When all is said and done, my road trip totaled somewhere between 2,600 to 3,000 miles. That is A LOT! To give you some perspective, the distance between Paris and Moscow is 2,800 miles. Cairo to Casablanca is just shy of 3,000 miles. Buenos Aires to Lima is about the same. That’s the crazy thing about America — It’s just so goddamn big. On any other continent, I would have been passing through different countries, with their own unique languages and cuisines (Although arguably, I did experience lots of different dialects and food on my trip).
While there are almost 3,000 miles of memories I know I’ll value greatly, probably forever, there are a few moments that stick out as absolutely my favorite.
The Rainbow Tunnels in Birmingham, AL: Even though these tunnels were not quite what Pinterest built them up to be, seeing them late at night on my first day on the road was kind of magical. I don’t think it was even the aesthetics of them. I can just so clearly remember that feeling of anxiety, excitement, nervousness on doing this thing completely on my own. I think in that tunnel what I was experiencing more than anything else was freedom.
The drive to Dauphin Island, AL: This was such a “Southern” drive to me. I remember the feeling of excitement in the car as Remy and I kept seeing snippets of the ocean. It was an absolute scorcher, and I kept trying to leave the windows rolled down to catch the breeze before giving up and blasting the AC. Every store, house, building we passed seemed to fit right in even though none of them were the same and I am left with an overwhelming memory of brightness and color.
Driving up to Longwood in Natchez, MS: This was a dream come true to me. Big plantation homes and the live oaks covered in spanish moss are one of my favorite things about the South. I loved taking visitors to Charleston while I lived in Columbia, and going on adventures to see all of the amazing historical homes in South Carolina. I knew this was probably the last plantation home I’d be on for a long while and I soaked up the splendor of it.
Seeing Perri in Houston, TX: I didn’t realize how much I needed to see a friendly face until I got to her house, but I was tired, hungry, and getting a little lonely. The joy of fellowship with her revived my soul a little bit.
My day of adventures in Austin, TX: In case you don’t remember, I freaking loved Austin. Ready to go back already!
The drive out of Marfa, TX: Leaving Marfa I wanted to stop every 5 minutes for pictures. The landscape was so overwhelmingly beautiful and immense. I would have pitched a tent and stayed there watching the grass grow if I would have had the time.
Sky City/Acoma Pueblo: There are two very distinct memories in my mind when I think back to New Mexico and they both come from my visit to Sky City in the Acoma Pueblo (sorry the entire rest of the state). At the end of my tour, I walked back from the mesa to the cultural center. In order to get down to the main road, we had to go down a series of steps/footholds that had been carved into the rock. It was an incredible experience to use the same foot and handholds that had been used for generations of people on the mesa. I felt a sense of connection to the people who had walked in literally the same footsteps I was walking in at that very moment. The second memory is one that I never shared on this blog. When I left the cultural center and headed back to the main highway I was stopped on this rural road by a herd of horses. I’m not sure if they belonged to someone on the pueblo or if they were wild because they had no brands, or halters, or anything. I rolled down the window to watch them cross over the road and into the desert. As I sat there watching them, one of the fillies turned back around and looked at me. I’ve loved horses my entire life and have spent a lot of time around them. But that moment was incredibly special to me.
Seeing the red rocks of Sedona, AZ: One of the overarching themes of my trip was the inescapable beauty of the landscape of America. Sedona served to reinforce this theme. Another place I wish I could have spent more time.
Hitting the California border in a town I don’t know the name of: This felt so surreal to me, but even then I recognized that this was a huge and happy moment.
Staying at the Westin in Mammoth Lakes, CA: Mammoth Lakes you are so beautiful (and of course, I was so shocked by the SNOW), but my memory from this leg of my trip will ALWAYS be about the sumptuous comfort of my amazing heavenly bed, deep bathtub, and roaring fireplace. Not even embarrassed about it.
The drive out of Yosemite: Even though I still had a distance to cover once I got out of the National Park, this drive felt like the last part of my true road trip. And, it was one of the most stunning stretches with amazing scenery ever inch of the way.
Surprised at what I still remember 3 months later? Me too! Here are some highlights I thought for sure would have made this list before my trip:
Hot air balloon ride in Albuquerque (if you recall, this was a big splurge for me!)
Basically everything about New Mexico
The Grand Canyon
Don’t worry–a post about what I wish I would have done differently is sure to come soon!