We are home! The good news is, this was a great vacation. The bad news is, this was such a good vacation, my brain has been in non-work mode for over two weeks. I did have time on our drive home to think about things, but we're now a week separated from the Disney part of our trip that I didn't take the time to fully document. I'd love to take the time to organize everything, but then I'm afraid I'd take too much time organizing and never get it done. So I'm going to take the fling poo on the wall approach. I'll fling and see what sticks. Hopefully it ends up being helpful and entertaining to at least some of you. We started our trip on Wednesday, June 21st. I was able to finish up and cut out of work around noon. My wife, who is trying to get a job closer to home, ended up with an interview at noon, so it was around 1:30 pm before we hit the road. I had the car packed and the pups ready to go, so as soon as my wife changed, we pointed to rental car west. Our first stop would be just west of Nashville, TN. On the trip out, I usually take advantage of us gaining timezone hours and the excitement of the trip. For that reason we drove a little later into the evening and were up and out very early each day. Folks ask how our dogs do on our trips. Here's a picture of them settled in, not long after we left. The light tan ball of fur on the left is Bear. The white ball of fur on the right is Marti. They mostly sleep on trips, although they do migrate up to Mom's lap, the floor near Mom's feet and occasionally help me navigate. Marti loves to take time out to sniff the air coming in the car as well. On our way through Asheville, NC, we stopped at one of our favorite food places. It's called Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack and they do outstanding Nashville hot chicken. For those not familiar with Nashville hot chicken, it's marinaded and breaded chicken, with a spiced breading. For many people that's enough spice and it is very flavorful. But for those of us who like it hot, they can do several levels of spice. We get it hot, but still a couple levels below the hottest. The "trick" with Nashville hot chicken is they take some of the hot oil from the fryer and put it in a metal bowl, add the spice mixture for the heat you want, then toss the chicken in that mixture. The flash frying of the spices give them a unique flavor that is passed on to the chicken. It's hot goodness that is presently making me drool, just thinking about it. It was too hot to leave the dogs in the car, so my wife walked them while I ordered our food to go. We both hit the restroom, then we got back on the road. The rest of the first leg of our trip was uneventful. We got into our first hotel around 10:30 pm and were up and out by 5 am the next morning. Our goal for Day 2 was to make New Mexico before we stopped. We headed west on I40, made it through Tennessee and most of Arkansas, then we had to stop at an old college/high school band stop. This is Feltner's Whatta-Burger. Texas and NC have their own what-a/whatta sandwich shops, but this place is the best, in my mind. We stopped here, both in high school and in college, when I was in band. It's a good old southern burger joint with consistently hot, fresh, good food. They even had a picnic area, so we could let the pups stretch their legs. We stopped at a Walmart, then gassed up after lunch, then we headed west again. This time we crossed Oklahoma without ever stepping foot in the state. Nothing against Oklahoma, it's just one of those goofy goals I end up setting for myself when I'm driving. Once we made it most of the way, we kept going, stopping just inside Texas to fill up with gas and empty our bladders. Our next two stops were part of my RT66 research I'd done regarding Cars Land and a place I'd meant to stop several times, but never thought to until we drove by. First stop, the Conoco Tower in Shamrock, TX. It's easy to see this was the inspiration for Ramone's body shop in Radiator Springs. We also saw one of Mater's relatives, parked in the back. Then, mixing old with new, these electric car chargers were out back as well. And here's our combo picture showing both the real and the Disney version. My one remaining bucket list item for this place is to see it at night. I'd love to see it lit up in neon. Our next stop was the Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, TX. While not specifically in the movie, I understand this was part of the inspiration for the finned car mountains in the Cars movie (and in Cars Land). We've driven past this several times and said we need to stop. This time we put it in the GPS and made a point of stopping. Here it is from the road, just off I40. And here are a couple pictures up close. After this stop, we finished our trip through Texas and stayed just into New Mexico. Mission accomplished! I'll end this post for now. Next post we'll cover the rest of our trip into Vegas and then we head to California!