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2005 - 2006 Cross Country Road Trip
Biography Southwest
May 5 - Jun 15
Jun 25 - Jul 12
Jul 30 - Sep 14
Oct 12 - Dec 17
Dec 17 - Feb 6

If you click on any word that is underlined, you will be directed towards their website for further information. Also, each picture, if clicked upon, will open in another window at a larger size for better viewing.

Pick a State or just start scrolling down!
Texas, New Mexico, Colorado (side trip), Utah, Arizona, California, Nevada, California continued

MAP Texas - May 5th to May 14th
Balmorhea State Park
Nothing helps to eliminate the stress of preparing for living on the road better than relaxing at a desert oasis. Balmorhea is one of our favorite places to snorkel (and heckle the scuba divers) and soak up some sun. We also visited the McDonald Observatory for a star party and were able to view some of the planets, star clusters, and get a lesson on constellations.

To Mark and Lisa - We had a wonderful time visiting with you and the girls-swimming, taking underwater pictures, and roasting (or better yet blackening) marshmallows!
Balmorhea - Bubble Ring
Bubble Ring
Balmorhea - Pool Surface
Pool Surface
Balmorhea - SCUBA diver feeding fish
SCUBA diver feeding fish "Easy Cheese"
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is definitely a Texas style National Park- it has the largest biodiversity of any national park. We were able to hike through the high desert, forests, and around a lush river valley all in one place. Lost Mine, the Windows, Cattail Falls, the Hot Springs, and Santa Elena Canyon were all great hikes. We also drove to Lajitas and Terlingua, where we visited a beautiful cemetery. We also had the opportunity to help the students of the elementary school in the park with their Cottonwood restoration project. We hiked with them and their teacher, Patsy, who is a friend of Fritz's mom, to water the trees. We had a blast working them.

To Patsy and John - Thank you for welcoming us into your home. We had a great time visiting with you and hope to see ya'll again soon. Patsy - we really enjoyed helping your students with their restoration project. They are a bright bunch! John - you truly make the best tuna salad. We had a great time talking about your travels too.

To Mark and Lisa - Again, we had a nice time visiting with you. Mark - Thank you for the inside scoop on where to hike, we really enjoyed Cat tail Falls. Lisa - if you ever stop by Austin, I will show you the culinary highlights!
BigBend - Trail to Cat Tail Falls
Trail to Cat Tail Falls
BigBend - Cemetery at Terlingua
Cemetery at Terlingua
BigBend - Horse Fly
Horse Fly
BigBend - Patsy Seawell's class watering their Cotton Wood trees
Patsy Seawell's class watering their Cotton Wood trees
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
While at Guadalupe, we hiked McKittrick Canyon. This lush valley offers a striking contrast to the high desert surrounding it. I imagine the fall colors of this area are gorgeous.

To the Dubois - Thanks for the great advice and info about Alaska.

To Ray - Thank you for your advice on what to see and do in Arizona. We had fun talking with you and were bummed we missed you Memorial weekend.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Our Beautiful Truck in the parking lot
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MAP New Mexico - May 15th to May 21st
Carlsbad Caverns
Unlike Sonora Caverns, Carlsbad has been inactive for a decade but the sheer size of its old formations and massive rooms will take your breath away. We hiked the Natural Entrance trail to get to the caverns (as opposed to taking the elevators) and would recommend this route. At the bottom, we toured the Kings Palace and were able to see some of the great formations and experience total darkness.
Carlsbad Caverns - Cave formations
Cave formations
Carlsbad Caverns - Stalagtites
New Mexico Living Desert State Park
In an attempt to quell my fear of mountain lions (and learn more about desert wildlife and plants), Fritz and I decided to visit one in this museum/zoo. The mountain lion was quite cute and did help reduce the number of mountain lion attacks I envisioned as Fritz and I hiked. Unfortunately, I have now moved on to an unhealthy fear of grizzlies.
New Mexico Living Desert State Park - Ladybug
(picture taken by Nicole)
New Mexico Living Desert State Park - Mountain Lion
Don't worry moms, the mountain lion was behind a fence.
New Mexico Museum of Space History
& White Sands National Monument
Space Museum - We had a great time at this museum learning about space exploration, the planets, and of course rockets. We also saw the IMAX movie Forces of Nature which talks about tornados, volcanoes, earthquakes, and other assorted natural disasters.

White Sands - This is one of our favorite spots- mountains serve as the back drop for the snow white sand dunes which are great for hiking, exploring, and burying your incorrigible spouse up to their neck. If you bring a piece of cardboard, you can even go sledding. Fritz would like to thank the park rangers for not contacting us about the possible missle remnant that we found. We appreciate you responding to the letter we left, along with the remnant, in the back of your truck.
New Mexico Museum of Space History - Rocket
Rocket at the Space Museum
White Sands National Monument - Pedestal Dune
Pedestal Dune
White Sands National Monument - Yucca in the sand
Yucca in the sand
Gila Cliff Dwellings
We loved visiting the cliff dwellings that were built by the Ancestral Puebloans as well as exploring the river that runs through this park. The guided tour was great and not overcrowded like some of the other national park ruins. You are even able to walk up through some of the dwellings.
Gila Cliff Dwellings - Gila River
Gila River
Gila Cliff Dwellings - Cliff Dwellings
Cliff Dwellings
Gila Cliff Dwellings - Cliff Dwellings
Cliff Dwellings
Gila Cliff Dwellings - Cliff Dwellings
Cliff Dwellings
The Catwalk of Whitewater Canyon
This was one of the most fun hikes we have done. The trail, which is partially made of an expanded steel walkway that is suspended over the roaring creek takes you along the creek and to the end of the canyon it created.
Catwalk of Whitewater Canyon - Catwalk
Catwalk of Whitewater Canyon - Catwalk
Catwalk of Whitewater Canyon - Interesting river formation
Interesting river formation
El Morro National Monument
& Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave
El Morro - A hike through this park will take you past Inscription rock, up to the top of a large rock formation with amazing views, and past some Native American ruins. Inscription rock has messages and signatures left by Spanish settlers, military and railroad surveyors, and even some Native American petroglyphs. It offers an interesting view into the past.

Bandera Stuff - We met a man on the hike up to the volcano overlook who described it perfectly, "It is nothing but a big hole in the ground, there ain't nothin' pretty 'bout it." The ice caves were slightly more interesting, but I attribute that to the nice AC they provided after our scorching hike to the big dirt hole. Not recommended.
El Morro National Monument - Inscription Rock
Inscription Rock
Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave - Volocano
Bandera Volocano
Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave - Ice Cave
Bandera Ice Cave
Petroglyph National Monument
One of the pamphlets we have read on Native American pictographs said the Native Americans believed the art would only reveal itself to chosen people. If that is the case, Fritz and I must not be the chosen ones because we saw only a micro fraction of the 600 petroglyphs the park ranger promised. In addition, we hiked like speed racer after seeing the sign in the parking lot discussing the rampant car thievery occurring in the area-we did not want to return to an empty truck on blocks. The pictographs we did see were beautiful however.
Petroglyph National Monument - Petroglyphs
Petroglyph National Monument - Petroglyphs
Petroglyph National Monument - Petroglyphs
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
One dirt road leads in to the park but do not let the bumpy ride discourage you. This park has some of the most interesting puebloan ruins to explore (we loved Pueblo Bonito) and the view of the desert landscape is breath taking. We also saw our second rattlesnake (the first one was at White Sands).
Chaco Culture National Historical Park - Large Kiva
Large Kiva
Chaco Culture National Historical Park - Chaco Ruins
Chaco Ruins
Chaco Culture National Historical Park - Chaco Ruins
Chaco Ruins
(picture taken by Nicole)
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MAP Colorado - May 22nd
Mesa Verde National Park
The ruins were beautiful, our tour guide was hilarious, and the museum had one of the best displays of artifacts, but we were completely unprepared for the overly commercialized environment. Not the place for those looking for a relaxing getaway. Fritz would like to thank the rude shopkeeper who closed ten minutes early and prevented us from obtaining our tourist goodies.

To the Kinzies - Thank you for opening your home to us. We enjoyed visiting with y'all and look forward to seeing you Austin. Maybe we can find some liver and onions!
Mesa Verde National Park - Cliff Dwellings
Cliff Dwellings
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MAP Utah - May 23rd to May 30th
Arches National Park
Unlike anything either one of us has ever seen, Arches resembled a gorgeous otherworldly landscape. Coral and khaki rock formations, yellow wildflowers, blue skies for miles, and even snow capped mountains made up this awe inspiring park. We hiked ten miles of trails and had some of the greatest landscape views imaginable.
Arches National Park - Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
Arches National Park - Delicate Arch
Nicole and Fritz posing
Arches National Park - Interesting Landscape
Interesting Landscape
Canyonlands National Park
We did the drive thru tour in this park. We stopped at scenic overlooks to take in the views of amazing rock formations and rivers. There were few hikes available.
Canyonlands National Park - Canyons
Lots of Canyons
Canyonlands National Park - Canyons
More Canyons
Horseshoe Canyon - Canyonlands National Park
This is an off shoot of Canyonlands Park. The three hour drive was definitely worth it. You hike down into a dry river bed where you find some of the largest and most detailed pictographs in the country. The images are haunting as if spirits are rising and traveling up the cliff walls. The hike is very strenuous due to the sand of the river bed. Now we know why the Baywatch crew is so in shape- running or walking in the sand is really freaking hard.
Horseshoe Canyon - Pictographs are over 9 feet tall
Pictographs are over 9 feet tall
Horseshoe Canyon - Great Gallery
"Great Gallery"
Horseshoe Canyon - Death Figure
"Death" Figure
Horseshoe Canyon - Scary White Figure
Scary White Figure
Capitol Reef National Park
In this lush valley nestled between desert colored cliff walls you will find the historic Mormon town of Fruita (pronounced Fruit-ah), named after the orchards that thrived along the river there. We really enjoyed the short hikes we took in this park to Hickman's arch and to the watering holes. We also stopped to see some robot- like petroglyphs carved in to some of the rock walls. The bright green valley and large river offer a stark contrast to the desert landscape provided by the tan cliffs and dry, sandy expanses. Fritz would like to point out the stupidity of naming a town Fruita.

To Alicia - Thank you for the scoop on what to see in California and for the hiking recommendations - we loved Fairland Loop and the Angels Landing.
Capitol Reef National Park - Petroglyphs
Capitol Reef National Park - Hickman Bridge
Hickman Bridge
Bryce Canyon National Park
The hoodos of Bryce are unbelievably beautiful. We took the Fairyland loop trail that wound through the hoodos. We highly recommend this hike or anyone that visits this park.
Bryce Canyon National Park - Overlook
Bryce Canyon National Park - Hoodoos
Bryce Canyon National Park - Storm moving in
Storm moving in
Zion National Park
We took some of our favorite hikes at Zion. The Emerald Pools hike took us to three successive ponds on the side of the mountain where we found beautiful mosses, ferns, and baby frogs. The River walk took us along the river which wound into a canyon where we saw a doe and her fawn eating dinner. Weeping rock trail led to a rock that has a slow trickle of water flowing over the edge which has created some amazing moss and plant growths.

The best part of our visit was living through the Angels landing hike. After two sets of steep switchbacks ( one is named Walters Wiggle) you reach what you think is the top of the mountain. Not until you snake along a steep rock ridge with the assistance of chains at times, do you really reach the end of the hike which offers spectacular views of the valley and river below. The view is worth any fear felt during the hike as well as the injuries sustained when your husband whops ya for dragging him on the hike with you, . Only by reciting the mantra "I am a mountain goat, sure footed and strong" was Fritz able to make it through.. I hope he forgives me someday. I would also recommend not to call your mom and tell her you are on the top of a mountain, because although she is incredibly excited for you, she will ask if you have made it safely to the bottom yet and will be scared sh__less if you say "nope, not yet." Mom, I know you are very proud of us, and I am sorry for the little scare.

To Norma and Ken - We had a wonderful time visiting with you and talking about travel. Thank you for the meals, great conversations, and canasta lessons. We had a blast with y'all. Stop by when you take the scenic route to Ohio, we owe you dinner.
Zion National Park - Zion Skyline
Zion Skyline
Zion National Park - Angel's Landing Trail
Angel's Landing Trail
Zion National Park - Frogs
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MAP Arizona - May 31st to June 5th
The North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
This area of the Grand Canyon is much less crowded than the south side but offers the same majestic views. We were lucky enough to watch the sun set the sky ablaze and it set for the evening. The Grand Canyon is so beautiful that neither words nor pictures can truly do it justice. As we exited the park, we thought we saw a bear. It turned out to be an extremely obese porcupine which was really cute. Earlier in the evening we saw wolf as well.
The North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park - Tree silhouette
Tree silhouette
The North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim
North Rim
Horseshoe Bend,
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park,
& Four Corners Monument
Horseshoe Bend - We could not miss such a grand photo-op. This site, part of the Glen Canyon Recreational area, is absolutely beautiful.

Monument Valley - The views of the monuments are well worth the bumpy drive along the dirt road through this park. On the way out, do not forget to stop for some delicious Navajo flat bread and tea.

Four Corners - Most of our trip is focused on natural wonders, but occasionally, we fall prey to the tourist traps. We are only human.
Horseshoe Bend - River
Horseshoe Bend
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park - Monumental Landscape
Monumental Landscape
Four Corners Monument - Fritz Meitzen
Big Fun
Four Corners Monument - Nicole Meitzen
Look mom, I'm all over the place!
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
We really enjoyed the views of the canyons, cliff dwellings, and cultivated valleys along the scenic drive. The best way to see the park it to take a jeep tour of the canyon floor however we did not have the money to do so. (About $30/half day to $60/full day per person)
Canyon de Chelly National Monument - Canyon floor
Canyon floor where native people are stil living and working.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument - Ancestral Puebloan Dwellings
Ancestral Puebloan Dwellings
Petrified Forest National Park
The drive through this park (as well as through the Painted Desert which is attached) offers gorgeous and colorful desert views. In the Petrified Forest, you can walk through fields filled with huge chunks of petrified wood. The color palate is unbelievable. Another neat part of the park was the 'newspaper rock' which was covered with hundreds of petroglyphs.
Petrified Forest National Park - Newspaper Rock
Newspaper Rock
Petrified Forest National Park - Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood
The South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon was breathtaking but very crowded. Fritz and I are planning to come back next spring to hike to the bottom as well as raft the Colorado (we were inspired by the IMAX movie Grand Canyon-we realized we need to see it from the inside looking out). One of the greatest viewpoints was Hopi Point which is along the park bus route. There are also opportunities to visit historic buildings within the park and watch the California condor do its aerial acrobatics.
The South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park - Landscape
Grand, isn't it?
The South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park - California Cordor
A California Cordor - #43 appearantly
Slide Rock State Park
This park which is nestled in the forest of Sedona, Arizona along the Oak Creek Canyon scenic drive offers a natural rock 'water park'. While in Sedona, we also visited the Church of the Holy Cross which is a very simple, yet strikingly beautiful church, set into the hillside.
Slide Rock State Park - River
Still a little chilly
Slide Rock State Park - River Pattern
Nice color
Saguaro National Park
This park was Fritz's favorite. The Saguaros look surprisingly similar to people and its fun to imagine what they are doing. We also visited the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum where you can see desert flora and fauna. Everyone thinks of the desert as harsh and barren but it is filled with life and color.

THANK YOU- To Toni and Ron - Thank you for welcoming us into your home. We really enjoyed visiting with y'all and look forward to visiting with you in the future. Don't hesitate to call with computer questions. Just don't call too much or we might send the birds.
Saguaro National Park - Saguaro Cactus 1
Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro National Park - Saguaro Cactus 2
Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro National Park - Saguaro Cactus 3
Saguaro Cactus
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
This Native American Great House gives you a glimpse into the history of the land and its people. The park museum has outstanding exhibits as well.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument - Elaborate Erosion Cover
Elaborate Erosion Cover
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument - Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro Cactus
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument - Saguaro Cactus with Nesting Bird
Saguaro Cactus with Nesting Bird
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MAP California - June 6th to June 9th
San Diego Zoo
What do you get when you have a hungry polar bear munching on an unlimited supply of uncooked carrots? Well, at the San Diego Zoo you get a dozen young children screaming in horror as they realize the fiber filled polar bear is going to use the water, not as a pool, but as a toilet.

We had a blast watching the polar bears, koalas (our favorite - it resembles a pygmy bull dog when it runs around), panda bears, meercats, hippos, orangutans. We also took the Sky Tram and got a great aerial view of the zoo. While in San Diego, we had dinner at the Blue Point restaurant. They have some of the best seafood (we recommend the scallops and seared ahi tuna) as well as the most delicious lemon tart I have ever had!!!
San Diego Zoo - Koala Bear
Koala Bear
San Diego Zoo - Meercat
San Diego Zoo - Polar Bear
Polar Bear
Note the carrots
San Diego Zoo - Panda Bear
Panda Bear
La Brea Tar Pits
& The Getty Art Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits, thanks to the LA folk who have not been schooled in the use of trash receptacles, have become the La Brea trash pits. The museum offered some neat exhibits (the fossils of wooly mammoths and giant sloths were great) but the tar pits themselves (aside from the large one in front which is barred off) are covered in litter.

The Getty - Designed by architect Richard Meier, this museum is as much of a work of art as the pieces it contains. The vast indoor spaces bathed in natural light as well as the beautifully landscape gardens and paths outside create the perfect atmosphere for looking at art ranging from furniture to photographs to sculpture and paintings. The view of LA from the museum overlooks is great as well.

To Jud - Thank you so much for letting us crash at your place and for showing us the sights of LA. We had a great time with you. We will be sending some brownies your way soon.
La Brea Tar Pits - Mammoth recovered from the tar pits
Mammoth recovered from the tar pits
La Brea Tar Pits - Active Tar Pits in LA
Active Tar Pits in LA
The Getty Art Museum - Outside
The Getty Art Museum
The Getty Art Museum - Bougainvillea
Joshua Tree National Park
This park is part Joshua tree forest and part rock playground. There are numerous rock formations which offer great climbing opportunities and views of the desert landscape.
Joshua Tree National Park - Rock Playground
Joshua Tree "Rock Playground"
Joshua Tree National Park - Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree National Park - Rock Arch
Rock Arch
Hoover Dam
This man made wonder is definitely worth a visit. Its sheer size is mesmerizing.
Salt Concentration Tank
Salt Concentration Tank
Joshua Trees
Joshua Trees
Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam Intakes
Water Intakes
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MAP Nevada - June 9th
Circus Circus Casino
Fritz here - No trip across the country is complete without a stop at Las Vegas. I guess I should be more excited about this, but I'm not. Nicole found us a great deal on a one night's stay at Circus Circus. While the facilities were very nice compared to the back of the truck, the gambling was not. Nicole was up about 40 bucks at one point, and I just lost consistently. She walked away with $20 to her credit and I lost $60. The pictures below adequately express my feelings towards Las Vegas. I'm not the gambling kind it turns out.
Waste of money Screw Las Vegas
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MAP California continued - June 10th to June 15th
Death Valley National Park
The views of the desert landscape (mountains, blue skies, stark white salt flats with small reflection pools) are worth a visit but it comes as no surprise that it is ridiculously hot. You can feel your skin frying after just a minute of being outside the car (and yes mom-we did wear sunscreen).
Death Valley National Park - Lowest Point
Lowest Point
Death Valley National Park - Trail to Pup Fish
Trail to Pup Fish
Wrong way to Sequoia
Fritz here - So we took a road that is closed for 6 months out of the year due to snowfall. We drove up the mountain, across lush meadows, through extensive burn areas, and ending up at a dead end. The locals got quite a chuckle when I walked up to the general store carrying the road map. We drove back down the mountain and got back on the main road - so much for being adventurous.
Lupine with burn area
Lupine with burn area
Burn area
Burn area
Sequoia National Park
This is one of my favorite places. On the way into the park, you get to follow a raging river as it winds through the rocky valley floor, within the park you get to see low clouds resting on the tops of the mountains and visit surprisingly lush meadows nestled between groves of the largest trees you could ever imagine. We saw two bear cubs (they had been tagged for hitting up the campsites for a snack), swarms of ladybugs (which I did not know were possible until we drove through one), and flocks of butterflies.
Sequoia National Park - Tree Museum
Tree Museum
Sequoia National Park - Bear Cub
Bear Cub
Sequoia National Park - Bear Cub
Bear Cub
Sequoia National Park - Twisted Trees
Twisted Pair
Yosemite National Park
We plan to visit this park again during the off-season because it was incredibly beautiful but a little too crowded. We also did not give ourselves enough time to enjoy all that it has to offer. We did take the scenic drive through, stopped to view Yosemite falls, and walked through Yosemite Village. The drive through the west entrance is great because you get to follow a beautiful river into the park.
Yosemite National Park - Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls
Point Reyes National Seashore
Although it is only about an hour outside of San Francisco, it feels light years away. We visited the lighthouse, which offers great views of the rough Pacific waters. The drive in is incredibly scenic taking you past farmland and fields of gorgeous wild oats and wildflowers that seem to go on forever. The towns of Olema and Iverness along the way are beautiful as well with breathtaking ocean views and amazing forests and golden hills.
Point Reyes National Seashore - Seashore
Pt. Reyes Seashore
(picture taken by Nicole)
Point Reyes National Seashore - Lighthouse
Point Reyes National Seashore - Path to Lighthouse
Path to Lighthouse
San Francisco
We walked along the ocean, saw the Palace of the Arts, visited Ghirardelli Square (where I had the best brownie of my life-so far), and visited Fisherman's wharf. What was great is that we were able to walk everywhere, and the atmosphere of the city was completely laid back. We loved it.
San Francisco - Palace of the Arts
Palace of the Arts
(picture taken by Nicole)
San Francisco - Inside Palace of the Arts
Inside Palace of the Arts
(picture taken by Nicole)
San Francisco - Hillside
San Fransico hillside
(picture taken by Nicole)
San Francisco - View from Alcatraz
View from Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island
While in San Francisco, we took an evening tour of Alcatraz. It was really interesting to walk through the corridors and inside the cells and learn the history of this infamous place. In the prison basement, there was a photography exhibit about older inmates in the prison system that we really enjoyed as well. Plus, you could not beat the views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate lit up at night.
Alcatraz Island - Island
Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island - Guard Tower
Guard Tower
Alcatraz Island - Cell
Alcatraz Island - Cell Block
Cell Block
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
On our way to Oregon we drove up US 1 and US 101. The drive offers astounding views of the pacific, redwood forests, and rolling hills of wild grasses and wildflowers. On the way we camped at this park. We hiked through a redwoods grove to the river and visited the museum which had a great exhibit on wildlife and Charles Kellogg who could whistle like birds and even extinguish fires with his vocal magic - truly amazing, no really. He also worked to preserve the redwood groves. The redwoods are so tall you almost fall backwards trying to see the canopy and the groves are surprisingly quiet and peaceful.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Ferns
Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Redwoods
Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Roots in a stream
Roots in a stream
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Biography Southwest
May 5 - Jun 15
Jun 25 - Jul 12
Jul 30 - Sep 14
Oct 12 - Dec 17
Dec 17 - Feb 6
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