And We’re Off! Phases 1 A&B of Our 11 Month Adventure

On December 11, Joy and I packed up our SUV with the clothes and gear we’d need for our eleven-month adventure that spans snowy Southwest winter-time weather; the hot tropics of Mexico, Cuba, and Kenya; cool-to-hot European cycling weather; cool-to-drizzly UK hiking weather; and business attire so Joy can teach classes in Europe. Then we loaded up Brighton and all of his dog-related gear, loaded the bikes onto the bike rack and headed South.

Phase 1-A: Round-About Route to Texas

Our first major stop was the Bay Area. We visited friends and family, but the key thing was a planned visit to the oral surgeon for a tooth extraction. Cleary, we know how to start an extended vacation in style! I learned the hard way that sometimes a crown hides dental decay — even from the dentist. Rather than get a bridge (which is now considered old-school and an undesirable solution), I’ll be getting an implant. I’m happy to say that the tooth extraction didn’t cause me any appreciable swelling, and it didn’t even hurt that much. But it sure was annoying to spend three weeks chewing on just the left side of my mouth. Since we won’t be back to the Bay Area until November, I won’t start the “implant” part of the implant until then. Fortunately, the tooth is (was) a molar, so I won’t be masquerading as a hockey player until then. (Photo of Derek Grant by Michael Miller, CC BY-SA 4.0)

One tooth lighter, we left the Bay Area and headed toward New Mexico. We spent several days at a lovely (and isolated) cabin just outside of Gila, New Mexico, so we could visit Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. This is an excellent archaeological site, and well worth going out of your way to visit. It’s a lovely hike (even if it was snowy and icy) that includes eleven bridge crossings and a steep trail up to the cliff dwellings created by members of the Mogollon culture. (Archaeologists believe that more modern Western Pueblo groups like the Hopi and Zuni are descended from the Mogollon.) We were pleasantly surprised that you are allowed to enter the cliff dwellings themselves, not just look at them from afar, as is the case for so many cliff dwelling sites in the Southwest.

Just before arriving at Gila we stopped at a highly regarded Mexican restaurant. Being in Oregon, we really miss good Mexican restaurants, so we were pretty excited. The food was good, though it was shocking and dismaying to look at the giant menu on the wall above the cashier and realize that this is what happens when they don’t teach basic math in school. Check out the pricing of the first menu item. For the record, we each just ordered two.

Phase 1-B – Round Rock, Texas

Our next stop was Marfa, Texas, a “middle of nowhere” town with out-sized character. It has an awesome, hip hotel that feels like it was magically transported from the SoMa district of San Francisco, and a fabulous coffee shop teleported from Berkeley. Marfa’s claims to fame include the Marfa Lights (unexplained lights on the horizon), and the film location of Giant (1956), No Country for Old Men, (2006) There Will be Blood (2006).

After what felt like 47 mind-numbing days of driving across Texas, we arrived at Round Rock just in time to spend Christmas with Joy’s mom, sister, and nephews. We’ve been staying with Joy’s mom, Fran, in her Independent Living facility and we’ll use that as our base of operations for the next few months until we head off to Europe in March.

A Mundy/Croix Christmas. Left-to-Right: Joy, Brandon, Linda, Tony, Fran, Emma, Josh & friend Belinda

We’ve been cooking most meals, which will be a nice change from the many months ahead of us of all restaurant-based meals.

It’s been great to spend a lot of time with Fran and Joy’s sister, Linda. Brighton seems to particularly enjoy spending time with Fran, though it may be because he feels a special kinship with anyone who sleeps almost as much as he does. But given that Fran is almost 95 and Brighton is almost 15 (and his dog breed typically lives 12-14 years), they both deserve to snooze whenever they wish.

Running Travel Totals To Date:

One month into our eleven month trip, we have visited:

  • Countries: 1 (US)
  • US States: 5 (Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas)
  • Different beds slept in: 7

Phase 2 – Mexico & Cuba

Our next posts will summarize our Mexico and Cuba adventures.

5 thoughts on “And We’re Off! Phases 1 A&B of Our 11 Month Adventure

  1. I wasn’t aware that Brighton had so much in common. Especially the sleep part. Nothing like a good nap during the day since sleeping at night has become something of the past.
    It sounds like the beginnings of quite an adventure. Zoe and I look forward to.following, As we enjoy one of our own Thanks to you guys

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  2. Every journey seems to start with an adventure, either inner excitement, or a visit to the dentist 🥴. Safe travels folks. Btw: I had the grace to meet Joy in Melbourne/Australia in 2014 for a DWH course of the back then Kimball Group. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Blessings from Germany and enjoy Cuba..probably different these days..I visited in 2001…check out the private restaurants and local markets. Watch for Tarantulas, they dwell in the front yard of rural dwellings. If they come too close to the house, Mama usually gets a broom and complements it into another part of the joke!

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  3. Thanks for another enjoyable read! Also molars are highly over rated, I had to have the farthest one back upper left extracted and I have never missed it and the dentist felt I didn’t need the implant. Aesthetically you can’t see it is missing at all, and as it doesn’t affect my ability to enjoy eating, which you know is very important to me. Enjoy the next phase of the trip!!!!

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  4. You guys are amazingly flexible with your lives…I enjoy reading about your adventures…as I hunker down in my house in the rain! Good luck with everything. So glad you found a good place to house Brighton while you’re gone.

    Safe travels.


    Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending ~ Carl Bard, Scottish Theologian

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