I only got about halfway through my road trip musings when I took off for Istanbul and Kenya. Now that I’m home, it’s about time I resume writing about this amazing little trip I took. Before I pick up where I left off in Utah, here’s a recap of where Stella and I have been.
We started off our road trip in Bardstown, Kentucky, the Bourbon Capital of the World. We took our bobblehead Abe on tour with us and visited Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and a classic diner.
Next, it was on to Memphis, Tennessee. We missed the anniversary of Elvis’ death by just one day. We had only one night there, camping at the Graceland Campground, visiting the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and also meeting Elvis’ biggest fan Sharon!
After Memphis, we went to Nashville, Tennessee, where we stayed with friends, visited the honky tonks, went to a Nashville Sounds game, and gave Stella her first Waffle House experience. We made a lunch stop in Knoxville to have lunch near my alma mater with my friend Lauren and her mom, and then continued driving to Columbia, South Carolina. We stayed with my sister and her husband and then headed to Charleston, where we hit the beach at Isle of Palms, wandered the streets to see the beautiful architecture in the city, meandered through the City Market, and camped on James Island. Then we visited a super creepy “African village” (comprised of zero Africans) and I still need to write about that one.
Next, we spent a rainy afternoon in Savannah, Georgia before camping on the beautiful Jekyll Island. There we made sure to visit Driftwood Beach on the north end and had a few encounters with raccoons.
From Jekyll Island, we braved the weather from Hurricane Irene and drove south to Miami, Florida! Here, we took part in our first couchsurfing experience of the trip, and it was a blast! We stayed out on Miami Beach only about five blocks from the water. We had a great host and enjoyed our stay. We saw more nudity than I thought was legal in America, found great Happy Hour deals, and soaked up the sun.
We then spent a couple of days in Tampa, Florida with my family, a night in Panama City with a friend of a friend, and then made the drive to New Orleans, Louisiana! We had our second couchsurfing experience here (and what an experience it was!) We rode the streetcar, got a new bobblehead (Alan from The Hangover), went out on Bourbon Street, ate beignets at Cafe Du Monde, visited Algiers Point, saw the hurricane destruction in the Lower Ninth Ward, and took a bike ride through the city. This was my third visit to the city and one of the most memorable!
For a great overview of the city, read: New Orleans in a Nutshell
After New Orleans, it was the long awaited part of the trip for me… Texas!! Stella and I even packed Texas-specific outfits for the road trip. We stopped first in San Antonio, couchsurfing with a grad student and visiting the Alamo, but sadly missed out on the Toilet Seat Art Museum. We stopped to float the river (such an experience!) with my college roommate and her friends and then drove on to Austin. There, Stella and I stayed with another volunteer we met in Kenya. We ate barbecue, enjoyed live music, and saw the bats under the bridge. Sadly, we had to say goodbye, and took a day trip to see the Cowboy Capital of the World and other quaint towns in Texas (and Stella even got her first taste of chicken fried steak!). Then it was on to Dallas where we visited The Sixth Floor Museum (chronicling the assassination of John F. Kennedy), I climbed on cow statues, and we had fun with more friends. We spent one night in Amarillo, where we stayed at quirky Texan motel and visited the artistic Cadillac Ranch.
San Antonio: Welcome to Texas!
Austin: Live Music and a Whole Lotta Bats
Austin: The Salt Lick
Signs That You’re in Texas
Bandera: Cowboy Capital of the World
Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch
Big Texan: A Real Big Treat in Texas
With only one night in New Mexico, we timed it right. We drove up the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe and spent a Friday evening with our couchsurfing host, who lived among the famous art galleries of Canyon Rd. We wandered around the Farmer’s Market the next morning, saw a parade, and checked out our host’s beekeeping. Oh yeah, and we saw the Oldest House in the USA. Sadly, we had to move on, but it was fun.
Our first night in Arizona, we went to a parking lot carnival and then spent a miserable, stormy evening sleeping in my car in Winslow (like the Eagles song). Sunny skies appeared, and we stopped at a meteor crater and then headed straight for the Grand Canyon! We took a beautiful hike on the South Kaibab Trail in between terrible storms and hail. Camping in the rain=not fun. But the canyon was breathtaking. From there, we headed up to Horseshoe Bend and took a wonderful swim in Lake Powell.
We left Lake Powell, crossed the border of Utah to see Monument Valley, drove through Four Corners, and then met a random Aussie traveler in Cortez at 10pm at night and decided we would save money and split a motel room. The weather was terrible and we didn’t want to pack up a campsite in the pouring rain. We visited the beautiful cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde once the rain let up.
And… I think that’s where I left off. That means there’s still plenty more to come on this road trip- the National Parks in Utah, Las Vegas, San Fran, Los Angeles, Portland, Bend, Salt Lake City, Denver, St. Louis, and the little things I missed along the way previously… like the creepy “African village” in the middle of nowhere South Carolina!