Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome Home!

We had quite the family reunion when we reached South Carolina.  
The grand-mamas were eagerly awaiting our arrival.
Grana and Lala, doing what they do best.
 We also saw many, many more cousins.
Elizabeth and her family
Adalaya's 1st cousins in South Carolina
They wanted to come live in the van with us!
Rosanne threw us a "Welcome Home" party.
We showed folks our route on the map...

and showed off the patch blanket.
 We saw more family when we finally made it to North Carolina.
Adalaya with more 1st cousins, Collin and Peyton
The Tipps'
 We made one more stop before heading back home.  For my 36th birthday, I wanted to spend a few days in Hot Springs.
 We invited our wonderful friends from Celo, Jason and Stephanie, to join us.  It was a great way to transition back to real life.
Now we're home, and although I was ready to keep traveling, George and Adalaya are very happy to be home.  It was an amazing trip, and we've made memories that we will cherish forever!

In total we visited:
4 Countries
21 National Parks
Many National Monuments, Seashores, Historic Sites, and State Parks
183 Laundromats
and Countless Cousins

With Love,  3 Brasingtons & A Van

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Homeward Bound!

Part I : Natural Wonders

          Well, we've made record travel time (for us) over the last couple of weeks. Last summer, at the beginning of this trip, we spent nearly 3 months traveling from South Carolina to the Pacific coast of Washington, and now it has taken us a mere 2 weeks to travel from Baja, California back to the South Carolina coast. The reason for the speed is threefold: there's been cold, wet weather blasting through the entire south (which always keeps us on the move); there are the dreaded business taxes to take care of; and (most importantly) we have a date with our daughter in SC.
          After leaving Baja, and essentially coming back into America after 3 1/2 months in the Spanish speaking world, we headed east into Arizona and were greeted by the increasingly present signs of modern America: neon lights and big-box stores. We dodged these obstacles as best we could, and stumbled upon a collection of signs and evidence from an earlier time.
Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site...
where the rocks are littered with drawings.
Here's a nice collection of Native American arrowheads and spearpoints.
The eroding ruins of Casa Grande National Historic Site.

          We found ourselves in Dateland, AZ which consists of date plantations and one gas station/convenient store which also has a gift store devoted to dates. Our dinner that night consisted of nothing but dates: about a dozen different varieties that were available to sample, plus coconut covered dates, nut covered dates, and (for dessert) chocolate covered dates.
Dateland - A Great "Pit-Stop"
We enjoyed exploring the strange landscape of Saguaro National Park.
This one had a lot of personality!
We also explored the curious formations in Carlsbad Caverns.
This one was of the female persuasion.
While this one was distinctly male.

Part II : People

          We've been traveling without Adalaya for several weeks now, and our journey has definitely taken on a different pace and flavor. We've been driving longer hours, cooking less, and partying more.  In addition to seeing the amazing scenery, we've been visiting some wonderful friends and family.

We spent a weekend in the "metropoasis" of Phoenix visiting my long-time friend, Katie.

Poor George!

She and her boyfriend took us out to several of their favorite places to eat and drink, including their local bar, Dos Amigos. George got a little (or maybe a lot) looped one night, and had his first experience of the not-so-fun after-effects of excess alcohol. Check that one off the life-list!  

With that experience behind him, George was primed for more partying as we continued our journey east.

Next we visited our friends, Pace and Laura, in Austin, Texas.  
 We biked downtown to check out 6th Street (Austin's Bourbon Street) 
to get a little dinner.
Our first Korean BBQ Tacos - Yum!!
 The mayhem of 6th Street was good preparation for our next stop: 
New Orleans during Mardi Gras - debauchery on a grand scale!
Bourbon Street was full of bead throwing maniacs.
Some locals
Who's that hemp-head?
This was my favorite of the official parades.
With cousins Eliza and Benh before the unofficial parade.
The secret parade got pretty wild!
 Next we stopped in Athens, GA where we saw our friend, Robert Tate.
Talkin' trash and eating tasty tacos.

Part III : The Last Day

 Just a few hours from our final destination, we blew a tire!  It was our first and only flat tire during the whole trip.
Our first flat tire on our last day.
We crossed the bridge over the South Carolina inland waterway at sunset. It felt like a miracle to be back on the east coast, exactly where we had started from 10 months earlier!
It feels wonderful to be a family again!
3 Brasingtons - Together Again!