailed driving through New Mexico and served to confirm my two previous experiences in this state; 1. This state contains beautiful scenery and picturesque views and, 2.Albaquerque basically sucks for people under 25 years old.
By nightfall we checked into a roadside motel in Amarillo and despite providing all pertinent information prior to check in, the young man at reception graciously introduced us to Texan speed and efficiency.
1161 miles and 24 hours into the trip and all is well. We are thankful for good beginnings.... And for getting out of the West.