I have a small confession to make. I keep calling my holiday the Road Trip, but the truth is we only actually drove for half of the holiday! After realising that we didn’t actually want to visit any of the cities between Vegas and Chicago, we made the decision to simply fly from Phoenix, cheating yes, but a great decision in the end 😀
In the end our driving route was as follows:
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Redwood Regional Park, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lakes, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Phoenix — a whopping 1486 miles (2391.5km!).
As a point of reference, the quickest direct route from Vegas to Chicago is 1752 miles (2819.6km!!!).
There was a lot of staring at roads like this…
And along the way we got obsessed with the strangest songs ranging from The Book of Mormon soundtrack (mannnnn up!), the Team America soundtrack (so rooonneeery) and… the Dixie Chicks (don’t judge).
My fondest memory of driving is probably speeding through Utah at 160/km while listening to K-Pop (P.S. This is not legal! (The speeding part, not the k-pop part)).
Redwood Regional Park
We’re in the mood to experience mother nature. Luckily for us Redwood Regional Park is just outside of San Francisco and is our first stop as we leave town. We’re here to check out Hyperion, a 115.6m Coast Redwood – the tallest tree in the world, but somehow as we’re there we just forget about finding the tree and just enjoy being out of the city.
But sometimes it’s the little things that make you happy
On the road again
It’s not a road trip without a visit to In-n-Out! As much as I love the heart-attack awesomeness of the Double Double burgers (with double the meat and cheese) it’s the old school Chocolate Shakes that I gravitate to.
Greasy, finger-licking good (or is that the wrong franchise?).
You’ve gotta have snacks for the roadtrip, we’re finally cracking open our Alligator Jerky and find that it tastes like… jerky. Chewy, heavily flavoured and addictive! The alligator meat is rather indistinguishable under all the flavouring, with only the texture giving away its… uniqueness.
There’s so much hype about the wineries in the Napa Valley, being a regular to Hunter Valley winery hopping it came as a big surprise when we found out that wineries in Napa charge for tastings and a lot were only open by reservation. Luckily the Tourist offices were a massive help and we were soon stockpiling up with many many wines.
I would regale you with the story of the amazing dinner we had, but to be honest we got take away pizza, cracked open a hell of a lot of wine and ate cheeeeeeese. I’m pretty sure at one point we had something ridiculous like 16 bottles to finish between the 3 of us.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite in September is beautiful, the weather was absolutely amazing without a cloud in the sky. I took some of my favourite photos while we passed through Yosemite and only wished that we could have spent more time here.
Brideveil Falls are one of the more popular falls to visit at Yosemite, this is primarily because they’re the easiest to get to. However, what this photo doesn’t show are the huge slippery rocks that I climbed over to get to the base of the waterfall! A bit dumb in retrospect, especially with a DSLR in one hand and knowing how clumsy I am (haha Malaysia).
My favourite photo vantage point of Yosemite.
I think we’d been eating pretty haphazardly on the trip up to this point, but the revelation that the Steak House we were at for dinner had a salad bar had us all running and piling up plates until the food threatened to fall off! You don’t make friends with salad, but your body will definitely thank you.
D gives me puppy dog eyes when the waitress mentions the Surf n’ Turf combination of a New York Strip and a Lobster tail. Even though I know we’re in the middle of the country and I’ve no idea where the lobster has come from we order it to share and… demolish it in 30 seconds. Buttery, soft, yet firm enough to have a give to each bite.
Life is good.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… There’s a lot of gambling (money wheel RULES!), drinking, buffet eating, carousing and Elton John. The camera stayed firmly put in the hotel room away from temptation!
In true tourist style we took a light flight over the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon which gave us some pretty amazing views.
On the road again
But somehow the view from the car was as equally breathtaking.
Our last major roadtrip stop is Monument Valley, we’re within the Navajo reservation now, Utah. Driving down the road towards the hotel is a massive mind trip as I just happen to be watching the Doctor Who season opener, which coincidentally is set in Utah (sorry geek alert).
It’s not hard to see why they’ve chosen this particular stretch of America to play in, the setting is quintessentially Cowboy American and has served as the playground for many an american film such as Forrest Gump and Stagecoach.
Monument Valley only hosts a single hotel and we’ve bee-lined towards it for dinner. Fried Chicken is the first thing we order off the menu, we’ve been in America for nearly 2 weeks at this point and have yet to eat any fried chicken. Obviously this is unacceptable. The batter is brilliantly crunchy, and while I hate using this term… the chicken itself perfectly moist.
I’m hankering for a soup fix, as tempting as the Fried Chicken was I’m unable to go past the Navajo Stew which is a hearty mixture of potatoes, carrots, onions and pork. It’s a homey dish and one that satisfies the stomach and soul.
A has opted for a variation on the Navajo Stew, it’s chunkier and served with limes and chunks of sausages but is definitely filling. What’s really interesting to us is the accompanying Fry Bread, it’s like a mixture between Roti and Nan if it were deep-fried and is served with honey! Strangely sweet and very addictive, it’s surprising how well it compliments the savory stew.
Sunrise is at 5.30am, with the time differences that come from crossing over the border from Nevada to Utah, it means that it’s a bleary 4.30am for our body clocks when we drag ourselves out of bed to see the sunrise.
It’s gorgeous, and after 10 minutes I decide it would be even more gorgeous from my bed.
Up next: Chicago!
Check out the rest of the America! The Road Trip posts here!