Posted in Road Trip, Travel

Road Trip Recap- Part 2

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Part 2 of my Cross Country Road Trip recap is going to focus on my specific itinerary from Orange County (FL) to Orange County (CA).

  • Day 1: Orlando, FL to Pensacola, FL6 Hours, 30 minutes/450 miles (I-75 to I-10)
  • Day 2: Pensacola, FL to Dallas, TX9 Hours, 45 minutes/650 miles (I-10 to 98 to 49 to I-20)
  • Day 3: Dallas, TX to Albuquerque, NM9 Hours, 30 minutes/645 miles (287 to I-40)
  • Day 4: Albuquerque, NM to Petrified Forest to Page, AZ- 3 Hours/211 miles (I-40); 3 Hours, 40 minutes/232 miles (I-40 to 89)
  • Day 5: Page, AZ to Grand Canyon, AZ2 Hours, 30 minutes/133 miles (89 to 64)
  • Day 6: Grand Canyon, AZ to Anaheim, CA7 Hours, 15 minutes/484 miles (64 to I-40 to I-15)
  • Day 7: Anaheim (no driving!)
  • Day 8: Anaheim, CA to Las Vegas, NV4 Hours/264 miles (I-15)
  • Day 9: Las Vegas, NV to Wickenburg, AZ3 Hours, 30 minutes/232 miles (I-515 to 93)
  • Day 10: Wickenburg, AZ to San Antonio, TX14 Hours, 30 minutes/1046 miles (60 to 303 to I-10)
  • Day 11: San Antonio, TX to New Orleans, LA8 Hours/543 miles (I-10)
  • Day 12: New Orleans (no driving!)
  • Day 13: New Orleans, LA to Orlando, FL9 Hours, 15 minutes/ 642 miles (I-10 to I-75)

The trip took 13 days, traveled across 9 states, and over 6000 miles. So how did we not only survive but actually enjoy our cross country road trip? I will go into a full set of tips and tricks we used to plan the trip in my next post, but here are a few of my essential lessons and recommendations for a long drive…

  • Plan your route! Leading up to our trip we mapped out every leg of the itinerary to make sure we knew we were never over-extending ourselves
  • Secure accommodations in advance. We went back and forth about reserving hotels in advance versus driving as far as we could and just finding what we could on the road but I am very glad we went with some advanced preparations. It made for a much saner trip and gave us a little bit of extra security knowing we had a reserved destination with a bed/shower after a long day of driving
  • Don’t forget time zones!  Driving across country means you will be driving through time zones and while most navigational apps will include time zones in the ETA, it is helpful to know when they will happen
  • Have things to look forward to and enjoy the journey. As much as I enjoyed the trip and the changing scenery I will also admit that there were periods where the long days of driving felt daunting. What made those drives much more palatable was knowing that we always had so many exciting destinations and things planned throughout the trip and not just at our final destination… from National Parks to an excursion to Las Vegas to see a Cirque Du Soleil show to Disneyland to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert!
Posted in 30 Days, Road Trip, Travel

Road Trip Recap

I am taking a slight break from my 30 Day Routines to talk a little bit about my incredible vacation.  We took a cross country road trip from Orange County (FL) to Orange County (CA)… and back. In total the trip comprised: 13 days, 9 states, 6000 miles driven, 3 national parks visited, 1 (incredibly) reliable rented minivan, and too many memories and adventures to count.

I will break up the recount of my road trip in a series of updates: summary of the trip itself,  planning for the trip, and details of the itinerary.

Day 1-2 was comprised primary of driving as made our way out of Florida into Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and then Texas, enjoying the changing sites and landscapes from the car window.  It was a delight watching as the trees changed from palm trees and cypress trees to heartier oak and pine.  As we made our way into Texas we started to see those long stretches of flat land, which everyone had warned us would be incredibly boring. In truth, we never felt stifled with the view. In Amarillo, TX- right off the I-40 highway we stopped and visited Cadillac Ranch… a roadside attraction that features old Cadillac cars inverted and planted upright in the ground, for people to take pictures with and spray paint all over.

Day 3-4 brought us into Albuquerque, NM, where we had authentic Mexican tacos from a local hole-in-the-wall taqueria. For breakfast we ate at the Range Cafe and had delicious Huevos Rancheros served with the iconic green chile of New Mexico.  From Albuquerque we headed into Arizona where we visited the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Parks.  The air was crisp and the colors of the rock beautiful.

Day 5-6 continued our exploration through Arizona. We stayed in Page, AZ for an early tour to Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon created over thousands of years of erosion that has slowly warped the sandstone rock into curved cuts that you can walk through. In order to visit Antelope Canyon, you have to have a Navajo tour guide. Our tour guide, Rosie was a delight and visiting the canyon, was incredible. From there, we ventured a short drive to Horseshoe Bend where the Colorado River takes a sharp curve and provides impressive photo ops… especially if you are brave enough to perch at the very rim of the canyon and angle yourself over edge (we were not quite that brave). We ended our day in the Grand Canyon, where we enjoyed the incredible sights of the South Rim and had a warm dinner at the hotel lodge located within the Grand Canyon National Park.

Day 7-9 we made it all the way to California!  We visited Disneyland, celebrated the wedding of two good friends and then headed to Las Vegas where we had some incredible meals including a very late night dinner at Mon Ami Gabi of fresh French Bread, French onion soup and steak (sorry no picture, we were too excited and hungry to snap a pic).  The following evening we saw the Cirque Du Soleil show, LOVE.

Day 10-13 we had a few long drives which comprised of a lot of audio books, music, napping and drive through food. By Day 11 we made our way to New Orleans where we got to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Smoothie King Stadium and then had the next day to enjoy exploring NOLA, where we had Beignets from Cafe Du Monde, and crawfish etouffee.

It has been a few days since we have gotten home. While the car has been subsequently cleaned and turned back in to the rental company, suitcases unpacked, clothes washed… I still find myself thinking about so many of the moments from the trip and hope they stay fresh in my mind for a long time.