Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cross-Country Road Trip: USA in 8 Days!

After living in NYC for two years, I've accumulated a closet full of winter clothes! Coming from a city known for its perfect year round weather (San Diego), my wardrobe didn't consist of winter coats, rain coats, rain boots, snow boots, scarves, winter hats, gloves, and an endless array of leggings! Most San Diegans can get away with a closet full of summer clothes and a fleece jacket for occasional chilly days (60 F). I simply couldn't say goodbye to my newly acquired winter clothes and decided to take a road trip to transport all my valuables, e.g. clothes, shoes, paintings and easel, from New York to California. I've always wanted to drive across the US, and here was the perfect opportunity. Luckily, I was able to coerce Nick into tagging along with me for eight days in a confined space. (Note: If you ever want to 'test' your relationship, a road trip will surely do the trick)

Using'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.

Nick and I loaded the 95 Ford Windstar with all my precious goods. A special thanks to Phippsy (@uberphipps) for letting us squat at his place in Hoboken for a couple nights.

Day 1
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!

"Pink Slip" by Herb Williams (
Dress made with pink crayons showcased in lobby at Preston Hotel.

Live country music at Rippy's --- Tourists Welcome!

Day 2
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)

Day 3
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.

All-in-One Burger at Red Hot & Blue (Texas)

Scenic viewpoint in Oklahoma

Day 4
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.

Viewpoint in Boulder

Day 5
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!

The Rockies were magnificent!

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).

Traffic was horrendous driving through the Hoover Dam.

*** 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!!

Sharon, Bobby, Susie and me at Sinatra.

Garden at Encore Casino & Hotel

Day 8
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....

Just one of the MANY photos I snapped of Nick sleeping during our road trip. All I asked was for him to keep me entertained while I drove --- apparently I was asking for too much! Luckily, I had the GPS to keep me company since my co-pilot was obviously preoccupied!

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.


Herb said...

Hey Kim,
Thanks for the great plug and photo of my Pink Slip at the Hotel Preston. But the website link is not just sadly that was taken by the coach of the NY Knicks.

Kim Hong said...

Thanks for pointing that out Herb! We truly enjoyed your piece --- it's brilliant!!!

Arun Sundar said...

Thats awesome!

I'm planning to do a cross country with my friend in March - this post is really inspiring.

Kim Hong said...

I'm pleased that you found my post inspiring! Best of luck to you and your friend in March - can't wait to read about it on your blog. Let me know if you need any tips...I'll be more than happy to help any way that I can.

Wil said...

Hey Kim,

Do you know exactly where in Utah that arch (under Day 5) is located? The more you can remember the better, but even the route will help me find it. I took a photo of the exact same arch on a 5-week cross country road trip back in '96, but that was a long time ago...

- Wil

Kim Hong said...

Hi Wil,

I think it was the 191 S.

From Boulder, Colorado we took the I-70 W to enter Utah for about 319 miles, and then took exit 182 for US-191 S toward Crescent Jct/Moab
and followed it through to Arizona.

Hope this helps! If you go to Google Maps and enter Boulder, Colorado to Grand Canyon, AZ (South rim entrance), you can find the exact route we took!

Thanks for commenting. - Kim