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Photo TR: Arby's Southwest Adventure


arby
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We had been planning a trip to Tucson, AZ for over a year to visit my wife's family. During the planning process I told my wife that if we were spending 4 days in Arizona that I also wanted to spend 4 days in Southern California and she agreed to it without any concessions on my part. Woo hoo!

 

The trip was scheduled for 15 days over the 2013 Christmas and New Year's holidays. Unfortunately that's also when 1/2 of the country also goes to SoCal. Thanks to some input from Elissa we knew this in advance so were mentally prepared for it. That really made the trip a lot better knowing up front what to expect.

 

So here goes. I have a lot of pictures to share so I hope you enjoy them as well as my commentary.

 

Part 1 - Heading West and Texas Stops (Kemah, SFFT)

 

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If I had planned it better we could have made this a true coast to coast trip.

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The great thing about road trips is that you get to see cool things along the way like the General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge outside Mobile, AL. The whole bridge is just over 6 miles long.

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By the time we hit Texas we had rain, severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches. Just 60 mile north of us it was ice so we were fortunate.

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The weather finally broke by the time we got to the Fred Hartman Suspension Bridge outside of Baytown, TX.

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Unfortunately the storms were enough to close Pleasure Pier, my first planned stop. Oh well. That's twice in the past year we have been by here and the park was closed. Hopefully the third time will be the charm!

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Kemah Boardwalk was open, though, so stop two was a go!

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Anybody game for a glowing carriage ride?

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I love double decker carousels.

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Credit #1 of the trip, Boardwalk Bullet. It had too many laterals and not enough air time for me. It wasn't unbearably rough overall although there were a few spots.

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Merry Christmas Kemah Boardwalk!

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We ate dinner at Cadillac Bar. The food (Mexican) was decent but we thought it was overpriced.

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The next morning we had to stop here. We can't go through Texas without stopping at Whataburger.

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Their spicy ketchup is great!

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The next stop on the way was Six Flags San Antonio primary for Iron Rattler. When we were here in the spring it was still under construction.

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There wasn't much of a line this Sunday afternoon.

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The park is decorated for Holiday in the Park. We'll be back on the road before dark so we won't get to enjoy them.

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I though the queue line was interesting and unique.

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This was credit #200 for my daughter. We forgot the 200 sign so she had to make a small one on the fly.

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The rattle at the rear of the train is a nice touch.

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Our seats. I was greatly impressed by this ride and think I like it slightly more than Texas Giant although I wouldn't mind either one being closer to me.

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Thankfully we already have this credit so it can remain a fixture on the skyline.

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Cookies and Cocoa anyone?

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It was very windy during our visit.

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I left a few hours in the schedule for the park so we had time to ride SkyScreamer. We skipped it last trip because it had just opened and the line was insane. This beats Windseeker hands down.

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I kind of wish we had done this now but we had to move on.

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It was very windy and chilly so I was surprised to see someone in shorts. He was probably a northerner thinking we were crazy for wearing jeans.

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I always love the look of this. Every park should have a Ferris Wheel.

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My what a big tree you have.

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My son's favorite ride, the Scooby Doo version of a Sally Corp shooting dark ride.

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For the first time my wife beat me. The Corps will have to take away my expert shooting badge.

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Wow, Santa has a castle!

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The train was being used for decoration. I wish it were running but it's time for us to go, anyway.

Edited by arby
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Part 2 - Tucson, AZ

 

After leaving San Antonio, our GPS greeted us with '856 miles until the next turn.' That gives you a good idea of what is on I-10 West of San Antonio. This update is a very quick and high level overview of our 4 days visiting family in Tucson, AZ. Most of the remaining updates will have more interesting theme park/coaster stuff.

 

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Texas has picnic areas and all the ones that I saw all had different themes. One we stopped at had a bunch of teepees over the picnic tables. They were awesome to look at and they look even better at sunrise.

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On the road again with the sun at our back.

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Here's a neat shot if you look closely at it.

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Going on I-10 in west Texas comes very close to the Mexican border. Expect to go through at least one Border Patrol checkpoint.

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We spent a lot of time looking at this view.

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Finally in Tucson, family took us to Hungry Fox. If you're hungry, they will feed you a LOT of food.

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Lots of food for breakfast. Our meal fed us breakfast for nearly 3 days.

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I found this donkey in a shop near the Mexican border. It would be mine if the price wasn't so steep.

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Christmas eve and the stockings are hung by the miniature tree with care...

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Our home for 4 days in Tucson. I couldn't believe it, those are citrus trees - in the desert.

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Specifically lemon trees. Pretty cool.

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Easterners are fascinated with cacti similar to how Australians are fascinated by squirrels. Expect more cactus pictures.

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More cacti. I'd hate to run into this.

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I'd hate even more to run into this.

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Beautiful view from the desert musuem.

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Hey look, a saguaro cactus up close. Wave hi back.

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We were told this was a 'nasty' cactus if you ran into it with all the tiny spikes.

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While I was there I joined the Corona Mariachi Band. Give me enough Corona and I can sing and dance on stage and might even wear this outfit...

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Hey! What are you doing with that camera??

Edited by arby
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I like it so far, Rick...looking forward to more of this trip report!

 

You can't beat traveling across the US in a motor home with your family. I did that with my mother and father for many years when we used to travel to Las Vegas to visit my relatives every July. We would take two or three weeks to travel out there and back and take a different way every year to see all the sites. It was a great time in my life that I will never forget.

 

We are planning on a Texas road trip as well as visiting Utah, Colorado and Arizona in the next couple of years. We have never been to a theme park in Texas and are really looking forward to IRat and NTAG amongst all the other great looking coasters and rides!

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Thanks, guys!

 

You can't beat traveling across the US in a motor home with your family. I did that with my mother and father for many years when we used to travel to Las Vegas to visit my relatives every July. We would take two or three weeks to travel out there and back and take a different way every year to see all the sites. It was a great time in my life that I will never forget.

 

Thank you for the encouragement. I sometimes wonder if my daughter appreciates all the effort that it takes for these trips as it doesn't seem so. Knowing that she probably will in the long run makes it work the effort to plan future trips.

 

Part 3 - To Anaheim and SFMM

 

This will be a shorter update because I already posted a TR in the SFMM discussion thread. I won't repost it here but will cover it quickly to make this whole report cohesive. Is that even possible? Let's move on and see!

 

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After a great four days with family over Christmas, it's time to head further west.

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Going through the mountains of Eastern California, you can tell we're getting closer as traffic picks up.

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And here we are in Anaheim, CA, and are greeted with beautiful weather. I could really handle the weather here year round.

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After getting settled in, my daughter and I took the hour trip north to SFMM.

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We got platinum passes which was a mistake. Based on the way the flash passes merge into the line you can usually save money and go with the gold.

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The were running both stations for Tatsu.

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Apocalypse - one of my favorite coasters at the park based on the 10 we were able to do in a 4 hour window. It had a nice mix of elements giving what I considered to be a balanced ride.

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Colossus - not so much. After riding on it, I think it could benefit from some RMC love.

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Green Lantern is a thumbs up in my book for the insane ejector air time although I can imagine it could be painful.

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Full Throttle was good although it seemed short to me. When we hit the final brake I wondered where the second half was. Hopefully I can make it back soon to ride it again to see if my opinion changes.

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SFMM was decked out for the holidays. Well at least the entry plaza was; I didn't notice any other decorations.

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Bye SFMM. Until next time.

Edited by arby
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Part 4 - Disneyland Resort Day 1

 

We are in sunny Anaheim for the next few days. Our campground is less than a block from Disneyland as the crow flies. We have two day park hopper passes so this update will have the pictures from Day 1 and the next update will have the pictures from Day 2.

 

Before I share my photos and commentary, I'd like to give my overall impression of DL/DCA. The parks were packed as we expected with long lines. No surprise there. The crowds were similar to what we experienced at WDW in 2009 during spring break, which we also expected, as we were contributing to the crowd issue. Also, I am not a Disney fan boy although I still respect them as the leader in theme parks regarding operations, customer service, etc. Few parks can even come close to the level of 'Disney Magic,' as I call it, in regards to the overall experience, and their attendance numbers reflect that in my opinion.

 

With that being said, I do prefer WDW to DL although we received the same level of Disney Magic at both parks. While their prices limit our trips to one of their parks only once every 4-5 years, their execution and operations of the two theme park complexes I have been to is indicative of the high bar they have set. If they continue to live up to this high standard, we will always enjoy the few days we spend at one of their resort complexes and this trip was no exception. Geez, almost makes me sound like a fan boy, eh?

 

Here we go...

 

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We started out at DCA where the crowds were heavy, as expected.

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Our first ride of the day was in Cars Land, Radiator Springs Racers. I didn't think I'd like it going into it but was surprised at the quality of this fun family ride.

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The great execution of Cars Land in general greatly surprised me as it's hard to realize the extent of it without personally visiting it.

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Which car is going to win, the green one or the green one?

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Look! A cactus!!

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...so that's where my hubcap went.

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After reading Chuck's report, I wish I had eaten here.

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What a big nose you have...

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A great combination, Starbucks and Disney although I think both are slightly overpriced. Yet I keep spending money on both, go figure.

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My, what big bulbs you have.

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Peeking thorough the over-sized clover fields (at least they weren't poppy fields) is our next destination, a ride that is consistently in the top 3 rides for everyone in my family, Tower of Terror.

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I really loved the trolley and wish we had ridden it.

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While we liked the execution at DHS better, we still loved Tower of Terror at DCA. Since I'm responsible for dusting my office, it highly resembles this.

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I take it at least a few of the people on the ride have been here before.

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While my picture didn't do it justice, I loved the color of this tree and the way it stood out in the California sunlight.

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Moving on, we hit my second favorite ride at the park, Midway Mania. We are all huge fans of the Toy Story movies and also love shooting dark rides so this is a big win.

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Of course I had the highest score not that I was keeping track. Yay! I get my medal back. ;)

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New coaster credit at this park, California Cruisin'

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The obligatory shot of the looping train.

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I was entirely surprised of how much I liked this coaster. While the air time and forces don't compare to other coasters, I really didn't expect something like the experience I had on this. Unfortunately with monster lines I only got to ride this once during our trip but I'm sure I would have enjoyed future rides.

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Nice theming. I was hoping they were selling one of those papers. ;)

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Paradise Gardens is transformed into Viva Navidad. I will have to say that I have never seen anything quite like this.

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I wish I had brought along my cardboard Corona Mariachi outfit and I could have joined in. Of course I'm not nearly as good as these guitar players. They were good although I'm certainly no expert in this style of music.

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Next up we hit the only other coaster credit in the park. Seriously, though, I didn't come here just for the credits.

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I am the only person who has ever composed a photo like this.

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Next up, another dark ride that is a real people eater.

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Hi Ariel.

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I hope the fish are doing the conga line or something similar.

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The finale complete with simulated fireworks.

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Is that water I see?

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We didn't ride this as we seldom ride rapids.

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We did find a good way to get dry, though, if you do happen to get wet on the rapids.

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Next up, Soarin' Over California. I liked it but do which they video flowed from scene to scene a bit more smoothly.

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Did I mention that we were here with about 1/4 of the U.S. population

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We left to eat 'linner' and came back early evening. This time we chose to check out Disneyland.

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D'oh, we forgot about Disney parades and their popularity.

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Had we known, we would have gotten here before the parade started so we could be at the back of the park. We're not parade people although I know that many people are.

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The glowing futuristic balls can only mean we're in Tomorrowland.

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Of course that means Space Mountain. I prefer Space Mountain here over the one in MK.

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Here was my first real surprise of our visit. This 'heavy metal' (according to me) band struck me as being out of place although I'm not quite sure why. I personally enjoy some heavy metal music.

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The shape of the castle looks funny to me.

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Another Toy Story ride! Although not as good as it's presumably newer counterpart in DCA, it is still a lot of fun.

Edited by arby
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Thanks for taking the time to post this! I was thinking about an RV kind of vacation next summer and your adventures are pushing me toward that decision.

 

You're welcome. If you don't mind driving, there's nothing quite like an RV road trip especially if you are self contained.

 

Thanks, everyone, for the great comments.

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Thank you for the encouragement. I sometimes wonder if my daughter appreciates all the effort that it takes for these trips as it doesn't seem so. Knowing that she probably will in the long run makes it work the effort to plan future trips.

 

Even though she might not seem to speak highly about the trip now, I know she will when she get's older and has had time to reflect on all the cool things that her parents did for her!

 

When I was a teen, I would get picked on by my friends for wanting to go on trips with my parents, but I shrugged it off and went anyway as we always had a ton of fun. Personally, I think that my friends made fun of it because they were jealous that their parents didn't do cool stuff like that with them. Hell, I was still going on trips with my parents in their RV well into my 20's until my Mom fell ill and she/we couldn't travel.

 

 

Anyhow, keep up the great report...I'm looking forward to seeing more!

 

Oh...almost forgot to mention that you must have stayed at the same campground we did when we went a couple of years ago - which was only a stone's throw away from Disneyland. We only had two full days, so we decided against Disney and went to Knotts (used our Platinum Pass) and then went on an all day bus tour of LA, Hollywood and all the other areas that we had never before visited. I definitely want to get back there to get to the Disney parks someday as I have only been there once when I was about 10 years old!

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Part 5 - Disneyland Resort Day 2

 

Let's continue on with our second day at the Disneyland Resort. It was my daughter's birthday so she had most of the say on what we would do that day. While we usually plan our days so that we are able to eat most meals in the RV, stretching the travel budget further, we did plan to eat out lunch in celebration of her birthday. While I got some recommendations from TPR members, my wife ended up picking House of Blues in Downtown Disney since it had a new menu created by Aaron Sanchez. Anybody who watches Food Network should know who Aaron is. [Happy wife = happy life] Unfortunately Disney doesn't consider that part of it's resort per se when it comes to Disney cakes so we were unable to do that this time.

 

Here are some photos from day 2:

 

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We were there early so we somehow managed to snag a spot at Pumbaa, a lot close to the entrance. This is from our 'take a shot of a sign somewhat near our parking so we can find our car later' shot.

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Day 2 began at Disneyland. You're welcome in advance for another uniquely framed shot. You're sure to never see this shot ever again.

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...but what if I like today?

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Yeah, it's Christmastime.

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Off to Adventureland.

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Indiana Jones, specifically.

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At Disney, even the elevators are themed. While I sometimes make fun of the time they take to build things, in the end I always forgive them for their attention to detail.

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Thank you for the warning. I was also clued into it from the outline of a door in the wall of the elevator.

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My daughter got to 'drive' on her birthday...well not really

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More nice theming in the queue and exits. Indiana Jones is WAAAAYY better than the awful Dinosaur at DAK. I was worried when I saw the same ride vehicle but ended up loving it.

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Well I'll be a monkey's uncle...or is that Buddah?

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Rising photographers, this is why it's important to look at your background and compose the entire picture. Yahooo-oooo!

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"Dad, we're supposed to be here. Can't you read??"

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Next up, Matterhorn Bobsleds. Fun but nothing spectacular. By now the lines were also picking up so we only rode one side.

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I would love to have one of these...

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...or these. I love the different forms of transportation they use in Disneyland resort.

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Yeah, we did the Jingle Cruise. I usually eat up (and egg on) the bad jokes but our guide wasn't so good. She spoke so you couldn't understand her well so I didn't get to groan at as may puns...

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If only they started charging for stroller parking, they could make a mint...

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Fun.

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...

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I guess this ride didn't have a policy on on-ride photos.

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Missed this. Originally I was thrilled! After reading Chuck's report, I wish we had made the time to check it out. Already I have the annoying 'it's a small world' song going through my head...

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A dungeon!

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What else to you expect under... oh I guess it's a castle. For some reason these colors don't look right to me. An interior decorator I am not, though...

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It's time to head to Downtown Disney for our lunch reservations.

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Thankfully we had reservations or the wait would have been 1 1/2 hours.

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My bacon-wrapped meatloaf was really good.

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After lunch my daughter asked to do her favorite thing, some shopping and she even let us know that The Outlets at Orange were just a few miles away.

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Here I found a Vans store with a skate park.

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This might be nothing to those from around the area, but to me it was fascinating. At first I couldn't figure out why they were bringing their bikes into the store...

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It really was a skate park with lots of seating on an observation deck so you could watch. If only I had something like this as a kid, we wouldn't have made ramps and then tried to jump over things much less safe than this...

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Back at DCA, we passed by some weiners. Looks like they are famous or something.

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Oooh... Light...

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We crashed Mad T Party. Well not really but it sounds cooler saying that we did.

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As much as I didn't like the band jamming at DL the night before, nothing about Mad T Party seemed out of place to me, as weird as that sounds.

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I so want this outfit although he tried to attack us with his pecker, beak, or whatever it's called.

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Honestly the only reason we came over here was we realized we forgot to do Monster's Inc, M&S to the rescue, since we all loved Monster's Inc. It was a nice compact version covering some of the highlights of the first movie. Nice job.

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The band was good and there were a lot of people out here enjoying them. We stopped and listed for a few minutes.

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Wow, now those are some big balls! Or I guess they're called bulbs. One or the other.

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Guess were we were headed again? Yep, the only ride we did twice during our trip and once again our clear favorite at either Disney resort we have been to.

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Look, a spinny, twisty, whirly thingy. Where's my Dramamine?

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I tried to be artsy with some bright pretty lights.

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We missed Worlds of Color but we missed numerous other things this trip to Disneyland Resort. That's to be expected as it's hard to do both parks in just two days when it's one of the peak times of the year. We didn't care because we had a blast! We will be back.

 

Stay tuned for Part 6 - Knotts Berry Farm.

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Thank you for the encouragement. I sometimes wonder if my daughter appreciates all the effort that it takes for these trips as it doesn't seem so. Knowing that she probably will in the long run makes it work the effort to plan future trips.

 

Even though she might not seem to speak highly about the trip now, I know she will when she get's older and has had time to reflect on all the cool things that her parents did for her!

 

Thanks!

 

Hell, I was still going on trips with my parents in their RV well into my 20's until my Mom fell ill and she/we couldn't travel.

 

Sorry to hear that. That's also why we bought an RV instead of putting everything into retirement preparation. We're preparing for retirement but also trying to enjoy traveling while the kids are still home and we are still youngerish.

 

Oh...almost forgot to mention that you must have stayed at the same campground we did when we went a couple of years ago - which was only a stone's throw away from Disneyland.

 

Sounds like it. We stayed at Anaheim RV Resort.

 

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It is located here:

 

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The sites are paved, level, and there is nice grass between the sites. Still somewhat crowded but not bad. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of our site for reference like I usually do.

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Part 6 - Knott's Berry Farm

 

I want to start out by giving a shout out to Knott's Berry Farm for recognizing out country's military veterans. They let me and one guest in free while we only paid $27 each for everyone else. For only $54 my family of four was able to enjoy a day at their park. Thanks! It is truly appreciated.

 

Continuing on, our next day was exclusively for KBF. It was insanely busy...no it was INSANELY busy. Some park employees were saying they had never seen the park that busy. It took us about 45 minutes waiting in line to get to parking, and another 45 minutes waiting to get two tickets and two fast lane passes, of course. My wife and son are primarily dark ride enthusiasts (yay!) while my daughter and I go for the coasters first. Anyway, EVERY ride had a full and overflowing queue with most rides having a 1-2 hour wait. I have never seen a Cedar Fair park that busy outside of the peak night of a haunt event.

 

Thanks to the way that Knotts operates it's Fast Lane, we were able to easily ride 8 of the 10 coasters in a short period of time with a slightly longer wait time on just a few of them. We didn't try to ride the kiddie coaster, Timberline Twister, and Xcelerator wasn't included in the Fast Lane. We didn't think it was worth the 1 1/2 hour wait. We'll just come back another time. I do think they are missing a revenue opportunity by not offering it as a single ride add-on.

 

Enough of my rambling, let's get to some photos. This is supposed to be a Photo TR after all.

 

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Yeah! We're almost there!

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[one hour later] Yeah! We're almost there! Ghost Town was NOT its namesake on this day

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Some of the charm remains at KBF. I'm excited that they appear to be bringing back more of it.

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First off Pony Express. Wow! My second Zamperla MotoCoaster. I wish there were more in the U.S. While they will never make my top 10, they are just plain fun and I want to ride them over and over.

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Sorry Xcelerator. Not today.

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On to Coast Rider, it was great to get a ride on the Large Park model of a Mack Wild Mouse. Many of my mouse credits are the Compact Park model including the one in my home park, Carowinds.

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Who's up for some boomerang love?? I'm still a credit whore so of course I did it. Guess what? It's exactly the same ride experience as every other Vekoma boomerang that I have ridden.

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The only ride that had a shorter wait than others was Calico Mine Ride. We didn't know what to expect and it was pretty good. It will be great to experience this again once it has been overhauled.

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Cactus!

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The Calico Railroad was decked out for the holidays.

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Next up, Silver Bullet. It was another B&M invert credit to my tally but I only thought it was ok. I'd ride it again but it wouldn't be my first choice.

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In case you skipped my ramblings above and came straight to the pics, the lines were insanely long. Thanks, Fast Lane!

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Timber Mountain Log Ride and a few other rides.

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On to Jaguar! I didn't think I'd have much to say about it, but boy was this a great family coaster. It had a nice length and a great mixture of elements that make it a well-rounded coaster in my book.

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Here's Snoopy doing a dive maneuver on the stagecoach.

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Once again, I expected this to be just another spinning coaster and I was surprised at how great this was. Again, not a top 10 coaster but clearly reridable with a fun ride experience each time.

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Ghost Rider. What can I say about Ghost Rider...

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I'm a big fan of woodies... and I haven't ridden a lot of the CCI coasters... however neither one of us enjoyed our ride on Ghost Rider. I'll give it another shot on my next visit but for now I'll just be +1 credit.

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I love the charm of having a real stagecoach ride in the park!

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More Jaguar! love...

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Silver Bullet anyone?

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There was a 2 hour wait for the Timber Mountain Log Ride. Since it's included in Fast Lane and the rest of my family was afraid of getting wet I went alone. When I got to the station they put me right on with a group of two so I had no wait. I like what they have done with it as so many log flumes have no theme. It's not Splash Mountain but it's a huge step up from a parking lot log flume.

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There is still a lot of character in the park that has not been removed and I expect that we'll continue to see this for a long time.

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Some random nice (Australian from her accent) lady offered to take our family picture. That was a nice gesture. Note to self: Take one minute of your time to do a random kind act for someone else.

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While you can't see it here, the upper rocking chairs rock on their own. Great touch!

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The crowds are too much and we got our credits so we're heading out for now. We will be back!

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Our plan was to eat here based on great reviews. When it also had a 1 hour+ line, we skipped it until next time.

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Instead we finally got out In-N-Out credit. My wife prefers In-N-Out and my daughter and I prefer Whataburger although we all like them both. We'll just have to keep checking both our on our travels!

 

Next up - Part 7 - Las Vegas

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It really was a skate park with lots of seating on an observation deck so you could watch. If only I had something like this as a kid, we wouldn't have made ramps and then tried to jump over things much less safe than this...

 

You mean like the old boards, plywood, stones and bricks that I used to make my BMX bike jumps out of?

 

Sorry to hear that. That's also why we bought an RV instead of putting everything into retirement preparation. We're preparing for retirement but also trying to enjoy traveling while the kids are still home and we are still youngerish.

 

That's exactly what my parents did too. Although my mother passed when she was a young 67 (before my Dad retired, unfortunately), I certainly don't have any regrets over all the things we did together before she got sick...and I know that she didn't either.

 

Sounds like it. We stayed at Anaheim RV Resort.

 

Yep. that's the one!

 

Can't believe how packed Knotts was...good thing you got the Fast Lane passes!

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Awesome trip across the country! You stopped in Tucson?!?!? I know you may have family here in the hell of the desert but why stay here? Glad you enjoyed the Desert Museum though, I really enjoy that place! Even though you visited Disney in probably the busiest time of the year, still glad to see through your pictures that you guys made the best of it and had a BLAST!

 

Great pictures of all the parks in the Holiday decorations!

 

Jimmy "Next time let the JimmyBo show you the sites in Tucson!" Bo

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^^Thanks! It's not if but rather when we're back in Tucson since it's all her family. I'll certainly let you know when we're back in Tucson. I'm actually thinking I might like to retire out there. We'll be making a summer trip in the future to see what we think of it then.

 

^That's what I thought when I was looking back through the photos!

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Ghost Rider. What can I say about Ghost Rider...

 

 

tell you what WE said about it:

 

"ouch, ouch, OUCH, F##k, G@#*am that HURTS, ouch, ouch, OMG there's more? OUCH, when does it end. . . never again"

 

 

that's pretty much an actual quote from when we went two years ago

 

 

we did a 5 day ParkHopper with a one day excursion to Knott's -- I'm pretty sure the day was Wed, and there were LITERALLY 200 people in the park. Everything was a walk on.

 

I asked an employee about it, and she said it's always slow during the week, but that they make up for it on weekends.

 

so maybe when you go back, shoot for a weekday?

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Ghost Rider. What can I say about Ghost Rider...

 

tell you what WE said about it:

 

"ouch, ouch, OUCH, F##k, G@#*am that HURTS, ouch, ouch, OMG there's more? OUCH, when does it end. . . never again"

 

LOL! I know exactly where you said 'OMG there's more?' because I said the exact same thing at one point. I'm sure I used some of the other wording, too.

 

so maybe when you go back, shoot for a weekday?

 

We sure will. We went on a Monday this time but it was doomed because it was the week after Christmas and the weather was great.

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Part 7 - New Year's at Las Vegas

 

Thanks for hanging in there on this mega TR. Let's cut right to the pictures.

 

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On the road again. I just can't wait to get on.... What, where are we headed?

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Bakersfield?? Are there any coasters in Bakersfield?

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The motto of this trip.

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Look, it's a boomerang highway!

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State credit +3 this trip. I also enjoyed the accidental framing of this picture.

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While we're here, we might as well stop! Not for gambling, of course. I'm too cheap.

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For a coaster, of course!

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Desperado wants to stay within the boundaries of this trip...

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...and be closed for our visit. It looked like it opened about 1 1/2 hours later but we were under a tighter time constraint on this leg. Oh well, maybe next time.

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Arriving in Las Vegas, I had reserved a premium site that actually came with grass, real grass. The website said it would be 'real or fake grass' so I wasn't sure what we were in for.

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Since I'm a planner and have reservations made way in advance, it looks like I got one of the better premium sites. Here's our view for the night.

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Next off, The Adventuredome.

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No El Loco love this trip.

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But plenty of Canyon Blaster love! This comes in at a close second to Tennessee Tornado at Dollywood for Arrow Loopers.

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It was great and I had a... wait for it... blast! I'm here all day.

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Time to move on as the sun is setting. I really love the architecture you see on the strip.

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The porta johns are lining the sidewalk with care... In seven hours I'm not sure I'd want to do anything in there.

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Treasure Is

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A neon lit McDonald's arch - c'mon, you have to include a pic of that even though I'm not a fan.

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We stopped to watch the Volcano blow.

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My son loved it!

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How can you go wrong with some lights, some music, some explosions, and FIRE!

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...brought to you by Mirage...

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One of the local TV stations was already broadcasting live.

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Another one was still at the casino bar.

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Ooh, water and lights.

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...not brought to you by The Cosmopolitan. They just get a free view of it.

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You never know what you're going to see in Vegas. Those are frozen pillars formed from the 'sheet' of water, I gather.

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Because we had a wheelchair, we were forced to take a detour around Aria. The fountain was cool.

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Nothing like trying to attract pigeons...

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Our final destination on the strip. I bet you can't guess why.

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Roller Coaster, of course. The idiot taking this picture couldn't read the sign but they didn't ask me, er him, to delete it so I'm sharing. I was expecting the worst but it really wasn't bad. I thought it was just meh but not awful. Last credit of the 27 I picked up on this trip but who's counting?

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Hey, the ticket counter is also a coaster. If I put a ticket in there can I count this as a credit??

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Now the long walk back down the strip to our campsite. The streets were now open to pedestrians and the crowds were definitely picking up.

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Back to our 'casino.' I could see where this one could use some love but it's not like it was totally run down.

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While we are fans of KOA the campground could also use some love. I will be generous and give this one a 6/10.

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What are we waiting for, it's New Years. Let the fireworks begin!

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We really had a great view of the Stratosphere from our site.

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Happy New Year, TPR! How'd you like to be riding Big Shot right now?

 

Next up - Part 8 - East Bound and Down

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My Dad is still out in Vegas with his girlfriend till mid-March, but he refuses to stay at KOA campgrounds because of the cost. I think that they are staying at a campground over by Arizona Charlie's - which is a chain of local casinos and hotels outside of the strip and downtown areas.

 

When we weren't staying at my Great Aunt and Uncle's house during our visits, we used to stay at the campground at Circus Circus (before KOA bought it out) as well as the one's that they used to have at the Stardust and Hacienda casinos - both of which are distant memories now.

 

LV has just changed so much since the 80's that I don't really care for it's dressed-up, commercialized image anymore. Just too big and over-populated in my opinion - main reasons why we opted out of going this year.

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Part 8 - East Bound and Down, well sort of

 

It's time to wrap up our trip. We've had a great time visiting 3 new states, 6 new amusement parks, and 27 new coasters traveling over 6,000 miles in 15 days - but who's counting? The adventure isn't over, though, as we have a couple of more stops as we continue East. We'll be hitting the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest.

 

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Club TPR in southern Nevada.

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Ever wanted to get behind the wheel?

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Hey, same to you!

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There is still wide open land out west.

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Need a fixer upper?

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There is also a lot of beautiful scenery...

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cool rock formations...

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and other places of beauty.

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We safely made it to Grand Canyon National Park where we'll be staying overnight.

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They were ready with the animatronic deer... Hey wait...

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Looks like they get a lot of snow here.

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Hey, what are you looking at?

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We reached the Grand Canyon at sunset. Winter sunsets lend to some great views.

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A great place to stop and think.

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Can you imagine this view for the first drop? That's the Colorado River down there, btw.

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It is a truly awesome place to see and experience. I hope everyone can see it at least once in their lifetime and may it be preserved for many more generations.

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Good night Grand Canyon.

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That night we found a Mexican restaurant - can you tell we like Mexican food? It is in the town of Tusayan outside the main gate of the park. My wife said it's the best burrito she has EVER had. I thought my food was very good.

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We woke up and there was a slight chill in the air. At least if you're an Eskimo. Only 2,000 miles til home.

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Why don't you enjoy a sunrise with us?

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Red at night, sailor's delight... Maybe this is orange.

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I swear, every bug in a 5 mile radius heads straight towards my windshield.

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Standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ, freezing my butt off.

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Let's take a quick stop here to check it out.

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It is really cool to see the petrified wood.

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and more wood...

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and more wood... (dialogue of teenage daughter)

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Here you can make out the rings

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There is lots of beauty here.

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and the scenery is unique, too.

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Inside the park is a tribute to Route 66 that used to pass right through here.

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While the roadbed is gone, it used to run right beside these abandoned power poles.

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You see lots of trains across the west and midwest.

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Ha! You missed me!

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Beer run!

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Enjoy the final sunrise with us as we're almost home.

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6,016 miles and we're home safe. I shaved 1/2 a day off the trip so we did it in 14.5 days.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you have enjoyed my recount of our most recent trip.

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Awesome stuff! I remember taking a family trip back in the 90's through Petrified Forest...I didn't really get it as a kid. My dad said, "We are going to look at trees that are hard as a rock>" I was like, "Wow...and I care because......" It actually turned out to be an awesome trip.

 

New Years in Vegas is on my bucket list. I heard its a pretty damn good time and the fireworks are insane throughout the strip. Is that right?

 

Great stuff and holy hell, that's a lot of miles!

 

Jimmy "Winslow, AZ? WHY?!?!?!" Bo

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