So even if the road trip technically ended, oh about eight months ago, my posts on the US Road Trip are finally finished (except for telling you about some of our ‘interesting’ Couchsurfing experiences which I still fully intend to do). I took a break on writing about the road trip when I left for Istanbul and Kenya back in December, but when I picked it back up, I wrote a recap on our trip so far. It covers Kentucky to Colorado, and you can read the summary of the first half of our trip here.
Now, onto the next half!
After a day exploring the beautiful cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, it was time to drive to Utah, the state I resided in during high school. I hadn’t been back in nine years, and actually, I had never visited the parks in southern Utah so this area was what I was most looking forward to on the road trip. I was in heaven at Arches National Park, climbing at every chance I got. We enjoyed the warm nights camping in Moab and loved the park. From there, we headed to Bryce Canyon where we froze our buns off, camping in below freezing weather, but what a unique landscape to hike! I got caught in a horrible rain storm and we took advantage of the hot tob at the hotel next door and made friends with an older nudist couple. From Bryce Canyon, we set off for warmer weather again in Zion. Stella wasn’t feeling well, so I hiked with chains up to Angel’s Landing solo (an incredible experience) and then did a little bit of wet trekking the following morning).
Utah’s Arches National Park aka A Climber’s Paradise
On the Road in Utah
Goodbye Arches, Hello… Snow?
Montage Monday: Bryce Canyon Panorama
Below Freezing in Bryce Canyon
Evening Entertainment at Bryce Canyon
Hiking with Chains at Angel’s Landing
That Time in Virgin When a Llama Tried to Eat Alan
Leaving behind our rough attire from camping for a week in Utah, we prepared for the flashy, consumer-driven, brightly lit streets of Vegas! I had been to Las Vegas a few times before, but only in high school, so this was bound to be a different experience and the fact that Stella was so excited made me eager as well. Since we were Couchsurfing our first few nights in the city, we weren’t too worried about getting around in Vegas. We had a hospitable host who took us around and even went out with us one night. And, we just assumed we would take the bus home, when our host left us to party at The Palms. But then we met some random people and found ourselves in the most ridiculous taxi rides of my life. I will never forget the first night we went out in Vegas (which should have been our last). We stayed with a travel blogging friend of mine and met up with another as well. We had an awesome time in Vegas, but after five days, we simply had to get out of that city. There is such thing as too much fun. From there we drove through Death Valley, which we don’t recommend after a late night out, and were headed for San Francisco!
When we discovered that the campgrounds were full in Yosemite, we were forced to continue driving. At 2:30am, we stopped at a random campground for an uncomfortable night’s sleep before driving on to Berkeley. We spent two nights with a friend of mine there and then a couple of nights in San Francisco. From there, Stella and I drove to Los Angeles, via Highway 1, where we spent a few nights with a friend’s mother and did some sightseeing. This was Stella’s final stop on the trip and it was tough to see her go after 7-1/2 weeks on the road together. It was insane that we had hit up so much of the U.S. in that time. The day she flew out, my friend Emily flew in and she and I would continue the trip up to Portland. We headed back to San Francisco for a few days, did some more sightseeing, and spent time with good friends of mine. As much as we enjoyed the city, we equally enjoyed the time we had in the car just to catch up after living on opposite sides of the country. When we left San Fran, we spent a morning in Napa for wine tasting, before continuing the drive to Oregon.
Two Stops in San Francisco
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Naming My Nephew on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall
In Search of the Hollywood Sign
He Pimped His Ride
The Scenic Pacific Coast Highway
Montage Monday: The Most Amazing Sunset I’ve Ever Seen
San Francisco to Portland
We made it back to Portland just days before Emily’s marathon debut at the Portland Marathon. She ran it like a champ and I was so proud of her! We went wine tasting (again) and it was fun because the vineyards are so much smaller and have more intimate tasting sessions in Oregon. It was good being back in Portland, despite the rainy weather, and the visit didin’t seem to last long enough! From there, I drove to Bend, where I stayed with someone I met while camping on James Island during our road trip. He took me kayaking and showed me how beautiful this little town is in the fall, and I also made a day trip to Crater Lake. I would love to go back to Bend, and since Emily has never been, I think we must make a trip the next time I go back to Portland!
Since we only went to southern Utah en route to California, I wanted to stop in Utah again to see my best friend from high school. I’m so glad I made the stop, even if it was too short. From there, it was on to Colorado!
It was a long two days of driving from Oregon to Utah and on to Colorado. I finally made it to Breckenridge completely exhausted, but excited to see this beautiful mountain town. Unfortunately, I locked myself out of the house I was staying in, which was one of the most stressful moments of my life (did I mention I was dressed in a ridiculous outfit at the time?). From there, I drove to Denver, where my dad flew in to meet me so he could drive the rest of the way home with me. We spent an evening with my cousin and his girlfriend who lives there, spent a day visiting the Coors Brewery and the town of Golden, and made a day trip to Boulder and Estes Park.
My Panic-Ridden, 80s Leggings Sporting Moment in Breckenridge
Visiting Golden, Colorado & the Coors Brewery
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
A Fall Morning in Estes Park, Colorado
The Zip Code Man in Boulder
Goodbye Colorado, Hello Desolate Kansas
Since Kansas isn’t worth writing home about (except for the restaurant incident mentioned in the link above), I’m moving on to our last state on this road trip, which is Missouri. We spent an evening in an old little town outside of St. Louis, and then a day of sightseeing in the city. I was pleasantly surprised at seeing the famous Arch and we also took a tour of the Old Courthouse, where Dred Scott fought for his freedom and a tour of the Budweiser Brewery.
I still can’t believe how much I saw in about twelve weeks time on the road and over 10,000 miles of driving. Exploring my own country was fantastic, and I never would have done it if a girl I met in Kenya who I visited again in Germany hadn’t mentioned her dream to take a cross-country road trip in the U.S. Who knew that we would be buying a guide book that very day and start planning before I had even left Germany! A great adventure and one of many more to come I’m sure.