Using AAA.com's TripTik Travel Planner, we allotted eight days for the entire trip (3,720 miles/5,986.4 km). The web site provided exact driving directions, total miles, and estimated time to complete trip. According to the trip planner, if we were to drive without any stops or overnight stays, we could have done the trip in 55 hours and 48 minutes!!!
Although we mapped out our trip with TripTik, I bought Juan a GPS for Christmas and asked him if he wouldn't mind us "testing" it out on our road trip to ensure its reliability. He graciously agreed to let us borrow his gift, and it was definitely a LIFESAVER. Nick and I both fell in love with the GPS....even though she did get annoying at times, but then again who wouldn't be annoying after eight days of directing, recalculating, and redirecting?
In an effort to save money, I posted a rideshare ad on Craigslist offering to drive someone's vehicle cross-country. A fellow Twitterer (@jonahsigel) suggested this great idea after I posted an update asking for rental car deals and discounts. I received responses from my Craigslist ad and decided to go with Todd from Mountain Journeys. After speaking with Todd on the phone, I knew he was reliable and trustworthy. He provided several character references and seemed sincere and honest. He allowed me to drive his 95 Ford Windstar from New Jersey to Colorado. After dropping off the minivan in Colorado, I decided to rent an SUV from Budget for the remainder of the trip.
Start date & time: Wednesday, December 17 at 1am (14.5 hours driving)
***Drove from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Virginia and Tennessee
***Arrived in Nashville on Wednesday, December 17 at 3pm.
***Enjoyed live country music at Rippy's. Nick ordered pork ribs and I had some catfish!
***Spent the night in Nashville, TN at Preston Hotel --- chic, modern and artsy!
Start date & time: Thursday, December 18 at 10:30am
***Left Nashville and stopped in Memphis, TN (Graceland - Elvis' mansion)
***Drove to Little Rock, AR and walked around main street.
***Headed to Texas and spent the night in Mt. Pleasant. Enjoyed some more comfort food at Herschel's (Chicken fried steak and mac n cheese)
Start date & time: Friday, December 19 at 10am
***Left Mt. Pleasant, TX and headed to Dallas. Stopped at Red, Hot and Blue for pulled pork sandwiches. Nick ordered the All-in-One Sandwich --- beef, chicken and pork!!!
***Drove through Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas.
***Spent the night in Salina, Kansas after slurping on tortilla soup at Cotixas. The town was filled with snow.
Start date & time: Saturday, December 20 at 9:45am
***Left Salina, Kansas and headed to Denver, Colorado. FREEZING COLD!
***We drove around Denver and met up with Todd's friend in Boulder. Todd was kind enough to put us up for the night for driving his car safely to Colorado.
***After five days without Internet access, I NEEDED to get connected. We found an Internet cafe on Pearl Street and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Foolish Craig's Cafe. I highly recommend the veggie burger --- yummy! The service was excellent.
Start date & time: Sunday, December 21 at 7am
***Picked up rental car at Budget. Loaded the SUV and drove through the Colorado Rockies.
***Drove through Utah and Arizona.
***Spent the night in Tusayan, AZ (right outside Grand Canyon Park South Rim entrance). We checked in at Red Feather Lodge --- warm and friendly staff!
Day 6 & 7
Start date & time: Monday, December 22 at 930am
***After enjoying a Continental breakfast at Red Feather Lodge, we entered South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was snowing and the winds were quite strong. Visibility was poor, but we wanted to see more and drove further where it was even more dangerous.
***Check out video below! My apologies for the horrible audio quality --- it was extremely windy.
***Headed to Hoover Dam (once known as both the world's largest electric-power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure).
*** We spent two nights in Sin City, Las Vegas!!!
*** Spent time with my cousins - The Tangs! We were fortunate enough to be invited to dinner at the Sinatra restaurant at Steve Wynn's Encore Casino -- thanks to cousin Bobby and his connections! It was the SECOND day that the Las Vegas luxury hotel & casino opened its doors!!
Start date & time: Wednesday, December 24 at 11am
***After finishing up some last-minute shopping in Vegas, we headed south to California.
***As we approached the end of our eight-day journey, heavy raindrops hit the windshield, making the perfect sound for Nick as he slept through Southern California....
Looking back at this trip, I realized how much time and money I spend exploring other countries, yet my own backyard has yet to be explored. I can't wait for our next adventure together.